Tag Archive

Bokashi Composting: The Urban Solution For Organic Waste?

ByGroovy Green Mar 1, 2009

With Spring so close I can barely stand to wait, I’m making plans for the garden, ordering seeds, and getting ready to reorganize my compost pile. See, during the winter months I’ve been reading up on what an absolutely shitty job I’ve done with my current compost layout. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but I could be getting my food and yard scraps to break down much faster with a bit of proper setup.

Anyways, while continuing this research, I came upon a post over on CleanTechnica discussing the composting technique called Bokashi. Basically, it’s a high-speed breakdown process that takes advantage of anaerobic mirobes. Instead of placing your food scraps in an outdoor, open-air bin — you shove them into an air-tight bin. CleanTechnica gives us the deets:

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Review: The Beautiful And Functional Cascata Rain Barrel

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2008

I’ve always wanted a rain barrel. In fact, back in June,I wrote a post declaring as much and announcing my quest to pick something up that was both eye pleasing and practical. Living in Ithaca, NY, I don’t have many problems with drought — but watching all that water roll off my roof, I figured it was a waste to simply see it hit my lawn and disappear. Besides, why pay that much more for municipal water for my garden when I could capture that which fell from the sky?

I’ll admit that writing about water issues in the southwest U.S. and visiting friends in Arizona also made me curious why water conservation tactics (like rain barrels) weren’t used more. Was it because they’re still relatively unknown? Were they a pain to setup and use? I was curious and therefore wanted one. Thankfully, the folks at Garden Supermart heard my cry and hooked me up with one of their Cascata Rain Barrels. After playing around with it (I use that term loosely) for two weeks, I can sum up my reaction in one sentence: Everyone should have one.

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Perhaps a New Favorite Garden Toy

ByGroovy Green Oct 8, 2008

OK, most of you are probably thinking I’m going to talk about a tool, but actually I wanted to mention Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes.

I planted some of these this year for the first time ever, and I’m impressed with them.  They grew fantastic, made nice flowers on the top, provided a huge amount of food to the chickens and in the end, gave me the tubers you see below.  This bowl is full from half of the section I planted.  I created a bed on the south side of my compost pile that is between 3 and 4 ft long.  I planted the Sunchokes in double rows within that bed.  I didn’t amend the soil or anything.  I just dug a trench, put in the tubers and filled it back.

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The Green Picture: Before-The-First-Frost Harvest

ByGroovy Green Oct 6, 2008

About 45 minutes ago, we all piled into the garden after hearing that Ithaca, NY would be receiving its first “hard” frost of the season with a low of 29 degrees. Time to harvest the last remaining fruits of the garden! Gourds, lavendar, rosemary, green peppers, cayennes, eggplants, tomatoes — whatever we could find, we cut and dragged in. I even grabbed the Jatropha (more on that later!) and propped it up in the living room. Here is one of our tables of yumminess. Needless to say, we have a bunch of freezing, canning, and eating to do over the next week!

How did your garden turn out this year?

The Neuton Electric Lawn Mower Kicks Some Serious Grass

ByGroovy Green Sep 10, 2008

UPDATE: Ecorazzi is now giving away a Neuton in celebration of their two year anniversary. One person will be chosen at random.]

Before I start this review, you should know that I have a love/hate relationship with lawns. Living in the Northeast, they’re a necessary evil when one has not yet shifted an entire backyard to something built on permaculture. On the other hand, a recently cut lawn does look beautiful and sharp — something drilled into my head from summers of mowing other lawns to make cash in High School.

When my lawn turns colors from a lack of rain, I do not get out the sprinkler. I consider it a vacation from the weekly chore of mowing. If weeds or other variants of grass make their presence known, I consider them compliments to the scenery. It amuses/depresses me to no end the amount of resources Americans spend on the upkeep of lawns across the US — especially in places where grass has no business growing in the first place.

