Do It Yourself

Solar dehydrators

I’ve posted on designs for them before, but I’m always looking for different ones to have the chance at tweaking models. Take a look here for yet another design option.

Categories: DIY, Energy, Food, Green Living, Solar, Swamp Fox Green, Tools | Leave a comment

Days of Silence – 05/31/13

A beautiful Friday morning after a fitful night’s sleep. The early morning garden check revealed a visitor.


The little cotton tail seemingly favors the base of the weeds I had hoed down the other day. As long as the garden items aren’t on it’s menu we will continue enjoying each other’s company.
I have been able to find and plant three of the plum trees I had been craving. Growing up we called them “hog-nosed” plums. They are small, typically three centimeters and red or yellow when ripe. They are approximately two feet tall each. Two pear tree cuttings are now set in containers with root toner applied in hopes they will take and grow into gorgeous bountiful trees. These are currently eight inches tall. It will be years before substantial amounts will be produced but who wouldn’t be looking forward to such rewards?
Gardening is proving to be a rewarding experience with its own learning curve. Some plants are ready to be transplanted when the labels suggest (usually 2-3 inches) when started in the suggested container size. Others need to be moved much sooner. Case in point: white Peruvian habeneros. – I had started four seeds in a three gallon pot. I decided to move them once the plants reached three and a half inches high. The root systems on these were amazing! Six inches deep and spreading at least for inches wide! I ended up losing some of the root structure due to entanglement. They have been moved for four days now and are appearing still healthy and robust.

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Days of Silence: 05/20/13

Well the phone is still off so no calls or texts for two weeks and no internet for just over a week. My prior experience in being in a state of communication blackout prepared me for not having such resources.

Today was the heaviest rainfall of the season and I had to grab the hoe and trenched several locations. I was also able to replenish my water reserve. It was after filling my tanks I began trenching and was astonished to find the rain had only soaked just over 1/4″ into the soil. The soil beneath this depth was literally powder dry.

I have added another garden spot. This one is 10’x10′ .


This is the only rowed plot I have done. Four rows of Rainbow Glass Gem corn, a row of brussel sprouts, a row of mixed bell peppers, and a row of mixed carrot varieties with a few Bolivian Rainbow pepper plants thrown in.

I have also come across several old tires that I am attempting to grow potatoes in. There are a couple of tree stumps in the backyard and I have placed two around one of them, which brought the top of them and the stump level. I then placed another on top of them and stuffed it with dried out grass (hopefully dead, acting as straw). I then added another tire, stuffing it with grass as well. I shoved grass down around the stump top as well and left a hollow. I placed a few shovelfuls of soil into the hollow and watered it to determine how well it would retain the soil. Seeing no loss I then added six potato cuttings then placed a layer of soil across them. I checked on this after today’s rains and have noticed no obvious loss of soil. My hopes are the decaying grass as well the stump will provide nutrients for the potatoes. Secondary will be the interesting results on the stump’s rate of decay.


I also came across materials to set up a chicken coop. There is what they were using as a coop which I feel will be deconstructed to add to what I want to end up with. The actual coop will built from a discarded baby crib. There are bars missing on one side which will serve as a doorway. The drop down section on the opposite side’s top will end up being an outside access door to the laying boxes. Raising the crib a foot or so, providing a ramp walkway, placing a wire enclosure for them to feed on and the basic necessities are taken care of. Enclosing the top of the “yard” is another aspect I am looking at exactly on how to proceed.

Many nights lately have been spent awakening more often than sleeping. Several of those nights I had attributed to naps


during the day yet I find myself awake now at one in the morning after thirty minutes of lying in bed. Saturday I sat back in my chair at three in the afternoon and later moved to the bed to get up Sunday morning at six. Yet Sunday night was basically one of peaceful rest.

This morning finds me listening to the BBC with the frogs and crickets providing background. There is a light fog with an occasional breeze.

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(Updated) Ad-hoc solar dehydrator

Ad-hoc solar dehydrator.

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Hydroponic Project 001


Hydroponic 001

Pictured here is my DIY hydroponic initial testing project.
Material list:
1) 1 plastic bin
2) 4ft plastic tubing
3) 1 foot pedal air pump
4) 6 plastic water bottles
5) 6 peat seed starting plugs
6) 1 empty onion mesh bag (cut to size)
7) tape
8) rock (to hold hose in place on bottom of bin)
   You can use other items as replacements for the ones I used; mine were all on hand so that’s why they were chosen.
   I started by choosing my growing medium,  the peat was left over from my attempt last year at seed starting and growing vegetables long after they were out of season. In regard to the water I had started composting in a bucket several weeks back so I used a gallon of it with nine gallons of water. I added crushed eggshell, Osmicote fruit and vegetable food, and a small amount of ash to round out the fluid mixture.
   The bottles were cut just taller than half way with quarter inch wide and an inch a half tall openings from the bottom up. I did four of these cut outs per bottle to allow the roots plenty of area to reach into the water. I always keep the mesh bags when I have eaten store bought fruits or vegetables and this came in handy. I cut sections from the mesh then slid this into the bottle making a suspension net for the seed in the plugs .


Suspended Medium

I used tape to keep the mesh in place on the bottles. You most likely noticed tape on the side of the bin as well, this is to add support due to pressure of the water (a precaution as I don’t want the bin busting and the compost water all over my porch!).
   The purpose of the pump is to aerate and circulate the water. This promotes microbe growth to give the plants a healthy life. I centered the hose end on the bin bottom then weighted it down with one a rock.
   This unit has three Apollo arugula and three mixed mini bell pepper plants. Always remember to plan whether you want to have your plants to remain in such a unit or if you are only using it to grow seedlings as that determine the strength you need to make your “potting”.
   I look forward to providing updates on this project as I hope you will enjoy them.

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Keeping food fresh without electric refrigeration

This article falls into drier climate food preservation. I think with the heat here in the southeast states if kept in the shade this could still work. Earthen clay pot refrigeration

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Garden borders


There are alternate materials other than plastic which can be used to set up borders for garden plots or flower beds. Being an edible landscape believer myself flowers I put in first are looked at for medicinal uses and lastly as a draw for pollinaters. I went with glass bottles for borders on this small plot. Its four feet deep, seventeen and a half feet wide. Sixteen bottles covered the run on the depth (sides). I had the dirt worked four inches deep and most the bottles were easily pushed in and leveled by hand. For those which encountered more resistance I used a regular claw hammer and a small piece of scrap wood and drove them level.


I didn’t take a picture, but I used two posts (any old sticks will do) equidistant from the ends of the porch and drew a twine line to basically keep the front straight. After the bottles had been placed I came back with extra soil and put this outside and inside of the border. I then used my spade handle to pack the soil decently. I completed the project by watering the plot for the day, making sure to put a good amount around the border to help the new soil compact.


Categories: Architecture, DIY, General Topics, Green Living, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Solar shingles

image Find out more over at Gizmodo

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Interesting DIY Solar water heater
Solar Water Heater 001

Categories: DIY, Pictures, Solar, Water | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Emergency Power – Common Sense Homesteading

Sensible article.

Emergency Power – Common Sense Homesteading.

Categories: DIY, Energy, Hydro, Mechanical, Solar, Wind | Leave a comment

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