carrots resized

Learning: Gardening and Environmental Education

1. Pay attention to your land.
2. Learn your average frost-free dates. Notice how they vary year to year.
3. Notice where water collects and where the soil dries fast.
4. Notice where wild plants grow most abundantly.
5. Read gardening and farming books.
6. Talk to local farmers.
7. Consult your local Cooperative Extension.
8. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District.
9. Check out online forums like Permies, Gardening Channel and Homesteading Today.
10. Borrow issues of different homesteading magazines before subscribing to any.
11. Evaluate everything you read and hear. Notice disagreements and consensus.
12. Make small-scale experiments. See what works on your land.
13. Notice changes in crop yield and soil structure.
14. Start small. Build up gradually. Don’t get overwhelmed.

Building Soil:

15. Make soil-building a top priority.
16. Add organic matter to your soil to build nutrients and increase water retention.
17. Compost makes for great results.
18. Compost food scraps (not meat or bread) and coffee grounds.
19. Compost yard wastes (not from treated lawns).
20. Compost manures (not dog, cat or human).
21. Mix high-carbon material like sawdust or straw with high-nitrogen material like manure before composting.
22. Age/compost sawdust at least a year before putting it on your garden.
23. Get compost materials from neighbors.
24. In winter, use an indoor worm composting bin.
25. Never leave your soil bare.
26. Plant cold-hardy cover crops after harvest. Let them overwinter.
27. Plant legumes (clover, vetch, alfalfa, peas, beans) to fix nitrogen.
28. Plant deep-rooted crops to break up hardpan.
29. Mulch plants with sawdust, lawn clippings, leaves etc.
30. Mulch empty beds that aren’t cover-cropped.
31. Grow low ‘living mulch’ like white clover under tall plants.
32. Mulch acid-loving plants with pine needles.
33. Add wood ashes around plants that like low-acid soil.
34. Don’t till your soil. Let the earthworms do that.
35. Add compost to the top of your garden beds every year.
36. Grow perennials to absorb carbon and build soil.

Managing Water:

37. Collect and store rainwater.
38. Use drip irrigation to minimize water waste.
39. Space plants closely to shade soil and minimize evaporation.
40. If you must water from overhead, do it in evening or early morning to reduce evaporation.
41. Don’t leave disease-prone plants with wet leaves overnight.

Managing Microclimates, Stretching Gardening Seasons:

42. Use microclimates wisely.
43. Put heat-loving plants like eggplant and pepper in full sun against south-facing walls.
44. Put shade-loving plants like lettuce North of tall plants like asparagus.
45. Extend your growing season with cold frames.
46. You needn’t buy new frames; old storm windows and scrap lumber will do.
47. Make succession plantings to extend your growing season.

Selecting and Saving Seeds:

48. Plant non-GMO seeds.
49. Grow heirloom varieties for biodiversity, flavor and nutrition.
50. Learn to appreciate odd-looking vegetables. Many heirlooms weren’t bred for uniformity.
51. Get seeds from co-ops and seed saver exchanges, or from neighbors.
52. Learn to save your own seeds.
53. Collect seeds from disease-free, quick-growing, productive plants.
54. Label collection date on seeds. Some seeds can last up to five years, and others are best to plant the following year.
55. Start with easy seeds like peas and beans.
56. Work up to saving tomato and lettuce seeds.
57. Wait until you have some experience before trying to save squash and cukes. Then read up on how to prevent cross-pollination.
58. Save garlic cloves and potato tubers, not seeds; these are easy.
59. Only save potatoes if they’re disease-free.

Garden Troubleshooting:

60. Pull weeds before they go to seed.
61. Learn and target your area’s most obnoxious weeds.
62. Don’t use weed killers. Pull weeds by hand, or use flame or boiling water.
63. Use ‘smother crops’ like buckwheat or vetch to outcompete weeds between crops.
64. Rotate crops to minimize diseases.
65. Spray leaves with 1 part milk in 9 parts water to deter harmful fungi.
66. Hand-pick most pest bugs.
67. Put out beer or yeast in shallow dishes to kill slugs.
68. Encircle plant stems with cornmeal to keep cutworms out.
69. Use organic insecticides as a last resort.
70. Attract insects and animals that eat pest bugs.
71. Plant dill, sunflowers and Queen Anne’s lace to attract beneficial insects.
72. Put out water and shade for toads.
73. Offer perches and baths for birds.
74. Attract pollinators–butterflies, bees etc.
75. Have something blooming in your garden for as much of the growing season as possible.
76. Enjoy and use useful weeds.
77. Add nutrient-rich comfrey to your compost.
78. Eat purslane, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, garlic mustard, Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
79. Leave clover to build soil nitrogen–unless it’s smothering your carrots.

