Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

FREE Webinar on How to Cook with Solar

614035f6-000f-41e7-997a-29da799b0e1a.jpgIf you have a SUN OVEN you do not use often,

OR if you are considering getting one, we would like to invite you to join us Thursday evening for a simple, very basic online class for hungry newbies…SUN OVENCooking for Dummies.

For the past 19 years, I have had the privilege of teaching thousands of people on five continents how to cook, dehydrate and pasteurize water with the power of the sun. It is always rewarding to see the elation on people’s faces at their first taste of sun-cooked food.

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How a SUN OVEN works.
  • What you can cook, what kind of pots & pans work best and why food cooked with the sun does not burn.
  • How much sunlight you need.
  • How to sun-bake a perfect loaf of bread.
  • Why a SUN OVEN is the most energy-efficient way to rehydrate your freeze-dried emergency preparedness foods.
  • How to use a SUN OVEN as a solar dryer or dehydrator.
  • The difference between boiling and pasteurizing drinking water.
  • How to cook your dinner in the sun while you are at work.
  • How to hard boil freshly laid eggs which are easy to peel.
  • Ways to use a SUN OVEN that have nothing to do with cooking.
  • The economic, health and environmental benefits of cooking with the sun.
  • What we are doing around the world and why we do it.
  • How to quickly pay for a SUN OVEN by reducing your utility bills.

Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, (8 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. MDT / 5 p.m. PDT & AZ)
Duration: 60 minutes plus live Q&A
Cost: There is no cost for the class, but advance registration is required

AND:  A Free eBook
Everyone who registers will receive a helpful eBook:
Emerging From An Emergency What you should do if…? 
Being prepared for disasters and emergencies can seem like a big job. Many people don’t know where to start, so they never start at all.
This free 120 page eBook is a compellation of publicly available documents to aid you in the planning process to enhance your likelihood of your survival from any kind of tragedy.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

Free Stacking Cook Pots! And More…

Preparedness Package.pngThis season’s Sun Oven special is actually two – for you to choose:

A) a free set of stacking cook pots with the purchase of a SUN OVEN ($299).

B) The remainder of the “Preparedness Package” ($72 value) – ALL the items in photo – for $299 + 35.70 = 334.70.

Arizona residents, add 8% tax.

No other costs.  F R E E  SHIPPING.

Real Sun Ovens can be purchased most inexpensively from Sun Oven dealers, like myself, who are allowed to sell them as low as $299 – giving our customers $50 off the price they would otherwise pay on the Sun Oven site.  I’m happy to be one of those dealers.

If you seen a Sun Oven advertised for less than $299, it may be a copycat oven made overseas with toxic material, and/or you may find additional charges added at the end of the payment process.

You can find that I’m a registered dealer (New Mexico moving to Arizona by checking the official Sun Oven dealer page:

Choose Your Special ~

A)  FREE Easy-Stack Pots with interchangeable Lids
*  Set of two interconnecting enamelware pots which can be safely and easily stacked.
*  Includes an interchangeable enamel lid and a glass lid for improved visibility and browning.
*  Each 3 quart pot holds 3 pounds of poultry or a 3 pound roast.


B) The Preparedness Package 

  •  2 stacking cook pots with lids, described above
  • 3 stacking dehydrating and baking racks, with roll of parchment paper
  • 2 loaf pans
  • WAPI – Water Pasteurization Indicator (critical survival item)
  • Add $35.70 (for $72 value)

To Purchase with PayPal:

  1. Email with your order (which special), and physical address and phone number for delivery.
  2. I will send you a PayPal invoice which will explain and guide you through safely paying with a check or credit card – EVEN if you don’t have a PayPal account.   I will pay all fees.
  3. Expect your Sun Oven special in one week.

To Purchase through the mail:

  1. Email with your order (which special), and physical address and phone number for delivery.  Tell me you want to send a check in the mail.
  2. I will await your check and order your oven as soon as it clears my bank.
  3. Expect your Sun Oven in two weeks or more, depending on the mail.


Posted in 1 Garden

Last Tour of my Garden

Well, my home is under contract, having passed through over every hurdle just fine:  home inspection, appraisal, and everything else, and we’re set to close in less than two weeks.

It is with mixed feelings that I post these last photos of a place I’ve loved and which has blessed me immensely – my yard:

