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Old 11-12-2006, 09:25 AM   #26
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Default Don't mean to brag. Just showing my pride.

Making biodiesel isn't for everyone. It takes commitment. When I brag that my fuel costs 55 cents per gal to make, I'm deliberately not mentioning that I'm approaching the $6,000 mark in equipment. I have too many hobbies & too little time. My vegetable garden, landscaping & pool maintenance takes too much of my time so I spent the money & bought a turn key system. A handy person could assemble a processor relatively cheaply.http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_make.html

I have a written contract with a Indian restaurant (their cuisine fries very little meat which is best for the home brewer) . He is required by law to dispose of his cooking to a licensed renderer. I had to get a million dollar umbrella insurance policy plus $175 for a California issued sticker that serves as my renderer's license. He has to pay to have the oil removed from his property & he was happy when I told him I would take it, no charge. He produces enough waste vegetable cooking oil to keep me in fuel. I have a dedicated 12v pump that uses the truck battery to pump the oil out of his barrel & into eight 5 gal motorcycle fuel dump cans. Collecting is no big deal other than it can be a bit disgusting sometimes. I never mention that part when bragging about biodiesel.

The actual process is very simple & doesn't require much hands on time. I valve the system & turn on a pump to recirculate the oil for a good representative oil sample. The titration test is similar to simple pool chemistry tests. There is a chart that tells me how many grams of lye & gallons of methanol is required to make sodium methoxide to strip the glycerine molecule off the three carbon chains (biodiesel). Mixing lye & methanol is a dangerous process & requires a little common sense. This is no place to be in a hurry or careless. One reason for buying this turn key system was that this important step was very well designed for safety. After the lye is dissolved I adjust the valves & inject the sodium methoxide into the oil. After all catalyst is injected, I turn the valves to recirculate & agitate the oil, I set the timer for one hour & walk away. About three hours later the glycerine has settled to the bottom like oil & water. I drain off the glycerine. I wash & dry the biodiesel to try & make the cleanest fuel I can. I pump the finished product into a barrel on wheeled casters. Fueling the truck uses another dedicated 12v pump which pumps the oil through a water block filter & a second 10 micron filter. Next thing you know my exhaust smells like french fries.

Sounds like a lot work but it really goes fast once you get comfortable with the process. But like I said, it isn't for everyone. I became a total biodiesel kook when I realized we don't need foreign oil, it's good for the environment & 55 cents per gallon doesn't hurt. The savings in fuel will eventually pay for the processor. It feels really good not contributing CO2 to the atmosphere when I drive. It feels even better not funding terrorists .
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Old 11-12-2006, 11:10 AM   #27
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Thumbs down Are we talking...

... less CO2 and CO and NxOy's. Certainly you can't mean ZERO CO2. Can you? (I admit ignorance).

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Old 11-12-2006, 12:34 PM   #28
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Thank you for your honestly in your reply, bio. I think it would be too much for me at this point, but I really hope that alternative engines and fuels take off like rockets -- both for the environment, and to get out from under the thumb of foreign oil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman
Sounds like a lot work but it really goes fast once you get comfortable with the process. But like I said, it isn't for everyone. I became a total biodiesel kook when I realized we don't need foreign oil, it's good for the environment & 55 cents per gallon doesn't hurt. The savings in fuel will eventually pay for the processor. It feels really good not contributing CO2 to the atmosphere when I drive. It feels even better not funding terrorists.
I feel the same as you, bio, and applaud you for doing what you are doing. I would feel very good about it, too.
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Old 11-12-2006, 12:45 PM   #29
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Default My truck burns energy from the sun.

When I say zero CO2 emissions from burning 100% biodiesel I'm refering to the total carbon cycle to boost my arguments. Plants use sun light energy to fuel the photosynthesis process which consumes CO2 from the atmosphere & soil nutrients to make various molecules including tri-glycerides (vegetable oil). According to the National Biodiesel Board, considering the total carbon footprint, burning corn oil is considered carbon neutral because corn is in the grass family which requires lots of fertilizer, a crude oil product. My exhaust emits no more CO2 that the amount corn consumed making the corn oil including the total carbon used in farm production & processing. Soy beans are a legume, a plant family that has a symbiotic relationship with a certain bacteria that fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere, thus soy doesn't require much fertilizer. When I burn soy oil, I'm slightly reducing atmospheric CO2.