Adding Animals:

80. Raise both plants and animals for a more complete ecosystem.
81. Use animal manures (not cat or dog!) in your compost.
82. Feed garden excess to animals.
83. Give goats carrots, kale, spent pea and bean vines.
84. Give pigs the same types of things you can eat.
85. Use a chicken tractor.
86. Remember, pigs can handle overripe produce, sour milk or whey, and cracked eggs.
87. Give rabbits carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, kale, and pea vines.
88. Give chickens kale, mustards, and amaranth.
89. Give chickens the insect pests you hand-picked.
90. Give any of the above pumpkins and squash.
91. Use garlic as a natural antibiotic and dewormer.
92. Feed livestock garlic leaves and bulbils–they work like garlic cloves.
93. Don’t feed moldy or diseased plants to animals.
94. These are suggestions, not full guidelines. Research before deciding how to feed your animals.

Saving Money in the Garden:

95. Minimize purchases. Consider what you really need.
96. Be wary of trendy new items. Try tools out before buying them.
97. Share tools and equipment with neighbors who can be relied on not to wreck or lose them.
98. Discard as little as possible. Recycle what you can.
99. Use other people’s discards.
100. Get discarded food-grade buckets from grocery stores to make plant pots and animal feeders and waters.
101. Get discarded bread trays for seedling totes. Ask nurseries for used plant pots and seed starter packs.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

As the U.S. government continues to promote cleaner vehicles and offer subsidies for both personal and public charging stations as well as for environmentally friendly cars themselves, we expect the number of EVs and their market availability to increase. New additions to dealerships include: Chevrolet Spark EV, Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, Honda FCX Clarity, Porsche Panamera, Smart Electric Drive, Tesla Model X, and Think Electric.

This list includes all vehicles that have a significant all-electric range, both pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. If you are interested in purchasing a non plug-in hybrid, look for our upcoming 2014 U.S. hybrid car lineup.

Note: All retail costs listed exclude federal tax credits. You can find more information about the credits here at the Fuel Efficient Vehicle Tax Incentive Information Center.

Alvarez Electric Motors Company

In the fall of 2013, Alvarez Electric Motors began selling short-range (30-40 miles) all-electric commuter cars, trucks, and vans in select California dealerships. See the story here: Alvarez electric vehicles. The vehicles range in price from $10,000 to $18,000 and have a max speed of 25 mph. The company expects to bring a motorcycle to its lineup shortly.

Courtesy of Audi

Courtesy of Audi

Audi Electric Cars

Audi released several e-Tron plug-in hybrid concept vehicles and consequently scrapped further plans, but these are now officially making their way to the marketplace:

A3 e-Tron – Audi’s A3 sportback plug-in hybrid will be named the A3 e-Tron. A TFSI combustion engine is combined with an electric motor that consumes 0.40 gallons of fuel every 62 miles and provides a range of 542 miles. Sales should begin in early 2014. See more information here: A3 e-Tron sales begin in early 2014.

A4 e-Tron – Originally unveiled as a concept at the Detroit 2010 auto show, this plug-in hybrid sedan may hit production lines in 2014 and be sold as a 2015 model. Expect the electric range to be about 37 miles.

R8 e-Tron – This spring, Audi announced that yes, it will produce an all-electric R8 e-Tron—ten of them precisely—but no, they will not be sold to customers. Here’s more on the R8 e-Tron for testing and development.

Courtesy of BMW

Courtesy of BMW

BMW Electric Cars

i3 – BMW released substantial concept information about the all-electric 170-hp i3. A DC-fast charger can be used to achieve an 80% recharge in about 30 minutes. If the car’s 80-100 mile range isn’t sufficient, the concept offers an optional REx small gasoline engine that will transform the car into a plug-in hybrid. No mention of production or sales for U.S. customers, but UK customers did get a recent i3 test drive.

i8 – BMW also released information about its i8 plug-in hybrid sports car concept. Its 200-hp 3-cylinder engine consumes 0.71 gallons of fuel every 62 miles and can travel 20 miles on electric power alone.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) Electric Cars

Chinese-based BYD electric vehicles are making their way to America, but you probably will not be able to drive one:

E6 – The E6 all-electric hatchback could finally come to America, but in the form of a green taxi or electric rental cars at Hertz.

K9 – Starting in 2014, this electric bus will be produced in California, BYD’s first overseas factory.

