Natural Dyeing with Woad

...om the Brassicaceae family, a cousin to broccoli & cauliflower) has been cultivated in Europe since ancient times. Woad was prized by Napoleon and used to dye his army’s uniforms. At one time, the production of woad was the cornerstone of the economy of the south of France. Indigo on the left. Woad on the right. To formulate the dye, the plant was cultivated and the leaves picked in the first year. The leaves are crushed and, o...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

Facebookers have already seen these pics. Kitty, being a fast moving black hole, is very hard to photograph. Mrs. Homegrown here: Sorry this is sort of rambling, but context is everything. Our friend Anne, of the pea-eating-Chihuahua fame, and the chicken-sitting-on-kitten fame, and various other fames, is a frequent animal rescuer. She came over to our house maybe 2 weeks ago with a pet carrier. She said, “Someone dropped this of...

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Podcasts for the Urban Homesteader

Let’s face it, mainstream radio programming, both talk and music, stinks. Podscasting democratizes the medium. Anyone with a microphone and laptop can make and distribute a podcast and, while quality varies, there’s a huge amount of excellent, highly specialized programming available. So should be on the iPods of urban homesteaders? I’ve got a few suggestions: Survival Podcast We just appeared on this podcast, which is hosted...

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Organic Gardening Magazine Tests Seven Different Potato Growing Methods

Doug Hall, writing for Organic Gardening magazine, did a test of seven different potato growing methods: hilled rows, straw mulch, raised beds, grow bags, garbage bags, wood boxes and wire cylinders. His conclusion? Raised beds worked the best giving the highest yield. Some of the other methods worked well too, though I wonder about black materials, such as grow bags, in our hot climate. The last time we grew potatoes we used a stack of tires....

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Spigarello: Nature’s way of saying that broccoli is so over

Spiga-what-the-who-now? The wavy leaved stuff is the spigarello. The flowers are arugula. Mrs. Homegrown here: Spigarello, more properly called Cavolo Broccolo a Getti di Napoli, is a leafy green that tastes a lot like broccoli. But unlike broccoli, you eat the leaves instead of the flowers. Unlike many of the “exotic” Italian greens we grow, this one is not bitter, and probably will pass muster with those who are fussy abou...

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Contest Winners!

An excuse for another kitten photograph It’s the release day for Making It , and we’re celebrating by giving away two copies of the book. First, we want to say again how much we enjoyed reading all of your tips. They are excellent, without exception, and should be compiled into a book or something. We’re pondering on some way to highlight that post so that future readers can find the tips. Second, we’re glad we d...

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Why We Travel By Train

Amtrak ain’t this grand, but it’s a lot better than flying! Photo via the Library of Congress. We’re headed up to Northern California, Oregon and Washington to promote our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . And, with the exception of the San Francisco to Seattle leg, we’re traveling by train. Why do this when it’s more expensive, time consuming and probably makes our dear publis...

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What you control

Erik cited a Terence McKenna quote deep in his last post on bacon. It’s a good one, and deserves more attention so I’m giving it this space. If Erik and I have a single message to offer, it is that you can’t control the world, but you can control your life. There’s plenty in this world to be outraged over, or worried about, but those feelings don’t get you anywhere. What you have to do is tend your own garden: Your...

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Compost Bin Project From Our New Book

Natural Home and Garden magazine has excerpted a shipping pallet compost bin project from our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . I’ve been using shipping pallets as a compost bin for a few years now and they work great. A compost pile, in my humble opinion, should be a minimum of a cubic yard in order to jump start the heat and microbial life that makes for good compost. Nail together a couple of pallets a...

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Well howdy! We’re in the New York Times

We’re pleased and flattered to be in the Times today, spouting off at the mouth and waving our freak flag (or freak thrysus) high. Michael Tortarello interviewed us, and he’s a helluva a writer. You could spend your time in worse ways seeking out his other articles, like this one on hybrid seeds, which is one of Erik’s favorites. And kudos to Laure Joliet for taking such beautiful pictures....

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