Posts filed under ‘How-To’

How to Start a Crop Swap

Backyard gardeners and urban homesteaders are coming together to share excess produce in increasingly popular local meet-ups known as crop swaps, where neighbors exchange, say, beets and greens for apples and squash. Some crop swaps include trades for honey, eggs, flowers, and preserved or prepared foods, too.

Read How to Start a Crop Swap by Sarah Henry in Shareables.

August 16, 2017 at 10:49 am Leave a comment

Make Your Own Off-the-Grid Yogurt in Large Jars

Water bath pot over pilot light method. Photo © Liesl Clark

I’m amazed at how hard it is to find yogurt in glass. Supermarket yogurt is all in plastic containers and if you’re trying to keep your family plastic-free, yogurt would have to be taken off your list. Unless you make your own.

The simple process of making yogurt in a pot, bowl or jars in the sun or by a fire should’ve stuck with me, but somehow I became complacent thinking I needed a yogurt maker to make the good stuff. Not so.

Today, I make yogurt in bulk — large quart mason jars of it so I can share starter with friends or barter it for other fresh produce or home-made goodies. I don’t need any electricity to make it so I call it off-the-grid yogurt, reminiscent of my teen days in France.

Read the full article: Make Your Own Off-the-Grid Yogurt in Large Jars by Leisel Clark at Trashbackwards.

July 10, 2017 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

101 small ways you can improve your city

Any place can be a playground

We’ve scoured cities all around the world for small ideas with huge potential, and asked some of our favorite urban thinkers for tiny ways to make outsized transformations. And we divided them all up into six sections to help focus your efforts.

6. Add additional bike parking. While artful racks and bikeshare stations are sprouting up everywhere, popular roadways and sidewalks can still become overcrowded with riders angling to anchor a U-Lock. Small businesses can help make a difference by placing some DIY rackspace out front to make the parking situation more bearable. Here are some creative solutions.

31. Take over an empty storefront. Closed for business doesn’t need to mean closed from the community. Numerous neighborhood groups, artists, and local business groups have turned empty commercial spaces into canvases and economic catalysts. From Project Pop Up, which hosted an array of displays and shops in abandoned Pittsburgh Storefronts (some of which have become permanent tenants) to initiatives such as Chashama and SmartSpaces in New York, creatives are breathing new life into these underutilized spaces.

Read 101 small ways you can improve your city by Patrick Sisson and Alissa Walker at Curbed.

July 3, 2017 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

Strength Test #1: How’s your Main Street doing?

“Take a photo of your main street at midday. Does the picture show more people than cars?”

space2

This is the first item on the Strength Test for a reason. It helps us understand on a very basic level whether your town is filled with cars passing through, or people enjoying your city center as a destination. At Strong Towns, we call humans the “indicator species of economic health.” If you’ve got a lot of them walking around, visiting your town’s businesses, enjoying your town’s amenities and living in your town’s homes, you’re well on your way to being a strong town. That means you have an economic base to support your community and people who genuinely want to live in your place and contribute to it.

On the other hand, if your main street is devoid of people and merely a thoroughfare for cars, that tells us about your town’s auto-dependence (which makes infrastructure costs expensive) and it tells us about the tax base of your community. In our analyses of tax value per acre in city after city, we find that downtown cores and main streets are the most economically productive places.

Read Strength Test #1: How’s your Main Street doing? by Rachel Quedno at Strong Towns.

June 26, 2017 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

The Easiest Way To Compost

Compost

So you’re ready to take the plunge and start composting. You’ve made the space, and put aside time to figure it out: this is the year. Two deep breaths. Now, how do you do it? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
Here’s What You Need

1. Carbon-rich “brown” materials, such as fall leaves, straw, dead flowers from your garden, and shredded newspaper.

2. Nitrogen-rich “green” materials, such as grass clippings, plant-based kitchen waste (vegetable peelings and fruit rinds, but no meat scraps), or barnyard animal manure (even though its color is usually brown, manure is full of nitrogen like the other “green” stuff). Do not use manure from carnivores, such as cats or dogs.

3. A shovelful or two of garden soil.

4. A site that’s at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide.

Read The Easiest Way To Compost at Rodale’s Organic Life.

 

June 5, 2017 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

17 Vegetables for a Shady Garden

A shady yard doesn’t have to dash your vegetable gardening dreams. There are actually a number of vegetables that will do quite well with just a few hours of sun each day. Though these partial-sun plants may not produce the bountiful harvests that they would in full sun, they will still do quite well.

Most vegetables love the sun, and require a full day of good light to flourish.

 However, if you have a spot in the yard that gets just 4-6 hours of sun each day, you can still have a great little veggie garden. Here are some plants that should thrive.
  • Asparagus: It will take two to three years before your asparagus starts to produce, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Choose a good patch where it can run and grow, and you will be greeted with fresh stalks each spring. Asparagus plants can produce for up to 20 years!
  • Beans: Try beans that grow in a bush, rather than pole beans. These tend to do much better in the shade, and will grow quickly.

Read 17 Vegetables for a Shady Garden by Erin Huffstetler at The Balance.

May 24, 2017 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Squeezing Oil Out of Your Travel (Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017, Part 2)

oil-spillAs long as you and I consume oil, we make oil nastiness possible in the most basic way. Our money, and how we spend it, is an extension of our values, our intent, our convictions. If we don’t consume the oil, then, yes, someone else might. But when we participate in the ugly world of oil by consuming its products, we not only make it profitable, we give the whole craziness our implicit consent. Our efforts to change this are not useless drops in the bucket. Paradigm shifts most often happen first within small subgroups that eventually form enough critical mass to cause large-scale cultural change.

Now I know you’re not going to shed your junk miles, move to a ten-minute neighborhood or replace all your flights with trains tomorrow. It may, in fact, take you years to squeeze the oil out of your travel. I suggest for 2017 that you adopt the task as a kind of hobby, (after all, we don’t mind spending time and money on our hobbies) and get creative, flexible and even adventurous about the options available. You may be surprised by the life benefits that cheap oil has been hiding from you.

Read Squeezing Oil Out of Your Travel (Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017, Part 2) by Karen Lynn Allen at Musings.

May 1, 2017 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

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