We know there are a lot of readers to our journal, but it’s always great when folks take the time out to comment. Makes one feel a part of a larger world wide community.   Thanks for making PTF’s urban homestead a part of your daily lives.

Q & A – Ollas & Skeeters

Q. We are looking seriously at your Ollas for fall (we have now taken up a 4 ft x 20 strip of the front lawn for veg. (grin)) but I worried about mosquito issues. Do you cap ’em?

A. Glad to see your interest in this ancient and efficient method of irrigation. The hole/opening isn’t that big (1″ or two) so we use rocks to cap ’em. Looks pretty too!

Q & A – Towering Tomatoes

Q. What do you use to tie up your tomatoes

A. Homemade bamboo trellis and natural twine.

Q & A – Eggs

Q. Do you eat eggs? I know you are vegetarians, but I was wondering.

A. “Vegetarian” is different than laco-ovo vegetarian or even vegan.   Basically we do not eat meat but yes on dairy and eggs (thanks to our very own egg producers) In the dairy department we mostly eat cheese and prefer raw cheese at that.

Q & A – Greening the Driveway

Q. what “low growing herbs” did you put in that lovely driveway strip? I know you park the biodiesel Suburban there at times – don’t you worry about drips from the car getting on your herbs? Perhaps biodiesel is less toxic than conventional (but I thought Justin said it was caustic) and probably the Suburban has lubrication and fluids which include dino-oil. Also, is the herb strip just down the center, or does it have any places it cuts across the drive to capture that rainwater runoff? I’d love to do a strip like that in my drive (we had a concrete-happy prior owner too!).

A. We planted lowing growing mints and oregano also a heat tolerant clover.    Biodiesel is as ‘toxic’ as table salt or sugar and the Suburban does not leak any oil; however, where the car is parked we put mulch (recycled wood shakes from our roof project) since it is too shady to grow anything underneath a car.   The two “tire strips” are sloped into the middle “greenway strip” so that rainfall is retained.

Q & A – Cob in Cold Climates

Q. Today’s question (I’m sure there will be more to come): Would a cob oven be O.K. in a Southern Ontario Canadian Winter or would I have to store it indoors for the winter?

A. Cob is great anywhere!   In cold and rainy climates folks built permanent structures for theircob oven to protect from the elements. You’ll also want to seal the cob after plastering with boiled linseed oil.

Q & A – Rock Dust

Q. Would you guys talk more about the rock dust? I looked at the link, but info from your perspective would be appreciated. It sounds interesting!

A. “If we imitate how the earth forms soils, we need to give our gardens more than just the three elements found in chemical fertilizers,”
I think this article,The Soul of Soil, and thiswebsite best describes why remineralization will lead to healthier soil and people

Q & A – Powering Down

Q. I have a small question : how did you go about unplugging yourself from electricity? How long did it take to find alternatives?

A. As you can see from our ENERGY CHART (PDF) we cut our energy usage in 1/2 to an average 6.5 kwh (from the City of Pasadena site a “normal” Pasadena family uses 25 kwh a day)

The most noticeable electricity drop came when we replaced our second hand, thrift store purchased refrigerator with an Energy Star model (which was rebated by the City of Pasadena). After which we then replaced our nearly 30 year old, second hand Maytag washing machine with a Energy Star rated and water efficient model (also rebated by the City of Pasadena). We also have Energy Star rated TV, computers, VHS & DVD player.   If we have to buy an appliance or techno gizmo we make sure it has an Energy Star rating. I would say all these changes took place over a 2-3 year period as we went on a mission to kill-watts, of course, Pasadena’s rebate helped out considerably otherwise it would have taken us longer to make the switch.

As for the urban homestead kitchen I like to say that it’s virtually “Unplugged”   The only plug in appliance we have is the fridge.  That’s it! In the laundry room you’ll notice a dryer is absent next to its washing partner. Instead, everything is sun/air dried.

Since the ‘office’ is adjacent to the living room where most of the electronics are, we’ve eliminated phantom loads in the office by installing surge protectors.   We’ve also installed CFL bulbs about 10 or 12 years ago in light fixtures and are religious about turning off lights when we leave the room. We also opt for natural light, even in evenings.   This blackout WWII-like rationing mode of conservation is our attempt to reduce and conserve our electricity use even though it comes from a green source (12 solar panels on the south facing garage roof — also rebated by the City of Pasadena).

See the right side bar of the journal that has an ongoing list of steps we have taken….  

Still more “Answers from the Urban Homestead” coming up ….


Calif. farm town is nation’s smoggiest { YahooNews}

ARVIN, Calif. – Lying in a rich agricultural region dotted with vineyards and orange groves, this central California community seems an unlikely place for a dubious distinction: the most polluted air in America. Hemmed in by mountains, Arvin is the final destination for pollutants from cities as far away as San Francisco Bay, and its wheezing residents are paying the price. Many of them complain that the air smells toxic.
read more

The Earth from Space { Guardian}

A selection of spectacular satellite images, featured in Earth from Space, published by the Guardian and A&C Black, clearly shows man’s devastating impact on our planet, from the disappearing Aral Sea to deforestation in Brazil, urban growth in Dallas and light pollution across the globe
read more

Climate change challenging gardeners to plant smarter {CNN}

Gardeners across the country have to adapt, the sooner the better, said Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections with the New York Botanical Garden.”That means planting smarter and planting for the future,” he said. “The first thing gardeners can do is understand they’ll have to live with elevated temperatures, including higher nighttime temperatures. In winter, they’ll have less snowfall. Those two changes will have a significant impact on what we can grow.”
read more

No Comments

  1. lavonne says:

    Thanks for sharing so much valuable information. I especially love the links. Coming across your site a year or so ago has basically changed the way I think about the world, and given me hope that I can make a difference, even on my little apartment balcony — not that I’ve successfully grown anything other than rosemary yet… but I’ll keep trying.

    Btw, I think you got the link wrong for your Energy Chart.