Cadillac Electric Cars

ELRCadillac’s ELR is arriving to dealerships in early 2014. The ELR’s lithium-ion battery is nearly identical to the Chevrolet Volt, but has been tweaked to provide an extra 58 horsepower. The electric range is about 35 miles. See this ELR review for more information. Fuel efficiency is not yet rated and the estimated cost is about $70,000.

Chevrolet Electric Cars

Volt – The 2014 Volt model is currently in production and comes with a few slight changes: new color choices, new functionalities, and new convenience features. See more information on 2014 Volt product changes here. No pricing details yet on this plug-in hybrid. 2013 models started at $39,145, got an estimated 38 mpg, and traveled 380 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas. The 2013 Volt can go about 35 on electric power alone.

Spark EV – The Spark is now available at participating California and Oregon dealerships starting at $26,685. Total range when fully charged is 82 miles. A full charge on a 120V charger takes seven hours, while a DC fast-charge station will charge the battery to 80% in 20 minutes. Impressively, the Spark EV generates more torque than other in-class cars, including the Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche Carrera S.

Chrysler Electric Cars

FIAT 500e – As predicted last year, the FIAT 500e has arrived but is only available at select California FIAT Studios. There are two charging devices: one will recharge the battery to full within 4 hours while the other will give you 9-10 miles of range for every 3 hours of charging (a full charge in under 24 hours). Its range is about 87 miles. The FIAT 500e starts at $31,800 or can be leased for $199 for 36 months.

CODA Electric Cars

CODA Sedan – Despite CODA filing for bankruptcy, California drivers can apparently still get a CODA car for about $38,145 and drive up to 125 miles on a single charge. A two-hour charge will get you going for 50 miles, while 6 hours will fully recharge the battery, depending on charger type. If you must have one and live outside of California, you may be able to put your name on a reservation list at their website for $99.

Courtesy of Commuter Cars

Courtesy of Commuter Cars

Commuter Electric Cars

Tango T600 – Billed as ‘the world’s fastest urban car,’ this two-seater will get you someplace fast: 0-60 in under 4 seconds, to be exact. 2014 brings no changes to this car, which can be charged via a regular A/C outlet and will go 80 miles on a full charge for about $200,000. U.S. consumers receive the kit only—the car is not fully assembled.

Dodge Electric Cars

Dodge is testing out a Lotus-based EV, but no word on whether it will make it to an American market.

Electric Mobile Cars

This American company continues to offer a 7-passenger van, cargo can, and ¼ ton pickup for commercial fleets, but still no word on consumer vehicle offerings.

Fiskar Electric Vehicles

Karma – This luxury electric vehicle sold for $103,000 just years ago but now fails to garner eBay bids above $50,000. The Fiskar company went bankrupt, which halted the design and development of two other Fiskar models: the Surf station wagon and the Atlantic sedan.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Electric Cars

Fusion Energi – This plug-in hybrid gets an estimated 44/41/43 fuel efficiency rating and can drive about 620 miles fully charged and fueled. A full charge can be obtained overnight using a standard outlet. The electric-only range is 21 miles. The Energi starts at $40,500.

Focus Electric – No change in this year’s Focus, which gets 76 gas-free miles with a top speed of 84mph. The Focus Electric starts at $35,000.

C-Max Energi – Ford’s newest-to-market plug-in hybrid gets a combined 108/92/100 MPGe, the best in class. Drivers will get about 620 miles on a full charge and full tank and the car can be fully charged in under 3 hours (with advanced charger) or overnight using a standard charger. Skip the gasoline and you can go 21 miles on electric power only. The C-Max Energi starts at $33,345.

F-550 – Still no word on Ford’s promised plug-in hybrid diesel option.

Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company

Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company

Honda Electric Cars

Accord Hybrid Plug-in – The newly released Accord Plug-in offers 10 gas-free miles and a fuel efficiency of 47/46. Using a 240-volt charger, the car can be fully recharged in under an hour. It starts at $39,780.

Honda FIT EV – Honda’s second new release is the FIT EV. It can be leased for only $259 for 36 months, which includes a 240-volt home charging system (excluding installation and materials), maintenance costs, and roadside assistance. The 240-volt charger will provide a full range of 82 miles in 3 hours.

FCX Clarity – Honda will offer about 200 fuel-cell electric FCXs in the next three years, primarily in Southern California – areas close to hydrogen refueling stations. Fuel costs about $5/kg and a full tank will take you about 270 miles. A three-year lease costs $600 per month, which includes maintenance costs and physical damage collision coverage.

