I love just watching interactions between our dogs and cats and our new cockerel and how he joins in with two hens working together to protect their new family of goslings on their first day outside. Just checking of course.
That's almost the same as the machine I used for a few years which was great for smaller things and has really changed my life after hand washing and going to the laundromat for big stuff. (We're off-grid with a very modest amount of panels).
I've lent it to a friend since I managed to buy a bigger machine in a similar style which washes much bigger items and a lot more stuff. Yesterday, I washed two duvet covers, three sheets and lots of pillow cases, seven pairs of jeans, about eleven tee shirts, five shirts, 27 pairs of knickers and five bras, millions of socks and a few dog blankets - all with same soapy washing water. It was pretty grubby at the end.
I used two only black rubbish bins of water for washing and rinsing, which I siphon off to water the garden.
I grow horseradish in three places in the garden where the earth is really rich and the big roots are worth harvesting. If it's not getting enough nutriments it wears itself out but it will stay alive and take up space without giving anything back. You don't need much to get enough sauce for a year.
Once your plants are really showing signs of enjoying life and have huge healthy leaves, then wait until the end of summer when they start to wither, then dig straight down around the plant with a spade, wiggle it a bit to get the whole complete root out. You can then decide to leave some in for next year or to take the whole lot out. It's only when you cut the root in little bits that it becomes invasive.
Here, it's growing next to Egyptian onions, Melissa, Rhubarb and some pink Lamium.
Hello Bob, just to add to the reply that Thomas gave about 12v batteries.
He is absolutely correct but there is another important consideration when choosing solar batteries.
Take the example of connecting four 12v 100ah batteries in parallel.
Correct wiring and connections are crucial to ensure that the current going through batteries is shared equally. Every battery must benefit from the absorption period to be fully charged.
Resistance paths in six cells x four batteries creates a high margin of error, the paths are not always the same and can change over time. That's why it's important to unhook everything and check the individual cells in your batteries periodically and change their order from time to time. (Eg. Moving the first and last batteries to the inside of the string.)
I've learned my lesson by experience. Just have a look at my Flickr solar photos, you'll see that I made that mistake often, being tempted to buy cheap and easily available 12v batteries that died after just four or five years.
Now, I'd never parallel more that 3 batteries and when I'm designing a system, I try to aim for two.
To get 400ah, it's best to buy 6v batteries - connected in series, they'll get the same charge and they'll last for years. Or, if you already have 12v batteries connect them in series and parallel to provide 24v, use a dropper if you really need to for some applications but most inverters, LEDs, frigos, telephone chargers etc. we can buy now now are 12v or 24v.
For a bigger system use high ah 2v batteries connected in series. They are really expensive but worth it in the long run, not only for your purse but for the environment too.
This a 8" j tube about seven years old and it works like a dream but it's not at all pretty so I cover it with crochet pads made from old tee shirts. It's in constant use when it's cold and I've cleaned it out a few times and repaired the cob around the burn chamber twice. I'll finish it one day.
I built it, Fabrice reluctantly built the chimney core and cut and helped with lifting on the old heavy water heater I used to surround the chimney and insulation (Perlite). He didn't believe it would work.
I used an old chimney pot to connect to the barrel which was easy to cut to size and I also cut out an inspection hatch in it. I used the top of the chimney (Which I cut off) to go into the the cob near the barrel and it's used to dry things, warm wine and so on.
Water heater on, burn chamber cobbed in
Experiments with exterior air to burn chamber. I decided that this didn't make much difference the rocketiness and adding another metre to the height of the chimney solved the problem of a good draw.
Second firing, it worked well (inspection hatch covered temporarily until I had cobbed the bench)
Inspection of the joints and cob around the bottom of the barrel after a few burns
Inspection hatch covered with a plate from an old stove
Plan of the workshop. The rayburn heats the water, I preferred to use the rocket for heat only as the pipe run was so long
Just before the pipes exit to the chimney, a boot stash in a dark corner near our back door with a 1 watt LED light which comes on automatically when you come in to take your boots off.
A good clean and repairs to the burn chamber after 5 years
Four dogs, a man, two cats and me and the rest of the dogs are further along the bench...
I'm in South West France with a bit less sun than you have in Ohio and I've several solar systems which I've built up over the years to power our 3000² feet house which almost runs like a "normal" house. All heating is by wood.
In your position, with your needs, I'd buy only 4 x 330 panels and connect them to produce 48v
A 60 amp MPPT controller
8 x 6v batteries (300 - 400ah) and connected in series and parallel to have a 24v bank
What will you use a 3000watt inverter for?
We use a small Victron Phoenix pure sine inverter 750VA which runs our twin tub washing machine, several computers, a Vorwerk vacuum cleaner, printer, sound system, 2.5kms of electric fence, bread machine (Summer only) etc. Our large refrigerator and small freezer (Summer only), telephone and torch charging and all lighting runs directly off 24v.