Right outside the kitchen door, in the corner between the house and the rainwater harvesting tank is a planter with a coral bell tucked into the corner (it likes shade) and some gorgeous orange striped tiger lilies, now past their bloom – not always photographed, as so much happens in the garden.  
Along the north side, heading west from the back door, begins the garden terraces against the hill-cut granite:  marjoram, now in flower (I harvested it earlier) and salvia surrounding the base of the small cherry tree.  More marjoram has planted it self in the swale below.
Below the salvia is a garden sage.  Beside the salvia are chives with tiny white flower buds on their stalks and the yellow four-o’clocks on the left.  In front of them is trailing thyme, and below in the swale are peppermint and spearmint.  Behind the chives is a small fig tree, which was recommended to me to be planted in a large pot and carried into the sunroom last winter; I didn’t, and it froze back but has sprouted again from the root, so I’ve recommended to the new owners that they transplant it into a pot this year – which Lloyd Kreutzer, the “fig man” of New Mexico who sold it to me says will be the best way to get the most fruit – three yearly crops on this variety!!
Next to the four-o’clocks is the almond tree with more thyme and four-o’clocks in the basin.  Below are yellow chocolate flowers, which give off a lovely chocolate aroma morning and evening; during the day they close up.  On the far left is another garden sage.
For full disclosure, this is a section of the terrace that has grown wonderful tomatoes but not much else – the hillside slopes more gradually here, so there’s not as much soil as in other parts of the garden.  On the highest terrace is another salvia, this one pink, along with natives which have chosen this rocky place to rehabilitate.  in the lower terrace (barely) and the swale below are desert primroses, which open up early and late each day with stalks of yellow blooms which produce new flowers every day.
The far west end of the terraces has a fountain of Mother Mary, with a small waterfall descending to a pond below with an osha plant – a powerful healing herb.
Turning south, beneath the cottonwood bench are columbines at the base of the apricot tree and a local version of the Virginia creeper.  (All the trees have been discussed frequently on this site, so I’m focusing on the small things on this post.)
Little to see here, too busy to plant much this season.  The small green thing is a wonderful gift from a friend:  a lemon verbena, lovely for summer tea – now that it’s raining, it’ll grow big!
Traveling back eastward along the southern fence, we have the trumpet vine with showy orange flowers – stunning when it’s loaded, and a great attractor of hummingbirds.  On the grown below are more chocolate flowers, and the rosemary dominates the corner.  I think of her as the Queen of the Garden, because she was one of the only living things on this property when I moved in, and she needed to be moved – which was done with a bulldozer!  And she thrived and grew twice the size!
Behind and to the east of the rosemary are two dwarf peach trees espaliered against the wooden fence in another swale.
Further east along the southern fence approaching the front gate from the side yard, are a red flame grape vine and tea roses overhead, with irises below, currently overwhelmed by morning glories.  Even though some people ruthlessly remove them, I remember how they blanketed an entire acre along Rock Creek where I used to live – and I love them, so I limit them, but don’t remove them.
Turning to face north, we have another two grape vines on the far left, and a wild tangle of morning glories, evening primrose, lavender, hyssop (with the pale spikes), catnip (low with white flowers on right), and more four-o’clocks in front of another cherry tree.  Also scattered in there are some irises, a lone volunteer sunflower, and more.
Moving east along the north side of the front yard are the same four-o’clocks, catnip and yarrow.  Roses are against the house, with some local, unknown (to me) flowering weeds I allow.  Further right is a succulent ground cover and another salvia.
Further east, in the corner of the front yard is another salvia, four-o’clocks, columbines, catnip, and in the front right bed irises engulfed temporarily in morning glories, protecting them from the sun which sometimes bleaches their leaves.  Earlier posts show the irises are spectacular – a gorgeous orange sherbet color that brings many requests for trades!  In the back is the elderberry, and beside it a water tank that attracts the birds..
Turning to look south again, we see the bed for the native mesquite tree.  At its base are irises, the succulent ground cover, and behind them a small black current near the base of a native drought-resistant bush (actually a whole row of natives I’ve forgotten the names of, except for a few:  lemonade berry, red-leaf photivia, shin dagger, and fairy duster).
East of the last are more of those unknown natives, and at the end a red bud – a gorgeous tree which leafs out pink-red in the early spring.
Further east, in the private yard in front of the studio are three beds, two ready for the new owners to plant, but with four-o’clocks and a single evening primrose leading the way.  In the largest garden are a few natives, including fairy duster and artemesia, along with two desert willows, one blooming pink, and the other blooming wine.
Outside, in front of the cedar fence, in front of the studio yard on the far east, is a small yucca, transplanted from a more difficult site.


In front of the fence are three more salvias along with native plants and irises from the other side peeking through.

Walking back toward the front gate is another tiny bed with a purple flower-spiked plant I can’t remember, along with some contrasting pale orange irises.  To the right, is two more tiny yuccas beside the protective stones, future sentries beside the front gate – matching the other future yucca sentries near the front corners of the lot.
Further west is a mixed bed of drought-resistant plants, mostly natives, including irises of both pale orange and deep purple.  The blue-green euphorbia in the back sprouts yellow leaves in the spring that look like flowers and cause neighbors and drivers-by to ask what they are.  And the iris color combination is an annual delight.
The far south-west corner is what a Permaculture designer would call Zone 6 – the place we do nothing to – to allow Nature to teach us.  Year by year, different local “weeds” come up, providing us with tall white prickle poppies (one left on the right), coyote gourds (large pale blue-green leaves on trailing vines toward the back), globe mallow, prickly pear, pencil cholla, and much more.  At the back is yellow-green cane – a nice craft or building material, and another lemonade  berry.  There used to be purple thistle, a favorite of goldfinches, but the city mowed them so many years in a row that I haven’t seen them back in awhile – but hopefully again.  The city quit mowing as they used to (which always distressed me when they took down the goldfinches’ favorite thistle) and then issued me a ticket two years ago (!), requiring that I destroy this little patch of native plants when they turned brown.  I acceded, allowing the seeds to replant themselves, enjoying each spring what new arrived.  I’ve tried to plant this corner with a few less-weedy items, but because it’s outside the fence, I decided it was best to let it be wild.
I used to have a lot more sunflowers – and know that their job is to fix nitrogen in the soil – so the fact that there are fewer now – maybe it means they’ve done their job.  Only two in the yard this year.  Notice the hummingbird above?  I do NOT use hummingbird feeders.  With the salvia and trumpet vine in particular, and other vegetation for thick cover, a few varieties of hummingbirds make frequent use of this yard and nest nearby.  This spring I’ve also seen pairs of thrashers (one pair is ready to fledge babies soon – and there’s a video I caught of a fledgling taking its first flight last year, somewhere on this site), and pairs of phainopepla and some wren species I couldn’t quite identify, and many more.
A close up of the four-o’clocks, so beautiful I just keep taking photographs!  The catnip is flowing below.  I used to be so practical that the only gardening I did was of vegetables – but I have learned the real value of flowers – beyond words.  And when I realized how many very practical medicinal herbs also have delightful flowers (catnip, yarrow, hyssop, chives, and more, totaling at least a dozen in this yard), I knew I’d found my favorite sort of gardening – especially in the desert.
And a close-up of the purple salvia, with two “albino” blooms!

Every month is so different!  When the irises reigned, I thought it was the “most beautiful” season, and yet every month for three seasons brings a new delight.

This photo tour I created for the new buyers, Patricia and Mark.  May these plants be the blessing for them that they have been for me for the past ten years.  I will miss them.  But I’m happy to imagine new owners and their daughter and granddaughter here, delighted by the Life, healing, beauty, and inspiration these plants and birds so faithfully bring.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

Summer Sun Oven Special

package2012Sorry, Everyone, for missing this Special and failing to let you all know, but better late than never.  Here we are:

Pay only $33.35 for each Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package when ordered with a SUN OVEN through September 22, 2016*

Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package Includes:

* Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)

* Two Easy Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids

* Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)

* Two Loaf Pans

* Computer CD featuring 600 recipes, videos and much more

*This package price is only available with the purchase of an All American SUN OVEN.