There is ZERO sulfur in vegetable oil or else your food would taste like toxic waste. There are no Volatile Organic Compounds in vegetable oil, benzene, toluene, ect. Total unburned hydrocarbons are reduced 67%. Carbon Monoxide is reduced 48%. Particulate matter is reduced 47%. New 2007 diesel engines are required to have soot collectors, making them even cleaner. All emissions are halved or zero with the exception of NOX which is increased 10%. Our atmosphere is 79% nitrogen & every time we heat air we make NOX. Honda says their new super clean diesels will use a catalatic converter to convert NOX into ammonia & the ammonia is then used to eliminate soot particles. Hard to believe that future diesel technology will be damn near as clean as a hydrogen fuel cell.

Biodiesel is the cleanest, safest transportation fuel we have today. Hydrogen doesn't even come close when factoring in the total emissions from the extremely dirty processes required to produce elemental hydrogen. There is hopeful research using bacteria to produce clean hydrogen but the technology hasn't been proven viable yet. I'm not saying biodiesel is the only technology to consider but it's the best available viable option today.
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Old 11-13-2006, 10:28 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman
Tina suggested I start a living green thread. . . . What are you doing to help?
Great thread, and appropriately tagged 'sticky'. However, I can't help injecting this story from Alternet about a certain humorous complication . . .

It Ain't Easy Peeing Green
http://www.alternet.org/story/44202

A woman realizes that while going to the bathroom ecologically meant peeing on
trees and lawns, and working with a poo-only toilet, all she wanted was
something that flushed and that she could sit down on.
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Old 11-13-2006, 09:00 PM   #31
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That is a GREAT story, Ho Ho Tai. It reminds me that we all have different levels of eco-ness, and we should do what we're comfortable doing. Even doing something is better than nothing, right?
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Old 11-13-2006, 09:08 PM   #32
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Default I need help. I'm having difficulty saying 'Yea Wal-Mart'.

L.A. Times Nov 13, 2006, pgB1, front page 'Business' section.
"Wal-Mart goes 'green''"
Wal-mart has been using a store in Aurora, Colo. for the last year as a trial to test & evaluate green technologies & is ready to release a progress report for this week's international conference here in L.A. on 'green' building. Wal-Mart says "the goal has never been to build demonstration stores." Wal-Mart announced they intend to retrofit 6,600 stores around the globe with green technologies. "By their size, they're forcing manufacturers to come up with more earth-friendly, energy-efficient products, which then become the industry norm." "...Wal-Mart figures it has 130 million opportunities every week - each time a shopper walks through its doors - to encourage people to make money-saving, earth-friendly choices in their own homes and lives."

Wal-Mart's sales haven't been growing recently & hopes to attract urban and wealthier shoppers. "...Wal-Mart may have found a way to kill several birds with one environmentally friendly store. But Wal-Mart says that's not why it's going green. Above all, the retailer says, its earth-friendly initiatives will save the company and its customers money."

They're recycling used motor & cooking oil (there goes my oil for biodiesel), for heating. They're saving 85% of water usage by planting native drought tolerant plants. The parking lot is made from special permeable concrete to allow rain to percolate into the soil, not run off into sewers. They're using LED lighting in closed door refrigeration cases, not the typical open display units, that dim when a customer isn't standing in front & brighten when the door is opened. They have had limited success with their solar & wind turbine generators to reduce energy usage; they keep shorting out (damn non-union cheap labor). They are trying skylights, evaporative cooling instead of mechanical cooling & many other strategies. Wal-Mart says "the company would spend $500 million annually to reach specific environmental goals."

"Wal-Mart has given presentations and tours of its experiments to competitors such as Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Food Lion in hopes of winning converts and driving prices down on the new technology."

I have serious personal political problems with Wal-Mart being anti-union and using child labor overseas. I resent having my union medical insurance rates skyhigh to offset Wal-Mart not paying medical benefits for their employees. I need help; I'm having a hard time saying 'Yay Wal-Mart.' "But you can't deny real change and progress and goals, and how much can be accomplished by a company the size of Wal-Mart."

