Weekend Coffee Share; The Year-Round Solar Green House

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Good Morning! How about some ice coffee today? If you want to sit outside, I can highly recommend the cold version. The backyard is lovely, and it’s 85 degrees now at 6am. The house is very cool, and if you prefer hot coffee, or tea we could take a seat at the kitchen table.

Welcome to our weekly coffee date! How are you doing? How is your week? Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! 

I’m reading a very interesting book, The Year-Round Solar Green House – How to design and build a net-zero energy greenhouse. I’ve had green houses before. They have been unheated, cold frames, or heated by electricity. The greenhouses in this book are different, they are built with a design, and materials, that keeps the plants at an even temperature year round, without electricity. They look almost like sun rooms, that some people have instead of a porch/balcony. I’ve always wanted one of those! Never had one.

I’ve been thinking about building a house with a greenhouse connected, with these designs that would be totally doable. The photos in this book are very tempting! Makes me want to pick up a pen and paper myself, and draw the ultimate house/greenhouse combination. (I’ll probably do just that later today.) I’m still undecided wether I would like my greenhouse to be connected to the house, or a separate building, but the possibilities are there. There’s some things to consider; pests, pollinating insects, dirt coming into the house, condense, and regulating temperature between the house and greenhouse part. There are good systems that you can build, that I believe would work. Imagine having fresh produce growing inside your house year round! That would be so cool! 

The thought of being self sufficient is extremely appealing. I don’t necessarily feel a need to skip all conveniences of having access to what’s available in the stores, but knowing that my family will survive (and thrive) if the access to these conveniences would be cut off, due to some kind of crisis/disaster would give me peace of mind. (When I did live off grid I had a 6 months food supply under my bed.) I’m as far from a worrier as one could get. I do believe in hard work, and being a step ahead. It’s just a good feeling. I’ve experienced many longer power outages, and it can definitely be a challenge, more so when it’s hot, than when it’s cold actually. Have you ever experienced a longer power outage? Or natural disaster? What did you do?

My daughter loves crafting, and I decided to get her a subscription to some cool crafting material. She’ll get one box of material, along with some inspirational instructions every month. This way she gets to try new mediums; clay, different types of paint, and pencils. The first box came earlier this week, and she already spent many hours trying new techniques. She was thrilled. She is not spoiled with material things, and when she does get a gift she is so appreciative. I feel good about that she has something creative to do inside, when the temperatures doesn’t allow for outdoor play.

Thank you for dropping in for coffee today! Can I get you another cup?

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. I’m about to head to the grocery store, before it gets too hot outside. I actually went out to run some errands yesterday, but after the first one I had to go back home, I just couldn’t handle the heat. I’m getting an early start today!

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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Weekly Smile

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My friend Trent have a Weekly Smile post where he share smiles from the past week, and encourage others to do the same. Get the good energy flowing! There’s so many things to be grateful for, small and big things. I’m going to try to post a Weekly Smile in the beginning of every week….well, it’s Thursday today (I said try..) and not in the beginning of the week anymore. I’m slightly behind schedule with my blogging. I figure better late than never, right? 

Blogging is a fun thing for me, and it helps me get my thoughts organized. This week have been good to me. It’s been busy, in a wonderful, productive way at work. I’m a tutor/nanny to two little boys. They are so smart, and they make me smile every day. They are both a couple years from Kindergarten yet, but I bet a weeks salary that they will both read before they start Kindergarten. They soak up the alphabet, new words, and new concepts like little sponges. They are so interested in learning new things. I love discovering their world with them, being there when the light get lit for the first times in their beautiful eyes. That’s my favorite part of my job. Their parents and I, have a similar view when it comes to encouraging little children to be well mannered, kind, and polite, both towards each other, and others. That makes my job even more enjoyable. I’m often exhausted after a day with them. Two active boys can be a handful, but I really enjoy it the majority of the time. 

