Category: How to

A how to guide

Chores by Design

When the concept of sustainability moves past buying things labeled “green” into personal action, the cold hard truth is that our lifestyles need to change as much as the products we buy. Part of living sustainably is adjusting how we do things so that we are less consumptive and reliant on unsustainable systems. Performing everyday tasks — cleaning the floor, washing the dishes, drying clothes, opening a can, making coffee […]

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What do lizards, procrastination, and Permaculture principles have to do with your brain? Part 5

This is Part 5 in a series about using Permaculture principles to train your “lizard-brain.”[i] In Parts 1 and 2 we met the lizard in your brain, found out what drives it, and learned how it influences your behavior. In Parts 3 and 4 we explored some ways to re-cast the lizard brains role in your life from foe to friend, using Permaculture principles. In this, the 5thand final part, […]

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The Most Ethical Renewable Energy Systems

The main thing in renewable energy systems is the embodied energy: the energy over the lifetime of the product versus the energy of manufacturing it. Lithium batteries are used a lot because they are lightweight, but they don’t last. Lead-acid batteries, like car batteries, are also short-lived. An old technology, the nickel-iron battery, lasts a long time. Lithium batteries are great when there might be a space or weight issue, […]

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What do lizards, procrastination, and Permaculture principles have to do with your brain? Part 1

  Did you know there’s a lizard in your brain that’s the source of all your resistance to difficult, boring, intimidating or uncomfortable tasks?    And that this lizard can be re-trained, using Permaculture principles and (un)common sense, to help you reach your goals, instead of sabotaging them?  This Series of articles will show you how.  Here, in Part 1, I’ll explain the human brain structure in very simple terms. We’ll meet […]

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Unwanted Chemical Pool Gets Permaculture Makeover

Six months into our pool to pond conversion and the problem really has become the solution. For some time, we had been flirting with the idea of doing something productive with our unwanted 12,000 gallon in-ground swimming pool. It was during my Permaculture design course with Geoff Lawton last year that I decided to commit to a full conversion to an aquaculture wetland. What seemed like my most daunting project […]

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How to Make Instant Garden Beds

A common problem when just starting a garden is dealing with the fact that we’ve not had time to condition the soil, fostering it into something heaving with fertility. Or, maybe we just aren’t that far into gardening yet anyway and don’t know what to do. Basically, it seems we are left with the option of using what we have and hoping for the best, or we can spend a […]

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How To Motivate Kids To Learn About Permaculture

When my kids were toddlers, they wanted to help me in the garden every spring. They were more than happy to wear a silly straw hat like Dad and work the soil with a trowel. I would take the opportunity to talk to them about how our compost was conditioning the soil and how the worms helped the plants grow.  But by the time early summer rolled around, they had […]

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How Dry Composting Toilets Work

Dry composting toilets are an efficient, cyclical way of dealing with human waste without using and/or fouling fresh water, which is in ever-dwindling supply on the planet. Using clean water to flush human excrement sends it into either a septic system, which eventually has to be pumped and the sludge moved to larger facilities where it will then be dealt with, or sewer mains, where it congregates into a horribly […]

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Real food does not come from supermarkets: 6 steps from bare ground to homegrown cauliflowers

I imagine that when our grandchildren and great grandchildren read in history books about the supermarkets we relied upon for food, they’ll wonder what we were thinking.   My goal is to get to where our family can live without the supermarket entirely. There are many things we have yet to learn, but we’re well on our way.   We already raise all of our own meat and eggs, and most of […]

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Straw Bale Gardens

What do straw, paint brushes and the human blood circularity system have in common?     The answer is capillaries, very narrow, long tubes. It is this physical characteristic of straw which gives its remarkable ability to become the soil of a garden bed. Large amounts of water and nutrients can be held within the straws capillaries. This is an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This conversion from straw to soil makes […]

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Win-Win Situation. Retrofitting Farm Dams to Increase Freeboard and Increase Wildlife Habitat and Productive Edge

The first thing I look for in a dam retrofit other than the spillway, is the freeboard. The freeboard is the height of the dam wall above the spillway. The freeboards presence is critical to the safety of the dam.  After looking at the spillway and the freeboard, I would look at the batters of the dam wall bot. inside and outside.  What degree slope are they?  Can you build […]

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Killer Natural Plaster Recipe

In this article I’m going to share with you my killer recipe for a final plaster that I have used and evolved over the last eight years. The final layer is what you will see day to day, so it’s worth making it nice. If you’re interested in a recipe that is non-toxic, made from easy to find natural materials and has a beautiful finish then read on. I first […]

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