Make a Spore Print

Making a mushroom spore print is a fun activity for the kidlings and it’s simple: 1. Pick a mushroom (from the wild or the supermarket) and break off the stem. 2. Put your mushroom, spore side down, on a piece of white paper (or a 50/50 split of of dark paper and white paper to check subtleties in the color). 3. Put a glass over the mushroom and wait 24 hours. The next day you should have something that looks like the picture above. Spore...

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Seedling Disaster!

“No one talks of failure as anything but shameful; this is wrongheaded and foolish . . . Mistakes are synonymous with learning. Failing is unavoidable. Making is a process, not an end. It is true that deep experience helps avoid problems, but mainly it gives you mental tools with which to solve inevitable problems when they come up.” -Tom Jennings, as quoted in Mark Frauenfelder’s excellent new book, Made by Hand: Searching f...

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Laundry to Landscape Legal in LA

...ming that you don’t need a permit within LA city limits for “a graywater system in a one or two-family dwelling that is supplied only by a clothes-washer and/or a single-fixture system.” Though, confusingly, it also goes on to say, “Any alteration to the building or plumbing, electrical or mechanical system requires a permit.” I guess we shouldn’t expect clarity from a department that can’t seem to get a...

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Vital Farms: Pasture Raised, Organic Eggs at Whole Foods

...Whole Foods and they have expanded into meat chickens. Now, hopefully, I can recover from the spectral celebrity hallucinations induced by downing hundreds of free samples of things like pro-biotic frozen pizza (I’m not making this up) and caveman power bars. Perhaps a pasture raised egg omelet will wipe away my açaí berry hangover. Thanks to Dale Benson for suggesting attending this event and for driving, spending a half hour finding a par...

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A Bicycle Powered Washing Machine

if you’ve got the space, a BPWM can also water your garden while giving you a chance to loose a few pounds. There are a couple of designs floating around the internets, but we like Homeless Dave’s the best because it you don’t need to do any welding or fabrication of special parts. Homeless Dave’s extensive instructions require scavenging a bike, a trainer (we found one in the street, but we’ve also seen them at gara...

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Deep Bedding for Chickens

We’ve got about 5-6″ of loose stuff on the floor of our chicken run. Underneath that, it’s black gold. Around this time of year, folks are getting chickens. Some for the first time. So I figured it was time to talk about deep bedding again. I know we’ve written about it before, in our book, or on this blog, but this advice bears repeating: Nature abhors bare ground.  Line your chicken coop and run with a thick l...

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

...r penetration (I know this from experience) and the kitchen scraps create a plant nutrient overload. Instead Chalker-Scott suggests simply a very thick layer of mulch–12 inches. Mulch is often free, as many cities give it away, and it does wonders for the soil. Mulch, in fact, breaks down into soil, retains moisture and creates habitat for earthworms. Read more in Chalker-Scott’s post, “Is lasagna gardening really worth the ef...

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Support Locally Sourced Kittens

Mrs. Homegrown here: Our friend, Anne–who stuck us gifted us with our own kitten a couple of months ago, now has a pair of rescued kitties looking for a home. They came to her in bad shape, their tiny little bodies crawling with fleas, so much so that the water of their first bath turned blood red. One was very, very sick with some sort of intestinal bug. He didn’t seem likely to make it, but recovered, thanks to Anne’s 24-h...

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Compost Rebuttal

Kelly’s secret compost pile. I found out via a blog post last week that Kelly had secretly constructed a compost pile to deal with a surplus of kitchen scraps. She knew I’d be unhappy with this due to my anal retentive approach to composting. So why am I unhappy with this pile? The reason is simple: it’s too small and will never generate enough heat to: Kill weed seeds. Kill human and plant pathogens. Kill root nemat...

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How to clean a stained coffee cup

This is what it looked like fresh out the dishwasher. Ugh! The sink post reminded me about this quick and easy tip. If you’ve got a stained coffee mug, baking soda will take that gunk right off.  Just sprinkle some baking soda in the mug, then wipe down the inside with a damp rag or sponge. The stain will give in on the first pass. As I described in the sink post, the trick here is to keep the mug on the dry side, because baking...

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