This will be a short post to reflect some of the things i've done to bring Earth Day to my little homestead every day, and to muse on some of the things i'd like to do more of.
Here's my house when i bought it: nasty, yardy, chemical used (probably), toadless, anoleyless, butterflyless suburban blah, and after we dug the grass out of the street side (over the course of a month) and planted tiny little rosemary and sagelets:
Here it is now! Well, actually a few weeks ago, it's blooming even more now - but it is also raining and not sunny for photographs:
I know they're different angles, but you can get the jist! Since October of 2007 my husband and i have improved our homestead by:
- dug out 'strip' of lawn between sidewalk and street and planted native perennials, agaves, yuccas and wildflowers - many of which serve as habitats for beneficial insects
- Dug out several sections of front lawn to install vegetable and herb gardens, using found and reclaimed materials, amended the soil, and welcomed the toads, skinks, and beneficial insects
- Only irrigate food crops
- Cultivated native plants and 'weeds' that promote beneficial insects and butterflies in the backyard
- Practice only organic gardening methods
- Installed a rain barrel to use captured rain water to irrigate our veggie crops
- Built a gorgeous and prolific compost heap in the backyard that has now started feeding our gardens. We recycle all recyclables, compost all food scraps and natural fibers, and only fill 1 smallest city trash can per 2 weeks or so.
- Certified my 'homestead' as a Wildlife Habitat trough the National Wildlife Foundation: a place where wildlife can raise young, find food and shelter, and be free of chemicals or pesticides
- I bike places when i can and do a lot of walking, generally driving maybe a few days a week for short distances.
- We do our best to keep our energy use low and have a thermostat that is part of our city's energy conservation plan: during high uses times it is automatically shut off.
However, in the future there are things we'd like to do to help restore the natural balance in our own ecosystem - we use a lot of energy despite being frugal, and there are some things i'd like to do to help with that:
- Install solar panels to power things like electric fences, water pumps, out buildings, water heaters, etc
- Wind power perhaps? Depending on where we move, perhaps we could have a wind turbine to help power some things, but perhaps that's beyond our scope.
- Grey water collection: i desperately want a grey water collection system set up - either to redirect it to gardens, or to be filtered and reusable in other ways. (grey water would include sink and shower water waste)
- More rain barrels! I want a better system, particularly in its orientation. My present rain barrel is down hill from my veggie garden, which means i have to use a watering can and walk back and forth a million times. I'd like to set up a system that can use gravity to automatically irrigate our veggies and herbs. Perhaps also setting up certain barrels to filter the water to potability standards for our livestock.
- We desperately need to add more insulation to our attic and get better windows and doors - the seals are all off due to our foundation troubles and i'm sure our energy use would be lessened with more insulation.
- I already grow a lot of our food, but i'd really like to grow a larger percentage so that we rely less on food that is grown more than a few miles from our house. I'm doing well in this regard, but could do much better!