Ordo Ab Chao

...r our summer garden is to carefully choose what I’m going to grow, how much of it to plant, and stick with the program. No last minute improvising. And better note taking! I attempted to weigh vegetables this winter, earning the scorn of Mrs. Homegrown who deemed it too male an approach, too much about bragging rights. All that weighing took away note taking time from what would have been more useful information: when things were planted, t...

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Be a question. Be an answer.

Kotex Ad from 1971. Is that Susan Dey Cybill Shepherd? And what’s that oddly eroticized blur in the foreground? Okay, time to wrest the blog out of Erik’s hands. He’s gone crazy with the geek-boy subject matter of late. I’m going to bring this baby down to earth with a resounding thud. Let’s talk menstruation. We’re writing a new book, as we may have mentioned. It’s a project book focused on making som...

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A Redneck Rocket Stove

From Wes Duncan, the “High Tech Redneck,” a rocket stove made out of cinder blocks. I’ve built one of these too and can confirm that they work great. And you can’t beat the price. Time for some redneck cookin’! Update: As several readers have pointed out, this design ain’t safe. Cinder blocks can explode and were not meant to be placed next to a heat source–that’s what fire bricks are for. See ou...

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Chicken Coop Complete

...d a lot of the work themselves and many had no building experience when we started. It was pretty great to watch them figure out how to use a drill. The coop is big, 10 feet by 20 feet. The first four chickens have moved in and are very happy in their new home. These first four chickens needed a home and the school was happy to provide them one. In the future we hope to have up to twenty chickens at one time. There is a spacious fenced in area fo...

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Poison in the Compost

...ders know that you may want to screen any hay, grass clippings or compost you bring into your gardens, to assure the materials are not contaminated with persistent herbicide residues (most often clopyralid and aminopyralid). As our reports included below indicate, these chemical residues can kill plants or severely stunt their production, costing gardeners money and time. What do you need to know about contaminated compost? Affected plants show...

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Bean Fest, Episode 4: Frijoles Refritos

...eans in the pan at once, because smashing them will become a nightmare. Start with a couple of cups, mash those, then add more bit by bit. Your goal is to make the beans into a paste, so you have take them to the correct level of dryness–and that is going to be dictated by your own personal preference. So if you’re smashing up well drained beans, you’d add the reserved liquid back in 1/4 cup at a time, until the beans had reache...

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Hens Busy Dust Bathing

...a cement mixing tray for a bigger flock. Warning: Rant Ahead We first got our own hens because we disagreed with the industrial style of raising chickens and farming eggs.  But at the time that disagreement was purely theoretical–now it’s stronger than ever, because it’s based on practice. The more we know, and experience the fundamentals of chicken life, the more appalling the industrial practices become.  One fundamental is th...

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Cure for Prickly Pear Stickers

Mrs. Homegrown here: Hallelujah! Last night, our friend Oscar (genius man!) told us how to deal with the dreaded, pernicious, invisible prickly pear fruit stickers (glochids) which somehow end up embedded in my hands every time Erik brings one of those fruits in the house. The answer? Pumice stone. It’s so simple. Just rub the site with a pumice stone. I think it just shaves off the top part of the stickler, and then lower part works its...

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Happy Halloween!

...hts on the Manx version of Halloween Mrs. Homegrown here: I’ve always been intrigued with Samhain, and the idea that a new year should begin in growing darkness, working its way slowly through the deep of winter into the light. For this reason, Halloween has become my personal New Year (since by Jan. 1st, I’m always tired out disillusioned, and overstuffed with fudge).  The beginning of winter has become a time to think about the...

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Advances in Gardening: Introducing the Germinator™

I’ve built a kind of seedling Guantanamo which I’ve dubbed the “Germinator™.” Why? Two reasons: 1. Damn squirrels and chickens. Both have gotten into my seedling flats in the past and wreaked havoc. This is why the Germinator™, for most of the year, has a wire mesh top. That wire mesh also takes down the harsh Southern California sun a notch so the flats don’t dry out. 2. During the cooler spring season, I can tra...

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