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Eleven Year-Old’s Organic Veggie Stand Shut Down by California Mayor

ByGroovy Green Aug 22, 2008

I think that Joel Satalin can add another chapter to his book Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal after reading this story.  I mean, really, a child’s veggie stand shut down for lack of permits?  What’s next, no lemonade stands or car wash fundraisers?

ABC News via ABA Journal:

Call it a rite of passage: children by the roadside peddling their homemade goodies to adults who are more than eager to drop a few cents into a makeshift cashbox.

But Katie and Sabrina Lewis’ veggie stand, in the town of Clayton, Calif., where they sold homegrown watermelons for $1, has been shuttered by town officials who told the girls’ parents that their daughters’ venture violated local zoning ordinances.

“I think that they’re wrong,” dad Mike Lewis said of the town officials. “Kids should be able to be kids.”

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Raising Chickens on an Urban Homestead

ByGroovy Green Jul 21, 2008

Hello! Welcome to the first of many installments in my adventure of chicken raising. I recently just introduced 2 chickens to my urban palace and I thought it would be interesting to follow along with my trials and tribulations. Hopefully if I make mistakes it will help you avoid them if you decide to embark on this sort of thing on your own.

I was helped along in my chicken adventures by talking with many other chicken owners about what they’ve done, as well as the great website City Chicken. I read two great books which I would recommend, Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. I thought both of these books were great, and while I didn’t think one book covered all the information I wanted, together they did cover a lot of what I was concerned about.

Let me say, I wasn’t born on a farm or really around animals. We had a cat and a dog at various times when I was growing up, but we didn’t have a steady menagerie of animals at my house. What I’ve learned has been from reading books and talking to others. I guess I tell you this to encourage you. Just because you don’t have the background in raising animals doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I’m just at the beginning of my adventure, as I write this, and I’m still nervous and scared as heck. Especially when they sort of dart around. It freaks me out, but I know there is plenty of information and help online and with people I know. I hope Groovy Green can be a resource for you if you are starting out on an eggcellent adventure!

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Feeding The Suburbs

ByGroovy Green Apr 17, 2008

This is the last story in our series from Wendy.

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This evening, after I read Andrew Lost on the Dog to Precious, I sat back in my bedroom and thumbed through the March/April edition of World Ark, the magazine published by Heifer International. What struck me as I read through the articles was the statistic “85% of all farms worldwide are smaller than five acres” (15). Several articles, cited the fact that most subsistence farms in Third World countries are very small – some even as small as mine.

I was surprised.

I have a book someone gave me entitled Five Acres and Independence. I’ve had it for a while, and having that book seemed to reinforce my (mistaken) notion that in order to be self-sufficient, I needed an acreage. I needed land, lots of land and the starry sky above ….

At any rate, a 1/4 acre wasn’t going to do it.

I didn’t know that a large portion of the world’s farmers are working land that isn’t much bigger than the average American suburban lot.

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Love Thy Neighbor

ByGroovy Green Apr 16, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy.

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I had a rather nomadic childhood. For the first eight years of my life, we moved at a rate of about once a year. Then, we were settled for about five years, but we moved again just before I started high school, and then, four years later, when I graduated from high school, I lived a transient life as a college student. Four years later, when I received my Bachelor’s degree, I moved for the next seven years, at about the same frequency as I did for the first eight years of my life – packing up my entire household and relocating every two to eighteen months.

Then, I moved with Deus Ex Machina, our two month old daughter, eight month old chow-chow puppy, and three year old iguana to Maine.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Self-Sufficiency

ByGroovy Green Apr 15, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy. This one is about being self sufficient on a small plot, and if you really need to be.

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Someone told me recently that I could never be self-sufficient on my quarter acre suburban lot here in southern Maine. I don’t have enough land, and I can’t build a greenhouse.

Maybe. Maybe she’s right. But just maybe ….

My hero, Dolly Freed, lived on a 1/2 acre 40 miles from Philadelphia. She and her father weren’t “self-sufficient”, in that they did depend on outside sources for electricity, water, some food items, and clothing.

