Green Your Home, Your Family and Your Life!

Green Your Home, Your Family and Your Life!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Small Turbines Bring Wind Power Home

Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.Image via WikipediaWind speed varies by and from season to season. Wind is strongest in cold-weather months when electricity demand is also at its peak, so variability tends to mirror demand.

Fortunately for the small or hobby farmer, many of the best wind sites are in remote locations. Good sites for wind farms are the tops of hills, open plains, shorelines, and mountain gaps that cause wind to be funneled through a ravine.

The states with the most wind production are Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. The states with the most wind energy potential are North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, and Kansas.

North Dakota alone has the potential to produce enough wind-generated power to meet more than one-fourth of U.S. demand.

Wind farms produce no pollution, greenhouse gases or toxic wastes. Wind is renewable, reliable and efficient and now affordable. It is compatible with other land uses and can boost rural economic development for farmers who lease their land.

Wind energy offsets emissions from other energy sources. In 2006, US wind turbines offset 30 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 76,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 36,000 tons of nitrogen oxides by generating clean electricity.

Even if turbine production is included in assessing wind energy's "footprint", it still has 99% less CO2 emissions than coal and 98% than natural gas.

Ready to learn more? Read the rest here
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recipes Using Vegetables From the Garden

LégumesImage via WikipediaAre you reluctant to start a vegetable garden? Does the idea of finding ways to use up all of those vegetables leave you cold? Or even worse, are you convinced that you don't like vegetables?

Well, never fear. If you've eaten supermarket produce your whole life, then you most likely don't know what what vegetables truly taste like. Trust me, the two don't even compare.

If you're feeling hesitant because you don't know what to do with veggies that come from the garden and not from a can, never fear. This lens will show you what to do with what you grow.

And if you have too much produce to use, you might consider bartering with your neighbors or selling at your local farmer's market.

What to learn more? Read on here
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Improving Your Soil Naturally

A section of the vegetable gardenImage via WikipediaManufacturers of chemical fertilizers would have you believe that you can't grow plants successfully without the use of their products. So what exactly are chemical fertilizers? Mostly waste products from the petroleum industry.

Chemical fertilizers contain different ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Unfortunately, this disregards all of the micronutrients present in healthy soil. Some chemical fertilizers have been found to have a negative impact on the microorganisms that thrive in a healthy soil.

In 1997, the Seattle Times newspaper began a series of investigative articles that found hazardous and radioactive wastes being added to chemical fertilizers. This waste, when added to the soil, can be taken up by plants and enter the bodies of people or animals who eat these plants.

Organic fertilizers may take a little bit of effort and a little bit of time, but in the long run by using natural fertilizers you'll be doing yourself and the environment a favor.

Want to learn more? Read more here
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Wildcrafting On The Homestead

Composite image to illustrate the diversity of...Image via WikipediaWildcrafting is gathering or gleaning plants found in the wild for food, medicine crafts or other purposes. Humans have practiced wildcrafting since time immemorial, but you may be surprised to find out that there are many people who wildcraft even today, including a growing segment of the population who wildcraft in urban areas.

How is this possible? Familiarize yourself with common edible species that grow in your area then take a look around. You may be surprised to find that even in a major city you may be surrounded by edible plants growing right under your nose. If you do plan to wildcraft in an urban area, be sure that you have permission to glean - particularly on private property.

The easiest way to get started with wildcrafting is to pick up a book that identifies plants that grow in your area or to take a class in wildflower, tree or mushroom identification from a local college or extension office.

Want to learn more? Read the rest here
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How To Build and Use A Solar Oven

Solar OvenImage by BreadnBadger via FlickrSolar ovens are cheap and easy to make and operate. I have been using solar ovens for two decades now, constructed from not much more than cardboard boxes and aluminum foil.

Cardboard ovens don't last forever, but they're so easy to make that I don't mind have to replace my old one every couple years.

I have even made a solar oven from an old pizza box, aluminum foil and saran wrap in a pinch. These are definitely not durable, but great to use in the short-term such as during a picnic or when you're camping. Just think, no stinky charcoal or lighter fluid to lug along!

For those who are looking for something that will last a long time (or if you simply don't have the time or temperment to make your own solar cooker, there are many commercial models available for purchase.

Want to learn more? Read the rest here
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Growing Vegetables on the Homestead

vegetablesImage via WikipediaAre you interested in growing your own vegetables? Welcome to the club! There is a growing movement of people who are growing their own produce.

There are many reasons for this, including the desire for affordable organic foods, to step away from the "factory farming" model which gives us few choices and has an enormous (negative) impact on the environment, to bring food dollars home, or simply to be able to savor fresh, chemical-free, homegrown vegetables again.

Across the country, people are growing their own food in pots on the patio, in raised beds in the back yard, in plots at their local community garden or on the windowsills of their apartment.

Young and old, urban and rural, people are flocking back to edible gardening. Ready to join the movement? Read on here
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Helping Hands: Dogs and Cats on the Homestead

An Australian livestock guardian dog (LGD) pro...Image via WikipediaDogs can be of great help to any homesteader. Besides companionship, there are certain breeds of dog that are suitable to guard your property or livestock animals.

Certain breeds are great at hunting. Others are natural shepherds, mustering cattle, goats, sheep and even poultry!

Dogs known for the excellent shepherding skills include the Australian Cattle Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Border Collie, Australian Kelpie, Australian Koolie, Australian Shepherd, English Shepherd, Welsh Sheepdog, New Zealand Huntaway, German Shepherd and Briards.

It's easy to confuse a herding dog with a livestock guardian dog. A livestock guardian's job is to protect other animals from predators, especialy at night. LGDs are sometimes referred to as "sheep dogs", while herding dogs are referred to as "sheepdogs", hence the confusion.

They don't do the same job though. LGDs guard livestock without any herding behaviors. They tend to blend in with their charges, keeping a watchful eye out for predators, particularly while the group is grazing in open spaces. LGDs can even be trained to guard poultry, without predatorial behavior towards the birds.

Some well known LGD breeds include the Pyrenean, Spanish and Tibetan Mastiff, Anatolian, Carpathian, and Greek Shepherd Dogs, the Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees.

The first human-dog interactions most likely consisted of mutual hunting and there are many breeds suitable for hunting including hounds, terriers, dachshunds, cur type dogs, retriever, setter, pointer and spaniel.

Want to learn more? Read on here
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Growing Sunflowers On The Great Plains

Sunflowers in Fargo, North Dakota.Image via Wikipedia

Sunflowers are easy to grow in any sunny spot and so beautiful they're a favorite even with children. Their sunny faces attract butterflies, bees, and birds. In my area, sunflowers are a favorite home for ladybugs, for whom I like to lay out the welcome mat.

Ladybugs love to eat certain pest bugs and help me to grow an abundant garden without any costly or dangerous chemicals, so I am happy to offer them the food, shade and shelter of a sunflower forest.

I usually plant an entire bed of sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke and Mexican sunflower. In the shady areas at the front of the bed, I sow a succession of lettuces and other fast-growing greens that appreciate the cool, shady ground beneath the towering flowers.
Want to learn more? Read on here
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