Growing giant sunflowers can be fun and easy. By following these simple steps you can have these towering giants in your yard as well.
Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.
A transplanting that's done correctly will expedite resumed growth and encourage healthy plants. Here are some simple tips about when and how to transplant brassica, lettuce and tomatoes.
Wild edibles is probably the least energy consuming way to provide food, and especially early in the spring. Here are my favorite plants to look for right now.
Here's 5 of the basic steps to how we created our small organic home orchard/edible landscape. It's a permaculture designed area that has been created with a natural landscape as inspiration, with the least amount of human input. It will host not only heritage apples but several other fruits and berries, herbs and medicinal plants.
Here are some of the most important things to do around the homestead in April - or at least asap.
Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.
Any other year in March, the homesteading chores are back in full swing after the winter break. This year, winter lasted longer than ever and it wasn't until the end I could even conceive of getting any of the usual stuff done. Here's the list of what I normally do.
One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.
Add an efficient solar cooker to your winter emergency kit for hot meals during power outages. Even when you could have power, it's fun to roast potatoes or bake dessert off-grid on sunny winter days.
Many aspects of my homesteading life lie close to what we as humans have evolved for: the outdoors, physical activity, whole food and days and years that follows the rhythm of the seasons and the sun. But there are other, less obvious biological aspects for why I believe homesteading can improve health and well being.
February can be a hit or miss for us here at Deer Isle Hostel - snow and cold demands more creativity to stay busy, but also provides a great chance not to do much. Planting onions from seed, shoveling snow and planning for the Hostel season 2015 are some things I do to keep the cabin fever under control.
Even with the daylight hours lately, we still have quite a bit of winter left. Good health – both physically and mentally – might require a little bit more effort than in the summer but can still be achieved and maintained though this homestretch before spring.
What if I find land where I can homestead but it's at a location where no one does the same thing? The lack of a homesteading community can be a discouraging factor when looking for land, but over time, if one is patient, it is very likely you'll find others that are drawn to the basic, sustaining, diverse and positive actions of homesteading.
That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.
The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.
Up against China, the tar sand extraction, dysfunctional global summits and the endless cry for economic growth, any individual's actions to halt global warming might seem insignificant. But conscious decisions that bring us closer to nature can make a difference and might be the best we can do.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
The new apple orchard we're planning for our homestead won't be the classical lawn-layout most people are accustomed to. Our edible landscape will mimic a natural landscape with the goal to reduce interference such as spraying while providing organic fruit, berries and herbs for many months of many years.
Sun Light and Power, a solar installation co signed a deal with SolED to offer Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in the State of California. This will help public or government buildings get these deals and save tax monies.
As homesteaders, all the homesteading rewards are directly ours to keep and our work provides most of our necessities but the multiple returns we get from our homestead also give us what money couldn't buy, such as the self reliance, sense of security, dignity, the beautiful place where we spend our days and the choice to set our own schedule.
The actual footprint of a garden is only one of many factors for how much food that can be produced there. With succession planting, good soil and some planning the same garden area can produce substantially more food.
A good gardening tool is lightweight, ergonomically correct and has a positive impact on the soil. We only use hand tools (non-powered) in our gardens since we find that we can get the job done easier and more efficiently with a more correct impact on the soil and less impact on our bodies than we would with any machines.
Here at Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, we use a compost pile built with local, natural materials and a 100-foot water pipe to create a steaming hot shower.
Few other vegetables represent summer as a sun-ripe, homegrown tomato does.This is how we raise and plant tomatoes at the Deer Isle Hostel and Homestead.
A well-thought-out garden design will make your work enjoyable and manageable and will encourage the gardener's presence and attention.
Making our own compost is not only a way to meet our need of fertilizer, it's also a way to redirect the garden scraps, chicken manure, leaves and grass cuttings from the waste stream to the resource river. Another area where this applies around our homestead, is our use of a composting toilet. For us, the difference between what goes down a flushing toilet and what accumulates in the buckets in the outhouse is the difference between waste and resource.
A homestead is about so much more than just mindful ways of producing one's needs; the health of the land and landscape is nothing if the health of the homesteader isn't there. The most sustainable homestead is one where the homesteaders like what they're doing and therefore will keep doing it. The self-fulfilling prophecy that we're all too busy is a highly unsustainable way to attempt sustainability, whether it's for a homestead or a summer business.
In many communal kitchens, may it be a hostel or a student dorm, postings are usually to be found; “Leave it nicer than when you came”, they read. That can be said to humans on earth too, to leave it better than it was. By living and working in nature, with nature, I believe that our surroundings here at the homestead are ecologically healthier, more diverse and vibrant than should we as humans not have been here.