I want to believe I'm on a big green wave ready to crash across America, coast to coast.
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Old 11-18-2006, 02:24 PM   #33
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Default Green Gardener

Nov. 18, 2006

Recently it's been high 80's, dipping down to bone chilling lows of high 50's at night in LA. These are left over Better Boy tomatos from the summer garden. I choose tomato varieties from the 'indeterminate' category because they will keep growing until a hard frost kills them. We rarely get a killing frost where I live. While technically a perennial, vines lose vigor after a long growing season. I've trained portions of the stem to bury under a layer of soil. Tomato stems have tiny 'hairs' that when buried will grow into roots to increase growing vigor. I recently removed long pine needles that I swept up off the sidewalks from neighbors trees. The 'free' pine straw doesn't go to the land fill, helps me conserve water & shades soil during hot, dry LA summers. This time of year I artificially warm the soil 10 degrees with black plastic mulch to help stimulate growth during cool night temps. The tomatos won't be as tasty as sun warmed, vine ripe, summer tomatoes but they're 10 times better than anything the store sells.

I didn't show an experiment that is doing very well so far. I have two smaller beds planted with five different varieties of what's called 'Siberian' tomatos & they also are setting fruit. Tomatos don't set fruit above 95 degrees. The LA Times recommended planting 'Siberian' tomatos late summer for winter harvest in this growing zone. These special varieties were ordered from the Heirloom Seed Trust, a conservancy that works to save genetic diversity.
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Old 11-18-2006, 02:54 PM   #34
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Default Green Gardener part II

Nov. 18, 2006

This broccoli was started late August from mail order seeds by Dee using 'seed starter kits', tiny little greenhouses. There are five varieties, all selected for genetic traits that produce many side shoots for a prolonged harvest. I planted them into the ground early September & expect to start harvesting early December. These varieties will produce over a long period. About six weeks later a second planting into the ground. Dee & I expect to enjoy homegrown, completely organic broccoli till late winter, early spring.
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Old 11-18-2006, 07:21 PM   #35
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Cute little broccoli. I am not a fan, as when I was younger I worked in a broccoli packing shed, and it grows all over the place here. Too much broccoli is.. too much. I do love it dipped in tempura, fried and dipped in a nice asian sauce, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman
These special varieties were ordered from the Heirloom Seed Trust, a conservancy that works to save genetic diversity.
You answered my question right there. Somehow I knew you would be using Heirloom seeds. I SO miss having a garden. Bio, kudos to you for your garden, and knowledge of gardening. There's nothing more satisfying than eating food grown by one's own efforts.

Thank you for sharing! I see you have the pic thing down now (Dee, did you post those? )
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Old 11-19-2006, 04:09 AM   #36
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Default "It ain't easy being green."

Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman

…It's hard being green.
I think Kermit the Frog also said that: “It ain’t easy being green”.

Dumb as this may sound, I think there is a lot we can learn by looking back at old technology to be more environmentally conscious. Just using hand tools instead of electric powered ones for example. I’ve found that my little Fiskars hand drill drills about as good as a cordless drill, even in aluminum and isn’t physically demanding to use. It requires no electricity or batteries (even rechargeable batteries eventually poop out and have to be disposed…). The average person has about as much torque in their hand that most power screwdrivers have (the consumer models anyway…), and doing it by hand is less likely to strip screws. A well designed hand can opener isn’t that difficult to use.

My big pet peeve is how many things now-a-days are battery powered that don’t need to be. I think AAA batteries are the biggest scam! They last a fraction of the time that AA batteries do and are only slightly smaller! The physics department at the college where I work goes through so many of them.

A while back, my wife and I went to Amish country in Ohio. I didn’t so much look at what the stores were selling but what sort of appliances they had (fans to keep the rooms cool, the lighting, the old mechanical cash registers etc…). I think most of these stores that I saw were run by Mennonites (telling by how they were dressed). Most of the stores were predominately lit by sunlight, there were a couple of stores that had hydraulic fans and from what I was told they used diesel power for generators, wind power and hydraulic for other things. From what I’ve read the Amish (and Mennonites) aren’t living in the stone age. I saw a website (that unfortunately I couldn’t readily find) that had all sorts of hand tools and appliances. There are some simple ways to “greenify” ones life, I’m trying to myself.

