Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

As regular followers of this blog may recall, we did some soil tests last year that revealed elevated levels of lead and zinc in our backyard. The cause? Most likely, paint from our 92 year old house and nearly a hundred years of auto exhaust and dust from brake linings. Applying a little alchemy to turn lead to gold, I think the most productive thing I can do is to help get the word out about lead soil and how common this problem is in urban a...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: From Plastic Bottle Kayaks to Canine Staircases

...Stings. – http://www. backyardecosystem.com/backwards-beek eeping/happy-bees-equals-happy-beekeeper-how-treat-bee-stings/  … Whatever happened to common sense?  Not to be outdone by Canada, another city wants to ruin an urban garden. Please help! http:// chn.ge/RimMiZ   What do USDA inspectors do? Undercover video shutters another dairy cull slaughterhouse in Calif. | barfblog http:// barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155879/12 /08/21/what-d...

Continue reading…

Secrets In Your Pantry?

...rgely because I would go through them like a crack addict). But we do have plenty of other dodgy convenience foods picked up at Trader Joes and consumed on those evenings we’re too tired to cook. While the image of the urban homesteader is one who dines on nothing but wholesome veggies, backyard eggs and artisinal canning projects, the truth is that we’re all human and live in a world where Cheez Doodles* practically grow on trees. I...

Continue reading…

Our New Chickens

When I put out the call to you, our readers, to name the ideal urban chicken I got a call from my friend Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. He said something like, “Duh, the Barnevelder, of course!” Craig and his partner Gary Jackemuk have an ambitions breeding program to take the Barnevelder from show chicken back to farm chicken. So far the results are impressive. I took this as a message that I should fix my run and get ready fo...

Continue reading…

USDA Zone Based Veggie Planting Schedule

...ting schedule a spin and leave a comment. I’m hoping to post tools like this on a resource page that will appear on this blog later this year and would appreciate your input. Thanks to Root Simple reader Kristen of the Urban Farm Blog for this tip. You can also scroll to the bottom of a post we did on the 6th for planting schedules for Texas, Montreal and Southern Nevada....

Continue reading…

How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...s to keeping the neighbors happy. Dr. Susan J. Mulley, a landscape architecture professor at Cal Poly Pomona is doing some interesting research on how people react to alternative forms of landscaping such as native plants and urban vegetable gardens. She’s doing opinion polls using Photoshopped mock-ups of residential, academic and commercial landscapes with food crops, native plantings and more conventional landscaping. The conclusion I to...

Continue reading…

Erik’s New Years Resolutions

Normally I don’t do New Years resolutions. This year my resolution is . . . lots of resolutions. Here’s the list. I expect you to hold me to it: get HAM technician’s license learn Morse code attend CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes build cob oven in the backyard organize messy office so it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders organize supplies in garage into labeled boxes turn the garage into the ult...

Continue reading…

How to Memorize Numbers

Giordano Bruno’s insanely elaborate memory system. Yesterday we introduced an ancient memory system that can be handy for learning all those new urban homesteading skills. Today I’ll briefly discuss a way to use a related mnemonic called the Major System for committing strings of numbers to memory. To use the Major System you first memorize a set of consonants that represent 0 through 9. From Wikipedia, here’s a tabl...

Continue reading…

Meet the Gophinator

The Gophinator Thankfully, we don’t have gophers, but dealing with them is one of the first questions we get when teaching vegetable gardening classes.  You can use raised beds lined with hardware cloth. But, other than target practice (a no-no in urban areas), most people I know with gopher problems end up using traps or zealous cats. Several sources have told me about the Cadillac of gopher traps, the aptly named “Gophina...

Continue reading…

The Art of Memory

...imaginary building you’re using. While I’ve got the basic concept of the art of memory I need to do some more practice. So far what I’ve found it most useful for is learning people’s names. And, as an urban homesteader, I always find myself learning new skills some of which require memorization. Now this won’t help you find a lost set of car keys. That’s what the ad Herennium calls “natural” memory...

Continue reading…