My photo gallery have been profitable this week. Another big reason to smile, since I am striving towards building an increasing, (semi-)passive stream of income from my gallery.

My garden is growing. I’ve had time to finish several books, including the water saving books that I wrote about in my coffee share last weekend. 

Tomato, tomatoes, tomatoes. The first photo was taken today, exactly a year ago, next to my cherry tomato plants, in my huge Northern California garden. 

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My daughter took the second photo (below) today, of my cherry tomato plants that I have now. I planted them in one of my compost bins. Food scraps decomposes really fast in this climate. I ordered some red worms to get a jump start on my compost, and a couple months later I had beautiful compost. I planted these tomatoes right on top of everything. I’ve been adding coffee grounds, on top, on a weekly basis.

Since I now live in the Mojave Desert, container gardening seemed like a good idea. Tomatoes in containers are totally doable, even if the plants are slightly smaller, there’s hundreds of tiny, green tomatoes on the plants. Hopefully there will be a nice harvest within the next month. (I have more plants than the ones pictured.)

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What are you growing in your garden? What zone are you in?

I mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot this week. I’m still going through my pile of Lois L’amour books. They are still good, even though I would love the stories to be a little longer. The books always ends to quickly! I’ve been forced to take it much slower than I would like this summer, due to the heat. I’m making the best I can out of the time, and read a lot. Both for fun, and to learn new skills (gardening, homesteading, photography, and work related psychology.) I am enjoying this stillness of summer in its own way.

My daughter is luckily VERY happy to just relax, and be the boss of her own time. I’ve ordered a monthly subscription of crafting material for her. I’m expecting the first box to be here any day. I’m very excited about that. I can’t wait to see her face when she gets it. We’re living a pretty minimalistic lifestyle, and she is not spoiled with material things. She loves crafting, and spends hours every day inventing new things. She needs, and deserves good supplies. This box let you try new mediums every month, and they come with some directions of how the material can be used. I’m convinced that she’s going to love it!

I hope you’re having a fabulous week!

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share – Gardening With Less Water

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Welcome to our weekly coffee date! How are you doing? How is your week? Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! 

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This week got off to a sweet start, when I unexpectedly was surprised with these beautiful roses. I can’t remember when someone gave me roses the last time, and now at the end of the week they are still as beautiful as the day I got them!

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I’ve been working as usual this week, but on my free time I’ve had a little project. That I’m also going to dedicate a big chunk of my weekend too. I’m learning about rainwater catchment systems, how to safely store water, and gardening methods that require less water. I live in the Mojave Desert right now. I have access to city water at the moment, and it’s relatively easy to have a garden when you have access to city water, but there is not an endless supply of water in the desert. My future homestead is also in the desert. It is not as extreme as it is here. The weather is more comfortable at 5400ft elevation, but water is still something more precious than gold. 

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I love this book, that is both beautifully made, and written in a way that makes you want to do your part in using our water responsively. 

I want to learn everything I can about smart water saving methods for my garden. I’ve watched hundreds of Youtube videos, binge watched Homestead Rescue (some episodes are from the desert,) and I’ve ordered two books from Amazon that I’m studying. I feel that I have solid knowledge about growing crops (5 years of growing the majority of our food in California, along with gardening in cold climates growing up in Sweden,) but this aspect of using less water was something I needed to learn more about. I don’t think that I need to know everything, about everything, before I start my homestead, but knowledge is power, and I have the time to learn now. It would be stupid to not take take advantage of the opportunity. 

