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How do you find time to garden?

So there was a discussion on a Facebook group I am a member of and one person argued that people don't have time to grow a garden. (And also argued that you cannot grow certain vegetables in Canada - which is false, because you can grow ANYTHING in a greenhouse, and we have greenhouses in Canada.)

So that one person contacted me via private message, basically wanting to continue the discussion.

And here was my response:
Growing your own food is like printing your own money. You save money and time.

Think about how much time you spend to earn $60 which you then spend on $60 worth of groceries. Plus the actual time of going to the grocery store. So money really should be measured in time.

So when you buy a pineapple instead of money, you are essentially spending time.

But what if you didn't buy a pineapple. What if you spent that time earning that money to plant tomato seeds instead. And the amount of time you spent at the grocery store each week you spent gardening instead.

Lets say you have your own backyard. In the amount of time it takes to go to the bathroom during a TV commercial break (2.5 minutes typically) you could go outside and spend 2 minutes plucking weeds in the garden.

(Also some weeds are edible...)

The point is that people have ample time to garden, it is really more about time management and using less time in grocery stores and more spare moments gardening.

Or alternatively half an hour per week at a community garden. Or doing guerilla gardening.

Or even foraging for food... but that is another topic.

Lets expand a bit on a few of the topics I mentioned above.

#1. Money = Time, and Vice Versa

A lot of the time people buy groceries because it is lazy and convenient to have someone else do it for you. eg. The work of gardening, farming, preserving food, etc.

Depending on how much money you make per hour doing "work" it does make some sense to let someone else do all the gardening and farming for you, and then you just buy what they make.

If you are poor then you probably have more time than money, so it makes sense to grow your own food.

If you are rich then you have lots of money and it makes sense to let someone else grow food for you, but it makes even more sense that you can afford to garden as a hobby.

So either way, unless they have extremely busy careers, they should be able to find time to garden.

#2. How much time is a Pineapple?

Well, considering pineapples are typically about $4.99 (depends where you shop though) + tax, lets just assume the average pineapple is $5 (tax included).

If you are making $10 per hour when working (whatever you do) then you can work really hard and buy a bunch of pineapples.

But if you are making say $50 per hour suddenly you can do a little work and in a single hour you have enough for 10 pineapples.

So Time is Relative to how much money you make... or don't make.

#3. So what if people stopped buying pineapples and grew tomatoes instead?

Obviously growing your own food is going to save your money, regardless of whether the food you are growing in tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, squash, cucumbers and more.
It will take you time to plant such things. Time to plant, time to remove weeds, time to harvest, time to clean. But overall you ultimately save time because you gain lots of food for a relatively small amount of time and effort.

If you really wanted more exotic fruits like pineapples, bananas, etc - you might need to build a greenhouse. But ask yourself, do you really NEED exotic fruits? Aren't they really just a frill? They are not a necessity.

#4. Gardening Once per Day for Two Minutes

Seriously doable.

2 minutes per day to weed. For a small garden. Not a huge one.

Assuming a growing season of April to October (or May to September), we are looking at roughly 5 to 7 months of gardening. 60 minutes per month overall, spread out over individual days. Overall you are looking at maybe 5 to 7 hours worth of work over the course of a year.
So completely doable. Very easy to find 2 minutes per day to do a task, even if it is for a ridiculously short amount of time. 

But consider this... the price of seeds vs the price of produce.

$1 of seeds is typically worth about $75 worth of produce.
$1 is what you would expect to spend for a small package of carrot seeds.
So expect to get about $75 worth of carrots by the end.
If you grow 10 different kinds of vegetables, spending $10 on seeds - expect to get roughly $750 worth of produce when it is time to harvest.
So approx. 6 hours worth of work spread out over 5 to 7 months, how much is that per hour?
$125 per hour.
 Hence the saying: Growing your own food is like printing your own money.
So two minutes per day and you are effectively getting paid $2.08 per minute, isn't that worth it?

#5. Some Weeds are Edible.

Okay so technically lots of things are edible. If you can fit it in your mouth, it is edible. It is really more of a matter of whether the weeds you are digging out actually taste good.

For example I consider kale to taste disgusting. I am sure there are some weeds that are better tasting.
#6. Time Management

Would you rather spend time:
  • Browsing the grocery store. (Plus the time of going back and forth to the grocery store.)
  • Gardening.
Seriously, it is really a matter of choice. (And hopefully having land available to garden on. But hey, that is where community gardens and guerilla gardening is for.)

