Sourdough Recipe Disaster!

There’s nothing we hate more than a bad recipe, something that the internets have in as great an abundence as porn, penis pills and subprime mortgage ads. And after a visit from the revolutionaries at Weasel Goes Pop yesterday we learned that Homegrown Revolution is guilty of distributing a bad whole wheat sourdough starter recipe. Please pay a visit to our corrected version here.

A Prickly Harvest

So what’s wrong with this picture? Those who have harvested the delicious fruit of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) will recognize the wisdom of using tongs to avoid the thousands of tiny painful spines (technically called glochids). But truly experienced prickly pear harvesters immediately see the foolishness of not wearing gloves even when wielding those tongs. We know better, yet we’re feeling the the pain of a few dozen almost microscopic barbed glochids sticking out of our palms.

But it’s worth it. Prickly pear fruit, despite those painful glochids, are one of our favorite crops here on our humble urban homestead (though, truth be told, a certain co-homesteader here resents the invisible glochids that inevitably end up on the kitchen countertop, not to mention the hundreds of seeds in the fruit itself). But you must respect a plant that can produce fifty pounds of fruit, not to mention edible leaves on just the three inches of rain we received in this very dry year. In the Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles, prickly pear needs no additional irrigation, needs no pesticides or fertilizers, tolerates terrible soil and produces useful food. It’s the perfect plant for the lives of folks too busy to tend fussy non-native plants.

On the first anniversary of Homegrown Revolution, formerly known as SurviveLA, and a year after our last prickly pear fruit harvest season, we can now announce why, ironically, we’ve been too busy to keep up with our vegetable beds–next spring the good folks at Process Media will be releasing our book The Urban Homesteader. While we’ve been negligent in some of the small scale agricultural duties we profile in the book, at least we have our prickly pear cactus to keep us in fruit this summer.

And due to the unusual quantity of fruit our prickly pear has gifted us with we’re experimenting with making jelly to deal with the abundance. We’ll share the recipe and other prickly stories this coming week . . .

Sandwiched!

Homegrown Revolution began guest blogging this week on the engaging new consciousness shiftin’ nexus known as Reality Sandwich. We’ll be posting there at least once every two weeks. Check out our first post, an urban homesteading manifesto, just above Jamye Waxman’s missive, “Celebrating Sacred Sex Communities” (No doubt Waxman will probably win in the hit count).

As harangues are currently running low in our on-line poll, Homegrown Revolution will also be moving some of our transportation related harangues to the revamped blog illuminateLA, overseen by the fabulous Enci.

Pooh Power!

Unlike the Hollywood fat cats we live amongst here in LaLa land, Homegrown Revolution is more likely to find ourselves in possession of a Wag™ Bag rather than a Swag bag. What’s a Wag™ Bag you ask? Here’s the snappy copy from the Major Surplus & Survival catalog:

The Wag™ (waste alleviation and gelling) Bag Kit is the most complete, efficient and easy to use system we’ve ever offered. Each sealed kit contains: 1 waste bag with Pooh-Powder, 1 zip-close disposal bag, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and instructions. The amazing pooh-powder actually gels liquid in seconds, while it neutralizes the odor (no perfume cover-up) and the catalyst starts the decay process. The Black degradable poly bags are environmentally friendly and can be disposed of in trash containers. Can be used with any portable toilet or even in your standard home toilet when water flushing is unavailable. Can be used under or over (to keep sanitary) any toilet seat. After use, simply fold the Wag™ Bag into the zip-close bag and close. Dispose in trash container. An absolute must for your car, camper, boat, or plane (or those unsavory outhouses). Weighs 3 lbs. per kit.

The Wag™ and Pooh-Powder technology was developed by Phillips Environmental Products, a company that received a federal windfall after the weather and toilet disaster known as hurricane Katrina. FEMA soon became a huge customer as did the Pentagon which bought $1.3 million worth of bags to supply troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Major Surplus & Survival price of $39.95 for a pack of 12 Wag™ Bag kits works out to an expensive $3.32 a crap. So what are some cheaper alternatives when crap happens? Unfortunately, digging a “cat hole” is no longer politically correct. A study at Montana State University proved that human feces “remained alive with various disease-causing bacteria,” even after a year buried in the ground.

Our waste disposal preference is towards the humanure approach–turning your crap into useful compost. For the lowdown on how to humanure see Joseph Jenkin’s compelling and entertaining book which is available free online.

For hiking or temporary water outages you can simply pack your crap up for later disposal in a toilet. This is how Homegrown Revolution managed during an arduous snow camping experience last year, with one unfortunate member of our party tasked with carrying a five gallon bucket full of crap through the high Sierras. A more egalitarian approach would have been to make everyone carry a “poop tube“. You make a poop tube with 4-inch PVC pipe. Cap one end of the pipe and stick a threaded fitting on the other end. Crap in a paper bag or coffee filter, throw in some kitty litter to absorb the liquids and shove it all into your poop tube. You can then empty the tube when you get to the nearest toilet. You’ll have to size the tube based on how much you think you’ll be needing to use it.

Lastly an admission. Call us juvenile, but as some of you may suspect this missive was written in part with the purpose of exploiting the comedic potential of the expression “Pooh Powder”. Our apologies.

A Self-Watering Container in a Pot

The serendipitous discovery of two three-gallon margarine containers behind a dodgy local bakery has led to the yuppification of our self-watering container (SWC) garden. We posted earlier on how to make these handy containers, which have a reservoir of water at the bottom that keeps the soil at a uniform moisture level. We also made a video about them that we’re amused to report has been “favorited” on Youtube by pot growers.

You fill SWCs up via a pipe and they can go at least a week between waterings. It is, in our opinion, the only way to grow water-needy vegetables reliably in a container. We have used them to successfully grow eggplants, tomatoes, collard greens and blueberries (note to the DEA: no cash crops at the Homegrown Revolution compound!). With our backyard looking fairly ugly this summer we’ve backpedaled on our earlier strident post about how we don’t care if our patio looks like a methamphetamine lab, and have dressed up one of our SWCs.

Here’s how we did it:

First we stuck our three gallon self watering container inside of a large pot we had sitting around.

Next we filled the SWC with potting soil (note: you must use potting soil in a SWC). We filled the void between the SWC and the pot with rocks.

We used a plastic garbage bag as a mulch layer to help hold in the water.
A bag full of small river rocks provides an attractive cover to hide the plastic. Slice a hole in the plastic mulch layer and the pot is ready for planting.