Offer valid through September 22, 2016

A Sun Oven is $299, the lowest price they allow, and the package parts, if purchased separately, cost about $75.  The stacking cook pots are the best for all-around cooking, roasting, baking, and stewing.  The WAPI is a potential life-saver.  I use my bread pans regularly too.  And I want to use my dehydrating and baking rack set more often.  The total cost of $33.35 is less than the cook pots and WAPI – almost essential items – so the other items are essentially free.  A very nice package.

The total plus NM tax is $358.94.  Ordering from other states, without added tax, is $332.35.

To order, call me at 575-534-0123, or email  You can either get me a check or cash, or I’ll send you a PayPal invoice, which you can pay with either PayPal or a credit or debit card.

(One day soon, I hope to have a new site with payment option imbedded.  Meantime, we get to be old-fashioned and actually talk on the phone if we want, or email.  Thanks for your patience!)

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Small-Town “Urban” Sustainable Home for Sale

Hi Friends around the world ~
inside gate.JPG

Know anyone looking to move to a wonderful, eclectic small town to live as ecologically-sustainable a life as possible in a small-town “urban” environment?  Please check out my home for sale:



Its values – in a nutshell:

IMG_5736.jpgZoned residential and commercial, blocks from the historic business/tourism district, this 2-bedroom, 1-bath home with detached studio was redesigned for winter passive solar gain, with sculptured adobe thermal mass for temperature stabilization, and modern insulation – for comfort and energy savings in all seasons.

The private gardens, designed for low maintenance and watered with rain from the steel roof and catchments, contain native and drought-resistant fruit and nut trees, grape vines, numerous herbs, and a full spring and summer of flowers, all on one-tenth acre.  Nooks and crannies in the garden provide seating in sun or shade every season.  The home, gardens, and kitchen also all support large gatherings.


I’ve lived in Silver City for ten years and love it for many, many things:

  • Wonderful weather.
  • Many “Top Ten” small town lists, i.e., for wilderness, outdoor recreation, retirees, arts, etc.
  • The only small town in the Southwest with a food coop; it also has a Farmers Market, Permaculture guild, herb store, community garden, community radio, and more.
  • Home prices were/still are modest.
cherries in native collander
Two cherry trees, an almond, and apricot, two peach trees, and red flame grapes – plus medicinal and culinary herbs.

More about this home can be found on this site, or by contacting me:  575-534-0123 or

I’m looking for a buyer who’ll appreciate the sustainability and artfulness of this home and garden.

Thanks for passing this along!


HUGE apricots!

$160,000 – price negotiable.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

FREE Online Sun Oven Cooking Seminar!

solar cook b
Summer Solstice 2004


Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 2.18.22 PM.png
Paul Munsen with Nelson Mandela, demonstrating solar cooking in South Africa

If you’d enjoy learning more about cooking with the sun, please join me and Paul Munsen of Sun Ovens International when he teaches an interactive online seminar next month.  (Paul has devoted his life to sharing Sun Oven Cooking to people all over the world.)

This FREE online webinar – Sun Oven Cooking Essentials Seminar – will take place on Thursday, June 9th, 6:30 pm Mountain Time (8:30 pm Eastern, 7:30 pm Central, 5:30 pm Pacific).

b9f19fc1-1251-4abb-a598-46523e75e700Paul will show you the fundamental cooking and baking techniques to help you save money now and be better prepared for emergencies.

Whether you know nothing about solar cooking, or you have a Sun Oven and want to learn more,  you will find this seminar beneficial.

PLUS!  There will be a special offer for attendees at the end of the webinar.

To register, click here, no cost:

Paul has been presenting these online webinars for a few months now, and I’ve heard they are lots of fun – and I look forward to you joining us.  If you have friends anywhere in the country who might be interested, you’re very welcome to invite them too.

Please register and put the date and time on your calendar.  Then we’ll give you a couple of reminders as we approach the date.

See you then!


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

Solar Inspiration! All the reasons I’m inspired by sun cooking

This was originally published almost ten years ago and has been re-published in Desert Exposure and other magazines over the years.  I decided it deserves a repeat on this site.

solar cook b
Summer Solstice Solar Cooking Festival, Bisbee, Arizona, 2004

I’ve used a solar oven now for two decades, and there was one year of my life when a solar oven was the only real way I had to cook my food.  I could use my fireplace, but even in the winter, the fireplace wasn’t nearly as easy.  It needed constant tending, and it coated my shiny steel cookware solid black with soot.

I’m in a small city now, but when I moved to the country in 1994 and began using my solar oven every day, I realized I loved to go outside to turn the oven.  I worked at my computer all day and watched nature through my windows, and if it weren’t for that oven, the habits of a lifetime could have kept that window between nature and me.  But solar cooking saved me.  It “forced” me outside, and so I went.

First, I noticed the clouds.  Were they moving this way and might slow down my cooking?  Or would they pass me by?  And look at that raven flying with the hawks!

I noticed the heat, I noticed the wind – powerful where I was on the western bajada of the Chiricahua Mountains.  Time to set a chair beside the oven so a dust devil doesn’t try to tip it over.  The vultures are rising this morning.  And phoebes are making their nests again in the eaves.  The day – the sunshine – feels wonderful.  So different than standing before a stove!

The solar oven forced me to take regular small breaks in my workday – something I’d known for years I needed to do, had been counseled about, but just couldn’t do.  My German work ethic was too strong to allow such “decadent” behavior.  What hundreds of dollars of therapy couldn’t accomplish, my solar oven did:  it attracted me with its practicality, then drew me outside so the day could whisper its seductions:  Isn’t the sunshine lovely on the skin?  Wouldn’t it be nice to sit for a spell in the sun and close your eyes?  Just a moment….  And I did.  Then I returned to my work, peaceful, satisfied, knowing that life is good, Nature cares for us, and I’m even learning how to care for myself a little better.

Speaking of decadence, have you ever eaten a sweet potato cooked to a carmelized mush in the sun?  It needs nothing to enhance it.  I discovered this one day, when I didn’t want to go back inside quite yet to get the salt, butter, plate and fork.  It was a lovely winter afternoon, one of those warm ones so common in the southwest.  I sat in the sun in a chair and gingerly peeled one end of the orange tuber held in my potholder, while looking across the mesquites to the oaks where I could see a single hawk sitting sentry.  I took a bite of a very sweet potato, dazed and delighted.