The folks at Path To Freedom aren’t self-sufficient, either. They buy bulk grains for themselves, feed for their livestock, clothing, and toiletry item ingredients (they make their own, but don’t produce the ingredients on their land).

Both of those examples are people who have very little land, compared to, say the settlers in the late 1890s, who were given 160 acres, but both of those examples are also people who live with very few “modern” conveniences on very small pieces of land with very small sums of money. In fact, their incomes likely fall well below what is considered the Federal Poverty level, and by our money-centric standards should be living in squalor.

If you think so, please do spend some time at the Urban Homestead. It’s anything but squalor. They even have a televsion, although I don’t believe they watch it very often, and they, obviously, have an Internet connection. While you’re at it, you should also, really, try to find a copy of Possum Living. It’s amazing what can be done, and how little cash one actually needs to live a very fulfilling life.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Fowl Language

ByGroovy Green Apr 14, 2008

Another story in our series from Wendy. This one has some nuts and bolts about the cost of keeping chickens in your backyard.

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I live in the suburbs. Mine may not be a “typical” suburban neighborhood – my house was not part of a “planned” subdivision, although a subdivision plan was filed with the town for the road on which I live.

There’s also a planned subdivision across the road from me. The house lots are each a 1/2 acre. There’s another planned subdivision going in right down the road from me. I know the owner of the property. He’s my neighbor and owns the garden center next door.

About a 1/2 mile up the road from me is another family who also has chickens. I think they might also have bees.

This is a residential area. It’s a suburb. With the exception of my home business, the few other home-based workers and the garden center, there are no shops or other stores – just a bunch of houses from Route One until the grocery store that is the beginning of the town proper.

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There Was No Fat Lady Singing

ByGroovy Green Apr 13, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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We watched the movie The End of Suburbia last night. I’ve been waiting a long time to see the film, but after having seen it, I’m actually glad that I didn’t have the opportunity to see it sooner. I like the timing of it all. Here, I’ve planned this series of posts about why we should stay in suburbia, and then the movie comes in the mail. It seems almost too fortuitous, almost fated.

Deus Ex Machina wasn’t as enthusiastic about the movie as I was (when he saw what it was he grumpled something about it being more of that fundamentalist crap). I asked Deus Ex Machina what he thought about the film after we watched it, and his response was, “They didn’t say anything new.”

Basically, the movie was a history of how our country adopted a suburban mindset. The original idea behind the suburb was to give city-dwellers the opportunity to move outside of the crowded and dirty environment of the newly industrialized cities into a cleaner community, usually consisting of residential housing with no industry or retail outlets within close proximity to where people lived. The hope was to give people a “taste” of country living.

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Pass The Scoop, I Likes Me Some Ice Cream With My Cake

ByGroovy Green Apr 12, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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I was supposed to be commenting on the Suburban Lawn of the Future, but I’m having trouble with that topic.

Ask me why.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

I live in Maine, and right now we’re under a foot-deep, concrete-hard blanket of ice and snow, which is not unusual for February in Maine, but it makes thinking about what my garden might look like in the spring a little difficult. Some of my favorite bloggers are starting seeds right now, and from my experience as a gardener in this part of the country, it’s still too early to even do that. The traditional planting date for Maine is Memorial Day – still three full months away (and I learned the hard way not to flout the wisdom of waiting until then).

Instead I hope I can talk convincingly about why, if you already live in the suburbs, keeping your house is a better option than running wildly into the woods, and I’ll be making the assumption that your house in the suburbs carries a mortgage AND that if you found a house in the country, you would also have a mortgage.

In a survival situation, experts stress that the first order of business is finding shelter. Most people freak out and rush around trying to get food. Read More

A Rose by Any Other Name

ByGroovy Green Apr 11, 2008

The next installment in our series from Wendy.

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What is a suburb?

