Low Tech Solar Heating with a Thermosyphon Collector

Yet another great post from the folks at Build It Solar: a simple and low tech solar heating system called a thermosyphon collector mounted in the wall of a garage. It uses the same principle as the solar dehydrator we have on our garage roof–basically it’s just some clear plastic and a heat collector made out of black window screen. If your climate is cold and sunny (think Colorado) this would work nicely. Read the post to see a r...

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LA Times Calls Vertical Gardens in a Dry Climate a Bad Idea

8220;The concrete wall behind the bagged-and-hung garden is wet with runoff from an automated drip system. The sacks are calcified with irrigation scale. Even in an open-air setting, get close and there is a whiff of mold. It’s hard to imagine a less savory or more whimsically destructive system for a region in a water crisis.” Amen. We need more critical thinking like this, especially when it comes to schemes with “eco” or...

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Gift Suggestions, from the Other Half

thored by a Chumash healer and a USC pharmacology prof., both of whom write for Wilderness Way magazine. A fascinating resource documenting both historical uses and current scientific opinion on our native plants. My post on it is here. Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson, University of California Press, 2006 I’m still fascinated with this book’s...

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Testing the Lead Testers

n extractant, AB-DTPA (ammonium bicarbonate Diethylene Triamine Pentaacetic acid). Here’s how Wallace described their lead testing techinique, We use AB-DTPA (ammonium bicarbonate Diethylene Triamine Pentaacetic acid). It is a gentle extractant and it mimics roots in extracting minerals from the soil. Most often environmental tests are made with boiling acids which are more aggressive than roots. The AB-DTPA method is a standard testing me...

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Cast Iron Cookware Class at Winnetka Farms

years of use your skillet needs more then a cleaning, you’ll learn how and what to do to restore that favorite piece in your collection. If you have a problem piece of cast iron you can’t “fix,” bring it to class so I can make a recommendation to restore your item. Thirty dollars per student to be paid upon arrival. Check or cash only. This class has a limit of 12 students. Light foods and beverages will be served. Locati...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

I just installed a “laundry to landscape” greywater system at the house of Lora “Homegrown Neighbor” Hall using greywater guru Art Ludwig’s free open-source plans. It was a cinch. And, thanks to a revision in the California plumbing code last year, it’s legal with no permit required. I started in the laundry room by rigging up a three way diverter valve so that Lora can route the greywater back to the sew...

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A Redneck Rocket Stove

From Wes Duncan, the “High Tech Redneck,” a rocket stove made out of cinder blocks. I’ve built one of these too and can confirm that they work great. And you can’t beat the price. Time for some redneck cookin’! Update: As several readers have pointed out, this design ain’t safe. Cinder blocks can explode and were not meant to be placed next to a heat source–that’s what fire bricks are for. See ou...

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Airing Our Dirty Laundry

Let’s face it folks, clothes dryers suck and even Martha Stewart agrees with SurviveLA that the way to go is the old-fashioned clothes line. SurviveLA put a retractable line up in the back yard this week to replace our hated Kenmore dryer. May the bastards at Sears suffer Pharaoh’s plagues sprinkled with Job’s scabies for designing this ugly, awkward and inelegant machine. Besides, with the blazing hot sun of Los Angeles, it ma...

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Thong Theory

As author Daniel Pinchbeck suggests, we’re in a time when technique is more important than technology. Take the Homegrown Revolution Thong for instance. A friend and fellow “thoughtstylist” posed the question last night, what else could the real survivalist do with a thong in an emergency situation? It’s all about the brain my friends, so get out there and innovate – that thong has many uses – tourniquet, band...

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