I like what one of the physics instructors once said: “Any cutting device with a power cord is inherently flawed by design.”

I’ll try to find that website and post it.

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Old 11-19-2006, 09:34 AM   #37
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Default Right tech, not high tech.

I had planned to keep this thread alive by periodically posting about small stuff Dee & I do, trying to be green. Thanks for contributing. You hit upon a post I was preparing for December, hazardous waste & E-waste. We save all E-Waste & hazardous waste to dispose of it properly at the annual round-up. L.A. has rolling hazardous Waste & E-Waste round-ups throughout the county. They hit Diamond Bar about once a year.

It has been illegal in Calif. since 2003 to knowingly dump E-Waste into landfills. Laws have been recently tightened. The EPA estimates more than 4 million tons of E-Waste are dumped per year into landfills. Many people seem to think the electronics industry is a clean industry. HA! Kyocera was an account of mine when I lived in San Diego. It really opened my eyes to see firsthand all the toxic chemicals & processes used to manufacture printed circuit boards & memory chips.

The main problem with E-Waste,circuit boards, monitors, ect., is that they contain heavy metals. One example of toxic E-Waste is fluorescent light bulbs, which have gases which produces invisible ultraviolet light, stimulating the mercury coating on the inside of the tube & causing the mercury coating to glow. When improperly disposed of the metals leach into our ground water just to return in our drinking water.

You hit upon a sore subject. I see many AAA & AA batteries flattened by cars in the parking lots of accounts I serve. Makes me angry that people just throw them out their car's window after buying replacements at Target. The problem is that many people aren't aware of the growing E-Waste problem or, in the case of my parking lot rant, just don't care.

I service heavy commercial air conditioning equipment which uses many toxic materials. I also save all the printed circuit control boards & old outlawed mercury bulb thermostats for the E-Waste round-up.

Another pet subject in your post are the high tech gadgets just for the gadgetry, which don't make sense. High tech devices aren't necessarily best. It is more appropriate to use the right technology when possible.

fa_man_stan, if you're interested in a seminar on processing biodiesel, PM me (or, if you're down the hill, come by), I would gladly bore you to tears . The invitation is open to all.
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Old 11-20-2006, 04:05 AM   #38
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Stan, I would love that link if you ever find it.

Bio, I don't recall my city having one of those days where one can recycle batteries and such.
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Old 11-21-2006, 06:08 AM   #39
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Default Battery disposel and biofuel demo...

Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman
...fa_man_stan, if you're interested in a seminar on processing biodiesel, PM me (or, if you're down the hill, come by), I would gladly bore you to tears . The invitation is open to all.
Biodieselman, I'll definately take you up on that! That sounds very interesting as my (gasoline powered) car is giving out and I'm planning to get a diesel sooner or later! I'll PM you tomorrow or after Thanksgiving (loading up the family for the weekend at the moment...)

Tina, one thing I just recently discovered is that you can take your old batteries to most Radio Shacks (I also believe Best Buy is doing it...) and they will properly dispose of the batteries. Sort of like gas stations doing oil recycling. I'll take a look tomorrow (it should be a slow work day...) and see if I can find that website with the hand tools.

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Old 11-21-2006, 05:27 PM   #40
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Default non-electrical and solar

I seem to remember that it was Lehman's catalog that I found, but I thought that they had more hand tools. It was a few years ago... Here are a couple of other sites with interesting things that I found

non-electric and solar and crank appliances:

Lehman's Non-electric catalog:
http://www.lehmans.com/
The biggest all encompassing catalog that I could find.

Solar powered gizmos:
http://www.global-merchants.com/home/solars.htm

Hand powered flashlights:
http://theepicenter.com/hand_powered_items.html

Hand cranked cellphone charger:
http://www.corporatetravelsafety.com...roducts_id=144

Hand powered paper shredder:
http://www.engadget.com/2005/01/26/h...card-shredder/

Solar cooking devices:
http://solarcooking.org/

Somewhat funny, don't know how practical:
http://www.scottevest.com/v3_store/access_solar.shtml

More solar chargers:
http://www.voltaicsystems.com/

Other websites with appliances and misc:
I thought the heat fan was a good idea, circulates heat non-elect.
http://www.backwoodssolar.com/Catalo.../non-elec2.htm

Simple power generation:
http://www.windstreampower.com/humanpower/hpginfo.html

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Old 11-21-2006, 06:18 PM   #41
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Thank you, Stan, these look like great links!
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Old 11-21-2006, 06:26 PM   #42
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My dad recenly wanted to buy me a battery powered drill. I used a speed handle instead. It took some muscle, but we did it! Of course, I went out and bought a corded Dremel later for something else, but it's the only power tool I own. Not even THOSE are power tools

Thanks for the info on heirloom seeds. I would love to preserve the pure genetics of plants, and that's a great way to do it.
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Old 11-29-2006, 04:00 AM   #43
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Default The idea of right tech...