This system is running on only 800 watts of panels, a PWM 60amp Morningstar controller and a bank of 12 x 2v 620ah 4PzS (Fork lift) batteries which I've never needed to charge.
I can show you photos of wiring, fuses etc. and I'm sure the other posters will help with that too, once you've decided on the elements of your system.
Hans, (Nice to hear your sister's spirit lived on, I hope you got seeds from the plant!) your post reminded me of another perennial plant, Nine Star broccoli. This is really worth growing. In my experience the heads get smaller each year but we usually get five or six good years before the plant is exhausted and keels over. The Cleavers (or sticky willies as we used to call them) climbing through the leaves are also edible and quite yummy.
Yukka or Yucca You can eat any part of this plant which is new growth. I've never tried the huge asparagus like flower shoot (That seems like such an indulgence) but the flowers taste good. These are too far gone to eat but what a beautiful sight. The fruit doesn't ripen in our climate, so I've never tried it.
I planted Canna to use the seeds as a dye but you can also use them for making jewellery, and for shot for catapults etc. They are incredibly hard.
You can also eat all parts of the plant, the new green shoots are OK, or you can cook and eat the roots (We did it only once.) Now we use them to make a sort of arrowroot used in cooking or for adding to deodorants and cosmetics. I usually give the awful job of grating them to somebody else!
Maybe this should be in your next post Daren about perennial root crops but it's difficult when plants are so versatile.
More than two-thirds of my garden is planted with perennials. I have about a third of a hectare of "potager" and my big problem in the spring is finding space for summer annuals and veg.
Here is a small selection of some plants that haven't been mentioned already. I've enclosed photos, so that you can actually see things growing in a real garden rather than in a catalogue.
"Le Chou perpétuel" Perpetual cabbage Daubenton (Brassica oleracea var. Ramosa) totally unaffected by frost and with three or four plants, there's always enough to add to a stir-fry.
Asparagus keeps on giving for years and years if it's fed well. Our oldest crowns must be at least ten years old.
Artichokes, this plant is about five years old and produces beautiful big heads. Behind the are some hops, "Fuggles" which are also perennial and the new growth is delicious - they look and taste just like asparagus with a slightly earthy taste.
Horseradish is a pain in the eyes to grate but the result is fantastic and worth crying for.
Malabar Spinach (On the right) is a climber and will take shade and grow into trees and fences. . It's great in salads (not too much because it's a bit glutinous). It can be cooked like normal spinach. Our plants are about eight years old.
Walking (Or Egyptian) onions. Great in the middle of winter for some fresh onion topping they're bigger than chives (Which are also a fantastic perennial) and even snow doesn't phase them.
Liquorice is easy to grow, although you have to wait a while to harvest the roots but in the meantime, the flowers are lovely.
Apios americana, another climber, nitrogen fixer which has roots that taste nutty, sort of potato but interesting. The flowers are fascinating.
There's also scarlet runner beans, bear's garlic (Ramps), Jerusalem artichokes and hundreds of others......
This is only my experience of using clay to line a pond in very sandy soil, other people may have much better ideas.
In drawing A, the almost pure clay (grey) was laid thick all over the pond bottom and sides and came right up to the edges where it was smoothed by hand to create an impermeable barrier.
Water needs to be in contact with the clay at all times, if it dries out it will crack - even with the addition of lots of animal waste and organic material - and the water will run through to the sand, taking some clay with it, lowering the level and speeding up the loss of water due to cracking. See B
The loss of water and clay led to a situation where there was some clay at the bottom of the pond (As in C) but the level of the water not as high as I would have liked. This stayed stable for a few years which indicated to me that it's possible to clay puddle a shallow pond which is regularly filled with water but if the edges are too straight, in time, the clay will be lost through cracking and move downwards.
It's difficult to say how much clay you'll need without knowing more about the purity if the clay, the size and depth of the pond and what your arrangements are for filling it. Do some experimenting in a small hole and work with the clay for a few weeks to see for yourself.
We've now used concrete to line our pond in sand but if anyone has succeeded in making this work, I'd love to know how you did it and I'm sure Nathanael would too.
Jake Van, here are my answers to your questions about wood stoves.
Those wood stoves are sexy.
They are How consistent is the heat?
Keep adding wood and the best ones run 24/24 Is it easy to control the temperature?
You add more wood, open up the air vents and it gets hot, on better ones you can choose to favour the temperature of the oven or the temperature of the water and also whether you want it to heat the water or the radiators. When you're cooking on a stove, you don't control the temperature, you use it. You need to learn when to open up a vent or move the pan closer to the hot spot or leave it over at the cooler edge but once you have the hang of it you're flying! Where is the best place to source them?