As I was thinking about this post, I started having a really hard time defining what a suburb is. I mean, we all know what it is, right? It’s a planned, homogenized community with plastic-looking houses and artificially green lawns sporting pink flamingoes and rusty swingsets.

But if my goal is to defend suburban life and explain why I think people who live in suburbs have as good a chance of surviving the apocalypse as the people in the country who have a bajillion acres of land and an abundance of natural resources at their disposal, or people in the city who can combine or eschew resources such as transportation and heating, I can’t very well use that definition :) .

I googled the term and found this definition: town or unincorporated developed area close to a city. Suburbs, since they are largely residential, are usually dependent on a city for employment and support services and are generally characterized by low-density development relative to the city.

I think that pretty well explains what a suburb is, but again, if suburban dwellers are “dependent” on the city for support services and employment, then any illusion of self-sufficiency is immediately negated, by definition.

In short, by using either definition, when it comes to the apocalypse, we suburbanites are screwed.

So, let’s focus on what suburbanites have that is unique to their particular habitat, and might, with a little imagination, be used to their advantage.

1. Suburban homes have a yard space, usually between 10,000 and 40,000 sq ft. Not a lot, but more sometimes just means “more”, which isn’t always better.

2. Suburbs are “close” to amenities. While “close” really is subjective, and some people would say that anything within a 50 mile radius qualifies, I (and most of my suburban neighbors) would classify close as within walking distance. It would take me two to three hours to walk to Portland. It would take about an hour to walk to downtown Biddeford (Portland and Biddeford are the largest and the fifth largest cities in the state of Maine, respectively).

3. Suburban homes are usually single-family homes. People who escape to the suburbs want to have some sense of privacy, but recognize that being interdependent might not be such a bad thing.

4. Suburbs do not, typically, have any businesses (except for the occasional “home business”, that usually doesn’t attract on-site clients).

In other words:

If you measure your property by square feet rather than acres, you might be a suburbanite.

If you need extra storage space to house your lawn care apparatus and outdoor furniture, you might be a suburbanite.

If you live close enough to school to walk, but far enough away for them to send the bus, you might be a surburbanite.

If the only bus that comes to your neighborhood is the school bus, you might be a suburbanite.

If you could walk to town for the gallon of milk you need, but choose to drive, because it’s more than a mile, and that’s just too far to walk with those little kids, BUT you don’t think twice about putting on your sneakers and dropping little Sally into the jogging stroller and walking around the neighborhood for some exercise, you might be a suburbanite.

If you drive more than two miles, but less than ten, to buy plastic crap from China, you might be a suburbanite.

If there is no “corner store” in your neighborhood, you might be a suburbanite.

If you’re close enough to see the dirt on your neighbors’ windows, but need binoculars to see what’s on their big screen television, you might be a surburbanite.

If there is anything called a cul-de-sac in your immediate neighborhood, you might be a surburbanite.

If you live in a cul-de-sac … you are a suburbanite.

Avoid the extremes and converge in the middle.

That’s the suburbs.

Suburbs are the happy medium between country life and city life.

Up Next: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: The Suburban Lawn of the Future

Oh, Give Me a Home…

ByGroovy Green Apr 9, 2008

Wendy, who writes an interesting blog, has been working through the pros and cons of living in the suburbs as we approach the Peak Oil energy descent. What I find most compelling about his discussions is that she is like any of us. She’s struggling to figure out if the suburbs are her home, or if she needs a house and some land to survive. While she talks about it she walks you through her thinking. Whether you agree with it or not, she make some compelling arguments. She has been kind enough to allow us to bring her serious of posts over to our site to share with a bigger world, which I will be doing over the next few days.

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Today was a holiday. Seriously. It’s like President’s Day or something, I think. Anyway, my client’s office wasn’t open today, which means my normal “work day” was spent doing not much of anything. I sat on the computer most of the day … well, not “on” the computer, because that would have been very uncomfortable, and, well, I’m not sure my computer would have been able to support my weight – not that I’m big or anything.

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