Biking (Halfway) Across Kansas

It's been over a month now since I joined 800 other people in Biking Across Kansas.  This was my first "supported ride," meaning that I was not carrying my own gear but only responsible for bicycling to each day's destination.  It's taken me this long to blog about the experience because, well, I didn't have a great time, and I quit halfway through, and I needed some time to put a positive spin on the experience.

Tour our urban farm!

On May 9, International Permaculture Day, we hosted a tour of our "urban farm."  We made an audio recording of the tour, edited it down to an hour, and posted it here with a photo slideshow.  Enjoy!

http://interdependentweb.com/content/2012_tour

10 lessons learned from rewiring our house

A big part of the reason I haven't blogged here since March is that around that time I took on the project of rewiring our 1920 house (replacing the old knob & tube wiring with modern nonmetallic cable that meets code), and it's consumed much of my spare time ever since.  It looks like I'll finally finish the wiring part of the project later today, and then it'll just be a question of patching holes, etc.

Finally, a travel mug that Does Not Leak and is Easy To Clean

For Christmas, my cousin Tiff gave me a stainless steel, double-walled coffee mug made by Stanley, pictured at right.  I must admit I wasn't enthusiastic at first.  I've had a lot of travel mugs,

Hoop house in the snow

Here's what happened to our hoop house after we got six inches of drifting snow:

interior of hoop house in snow

Sheet mulching with ragweed

ragweed and cornstalk layer in an okra bedMidsummer poses a number of challenges here at our urban farm.  It's when I've finally gotten around to preparing garden beds for sheet-mulching, but that means I need a large volume of green organic matter, as well as the leaves or straw I've saved from the previous fall.  Grass clippings are easy to come by, but they tend to turn slimy and smelly under sheet mulch conditio

cheesy walnut burgers

When I lived in Fairfield and Jessie would come to visit every few weeks, one of her favorite things to do in town was to go to Small Planet Cafe and have a cheddar walnut burger.  We both agreed it was delicious and had a great texture.  On our last visit to the restaurant I asked for the recipe, only to find that the burgers were a frozen product made in Minnesota!  This appears to be it: http://www.walnutburger.com/  We were disappointed, not least because Small Planet claimed to be inspired by the famous cookbook, which rails ag

In praise of Tyfon, King of Greens!

photo courtesy of Daphne's DandelionsBack in the summer of 2008 when I was first ordering plants for our winter garden, I came across an item called "tyfon" or "Holland greens." It was in the section of the Territorial Seed catalog devoted to cover crops, and indeed when the seed packet arrived it said "EDIBLE GREEN MANURE."  How appetizing!  But in farming lingo, a "green manure" is just a cover crop that improves the soil... multiple sources said that tyfon could be eaten by people as well as animals, so I ordered it, along with several other crops that Territorial promised were winter-hardy.

The case for "smart" surge protectors

I've been seeing magazine and newsletter articles for some time promoting the new "smart" surge protector that shut off power to peripheral devices when a "master" device is turned off, but I figured we didn't need one because we usually turn off our power strips manually.  In practice, though, we often weren't turning off the one in the living room, because we'd turn off the TV with the remote and then walk away, go to bed, etc.  So I decided to pick up a Philips mo

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