I haven't got a clue for your location but we found ours in a local small ads. Is it better to buy a modern one or try for a classic?
It's depends what you want to use them for. What should you expect to pay?
We paid 1500 euros for ours. Can you use them in the summer or would it be better for an outdoor kitchen?
I sometimes use our in the summer for the oven, to heat the water and when we're doing conserves. Ours has insulated lids, so doesn't give off too much heat when they are down. I would never use a wood stove outside for hundreds of reasons, better to build a rocket oven. They look REAL heavy!
It took four men to lift ours. There's a lot of steel and thermal mass in a good cook stove.
We have almost finished our extension and for cooking, decided on a bottled gas cooktop for summer and a Rayburn.
The Rayburn has got a fast and a slow cooking top, I love cooking on it. We've had thirty people here for a couple of weeks on courses and this and the gas top can handle all the cooking and heats the house really well.
I like things to be multifunctional and this suits our purposes. You can keep things warm, dry clothes, seeds, herbs, warm lambs, dry cast iron things, get candle wax off things, put canned food on top to make it easier to get out of the bottle, warm your bum etc.
You can get six pizzas or two big dishes or a giant turkey into the oven
It heats 400 litres of water and six radiators upstairs. The rooms are toasty warm if all the heating is on but that's not often as we mostly use the rocket heater.
The huge pillars to hold up the upstairs are just behind the Rayburn and the dogs and cats sleep there between it and the other thermal mass of the burnchamber of the old rocket heater.
This is the wood corner where the animals sleep and, just behind the Rayburn, there's the 400l water tank. It's a lovely corner and it's free'd up the rocket bench for us !!
I run a seed exchange association and some kind person gave us them.
When we have unusual plants, I usually keep some and divide the rest between the more experienced gardeners with the promise that they'll let us have seeds next year. All of us had seeds to share the next year, so they're not difficult to propagate.
I too have struck lucky. We found more second-hand units for our back kitchen (In my first post in this thread) and they're almost exactly the same as the ones we were given. Altogether, they cost a couple of afternoon's work and under 100 euros
This is a pull-out bottle thing which fits exactly beside the drawer unit and under the marble counter and is useful for oil and spices :
and these are three units which will be the start of a kitchen island for working on. I also used some silk material that I bought in India in 1974 to make some curtains, the hanging thing in the back window is an experiment :
I'll paint the units dark green and put some nice handles on them and they'll be a brilliant (and easy) storage addition to the kitchen.
All my photos on your new list are big enough. So now, go to the flickr link, then click on the arrow at the right side of each photo, click on the biggest size. When a new window opens, click on download and the photo will be copied to your computer.
Joy, I'm really sorry about the delay and I'm sorry too that the photos you chose are really small - only 800 pixels, as the camera I had at the time was not too hot, so they won't blow up very well.
You can download them here by right clicking on them and copying them to your computer to see what you think....
Chickens and flowers, I could watch them for hours
There's too much grass now for the geese to keep short
The geese visiting the potager in search of fresh grass
Here are a few ideas. (We're in South West France where I imagine it's slightly cooler in summer)
Wall fridge :
In old stone houses, there is often an recessed area under the sink (presumably the water from the sink kept the wall damp and cool) which was used as a space to store food.
I didn't want to live with wet walls so I copied this idea but used a slightly different principle and we made a recess in an uninsulated north wall beside our sink, with an insulated door which makes an effective fridge. (11-14°c in summer, 4-8°C winter)
We have a good sized 22 year old Gram low energy 24v fridge which uses only 3 amps and it doesn't come on very often, so it consumes very little power. We bought it for 350€ about four years ago.
Buy a Capillary Thermostat to convert a freezer :
"This is a great way to do it as the thermostat is not powered so has absolutely zero drain on your solar power. It can work on any AC or DC powered freezer, as it is just acting as a switch.
Put the silver thermostat end in the bottom of the freezer. You can either simply tape it to the side at the bottom and then have the tube come up out of the top of the freezer, or you can drill a hole and insert it into the bottom if you want a neater/better job. Make sure you seal the hole up well afterwards. If you are putting it just out of the top of the freezer you will want to put a little protection around the tube that comes out the top so that you don’t squash it when you close the lid (the digital option below doesn’t have this issue).
Then you simply use the terminals on the thermostat as a switch. You can cut the positive wire on the power cable coming to the freezer and connect the incoming live side to the middle terminal, and the other side going to the freezer to the left hand terminal.
It’s a manual control from 0C so you can set it to the fridge temp you want."
We dug ours on the south side of our house to stabilise a severe slope but it would work better on the shaded north side of a house. We had to cover ours with a gloriette and terrace it on the south side with a lot of shrubs and climbing plants for shade. It works well, wine comes out with condensation on the bottle.
