Front yard in October, 66′ x 132′ urban, edible eden

Bare Necessities…. the simple bare necessitiesI

‘ll stop before I have our readers, humming the catchy tune from Disney’s Jungle Book

When people ask what I do, I proudly state that I’m an urban homesteader or urban pioneer. What’s an urban homesteader?  An insane (sane) person who is tied to the land 24/7, one is willing sacrifice and be content with the “bare necessities” of life. Through trials in our lives, we been taught and learned not to be selfish. Instead, we sacrifice for something bigger than ourselves. In fact, more times than not we are so focused on what needs to be done for the urban homestead or PTF that we fail to consider ourselves.

“But what do you do for a living?” Think Laura Ingalls 21st century, struggling through hard work and effort to live a simple, yet fulfilling life.   Although we are far from being truly self sufficient and independent, every day we on are on a journey towards our freedom. We have to think, sorry, live, outside the box and that doesn’t come easy. I can truthfully say, after 7 years of this urban homestead project, this life is NOT for everyone, though now “hip” it may be (the urban homestead movement, growing your own food, urban sustainability is now the rage and the PTF model being copied all over the world)  

Instead, it’s a lifetime commitment not one of a day, week or month passing fad or done with the notions that this lifestyle is ideal for a book, film or fame in mind. Hate to break the bad news, but we’ve learned first hand that one can’t have their cake and eat it too despite what many green eco advocates preach.

“to get something into your brain, heart and guts, it is only through your hands.” – Jules Dervaes

I remember as a kid looking through my father’s stack of Mother Earth magazines from the 70’s (think they’d be outdate , nope we’ve come full circle again) and would read the stories about city folks who left the city and went to live off the land. Unfortunately, in the 80’s many of those hippies left their life and land … wonder what this modern green movement will look like in a couple of years.   It’s always good to learn from the past and I wonder if this scenario will be repeated once all the popularity and newness has died down, when reality set in and one is smacked in the face with the fact that you’ll be on your knees, sweaty and dirty every day of your life, 24/7 – 365 x forever.

It’s good to remember that it’s not all tomatoes and chickens for us urban homesteaders. It’s hard work, struggle and sacrifice but as with everything sustainability does come with a price and we choose this debt over a consumer driven, unsustainable life.     We each our the new pioneers forging a new path/journey into the unknown — creating a roadmap to sustainability.   What keeps us going is our roadmap where we’ve broken down our journey in steps.

What about you, what do you struggle with?

Car Free

In our weeklong Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) celebration  last week it’s the only time of year we give each other gifts with 2nd tithe money (our1st/3 rd tithe money goes towards the PTF outreach “earth stewardship” mission). Nothing fashionable or extraneous, instead practical, useful and sustainable    Admitted (and still recovering) bike addict, Justin, had a relapse and scored a used electric bike on craiglist for less than 1/2 the retail price!

Lemon Tree

was very pretty…

The folks that purchased next door have removed the ancient lemon tree (planted by the owner when the house was built nearly 100 years ago when practically every home had a citrus planted in their yards).     Yesterday when they took a chain saw to it, we were sad to see it go. During dinner when we were talking about how we’ll miss the tree it hit me that in all the time we’ve lived here we’ve never had to buy lemons.    We were so fortunate. Anytime we need lemons for preservation, my famous rose petal lemonade, lemon butter to put on the green beans, or homemade cough syrup or toddy I’d just pop on over next door and grab a few or handful of lemons… now what will I do?   Sure, we have dwarf tree in a wine barrel – but since it’s dwarf, it produces far from the amount the lemon tree next door.   I’ve always never considered if we had enough lemons when using a recipe, now I’ll have to break a 20+ year old habit of going next door.    I may have to go to a farmers market for lemons, that would be something!   The good new is Justin did snag a few cuttings hoping to save this heirloom lemon.

Hunched Over the Computer

Seems like that’s what Jordanne and me position is these days. The last few days I have been going through the thousands of digital photos taken since 2001, deciding which ones of the many hundreds to add to the new photo gallery. The photo gallery that’s online now has about oh, nearly 800 photos and I’ve collected about another 800!   With the new photo gallery software (thanks to your generousdonations) we’ll be able to share even more photos. Ok now that I’ve picked 1 out of every 50 or so, now comes adding the photos to the gallery and putting then in their folders. Wait not so fast,   the light at the end of the tunnel was instead another train (hey gotta keep your sense of humor!).  

We’ve come across a huge problem.   Guess what?  Our new sustainable host provider, doesn’t allow PHP uploads for security reasons. Great, who would have thought.   One step forward, three steps back.  Hopefully we’ll get some sort solution to this obstacle and soon!


You think you are getting impatient with seeing the new PTF site, we’ll I can you we are too! Can’t wait till this humungous task is completed but, we don’t want to make the mistake of not completing the work (like we did that last time we upgraded this site) making it hard to us to update and manage.    Both Jordanne & I are looking forward to the time we can go back to being urban homestead gals 24/7…. Is there light at the end of this tunnel (and not just another train), for both us and our reader’s sakes I do hope so!

