Peeing in Yogurt Containers, The Romance of Off-Grid Living

By Jack
(this is a re-post – Jack wrote this early on in our blogging effort just a couple months back and it did not get the attention it deserves…)

We were hangin’ last week laughing about all the “romantic” things that turn out not – the constant “grass is always greener” kind of imagining about living this way or that, and the more seriously unfortunate romantic notions like eager young men going off to fight in a war for “an honorable cause” only to come home (if they’re lucky) with post-traumatic stress disorder and painfully disillusioned.

Well, living off-grid has not so much life-death drama (well, can have…) but many off-grid-wannabe’s do over-romanticize the whole she-bang just out of plain in-experience.

romance and adventure just a click away (maybe…)

Buckets o’Veg, Towers o’Toms, Container Growing Anywhere*

by Jack

* almost anywhere where there is good sun, sufficient water, quality soil, a bit of attentive care and some love…

2011 spring is edging up fast – this year – are you going to grow something really good and productive? or just the same old miserable and pathetic droopy tomato plants?

Close your eyes and imagine all those big juicy tomatoes on your deck or in your yard – it’s mid-summer, warm breeze and sunny and you’ve got eggplant, and sweet cukes, crispy lettuce and ripe green zucchini  – mmmmmm!

OK, snap out of it and listen up – Here’s some tips on container gardening that you may or may not get on any of the other multitude of container gardening tutorials that will be lots more complete than I’ll ever have the patience to write.

read here to grow the best organic container veggies

YIPEE! 18.4 BELOW Zero Outside, 31.6 In!

Challenges of the Solar Greenhouse by Jack

It’s the dead of winter here. No – it’s not like, say, Minnesota, where I spent some time in that un-holy frigid icebox. But the 6500 foot elevation of our high desert plateau is still no tropical island paradise. Last week when the snowstorm gripped the whole of the US and the jet stream dipped into Mexico and swooped across the southern states as well – we got slammed. I thought our rows of bok choi, chard and mizuna were goners.

On the coldest night, the temp slid all the way down to 18.4 degrees BELOW zero Fahrenheit (only 6 degrees short of a century-record low!). The greenhouse is almost 2000 square feet – so we’re talkin’ a pretty big space with only plastic for sides to keep warm. But by morning, when the sunshine happily broke over the far mesa and immediately started relieving the chill inside (it was still 14 below outside till noon), the greenhouse stayed just the tiniest nick under 32 degrees – 31.6.

No big deal, you say? Well YES it is! You see, we’re running a “solar” greenhouse, not a fossil-fuel guzzling heated greenhouse where ya just set the thermostat and close the door (and listen to the dollars wizzing up in smoke…).

warm up by reading about this cozy place in our frigid season

Solar Hot Water Booster, Cheap and (mostly) Easy

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Cartoon by Pete Pascoe

Hey – Jack here from the DaiaSolGaia community to talk about another of my building projects. I am DaiaSolGaia’s “jack of all trades” (yea, i know …  sorry for the pun …).

I want to tell ya about another of our “experiments” that has become pretty integral in our life out here off-grid and away. I’ll also warn you right off the bat that the water heater that we built is a “below the mason dixon line”  water  heater – that is – the kind of solar hot water booster I’m going to tell you about here is not suitable for areas with extended low temps with accompanying extended lack of sun. That said, there are reasonable options for solar hot water boosting depending on the configuration/orientation of your more northern (or higher altitude) house. The links for the pretty good “How To” books are just below.

Read more on this hot wet topic here 🙂