Picture Sundays: Makin’ Adobes

From the Library of Congress image archive “Spanish-American removing form shaped adobe brick. The adobe brick is next dried by the sun. Chamisal, New Mexico. July 1940.” This is exactly what I’ve been doing in my spare time for a few weeks now in preparation for an upcoming earth oven workshop. I’m on adobe #50–45 more to go! And, from the same archive, an adobe chicken coop: “Scene in the adobe brick chic...

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The Stages of Alchemy as a Metaphor for Composting

I’ve been struck, for a long time, at the connections between alchemy and composting. I thought it might be interesting to “thoughtstyle” on the alchemical process and what it has to teach us as a metaphor for composting. Though there’s not universal agreement on this, western alchemy is often divided into four stages identified by color: Nigredo or blackening “The ever deepening descent into the unconscious sudde...

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Earth Based Finishes for Walls

Kurt demos proper hawk and trowel technique. I just spent a blissful weekend in the California desert learning earth based finish techniques from adobe master Kurt Gardella. Some observations: Earth plastering is not something you can learn from a book. It takes practice and hands-on experience. In this excellent workshop we got three full days of learning the techniques both for indoor and outdoor surfaces. Clay, sand, wheat...

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Update: Citrus Vinegar for Cleaning

In a previous post we talked about soaking citrus peels in white vinegar to make scented vinegar for cleaning. I’ve been doing this for a while now, using a 50/50 water and vinegar blend in my spray bottle, and I like the scent, but I’ve realized that because the vinegar is tinted by the orange peel if it is left to dry on a white surface it will leave yellow marks behind. This is not a big deal, because when using vinegar spray you...

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Fall 2012 Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

I’ve taken three adobe classes with Kurt Gardella–and he built the amazing earth oven in our backyard. Kurt has a couple of classes coming up and I thought I’d help get the word out. He’s a great teacher. From an email he just sent: Dear adobe friends, Intro Fall is a great time for natural plastering and interior finishing work. Interior mud plastering and installing an earthen floor finish the normal adobe house constr...

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All Haste Is of the Devil: Carl Jung as Homesteader

Carl Jung pumping water in the Tower at Bollingen. From the Library of Congress. It’s a holiday here in the US, so we’ve turned things over to a special guest blogger, Dr. Carl Jung, who comes to us via the special astral internet plan we get from AT&T. As it turns out, Jung was quite the off-grid homesteader when it came to building and living in his special retreat tower in Bollingen, on the shore of Lake Zürich. I...

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Saturday Linkages: Can Gardens, BOLs and Attack Geese

...p:// korduroy.tv/shows/surf-suf ficient/diy-surfboard-bike-rack  … 80ft Tube Made From VHS Tape http://www. dudecraft.com/2012/08/80ft-t ube-made-from-vhs-tape.html  … Prepping Developing Raw Land into a Homestead or BOL Over Time | The Survival Podcast http:// bit.ly/NoacJJ Beekeeping Bees in a Paris park: http://www. backwardsbeekeepers.com/2012/08/viewer -mail-bees-in-paris-park.html  … Yow! Apple granted patent for location-based camera pho...

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Don’t be so quick to clean up

A lot of magic happens in the “dead” parts of a garden. Flowers gone to seed feed birds. Dead stalks support important insect life–from spiders to pollinators. Fallen leaves and sticks give habitat to lizards and toads and mushrooms and myriads of invisible creatures. Yet dead growth is not attractive to the human eye, and around about this time of year we’re all itching to make a clean sweep of all that brown stuff. I...

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