Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Electric Bikes

There are a few electric motorcycles out there. They make a whole lot more sense than the electric cars out there, but are just too scary to seem likely to catch on with the general public.

Electric bikes though, now there is a good idea. They are cheap enough that they make a reasonable substitute for a bike. Unlike electric cars, which force people to live with limited range for their car, electric bikes increase the reasonable range of bikes. A bike is a lot of work; with an electric bike though, I could be environmentally friendly and lazy at the same time!

Electric motors are a whole lot more efficient at using electricity than muscles are at using food. So a reasonable case can actually be made that an electric bike is more energy efficient than a conventional bike.Since conventional bikes are amazingly energy efficient, that really is saying something.

They can even be made to recharge in a few hours off of a modest solar panel!

It sounds like they have had a lot of legal trouble though with conventional bicyclists, and pedestrian advocates arguing against them. For example, in California it is not legal to ride one on a bike trail.  A shame, hopefully they don't get killed by regulation. The electric bikes are much less of a hazard to people on bike trails, than cars on roads are to riders of electric bikes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nitrogen Fixing Native Clover

I decided what the back yard needs is ground cover. Nitrogen fixating ground cover would be best. I planted some white clover seeds which I procured at my nearest park. These might do alright, but then I ran into the Larner Seeds website which has a half dozen varieties of native clover. 

I settled on getting Trifolium fucatum and Trifolium ciliolatum seeds. They are perhaps not as low water as I would prefer, but they seem to be native to the county I am in so they should be low maintenance. As best as I can tell they fix nitrogen like most any other clovers although I found no information on how efficient they are at it. Beyond that, both are edible clovers fitting well with the forest garden theme I am trying to keep up.

Miners lettice also sounded like a good idea. It grows wild near here so it should make an efficient ground cover.

Afghanistan after the Invasion

I was always less concerned about the war in Afghanistan than the one in Iraq. Part of the reason was that Afghanistan was about the worst place in the world to live. Average life expectancies were in the low 40s, few countries do worse. There just wasn't much chance that having our military there would make the country more dangerous.

What I didn't realize was just how much having us there helped. The average life expectancy is on track to increase by twenty years since we invaded!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Yard Pictures

I have been slowly getting the back yard into order. It has changed quite a lot since last time, some worked well some did not. The biggest issue right now is just not enough plants. There is still too much bare dirt. A few plants have done well though.

The weeping mulberry tree has at least doubled in height. When I first put it next to a 10ft tall stake I was thinking it would look funny for years. At the rate it has grown it should reach full height within a year or so. This was particularly impressive next to the old picture of it.

The best choice was probably the Goji Berry. I was a little worried that it wouldn't grow at all here, but it has just taken off. If it keeps growing like it is, I will have hundreds of berries next fall:

The strawberries have also done well, and are now spreading like crazy. 

Two out of ten alpine strawberries have died, and the rest are just doing alright. They make a fair number of strawberries but are not particularly amazing. 

The pineapple sage has got huge, it is really pretty but otherwise seems uninteresting:

 The Hyssop is still a great little plant:

While they have only got through two of their five colors. the Chinese 5 Color Peppers seem to be doing really well. Oddly enough two are starting out with purple peppers and one is starting with yellow ones. 

The Strawberry Spinach leaves are pretty awful, although I haven't tried cooking them to see if they get better. Maybe the berries will be better, but I am not betting on it.

Sorrel was a great pick. Unlike the Strawberry Spinach it has tasty little leaves. Although it took a long time before it really started growing.

The Cape Gooseberry will probably be removed soon. So far it has just produced flowers. It also apparently really needs to be staked or grown in a tomato cage. 

The Lovage has not thrived. It seems to finally be at least growing though. However Parsley plants which are several months younger are the same size as it:

The Goumi has grown a lot, until next spring I won't really know if it was a good choice though. Next to it are some parsley seedlings, a alpine strawberry, and a lemon verbena plant. The lemon verbena so far has been a good choice.