Growing an organic garden with compost I made using natural material from our surroundings is to comply with nature's way of taking care of itself – it's to remain humble for a true and tried life cycle and acknowledge our inevitable part in and connection to life on earth.
Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!
A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.
We use some old and tried techniques for how to process the meat, like curing and smoking the big cuts so they'll keep without being put in a freezer. We're constantly striving to learn new, mostly old ways of utilizing and preserving more of the pigs for our own consumption, by making headcheese, confit and lard.
Stay warm, find a hobby and cull the livestock; here are some of the things we do to prepare for winter!
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
One thing that gardening has done to me, as to so many others probably, is that I've started to pay attention to where the food on my plate comes from, and usually the answer is “from our garden."
Sunroots are a typically-cloned crop with great potential as a locally-adapted survival-of-the-fittest landrace
Where is our economic security?
There used to be, from Maine to Georgia and west to the Mississippi river, 20.000 grafted apple varieties. Today, when commercialism is king and the most known apple varieties are the 5 kinds offered in the supermarket those old varieties are worth paying attention to. As with all things around us, diversity is interesting and sustainable.
For the past few years, we've experimented with different ways of storing food fresh and now we're eating garlic, onions, squash, carrots and beets in June.
To grow, keep and eat your own food keeps you away from the food industry, the fossil fuel based agriculture, food stores and logistics.
Even as far north as Maine I can harvest produce from March to December with parsnips to dig from under the frost in February without the use of row covers or a greenhouse. In some beds I do two or more succession plantings that together with the root cellar keeps me with fresh produce all year.
As fall nears, sunflowers are beginning to die off and it's time to harvest their seeds! In this post I bring you through the steps to harvest and prepare your sunflower seeds for eating!
Our August at the Hostel has best been described visually; a flat palm held about an inch from our face.
Moms, protect your baby’s health with this safe, homemade sunscreen.
There are many benefits with raising pigs for meat, and also some common sense ways of doing so in a sustainable way.
Having a hostel of your own, gives you the best of both worlds; the comfort of home with the vibration of travelers.
July is UV Safety Month. Stay safe in the sun with these tips.
This year is the first season I had the whole garden dug and ready and boy, it's easy to plant a garden when the garden is already there.
For me, homesteading means to not have a great need for money in the first place. It also means that the money one does need is being made by utilizing the land, as in our case, running the Hostel.
Here are some ways we use natural materials to improve our garden and orchards.
Making great sunshine tea is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines for contents, quantities, and water.
But maybe, at the end of the day, I am just a person with weak nerves doing something that depends on so many unknown factors – the weather, the bug population, the quality of seeds and some plain ol' luck.
If you have a bike, your freedom of moving around is endless. Cycling is swift and bikes are easy to navigate where cars sometimes can't go.
Our striving to live frugally, monetary so, affects our everyday life choices. We choose to live without a lot of things that cost money. We make most of the cash we do need by running the Hostel in the summer months.
To turn a woodlot into a park with no “litter” on the ground might look tidy, but is not very healthy or functional. Next time you look at a dead tree or a log rotting on the ground; look at it as something full of life.
I know how popular and much hyped season-extending materials are in the world of organic gardening, but is it a necessity to eat fresh lettuce year round?
Our work in the woods starts long before we get the chainsaw and axe out; by being in the woods, observing and contemplating. We're looking for healthy trees that we can help to thrive and that will be of benefit in the future.
Onions are daylight sensitive and need to have plenty of time to put on top growth before the days start to get shorter and the plant pulls its energy into the bulb. If you like to start onions from seed, don’t wait! The best time is already closing in.
To say the sawmill is just a piece in the homestead puzzle might be a slight understatement. In some ways, it's a key factor.
It wasn't many months ago the seed catalog for this year showed up, but at that point I had just, just, managed to finish off the garden season, slightly traumatized from all the work. To receive a catalog then seemed mostly like an ill-conceived joke, a way to rub it in; don't think you can relax too much.
While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.
In support of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Nov. 19, 2012, 10 small business-led projects to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace.
Learn which crops you can grow in your garden to provide protein in your diet.
Squeezable packets eliminate the need to measure.
Dog days of summer? Yes, but there is still a lot of the grwoing season left. Protect yourself from the late summer sun with these tried 'n true items ... tested by a gardener who knows more than she'd like to about skin cancer.
Sensor Plug update along with a report on Sunflowers being used as a cover crop and when to properly harvest onions.
Solar food drying is incredibly easy with a solar food dehydrator, which requires very little effort to make perfectly preserved produce.
Describes a method of protecting tomatoes from excessive heat using a sunscreen, vermicompost tea, pulling blighted leaves.
