The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the category “agriculture”

How to Germinate Apple and Pear Seeds Quickly and Easily

Note that apples don’t grow true to seed, so if you planted a seed from a Mackintosh apple you won’t get a tree that produces Mackintosh apples.

Biogas System

This is the best small farm biogas system video I’ve seen so far.

As with many other useful technologies, we don’t hear much about biogas in this part of the world while it’s being rolled out extensively in the developing world and is a technology that could be universally useful.

Here a small farmer, Edward, in Uganda shows us his underground biogas system. It’s actually pretty elaborate and if maintained properly, he says should last about 70 years.

Edward keeps cows and sheep but seems to just use the cow’s dung and urine for the biogas system. He says that he mixes one part dung and one part water or urine and lets this mixture drop into a digester.

From the digester the digested solids and gas are separated in an underground dome (7 feet deep and 14 feet across).

From there the gas is piped into the farm house to the stove (which looked pretty much like a normal propane stove to me) and to fuel one gas lamp (which I found produced very dim light, but before they probably had no light at night or used kerosene lamps, so for them it’s a huge improvement).

The digested solids, now good for use as fertilizer/compost, drain out into a kind of pond area.

Edward notes that the covers to all of the biogas system access points are very heavy concrete to prevent children or vandals from fiddling around with them and either falling into the dome to their deaths or letting the precious biogas escape.

As he shows us his biogas system, Edward also points out his 10,000 liter rain water collection cistern.

Note that this system only uses waste from livestock but that other systems would also use humanure.

John Njendahayo, a Ugandan engineer, explains more about this kind of domed biogas system. Cue the following video to 4:25 where he starts to talk about the system itself. He covers the sizing of the systems, the relationship of input to output and what you can run on the biogas (including a modified paraffin fridge).

The system uses dome shapes so that none of the gas gets trapped in corners as it would in a rectangular digester. He notes that the reason for burying the digesters is to keep the temperature constant for the bacteria.

Here he talks about being able to sell the compost the digester produces as fertilizer and about needing to clear the pipes of condensation and how the gas is piped into the house.

Raising Heritage Pigs

Wendy Parker of Heritage Farms Northwest in Dallas, Oregon talks about pasture farming heritage hogs (red wattle hogs and American guinea hogs).

Raising Guinea Pigs for Meat

A couple in Queensland, Australia talk about keeping guinea pigs for meat. They decided on guinea pigs because they had limited space and keeping rabbits in Queensland is illegal. They eat the males and keep one male and females for breeding (they have about 20 guinea pigs). They have plans to set up an aquaponics system that would incorporate droppings from their guinea pigs.

Here are details on raising guinea pigs for food, how to set up a herd and living spaces for the pigs, how to sex and breed them, etc. from Lisa F.

Food Forest Garden in Oregon

Jon Kohler takes us through a food forest garden just outside of Portland, Oregon.

How to Make a Worm Composting Bin

simplelivingskills shows us how to make a simple, inexpensive, indoor worm composting bin:

Liz of BigTexWorms gives us the low-down on how to care for the worms, how best to prepare their food, bedding, etc. Liz has got to know everything about red wriggler worms.

Seed Saving and Heirloom Seeds

Jeremiah “Jere” Gettle, the founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds talks about his seed bank in Petaluma, California, seed saving, heirloom seeds and biodiversity.

Forest Garden 411

Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust talks about the Forest Garden he planted at Schumacher College, Dartington, South Devon, United Kingdom over 14 years ago.

Forest gardening is an interesting (and new to me) concept – that in temperate climates uses a young forest as a model. Martin explains that in conventional farming/gardening we use a lot of energy just to keep the land from going to back to the wild state it wants to get back to. Using the forest model, he says that very little energy goes into that kind of policing and so forest gardening ends up being much more low-maintenance than other forms of farming.

Forest gardens allow you to grow a mix of food and medicinal plants (for example, nut trees, fruit trees, herbs, vegetables, etc.). He says you may grow up to 200 species of plants in any one forest garden.

Here is a closer look at a food forest garden planted by Robert Hart in the UK.

Cheesemaking in the City

Portland, Oregon resident, Claudio Lucero shows us her work as a cheesemaker and how it connects with local dairy farmers.

Urban Cheesecraft from Etsy on Vimeo.

Growing Grain On Your Farm to Combat High Grain Prices

Learn about what Organic Dairy farmers in Vermont are doing to combat high grain prices by growing their own grains.

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