Michael Tortorello on Urban Homesteading

Michael Tortorello, who wrote that nice piece about us a few months ago, “Living Large, Off the Land,” is one of my favorite writers on gardening and “urban homesteady” topics. He’s critical without being curmudgeonly and manages to separate the truth from the hype (and there’s an awful lot of hype in this movement!). Plus he managed to get an entire paragraph about my thyrsus into the New York Times. Thyrsus...

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CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

...lks at Solar Cookers International gave us permission to reprint plans for their CooKit solar cooker in our book Making It. You can access those plans, as well as many other solar cooker projects, for free, on their website here. I’ve made CooKits out of cardboard and aluminum foil a couple of times. One problem is that I eventually bang up the cardboard and I’ve got to make a new one. This summer I had a lot of  1/4 inch plywood lef...

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Winter Squash Disaster

...echnically a pumpkin) in one of my vegetable beds located in a more secure location. Instead of some homo sapien making off with my squash bounty, it looks like the neighborhood raccoons are having a gnocchi party somewhere. All I’ve got to show for three Chioggia plants is one small squash and the one pictured above. Household animal tracking expert Mrs. Homegrown assures me that the nearby scat pile belongs to some raccoons. My thoughts...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...articularly sustainable in that way. Nothing is perfect. So, if you have peat on hand or prefer peat you may use it in this recipe instead of coir, just substitute it, 1:1. PERLITE: Perlite is a volcanic glass which, upon being subjected to extremely high temperatures (850C +), puffs–sort of like popcorn, or a Pop Rock. Obviously, though its origins are natural, it is an industrial product, but it is very useful for making soil fluffy and l...

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Media Fasting

...ually make a difference. I really like the stoic flowchart Mark Frauenfelder posted on BoingBoing some time ago. It works really well for deciding if a particular political situation is worth paying attention to: I want to be abundantly clear that I am not a Luddite.  Communications technology, especially the internet, have an important role in making this world a better place. But we have the power to be the gatekeeper of that information. What...

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The Return of the Fraternal Society

...luable in the future, I’m not as sanguine about fraternal organizations as Erik. Why? Because I am female. It seems to me that these organizations would have to be reinvented from the top down to be of use to 50% of the population–and I’m only talking about gender here, not race, which is a complicated issue I’m not as qualified to speak to. And it’s hard to reinvent a living organization full of people who like the...

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Saturday Linkages: Pig’s Milk, Hot Sauce, Clutter

Nettle hot sauce recipe from the Wild Food Lab. How About a Nice Cold Glass of Camel, Buffalo, or Pig Milk? Artisinal cocktail movement gets out of hand: Stop the Madness! | Garden Rant http:// gardenrant.com/2012/07/stop-t he-madness.html  …   Yes, there’s a parasite of the day blog: http:// dailyparasite.blogspot.com The Clutter Culture via UCLA Magazine http:// magazine.ucla.edu/features/the-c lutter-culture/  … And, how to...

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Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

...ollutant) is located and 2) to harvest the clay beneath to use in our earth oven. Between the clay harvested for making the adobe bricks and cob, and the supplemental clay that we’ve put aside for future repairs and maintenance on the oven, the pit has grown to be about 12 feet wide and 2 feet deep. This pit is going to be our new planting area, but obviously it needs to be filled in. Instead of buying imported soil, we’re going to gr...

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The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

...038; d’Alembert: Sacred chickens were chickens raised by priests in Roman times, and which were used for making auguries. Nothing significant was undertaken in the Senate or in the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing these omens consisted in examining the manner in which the chickens dealt with grain that was presented to them. If they ate it avidly while stamping their feet a...

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