Some people theorize that solar energy affects the cellular structure of food in a way that electric and gas heat simply cannot – and I believe they’re right.  Decades of solar meals confirm this for me:  the food simply tastes better.  One day, perhaps we’ll have scientific research to explain exactly why, but I’m satisfied that it’s true.

Solar ovens are also forgiving.  One day, I was so focused on some project that I entirely forgot the casserole dish filled with simple rice and water that I’d put in the oven – four hours earlier.  If I’d put it on the stove, I’d have burned it up long ago.  I ran outdoors and found: my oven was no longer directed at the sun, but it was still over two-hundred degrees (they go to 350 or even 400), the rice was cooked, and moist as if it were being perfectly cared for in a steam tray.

Solar ovens are designed to hold in all the heat they gain, and by necessity they also hold in moisture.  So, rice stays moist, meat stays juicy, and pizza crust doesn’t dry out but bakes to a chewy, soft perfection.

Solar cooking can save a lot of money.  In the summer time, most people not only pay for gas or electricity to cook with, but then they pay again to reduce the heat created in the kitchen – or attempt to, in which case the “payment” may also include suffering a hotter house than need be.

In the wintertime, the financial gains are admittedly fewer because our cooking inside also heats our homes, and going outside to turn the oven loses a little home heat, but if we use an exhaust fan to exhaust cooking odors outside, and run it too long, it might also exhaust that cooking heat with the odors and cost more than the fuel used to replace the heat from walking outside.

After I left my hermitage in 2006, I moved to Silver City and held my first New Mexico solar oven workshop the next February.  On my fliers I printed “Call for alternate date in case of bad weather,” but a half–dozen intrepid folks showed up on a near-freezing day, to sit huddled outside, watching my ovens face nothing but clouds – so thick we could only guess approximately where the sun might be behind them.  Nevertheless, I aimed them as best I could, and we talked about solar design and cooking while watching the thermometer rise ever so slowly.  The temperature never got high enough for cooking (170 degrees), only to about 105, but that was impressive, since we had no direct sun.

If I’d started a dish indoors, say, in a cast iron pot that would hold significant heat in its mass (as I often do on winter days), the oven could have held that heat and the food would have certainly cooked – but I hadn’t started any dish inside, not believing anyone would come out on a day like that!  Though I failed my participants by not starting something inside first, the solar ovens gave us an impressive show.

Solar ovens can also be used for canning – and it’s generally summertime when we want to can food and summertime when we don’t want to heat the kitchen, so I hope to do more of this.

They can also sterilize water – not purify it, as it has no means of removing toxins – but bacteria and other living organisms can be killed, so that water can be made much safer to drink.

For this reason, a lot of people consider a solar oven to be an essential survival item.  It has occasionally been a fleeting goal of mine to prepare for survival situations, but today I’m less concerned about personal self-sufficiency than I am about community sufficiency.  All the media talk about terrorist acts I generally ignore, except to acknowledge that we as a culture are terrifically dependent on a vulnerable infrastructure that delivers us all our most basic needs – food, clean water and energy for warmth.  In the event this infrastructure was broken in any manner, nearly every one of us would be hard-pressed to take care of these needs.  It’s commonly known that our supermarkets only contain 3 days of food at any given time to feed their buyers.  Considering our government’s failure to help New Orleans in its time of disaster, I can’t put much faith in their help should even a small part of the nation lose connection to the grid.

So what can we, in our communities, do to plan for our “hometown security?”  Every garden is a good first step.  Every greenhouse.  Every rain barrel.  Every sun room.  And every solar oven gives me hope that our little town will be that much more friendly, more cooperative, more community minded if anything should ever force us to face our vulnerability to simple cold and hunger.  Every solar oven provides not only a way to cook food, but an example that can be duplicated easily with salvage materials!

A few years ago, I took my solar oven to Mexico and cooked all our meals on it, easily, on the Seri beach for five days.  The Seri chief came to visit and walked a circle around the oven, looking for the heat source, then expressed astonishment that we could cook without wood.  The women in his tribe walked miles every day in search of enough wood to cook their meals.  In my broken Spanish, I promised to return and bring him one. Years have gone by, so I’m way overdue for my return with this gift.

When I traveled to Peru last April, I had the opportunity to describe solar ovens to a family who cooked us a beautiful meal on an adobe wood stove.  Their eyes lit up with my description, heavy with sign language, and they clearly wanted one.  As in many places on the planet, the forests of Peru have been clear-cut, not only by multinational corporations, but by people simply gathering cooking fuel.  They pollute the air, their homes and their lungs by working in tiny, un-vented adobe kitchens.  (We, too, pollute the air with our cooking, but we do it far away, with gas wells and electric plants on other parts of the grid, so we can pretend it’s not our problem.)  I promised the Peruvian family, too, to return with an oven as a gift.  If I can’t make it soon, I will send one with a friend.

As soon as I had my first solar oven, I wanted to build something to help heat my family’s water.  So, in 1988, I held my first solar water heater workshop, and we built one that eventually became a pre-heater for the standard water heater in our home.  This saved us heating dollars while giving us dependable hot water for a family with teenagers – at any time of day.

That success led me to design a solar home, and I built my hermitage in the country.  My little strawbale abode was designed with the same elements as an oven, only slightly different:  it had huge south-facing windows (no reflectors); plenty of thermal mass in the floor, in the stuccoed window seats, and in the brick fireplace hearth; and wonderful insulation in the R-60 straw walls.  It always amazed people to visit in the winter and learn that I had no external heat source.  My inspiration began with a simple solar oven.

They cook!  They save money!  The food never burns, and it often tastes better.  They inspire us to sit quietly for precious moments in the sun – speaking of which, I think I’ll go outside now, put something in oven, and catch a few rays on this lovely, sunny, wintertime day.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

Free Dehydrating and Baking Rack Set

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpegHi Friends,

Gotta let you know about Sun Oven’s newest sale:

a free Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set with any purchase of a Sun Oven!

The set provides a simple, effective way to use a SUN OVEN to dry and dehydrate with the power of the sun.

Easily stackable wire racks allow up to 4 layers of drying or dehydrating. Can be used for baking 4 layers of cookies, tarts, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, flat breads or fish. (Comes with a set of 3-stackable racks and one roll of unbleached, silicone coated parchment baking paper.)

Through June 20, 2016, the Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set is being provided FREE with the purchase of an All American SUN OVEN (you MUST mention this with each order you place).


