Manufactured by Brunton, a century-old travel and adventure supplies company, SolarRolls are the first waterproof, weatherproof and flexible solar power source on the market. A slim mat that can easily be rolled into a storage tube to fit virtually anywhere, the SolarRoll has provided a stable and effective power source for sea kayakers, adventure travelers and even mountain climbers. SolarRolls come in a variety of sizes, from the 12″x22″ version suitable for charging small electronics, to a 12″x57″ model with a whopping 14 watt output that will easily recharge a laptop or other larger device. Modular in design, these panels can even be linked to increase available energy.
On a relatively closed ecosystem like a private island, owners are often uniquely aware of the value of recycling, reusing and cutting down on waste. When creating too much trash involves a trek to a mainland dump or the loss of valuable landfill space, composting becomes a necessary activity. And not only does composting make your island more eco-friendly, it also provides a handy way of creating rich garden fertilizer.
Good compost has a careful balance of “browns” and “greens”, or materials rich in carbon and nitrogen, respectively. Brown materials include fallen leaves, twigs, and bits of wood, all of which are often gathered up anyway in island clearing and maintenance. The green types of refuse needed for successful compost can be organic food castoffs like fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags, seaweed and lawn clippings, all of which decompose quickly, especially if chopped up a bit prior to being added to the pile. It is recommended that the best ratio of “browns” to “greens” is about 25-1. This compost guide provides a thorough list of all of the types of materials that make for nutrient-rich compost:
While compost can be created in a very low-tech manner, there are products available to speed up the process (and minimize odors, too). The Tunbleweed composter is a large bin that can be rotated to help facilitate decay, and with daily rotation produces about 4 loads of compost in the time it takes a stationary bin or pile to produce one. In hot summer months, you can have dark, healthy compost for your garden in as little as three weeks.
For those opting for a stationary compost method, this tool is invaluable in ensuring your compost gets the air needed to properly decay. The Turning Garden Tool is a long device with 7-inch “wings” at the end that spread out to move your compost pile around with minimal effort.
Build your own island! A unique and very low-maintenance option for a beautiful garden, floating “Islandscapes” use sod and flowers to create miniature islands in ponds, streams and placid rivers. Not only are these little islands pretty and easy to care for, but they will serve as a refuge for wildlife species and contribute to the general health of your surrounding ecosystem.
To construct a floating island garden, purchase an Islandscape or similar product, and cover it with ordinary turf. Seed or plant it with wetland plants and hardy wildflowers such as daisies, lilies and baby’s breath, and set the island adrift. Only the most minimal care may be needed, as while the island can be tied to a line and pulled in for watering or fertilizing, it will also grab needed nutrients from the surrounding water. The benefits to Islandscapes are numerous. A solution to the murky, clouded water often found in shallow ponds or placid streams, the islands act as a biofiltration system that attracts solids and improves water quality. And since the islands are more isolated than most waterfront areas, they become a safe haven for ducks, geese and other waterfowl.
Particularly suited for garden enthusiasts to create on their island or vacation properties that are used seasonally, no watering or maintenance is generally required. The use of tough perennial flowers and plants will also ensure that your Islandscapes will naturally regenerate each year, greeting you with gorgeous blooming flowers when you return to your island in warm weather.
For the environmentally conscious island owner bored with traditional house or cabin designs, look no further than Free Spirit Spheres, an innovative, eco-friendly new concept in modular housing.
Conceived and developed in Qualicum, British Columbia, a region rich with coniferous rainforest, Free Spirit Spheres are the ultimate concept in low-impact development. These designs literally hang from trees, solidly suspended by rope webbing tied to four main anchor points at the top and bottom of the sphere. Using the forest as its foundation, the design is strong enough to sustain the weight of the sphere, its occupants and its contents as high as 120 feet above the ground. While only 500 kilograms in weight, the spheres themselves are spacious and well-appointed, comfortably insulated to temperatures as low as -20 celsius. Read more »
Home automation, also called domotics is the process of making ones home more automatic and thus more comfortable and secure for its residents. There are a wide variety of technologies and applications that fall under the umbrella of home automation. The most common forms of home automation involve light and climate controls, control of doors and shutters, and security and surveillance systems. Other forms of home automation include control of home entertainment systems, and automatic plant watering. Given that many island owners only visit their islands on a part time basis home automation systems are an excellent way to ensure that the home is maintained. Home automation systems on islands range from the basic to the elaborate. Typical systems include automated heating/cooling, watering, lightening and security, while more advanced systems sense the presence of owners and adjust the room to meet their comfort needs.