Thursday, February 25, 2010

raised beds

A motley assortment of raised beds in the garden

This whole area was covered with mud and silt from last summer's flood. It was impossible to remove by shovel. Nearly all the wood chips were washed away as well, so I decided to go with gravel. This should keep the weeds down to a minimum also.

Big cedar logs lined with old newspaper and cardboard. Mulched vegetable scraps, bagged soil and cow manure.

I hope my blackberry bush comes back to life. All the beds have the same newspaper/mulch combo. Might add some more tensioning ropes and make this the cucumber bed, they can climb the ropes and stay off the soil perhaps.

The fugly tires hiding behind fugly crates

Should be able to plant potatoes soon and cover the tires easily in case of frost

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making Juice

The panels are all hooked up to the battery, charge controller and DC-AC inverter.

The wiring board is a plastic storage box with plywood on either side, mounted to the wall.
The DC-AC inverter has no mounting holes so I used chicken wire. Looks almost professional.
Not as nice as a wooden box, but cheaper and easier to install. Note the powerstrip on top.
The battery box may be moved under the floor in the future, or covered with a wooden bench.
Try not to go under 70% of battery capacity, or 70% depth of discharge. This is not a true deep cycle battery, and will last longer with shallower cycling.
I will probably get one more of the same battery; always use matching batteries.

I like to consider this my solid state generator, no moving parts or fuel needed.
I could have gotten a small gasoline generator for what I have spent so far, but prefer this setup.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2 of the new ducks are clearly females, the other is a drake and recently flys over the fence to be with the other 2 males. He will soon be seperated from the females.

It should be time for egg laying soon I hope. Maybe the recent warm spell will induce some activity. I should start to make some nesting boxes soon to be ready.

In farming news I've been dealt a blow. Looks like field #2 is unavailable this year as the neighbors will be using it while constructing a home for their kin on the adjoining field. Wasn't counting on that. Field #1 has been lent out and can't renege on that.

Just put the 'self' back in 'self sufficient'. So...looks like raised beds it is! Some for the garden and maybe some forest farming in the side yard. I'm up for the challenge. I have enough knee-high, 40cm diameter cedar logs to construct several raised beds. These will be stood vertically and lined on the sides and bottom to prevent soil loss. Filling them will be a problem and may have to buy some soil. The money for this will come from not having to service the tiller and have it trucked over here, so it is a push. All of this will force me to do what I should have done originally and focus, focus, focus on my existing resources.

Testing the solar charge controller, battery and everything today. It is an MPPT solar charger, which just means super efficient. Here's about 100watts running. No problem in full sun (9amps), but a big problem at night. This would run down the battery in about 3-4hrs. I intend to only use about 60 watts worth of CFL's or 15 watts or so of LED's.

However by using LED lights, the battery power will last many nights. But 5 of these lamps cost the same as another deep-cycle battery, which should be added to the system anyway. LED's will last for 10 years or more. While testing I used CFL bulbs from the kitchen, some were marked 1/05 by me, so are now 6 years old!

Eventually the controller and inverter will be housed in it's own cabinet in the screen porch with the battery bank in an insulated box underneath.