Quote:
Originally Posted by biodieselman
I had planned to keep this thread alive by periodically posting about small stuff Dee & I do, trying to be green.
I was thinking about the idea of "right tech" that biodieselman mentioned. The hardest thing about being environmentally conscious is finding out what is in fact good for the environment. There seem to be a lot of disingenuous products out there, not necessarily intentionally deceptive; things that appear to make sense, but actually affect the environment in adverse ways that aren't so obvious. The example that always sticks out in my mind is the company that I used to work for. For the sake of not being sued for libel, I won't name the company. (I've had a lot of strange jobs, but that's another story...) I was a R&D technician for a label / paper company. They marketed labels that were made out of recycled paper; a good thing. To hold the recycled paper to the backing, they had to use an unusually toxic adhesive. The benefit of recycling paper is obviously lost with such a product.

The whole concept of labels is not particularly sound for the environment either. For every label you see on packages, there is a backing that has been thrown away (most consumer type of labels). Remember the stamps that you used to lick? Why did we get rid of them? They had no backing that was thrown away. Just simple little things like that, that aren't so obvious really add up to degrade the environment and add unnecessarily to our landfills.

Lawns are another thing that is going to require some good thought. I was amazed; grass (of the lawn variety...) is the single most grown crop (if you consider it as such) in the United States. The combined lawns of the entire U.S. could cover the whole state of Mississippi. Most of the grass varieties aren't native to where they are grown (especially in the west). Non-native grasses spreading out into our deserts are the cause of range fires in places that never had fires before (at least not as large) because there didn't used to be grass to lead fire from plant to plant. We use an incredible amount of resources to grow and maintain lawns; fertilizer, large amounts of water, gasoline powered lawnmowers etc. So let's get rid of our lawns and plant drought resistant plants! (This is probably most relevant here in the Southwest and West...) Do you want your kids playing in scrub brush or some other prickly drought resistant plant? With the sprawling suburbs that we have built, we really can't have raked dirt yards like most places in the world have without having increased particulate in our neighborhoods (dust flying when the wind blows). Introduced non-native drought resistant plants may have unforseen consequences on native species (especially planted on a large scale). Native vegetation may not grow so easily in a landscape of roads and fences dividing up the space, and unnatural water drainage. Suburban yards in the Midwest and back East would probably do OK with minimal maintenance if people really wanted to conserve resources. Maybe you noticed that high end housing developments (in the West) tend to look like a snapshot taken out of the Midwest or East, with rolling grassy hills, a creek meandering through, nice green leafy trees etc. The names are even things like "Stone Brook", "Aspen Ranch"; places that just a few years earlier were nothing but scrub brush and oak trees at best. We are creating high maintenance, unnatural environments (The lake communities around Las Vegas NV, another example).

Local biologists just recently discovered that a certain type of non-native flower that people have been planting (I can't remember what) has apparently been having some sort of bacterial reaction with native oak trees in our area, causing them to die.

So what's the point of this? (Actually I'm not sure myself...) Truly doing what may be right is going to require a bit of thinking, but it might be utterly simple in some ways.

If anybody's interested, I'll rant about light bulbs and how they can make a difference in conservation next...

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Old 11-29-2006, 09:03 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fa_man_stan
So let's get rid of our lawns and plant drought resistant plants!...Native vegetation may not grow so easily in a landscape of roads and fences dividing up the space, and unnatural water drainage. fa_man_stan
The photo below is the cul-de-sac area that the city we live in used to 'maintain'. It's not landscaped & all the city did each spring was spray a heavy layer of herbacide to prevent weeds from becoming fuel for fire. I live next to a large open field & fire breaks are required. The city allows me to use this small patch of otherwise unusable land since I took over the 'maintenance' responsibilities. I originally used this area for my vegetable garden vines. I planted winter squash & pumpkins next to the wrought iron fence & allowed the vines to cover the whole area. Each year I grow enough winter squash to store in the garage for use until spring.

