How to make a Calendula oil infusion

...ine the strainer with cheese cloth or muslin. Strain the oil into a fresh, clean jar. Pour off the oil first, then press the dried matter to squeeze out the remaining oil as best you can. You’ll never get it all back. Label it  Make sure you label it with the type of oil and the date it was made. Believe me, even if you only make one jar, you’ll forget what it is and when you made it, and a year later you’ll be standing at yo...

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Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens

...to airborne toxins. I can’t help but wonder about the effect of these fumes on humans too. Several years ago, Dupont was unsuccessfully sued over the toxicity of Teflon in cookware. Sylvania, apparently, has a warning label on their Teflon coated bulbs, “WARNING: This product contains PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene–”Teflon” is a brand name). When heated, it creates fumes potentially fatal to confined birds.” G...

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Are Pallets Safe to Reuse?

...at Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, a supplier of methyl bromide, Methyl bromide products are restricted use pesticides. A certified applicator license is required to purchase and use these products and strict adherence to label directions/requirements is mandatory. Under normal fumigation conditions methyl bromide is a gas and when the pallets are properly aerated according to label instructions, virtually no methyl bromide residue remains...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...me in a little six pack cooler. Very clean canning-type jars Hot water bottle (optional) Towel(s) for insulation Your last store bought container of yogurt. You need live yogurt to start the culture, only a few spoonfuls. The label should say something about containing live, active cultures. You’ll need 1 Tablespoon of live yogurt for every quart of milk you’re transforming. Milk, of course. Make sure your milk doesn’t say ̶...

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New Health Food Trends at the Natural Products Food Expo West

...rise of gluten free products. Gluten intolerance is a problem for many people. One out of 131 people have Celiac diseases and a great many more probably have some sort of wheat allergy. However, someone tell me why we have to label products like tomato sauce and raw chicken as being “gluten free?” Most new gluten free products, everything from pasta to crackers to power bars, use quinoa. The Natural Products Expo’s own trade pub...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...y of vegetables grown in that prefecture. Ibaraki Prefectural authorities and the JA Ibaraki Prefecture Central Union of Agricultural Cooperative cooperating with other farming and agricultural associations are adding QR code labels right at the point of origin. In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer c...

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Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

...something to do with all those bills! Cotton or polyester batting taken from old pillows or quilts.  Wool in the form of cast off sweaters and blankets, perhaps shredded? This might sound nuts, but if you cut down a bunch of weeds, let them dry and chop them up, they would work as well as hay. Straw has that nice hollow stem construction which probably holds heat better than hay, but some weeds have the same sort of stems. Note: I’d disc...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

Since you all seem to enjoy accounts of our many failures around the Root Simple compound, I thought I’d share what must be one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. It’s a error up in our great chandelier of failures along with buying a 91 year old house on a hill with a bad foundation. Two words for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bough...

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Least Favorite Plant: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Today, a new feature on the blog: least favorite plants. I’ve always thought that it’s more fun to read a bad review than a glowing one, so why not extend the concept to the plant world? But we’re not going to rant about “weeds”, which Ralph Waldo Emerson defined as, “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As active foragers we’ve found virtues in what most people think of as weeds,...

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Without Merit: poison in your compost

An image from Washington State University’s aminopyralid bioassay instructions. Another thing to worry about! In the past two years farmers and gardeners in the UK and US have experienced the unintended effects of a powerful herbicide called aminopyralid, sold by Dow Chemical under the brand names Merit and Forefront. This herbicide is used to control weeds such as thistle, knapweed and yellow starthistle. The problem is that aminopyral...

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