#7. Foraging for Food.

Seriously. Worth learning more about Foraging.

youtube.com/ProjectGridless + 300 Posts of Project Gridless

So youtube.com/ProjectGridless is the custom URL for the Project Gridless YouTube Channel.

I have been meaning to work on the YouTube Channel lately, to make some kind of start video with a logo, and an end credits video, which together would form bookends for each video to make it look all professional. So when I manage to make those, I will be adding them to my YouTube Channel.

I have also been studying what other people are doing with their videos... YouTube Channels like:

  • Townends
  • Outdoor Boys
  • Catfish and Carp
  • Coalcracker Bushcraft
  • Ontario Off Grid
  • Fouch Family Off Grid
  • My Self Reliance
  • Primitive Technology
  • And more...

And what I like about these channels is that they all have somewhat different methods of making videos, and pros and cons of each.

The guy from Primitive Technology for example never talks. This works well for him because he does a pretty good job demonstrating his methods of building things.

On the other hand Luke from both Outdoor Boys and Catfish and Carp (he has two channels) is pretty funny and his kids are funny too, so humour is a big part of his channel.

I also like how Townends sometimes interviews people, which is a nice method of talking about different types of off grid / outdoor topics. I would love to be interviewing people about their off grid successes and failures.

So I can see sometimes making videos that are purely demonstration, no talking required, and other times I can see making videos where there is talking - including some funny business. There are benefits to both.

Some of the channels use music during their opening intros / end credits. Some do not. In some the credits are more of a reminder to ask people to subscribe, click Like, etc. Others are less annoying but still do it.

So clearly I need to be reminding people to Subscribe/etc, but I also don't want it to be too annoying. Short and sweet is best.

There is also the issue of the Project Gridless logo.

Should I change it?

I chose this logo years ago because it looked like solar cells from solar panels. I still like that aspect of it. What I don't like is that it looks a bit like 8-bit pixels.

For now I have decided to keep it "as is", but I could be open to changing it in the future to make something more professional looking. Perhaps by simply fixing the pixels issue to make a logo with a smoother look.

300 Posts of Project Gridless

So I recently surpassed 300 posts and didn't notice until today. This post here is technically Post #304.

I also have another post scheduled for May (bringing May's total to 10 posts) and another 8 posts have already been scheduled for June.

My goal in 2018 is to have 10 posts per month, for a total of 120 for the year. So I am scheduling them in advance so I can stay ahead of the schedule.

Having a YouTube Channel, once it gets up and running in a more professional light, might be trickier to keep to exactly 10 posts per month. We shall see. My goal with that is to eventually be making 1 video per week on a variety of outdoor and off grid topics. So roughly 4 blog posts per month would be about the video topic, so only about 6 posts per month should be about other non-video "vanilla" topics.

(Totally Off Topic - Sort of like how Top Gear is both a TV show and a magazine. Sadly, without the three fellas from the TV show who made it great, the magazine is now kind of a dud, because they didn't just lose their TV show presenters, they also lost their best magazine writers. Oh well. Grand Tour is a pretty nice replacement.)

So 300 posts is good, 500 posts is better, and someday I would like to see 1,000.

Meanwhile my CardioTrek.ca site is up to 831 posts. So it will probably reach 1,000 first. Cardio Trek is my website for my primary business, which is teaching archery lessons in Toronto. Some day I will also use that website for any "archery how to books" that I publish. I am currently working on 1 book, with several ideas for other books to follow. I do technically already have 1 archery book published, but it is a poetry book instead of a how to guide. It is called "Dreaming of Zen Archery" and available on Kobo.

Oh to live off grid and make outdoor videos / write books all the time... Oh and do archery and ride horses. That is the true dream.

Keep chasing that dream.

Cheap Off Grid Land in Hawaii / Homes on Wheels

Years ago I came across a real estate website that sold cheap off grid land located in Hawaii.

The problem of course was the land was located on the side of an active volcano, which at the time was spewing forth a tiny amount of lava each year and didn't threaten the property.

There was no sewer or water available, and no electricity.

Thus anyone willing to buy that cheap land would need to do a number of things:

  1. Develop a septic system to deal with their human waste, which would likely need to be drilled into solid rock.
  2. Find a source of water, which meant collecting rainwater and/or trucking in water.
  3. Install a solar array, wind turbine and/or diesel generator, along with a battery system, to provide electricity.