In winter, I still leave things on a table outside in the cold, protected in a big pot.
After growing up as a wild child in the Scottish countryside, then really growing up and having to be well groomed and constantly busy for my job, I especially love coming back to the countryside where I can be myself.
I wear old comfortable clothes, pile my hair into an uncombed bun and start the day deciding what I want to do. I feel that my interior self is more beautiful, rested and aware of the things around me as a result of shedding exterior trappings of success. I have more time to just enjoy what I need and want to do because I don't have to go anywhere, don't have to do so many of the things that I used to resent spending time on.
When people come here, if the house is a mess, the dogs fancy a new lap to sit on, or a cat's sick and I don't rush to clean it up, or kids see chickens copulating or any other things happen which might shock or upset some people, I don't worry, I watch and observe reactions. I see and admire good parenting, respect for animals, calm reactions, fun, humour, joy and at the same time, I see people I really want to be with.
Bryan, our house is also really well insulated, made of straw, brick and stone.
I built a "J" 8" rocket mass heater with about 30 feet of exhaust in our extension just over six years ago. After a few tweaks it works like a dream and it really is one of the most worthwhile things I've ever built - despite all the leg pulling I had to put up with - references to "Encounters of the Third Kind" etc.
Our cleanish workshop/studio is 5x13 metres and there's a room and a bedroom directly above, making a total of 1399 square feet. That whole space is really comfortable if the temperature doesn't drop below about minus 7°c. (19°F) We have included a lot of thermal mass in the house, at strategic points : huge pillars to hold up the two floors of the extension behind the cookstove and near the RMH and the floor itself, insulated underneath with 75cms of glass bottles.
We also have a wood range which heats six radiators and 400 litres of water and I cook on it sometimes to heat the water (and usually don't light the RMH if I'm doing that) but we rarely ever need to put the radiators on except if it's really cold. Sometimes in winter, we've had a couple of weeks of just over zero F, we only used a few radiators, closed the top of the cooker down and the house is toasty warm.
These are some of this year's last pumpkin haul (gathered in just before the frost) curing on the terrace. We've made gallons of soup today but we'll keep the best ones in storage for winter.
Siamese squash (Fig-leaf gourd, Malabar gourd, black seed squash or Cidra) in the wheelbarrow in the photo on the left, can be stored for up to two years. The Queensland Blue on the right can be kept for about five months. The big pear shaped calabashes on the chairs can be cleaned out and used for lampshades, containers etc. We got about a dozen of these this year.
Here's one growing on a pergola.
We've eaten strawberries almost every day since July right up until a few days ago from the kitchen garden - but the frost has put an end to that.
We've also been doing a lot of reorganising and structural work. We've relined the pond at the back of the house with concrete (I've had enough of liners and the soil is very sandy here) and built a retaining wall. The pond is filled from the front roof of the house and a new grey water system we're doing. It will look nice when it's finished !
I've never seen the tree or the black calabash but I've been growing what are described as "calabashes" Lagenaria siceraria, for some years and they're very similar to those and can be used for all sorts of things.
We had kittens a couple of years ago and they played with this one until they left for their new homes, there's another fresh one just behind it (The big green pear).
We're doing a lot of inside jobs at the moment in our new extension. We've been asking around, helping people out and have managed to get a lot of useful stuff.
A free kitchen drawer unit. The drawers close perfectly just with the touch of a knee. (This is a first for me). The marble surround was free too and keeps the back of the gas hob (which we use in the summer) clean and gives me more space around the hob for pots etc. It's not finished yet - I'll be adding more useful things to it.
A free "Vauth Sagel" thing to pull out to reach stuff from in the corner behind our washing machine (Costs about 250€ new) I'm still at the stage that I pull it out just to look at it and smile.
I'm going to combine our two old solar arrays into the same battery bank. I'm doing this on a low budget and buying second-hand batteries is always a risk but I bought 4 of these, really cheap, only a year old but seriously discharged. (I had to use another battery to get the charger to recognise them but one set has been performing beautifully for a few weeks.) I'll join the other two batteries up in parallel once they're balanced, we'll be in business.
I had a small twin tub but it didn't hold much washing and although it was great - especially the spinner - I needed something bigger. (We have six dogs, dye wool and have a messy lifestyle.) This one washes 8 kilos at a time. Second-hand for 30€ (34US dollars). I use solar or wood heated water and use the hot soapy water to wash clean stuff to begin with, then keep washing until I can't find any more dog blankets. It uses very little water and I keep a big rubbish bin next to it for the used water which I then empty with a syphon into the garden around the trees. It uses a maximum of 350 watts, so it's great for frugal off-gridders.
Free windows, doors and patio doors all double glazed and in good condition. Plastic but they'll do for a greenhouse or something or somebody.