Steven Kovacs

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since Jul 18, 2015
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Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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Recent posts by Steven Kovacs

I have some seeds of Hablitzia tamnoides and thought it might be worth trying to grow it as a house plant, either in a hanging pot with the vines hanging down, or in a pot on the floor with a trellis for it to climb.  I love the idea of an edible, shade loving house plant.  Has anyone tried this?  Is the plant toxic to cats at all?

6 months ago
Does anyone have experience with soapstone?  We're redoing part of our kitchen and I love the look and feel of soapstone (and it's supposed to be impervious to heat and staining); quartz is our second choice.
8 months ago
Travis put it well.  Roberto, if you want to try to influence him, more power to you; at best, though, I think you'd be making a bad development slightly less bad.  Do we really want more greenfield construction, no matter how "green" the construction, given that the urban cores of so many cities (especially in the Rust Belt) could be repaired to greater effect without the need to pave over wild land?

As for infrastructure, no, not at all.  When infrastructure is built over time, the decay happens over time, and it is possible to maintain things because they don't all wear out at the same time.  When it is built all at once, maintenance tends to be deferred until it all comes due at once - and then the resources often aren't available to repair it.  See the "Suburban Fallacy" concept at Strong Towns.
8 months ago
This hardly sounds like it fits with "small and slow solutions."  I'd rather let a large number of individuals and small organizations improve the cities we've got.  Incremental development and repair done by locals with skin in the game and who are sensitive to local conditions makes a lot more sense to me than building a "city of the future" in the middle of nowhere, according to the vision of a single man.  If he builds this thing to completion in a single shot, will it have any room to evolve over time?  In 20-30 years when the infrastructure starts to decay all at once, who will pay to repair it?
9 months ago
Has anyone used the New Zealand-style shower dome (or anything related)?  The idea is to put a plastic dome over a shower, keeping hot water droplets in, thereby 1) keeping the shower hot and 2) reducing steam in the bathroom.  The latter also reduces the need to mechanically vent hot, moist air from the house, which is a waste in the winter when you want moisture and heat to stay inside).  The idea seems solid, and it seems pretty popular in NZ (where the idea originated, I think) but I'm puzzled why it hasn't spread.  I'm very tempted to build one myself out of the kind of thin acrylic that can be shaped by heating it with a hairdryer (used for things like model aircraft canopies) or something similar, but I wanted to see if others had tried this and had any advice first.
9 months ago
Anyone interested in sustainable cities (with or without skyscrapers) might find the Strong Towns ( group helpful.  Their focus is primarily on financial and infrastructural sustainability, along with getting away from auto dependence, but they do touch on food production some. 
9 months ago
Local conditions may differ substantially from conditions in a state overall.  Here in Massachusetts, we're notorious for our regulation; but my local town is supportive of a lot of things permies would like, and there are a lot of permaculture enthusiasts and resources here (see: Paradise Lot, Tripple Brook Farm, UMass Amherst's permaculture garden, etc.).  Building an atypical home would probably be difficult here, but I have neighbors with cold frames in their front yard, and there is a lot of consumer enthusiasm for local and ecologically minded produce and meat.
9 months ago
Spring was cold and wet.  Summer was cold and wet.  Now that fall is supposed to be here, it finally feels like summer (highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s).  Still, we did better than most of the continent in terms of weather this year - I'd rather be too cool than too hot.  And the peaches rebounded from last year's crop failure to be ridiculously prolific, literally raining off the trees with the slightest breeze.
11 months ago
In John Michael Greer's novel Star's Reach (set a few hundred years after the end of the industrial / fossil fuel era) there is a religious / cultural taboo on cutting trees and an obligation to plant many replacements for each one reluctantly harvested.
1 year ago
Thank you for all your suggestions!  The snacking and water play have worked for us.  For the latter, an old under-bed plastic storage container without its top, filled with 1" of water, was great when my child was about 2.  For snacking, plant some sorrel!  I have been amazed how much my child and her friends love sorrel.  Raw kale is good too.  Hiding a few alpine strawberry plants here and there lets them search for a sweet snack among the leaves.

The sandbox has been helpful, too, and can be combined with water for more fun.
1 year ago