Some people no doubt saw this as an opportunity, bought land there, did the above things, and saved a lot of money because the land was super cheap - so cheap it offset the extra costs of installing solar and wind power/etc and all the other costs, but they still forgot one important thing.

They should have made their homes mobile.

Because while many places on the side of the volcano don't have water, sewer or electricity, they did at least still have roads.

Thus when the volcano changed from slowly belching out lava to more quickly spewing forth lava, they could have simply hitched their mobile home to a truck and towed it to a safer location.

There are multiple options for making a home mobile too.

#1. The Classic Mobile Trailer Home

Comes in a variety of shapes in sizes, but are more or less a roughly rectangular trailer home.

#2. The RV (Recreational Vehicle)

Not technically a home, but there are some pretty nice RVs out there these days which can basically double as a home. They come in a variety of sizes and prices... including ridiculous ones that come with a sports car hidden in its belly.

#3. The Shipping Container Home

I have written about shipping container homes in the past on Project Gridless and you are welcome to check out the previous posts. The shipping container is moved to the desired location, but in a hurry it could also be moved out the same way it was brought there, on a flatbed truck with a crane.

Thus even if your shipping container was made up of say 2 or more shipping containers, they could be dis-attached and then relocated.

Not Just for Volcano Prone Land

You can use this principle of packing up and leaving for a variety of locations and potentially dangerous situations.
  • Flood plains.
  • Swamp land.
  • Forest fires.
  • Earthquakes.
  • Sinkholes.
  • Etc
Maybe you just don't like your neighbours? Pack up and leave. Buy a different piece of off grid land. Perhaps a better piece of land becomes available, you load up everything and just relocate. With luck maybe you even have nicer neighbours.

Special Note

Not all the volcanoes in Hawaii are active. You could potentially buy land on one of the older islands where the volcano is dormant / dead. Hawaii has over 11 major volcanoes, and most of them are dormant, which means the older dormant ones offer a potential deal when it comes to cheap off grid land.

Of course, you don't need to leave Ontario or Canada to find cheap off grid land. You can find lots of cheap off grid land in Northern Ontario very easily. The real big differences will be the extra effort of keeping your home warm during the winter, so Hawaii does offer a tantalizing offer of cheap land that is warm all year round.

There are also other islands in the Pacific Ocean you could consider as well. You are not limited to just Hawaii, although it certainly is one of the larger and more exotic island chains to choose from. There are plenty of other places to consider if you are willing to travel that great distance to find an off grid home.

But if you did decide on Northern Ontario, it does have an important feature: Geologically it is very solid, as it rests on the Canadian Shield which is basically a large thick chunk of rock in the earth's crust. No worries about volcanoes or earthquakes here.

And if possible, try to choose land that isn't near a swamp or on a flood plain.

Electrical Shed for an Off Grid Home

Having an Electrical Shed for your Off Grid Home is quite handy for a number of reasons.

  1. Really reduces the noise from a gas or diesel generator.
  2. Good place to store the battery system for your solar panels and wind turbines.
  3. Keeps all electrical items separate from your home in case of any sort of electrical fire in the shed.
  4. Keeps all electrical items away from your home in case your off grid home catches fire (due to a non-electrical reason such as from a wood burning stove).
  5. Good place to store tools.
  6. You can put solar panels on the roof of the shed and the wiring required would be minimal.
So yes, lots of benefits to keeping your electrical items away from your Off Grid Home. And vice versa.

Ontario Off Grid

I also found a good series of videos from "Ontario Off Grid" on YouTube which are worth watching.

I don't know if "Ontario Off Grid" has a website, blog or Facebook page - tried looking, but only found sites with the same name but not the same person. The name sadly is a bit generic so multiple people are using that name.

I even did an image search, hoping to find his logo on the website... and the first images to come up were Project Gridless. Irony.

Scrolled down the images, found nada for his logo. So I have left a message on his "Ontario Off Grid" youtube channel asking whether he has a website. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't.

The shed he built does seem a bit large for 'just a generator shed' so to me it makes sense to just store all of the electrical items (and possibly some tools) in the shed too. If you are going to build a big shed, you might as well use the space for other things too.

So yeah, here are 5 videos from "Ontario Off Grid" covering various aspects of installing a generator in an electrical shed - mostly because it is quieter.

