Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rocket Stove

It took me forever to finally get time to make a video but here it is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

End of Quarter

Thank you all for being such a great group of students this past quarter. This was the first run of Alternative Energy Design/Build and it went very well.

If any of you want to continue working in this way, or are interested in teaching this class yourself--just shoot me an email and we will figure something out.

Again, I really appreciate all of your hard work.

Have a good Spring Break!

Friday, March 12, 2010

details of the indoor vermi-composting worm-bin

Hi all,

For ya'll's reference, I thought I'd post the details of my indoor composting worm bin:

(This is what I'd decided on switching to, after realizing that the iPhone Mighty-Minty-Booster would be too much of a learning curve for this Winter term.)

I chose it because it seemed easy to do, and very, very practical.

Coincidentally, the resident services person at my apartment complex recently decided to make planter bins available in the courtyard for all residents!

As I live downtown with no outdoor soil or earthy spaces -- I hadn't entirely planned out how/where I would grow things with the soil I received.
So this is a happy coincidence of timing!
I'm really looking forward to growing spices, such as Rosemary and the like ^_^

The instructions were pretty good overall, and I really liked her style of instructions -- she made them very personal and relevant to the reader. :)

That said, they could be a little confusing...
So make sure you read through *all* of the steps, in detail, *before* building!

Or at the very least, read *several steps ahead* before completing your current step.  She often alludes to future steps at the end of the next step, which can make it a little confusing.

While one specific step was simply a mistake on my part, I made a clarifying comment here:

In addition, here's the author's
info about [smelly] composting concerns:

"It won't stink, really! Not even the worm tea. It smells like nothing. My husband is very smell sensitive and complains about how our pet rabbit smells, but he does not smell our worms.

Okay, if you are careless about putting meat, or if you put in rotten veggies, or put in too much stuff and it rots, it will stink. I've made a few of these mistakes, but I've just thrown some extra shredded paper in and things end up correcting themselves and it goes back to a lovely state of non-stink.

The question about capacity is tough for me to answer, as I've never really measured it. Anecdotally, I'm in a 2-person household where we don't cook much, but we do feed each of our 3 bins lots of coffee grounds, some fruit and veggie clippings, rabbit poo and paper once a week.

I think our bins could probably be fed more than we offer, but no one complains. So maybe one bin to handle one person's weekly food waste? I usually harvest some castings out of the bottom of each once a month or so. I think if I fed them more, I'd get more castings...

The worms stay around the top of the bin, reason is, they are top feeders. They are not into making deep burrows like nightcrawlers are, but they do go where the food and moisture are, so if there is food in the middle or bottom, they'll go there too. The bag tends to stay drier around the bottom - more airflow - so they generally avoid that...."

-- One other note on the worms (mentioned in another comment):
When you first purchase them, they may be traumatized from the move and crawl out when there's not much light (e.g., at night, or if you have the curtains drawn and the lights off).
... So a solution to this:  Shine light (like lamps) at the tops of the bins to keep the worms from crawling out...   Somewhere, if you read through the comments (it might be on the step about worms or at the intro, not sure),  there are details about these things. :-)

All in all, an easy and fantastic project!!
My mom wants me to build one for her, if this one doesn't stink. ^_^

So I'm pretty stoked!


Hi, thought I'd, possibly inadvisably, throw up a link to a very incomplete sort of web-siteish documentation of the project I am working on. Basically, I've been wanting to try and learn how to make a website for a little while and this seemed like a decent excuse to run into the old learning curve, my old nemesis. Stay tuned, or not, for updates. Thnkas -

Thursday, March 11, 2010

oven OH NO!!!

Tonight, while firing my oven for my friends birthday party, my oven collapsed. It was raining rather hard and has the last week making the oven weak I guess. It is really depressing as I have spent the last week mixing cob and applying layers.... I had it covered but still it wasn't stronger enough.

I hope my next try holds up.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Broken Solar Cells, Bitchin garden

So my solar cells ended up being pretty busted up when it was finally time to open them up and solder all of them together. I only had enough cells that were still connected to the tabbing wire to build half of a panel which threw a damper into my plans considering that I had bought everything that i needed for the full 18 volt panel. So I decided to order some more cells and to put this project on hold for a bit. So I've decided to post some pictures of some other projects that I'm currently working on. We have about two hundred square feet of gardening space ready all around our house. We have a raised bed with a plastic covering so we can start plants earlier and also keep plants warm until it's time for them to go in the ground. Also we can grow stuff that requires warmer temperatures. The 3rd picture is a design of a small insulated pvc greenhouse that I am working on. This greenhouse is going to be used for growing gourmet mushrooms (oyster mushrooms will be the main mushrooms that i will grow in the greenhouse). I also have plans for an enclosed plastic structure to build in my garage where I could grow shitake mushrooms (shitake mushrooms prefer colder temperatures for fruiting). The last picture is of two different jars of rye berries inoculated with oyster mushroom mycelium. Notice that the jar on the left is fully colonized and ready to be transferred into ten more half gallon jars. Our yard is a complete carbon cycle with mushrooms decomposing the wood and trimmings from our fruit trees and then providing food which then end up in the compost with all of our other scraps only to bring nutrients back to our soil for healthier plants.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Possum Living

hey all i've mentioned this and have finally remembered to post it! check it out! alternative living all over the place!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

starting to look like an oven

sand form and brick archway for opening

applying the newspaper layer (makes it easier to dig out the sand when it is done)

first layer of cob (just sand and clay)

This Is The Head:


This Was The Plan:


This Is what Started Happening:


This Is What Happend:


Now Its A Happening:


Soooooo its a composter (in the shape of a robot(Duh)). You will be enlightened further WHEN THE DRYING PRocess IS COMPLETE!