Hyundai Electric Cars

Hyundai seems to be leaning more toward developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, claiming electric cars leak energy and are range-challenged. We’ll be interested to see what direction Hyundai takes, but it seems an Hyundai all-electric might be on the horizon soon.

Infiniti Electric Cars

Infiniti announced that it has halted production of its electric luxury Le sedan with the belief that more advanced and cheaper technology will soon be available.

Jaguar Electric Cars

C-X75 – Still just a concept, the plug-in sports car was once slated to start production in 2013. However, Jaguar’s CEO himself said he is not a fan of electric vehicles, denouncing governmental subsidies. This could mean the C-X75, which can run 30 miles on electric power alone, will not see the assembly line for some years. No news on Jaguar’s other concept car, the XJ_e.

Jeep Electric Cars

AMP Jeep Grand Cherokee – Previously, the only way to get an all-electric Jeep Grand Cherokee was through an AMP Electric Vehicle makeover. However, AMP will now only direct conversions to electric medium-sized commercial vehicles.

Kia Electric Vehicle Cars

Keep your eyes out for a potential 2014 Kia Soul all-electric with a range of 120 miles. It could reach speeds of 87 mph and may have a price point of about $35,000.

Land Rover Electric Cars

Range_e – Land Rover has confirmed it will produce a plug-in hybrid Range Rover. The 25-mile electric-range vehicle won’t be available until after 2015, but before 2020. No word on which markets will receive the Range_e.

Mazda Electric Cars

Only two months after ending production of its last rotary-engine powered car, Mazda has announced that it is reopening that plant to bring an extended-range electric vehicle to market in 2014. Instead of propelling the vehicle, the rotary engine will instead act as a generator to charge EV batteries.

Mercedes Electric Cars

B-series – Next year, U.S. dealerships will get Mercedes Tesla-powered EVs with a 115-mile range. If charged with a 240-volt device, the car can go an additional 60 miles in less than two hours. Expect prices in the mid $30,000s.

MINI Electric Cars

MINI E – A MINI field trial is still underway in the Los Angeles and NY/NJ metro area. The MINI E has a range of about 100 miles, a 95 mph top speed and can recharge in about 3 hours.

Courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi Electric Cars

i-MiEV – The 2012 i-MiEV is still the most current model and features a 62-mile range. Three charging options will provide power in 30 minutes to 22.5 hours. The i-MiEV starts at $29,125.

Nissan Electric Cars

Leaf EV – The 2014 version will get minor changes on the heels of a revised 2013 model. Nissan added a few standard features to the 2014 including RearView Monitor and an updated EV-IT technology information system that includes voice destination entry and SMS readout. The 2013 Leaf offers a range of 75 miles for $28,800. The 2014 model will be available in October 2013.

Porsche Electric Cars

918 Spyder – Three years after the rumors began, a Porsche 918 plug-in hybrid will soon come to market, but don’t expect to snag one: only 918 of these $900,000 vehicles will be made, starting on 9/18. Its V8 engine goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, or in 7 seconds using electric power only. Combine the engine power with electrical output and you’re looking at 887 horsepower and a max speed of 211 mph (93 mph on electricity alone).

Panamera – Porsche’s more affordable and accessible plug-in hybrid is arriving this summer, but will set you back $99,000. Its high-voltage battery is recharged in about 2.5 hours using a 240-volt charger. Its electric-only range is 22 miles and the 416-hp V6 engine hits a max speed of about 83mph. No word yet from Porsche regarding the Panamera’s fuel economy.

Scion Electric Cars

iQ EV – Ninety of Scion’s iQs have arrived in the U.S., but only for campus and car-sharing purposes. There are no talks to release EVs to consumers at this time.

Smart Electric Cars

Electric Drive – This two-seater commuter car is now available for pre-ordering. Pricing starts at $25,000 or $199 for 36 months. A fully charged battery will take you 68 miles and if using a 240-volt charger, your car will be ready to go in 6 hours.

Subaru Electric Cars

Subaru has announced plans to release its first Subaru plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 25 miles before relying on a gas engine. This could be a limited release compliance car.

Courtesy of Telsa Motors

Courtesy of Telsa Motors

Tesla Electric Cars

Model S – No changes on the 2014 Model S, which can go up to 265 miles on a single charge. The Model S starts at $579 per month.

Model X – Tesla is now taking reservations for the Model X SUV, which will be delivered in 2014. Innovative features include falcon wings, which provides easy access to third-row seating. Like the Model S, options include a 60 or 85 kWh engine, which can hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The reservation fee is $5,000, but no pricing details have been released.

