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Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products


The DIY Cargo Trailer

As part of our aquaponics project, we needed a cargo trailer to haul fish tanks, lumber, gravel, etc., and deliver finished systems. We have posted several video’s on youtube of the process, and will post more as the project continues. Enjoy, and stay tuned for the aquaponics progress as well.

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Organic Fertilizer / Potting Soil

Recently we bought a bag of organic potting mix from Walmart. It was the Miracle Grow Organic Choice (Container) Potting Mix, which contains sphagnum peat moss, partially composted wood chips, and chicken litter (.10/.05/.05). It’s a bit expensive at 16.8 lbs for $10 ($.65 / lb. w/tax), but it works well in our bucket garden (chicken litter – wear gloves). Then a friend of ours sent us some of his worm castings. At $28 for 30 lbs. (free shipping), it’s a bit more expensive ($.93 / lb), but it’s local, small business, and more sustainable (no peat moss and no chunks of bark). We are setting up additional buckets of tomatoes and lettuce, and will keep you posted on our progress. We have used worm compost in the past, with fantastic results.

Check out Jeff’s work at http://organicandmechanic.ecrater.com/

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StoveTec – The Efficient Healthier Cookstove for Developing Countries

stovetecI’ve been following the progress of the rocket stove designed by Aprovecho for a while. Cleaner burning than traditional open cookfires, less expensive to operate than paraffin stoves, this is a solution designed to solve actual problems in developing countries, and yet works well here for camping and other non-traditional cooking needs.

StoveTec was created in the fall of 2008 as a not-just-for-profit entity to act as the technology transfer recipient for the Aprovecho Research Center. The Aproveho Research Center wholly owns StoveTec and therefore receives all profits from StoveTec’s operations. Aprovecho has worked for 30 years to design and build the world’s new standard for biomass stoves and has completed over 100 projects in 60 countries.

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87 mpg, in a 10 hp 500lb 2 seat 3 wheeled vehicle?

191 cc air cooled 2 stroke 1 cylinder engine.
10 hp
506 lbs.
2 seater
3 wheels (2 upfront)
rear engine
87 mpg

oh, and was produced between 1955 and 1964.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_KR200

Where’s the progress?

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Vegetable Oil: Transportation and Home Heating Fuel

This week we picked up a ’96 Diesel Chevy Suburban, and a large fuel oil furnace, both to be converted to run on used vegetable oil in the next few weeks. Keep checking back in to see our progress.

The furnace will have our Babington Burner installed, which allows the use of used vegetable and even motor oil. For environmental reasons, we use vegetable oil.

The Suburban will be converted to a two tank operation, with the vegetable oil tank heated with coolant. See our Wiki and Photo Album for more details.

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Why Compost With Worms?

As we progress on our worm composting project, many folks have asked us why we are doing this. We really thought the questions would be how, so we pause to give a few reasons why this should be done, then you can have fun with the how.

  • We need a high quality fertilized soil for growing our food.
  • Food scraps are too valuable to throw out in the trash.
  • It’s too cold out in our winters to compost outdoors.
  • It’s educational for the kids to learn how our world works.

Up to 50% of our waste stream is organics that can be composted. Composting alleviates the strain on the public waste system, and provides soil enhancers that go far beyond the capability of chemical fertilizers.

Read what others have to say about this inexpensive and fun hobby, and visit http://www.green-trust.org/ebooks/ to participate in our project:

Many homeowners have some kind of home composting system in operation. However, people living in condominiums, apartments and other residences don’t have a suitable place to start a compost pile. These people feel left out on a worthwhile cause, and need alternative ways to be part of the composting program.

There is a solution! Kitchen wastes can be converted to a rich humus with the help of redworms. Children find worms fascinating. They are very well behaved “pets,” and also help with household chores!

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/Redwormsedit.htm

Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. Compost exits the worm through its’ tail end. This compost can then be used to grow plants. To understand why vermicompost is good for plants, remember that the worms are eating nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable scraps, and turning them into nutrient-rich compost.

http://www.css.cornell.edu/compost/worms/basics.html

Let worms eat your organic waste! They will happily turn it into some of the best fertilizer on earth – worm compost, otherwise known as worm castings or vermicompost. This is a fascinating, fun, and easy way to recycle your organic kitchen wastes. Worm composting, or vermiculture, requires very little work, produces no offensive odors, and helps plants thrive. Only a few things are needed to make good worm compost: a bin, bedding, worms, and worm food. By following the steps listed below, you will learn to make, take care of, and use your own worm compost.

http://earth911.org/blog/2007/04/02/composting-with-worms/

It’s simple. The worms are kept in a bin with shredded paper or other biodegradable bedding. You feed them food waste. They digest the waste and bedding then excrete nutrient-rich castings. After a few months, the castings combined with the well-decomposed bedding, become vermicompost — one of the richest soil improvements around. It will do wonders for plants, flowers, fruit trees and garden vegetables. And, anglers will appreciate having a steady supply of worms on hand.

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/earth/recycle/compost2.htm

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Weekend woes, and progress.

Well, where do I start. Yes, we blew our inverter, plus we blew the replacement. Seems the Transfer Switch shorted out when my son plugged in the gas generator without turning off the inverter. Why did he plug in the gas gen? Another sob story. We burned up the starter on the VeggieGen, which is connected to the transfer switch, so he plugged the gas gen into a house outlet and poof ……

Then the gas gen shook some bolts loose and dropped the on/off switch into the flywheel.

It’s not been a good couple of days. Today, the gas gen is back in service, the veggiegen starter is at the shop, and the inverter is off getting exchanged. It does say it’s protected from shorts. Right…..

The well pump, which quit on us last week, and needed a capacitor to get it going again, is running but not pumping. Worked this morning. Go figure.

PJ is here, and we are constructing more sections of the Geodesic Quonset, so I will have more pics up tonight. Last night my wife and I played 4 rounds of Yahtzee by candle light, kids stayed at friends. The woodstove is mighty friendly when it’s 25 degrees out.

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Geodesic Quonset Takes Shape

The first set of hoops and struts are constructed. Over the next few days, the building will be setup, the quonset being extended one hoop at a time. We will be going about 60′ long, 15′ wide, and 7.5′ high. Follow our progress with instructions and photo’s coming at our Geodesic Quonset pages.

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