Frugal

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Doing more while spending less money

Why I Garden #38

Olla and encircling root bowl

A tale of a full moon, a hard frost, green tomatoes and eight dirty ollas.

Camping Weekend Reset

Camping weekend hike

Getting away for a weekend of camping always seems like a hassle, until the tent is pitched and sleeping bags are unrolled. We were packed and rolling out of town by 3pm on Friday toward a state park about 2.5 hours away which minimized traffic and stress. We also enjoyed the comforts of a developed campsite. True backcountry camping will wait until all family members can carry their own backpack. Clear starry skies, frosty cold mornings, sunny hikes and 48 news-free hours helped to clear our frazzled minds.

Why I Garden #36

Tomato plants after hail storm

Hail! Ugh.

One week ago a fierce thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and it started with a vicious hailstorm. I was in the middle of a project and could do nothing to save the tender annuals in our garden. While the corn survived, most of the chiles, tomatoes, beans and squash were shredded. Many of the perennials are already looking better, but I still need to decide what plants will be replaced this season.

I'm thrilled to have the precipitation, I just wish it had all come as rain. Ugh.

Old-tech Irrigation with Ollas

Olla factory at Growing Awareness Urban Farm

The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.

Oh, have you seen our herb garden?...

a forest of Tarragon

Since it is Memorial Day, we had to grill. It's summer, man! I also had a strong urge to make potato salad. We left the mayonnaise in the refrigerator and went with an herb vinaigrette. However, here is where it gets hinky. The original recipe called for 4 pounds of potatoes to a vinaigrette that contained just 4 tablespoons of herbs (specifically parsley, chives, and basil). All I can say to that is: pikers.

Re-Cycle

Road Bike with new Powder Coat

I hate to throw away "perfectly good" things even when they're a bit scruffy. Case in point, my road bike. I bought this bike from a friend many years ago and have put quite a few miles on it. After a couple of years I re-painted it and replaced some worn parts. Well, after a decade or so of riding it desperately needed another overhaul. Now I have a friend with powdercoating equipment and I've restored the bike to better than ever.

Let's Plant Some Sh!t

Ron Finley - TED talk

To quote Ron Finley, "Let's Plant Some Sh!t"! Ron is a guerrilla gardner in South Central Los Angeles where he has put shovel to soil and redesigned his neighborhood by planting gardens.

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

It's time to get off my cushy chair and grow some change in my own neighborhood.

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The Cutting Edge of Water

Watershed Restoration Model

By necessity, life in the American Southwest depends on the availability of water. Aldo Leopold understood the importance of watersheds and those lessons are being re-learned today. Here is a documentary of a two day watershed restoration workshop held in October 2012 at Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center near Madrid, NM. "The Cutting Edge" was taught by Brad Lancaster, Amanda Bramble, Jan-Willem Jansens, Steve Carson and Craig Sponholtz. The workshop focused on catching, sinking, storing and using water where it falls.

A Fruitful Year, Part II

Apple - Platonic Ideal

I processed so many apples through this kitchen that it felt like an outpost of Motts on some days. People, it was a fruitful year and our pantry now overfloweth.

Our own apple tree did well this year and whatever EcoBaby didn't yank off the tree (mostly things on the lower branches) we thoroughly enjoyed. Ecobaby was the best consumer of our garden products. She is still yanking freeze dried little grapes off the vine and gnawing on them.

Bathroom Remodel Part 2 - We Can Rebuild It

Water Pipes - Spray Foamed & Insulated

Our bathroom remodel is now on solid footing. Specifically, two layers of new plywood glued and screwed in place have replaced the water-damaged deck and subfloor. Half of the "wet" wall is replaced with new (full height) and reused (short pieces and blocking) 2x4 lumber. I've spray-foamed each of the water and vent pipe holes in the subfloor and wrapped the hot-water pipes for both bathrooms (they share the "wet" wall) with foam insulation. A can of spray foam and pipe insulation are cheap and help deliver hot water to the tap faster.

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