DIY Outdoor Shower

Photo by the MacAllen Brothers Showers are overrated. The first step in considering whether to build an outdoor solar heated shower is to take a step back and consider boring old conservation. Shower less and make sure that your domicile is equipped with a low-flow shower head. Not only will you be saving water and burning less fossil fuels to heat that water, but your body odor will soon separate your real friends from superficial hangers-on....

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Lady Urine, Water Conservation and Halfway Humanure

.... It’s sort of disturbingly medical-techno. The advantage of this type of funnel over, say, a kitchen funnel,  is that it has a very long nose or nozzle. This, she explained, allows her to neatly direct the urine into a watering can. Very smart. I wondered if other female readers out there had tried-and-true methods for urine collection that they’d be willing to share? I’m terrible at it, myself. This is particularly pertinent f...

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Out of Water!

There’s nothing like a utility outage to make one ponder the various Mad Max type scenarios that might play out when the power goes out for good and legions of zombified TiVo addicts stumble out onto the streets in search of the last remaining supplies of Doritos. Of all the utility outages we’ve experienced in our shabby 1920s bungalow, this weekend’s water outage was the most annoying. Other than the intenets, a couple of lig...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

When your laundry water is going to the soil instead of to the sewer (or a septic tank) you need to make sure that detergent is friendly to soil life. Your big brand detergents are a no-go. And even the various eco-detergents, even ones marked “biodegradable”, are not appropriate for the soil because they are essentially salt-based. They play well with aquatic life, bless them, and they’re a great alternative to more toxic det...

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Gourmet Foraging and Advanced Acorn Processing

...ny rate, if you don’t want larvae in your house, you’ll want to keep the acorns somewhere else. Acorn Processing No matter what type of acorn you’ve harvested, you’ll need to leach the tannins out with water. This is a faster job with sweeter acorns and a longer job with the more bitter ones. But either way, you’ll have acorn meal at the end. To start the leaching process, you’ll need to shell the acorns and ch...

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Rain- The Best Gift of All

...past few years have been extremely dry here in the West. The year before last we literally had 3 inches of rain in L.A. So rain really feels like a gift from the gods. We had a decent rain recently and I have been using the water I harvested. As you can see in the photo, my downspouts go into a rain barrel. A slight design flaw I have discovered in hindsight is that the spout doesn’t attach directly to the barrel. There is screening over...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...lantro etc.) and sprinkling that on top. Add cheese and hot sauce and you are good to go. Warm the beans up and toss them with hot pasta. Any kind. Sauced or not. If you throw some chopped broccoli or other veg into the pasta water and let it cook along with the pasta, then you’ll have something green in your bowl, too. Toss together beans, chopped vegetables and cooked pasta to make a cold pasta salad. Add dressing and you’re good to...

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Return of Bean Friday: Bean Broth or “Tuscan Crazy Water”

Yep, Bean Friday rears its head again–or is it Frugal Friday? Whatever it is, I’ve got this thrifty idea for you. I read about in The Italian Country Table , by Lynn Rossetto Casper. We’ve had this book for years and years, and it has some really good recipes in it that have become standards in our house, along just with a couple of duds. I’d not paid attention to her entry on “Crazy Water” before, but by her...

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Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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