Further, Tesla has confirmed that a smaller electric vehicle will be released in the $30,000 range about 3-4 years after Model X.

Think Electric Cars

Reservations for a Think Electric vehicle are still being accepted in select states and pricing is based on geographic area. The car can reach 100 miles on a full charge.

Toyota Electric Cars

Prius Plug-in Hybrid – The Prius plug-in has received no changes for 2014. It offers 11 gas-free miles and a combined fuel efficiency of about 50. The 2013 model starts at $32,000.

RAV4 EV – California residents can now purchase the RAV4 EV SUV for $49,800. A full charge will cover 103 miles at a max speed of 100 mph. Charge times range from 5 hours to 52 hours, depending on charger type.

Volkswagen Electric Cars

Volkswagen doesn’t offer any EVs in the U.S., but overseas drivers will soon be able to purchase the E-UP! In 2014 expect the e-Golf to be released in the U.S. as the manufacturer aspires to become a leader in electric vehicle production.

Wheego Electric Vehicles

LiFe – No change to the 100-mile capacity car, which can charge from 50% to 100% using a 240-volt charger in five hours. It’s available for $32,995.

Volvo Electric Cars

No U.S. EVs just yet, but that doesn’t mean Volvo isn’t interested in the technology. They have worked with Siemens to develop a new fast-charge system that cuts charge time down to 90 minutes. In addition, they are exploring alternative EV strategies including electric roads to power battery-free EVs.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

2014 Hybrid Cars in the USA: See the new lineup

October 31, 2013

The U.S. hybrid vehicle market is expanding rapidly as lower prices make the initial investment a more attractive long-term investment for buyers. New to the market are the Audi Q5, Honda Accord, Infinity Q50, Infinity QX60, Mercedes-Benz E400, and Subaru XV Crosstrek, with several others to debut in 2014. Our list includes cars, SUVs/CUVs, and […]

Read the full article →

BNSF, Second Largest Consumer of Diesel Fuel, Looks at Switching to CNG

September 11, 2013

Did you know that BNSF, the railway company owned by Warren Buffet’s Birkshire Hathaway, is probably the second largest purchaser of diesel fuel in the United States, coming in only after the US Navy? That’s a lot of diesel fuel. With diesel prices near $4 per gallon, and natural gas (CNG) at around half of […]

Read the full article →

2014 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s What’s Available

August 2, 2013

While the demand for U.S. diesel vehicles cannot match that of the overseas market, development and sales of diesel cars, CUVs, and SUVs are taking off in the States as a fuel efficient alternative to hybrid and electric vehicles, although lagging them when it comes to air quality. The three biggest reasons why diesel automobile […]

Read the full article →

2013 Sedans with the Best Gas Mileage

July 4, 2013

By Stephanie Lezotte Summer is near and car dealerships will soon offer incentives for purchasing 2013 vehicle models in order to make room for 2014 models. If you are in the market for a new sedan and fuel efficiency is important to you, we have identified the most fuel-efficient 2013 models. Hybrid vehicles are really […]

Read the full article →

Highest Gas Mileage Small to Midsized SUVs and Crossovers for 2013

June 25, 2013

  The SUV is often used as a symbol of anti-environmental excess. Remember the Hummer? Even so, large numbers of people still love to own them and drive them. To pretend that they don’t is pointless. So we’ve compiled this list of SUVs that get the highest gas mileage, which is significantly higher than some […]

Read the full article →

6 Pickups with the Best Gas Mileage for 2013

June 4, 2013

by Stephanie Lezotte Yesterday’s gas-guzzling pickup trucks have come a long way. Advanced engineering has brought hybrid engines and fuel-efficient technology to some of the most rugged trucks, allowing drivers to save money at the pump and to be somewhat more environmentally conscious without sacrificing the hauling capacity of a pickup. According to EPA fuel […]

Read the full article →

8 Top Energy Efficient Clothes Washers for 2013

May 30, 2013

Considering the purchase of a new energy efficient washing machine this year? Read this post first. According to the ENERGY STAR website, the average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry each year. In order for a clothes washer to be ENERGY STAR qualified, it must use 20% less energy and 35% less water […]

Read the full article →

2013 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

February 15, 2013

Thinking about buying a new 2013 diesel car and looking at the options? We’re here to help. Diesel offerings continue to gain ground. New for 2013 are the BMW 33d Sports Wagon, Chevy Cruze Diesel sedan, Mercedes GL250 BlueTEC SUV,  Porsche Cayenne Diesel SUV, and the Volkswagen Beetle TDI. With tougher diesel emissions standards being […]

Read the full article →