Phil Stevens

pollinator
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since Aug 07, 2015
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duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
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Ashhurst New Zealand (maritime temperate - 9b with cool summers)
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Recent posts by Phil Stevens

There's also the magnet test....
15 hours ago
Soap. Plain dish soap works pretty well on scale and because citrus leaves are thick and waxy it won't bother them too much. Reapply after rain and after a few cycles you should see the scale start to drop off. It's most effective on the younger instars, as they haven't developed the hard shells yet, so repeat applications get the population down through attrition. Neem is effective as well but soap is cheaper.
1 day ago
We used a bunch of these to make instant compost bins at our community garden. Great find.
2 days ago
I got to be a stay-at-home dad for nearly two years and that was a truly golden time. Flexibility is great if you can achieve it.
5 days ago
Looks great, Kobus!
5 days ago
To clarify something regarding terminology...when I refer to biochar I am using the IBI definition ( see https://biochar-international.org/faqs/) and I consider any high-quality charcoal made from renewable biomass source material and destined for long-term incorporation in soil, water, or the built environment to be biochar. Whether or not it's inoculated is just an application detail.

I know that there is a sizable community who call it charcoal until it's has some microbial life added to it. I'm going off prior art here and since it's intentionally produced for its climate mitigation attributes plus all the amazing things it does in literally hundreds of real-world applications, I use the term coined for the purpose.
5 days ago
This is a high-tech solution to the integration problem:

http://paladin.co.nz/

We've got one and it keeps us from exporting power to the grid at least part of the time.
5 days ago
Battery storage is very much on the horizon as soon as we have the bulk of the cost paid back, David. I tend to lean toward the long-lived and abuse-tolerant forms of storage that don't require scarce elements to manufacture, so Ni-Fe has always held an attraction. So have flow batteries. We'll see.

The diverter is made by Paladin: http://www.paladin.nz/
  and can be used with any intensive load, including EV charging.
6 days ago
Glad you're back and I hope you're feeling decent again. Covid's not to be messed with. Son and I got it back in October and it put me out of commission for over a month, buggered up the peak of planting season, and since I don't have a "normal" job I didn't log very many billable hours. I was extremely lucky that my wife avoided it and our house is big enough that I could hole up downstairs for a couple of weeks and not expose her.

We are also extremely lucky to have a close-knit community around us in the township. Several friends called and emailed to check in on us. Jay's advice is spot on: get to know your neighbours well enough to call on them (or have them call on you) when push comes to shove. Sort out the mobility and self-care issues that might arise if you were to be on crutches or in a wheelchair for a period.

Keep an eye on your energy levels and take care not to overdo things for a while yet...there's a sting in the tail of this one. And I like your thinking on the chocolate safety margin.
1 week ago
Grid-tied system. 4.4 kWp in 12 360W panels, half on a north-facing roof plane at 15 degree pitch, and the other half facing west at 45 degrees. This gives an elongated peak to the production curve, from noon to about 4 pm, and in the longest days of summer we're still generating at 8 pm. Enphase micro inverters with Envoy grid tie controller. We do net metering and the retailer pays us about 6.5c / kWh and charges 4-5 times that for what we use, so the other piece of the system is an interactive controller to sense whenever the panels are generating more than our aggregate load, and divert that excess to the hot water cylinder to create a thermal battery.

Here is what today looked like:



Good sun most of the time, with some cloudy periods shown by the dips. The blue is generation and the orange is consumption. The grey is import from/export to the grid of the excess in either direction and you can see how in the early afternoon the hot water reached its max (70 degrees) and at that point we started selling to the utility (boo). If the EV hadn't already been fully charged we would have plugged it in around 1 pm and taken advantage of all that juice.

Oh, and the system all up, including installation, was $14K NZ (~ $10K US) in October 2020. We financed it with our savings pool, so no interest.
1 week ago