Brian White

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since Jul 24, 2010
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Recent posts by Brian White

I don't eat Scorzonera  much now  but it is a very nice perennial root vegetable. Parboil to solidify the rubbery white juice then scrape off the black skin, slice up and finish cooking. Lovely flavour.  How is it perennial?, Just leave about an inch of root under the green top when you harvest it  replant that little thing and the root will regrow! If you don't get round to harvesting this year,  there is always next year.   Ideally on sandy soil because the roots are very long.  Good king henry is a superior spinach substitute.  Has to be cooked and  Tastes similar to nettles or to New Zealand spinach.  Welsh onions are a non bulbing onion. great for green salads or soups,  cut them about an inch above the ground every 2 weeks in summer and they regrow and multiply. I grow them under my runner beans in the shade in my "bean boat".  Prolific! and sometimes in mild winters they provide greens late on and earlier in spring.  In the dry climate here in Victorian summers,  watering is key.    
3 months ago
I did this on a small scale for a couple of years and this is the first time I tried it with a decent sized pond.   It's been working well so far.  The waterfleas process the pond water that comes into the tank and they produce hordes of babies (too small for the fish to eat)  that get washed into the pond and these babies also feed on algae until they become big enough for the fish to consume.   Also some adult waterfleas (Daphnia which used to be sold as fish food) get washed in to the pond too, also some shrimp end up as fish food.    It has been a good system so far.  
Brian white        
5 months ago

Mario Lazetti wrote:@Brian White.
I wanted to take the time to say thank you for all the information you freely share on your research. In the past month I have come across your comments and videos for 3 unrelated topics and you helped me understand each one better. Cheers

Thanks,  you are welcome.   I'd love to go back into this stuff,  but you really have to fight so hard to get people to try it. 2 groups researched the pulser pump (Trompe powering an airlift pump)  in colleges (in Canada and in England).  Both made models smaller than what I made and both screwed up.  If you don't size your airlift pipes so that you have "plug flow" you will get crap efficiency.   If you don't use a constriction,  (I just used the hole in a bead to even out the flow of air from the trompe to the airlift pump), you will also get crap efficiency.   The second group used 1 trompe to power 2 airlift pumps.  I advised them and helped them size the trompe and the airlift pumps and told them to use 2 adjustable air valves  (the ones for getting the air flow right for the airstones in fish aquariums) between the trompe and the 2 airlift pumps.  They dispensed with the air valves because they didn't understand why they were needed!!! and they got and reported efficiencies of about 1%.  So,  I got "peer review" but it was sabotaged by stupidity.    When you don't use valves,  all the air goes to one airlift pump and you get annular flow in that one and hardly any pumping! And no air going to the second airlift pump at all.   Its kind of like having a short circuit in an electrical system.    I'm sure trompes have a place in the world but the only way to have people understand them is to have  a working trompe made of see through material in  an alternative energy demonstration.  It doesn't need to be very big.   a meter deep,  300 liters per minute of water through it,  and a head of half a meter will work just fine and can run a few rows of NFT greenhouse tomatoes or something like that.  All with no moving parts.  I have used mini airlift pumps for about 5 years in my garden to recirculate water in planters.   It works well but nobody else tries it.   I have even made compost tea "breweries  where the airlift circulates water through the compost to rot it way quicker and make huge amounts of compost tea.   Very little interest.  I don't know why.  
1 year ago
 I made a boat planter and I used a cement sand clay mix to waterproof it.  so that the bottom of the planter holds water for the plants.  It took a few years to find a cement sand clay mix that did the job,  so I like that you give a mix with lime in it. because any hairline cracks might seal themselves due to lime dissolving in the slowly leaking water    webpage      

Erik Rowberg wrote:

Phil Stevens wrote:Hi Erik - I've been working with different lime plaster variants but haven't tried adding clay to the mix. What sort of proportions do you use, and have you added pozzolans of any sort? It looks fantastic in the photos. How often do you limewash it?

clay- sand- lime- wood ash   4-6-1-0.25

wood ash we just started using on the last roof.

i am adding limewash every year for now.