Quiet Generator, Part 1

Quiet Generator, Part 2

Moving Electrical Systems to an Electrical Shed

Insulating the Electrical Shed

Installing a Generator and an Exhaust System in an Electrical Shed

How to make and fire Mud Bricks

The video below is from "Primitive Technology" and demonstrates how to make and fire in a kiln mud bricks.

How to turn a Beaver Dam into a source of Electricity

So I was watching the video further below and got an idea. What if a person added an overshot waterwheel generator to the outgoing pipe from draining a beaver pond? Or a water turbine inside the pipe?

It would provide electricity to any nearby home. Cheap renewable electricity.

The 2nd video shows the same pond months later, showing how it is still flowing - and could be providing electricity of the guy in the video (Kevin) had thought of installing a turbine or generator.

And I am apparently not the first person to have had this thought. I found a 3rd video where someone did indeed use pond overflow to provide electricity, roughly 174 volts worth. Actual voltage will no doubt vary on the amount of water flowing through the turbine and the type of turbine being used.

Busting a Beaver Dam and Draining the Pond

Return to the Beaver Pond

Pond Power

Imported Canada Rock Art Balancing to Project Gridless

Okay so today I decided to do two things:

#1. I added a new section for "Artwork" as many people who are into building their own off grid homes are often artists in one form or another.

#2. I decided to export my old blog called "Canada Rock Art Balancing" and imported it to Project Gridless, and get rid of the old blog - or more precisely, the old blog now redirects to the "Artwork" topic on PG.

So here goes...

Rock Balancing is a fun activity I was introduced to years ago by my then-girlfriend Aimee Rimes, and it makes for interesting but temporary sculptures. As such it is well suited to the off grid community who love to build things with rocks, and are not necessarily worried about whether something lasts forever. It makes total sense for me to import my old blog since I don't update it very often and it meshes well with Project Gridless. It makes for a fun activity and challenge. It is also a fun thing to do in a flower garden or even a rock garden if you have lots of rocks available.

  • Not all the posts are about rocks specifically and are other items being balanced.
  • A few of the posts are written by Aimee Rimes.
  • Some of the old posts are dated according to the day they were balanced, others have specific titles.

Here they are:

Rock Art Balancing, August 8th 2014

Rock Balancing, August 1st 2014

More Rock Balancing, July 30th 2014

Rock Balancing, July 30th 2014

Rock Balancing, July 22nd 2014

Balancing Kitchen Items and Cookware

Rock Balancing Video

What It Takes To Balance Rocks

Rock Balancing in the Garden

Rocks Balanced in Oval

#1 Connecting With Nature

More photos from April 24th, 2011

April 23rd and 24th, 2011: Rock Balancing at Toronto Beaches

April 30th, encounters with rock balancers

In the beginning there was rocks...

Multiple Ways to use a Blanket for Survival

Whether you are being rained on or making camp, a thick blanket can be a valuable survival tool.

In the video below from Townsends you learn various methods a blanket can improve your survival chances. The video also talks about how to use dead leaves to create a comfortable layer between you and the cold ground when nothing else is available.

Squirrel Home in a Tree

Okay, it is not art... or is it? It is a Squirrel's Home in a Tree. I guess that makes it a Treehouse..?

Totally worth sharing.


Exploring Hoggs Falls in Ontario

Hoggs Falls is a relatively small (by my standards) waterfalls north of Flesherton (east of Durham Ontario), but a relatively easy one to visit. Not much of a hike to get to it from the entrance. (Unlike say Hilton Falls, which requires a good long hike to reach.)

As such Hoggs Falls requires less exercise, but is also a smaller reward. Hilton Falls is both bigger (and you can walk behind it), but sadly for the more obese people out there will require you to do more exercise to reach the majestic waterfalls.

Still, Hoggs Falls does have a lot to offer, being quite scenic, a good place for fishing, a good place for picnics, and is free. (I should have mentioned last time there is also a parking fee at Hilton Falls.)

Both Hoggs Falls and Hilton Falls (and any other waterfalls I add in the future, seeing as I have a backlog of old waterfalls videos I have yet to add) can be viewed on my YouTube channel Project Gridless.

In theory a person could attempt to walk behind Hoggs Falls, but I would not recommend it. There isn't a big enough gap between the falls and the back wall of stone, and the rocks are rather slippery. In the 2nd video below I managed to get to the base of the falls by tip-toeing across the rocks, but even that was a balancing act.

The videos below were shot in Summer 2014.

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