We are hoping this new site will mean less computer work, making it easier to keep readers updated with the latest photos, videos, stats from the urban homestead. With everything in order, we are going to strive to keep better records for both ourselves and our readers which will help when we finally sit down and start compiling a long over due book that will document our journey.    Not to get ahead or ourselves because we are first and foremost urban homesteaders and farmers. In between all this computer work we are busy with fall plantings and other projects. Some days we are so busy my head swims as I hop from one task to another and then back again making it very hard to concentrate on one job and do it well.

So bare with us through these next few months, it’ll be worth the wait. I promise.

Future Of Water In The US West: A Bleak Projection Of Climate Consequence {TreeHugger}

As lawmakers in Sacramento consider how to provide an adequate water supply for California in the coming decades, at a little-publicized state water summit this week scientists painted a bleak picture of a Western landscape devoid of forests, snow pack and surface water unless the world quickly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
The state is likely to become drier even if emissions are capped because levels of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will continue to warm the Earth for decades to come, said Norm Miller, University of California, Berkeley, Water Center associate director.
read more

Water rationing, rate hikes on tap {Pasadena Star News}

Water customers in Pasadena will “most likely” be affected by the MWD’s plan, said Shan Kwan, water division director for Pasadena Water and Power. The city purchases about 60 percent of its water from the MWD, Kwan said. “We don’t know to what extent yet because we are still looking into it, so we can’t provide any numbers right now,” said Kwan. “But we probably will have to take some conservation measures, and that could include a rationing plan.”
read more

A pretty dire prediction that’s been expected for sometime. Water of vital importance to the survival of the urban homestead, farm. Without it the garden don’t grow and we don’t eat – simple.   Over the last 15 years on the urban homestead we implemented a few water saving conservation practices (and we still have a ways to go) around the house…. • bucket drain (bathroom and produce packing area sink in the garden) – this water can be used to flush the toilet and in the garden• wash full loads using our handwasher or energy and water efficient front load washer (rebated by the City Of Pasadena)• less clothes = wash less• wearing clothes until they don’t pass the “sniff test” – simplify our wardrobe• using outdoor shower that waters surrounding edible forest• bathing/washing hair once a week (sponges work just as well on a daily basis)• no need to shampoo your hair every other day (wear it up when you work or put on a simple head covering like a hat or bandana to keep hair free of dust and dirt) rinse with apple cider vinegar (dark hair) or lemon juice (light hair) to remove soap residues that will clog your scalp and collect oils and dirt.• reusing the grey wash water to water the edible landscaping (fruit trees and shrubs along the driveway or the natural “beneficial border” )• turning off tap – not letting it run while brushing teeth • washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.• two low flush toilets (rebated by the City of Pasadena)• no dishwasher • less dishes or reuse not-so-dirty dishes means less dish washing• washing the car on our green driveway so water can percolate into the soil and surrounding landscape• when warm, heating water in thesolar ovens to wash dishes (teaches one conservation!)• toilet lid sink in the garden • handwatering/spot watering• clay pot irrigation (ollas)• mulching, mulching, mulching• polyculture• green/”living” mulching • un-lawned – edible landscaping• “square inch gardening”• self watering pots• drought tolerant plants• SOS [save our seeds] that are now acclimated to our area• permeable pathways• removed most of concrete from the driveway to prevent runoff• removed 30′ x 30′ concrete patio in backyard, recycle most into permeable walkways and retaining wall future steps • complete outdoor greywater seepage area• gutters to divert rainwater – then install Rainwater HOGS• tank-less water heater or solar water heater (still looking at watering heating options)• compost toiletBrac and or Nylex Greywater reclamation system• and more…..

No Comments

  1. Martin Koning-Bastiaan says:

    To save the lemon, it will have to be grafted on citrus rootstock or another citrus tree. Fall and Spring are good times, so now may work. However, it is not a simple matter to do it. To start, you have to keep the budwood moist (in the fridge in a plastic bag with a moist paper towel will work). But the sooner they get on a tree the better. However, most likely the lemon is a Eureka (that is what they planted in those days) the most common lemon cultivar. If you really want to to it, let me or my wife (Gail Murphy – she sent you email) know and we will help.

  2. Jeff S. says:

    I know that you probably wish you had 5 acres out in the country, but I believe that that there are some wonderful advantages to urban homesteading that will become even more pronounced in the future. Thanks for keeping me inspired!

  3. Jeff S. says:

    Oh…and I would love to see some shots of Justin’s bicycle…er … collection!

  4. David says:

    Cool bike Justin & such luck. Put some kevlar reinforced smooth silent 26 x 1.5 mtb street tires & less resistance from knobbies will be on road efficient. Looks like a sweet ride. Opps, save for summer, leave knobbies on as might bring rain this October.

    Ashame the neighbors turned lemon tree to firewood :(. I heard of this site(from Freecycler) that’s more on westside that maps out common area fruit/nut trees but haven’t time to investigate but looks like a local area can map their fruit trees as well, .