Living Sustainably

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Archive for December, 2009

Cleaning up environmental damage with mushrooms

We have been reading Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets. There’s a lot of good info on how to remediate pollution with mushroom cultures. I’ll be helping Travis set up a mushroom farm in the near future, but right now I’m preparing to test household sewage and organic garbage reduction using a mushroom bed.

The sciences of mycofiltration, mycoremediation, mycoforestry and Mycorestoration are part of an emerging field of study. While fungi promise to play an invaluable role in repairing many forms of environmental damage, the parameters, techniques and time lines for implementation are still in development.




Read this recently. Good stuff. We recommend you download this free resource, and take control of your water supply.

Featuring the Brazilian Ball Pre-Filter System: A Case Study

By Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist

Photographs by Jim Coleman and Brock Dolman
Illustrations by Jim Coleman


Yes, Virginia, there is $1 / watt PV

Yes, you can buy solar electric panels for $1 per watt, and that’s as close to Santa Claus as you will find. They are shipping as we type. You will need a mppt controller to use them (email us for details), but go to to order the panels. We have no connection with this company, and do not benefit from the sale, but feel it is a good value for our readers.


Taming the hype: Beating Betz?

Travis and his girls are off getting a horse in Arkansas this week, and we are going back home to see the kids and our new granddaughter for Christmas. Paul Gipe brings you the following :

By Paul Gipe

Poor Albert Betz, the German physicist must be turning over in his grave. He’s been beaten yet again.

Seems like it is becoming almost a weekly occurrence now that some inventor or another announces they’ve beaten the Betz limit for the aerodynamic performance of wind turbines. The latest is the so-called Windtamer from Livonia, New York.

Betz, following in the footsteps of his British colleague Frederick Lanchester, calculated that the theoretical maximum energy a wind turbine rotor can extract from the wind is 59% of the energy in the windstream.

Windtamer says they not only beat Betz but they will produce twice as much as a conventional wind turbine. However, a quick scan of the “report” justifying Windtamer’s claim reveals that the turbine’s performance is not any better than all those wind turbines that have gone before.

But first, the famous press release.


Using a seine to catch fish

Today we transferred over 1200 fish from the outdoor ponds to the indoor winter tanks. Most were fingerlings, but some were in the 6″ to 10″ range. We used a seine to catch the fish. I’ve included a video of a seining demonstration for those who have never seen the process. I’ll try to get our own photo’s of the process shortly.


Water Hyacinth – Biofilter and Chicken Feed

I’ve had a few questions about what plants to put in the biofilters for the fish tanks. Trav uses water hyacinth (and duckweed) in the breeder tanks for bio-filtration, and when it gets too thick (and it does), it’s harvested for chicken feed. They love the plants. Apparently it’s too bitter for human consumption. Trav told me I could try it, but I’m not that hungry yet. We are moving fish indoors today into the new breeder tanks we set up.

Read more about BarrelPonics at


Lifting water with air

Water is circulated from the breeding tanks to the biofilter with an airlift. Air is bubbled into the bottom inch of the lift tubes, bringing the water up out of the IBC tote into the biofilter barrel. This takes care of the pumping action, as well as the need for aeration. The lift tubes are mostly submerged, with less than 1′ out of the water. There is one air pump for all thirty 1000 liter breeding tanks. This is a high volume unit running at approximately 2 psi.