Our neighbors from up the street, an elderly couple from India, stop on their evening walks & we talk. I share summer vegetable excess with them & Manda brings us Indian food that she makes from my vegetables. They mentioned that their back yard was overgrown with jade & agave. I offered to trim it all up & haul it away. What I did was stab a hole in the ground along the asphalt & shoved a stem into the hole. I had to water occasionally the first year until they rooted. Once established, I might on rare occasion water after a long hot dry spell if I feel guilty. The jade is just now starting to flower & continues flowering until late winter. Free plants!

Last winter I spread native California poppy seed. This cul-de-sac was one continuous carpet of irridescent orange poppies. The spent plants are left in place to allow the seed pods to naturally 'ripen', notice the brown stubble. The pods literally pop apart to scatter their seeds. Very few Calif. poppies survive & live throught the summer, you might see a few patches in the middle. We had our first winter rain & soon it will be a carpet of iradescent orange again. Poppies late winter to warm weather, squash vine summer till late fall. Free poppy seeds!

Last late winter I transplanted several plants that are spreading from our pool side Calif. native garden into the cul-de-sac. I transplanted 3 hummingbird sage & five fried egg poppies. These also need watering the first year until established. The native plants are short lived if watered so starting with this winter's rains they require no water or fertilizer. The fried egg poppies are as spectacular as Calif. poppies. There is a profusion of 4" to 5" flowers that look just like sunny side up fried eggs. I will post a second post with a close up of fried egg poppies. Free plants, no water no fertalizer!

The Theodore Payne Foundation has many California natives for all California climate zones. http://www.theodorepayne.org/
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Old 11-29-2006, 09:04 PM   #45
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Default Fried egg poppy

Here's the fried egg poppy, also known as matillija.
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:27 PM   #46
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Default Looks like good anti-erosion vegetation also...

bio-d,
Thanks for the info. I must admit, I'm basically a hack when it comes to gardening. Native plants that don't need maintenance usually work best for me. Also water is expensive here so plants that require water aren't practical. What I'm looking for here in the mountains are good plants to hold the soil together (anti-erosion plants) for our hillside (basically our whole lot is on a hillside).

The plants that you photographed look great and they appear be good hillside plants. I'm looking for something that is (preferably native) does well in direct sunlight but can handle freezing temps. Periwinkles are common here for that purpose, but they don't do well in direct sunlight (without regular watering), and they are considered invasives by the Forest Service.

When we first moved up here, I was amazed how bad the soil is. (We live in a semi-arid pinion pine forest). Despite having trees over 100 ft tall, and a decent amount of vegetation, the soil is humus (ranging from 4" to 1' thick) with grainy mineral below (like grainy sand). The humus is incredibly fiberous (it obsorbs water, but isn't easily torn apart). Once the humus layer is gone, the mineral erodes like crazy and is offers plants practically nothing. The humus is also a bit acidic because of the pine needles.

I'll check out that website and see what I find.

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Old 11-29-2006, 11:32 PM   #47
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Stan, you should look into ice plants -- there are so many different varieties, and since they're succulents, they can do with very little water, like once a week in some places.
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:41 PM   #48
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My own little efforts currently include biking to school every day (I'm sick of biking up that god damned @$#^ing hill on the way home) and most other places. I also use the bus about once a month, basically to go to one of them damn fangled malls. Come winter I plan on walking to school for as long as I can until the Ottawa cold starts freezing my extremities. Mind you with global warming that may become less of a problem. Whether it is real or not, the temperatures in both Niagara Falls and Ottawa have been steadily rising over the last few years, which upsets me.

I just now started trying to figure out how I can recycle in this apartment building I moved into a few months ago. Back at my parents house we recycle everything we can. Up here I guess I just got caught up in adjusting to living on my own and the university life, and I didn't pay attention to the lack of recycling until recently.

