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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The Whip: A Homemade Moisturizer How-To from Making It

...city and purity of ingredients. I don’t care so much about consistency– or rather, simplicity trumps it. This means sometimes the recipe doesn’t work, and more often than not there’s some separation of water. This is “normal.” 2)  See, it’s not really possible to make a perfect lotion with these ingredients. Their union is not stable. I think my lotion might be defined as a temporary emulsification brough...

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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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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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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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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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Build a Washing Machine Greywater Surge Tank

After the shower, the next best source for greywater is the washing machine. Constructing what is called a surge tank with a fifty gallon plastic drum is the simplest way to reuse your washing machine waste water. Perfectly good water that would ordinarily just go down the sewer will instead water your plants after first spending a short time in the fifty gallon drum. Temporarily draining your washing machine into a fifty gallon drum has two adv...

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