Newflash: Storm Watch!!!  

It’s the storm of the century! Ok, a bit too dramatic… Trying again,  it’s the storm of the year, well, how about the month?  actually that’s more like it and it’s the truth. The first measurable rain in over 7 weeks rolled in on Friday.   The local news station sent reporters to cover water running down the streets into the storm drains…. only in LA.   So Cal has had a rough fire season due to the extremely dry year, so this rain was certainly welcomed and and, thankfully, the mud slides weren’t too bad.Watering VS Rain

As any urban farmer/gardener knows, you can water all you want — till kingdom comes but nothing, nothing works miracles than that of rain.

Pasadena received a little over 3/4″ on Friday, almost a third of the total of last year’s rainy season of 3″ (normal is 19″)    What a blessing!No Heat


Besides the much needed rain, the storm brought chilly temperatures (last night dipped below 40 — 37 degrees) and yet we still haven’t fired up the wood stove.       It’s been like this every winter for the past twenty years here on the urban homesteaders.   We urban homesteaders tolerate the dip in temperatures and use other warming methods until until we feel it’s absolutely necessary to use heat. We take using heat seriously and not just a commodity we unwisely use to feel comfortable –not all the time and heat up every nook and crany.

Last night was one of the coldest so far this fall/winter season, and my sister and I went out with a girl friend to a concert. We came home late to achilly house where the urban homestead guys were sitting on the sofa bundled up under blankets, watching our local PBS station.   We did like any other pioneer girl would have done – flip on the heat! Not really, but we undressed as quickly as we could in our chilly bedroom and immediately slipped under the bed covers, shivering to warm up the lower extremities.  

Poking our noses above the covers this morning, we knew it was going to be a cold one and still we didn’t use the wood stove.   Instead we donned knitted caps, fingerless gloves, scarves, coats to combat the cold. After breakfast, we got the blood flowing by doing our regular routine chores around the urban homestead and the cold bones miraculously went away. Best thing to do if you are cold in the house is go outside where it is even colder, do your chores and then come back in the house- it’s all relative.

Growing up like this helped us to not be dependent on artificial heat or if there is heat, then to not heat ALL rooms/entire house.   Head Urban Homesteader’s practical approach is why waste heat to heat rooms that aren’t in use most of the time anyway.    So, we’ve grown up being cold sometimes.  Hey, but no feeling sorry for us – that’s what made/makes us strong and able to deal with nature one on one. We feel the cold, we feel the heat and we limited the artificial buffering that many folks are so used to these days.  

Our bodies aren’t meant to be a comfortable 72 or warm 80 degrees and we are healthier and much better acclimated having lived this way our whole lives. In fact, we’ve been so accustomed to a more natural life, that any central air or heat is so artificial that it makes us very uncomfortable.

Justin keeps dropping hints in that we should warm up the house by baking something in the oven, bread perhaps…. Luckily the sun was out today and warmed up the entire south side of the house so it wasn’t too bad.

Answers From The Urban Homestead

Q. Question for ya, In your backyard picture in the bed on the bottom left, what are you growing as green mulch? It looks like a wonderful green carpet! – Lee

A. Growing food on such a small plot of land we’ve come up with creative ways to utilize all growing space (well, we still are figuring out even more creative ways this fall as the tall summer crops give way to lower growing winter ones we once again start to look at the yard and see if we can improve problematic areas). This living green mulch you see in the photo growing underneath the broccoli is cress which we harvest (cut and come again) and use in salads and also to sell to our clients. In this polyculture growing method, you can use any low growing greens or root crops

Q. I see the square cages. Are you able to grow tomatoes in the winter? And are those cages home-made? If so, I would be interested in knowing how they are assembled. Further, can you add to the height as needed? The reason that I ask is that tall tomato cages can take up quite a bit of space when not in use. – Jeff S.

Yes, we are able to grow tomatoes in winter here but it helps to plant the right cold tolerant varieties. No, the cage aren’t homemade (unfortunately, we can’t make everything ourselves even though we try)   Since storage space is at a premium here on the urban homestead these folding cages caught our attention so we are trying out a few this year. Their foldability is a plus; however, there are disadvantages — you can’t add to their height. But since we are using them for cold tolerant tomatoes ( which only grow about 2-3 feet) and snow peas, they work fine.   We are seeing if we can somehow sell these trellisesonline, stay tuned.

Q. You mention eating a breakfast of granola…how do you eat it? I like it with yogurt, but was wondering if you eat it in some other way. Also, I guess you don’t drink any thing but water? 🙂 – Beany

Sometimes raw milk, occasionally yogurt and oftentimes just raw w/o liquids.   You guessed correctly! We only drink tap water at our meals, except for Friday night’s special dinner when we have a small glass of organic, California wine or our own homemade brew (on Friday we drank homemade elderberry wine)

We’ve had quite a slew of reader’s commenting this week – good to see you all contributing.. .


  1. Val says:

    Can you recommend a good non elecric coffee grinder. The last one I bought broke the second time I used it.
    Thank you!!!

  2. Jeff S. says:

    Thank you for the information on the tomato cages. Yeah, I wish that they were taller, and I am sure that your tomato king, Justin, agrees. But….they look great for the smaller varieties and especially for compact storage.

    I am also glad to hear that you received a good rain! That is an answer to prayer.

  3. Roger Gray says:

    Not sure where you got your rain stats, but my little home weather station agreed . . . 0.79 inches of rain for the storm . . . I think the “big storm” came up ’cause the bottom dropped out of the barometer, and the storm showed up as a BIG blip on the last year or so . . . For local weather my little weather station is reported online at . . . enter your zip et viola, all the local weather buffs you could want!

    Madison @ Mountain KCAPASAD9

  4. robin says:

    In response to Val’s question above, I just use a heavy mortar and pestle to grind my coffee beans. It’s nice because it’s a multi-purpose item. Not so much clutter in the kitchen.


  5. Lee says:

    Thanks for the info! I have a couple of very tall basil bushes that I would love to put something besides mulch around and it should like cress might be just the thing! I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

  6. Laurie says:

    We also try to use our heat sparingly, dress warmly at home and wait to turn the heat on until outdoor temps are in the 30’s or below. But I was wondering, have you insulated your home? You could be more comfortable year-round. We are increasing the insulation level of our home just as much for keeping summer heat from radiating through our walls, as for keeping winter heat inside them. I know you have many things going on, but this might be a project that pays you back very well.