Category: Energy Savings

It’s Lovely Weather for a Hoop House

Here's a shot of our hoop houses under this afternoon's fresh blanket of snow. Inside, we've got lots of lettuces, kale, chard, cabbage, beats, peas, and any number of herbs. I hope to have a greenhouse someday but for now these cold frames are working well.


The hoops are made of 1/2" diameter PVC (a terrible product if you live downstream from an irresponsible manufacturer) pipe which is a light, strong, flexible, rigid, inexpensive and basically perfect material for making low arches in between rebar stakes. Three hoops and pairs of stakes are set within a 4' x 8' rectangle of 2-by lumber. The hoops are covered in a

12/10/2012 | Climate | Companion Plantings | Ecology | Edibles | Energy Savings | Outdoor Living | (0) Comments

The Reality of Eating Animals

One of the largest subdivisions in the state of New Mexico, Eldorado, just went through an electoral fight by which it was determined that residents CAN own chickens!!! Here's my current "Permaculture in Practice" column about the issue.

11/27/2012 | Children | Community | Ecology | Edibles | Energy Savings | Outdoor Living | (0) Comments

The Meaning of a Cyclone

That 70's margarine ad almost got it right, but "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature," really boils down to "It's not smart to try to take advantage of Mother Nature and then ignore her at your big party."  Is Cyclone Sandy trying to tell us this? In four presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, the term "climate change" was brought up in only one: the third-party debate moderated by Larry King. 

10/30/2012 | Climate | Ecology | Energy Savings | Water Harvesting | (0) Comments

Plant Your Cistern!

Here's a precipitation-collection tank, or cistern, that's patially burried and hidden by a raised planter bed and a combination of beautiful and edible plants. The easiest way to see where the cistern is in this photo is to look for a brown downspout that elbows from the right post of the portal. That goes into a 650 gallon cistern from which water is pumped and distributed through the backyard with a hose. I took this shot at our a client's residence around this time of year several years ago. One of the reasons to go this route when installing a cistern is to save money on exacavation, but don't forget to figure in the cost of the wood and labor involved in the screening  with the  landscape timbers that make up the raised bed. You will also be limited to plants that sprawl and cover ground even with root systems that get shrunk by the tank which is only 4" to 12" below the ground.

10/26/2012 | Companion Plantings | Ecology | Energy Savings | Lawns | Outdoor Living | Shade | Water Harvesting | (0) Comments

Greenhouse Bust Backfires on Cops, Us

Here is my recent “Permaculture in Practice” column, which is published in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s monthly real estate magazine.

It was a typically permacultural day at Camino de Paz School and Farm. The students had tended the chickens, goats, sheep, and horses. They’d weeded and watered vegetable beds, picked fruit, made cheese, canned tomatoes. They’d taken math, English, Spanish, and history. Two students, Sasha and Sarah, prepared campus-grown potatoes, cheese, applesauce, and a medley of fresh greens. Under the shade of an old apricot, Ben and Reyes set 25 places for lunch.

11/03/2010 | Children | Edibles | Energy Savings | (0) Comments

Bioneers Day 1.1: YERT Provides Hope and Humor

After chowing a few-too-many organic sandwich-cookies found on a plate on a table in the media room, I strolled over to the “Leading-Edge Climate Initiative” panel featuring David Orr and four other power-grid whizzes. The biggest threats we face are not technical. It seems they center around our lack of cultural and political will. Meanwhile, the Clinton-era media consolidation, the costs associated with Bush’s Wars, and the Robert’s pro-corporate court all make a difficult situation worse.

10/11/2010 | Community | Ecology | Energy Savings | Events | (0) Comments

Sport Utility Bicycle To Haul (My) Ass & Then Some

Yesterday, my 10 minutes of gradual greening occurred when I walked down to New Mexico Bike and Sport to pick up my new “xtracycle.” A simple bike extension, called the “FreeRadical(TM),” hooks onto the back of almost any bike to quickly create what Xtracycle, Inc., calls  “the world’s first S.U.B.” That’s right, friends, I’m now the proud owner of a “Sport Utility Bicycle.” And why shouldn’t I be proud? According to company literature, my xtracycle can haul 200 pounds, and the manual shows an illustration of an xtracycle handling what looks like an 8’ or 10’ ladder. With the help of an accessory called an “H-rack,” long loads like “ladders, flagpoles, kayaks, or lumber,” can be delivered.

One of my many plans is to haul 50 lbs. bags of lay pellets for our six backyard chickens. Coincidentally, having run out of food, I had to drive my truck down to the feed store on Saturday for what I hope was my last time wasting gas to buy lay pellets for our hens who are now, quite wisely, fast asleep.

08/05/2010 | Bike Commuting | Ecology | Edibles | Energy Savings | (0) Comments

If You Can’t Be with the Bike You Love, Lock It.

I moved down to Santa Fe from Boulder, Colorado back in 1987 with a 20-year-old, one-speed Schwinn bungeed to the roof of my car. It was the best bike in the world: springy seat, beefy fenders, wide handle bars with hard, groovy grips. Best of all it was an adult bike with foot brakes. When I bought it at a garage sale for $20 bucks, it was striped like a green, yellow, and black zebra, but it also came with two half-jars of paint (green and yellow). The implication was that the new owner should make the bike his or her own. Before officially purchasing the masterpiece, I asked the owner if he still had any of the black, and the guy laughed and said, “Sorry. It’s long gone.” He could see that I was already sold on the beauty, which I ended up spray painting gold and blue and then used the remaining green and yellow in a thick-and-juicy Jackson Pollack style.

07/07/2010 | Bike Commuting | Community | Ecology | Energy Savings | (0) Comments

Give a Hoot! Bike Commute!

Every year some crisis comes up that makes me believe people might  wise up to the fabulous freedom that bike commuting provides. This year it’s the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Last year, it was the economy.  Before that it was two or three years of high gas prices. Going back further, it was the polar bear animation in Al Gore’s movie. I started switching over from driving to biking after my country picked a ludicrous fight in Iraq. But I don’t think I put the whole bike-commuting deal into full gear until reports started coming out of Abu Ghraib. That just pissed me off and turned me into the relatively hard-core commuter cyclist I’ve become. (Supporting war and torture for oil, even tacitly, just aint my thing.)

07/03/2010 | Bike Commuting | Ecology | Energy Savings | (0) Comments