3 years ago
Back in the 80's when I lived in Ireland we had a wood burning stove going up a masonry chimney.  I pumped air down through a 1 inch steel pipe  that I put down the chimney and it connected  to another pipe that came  out an unused hotplate and into the room. I think it was probably 6 to 10 liters per minute of very low pressure air.  (I used the air from a trompe in a stream.  It was probably about 1 or 2 psi (not more).  It was remarkable how long it kept the room warm after the fire went out.  (It stole heat from the chimney and put it into the living room).  A marine 200 air pump is probably too small to do this (only 3 liters per minute)  but one of the larger pumps, probably 7 or 11 liters per minute would perhaps do the trick.  My chimney went in horizontally and then straight up, so I had a maybe 2 ft piece of the 1 inch  at the bottom going horizontally with a short right angle bend on it and the one from the roof attached onto it. It worked great but the air from the stream was smelly.   If you had one of those aquarium air pumps in your attic or maybe in the living room if it isn't too noisy,  That sent air up to the top of the chimney you could have it come on when the wood stove got hot, and then turn off when the chimney had finally given out all its waste heat. I don't recall the heat of the stream of warmed air but something in the region of  70 to 90 centigrade was probably the range.   I might still have pictures and numbers.   But it wasn't a proper experiment.  I was stupider then,  didn't think to use an aquarium air pump to run the heat thief.   Brian  
3 years ago
Why not a small gravitational vortex in a rain barrel?  It is way simpler than a waterwheel.  you only need 2 to 4 vanes on the shaft to harness the power.   The original  viking and Roman water wheels were horizontal and nobody really knows how efficient they were.  Some may have had a bit of a vortex going.    I thought permaculture was partly about reducing complexity in power systems.   If so,  the vortex is a far simpler system than a waterwheel.    
4 years ago
You need half a meter of head or more for any reasonable trompe system. I ran something on 8 inches of head at one stage but that is just a waste of time. I have no idea where Bruce Leavitt got the idea that it needs 4 ft of head to run a trompe. And in his video, he has way over complicated air en training into a 4 inch down pipe. A half inch pipe down the middle of the 4 inch pipe that goes about 6 inches down at the entry is all that you want or need. Here is the largest pulser pump that I made. (pictures) pulser pump pictures

Ty Morrison wrote:Brian:

You are on to something there...but that still needs measurable head pressure that is sure to get noticed on a flat ditch. Could it be submerged in a total depth of 1/2 meter with siphon outflow at the base? I think i could do a divot in the stream bottom that would not get noticed...hmmm

4 years ago
I'm not sure there is a way out of the storage issue. Ponds, I guess. There is another alternative "pump" that I think has super potential for low head sites. I would bet that a gravitational vortex could be made in a rain barrel at a little dam and attached directly to a water pump or to a cam to make low pressure air. (I think probably up to 5 or 10 PSI but that is a bit of a guess) Gravitational vortex is something that is very simple yet nobody tries it. Everyone loves ram pumps, and they have great efficiency but they are strictly for medium head / low volume power sources. The available sources for energy (world wide) are mostly medium to low head and high volume). I made a mini gravitational vortex to demonstrate its unusual behavior a few years back. One beautiful thing is that if you remove the power draw, the vortex gets higher. (It stores some energy within the chamber). If people made them and tried to use them to pump water and to compress air on the 300 to 600 liters per minute and half to one meter head range, we could have some data and new ideas. I find the gravitational vortex very interesting. (the solar panel stuff is probably not so relevant in the video).

Ty Morrison wrote:Brian Whites design is interesting and relevant to this discussion thread. In fact I am still surprised.

I am really surprised at the dearth of info on pumps on Permies. Aside from getting water with your property, how to move it seems to be the next big thing that we deal with in design. Not everyone will be so fortunate as to have a site on a slope from top to bottom with enough 'head' to make a RAM pump work. So what's left? Grid driven electric? Fuel driven electric? Solar driven electric? Hand power? Gravity?

What I have discovered is that a RAM pump is pretty cool, but takes at least 18 inches of head pressure to run, And then, very slowly. This means that a storage tank or basin will be required in addition to 'head' Or you will need to use a water wheel of some sort. In Boise there is a lifting wheel design on display that was used years ago before electricity. Nothing else?

Windmills, manual or electric? This means storage too.

Screws, Siphon, Sprials...the Rife River Pump (no successful copies by DIY yet. No testimony by Permies on these either! Still storage issue.

I guess this is one of those places where electricity driven pumps is the most AT?


4 years ago
That is a good contribution, Joseph! Barbara's are in the ground and these ones of mine are in a pot and they are the first to grow, but I do have other tubers that are still alive in the ground. Some rotted earlier in the year and the woodlice seem to be the main enemy. . I have had over wintering runner beans come back in Ireland in the ground, and here too, but never had any meaningful production from them. But I have seen barbs and they were still producing lots in late september, while now they already have baby beans on them! I would love to know what the trigger is for them to start growing again. Maybe heat or longer days, I don't know.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I don't have anything to contribute to the discussion about overwintering runner bean tubers. However, something growing in a pot has radically different growing conditions than something growing in the ground.

4 years ago
I grow "stringless" runner bean varieties. I love the productivity of these little beasts. If you keep the plant watered and you keep picking pods before the beans get big inside you can get months of production. Both in Ireland and in Canada, some of the runner bean "tubers" overwinter. But the success rate for me has been fairly low. I do now know why. Maybe only one in 5 survived the winter. Many tubers rotted or got devoured by woodlice. Why? Just up the road from me Barbara has beans from tubers that have already set flowers and have baby runner beans growing fast. Mine have just put up their first shoots. How are hers so much earlier? I have runner beans in flower from seed, I saw humming birds visit them today, but the other guys (from tuber) have barely moved. BUT there are 4 or 4 shoots coming from one tuber. Can we divide it to make 5 plants?
and here is the tuber , it only came out of hibernation last week but now it seems to be growing furiously. Anyone know how to wake them up much earlier, Like Barbara's beans?
4 years ago