It would be hard, being a student on a limited fund, but perhaps in time when I have more financial security or am living as a hermit in the Canadian north, I will try to grow some food for myself/scrounge what I can from the forest. I'm slowly starting to eat a wider variety of vegetables but I still don't buy them very often. My diet tends to consist mostly of cheap food like pasta, instant noodles, macaroni and cheese, canned beans, and booze, with a bit of all the healthier stuff thrown in.

Ideally I'd like to get as many products, food and otherwise, from as close to home as possible. At the same time I'm at a point where I have to save every penny I can since I'll probably be going to the government for a loan before I graduate (3+ years from now). What's a girl to do except go cheap for now.
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Old 11-30-2006, 03:04 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fa_man_stan
bio-d,
Thanks for the info. I must admit, I'm basically a hack when it comes to gardening. Native plants that don't need maintenance usually work best for me. Also water is expensive here so plants that require water aren't practical. What I'm looking for here in the mountains are good plants to hold the soil together (anti-erosion plants) for our hillside (basically our whole lot is on a hillside).

The plants that you photographed look great and they appear be good hillside plants. I'm looking for something that is (preferably native) does well in direct sunlight but can handle freezing temps. Periwinkles are common here for that purpose, but they don't do well in direct sunlight (without regular watering), and they are considered invasives by the Forest Service.

When we first moved up here, I was amazed how bad the soil is. (We live in a semi-arid pinion pine forest). Despite having trees over 100 ft tall, and a decent amount of vegetation, the soil is humus (ranging from 4" to 1' thick) with grainy mineral below (like grainy sand). The humus is incredibly fiberous (it obsorbs water, but isn't easily torn apart). Once the humus layer is gone, the mineral erodes like crazy and is offers plants practically nothing. The humus is also a bit acidic because of the pine needles.

I'll check out that website and see what I find.

fa_man_stan

Stan,

I'm biodieselman's wife. I've got a website for you to check out for California natives: http://www.laspilitas.com/. They sell live plants by mailorder, as opposed to Theodore Payne, which only sells seeds by mail. Click on plant communities to determine what zone you're in and then you can have some assurance that the plant will probably work for you. In addition to community, they have the needs listed for each plant such as full sun, how much water/year, what type of soil, etc. I've ordered many plants from them. Unfortunately the area for our native garden is so small, and I tried to cram too many plants in there, that many of the plants were shaded/overcrowded/overgrown by another plant, and didn't make it. I really like this website though. I'm focusing on a hummingbird/butterfly garden (am working towards becoming a Monarch waystation) and this website is very helpful with tips on that as well.
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:15 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missaf
Stan, you should look into ice plants -- there are so many different varieties, and since they're succulents, they can do with very little water, like once a week in some places.
Actually, Missaf, my husband made me write this (he's working on a household project right now, a little matter of a clogged drain )... I didn't want to shoot down your suggestion. Anyway, he hates the ice plant, calls it a nuisance. See, when he came into my life I was living in a house I'd bought as a single woman and I had everything just so. One of the first things he did was eyeball the patch of iceplant I had in the "pool yard," which has a small slope contained by a block wall, and then one day he's out there tearing it all out. I was like, "The bees, where are the bees gonna go?" because they're very much attracted to this plant. I kinda liked it too. But eventually we planted it in California natives and I'm very happy with it now; the native garden is much more interesting, smells wonderful and is more colorful.

He looked the iceplant up for use in Stan's area, San Bernardino mountains, steep slope, fire area, and found that it is, in fact, contraindicated on the County of Los Angeles' Fire Department webpage under Vegetation Management, paragraph Plant Selection. In addition, it is shallow rooted and would require regular watering, especially the first year or until it is established.

What I can personally recommend for Stan's area (the chapparal community of plants) are two of my favorite California natives, ceanothus "Joyce Coulter," and salvia clevlandii, the leaves of which are wonderfully fragrant, especially on a hot day. It is a treat of which I avail myself frequently, to go in the pool on a hot day and breathe in that wild, soothing sage scent. I have both of these in my native garden and they are maintenance free. He probably has lots of room (wish I had more room, I'd plant an acre of milkweed for the Monarchs if I could ), and could get the ceanothus (California lilac) going; they are large, small-leaved plants with striking blue spires of flowers in the spring. Both of these plants, BTW, are fire resistant, as per the info on laspilitas.com.
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