Especially one of the books I bought Gardening with less water, by David A. Bainbridge, describes in depth the use of Olla’s. I’ve heard of it before, but now I feel more confident in using them. It’s basically clay pots that you bury in the garden, next to your plants, that slowly evaporates water to the roots. This books claims that you can save up to 90% water, compared to watering at the surface. That is nothing short of a miracle in the desert where every drop counts. I’m very excited about this idea. I can see myself using it in my raised garden beds, and big clay pots next to my trees. I was planning on planting trees at my homestead as soon as I can get it fenced in, (no point in doing it earlier, they would get trampled by free grazing cattle.) Now the ideas of planting trees, in a sustainable way, that would survive, even now when I live three hours away, seem very doable. When I dig the wholes for my trees, I simply dig them bigger, and bury a huge clay pot next to them. When I fill them with water, they will slowly water my young trees for weeks, without me doing anything. (In theory, but I think it could work. I’m going to start small, and document the process when I do it.)

In one of the episodes of Homestead Rescue that I watched they made a Waffle Garden, for a desert homestead. It’s basically a row of square cells, that you dig out, and plant in. The native used this method for hundreds of years. The thought is that when you have monsoon rains, your little cell fills with water for your plants. I am hoping to use this method, in combination with Ollas. I figure that it’ll likely work for the trees as well. The back end of my property is a little lower than the rest, and there’s a seasonal creek flowing there during rains (there is zero chance of the house site being flooded, it’s at the top of a hill.) I’m planning on planting my trees on both sides of where this seasonal creek flows. In combination with Olla’s, I believe they have a really good chance of thriving. I found a good article about how to use Olla irrigation here.

The pieces of the puzzles, that are going to be my homestead, is coming together more by the day. I’m thinking that when I have the excavator there digging for my septic tank, I should have them dig me a root cellar as well. I could frame it later myself, if the hole is already there. That would be a tremendous help for preserving food. When I do move out there, I’m going to be prepared for success. I know there will be hard work. Any gardening is hard work. I like it, but I also like being smart, and prepared.   

Do you need a refill on your coffee?

My daughter is very eager to get chickens again, and we’ve been talking about that, and discussed designs for a chicken coop this week. I encourage her to learn everything she can about chickens. We have many ideas, but haven’t settled fo a design yet. (Still plenty of time.) A portable design would be kind of cool, that way they could fertilize different areas, but it has to be absolutely predator safe. I‘m guessing it’s easier to make a permanent chicken coop predator safe.

I am going to have the perimeter of the property fenced in with a sturdy fence. I’m planning on burying the fence 2ft underground, and have it 8ft high, with metal posts, sturdy livestock fencing, and barb wire on top, and underground. It’s going to be a project, and a big expense, but one of the first things I do. If we, our animals, and crops aren’t safe, then we’re working hard for nothing. There’s coyotes, mountain lions, free grazing cattle, and maybe even the occasional stray wolf. Mexican grey wolves was introduced into Arizona as a part of a preservation project, to keep them from getting extinct. (Wolves are not common in the area. There’s supposedly only 67 in the whole State of Arizona. Some say there’s more.) There’s also predatory birds, rattle snakes, and spiders. Lots to think about.

I don’t think there’s any bears around 😉 I have spent years living in bear, mountain lion, and rattle snake country. I’ve shot a few rattle snakes, and turned them into stew. They are not aggressive by nature, the ones I had to take out were provoked by a horse I had, that was overly curious about everything, and unfortunately loved playing with rattle snakes. The bears have never troubled me (we’re talking black bears, not big bad grizzly’s,) even though I have respect for them. I’ve picked black berries next to them. I’m more afraid of the enemies that aren’t easy to spot, like spiders, and wasps (that I am very allergic too.) The bigger predators you learn to coexist with. My German Shepherd would not let anything creep up on me. I’ll probably get another German Shepherd when we move to our property permanently. To me that is logical. LOL.

It is much easier to handle the high temperatures we are experiencing in Las Vegas now, having an interesting project like this to work on, even if it’s mostly in my head, and on my computer so far. I hope your week is fabulous! If you have a garden, how is it doing? Is it full summer in your area? Happy Summer Solstice!

Love,

Ms Zen

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PS. I am not an associate to any of the links I provided in today’s post, just information that I personally found useful.