The remaining items in the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package” (stacking cook pots with lids, loaf pans, and water pasteurization indicator) can be purchased for an additional $34.20 when purchased with a All American SUN OVEN.

The rack set or full package can be shipped inside the SUN OVEN without increasing the cost of shipping.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

The Evolution of a Design

One of the “rules” of Permaculture is that every design evolves.  And it should, as needs change and plants grow.

house front orig
I called my new home “the ugliest house on the block.”  Today’s sitting garden (pictured below) is where the gold truck is parked.

When I first moved into this house, I knew I didn’t want an extensive garden to take care of, because the house itself needed so much work, and I had other things I wanted to do.

What I needed for the front yard was 1) sunlight to reach the south-facing windows, 2) year-round beauty, 3) privacy, and 4) low-maintenance.

The solution was to erect a fence, and plant evergreens near the street that wouldn’t grow higher than 8 feet, so the lowest winter sun can still heat the house; use shorter plants and deciduous trees near the house, so the sun can shine over or through them in winter; and plant perennial and native flowers everywhere I could.

mesquite2Keeping things simple (I’d complicate it later), I created narrow gardens, 2- to 3-feet wide, all around the perimeter of the yard, next to the house, next to the road, and around the one enclosing side.  Done.  Simple.

Later, after the water harvesting and solar features were developed, and the kitchen-side garden terraces were built and planted – and even after I added a mesquite tree and bench to the front yard – I found the big empty space was just not inviting, even surrounded by greenery and flowers.  Besides that, the granite gravel needed weeding!

The Permaculture solution to weeds is to plant more of what you want.  So I expanded the garden space to every square inch that wasn’t needed for a walkway or for sitting.

Not that I wanted the extra work of creating or maintaining more gardens, but this felt like playwhen the time was right – and I did it little by little.  The payoff was huge!

And it actually resulted in less work!  Gardens, as living communities, tend to take less work than single plants or spare gardens.  The plants in a more complex community provide each other nutrients, shade, moisture, mulch, and more – and that’s work we don’t have to do.

Widening the gardens meant that I’d need to utilize the “keyhole

From Toby Hemenway's book,
From Toby Hemenway’s book, “Gaia’s Garden.”
one winter squash will be nestled in each lobe of this adapted
See the keyhole on the left, near the hose? The original garden is back where the roses are, on the right.

garden” design (creating short walkways into them every six linear feet or so, so that every part of the garden is within a three-foot reach.

front yard
Since this photo was taken last year, we’ve laid down cedar mulch over the gravel, giving the yard a much softer “forest-like” appearance.  Sunflowers have been positively amending the soil (thanks!), but also rather dominating the space, creating a much wilder picture! And the central mesquite (rather obscured in this photo by the elderberry behind it) is bigger this year too – one day providing more serious summer shade.

And here’s the garden today, so lush, I begin nearly every day, summer and winter, sitting here, feeling oh so blessed!

Posted in 1 Garden, solar ovens

Sun Oven’s “Holiday Special”

b9f19fc1-1251-4abb-a598-46523e75e700This holiday sale saves you well over half on the Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package PLUS a Hanging Turkey Roasting Rack when you purchase a new Sun Oven.

The package, for only $35 (instead of $90) includes:

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpeg* Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)

bbcf50eb-cf73-466b-930c-4aaedb2620a9* Two Easy-Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids [this set is my personal favorite]

Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator
(WAPI) (read more about it and the other accessories here)

* Two Loaf Pansloaf pans

* cdromComputer CD featuring how-to’s, over 600 recipes, videos and much more

Since the cook pots (my favorite) cost $25, and the WAPI ($9) is an essential survival item (with or without a Sun Oven), it’s like getting two loaf pans, the dehydrating racks, and the turkey rack for free!

  • turkey-rack-5-1024x6821-510x340The Hanging Turkey-Roasting Rack replaces the regular rack with one curved on the bottom to create more space for a turkey inside a roasting bag!

Purchasing is easy:

With a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account!

Just email, and I’ll send you an invoice directly from PayPal.

The Sun Oven is $294 – shipping included ($261.15/oven + 32.85/shipping) – the lowest price allowed!

With the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Package,” the current Special, is $329.00 – shipping included.

This Special offer is valid through January 11, 2016.

Also, be sure to check out the accessory page, to read about the WAPI and other accessories – including cookbooks and a programmable meat-thermometer, which can be added to your order and sent inside the oven for no extra shipping cost.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

A *Hybrid* Tulsi Solar-electric Oven is for Sale

tulsi solar cooker
My Tulsi cooking two pans of flat enchiladas and two pans of rice. (The electric cord plug is the barely-visible black rectangle on the side near the white rice.)

Hi Local Friends ~

A friend of mine bought a Tulsi *hybrid* solar-electric oven from me a couple of years ago and gave it to a friend who recently confessed he’s never used it and so returned it to her – with the film still on the reflector, truly unused.

Since she already has two other ovens, she gave it some thought and decided to sell it and asked me for some help.

This solar oven is no longer on the market, so this is a rare opportunity.  My friend says it seems to be in perfect condition except for one latch being broken.  This isn’t an essential piece, and the oven should cook fine and maybe just need a little thoughtfulness when carrying it closed – or a latch repair.

The “hybrid” designation refers to the electric heating element built into the bottom.  This is nice when you plan to cook and then see clouds rolling in that may or may not interfere.  Just plug it into a regular AC outlet and push one button to set it to 300 degrees, or both buttons to indicate 350.  Then, the heater will come on when the temperature needs a boost and will turn itself off when it has reached the designated temperature.

When I use my Tulsi, I rarely use the electric option (just leave the cord in storage), but I have used it a couple of times, and it works as promised and has been most appreciated on those days!  But it’s not necessary.

Oh, yes, and when I demonstrate all my ovens, the Tulsi always gets the most attention because it’s narrower than the Sun Oven and carries “like a suitcase.”

This oven used to sell for $299, but it is now discontinued and replaced by a larger, deeper oven that sells for $529.  My friend would like to sell it for $299.  We both would prefer not to deal with shipping, hence this offer to “local friends.”

Please email me at or call me at 575-534-0123.  I take cash, checks, and credit cards now!

