Johanna Sol

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since Feb 06, 2014
Zone 9b, northern California, 2500 ft elevation
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Recent posts by Johanna Sol

Planted fava (broad) beans in latter part of September, as we love eating them. The plants became big and beautiful before frost and were green all winter in our mild climate. They started flowering in March but didn't get any pods until May. Also planted some in the spring and they came up and podded out at about the same time... Will plant again in the fall but in a more out-of-the-way place rather than in beds I want to use for other veggies.
Have noticed the same thing. However, the ones that are in the shade tend to be less sweet or be less flavorful. Have also noticed with our sunnier berries that they seem to swell up more when they are close to ripe - I only pick the ones that appear a little dull, which is when they're ripest. If these are not picked, they often shrivel up within a few days rather than falling off the bush.
2 weeks ago
Hummingbirds like the larkspur (delphinium) on our place.
We lived in our 28-foot travel trailer, much of it off grid, after we sold our house in Nevada last July. Using a cheap Smart phone and library Internet service, we were able to search for a new place to live and recently bought a dilapidated house on a 4+ acre property at about 2500 ft in northern California. During our stint in the RV, we aimed for areas with nice weather (mountains in the summer, high desert in the fall and spring, southern desert in the winter) so we could count on solar from a couple of panels on the roof of the RV along with two robust batteries during all but the cloudiest of periods. A small generator was sufficient to charge up the batteries if need be. Since PG&E has started cutting off power whenever they perceive a combination of high winds and too dry conditions, we are getting a taste of powerlessness. Our immediate neighbors have huge generators for backup.

It's nice to have the RV backup system, especially for the fridge and stove, which run on propane. We make sure to keep the propane tanks filled, as well as extra gasoline for the generator. We learned to get by on minimal use of electricity, often washed our clothes by hand, and know how to live on 2 gallons of water a day for consumption and cleaning, as we used a composting toilet and sponge bathed rather than using the shower. We also now have a wood stove, with a flat surface for cooking and lots of sources of dead wood and will be setting up multiple water storage systems to collect winter rainfall.
10 months ago
Travis,

Rather than a blog, you could look into creating an "evergreen" website. Instead of having to produce pages and information on a fixed schedule, you can work with your energy levels to create pages that will stand the test of time. I can recommend Sitesell as I've been using them for 13 years - the subscription and web hosting price is $300 a year (and that price has not changed in all the years I've been using them!) regardless of how well your site does. They're always adding to their tools and functionality, nearly always without an extra charge - I think I only paid an extra $50 one time. Their aim is to help you build a successful web business rather than a pretty looking site - so they have a special Brainstorming tool so you can see which topics are of interest to people searching the web. Their forums are as helpful as permies.com, and have people weighing in from all over the world.

Due to life taking me in a different direction, and not having a dog anymore, I haven't done much with my site for the past 6 years so it's not the best example (www.make-and-build-dog-stuff.com) but am still making enough ROI that I haven't scrapped it. It did help carry my hubby and me through a number of lean years and got him out of the rat race. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme but can start making you money in the first year, if you follow their Action Guide. Here's a link with more information:  https://case-studies.sitesell.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxa3k3dWQ5AIVDcJkCh0uOAxMEAAYASABEgJX-PD_BwE - Patty, the first case study mentioned, used to live near me and she mentored me for a short while. Like her, I started out with no web knowledge other than how to type and do email. I'd never taken a digital photo...

Anyway, all the best to you and hopefully that tumor will disappear and you'll get back more of your energy.
11 months ago
In addition to the postage stamp, another idea to run by this person as long as you have their attention would be to introduce the concept of using neighborhood electric vehicles NEVs, or better yet ,electric trikes or bikes with trailers to deliver mail. Definitely the most cost effective and least energy intensive powered transportation on the planet...
3 years ago
My husband and I live on a lot in a small city. Rather than putting out a garbage can weekly, which we consider wasteful both money and energy wise, we collect wrappers uncontaminated by foods in reusable garbage bags and store them in a shed. Glass bottles, cans etc. are saved for recycling, as are tree trimmings (mostly thorny) that we have no use for. These all go to the local landfill every 10 to 14 weeks, which incidentally happens to have a great view of valleys and mountains. We like that we can deposit metal items on the metal pile, wood trimming on the wood pile, and put recyclables in the shipping containers that are provided.

We currently pay $10 for a pickup truck load. In return, we can pick up a load of free mulch (we go back in after they've weighed us) since they chip up the wood trimmings people bring. Occasionally we find something to take home and extend its life (making sure the workers in their big equipment aren't watching as this practice is frowned upon - although all they're doing is burying the stuff). Items have included a wicker table, hardback chairs, a beautiful blanket that just needed washing, a giant white teddy bear in pristine condition, folding chairs that just needed a little repair etc... Another pastime is dumpster diving for lumber and windows, and gleaning fruit, which is abundant here some years.

Food scraps and some paper items are composted at home - we have no chickens as yet. Meat/fish scraps/containers are kept in a bag in the freezer and then periodically disposed of in the garbage can at our local store (most of these foodstuffs are purchased there to begin with) or during our landfill trip.

I do think about the ultimate end of containers and wrappings when we purchase items and try to minimize these. We use reusable shopping bags and reuse plastic bags and paper in multiple ways. However, we're definitely not anywhere near zero waste and are unlikely to be in the foreseeable future. I think it would be more doable if we were part of an intentional community where we could purchase and store items in bulk, and pool resources for things such as grinding/milling equipment, large storage bins, or a woodchipper, as well as have designated people expending their energy in certain areas instead of two people like us trying to do it all.
3 years ago
We are rockhounds so bring home all sorts of rocks - the ones that don't end up in the house become "working rocks" in the garden -
we've used them to outline beds, hold down netting and mulches, and they also serve as decoration when nothing's growing. The area with
the design using landscape rock someone gave us free for the hauling was to cover up a patch we do not irrigate that only held unsightly
plants - since then it has become an amazing mulched area where all sorts of volunteer plants arise - I simply pull out the ones I don't want
and leave the rest - it changes every year. The bigger, colorful rocks are the first things to appear when the snow melts.
4 years ago
My biggest problems with any kind of mulching are sow bugs (roly polies) and earwigs, both of which like to munch on most of my green vegetables.
They usually nest very close by, so after I notice holes in the leaves I check under the nearest items that might provide cover, whether it be wood chips,
rocks or even a layer of compost. I've tried going out with a flashlight after dark but am usually too exhausted to do this regularly and in the daytime
I too can see them much better - especially the earwigs as they'll try for a fast getaway.

I like the coffee grounds idea for strawberries as there is also a slug problem with our berries. Might try the coffee grounds for other areas - we're in an
arid, windy climate so I'd much rather cover up the soil. I have had good success with a deep layer of twig mulch around our apple trees, and with more
intensive planting of some things.
4 years ago