As a kid, I tried to make my own solar ovens. I fashioned old windows together, and put pans of water inside to heat. They usually sucked, but these experiments spurred my fascination with greenhouses. Like my grandfather, I love growing things, and would imagine creating an endless summer indoors where I could grow exotic plants. Last year, my childhood fixation was revived when we visited the earth-ships in Taos, New Mexico. This summer, I finally decided to design and build my own greenhouse.
I used to think I needed over an acre of land to have a decent farm, and our retirement ideas included starting a homestead. In the meantime, I began with a small garden on our 1/4 acre plot. A few years later, we also started raising chickens. We now grow more vegetables than we can eat, and get fresh eggs everyday from our little urban farm. It turns out that I didn’t need acres of land, I just needed to sharpen my skills and get creative.
If you’ve never had a fresh fig, then you’ve never really tasted fig. Trying to compare fig newtons to fresh figs is like trying to compare grapes to raisin bran. The processed version has nothing to do with the fresh juicy fruit. They are rarely found in grocery stores because they don’t keep long enough to reach the shelves. The best way to get them is picked straight from a tree. While they don’t grow naturally in freezing climates, so long as you have a nice sunny spot, you can grow them in pots almost anywhere.
April showers bring May flowers. But every time one of us showers, we just create sewage. We allow all that fresh clean water to flow over us right into a drain where it becomes unholy wastewater. Each time we take a leak, we contaminate anywhere from 1-6 gallons of drinkable water. It’s a huge waste of our natural resources, and I’d like to share a few tips on how you can help save our planet while saving money on utilities.
It’s almost time to get new chicks. Farm stores stock baby chicks in March and we plan to get a half a dozen this year. Hens lay eggs reliably for the first 3 years of their lives, but can live for over a decade. When we got our chickens, we did so knowing one day we would need to get a new flock, and come to terms with eating the old ones. As chickens age, the meat becomes very tough and requires different cooking techniques. After trying a few recipes, we made some delicious French cuisine that left us craving more.
I like beer, I like it a lot actually, and the beer scene in New England is outstanding. For me, there’s nothing better than a juicy New England style IPA exploding with hop aromas. The only problem is these brews are more expensive to make and in high demand, which means if you can get your hands on them, they sell for $10 a pour. A few years ago I brewed my first citrusy IPA. It turned out good – like really good – and I’ve been hooked ever since. These days, for about $0.40 a beer, I can brew something that to me rivals the best beers in New England. I’m going to share the cheapest all grain brewing setup that I’ve found.
When we purchased our home, it was tough to keep it heated. It’s a slightly bigger house than our last, but our oil consumption was nearly double. After having an energy audit performed, we discovered it had more holes than Swiss cheese. Luckily, sealing a home from air leaks is easy to do, doesn’t require special tools, and can be done very cheaply. After a lot of sealing, we can now heat the entire 1700 square foot house with a small wood stove during the harshest New England winter days, and many days we don’t need to run any heating or cooling. Continue reading
We used to go to our favorite pizzeria once a week. For a small pie and a salad to split, our bill was usually less than $20. At the time, this seemed like a decent deal. I thought you needed a commercial pizza oven and special ingredients to make a pizzeria quality pie. But over the last few years, I’ve uncovered the secrets to making pizzeria quality pizza. These techniques do require some planning, but not much time. And pizza ingredients are very cheap – we can make better pizza than our local pizzeria for $2 a pie.