Black Widow or False Black Widow?

...This is not reassuring. But then on the handy page Frequently Encountered Spiders in California, I learned about the False black widow. Another European invasive, this spider seems to be displacing our native black widows in urban areas.  This spider is roughly the same size and shape as a black widow, but is brown with a faint purple sheen. I like this false black widow option a lot. The false widows don’t have a dangerous sting. The spid...

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Nesting Box Plans in SketchUp

SketchUp is a free and easy to use 3D modeling program. And users have created a library of 3D models you can download. Up until recently most of these models were not particularly useful to DIY urban homesteady types. Enter SketchUp model contributor Rick whose collection of models includes the chicken nesting box above, raised garden beds and a couple of other useful projects. I’m really looking forward to seeing more open source projec...

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On why our vegetable garden is such a disaster this year . . .

...ome design help. Oh, the humanity Fatigue and frustration–the double knockout punch of skunks and the hot weather left me on the ropes with little enthusiasm for ongoing gardening maintenance. Ego–forgetting that urban homesteading is not about self-sufficiency—to chase self-sufficiency is a fool’s errand. I should be happy just to have a few good salads and be thankful that I can buy good vegetables at a local farmer’s market....

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Garden Amendments as Placebos

I just finished writing an article for Urban Farm Magazine on the subject of aerated compost tea (ACT for short). It proved to be one of the most contentious subjects on which I’ve ever tried to, as Mark Twain liked to say, “corral the truth.” It got me thinking about other controversial soil additives popular in organic gardening and farming circles right now such as rock dust, mycorrhizae additives, and biochar. Now I pr...

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Hay Hooks–The New Hipster Accessory?

With so many city chickens I predict that hay hooks will become just as indispensable to the urban hipster as is the fixed gear bicycle. After years of hauling staw bales up the 30 steps to our house (to use as bedding for the chickens) I just broke down and bought a pair. A vaquero at the feed store intervened with a neat tip when he saw me struggling to use my new hay hooks to load some bales into a friend’s truck. Here’s what he...

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Piet Oudolf’s Enhanced Nature

...” and the untidiness of the real thing. Oudolf responds with what some have called “enhanced nature.” It’s an approach that’s pragmatic, recognizing both the need for natural ecosystems within an urban environment, while at the same time providing visual interest. Oudolf’s imprint is on the landscape, but to most people that human touch will remain on a subliminal level. It’s a brilliant “third way&...

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On Living in Los Angeles Without a Car: A Debate

...street light. People waiting for buses in LA huddle in the pole shadows, trying to shelter from the insanely intense LA sun. There are very few bus shelters here. Bus stops are ill-marked afterthoughts in an already unlovely urban landscape.  I stand in the pole shade, wondering if the bus will ever come, and I seethe about the way this city treats its pedestrians. Erik: It’s a stereotype that LA is car-centric. If I had a dollar for every...

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Filter Fail: How to Cure Internet Addiction

...me using mobile devices) and four hours and 31 minutes watching television. I want to be careful not to come off as being anti-technology. The internet is an incredibly useful research tool and a great way to reach out to the urban homesteading community. That being said, I just can’t seem to stop watching those dancing raccoons. We may be well past the point where the distraction potential of the internet is beginning to adversely effect i...

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Saturday Linkages: DIY Coffee Roasting and That Crazy Rhubarb Lady

...lls_and.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=sm&utm_campaign=button_chunky … New Skateboard Can Go Down Stairs http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lloydkahn/~3/3_e0IccStLo/new-skateboard-can-go-down-stairs.html … Life in the city Urban Healers: http://urbanhealers.tumblr.com Clotheslines vs. HOAs: “Right to Dry” States http://bit.ly/13nMrPL The Ten Most Ambitious Failed Utopian Mass Transit Systems http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-most-ambitio...

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City of Angels Permaculture Academy Design Course Series

...World-class education for less than $12 an hour! Discounts, Payment Plans and up to 50% Work-Trade Still Available You can drop in for one day- or for the whole series. Elegant Home and Gardens- DIY Design & Build Learn Urban Homesteading Skills Community Projects Starting a Neighborhood Business Hands-On Natural Building / Sustainable Landscaping Permaculture in Schools and more. With Larry Santoyo, Toby Hemenway, Scott Pittman, John Val...

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