Gardening
Grow your own food and herbs with the best natural and organic gardening tips.

Backyard Bounty: 8 Useful Weeds

Are weeds our friend or our foe? Discover a world of uses for eight of our favorites and decide for yourself.

The Goods on Growing Aloe

Growing aloe is easy, and the fascinating aloe genus is a boon to beginners.

leaf

Browse more great gardening content in the Mother Earth Living archives.


Spring Gardening

 

Soil Science: How to Test Your Soil pH
Learn how to test your soil's pH and apply the findings for a more productive garden.

Companion Planting Guide
Use this companion planting guide to begin a bountiful garden with plants that share a symbolic relationship.

How to Build a Bubble Rock for Backyard Birds
Houzz shows you how to build a feature to attract feathered flocks to your outdoor spaces.

Garden Designer




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Featured Video

4 Ways to Harvest Rainwater

Editor-in-Chief Jessica Kellner answers the question "What are some of the best ways to harvest rainwater?"

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TINY HOMES: SIMPLE SHELTER

There's a grassroots movement in tiny homes these days. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, burning out on 12-hour workdays – many people are rethinking their ideas about shelter – seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home.

In this book are some 150 builders who have taken things into their own hands, creating tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). Homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses.

There are 1,300 photos, showing a rich variety of small homemade shelters, and there are stories (and thoughts and inspirations) of the owner-builders who are on the forefront of this new trend in downsizing and self-sufficiency.

At the heart of our 1973 book Shelter were drawings of five small buildings, which we recommended as a starting point in providing one's own home. Now, almost 40 years later, there's a growing tiny house movement all over the world – which we've been tracking over the past two years.

Many people have decided to scale back, to get by with less stuff, to live in smaller homes. You can buy a ready-made tiny home, build your own, get a kit or pre-fab, or live in a bus, houseboat, or other movable shelter. Some cities have special ordinances for building "inlaw" or "granny flats" in the back yard. There are innovative solutions in cities, such as the "capsules" in Tokyo. There are numerous blogs and websites with news, photos, and/or plans for tiny homes, documented here.

If you're thinking of scaling back, you'll find plenty of inspiration here. Here's a different approach, a 180º turn from increasing consumption. Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who've achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.

About the Author
In 1968 Lloyd Kahn worked as Shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog. In 1971 he published Domebook 2. His shake-covered geodesic dome was featured in Life magazine. Ultimately disillusioned with domes, he took Domebook 2 out of print and in 1973 published the oversized book Shelter, which went on to sell more than 250,000 copies. In 2004, Kahn published HomeWork: Handbuilt Shelter – in many ways the sequel to Shelter – and Builders of the Pacific Coast in 2008. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter is the fourth book in this series. Kahn and his wife, Lesley live and work in a small coastal town in Northern California.

$28.95

THE SEPTIC SYSTEM OWNERS MANUAL

Fix your septic system with The Septic System Owners Manual. Learn how conventional gravity-fed septic systems work. Read about maintenance and upkeep for your septic system.

There is also basic information on the recent evolution in composting-toilet systems and designs for simple graywater systems.

This is a basic manual for the average homeowner, based on conventional systems and providing practical advice on how to keep these systems up and running.

Recommended Product for Wiser Living: Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, Mother Earth News is recommending books to its readers. For 40 years, Mother Earth News has been North America's "Original Guide to Living Wisely," creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

$19.95

THE ART OF NATURAL CHEESEMAKING

Most DIY cheesemaking books are hard to follow, complicated and confusing, and call for the use of packaged freeze-dried cultures, chemical additives and expensive cheesemaking equipment. For though bread baking has its sourdough, brewing its lambic ales, and pickling its wild fermentation, standard Western cheesemaking practice today is decidedly unnatural. In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, David Asher practices and preaches a traditional, but increasingly countercultural, way of making cheese—one that is natural and intuitive, grounded in ecological principles and biological science.

This book encourages home and small-scale commercial cheesemakers to take a different approach by showing them:

  • How to source good milk, including raw milk.
  • How to keep their own bacterial starter cultures and fungal ripening cultures.
  • How make their own rennet—and how to make good cheese without it.
  • How to avoid the use of plastic equipment and chemical additives.
  • How to use appropriate technologies.
Introductory chapters explore and explain the basic elements of cheese: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, tools and the cheese cave. The 14 chapters that follow each examine a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles, offering specific recipes and handling advice. The techniques presented are direct and thorough, fully illustrated with triptych photos that show the transformation of cheeses in a comparative and dynamic fashion.

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is the first cheesemaking book to take a political stance against Big Dairy and to criticize both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices. It promotes the use of ethical animal rennet and protests the use of laboratory-grown, freeze-dried cultures. It also explores how GM technology is creeping into our cheese and the steps we can take to stop it.

This book sounds a clarion call to cheesemakers to adopt more natural, sustainable practices. It may well change the way we look at cheese, and how we make it ourselves.

$34.95