Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for July, 2010

Getting Rid of Ants, the Organic Way

We have a problem with fire ants. They bite us at night while sleeping, on the couch while reading or watching TV, and in the yard while we work. I’ve been looking for non toxic ways to deal with the situation, and found the following:

Baby Powder
Back Pepper
Windex/Ivory Soap (not organic, but non-toxic to humans)
Shakley’s Basic H
Bay leaves

and much more (see Different types of ants are attracted to / repelled by different things, so experiment. When you find their entrances into the home, caulk!


Micro Hydro, The Other Renewable Power Source

Micro hydro power is probably the least common of the three readily used renewable energy sources, but it has the potential to produce the most power, more reliably than solar or wind power if you have the right site. This means having access to a river or creek that has a high enough flow and fall to produce usable power for a good part of the year.

Many creeks and rivers are permanent, i.e., they never dry up, and these are the most suitable for micro-hydro power production.

A micro hydro turbine can take several forms, the most widely recognized of which would be the water wheel, used extensively for grain grinding up until the past century. Waterwheels are still used in some situations that do not require a fast-spinning turbine, such as for pumping water. However, other type of turbines have become quite common.

— continued —

Free crossflow turbine construction and installation guide.


What’s an Arduino?

Now we have been fans of the Basic Stamp for years, but it was time to move to something with more power, and more support. We are designing SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems for solar, wind and hydro power systems, and these units are just the ticket. We will post our projects and experiences as we progress. Some projects on the burner are power related, for monitoring volts, amps, and amp hours, charging related for custom charging battery banks, power shedding, and weather monitoring and irrigation control.

Discuss using the Arduino family of microcontrollers for monitoring and controlling home energy systems and usage, solar and wind power generation, water and fuel consumption, weather monitoring and more. Even robotics, automotive and model railroad apps are of interest.


Part 4 – The Parabolic Trough Collector / Concentrator

Solar Energy and Steam for Small Turbines and Engines
Junk Yard Mechanics at its Best Series – Part 4
by Robert Saunders

If you can make steam, you can make electricity.

This is the next part of the solar steam series, previously covered in parts 1-3 at

Solar White Paper Part 4


Drink Safe: Picking The Right Reusable Water Bottle

The following is a guest post from the guys over at TestFreaks, which provides consumer information, such as tv reviews and other useful stuff.

In modern times we’ve learned the value of proper hydration, and many of us carry water with us for our busy activities. Of course, all of that water has to be carried in something, and a good water water bottle makes it easy to carry and refill without adding to the landfills. Keeping a good reusable water bottle just makes good sense.

But picking the right kind of water bottle may require a bit more than just common sense. Sure, you want something with a good design that makes it a pleasure to carry, but there’s a bit more to the choice than just that. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you choose the right water bottle.

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Sea Water to Garden, a Designers Manual

A $15 manual (download) on how to build a triple action solar still. Using tires for desalination, grow crops, orchards, or create purified drinking water from otherwise unusable sources of water for the whole family home, farm, and or survival. Grow a survival garden where one could not otherwise grow!


Mother Earth News Wiser Living Guides

Just got this in email, and what a bargain. All six 100 page guides for $20:

At 100 full-color pages each, these six reference books present our best articles organized into four popular categories: Gardening, Energy, Country Skills and Living on Less. Each volume includes tips, information and instructions from the most relevant MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles.
Order Today!

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS Wiser Living Guides set includes:

Guide to Energy Savings – Learn what you need to know to spend your money wisely. Compiled in this guide is a set of the most informative, most up-to-date articles available from MOTHER EARTH NEWS to educate you on all relevant aspects of energy savings, from solar space heating to small-scale wind power.

Guide to Organic Gardening – Find out how organic gardening can help you grow fresher, more nutritious and better-tasting food in a way that’s as natural and nontoxic as possible. This special issue is packed with advice for growing your own food using organic methods that are easy to apply in your own garden.

Guide to Growing Your Own Food – Save money and improve your health by growing your own food all year-round. Covering growing, harvesting, feasting and everything in between, this guide will help you grow a great garden and save money on your food bills.

Guide to Country Skills – Learn the basic country skills that will make you more self-reliant and secure. This guide has all the information you need to be more self-sufficient, from do-it-yourself projects to inspiring stories from those who have created successful homesteads.

Guide to Living on Less and Loving It! – Are you looking for simple ideas to save money and live more lightly on the planet? Find out how you can do both with the simple, satisfying and fun ideas in this special collection.

Guide to Home Energy Savings – You’ll save money on home energy bills for years to come using advice in this convenient collection of articles. The Guide to Home Energy Savings is filled with information on solar heating options, natural ways to cool your house, energy-efficient appliances and windows, and so much more.


Electricity for the Farm

Just finished reading a free online text called “Electricity for the Farm” at This is an excellent old time text on hydroelectric and pre grid living. You’ll absorb some great old time knowledge and ideas on how you can use waterpower for your home or business. We also recommend “Steam, Steel and Electric” at and “Electricity for Boys” (though that’s not terribly PC anymore, and girls will like it too) at


Growing up with the world’s best mixer!

As a kid, my parents had a Vitamix mixer. My mother used the older model 3600 for making soups, vegetable juice drinks, grinding flour, and much more. This video brings back memories.

The newer ones (model 5200) are even more amazing. To order your own mixer, we recommend you contact:

Lea Ann Savage
321-773-7088 (home)
321-961-9219 (cell)


Introduction to Container Homes & Buildings

Alex Klein has been converting steel shipping containers into homes and shelters for quite a while. He’s got a great ebook on how to build your own home for about $40 / sq. ft. Info on insulating, combining units, roofing, and finishing. It’s great stuff. We have read it it and recommend it. It’s a great deal for under $10. For more details, see and