Below are all the official features, specs, how it works, and accessories:


  • High performance solar oven w/”energy miser” back up AC 120v. electric elements, ultimate in solar oven technology up to 400F in hybrid mode. Convenient, reliable, economical.
  • 95% reflective scratch resistant reflector panel for longer wear and higher cooking temps, higher reflectivity than a standard glass mirror.
  • Double-paned oven window instead of the typical single pane, holds trapped energy longer for superior heating.
  • Double rubber oven seals instead of a single seal, better long-term heat retention.
  • Attachable Temp. Booster Reflector panels for Higher Temperature Cooking.
  • Larger internal cooking chamber, cook 4 different food items at one time or how about one large pizza.
  • 24/7 electric back-up system is energy-efficient using typically 75% less electrical energy than your standard in-house oven. The cost to operate is pennies.
  • Rugged suitcase design offers clamshell like protection to internal parts.
  • Portable for easy carrying or transport, the suitcase style design fits easily in car trunk, campers, RV’s, or boat. Sets up in seconds: Simple as opening a suitcase.


Hybrid: The Tulsi-Hybrid can be just an electric oven. No sun required. However, as just an electric oven the cooking temperature is constant around 300 as this is the temperature that the internal thermostat shuts-off and on too.  The Tulsi-Hybrid actually cooks hotter and can reach 400+ when the electric and sun are used in unison.

Cooker size: 540 x 540 x 200 mm. / 21.25 in. x 21.25 in. x 7.87 in.
Material: Molded body made of UV resistant fiber reinforced plastic
Cooking capacity: 2 Kgs. or 6-8 Kgs. per day / 4 Lbs. or 13 to 17 Lbs. per day
Total weight: Approx. 13 Kgs. / 29 Lbs. including cooking pots
Tray material & coating: Aluminum sheet, black painted for high UV heat absorption

Energy source: Solar & electric power for backup

Electrical consumption: Low setting. 0.2 KW/h – High setting 0.4 KW/h. depending on amount of food being cooked & ambient conditions
Two Power source: Solar – Electric 120 volts / 60 cycles.

Electrical wattage thermostatically controlled:

Normal setting: 200 Watts (2 amps) 

High setting: 400 Watts (4 amps), (+/-10%)

Manufactured by Rohitas Electronics of Kanpur, India

How It Works

Sun BD Corporation presents Hybrid Solar Oven Technology at its finest, it is easy to use, portable, sets up in seconds and is safer to use because there are no dangerous open flames. The Tulsi-Hybrid produces zero carbon emissions!

OK, this all sounds great you’re thinking, it’s  state of the art technology, easy to use, portable, and cooks without flames. BUT, how does the darn thing work? Like a piece of cake!

The Tulsi-Hybrid solar cooking oven can be operated in any one of three ways:

1) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be used in Hybrid mode:

We call using both solar and electric in combination – peace of mind. It’s  the best of all worlds. You can solar cook more often and never have to worry about clouds again. When the sun is out the oven acts as a solar oven but when the sun disappears the oven acts as an electric oven cycling itself on and off between electric and solar when the sun reappears. Forget the roller coaster cooking temperatures and the threat of bacterial food poisoning that can happen with solar only ovens. The Tulsi-Hybrid’s  two setting thermostat automatically controls and maintains the cooking temperature inside the oven chamber so your food is always safe and cooked to perfection even when the weather isn’t.

2) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be an electric oven all by itself.

The Tulsi-Hybrid is thermostatically controlled and reaches cooking temperature of 300 degrees F. The Tulsi-hybrid cycles on and off after reaching cooking temperature for economical energy-efficient operation. It’s so easy to use just plug the Tulsi-Hybrid’s  power cord into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet. Operational cost is only pennies. The power source can from the electric company, a DC/AC inverter, or any back up generator. Wattage requirement a measly 200 watts (+/- 10%).

3) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be an efficient premium solar oven all by itself.

Simply point the Tulsi-Hybrid towards the sun and adjust the back reflector panel to shine the sun’s sunlight into the oven’s dark cooking chamber. It’s that easy.

You will never find another solar oven like the Tulsi-Hybrid, it’s the ONLY Hybrid Solar Oven sold inAmerica . It’s like having four appliances in one: a solar oven, crock-pot, slow cooker and portable outdoors camp oven.


4 Cooking pots w/Lids:  4-Stainless steel pots w/lips, hard black-coated for UV heat absorption.


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Global Sun Oven has announced their newest Special!

IMG_3572Ah, let’s talk business in a moment….

First, we had a great time at the First Annual “Summer Solstice Solar Cooking Celebration” on Saturday, June 20, at the Silver City Art Market.

We had box cookers, like the Global Sun Oven I sell, and a home-made version made by one of the local pioneers of solar cooking – the mother of Susan Berry, who gave me the oven of steel and glass, made sometime last century!  It’s nice to have a bit of local history to share – especially apropos since Susan is the recently-retired director of the Silver City Museum.  Thanks so much, Susan!

SunnyCookerWithPyrexBowlsWe also had home-made parabolic cookers that can be taken camping!  Those were demonstrated by Asher Gelbart, of Green Energy Now, who’s doing great work in a lot of related areas far beyond solar cooking.  You can also find him on YouTube, Linked In, and Google+.  Obviously, I think he’s worth looking into, especially if you’re local.

And thanks to Art Market artist-vender Cedar Smith (pictured above, solar cook and maker of beautiful copper items for the home) for hosting this event at the Market!

Finally, if you‘re a solar cook in the area, or will be by next year, I encourage you to join us on the Summer Solstice (June 20th) at the Art Market in 2016!

(Oh yes, I brought three box cookers and completed two meals in each between 9 am and noon!  That’s the Summer Solstice for you – when the day is not only longest, but the sun shines most directly through the atmosphere, giving us the most powerful “solar gain.”  In 2004, I cooked five meals one after the other in a single oven in a single day – just to see what I could do on the Solstice.  Fun!)


Did you know the first solar oven was designed and used in the 19th Century?  Yes!  Horase de Saussure, a swiss naturalist, cooked fruits in a box that reached 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  (Foods just need 170-180 degrees to actually cook.)


So, Let’s keep on enjoying these benefits that can save us money, environmental destruction, and hot kitchens!

