Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

...e mix starts to cool. I find that the lip of a liquid measuring cup gives enough control to fill even those fiddly little plastic lip balm tubes. Let the containers sit, open, until they are completely cool. Then lid them and label them. Clean up: The best way I’ve found to deal with the waxy grease residue (since I stopped using paper towels) is to shake a generous amount of baking soda into the dish and then rub it around. The soda lifts...

Continue reading…

Make a Sourdough Starter

Every damn urban homesteader ought to have a sourdough starter living on their countertop. It’s easy and here’s how we do it around the Homegrown Evolution compound: 1. Get yourself a glass or ceramic container with a lid. It should be able to hold at least three to four cups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place....

Continue reading…

Salvia Means Salvation: White Sage

...r the smoke, you should burn a single leaf, and pray while you do it. She said that white sage should never be burned thoughtlessly, like incense, because it is their most sacred plant. A better use for white sage is in your water bottle.  Cecilia recommended that we (the class, aka people with interest in plant healing) drop a single white sage leaf (dry or fresh) into our water bottles and so drink a bit of its essence every day. She uses does...

Continue reading…

Bucket Flushing

SurviveLA is researching greywater systems and today we’ve got our first tip on recycling your water. First a definition. Greywater is the waste water that comes out of your shower, sinks, and washing machine. Blackwater is the icky stuff that comes out of your toilet and because of the risk of contamination it should not be reused. For now we’ll lump the kitchen sink in with the toilet since food scraps, particularly for meat eaters...

Continue reading…

A Fast Bean Friday: Khichdi

...our go-to “fast foods” around here. It cooks up in about a half hour, and you don’t even have to stand by the stove for that half hour. You just saute up the spices, add the rice, lentils chopped veggies and water, put a lid on the skillet and walk away. It’s also a great way to use up vegetable odds-and-ends. You can throw just about anything in there, and the great khichdi magic will make it all work, somehow or another....

Continue reading…

Using Greywater from your Washing Machine

With our current bad drought conditions it makes no sense to pour perfectly good water down the sewer. So we just joined the greywater underground with our illegal washing machine surge tank, and the installation was a piece of cake. We built our washing machine surge tank based on the design in Art Ludwig’s book Create an Oasis with Greywater. The purpose of the surge tank is to prevent the built-in pump in the washing machine from burni...

Continue reading…

Planting a Mini-Orchard

...as also an unnecessary step. While I have a clay soil, the hillside drains fairly well. A properly sized mulch basin should suffice to allow greywater to infiltrate. Also, the new generation of washing machines use a lot less water than the old one that I still have. Other than the unnecessary bucket and the persimmon tree (died, for some unknown reason) this greywater application has worked very well. Our fruit trees are lush and happy. With th...

Continue reading…

Cleaning the Sink with Baking Soda and Lemons

...can see it in the windowsill of the top picture. You know, it was totally worth the $1.99. Using baking soda: The trick to using it effectively is to not use it in a very wet environment. Baking soda dissolves quickly in water, unlike some scouring cleansers. Don’t try to use it in standing water, or even with a very wet sponge.  For it to work well, it has to be on the dry side. If my sink is wet, I’ll run a towel over it to ge...

Continue reading…

Strange brew: herbal steam for a chest cold and sinus pain

...ience. My new best friend in this experience is my steaming pot-o-herbs. Most folks know that you can inhale steam to ease congestion, whether that be in a hot shower, a steam room or by tenting a towel over a bowl of boiling water. What I’m going to talk about here is the bowl technique, tricked up by spiking the water with powerful healing herbs. My inspiration came from the book by well-known herb expert, Stephen Harrod Buhner called He...

Continue reading…

Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

...food into, and leave it all day (or all night) to finish cooking. It’s the forerunner of the crockpot. This cooking technique isn’t limited to hay boxes. The same concept is used by people who put oats and boiling water into a Thermos at bedtime and enjoy the finished oatmeal in the morning, or by campers who wrap their sleeping bags around a cooking pot so they’ll have hot food when they get back to camp. As far as I can tell,...

Continue reading…