The Horror

Terrifying photo via Bike Snob NYC The day began with the discovery that our neighbor’s roommate, practicing the kind of gardening we associate with crazy people and goats, had hacked off half the length of the native grape vine that we had counted on covering an ugly chain link fence. An innocent mistake, but evidence that some folks apparently don’t know what grape vines look like and that they loose their leaves in the winter....

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Something for Nothing – Wild Mustard Greens

Sometimes there is such a thing as a free lunch, which was the case for us yesterday after discovering a large stand of white mustard (Sinapis alba) growing at the end of a nearby dead end street. Mustard grows all over the neighborhood, but rarely in a place out of dog pee range like this little patch. Classified by the USDA as a noxious weed, the leaves have a pleasant and pungent flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. From the Plants for a F...

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In Praise of Disorder

Loose chickens in Houston A neighborhood whose demographics fall somewhere between the extremes of the crack den and the country club presents just the right level of civic inattention to allow the urban homesteader to get away with many of the illegal projects profiled in this blog: greywater, backyard poultry, and front yard vegetable gardening, to mention just a few. Ideally you have a balance between order and disorder–neither gunfir...

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The Tiny House

One of the ongoing struggles of eking out a living in any of the world’s big cities is the shortage of affordable housing. Houses and condos are out of reach of many, and apartments are expensive rent plantations run by greedy and evil landlords. Meanwhile, in rural America, most new housing consists of trailers, euphemistically known as “manufactured housing”. Trailers offer interesting possibilities, even for urbanites. But w...

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Nitrogen Deposition

Thanks to the millions of SUV driving knuckleheads out there we may not have to take a whizz in our compost pile after all. It turns out we have ample free nitrogen fertilizer in the form of air pollution which settles back down to the earth in a process science types call nitrogen deposition. According to Edith Allen, a professor of botany at UC Riverside, “Nitrogen deposition occurs at high levels in southern California, and is fertilizi...

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Preparedness Now!

SurviveLA staff attended a fabulous survival salon hosted by the Process Media/Feral House revolutionaries to promote Aton Edwards hip new book Preparedness Now! Aton’s informative and well designed book is a fresh look at a subject that is usually the domain of nutcase libertarians and Mormons. Aton is neither and the book has many useful tips for us urban dwellers with chapters on shelter, transportation, self-defense, and a collection o...

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Maggots!

Like a lot of the agricultural duties around our urban homestead, composting requires time and initiative. Unfortunately both our garden and our energy level are at a low point, both sapped by the record breaking heat – anyone see Al Gore’s movie? The result of this lack of effort has been the maggot party currently going on in our compost pile. The best compostin’ revolutionary I ever met, photographer Becky Cohen maintained a...

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Saturday Linkages: The Calm After the Storm

...ans http://www. latimes.com/news/opinion/o pinion-la/la-ol-getting-jerry-browned-20121024,0,2854852.story  … New Urban Velo issue free online: http://www. urbanvelo.org/issue34/  The fox is guarding the hen house ! How the sugar industry defends itself against claims that sugar is unhealthy: http:// boingboing.net/2012/10/31/how -the-sugar-industry-defends.html  … Billboard firm wrote L.A. proposal on signs http://www. latimes.com/news/local/la-...

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A Declaration of Independence

“Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract What follows will be a practical guide to urban homesteading. In our troubled times, it would seem prudent to have a “plan B” in the event our modern conveniences should temporarily cease. Besides, by learning to “DIY”, you’ll cease to be part of the fat, pathetic, SUV driving, “American Idol”...

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Essential System #4 – Illumination

It’s all about LEDs my friends. LEDs are the way to go, lasting nearly forever and using very little battery power (make sure, of course, that you have batteries on hand). We have LED headlamps in our grab and go bags, but we also are looking into a new generation of LED bulbs for our Urban Homestead’s interior lighting. As far as house lighting goes, while LED efficiency is rapidly advancing, compact fluorescents are still better fr...

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