To that end, Global Sun Oven – a wonderful company that puts out a high-quality product and sends them to 127 countries around the world, especially those fighting deforestation – has announced their newest special:


If you buy a Sun Oven now (my usual “lowest price they allow me”:  $294.00 – includes shipping), you have the option to also purchase their “Preparedness Package” (value $99) for just $32.70.

The Preparedness Package includes:

* (my favorite) Stacking Cookpots of black granite-ware enamel on lightweight steel construction, designed to stack safely – with an enamelware lid and a glass lid (for when you want things to brown).
* a set of three dehydrating/baking racks with a roll of parchment paper
* two loaf pans which fit side-by-side neatly inside the oven
* a WAPI – Water Purification Indicator – which allows you to know when your water or other liquid has been pasteurized safely – before it reaches boiling, saving you fuel, time, and possibly uncertainty about safety, should your fuel run out or the sun sets – an important potential survival item
* a CD of 600 recipes, FAQ, videos, and more!

(If you have it delivered to anywhere in New Mexico, I will need to add tax.  If you’re having it shipped out of state, you’ll save that $20-some!  So when you buy your own, think of friends and family out of state.)

I’m also able to take credit cards now via PaypaypalPal – if you visit and we use my handy new card reader – or we’re friends and/or you trust me with your card information.  (Sorry that WordPress no longer supports PayPal buttons.)

To contact me, write jean7eisenhower (at), or call me at 575-534-0123.

Happy Summer Cooking!

Posted in 1 Garden, Uncategorized

Wonderful Week! Son Visit, Fruit Trees, New Panorama, More

20150514_200255What a wonderful week, with my son visiting, appreciating all the changes in the garden, and the unusual and so appreciated rains!

IMG_3027 IMG_3029

The apricots are not only there for the first time ever (after its first serious pruning), but they’re big!

Ditto the almonds!

IMG_3052And the grapes are coming on ~

My son took a 360 degree panorama, which is now my website banner.  Thanks, Mike.

We know it’s a good health practice to get out and walk, but I’d been neglecting that lately, which caused my heart to give me a wake-up call.  So I’ve been walking for an hour every morning for the last four weeks, which almost always rewards me with some treat.  Sometimes, it’s dandelions for the chickens from a neighbor’s more abundant sidewalk, and sometimes it’s something phenomenal, like this cactus, overwhelmed by its own flowers.IMG_3039

Finally, last week, Peaches was teaching me how to quit working and just look around and feel the place.  So I did, and I lay back on the cottonwood bench and up into the branches oIMG_3022f the mesquite tree, which I pruned last year – and think the branches are very beautiful.  Everything seems to have appreciated the pruning.  A metaphor for life, I think.

(For the panorama, my son had us move from his beginning point to his end point in the circle while he turned in the opposite direction, placing us at two different points in the photo, for fun.)

Love your garden!

yard banner

Posted in 1 Garden

What I Love About My Yard Design

IMG_2979There’s a lot to love in this yard.  Even though it’s only 1/10 acre, mostly granite, and has a corner (300+ sf) we can’t enclose (city regulation), we’ve still made a lot of the space!

With clever “stacking,” we’ve made a lot function here:

* We have numerous places in the sun and shade – to sit comfortably year-round outdoors.

penstemon* We have numerous perennial flowers that come up each year and just bloom on their own.

* We have total privacy from the street and neighbors.

ALL the roof water descends on this one corner.  Whatever overflows the tank is directed alongside the swale (
ALL the roof water descends on this one corner. Whatever overflows the tank is directed alongside the swale (“low place”) around the patio alongside the fruit trees!

* We harvest rainwater in a number of ways (from the roof into a tank, overflowing the tank into a swale along the garden and tree terraces, from the front eave into two gardens and a pond, and from the patio into the swale).  (More here.)


* We have a little fountain that runs into a tiny pool I fashioned of stone, which runs into a corner of the chicken coop and out into the apricot tree well.  (Read more about it here, at “Fountain with Quadruple uses!”)

DSC04401* We have a convenient tool storage, which will also one day have a sink with running water.

“Minerva, Goldie, and Polly,” copyright Jean Ann Eisenhower 2014

* We have chickens!  Right next to the compost, they are both close and convenient to the kitchen but not in a direct line of sight from the patio.  The chickens, though, can fly up and onto the rooftop to visit with us over the fence.

crystals* Throughout the year, as foliage changes, I move around stones, crystals, statuettes, and more – to entertain the mind and eye.

* We have a patio perfect for workshops and parties.DSC03488

Rather than pour our concrete inside squares, we poured it into sinous shapes.
Rather than pour our concrete inside squares, we poured it into sinuous shapes.

* We have very few straight lines!

Refreshing, convenient, and the bathwater doubles as plant water!
Refreshing, convenient, and the bathwater doubles as plant water!

* We have a pool – okay, we’ll call it a summer soaking or cool-off tub!  Just an old horse trough with a foliage screen

chickens in compost* The chickens not only give us eggs, but manure, and help with the bugs.  Yesterday we turned the compost, dumped it in sections into a tray, and let the birds clean out the pill bugs!

* Since vegetable gardening is quite a challenge on a rock lot, we do the “Permaculture thing” and make the most of what’s appropriate here – for us that means appreciating and enhancing a different range of plant life.  Here that means herbs and DSC01757grapes – though we also use a few containers and terraces filled with dirt for veggies and fruit trees.

Stuffed bell peppers cooking with the sun - a summer favorite!
Stuffed bell peppers cooking with the sun – a summer favorite!

* We solar cook outside year-round.

I’m very grateful for the natural functions of this space.  And I love it when people seek my consultation to help them get the most from their own little square of Earth.

paypal(And I take PayPal now, so folks can use any credit card and pay on time.)


cherries on tree

~ Even lazy gardeners with rocky land can create a yard that brings a lot of value – appropriate to those who live there.

Posted in 1 Garden

Bumper Crop after Pruning Last Year – of course!

photo 2 copyLast year, I hosted a couple of Pruning Workshops with arborist Cheyenne Thomas.

I had to confess that, even though I never claim to be a gardener, per se – but rather a designer of homes and yards in which gardens will play a huge role – I had not been able to get over my dread of pruning the living branches of my trees.

Cheyenne explained why we needed to get over our reluctance:  Because throughout human history, we’ve selected plants, in large part, by their vigor (as well as taste and other qualities), and our continued practice has created plants essentially too vigorous for their own good.

