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...

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Nominate Your Favorite Complainer

At least once every other month there’s some municipality that sees fit to bust a front yard vegetable garden. Last month some Quebec officials ordered the immaculate kitchen garden, pictured above, removed. You can sign a petition to save this garden here. So what sane city official or neighbor would complain about this beautiful garden? It’s a complaint so outrageous, that it attains a kind of athleticism. Joking with some friend...

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Saturday Linkages: From Plastic Bottle Kayaks to Canine Staircases

Kayak made from plastic bottles. Via Lloyd’s blog. DIY How To Turn A Mason Jar Into A Fermenting Crock – FARMcurious http://www. farmcurious.com/how-to-turn-a- mason-jar-into-a-fermenting-crock/  … Kayak Made from Recycled Bottles in Argentina http:// lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2012/08/kayak- made-from-recycled-bottles-in.html#.UDPAXX9HYUs.twitter  … Paper Bag Flooring http://www. dudecraft.com/2012/07/paper- bag-floor...

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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...

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A Time Out Box for Quail

  In this week’s guest blog post, Nancy Klehm tells us about her unique way of dealing with pesky quail:  It is a beautiful, lush rainy spring in Chicago and all my birds get a large bouquet of fresh weedy greens everyday to supplement their feed: chickweed, dandelion, clover, shephard’s purse, garlic mustard, stinging nettles. Besides chickens, I have been raising quail for the past four years – I have both Coturnix and Bobwhite qua...

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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...

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USDA Zone Based Veggie Planting Schedule

Knowing when to plant vegetables is one of the big keys to edible gardening success. Unfortunately, many gardening books, websites and the back of seed packages assume you’re in a place with easily delineated seasons. What about those of us in Alaska, Southern California, Texas, Florida or Arizona? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a web-based vegetable planting calendar based on zip codes? While it’s not down to the zip code level,...

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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...

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The Art of Memory

We need a term for superfluous smart phone trivia Googling. After all, with the vast archive of factoids on the interwebs who needs to remember anything anymore? But what do we miss by externalizing all of our memories into an electronic form.  What about those bards of the past who could recite thousands of lines of poetry, or the Greek rhetoricians who could speak for hours at a time without notes? Thankfully the basics of the lost art of mem...

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Today is American Censorship Day

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo. This sort of advocacy is unusual for this blog, but we believe a free Internet is essential for both cultural innovation and democracy. Sure, the Internet is mostly made of porn and kittens, but we like it as it is. What we don’t want to see is it being unduly controlled by either the government or corporate interests, so we’re participating in American Censorshi...

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