How to Grow Green Beans Even If You Have A Brown Thumb (via Treehugger.com)

green beans seedling pole beans         CC BY 3.0 Richard Stephenson

Whether you call them string beans, snap beans, or haricots verts, green beans are a great addition to any backyard garden, and because they’re easy to grow and harvest, they can be a good gateway crop for beginning gardeners. Green beans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and two distinctly different growing habits, so they can be grown to suit just about any garden space in most climates. And in addition to being a tasty garden treat, green beans can improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen with their roots. Continue reading

In Care of… Anita Dong Miller

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By Ian Denchasy

In November of 2013, we made the decision to bring Alicia’s mother home from convalescent care to live on Our Urban Farm. Our main motivation was her doctor’s diagnosis that Anita (her real name) was losing her battle with the triple-headed monster of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia and would soon (within a few months time) turn for the worse and end her stay in this life. Continue reading

2014 Garden Refresh… Time to Thin, Clean, and Replant

With spring suddenly upon us – at least according to theWP_20140301_002 calendar as we really don’t have traditional winters here in Southern California – we decided to combine our minimalistic approach to our outdoor spaces, cleaning out all the old leaves, furniture, and general clutter inhabiting the backyard, area behind our laundry room, patio, and side entrance on the south side of our property. Out went the old plastic lawn chairs, corroded fire pit, and rusty smoker (retrieved by the unseen curbside pickers in the middle of the night), leaving behind only our patio table and matching chairs, chicken coop, and propane BBQ. Our vegetable boxes also remained, but they survived the cut due to both their productivity and attractiveness (and they occupy former lawn space). Continue reading

Minimalism Update: Progress – Finally

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“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Socrates

In the spirit of our newfound passion for less, here’s an update on where I’m at in implementing minimalism into our cluttered household… Continue reading

1964 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Restoration – Part 6

WP_20140216_002After a three month hiatus to deal with Alicia’s mother moving in for the final leg of her life journey, I finally got back to working on our little camper in the hopes of making a one year anniversary trip back to our first trailer rally at Ocean Mesa campground in El Capitan, CA. The Aristocrat has been covered by a tarp all this time, but a scarily mild  “winter” here in Southern California made its use almost non-existent; indeed, we’ve only had 2-3 days of rain (more like heavy mist) in the past 90 days. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 30 years now and I can honestly say I’ve never seen such unbelievably gorgeous weather, even if the flip side is the worsening of our already severe, years’ long drought. Continue reading

Our Journey Into Minimalism, Part 2 – Our Bedroom and Living Room

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Our bedroom – post minimization.

In our quest to minimize our household (as detailed here in a previous post), we decided to take a room-by-room approach, starting with our bedroom. This is logical for two main reasons; first, it’s the furthest room back, bordering our backyard, so initiating our house purge here and working forward is a great plan of attack. Second, with both of us susceptible to allergies – Alicia especially – doing a major cleaning and paring of dust collecting items in the room we spend almost one third of our lives in is good from a health perspective. As an aside, our bedroom had become a collection point for dozens, if not hundreds, of small memorabilia items ranging from buttons of our son in his Little League Baseball days, Burning Man schwag, no longer worn jewelry, piles of paper, old clothing, and unused fixtures. Continue reading

Refreshing: Grapefruit Honey Ginger Soda

Though it may be chilly outside, I think the beginning of the year is an excellent time for a glass of homemade grapefruit ginger soda. I came up with this recipe when my partner swore off commercial soda, and after months of holiday indulgence, the light and tangy fizz is most welcome. The soda is sweetened with honey, not sugar, and the ginger provides a note of warmth for winter.

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Five Great Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen

Looking for an alternative movie to watch in 2014? Here are a few of our favorite under-the-radar films from the last couple years. All are available for free or low rental fees on either Amazon Prime and Netflix.

1. Monsters

After a NASA deep space probe returns from a mission and crash lands in Mexico, strange (and giant) life forms start propagating all over the country, causing the borders to be closed and its inhabitants to be quarantined from the rest of the world. The only way in and out of Mexico are by exorbitantly priced, infrequent water ferries that only run for six months out of the year. Enter two individuals, Samantha and Andrew, who (through a series of unfortunate incidents) miss their boat and are forced to hitchhike up the middle of the Mexican countryside to the Texas border (sound familiar), trying all the way to avoid the giant alien creatures blocking their path. Continue reading

Paring Down… Our Journey Toward Minimalism

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One of the main goals of Our Urban Farm – in its reality – is to live as naturally and holistically as possible within the framework of our busy metropolitan surroundings. As such, and in keeping with our action-oriented plans on installing vegetable garden boxes, rainwater catchment containers, and drought tolerant landscaping, we’ve now begun the process of minimizing our material possessions in anticipation of a serious life change coming up in three years. Continue reading

1964 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Restoration – Parts 3,4, and 5

Exactly one month after starting my Aristocrat Lo-Liner restoration project, I’m finally seeing some real progress and looking forward to the day she will once again roll the highways in all her vintage glory. I can’t say truthfully that I haven’t had my doubts throughout this whole process, but with the walls going up and everything fitting properly, my self confidence has received a much needed boost and I actually believe I’ll be able to complete the entire restoration within the next 3-4 weeks. Continue reading