Posts Tagged ‘Green’

Green Home Automation

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

One of the projects I’ve been working on for the past 2 years is installing Green Home Automation systems. You can check out more details at Real Genius Designs.

In a nutshell, a normal automation system gives you control over all of your home’s appliances, lighting, television, music, and phone systems. You can program it to handle these devices without you having to lift a finger or through simple interfaces like touchscreens, remote controls, cell phones, or voice commands.

Taking this system and making it green usually involves shrinking down all of the main control modules so they use as little power as possible. Whether it’s installing low-power computers, wireless sensors, or energy-efficient devices, there are many ways to create a jaw-dropping home experience while lowering your power bills, too.

There are literally thousands of ways to go about installing an automation system and no 2 homes will ever be the same. Since my loft is always the testbed for my newest custom devices I plan to show you some of the coolest pieces as I build them. I’ll try to show the details for the most interesting builds before I either tear them apart for my next project or install them in my clients’ homes.

The design process never ends and there’s always something new to work on. At least I’ll never get bored. Hopefully, you won’t either!

Bucket of Potatoes

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

If you’re like me you buy a sack of potatoes, forget to eat them all, and find them hinding on your top shelf 2 months later. The crazy shoots and rooty tendrils look pretty cool but the potato is never as tasty. Even though a good scrub-down makes it look normal again, the soft and mushy feeling is there to stay. I’m sure there’s some old Irish potato famine recipe to stew these back to life but baking it is always a losing proposition.

Anyways, I’ve always read that those store bought potatoes can come covered in disease and will never grow as good as a true seed potato. A trip to Hastings always turns into a stroll through Mr. Miagi’s backyard. Remember all the work Daniel put into sanding the floors, painting the fence, and hammering the nails? Well, Hastings looks nothing like that but is equally as cool. They have little outdoor paths, fish ponds, wooden bridges, and a fully functioning train set that circles around some of the cooler plants.

Back to the potatoes, from what I’ve read they should be a no-brainer to grow. So, I’ll just fill a 5 gallon container about 1/3 of the way with dirt, toss in the seed potato, a little more dirt, and then saturate it with water.

I should be able to make my way to Hastings this weekend but I might change my plans on where I set the bucket. Since the temperature keeps slipping under freezing I’ll probably start them inside and leave them out during the day.

Regardless, I wish all gardening was this easy!

Time to Set up the Container Gardens!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

After losing my 3rd hat and 2nd pair of gloves, it looks like we’re finally getting some warmer weather. I think it’s time to play urban gardener again!

The past few years I’ve experimented with all kinds of container gardening and still haven’t found the perfect method. Growing pretty flowers and things to eat is tough without a real garden, real dirt, or rain. Last year gave me tons of jalapeno and serrano peppers, basil, chives, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, and mesclun (not the drug!). The beans and tomatoes weren’t as happy but I’m blaming that on my small containers and not loving them enough. This year will be different!

The goal this year is to make the containers more self-sufficient. I thought I had the whole watering thing figured out until the basil and pepper plants started sucking a gallon a day. Since there’s no water faucet on my balcony it would be nice to go more than a day between waterings. You’d be amazed at how fast lettuces wilt when the water source in the lower container runs dry. You can almost count the wilting in minutes.

Since I only grow from seeds, it’s difficult to gauge the size of these plants and know how many will actually produce. Instead of letting it all grow wild and marveling at its girth, this Spring I’ll have to actually pull and throw away the weakest seedlings and concentrate on the best 20%. Maybe I’ll have smaller harvests but at least next year (using the saved seeds) I won’t have to worry as much about weaker seeds. As an added bonus, I’ll probably have to water less, too.