A Prickly Harvest

...e’re feeling the the pain of a few dozen almost microscopic barbed glochids sticking out of our palms. But it’s worth it. Prickly pear fruit, despite those painful glochids, are one of our favorite crops here on our humble urban homestead (though, truth be told, a certain co-homesteader here resents the invisible glochids that inevitably end up on the kitchen countertop, not to mention the hundreds of seeds in the fruit itself). But y...

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An update on Phoebe

.... Zimmerman, does some tests and re-jiggers her treatment program. Phoebe is in heart failure–and has been for almost two years now. That’s a really good run for a cat born with a ridiculous handbag for a heart. We can’t hope for too much more. It is possible that her heart simply can’t function well enough any more to sustain her, but we’re hoping that an adjustment of her meds will buy her a few more good months, a...

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World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

...n full leaf. In the photo above all his energy has gone into the flower, so the leaves are a sad shadow of their former glory. Basically, SuperChard used to look like an exotic, pampered tropical plant. One that did not mind rattling around in our hatchback and getting dragged all over tarnation. Chard reproduces in its second year, and SuperChard’s time has come. He began to bolt with our first heat wave and has sent up a huge flower spike...

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Google Sketchup as an Urban Homesteading Tool

...n, greatly assisted by an amazing and free 3d design program: Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp). While it takes some time to learn (I’m still learning!), this program helped me visualize the chicken run as well as estimate the amount of materials I’d need to buy. Here’s how I used it to create the run: Previous runs either did not work (chickens squeezed out and flew over) or were hideously ugly. I resolved to design a...

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Mellow Yellow: How to Make Dandelion Wine

...my campsite that evening. When I opened the bottle, I anticipated something more magic than what met my tongue. It was cloying yellow syrupy stuff, which resembled soft drink concentrate. I poured it out next to my tent, returning it to the earth where she could compost it. I was sure that I’d never get close to it again. That was fifteen years ago, and now I have been drinking dandelion wine for about two years. The new stuff is stuff I’ve mad...

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Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

I spotted some nice front yard gardens while I was out for a walk the other day. Check out these finds: Above, these gardeners have used some scrap lumber as retaining walls to allow them some extra soil depth for planting. In this small front yard bed they’re growing beautiful kohlrabi (my new favorite vegetable), some climbing beans and a few different kinds of squash. Keeping a veggie garden doesn’t have to be either complicated...

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Cooking With Heritage Grains: Sonora Wheat Pasta

Once you start working with heritage grain varieties it’s hard to go back to the few choices in the flour aisle we have at most supermarkets. I managed to get my hands on some Sonora wheat a few months back and have been experimenting with it ever since. Traditionally used for tortillas, it’s also great for pancakes and bread. Yesterday I made pasta with Sonora wheat using a recipe by Whole Grain Connection founder Monica Spiller. Y...

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Don’t store your cucumbers in the fridge

Image courtesy of UC Davis. Photographer: Don Edwards Just in time for cucumber season, some news that surprises me. Did you know that you should store cucumbers at room temperature? Credit for my enlightenment goes to UC Davis. (May I just say bless UC Davis for all the good it does?) In this case I’m referencing their department of Post Harvest Technology. According to them, cukes should be stored at room temperature. If you do...

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Make a Brigid’s Cross

.... A proper reed cross They’re super-easy to make. Just go the Fish Eaters site for very clear weaving directions. Traditionally they are made out of reeds or long pieces of straw. I had neither, so I used some broom corn*, which didn’t result in a symmetrical effect that reeds give, but is sort of cute in its own way.  (FYI for you southerners: I tried palm fronds first, but they were too slippery. And seei...

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Saturday Linkages: Yaks, an M16 Lamp and Hog Farm Explosions

An urban homestead meltdown in Arcata involving yaks, 24 foot meditation towers and unhappy neighbors: http://www.arcataeye.com/2012/03/occupy-arcata-heights-ends-with-a-splatter-march-14-2012/ M16 lamp – http://boingboing.net/2012/03/15/m16-lamp.html And . . a lamp made out of used coffee filters: http://www.recyclart.org/2012/03/coffee-filter-lamp/  The Apocalypse will be a lot like flying coach: http://boingboing.net/2012/03/14/the-ap...

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