Sustainable Living Skills You Need to Survive
It might not seem so serious to the average consumer in the First World, but the future of the world as we know hangs in the balance. The media is full of bad news that can make changing things for the better seem hopeless, but there are simple and radical things you can do to reduce your impact and set an example for others. It's not just a choice, our survival depends on it.
Follow my YouTube Channel Hardcore Sustainable to find out how I've implemented sustainable technologies and techniques at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage to help me live more lightly on the Earth.
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One of the great things about natural buildings is that they are recyclable. The earthen plaster in Wisteria Lodge has been around for nearly 10 years and it’s gotten a lot of wear and tear, so this season before a new tenant moved in I took some time to repair it and finish it with a natural clay alis paint. Earthen plaster is all organic and so malleable that you can chip it off, add some water, and it comes back to life for reuse in the same repair project. This little project transformed the house from kind of a junky looking quaint tiny house inside, to a beautiful, warm, and inspiring little space.
At Dancing Rabbit we are always looking for new useful plants that will grow in our climate and soil since it can be challenging given the poor land we inherited. I’ve been trying out many in the last two seasons. Two of these plants are new to me and one I’ve grown for many years and find a vital part of my harvest every year. I was really surprised by how easy these were to start from direct seeding outdoors. I’d tried them indoors the previous year with minimal success. See my other video from last year of me starting a number of permaculture plants.
A lot of people don’t know that figs can grow in a lot more places than the tropics. You see them in California and Florida, but there are people that get fruit off their fig trees every year here in northern Missouri. Of course, the trees do die back to the ground every winter, but they still come back and produce a crop every season. If you have a greenhouse or hoop house in a temperate region, your figs won’t die back to the ground. I knew someone who had a full-sized fig tree in their passive solar greenhouse in central Wisconsin.
In this video I show you how you can easily propagate your own figs trees. It’s really easy to turn one fig shoot into several fig trees in a short time, and within a couple years you can be harvesting fresh figs even in northern regions.
I’ve tried aging cheese in my under-the-floor root cellar but the times during the year when it is the ideal temperature are way too short. Then I recently was thinking about a place I have that has high humidity, a huge thermal mass, and in spots is over 6′ underground–my cistern. The temperature down there stays above freezing through the winter but because of the thermal mass of the water maintains its coolth much further into the season than my root cellar. So I thought I’d try it out for aging hard cheese without having to use a dedicated cheese fridge. It’s a creative way of stacking functions of already sustainable technology to make my life even more sustainable…and delicious.
Grape vines can be pretty expensive to buy, and when you get into the large volumes that you need for a vineyard, it can get downright expensive. I lower my vineyard costs by starting my own cuttings. For years I made cuttings as a hobby by taking dormant wood in the fall and rooting it in spring. The problem is it takes a pretty long time from cutting to rooted vine (over a year).
With this method you can get new vines rooted in the same season, in fact in just a couple of weeks, and you don’t need fancy misting equipment. One variety in particular, Norton (Cynthiana), is notorious for being difficult to start from dormant cuttings. Norton is a variety that does really well in our heavy clay soil, and it works really well with organic methods because, even under high disease pressure, it has beautiful clusters every season with no pesticides, chemical or organic. In this video I take cuttings of Norton and show how easy it is.
Despite the benefits a city can offer, city life can be stressful and polluted with both noise and light, all of which means people are having more trouble sleeping than ever. I used to have insomnia all the time when I lived in the city, and even when over the counter sedatives wouldn’t work I found that the gentle effect of a homemade herbal tincture would do the trick.
I made a valerian, hops, and chamomile tincture blend that served as a great sleeping potion to relax me enough to help me drift off at night. This spring I found a bunch of volunteer valerian growing in my garden so I thought it was time to make some more sleeping potion. I sleep really soundly most nights at Dancing Rabbit, but I figure I can send some of this to friends who live in the city, and it’s always good to have some on hand just in case.