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Archive for December, 2010

Self-Sufficiency: a back to basics guide

Self-Sufficiency: A Complete Guide to Baking, Carpentry, Crafts, Organic Gardening, Preserving Your Harvest, Raising Animals, and More! (Back to Basics Guides)

Abigail puts it best in her introduction:

“Self Sufficiency” as a term is somewhat misleading. “The Good Life” that most of us are seeking in our varied ways does not involve cutting off ties from those who surround us. Complete independence is not possible and, for at least most people, would not bring much satisfaction anyway. The early settlers banded together whenever they could, knowing their lives would be made easier and better by the community’s support.

All the helpful details and useful advice of Back to Basics and Homesteading—now with projects and tips geared toward families. Now, more than ever, people across the country are turning toward simpler, greener, and quieter ways of living—whether they’re urbanites or country folk. Following in the footsteps of Back to Basics and Homesteading, this large, fully-illustrated book provides the entire family with the information they need to make the shift toward self-sufficient living.

Self-Sufficiency provides tips, advice, and detailed instructions on how to improve everyday life from an environmentally and organic perspective while keeping the focus on the family. Readers will learn how to plant a family garden and harvest the produce; can fruits and vegetables; bake bread and cookies; design interactive and engaging “green” projects; harness natural wind and solar energy to cook food and warm their homes; boil sap to make maple syrup; and build treehouses, furniture, and more. Also included are natural crafts readers can do with their kids, such as scrapbooking, making potato prints, dipping candles, and constructing seasonal decorations. Whether the goal is to live entirely off the grid or just to shrink their carbon footprints, families will find this book a thorough resource and a great inspiration. 1,000 color illustrations

About the Author

Abigail R. Gehring is the editor of Back to Basics, Homesteading, and Self-Sufficiency, and author of Odd Jobs and Dangerous Jobs. She’s practiced living self-sufficiently since her childhood in Vermont, being home-schooled, home-canning jams and jellies, and enjoying natural crafts. She lives in New York City and Windham, Vermont.


DIY Faraday “Shake” Lights

A shake light creates a small charge as a magnet slides up and down in a coil as you shake the light. This charges up a capacitor or rechargeable battery (I like the super caps, they last “forever”). A high power LED provides the light. It’s simple, and reliable. No more dead batteries, nothing to throw away.

Learn more at


LED Lights vs HID Lights

LED lights have been a very efficient way of producing light for the last 4 years and each year the technology gets better. The LED manufacturing companies themselves have really increased the Lumen per watt ratios and are now increases the available applications of LED lights with the advent of globes, tubes and LED grow lights. These new LED applications not only replace the inefficient incandescent lights they also replace fluorescent lights and HID grow lights as well with lower wattage and less heat.

Power Savings
LED lights are known for their drastic reduction in power used to produce the same effective light when compared to HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights. The LED is the most efficient way to produce light and can be used with power from the grid or off-grid applications such as solar and battery power. The reduction in power is usually hard to see with the sticker price of an average LED application well over the price of a regular incandescent or HID light. This high cost can be offset by the long life of the LEDs however.

LED Lifetime
The average life of a florescent light is around 1 year before the bulb needs changed. The average life of an HID grow light is or incandescent light is about 6 months with daily use of more than 12 hours. Compare this to the average life of a quality LED light at more than 5 years. This long lifetime is another benefit of LEDs over others but is almost completely reliant on the quality of the LEDs themselves. If you buy a low cost LED light and save money upfront it is almost certain you will be losing some of the time the light will be usable due to the lower quality parts and workmanship.

Quality vs Cost
The most important factor when you purchase an LED light is the quality of the LED and the quality of the heat sink used in the light. A heat sink is a finned aluminum part used in LED lights to dissipate heat from the LED chip itself. All LEDs need some sort of dissipation device (heat sink) or the LED would burn out very quickly. When you look at LED lights you should look for the heat sinks fins, or lack thereof. If the LED light has a simple flat aluminum sheet, this is a sign of poor quality and inferior parts that will lead to a lesser quality of light in a shorter period of time.

The Latest LED Technology
The latest advancements in LED technology have been in two fields, high powered LED grow lights and LED street lights. Although there are many new applications these two types of LED lights are growing quickly and have some top quality suppliers that offer great warranties. These new types of LEDs feature long lasting components that make the initial investment a win for municipalities, retailers (Wal-Mart is testing LED lights in there parking lots), and greenhouses that can now use LED grow lights that replace HID lights.

LED lights are a great choice to replace your old lights but only if you are able to purchase a quality light that will pay for the large upfront cost of LED lights.


