Fossil fuel free scrubbing with the luffa

Why buy scrubbies and washcloths when you can easily grow your own supply from a small garden plot?  This season I grew two luffa plants and ended up with enough dish washing fiber for the next 5 years.  This unique plant has been selected over the millennia for its fibrous fruit and it should have a space in your garden if you want to be more self sufficient.  Easy to grow and prolific, the luffa provides an alternative to manufactured abrasive cleaning products, many of which are produced from or using fossil fuel.  And when the luffa reaches the end of its useful life, you simply compost it.

The luffa plant looks a lot like a cucumber and it climbs in the same way.  However, it’s more disease resistant and it requires a longer season.  So start the seeds indoors in spring if you want to get a good jump on the season.  Although it has somewhat of a reputation for its high fiber content, in some parts of the world it’s been selected for eating.  It’s only eaten when the fruit is young, before the fibrous skeleton has formed.

4 Season Harvest in My Hoop House

I’ve had a hoop house at Dancing Rabbit for over 5 years.  In that time I’ve grown thousands of pounds of salad greens, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.  In this video, I take you on a little tour of my hoop house and its irrigation system.  It uses entirely caught rainwater, solar power, and gravity for irrigation. This hoop house has allowed me to extend the growing season and provide the community fresh local produce year round. Continue reading

Design Details of My Strawbale Tiny House: Beauty and Function

In this video I take you through some of the design features of my strawbale tiny house and explain how designing a house to be efficient, sustainable, and functional can result in a byproduct of beauty.  Tiny house builders and owners know how important it is to conserve space in their homes.  Mine is no different. See how I make use of the space under my stairway.  A walk-in closet on the second floor provides a handy place to store and hide all my stuff. See how using natural finishes to the house add functionality and beauty.

My house’s passive solar design also reduces the amount of fuel I need to heat my home in winter.  I’ll show you how it heats up throughout a chilly day using only the sun’s energy.

Permaculture Fruit: My Espaliered Pear Harvest

Though the rain put a damper on my garden plans this season, it was a good year for pears.  I harvested over a bushel of pears from two of my pear trees.  One is a Bartlett espaliered against my garden shed, and the other is a standard Moonglow.  Both are only several years old and this is the first significant harvest I’ve gotten.  It’s great to be reaping the fruits of my labor!

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Turning waste into food: Oyster mushrooms on old shitake logs

In this video I take some old shitake logs, along with some white oak beam cutoffs, and inoculate them with oyster mushroom spawn.  I’d read about reusing old shitake logs to grow mushrooms in succession in a Paul Stamets book.  I’m going to give them a jump by putting them in the microclimate of my hoop house. Grow your food locally for a more sustainable economy.

Sustainable Landscaping: Scythe vs String Trimmer

Most people these days maintain their yard with a lawnmower and a string trimmer (or weed whacker, as we like to call it), but before the days of fossil fuel, the scythe was the preferred mowing tool. Virtually silent in comparison to its carbon emitting counterparts, the scythe is simply manufactured, durable, and long lived. Best of all, it requires no fossil fuel, only muscle power. And for that reason it’s also provides good exercise.

At Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, where we are building a post fossil fuel culture and community, the scythe is the tool of choice for yard and farm maintenance. The renewable energy powered electric string trimmer also has a place in maintaining a space.