Posts tagged ‘consume less’

Drought-Proof Planting

How to drought-proof new plantings:
Drought-proof planting makes your plants strong enough to wait for the rain so you don’t have to water them.

1. Dig the hole twice as wide and 1.5 times as deep as the root ball.

2. Fill the hole with water.

3. Drop some composted manure in the bottom. Regular kitchen compost is okay, but the addition of composted manure makes it better.

4. Let the hole finish draining, and put a handful of bone meal at the bottom. Bone meal is high in phosphorus, which promotes vigorous root growth. If you want to, you can mix it up with the compost at the bottom, but it’s not 100% necessary.

5. Fill the hole back up with water.

6. Carefully plant right there in the muck. You will get terribly dirty. You will need to squish your fingers into the mud to get enough dirt underneath. But trust me, it’s worth it. The happy fertilized roots will follow the water down, instead of remaining shallow from watering on top after planting.


1. Mulch around your plants to keep the soil cool.
2. Water in a doughnut around your plants, rather than on the crown. This will encourage your plant to continue to stretch out its roots. Plus, many plants (especially tomatoes) hate to be watered on the crown, so this will keep them happier as well.
3. Water deeply, when you do.
3. DON’T over-water. Don’t even bother getting out the watering can for a week, unless your plants are really droopy. Decide this early in the morning, because many plants naturally wilt in the sun but will perk back up in the evening without help. Water them no more than once a week for the first 3 weeks, and then wait two weeks before watering again. By that point, your plants should be just fine waiting for the rain.


June 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

Growing Bananas in -40 degree weather

The thing people always ask me when I say I’m on the 100 mile diet is, don’t you miss bananas? [Full disclosure: I can’t kick avocados, which have their tasty hooks in me] I was never that big on bananas, but I’ve tried unsuccessfully to start a dwarf variety from seed a few times (they can take up to 3 years to germinate). Amory B. Lovins (great name!) has done even better. He harvests full sized banana crops grown indoors in a -40 degree climate, without even heating the space. And the technology he used is 20 years old.

Watch this video. It’s not just about the bananas, it’s about intelligent energy-saving design, and it brought me back from the depths of GMO dispair last night.

Because I can’t endorse the Chevron PR ad preceding the vid, here’s a bonus image:
chevron bs

May 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Lawn Worth Someone’s Ability to Live?

How about desert produce?

According to this disturbing article, America’s largest reservoir is drying up. It’s really simple math: the amount of water being removed from Lake Mead every year excedes the amount being fed into it by the Colerado river.
photo by Tim Pearce

In 2008, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography issued a paper titled “When will Lake Mead go dry?” which set the odds of Lake Mead drying up by 2021 at 50-50. No more water, no more electricity, no more pumping power.

This is bad news for the million acres of crops being irrigated by the water source accross the U.S. and Mexico. Oh, and the tens of millions of people who depend upon the reservoir for their water supply, and the half-million homes that are powered by “its mighty Hoover Dam”.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, there’s the farmers who flood arid farmland with water to grow rice (what?). There’s the fact that we depend on veggies grown in the desert (how much are those California strawberries worth to you?). And then there’s the fact that residents of desert communities maintain beautiful green grass lawns, and “golfers demand courses in areas where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit”.

Is the status of a green lawn or the convenience of out-of-season food really worth “turning the tap off for 800,000 households”?

At least they’ve started “grass buyback” programs to convince people to consider drought-tolerant landscaping. They’re offering tax incentives to people who use pool covers. Lovely.

Of course, when Las Vegas residents tried to pass a bill to allow homeowners to install graywater systems, Southern Nevada Water Authority blocked it, saying that “legalizing graywater will cause people to use more fresh water and return less dirty water to the reclamation plant”. Sorry? It’s like the laws making rain barrels illegal.

Instead of considering a shift in thinking/lifestyle, the best solutions that the Big Thinkers could come up with for the problem are either to pump water in from eastern states or to de-salt seawater.

The power requirement for either proposal—desalting seawater or transporting water over great distance—is enormous. But if the only other alternative is a mass evacuation from the western United States, what other choice do we have?

Pardon me?

May 7, 2009 at 11:26 am 2 comments

Sun Loving

Every once in a while, i pull out my New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency and dream a little dream of living off the grid, but it’s never been something I thought was possible.
If you have $50,000 to spend, there’s great information on the daily green on the basics of installing solar panels, but I don’t know anyone with that kind of cash in their shoe box.

Solar water heaters are a little less intense. Solar water heaters have been used since the 19th century, and work by harvesting the sun’s heat directly rather than converting solar power into electric into heat. They cost $1,500 to $3,500, and pay for themselves in four to eight years. And I just found out that here in Ontario, the government is offering up to $1000 in grants for installing a solar hot water system. Not a bad case when you realize that average electric water heater uses 6,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, and releases more CO2 than the average car. More on solar water heaters here.

April 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

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