Soil Cube Tool – A seed starters best friend (win a free one)

Alex Klein sent us the following:

I found this amazing gardening tool. It’s called a Soil Cube Tool, and it turns potting soil mixtures into self-contained soil blocks to increase germination and eliminate a lot of the handling problems that gardening from seed is filled with. I talked the guy who makes them into giving a pair of them away on my blogs.

I have this tool and after using it… I wouldn’t be without it. Seriously. That’s how GOOD it is.

Pop in and just leave an email on these two posts, today, if you have time. You can re-enter every day until Friday at midnight.


Wood Stove Safety

Our recent house fire has put my mind in a safety mode, and I wanted to share some info on safely heating your home with a woodstove. Maintain proper clearances, take care with chimney installation and cleaning, and especially dispose of ashes properly (use a metal can and dispose far away from building in a non combustible space).


The Green-Trust Homestead is gone, but the kids are safe!

Our son Steven, Mallory, and our granddaughter Jaymi lost the house in a fire this morning. Steven (22) wasn’t home, Mallory (19) & Jaymi (1) went out the second story kitchen window. Thank God they are safe!

The house is a total loss, nothing was saved (and no insurance), but the only thing that matters is they made it out ok. Belongings can be replaced. Steven is in the National Guard. He has drill this weekend, and lost his uniforms. They need everything (clothes, hygiene, baby products at first) to start over.

If you want to help, please visit

News –


All About Honey

By Roland Thomas

Honey is a viscous food made naturally by bees for their own nourishment. The fascinating process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees’ saliva, an alchemical process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive, where they deposit it into the cells of the hive’s walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the honey’s moisture content, making it ready for consumption. Honey comes in a range of colors including white, amber, red, brown and almost black. Its flavor and texture vary with the type of flower nectar from which it was made. While the most commonly available honeys are made from clover, alfalfa, heather and acacia flowers, honey can be made from a variety of different flowers, including thyme and lavender.

Honey has been used since ancient times both as a food and as medicine. Apiculture, the practice of beekeeping to produce honey, dates back to at least 700 BC. For many centuries, honey was regarded as sacred due to its wonderfully sweet properties as well as its rarity. It was used mainly in religious ceremonies to pay tribute to the gods, as well as to embalm the deceased. Honey was also used for a variety of medicinal and cosmetic purposes. For a long time in history, its use in cooking was reserved only for the wealthy since it was so expensive that only they could afford it. The prestige of honey continued for millennia until the “discovery” of refined sugar made from sugar cane or sugar beets., Once these became more widely available, they were in great demand since they provided a relatively inexpensive form of sweetening. With their growing popularity, honey became displaced by sugar for culinary use.



DIY Bike Trailers

project goals

design bicycle trailers that are strong and versatile enough to transport the cargo that you could in a car, but simple and inexpensive to build

distribute the designs for trailers widely and free of charge

keep the costs and complexity to a minimum; the trailer costs $30 USD in parts and can be built in 5 to 12 hours with only hand tools like a hacksaw and file and an oxy-acetylene torch

decrease our dependence on automobiles by making affordable cargo bicycle trailers available as a viable alternative


All Blue LED Grow Lights: The Perfect Vegetative Light

All Blue LED Grow Lights: The Perfect Vegetative Light

Plants in vegetative growth cycles are mainly using wavelengths of light in the blue spectrum, specifically the 415nm-460nm range. This spectrum of blue light can be found more prevalently in the spring months when plants are growing structure and leaves (vegetation). The latest advent of LED grow lights has allowed indoor growers to target this powerful blue spectrum of light during their vegetative growth cycles by using all blue LEDs. Some all blue LED grow lights have multiple shades of blue LEDs to allow for a broader range of spectral output but still focusing all that energy in the highly active blue band of light.

It has been proven that the blue color spectrum causes very dense vegetative growth and increases fruiting sites on most plants. Another common result with all blue LED grow lights is quick seeding and cloning phase transition in plants that are grown under blue LED grow lights that feature High Intensity LEDs.

The benefits of all blue LED grow lights may be enough to entice an indoor grower to try them but caution is always needed when looking at LED grow lights. Like other grow lights, LED grow lights can range in quality and performance. Quality is the most important factor when buying LED grow lights due to the high cost of this technology. Indoor growers must recover their costs over time and if the light they purchase only works for one year or less they will not recover those costs. It’s always advised to look for a supplier of all blue LED grow lights that offers a long warranty period to guarantee results.

Rest assured that a top quality all blue LED grow light will provide some of the best vegetative growth any indoor garden has ever seen with the least amount of electricity and very little heat.