Disconnect to Reconnect: Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting Toilet

...pairs nicely with my composting obsession and food growing habit. I stayed at Erik and Kelly’s back in February. Their low flush toilet and antique piping can’t seem to handle even the most modest bodily donation. Once a flushing attempt proves unsuccessful, and immediately following the ‘oh no…’ guilty grimace, a light-hearted blame game plays out and then according to homestead rules, Erik snakes the toilet. The closet augur is kept on the fron...

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Erik’s 2012 New Year’s Resolutions in Review

Thank you Kurt and Ben and all who helped build our adobe oven. I never used to make New Year’s resolutions until I decided to flaunt them on our blog last year. And, of course, I made way too many. So how did I do? Completed: Build adobe oven in the backyard: check! Thanks to Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher who led a class in our backyard. Plan out garden ahead of time instead of playing catch-up at the last minute: I d...

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Rubber Sidewalks Rescue Trees

Homegrown Neighbor here: I love trees and all of the things they do for us. They shade us, feed us, house us. Trees are something we just need more of here in Southern California. I used to work at an urban forestry non-profit, TreePeople. So I am familiar with the challenges of the tree/sidewalk interface. I have fielded calls from people frantically trying to save trees that are being ripped out because they are lifting the sidewalk. I hav...

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Saturday Linkages: Sedum Stumps, Chicken Steadycams and the End of the World

...cal Proportions http://www.businessinsider.com/were-headed-for-a-disaster-of-biblical-proportions-2012-11?0=bi … The World in 2036: Nassim Taleb looks at what will break, and what won’t | The Economist http://econ.st/KAOPVc Cornstalks Everywhere But Nothing Else, Not Even A Bee http://n.pr/Rlasks Why Phoenix is becoming more like Minneapolis: http://nyti.ms/V3Nwlo Central Valley residents tired of receiving L.A.’s urban waste –...

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Row Cover as an Insect Barrier

...;t pretty but it works. As one would expect, cabbage leaf worms love cabbage and nearly every other member of the brassica species.  Which  is why I’ve become a real fan of row cover material as an insect barrier. The perp in question. It rarely freezes here so I use the thinnest row cover possible, specifically a product called Agribon-15. If you live in a cooler climate and want to use row cover for frost protection you would...

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California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

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The High Cost of Golf

...t. Instictively, we ducked thinking that someone was shooting at us. Though my heart was racing, I soon realized the culprit: a errent golf ball sent hurdling over the fence by some anonymous, impossible to trace Tiger Woods wannabe. We circled back to the club house to file a report with the manager of the course and begin the long tedious process of settling the insurance claims. So what does this have to do with urban homesteading? A lot. It...

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A New and Improved Self Irrigating Pot System

A very cool improvement on the self irrigating pot (SIP) idea from Larry Hall of Minnesota. Rather than the two bucket system we’ve blogged about in the past (see a roundup of our SIP resources here), Hall uses one long rain gutter to supply water. He’s even got a clever double rain gutter system for growing strawberries that I’m tempted to try on our back patio. I spotted this video on Inside Urban Green always a good sourc...

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The Perfect Chicken Coop?

Do a Google image search for “chicken coop” and a solid majority of the results will look very much like this nearly 100 year old coop featured in The Gardener’s and Poultry Keeper’s Guide and Illustrated Catalog. Why is this basic design still with us? The attached run gives chickens some space to scratch around in while keeping them safe from predators if you can’t make it home by dark. You c...

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Native Plant Workshop

...17;s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit trees and other climate-appropriate plantings. 2. Natives aren...

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