Tips on how to protect your skin and stay safe in the sun.
Receives SRCC OG300 certification on 41 system configurations for residential solar water heating systems.
This addition to the product line will fill a need for smaller households or ones that don’t have enough yard space to accommodate a large clothesline.
Sweet, healthy, root vegetables that love growing through the heat of summer? Learn about adding Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and sweet potatoes to your gardens. Plus, more on the incredible health benefits of roselle (hibiscus).
Sun-Lite HP for greenhouse glazing provides excellent diffused light.
The Sun Mar composting toilet uses a first of its kind technology to deliver a pollution free and sanitary product.
When you only drink one cup of coffee a day, the mug you use is pretty important.
If you begin tomorrow, you can be soaking in fresh, 103-degree water by the evening.
How a wood-fired hot tub allows us to live better on less energy.
Western civilization is totally dependent upon cheap and abundant energy. Three quarters of the petroleum we burn in our engines is imported. Could it be cut off suddenly? Without cheap and abundant energy, our way of life would collapse. If we value our freedom and independence, we should not be relying on foreign petroleum. We should be making our own energy.
I have know Mark for years. Since I have known him (give or take a few years or so) Seiden asked me what were the best ways to go green and save energy at the same time. Then two years ago, we started with CFL bulbs. Now I'm trying to get him to go LED and get really green lighting in effect. In time. In time.
Looking for a better way to preserve all that garden produce without a hot kitchen canning project? A new solar food dryer promises to dry food fast and save energy and money using the sunshine in your back yard.
The role of natural cycles and anthropogenic forces on the climate are explained. We also demonstrate that the current global warming trend is happening at a faster rate than earlier periods and humans are responsible for the current warming trend.
SunButter Sunflower Seed Butter offers innovative and flavorful ingredient option for peanut-free products.
Tips on how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
This is a rundown of films that came out in the last few years. These films cover a wide range of environmental topics, from energy, climate, and fuel, to food, farming, and health. Many of the films have won awards or been critically acclaimed.
Is sunscreen necessary? Can it actually do more harm than good? We cut through this cloudy issue like a ray of scorching summer sun! Find out how much vitamin D you need from the sun, whether sunscreen can prevent cancer, which ingredients in sunscreen may have adverse health effects, and the best ways to truly protect yourself from that fiery sphere in the sky, including recommendations for the safest commercial sunscreens.
Summer's here, but the solar panels that President Obama promised to install on the White House this spring aren't. Today the administration announced that it's still working out the details. We'll just have to wait.
No party is complete without cake, and this delicious Sunshine Cake has been the crowning glory of every Summer Solstice party I’ve ever thrown. Sharon Kebschull Barrett, one of my favorite herbal chefs, developed this recipe for her 1999 book Desserts from an Herb Garden (one of my bibles). Lemony, with a surprising hint of rosemary, this cake just tastes like summer—and the bright yellow color celebrates the sun.
One of the nation's largest home developers announces it will offer solar arrays as standard features on new homes in California.
Covering an area about the size of California with solar panels would provide enough power to handle the world's needs.
Wabi-sabi teaches us appreciation for the good energy and soul that handmade items bring to our homes. Etsy, the premiere source for handcrafted home goods, offers an extensive list of items whose sale will benefit Japanese relief efforts.
A number of tea companies are donating proceeds from sales to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.
Today is not a day for selling books. It's a day for prayer and solidarity with the Japanese people.
We will discuss how the Earth overcomes the increasing solar radiation from the Sun to maintain a stable temperature for life (Gaia Hypothesis). The role anthropogenic forces will also be discussed.
This posting discusses the role of the Milankovitch Cycles in initating glaical/interglacial periods. It also discusses the role of sunspots in short term climate change.
Simran Sethi writes about choosing eco-friendly paints, tiles, and other aspects of her renovated bathroom.
Keep your skin protected from the sun as well as from toxic chemicals that can potentially cause severe health risks. These reviews of all-natural sunscreens explain which ingredients to avoid when choosing a sunscreen.
emerginC, a leading professional skincare collection, has just launched a natural yet serious results-oriented collection aptly named Scientific Organics.
With the media reporting widespread vitamin D deficiencies and the Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide reporting that some sunscreens may do more harm than good, there seem to be a few good arguments for getting a little exposure to unadulturated sunlight. What do you think? Will you change your sunscreen habits because of recent reports?
Photo of the Day blog features a different photo from reader each day. Submit your own photos for a chance to appear on MOTHER's website! What's your favorite facets of nature or down-to-earth living? Share your finds or handmade creations!
Solar energy is the ultimate source of all life, and there's lots of it.