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I've spent much of my time in my own back yard. In view of current drought and fire conditions I have been working at using less water while keeping lawn, flowers, fruits and vegetable garden growing. The lawn shrunk a little and a drip system with timers is helping me keep things alive through this heat.


Sept 1. We've replaced 300 feet of drip line, stopping several small leaks. About 240sq feet of lawn is now succulents on a low flow drip line. Nearly everything is on a timed drip system. Very little hand watering. We really try to deliver just enough water, just often enough. We have our own ground water well and have had no problems yet. Ground water is a finite resource, we all need to conserve.

For fire safety, I've cleaned gutters, raked leaves, pruned up some trees and removed a few plants that burn too easily. We have too many trees near the house to be really safe, I'm just trying to improve my chances.


I've done some honey-do projects too. A new retaining wall, flower beds with Lantana, Butterfly bush, star jasmine, all somewhat drought tolerant.
Iceplant and other succulents are taking over for more water hungry ground covers.


For fun I'm tinkering at building an electric trike. A friend gave me an electric scooter for parts. I am having fun! I call it a "big wheels" for old guys. It's a scooter frame and front wheel, a bicycle fork and handlebars, and old riding mower seat, and the drive axle from a self propelled mower.

It needs some footpegs, the seat raised 2 inches, and the drive axle I used has a clutch that slips. Oh well, it's a hobby, if everything worked the first time I'd have to find a new project.

Aug 24 Update... Did I mention that this is a very low budget project? Nearly everthing is salvaged or repurposed. That's trendy now, easy on the Earth, to be honest I'm just cheap.

Footpegs are done, seat mounted, and the drive axle doesn't seem to slip now (I drained the 140 gear oil and added a light machine oil.)
Now I'm tinkering at mounting the scooter 24v motor and a v-belt drive to the drive axle. I'm still working on that.


Aug 28 Electric motor mounted. Driven pulley, done. I even managed a clutch, of sorts. It pivots the motor which lets the belt slip. Now I still need to mount the pulley to the motor. (in the picture it's just jammed on there to see how it all lines up.)


Sept 1, I got the drive pulley mounted. I ended up using a pair of pulleys from Ace Hardware. I wired in a relay and used the original scooter switch to control it. The motor starts at a touch of the handlebar mounted button.
I don't yet have a battery for it. Test drove it connected to an old battery charger and a long cord. Pulled the clutch, hit the motor button, let out the clutch and darned if we aren't moving at an easy walk. That lasted about 10 feet and the drive axle slipped again! Tightend the slip lever on the axle really snug and off we go again, Until we started uphill. Won't go, but the drive axle isn't slipping, it's the belt. OK, It's just an old belt I cut to the size I wanted and literaly hay wired it together. Calls for a new belt and more testing. At least the scooter motor never did stall. I may make this work after all. It's been fun anyway! ....

Got a new belt. Fits good, ready to test again. Well.... not quite ready, tires are nearly flat again. This has been a recurring problem. Ordered tire sealant, will test again soon.
I am not sure it will ever be able to carry my 180 pounds uphill or on soft ground. It does move me at walking speed on firm level ground.

If this does prove to be underpowered as a trike it surely would power an electric wagon or cart of some sort. Total out of pocket so far is $26.00 for the 2 pulleys (or sheaves) and the belt. I still need to buy a battery. By the way, I do know the motor is designed for 24 volts and would deliver more torque if I put 2 12v batteries. It would also run much faster. That would mean I'd need a speed controller. I've been trying to avoid the expense.

Fire resistant plant list

Save work and save water xeriscaping.

UC Davis Irrigation guide


Tiny greenhouse, only 64 square feet, but works well for me.

Three 55 gallon barrels of water absorb heat during the day and give it back at night. Last winter we had overnight temperatures down to 20 and the greenhouse never got below 38 with no additional heat.

The greenhouse was a low budget, recyle, repurpose project. About $100 invested in total. Insulation, fasteners, and plexiglass for the triangular windows were new. All the glass, paint, and lumber was salvaged.




Sept 1 update. Turned compost 2 day ago. Added 10# or so of alfalfa meal, moistening it often. Today it's internal temp had risen from 80 to 138. Microbes must be really busy digesting those oak leaves.

Ten feet of 1/2 inch welded wire made this one yard compost bin.

I've learned some things about making compost. The first was that is nearly no wrong way to make compost. It bothers me when people burn leaves. It's so easy to let them go back to your soil.
Another thing I learned about compost is just how much more there is to learn. It appears that a compost made from 25-30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen breaks down quickly and generates more heat. I'm trying to stay organic and "Earth friendly". Since we generate so much more high carbon material(leaves and dry grass) than nitrogen rich grass clippings I add alfalfa meal to my compost.
I make a tea with the alfalfa meal and feed my plants with that. I filter the solids out of the tea and add them to the compost as well.

Page last updated Sept 4, 2014