So, to help them, we need to limit how many branches are allowed to grow.

It turns out I am not the only one with this hesitation!  All of us suffered as we took the saws to the living flesh of the trees, but we did it.

IMG_2664And this year, ALL my trees are giving me bumper crops of fruit and nuts – even on this challenging granite lot!

My apricot tree was so loaded with baby fruit, I called Cheyenne to ask whether some of them should be removed, as I’d heard.

He said Yes.  And again I was faced with the difficulty of removing living flesh from my tree again!  But I did it. 

IMG_2814Cheyenne suggested I take off enough fruit to leave one apricot approximately every three inches, so I did.  Here’s one of my branches, and all the removed fruits on the ground beneath.

If your trees are overloaded, you can leave the bumper crop, and you’ll have small fruit and more pits and skin to deal with.  If you thin your fruit, you’ll have fewer but larger ones.

I’ll show you what we get in a few weeks….

Happy days in the garden.

Posted in 1 Garden

A Garden Gate Archway

IMG_2813One of the romantic images I’ve had, perhaps since childhood, has been an arch of greenery over a garden gate.  And finally I have one – that grows well in this desert climate, and on this rocky lot.

What do you have nostalgia or romantic feelings for?  Can you create it in your environment?

Give it to yourself!

Here’s a photo of a cascade of roses on the inside:


Here’s a description of the rose from Wikipedia (

Rosa banksiae, common names Lady Banks’ Rose, Tombstone Roses or justBanks’ rose, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family, native to central and western China, in the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Yunnan, at altitudes of 500–2,200 m (1,640–7,218 ft).

Posted in 1 Garden

Earth Day solar cooking tomorrow – and there’s a sale on!

Hi Friends,

I’m getting ready to demonstrate solar cooking for four hours tomorrow, 10 – 2, at Silver City’s Earth Day celebration at Gough Park.  (There’ll be music and lots of fun stuff!)

I’ll cook quinoa with beets and rice – almost the same dish shown here, except with rice – either grain will turn beautiful red from the beets, and so will the carrots!

solar cook b
Earth Day, 2004

When that’s done, I’ll pop in an apple crisp.

And when that’s finished, I may show off “sauteéing” – without stirring – or maybe demonstrate toasting nuts or seeds to perfection – again, with no stirring!


The company has given us distributors another special to offer:

a set of three baking/dehydrating racks will come free – with an oven



And I recently got my new PayPal cell-phone slider so I can take credit card purchases for paypalthe first time!

And I’ll have a brand-new oven with me, unopened in the box, with the free rack set, so if you’re interested you can take it home tomorrow!  Otherwise, ovens – sent here or anywhere in the continental US – will arrive at your door within a week.

You can order an oven or ask questions here on my site, or by phone (575-534-0123), or by email (

Hope to see you soon!  Come by and visit!

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Sun Ovens really calling these days

solar cook bAlmost every day recently, we’ve put something in the Sun Oven.

One day, it was beans, for soup, to cook them without adding their strong odor to the house – !

sweet potatoesOne day it was sweet potatoes.

rice dinnerAnother day, left-overs – a no-brainer!  They cook quickly, without drying out – because one of the beauties of Sun Ovens is that they hold in the moisture, so reheated food doesn’t stick.

And one day I used the drying racks to make biscotti of a cake I thought we wouldn’t eat quickly enough!

With the weather so nice, I thought others “on the fence” about the purchase might also be inspired to finally get their Sun Oven, so I spent the day updating my purchasing page, with all my favorite accessories.

And I also spent some time with PayPal, making sure that I’ve made the process as easy as possible for you.

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpegIf you’re inspired, I sure recommend these wonderful items!  (And there’s a special one right now – a baking/dehydrating rack set will come free with your new oven.)

smile SO WSI offered free workshops for years before ever deciding to become a distributor – I believe in them that much.

  • They save you money.
  • They save energy and therefore the planet’s resources.
  • They make you go outside – ! – to notice the weather, the clouds, and birds!
  • They inspire you to live right in so many ways and to understand how easy passive solar energy can be to create – for cooking, heating water, and even heating your house.

Here’s an essay I wrote a few years back, published in numerous places, about the inspiration gained from solar ovens:

chicken beautifulGet inspired!

Posted in 1 Garden

A few garden thoughts

It’s good to remember to get outside in the late day to catch sights we might miss otherwise.  Some of my favorites are:

The cherry tree backlit by the late day sun…


…and the first Evening Primrose of the season!

The tabby cat, Peaches, doesn’t care. She only has eyes for catnip.


These hardly little flowers spread wonderfully, and some years used to come up in profusion (when the rains were just right) and cover the desert floor when I lived in Cochise County, Arizona – so I have a special affection for them.

And oh-my-goodness!  Look how this little volunteer has grown in just 5 days – March 30 – April 4!  (We think it’s another apricot tree.  I wrote about it in a previous post.)


Wow!  That’s impressive for just five days.


IMG_2691And the scroungy-looking dandelions at my feet are exactly that – I scrounge the outer leaves for the chickens, and leave a few to keep the plants going.  Good thing I took an extra walk today, to keep the girls happy and well fed.

Finally, in the sun room, we brought in a volunteer tomato last fall – maybe sprouted from the compost? maybe from a bird dropping? in any case, we know it’s hardy, coming up in un-amended soil – and surrounded it with bottles of water for thermal mass to keep it warm on the coldest of nights, and it’s produced a half-dozen tomatoes for us already!  And twenty or more small fruits are growing.  That’s a comfrey next to it, with the tomato tumbling over it!  As soon as the nights stay in the 40s, we’ll bring them both out, along with the 3 basil plants that provided us pesto all winter!IMG_2694


I’m a lazy gardener, I admit, but having planned for that reality, planting easy-to-grow varieties, lots of herbs, trees, wildflowers, and taking advantage of volunteers, there’s a lot going on here, with a minimum of work.

Even though I’ve done very little promoting of my design work, I’m always delighted when people ask me to help them figure out their yards – as occurred again today.

It’s a wonderful thing to work out a design that serves many functions (aesthetics, food, medicine, activities, finances, ecology, and more) and is considered not only in two dimensions (like a map), but also the third dimension (vertically) and the fourth (through time)!  I love it.