“Make your own composting toilet using a 55 gallon drum, peat-moss and a few other items.”
This mini documentary is a bit rough because it’s old and grainy and in German (narration) and French with English subtitles, but it is worth watching because of the amazing energy innovation it shows.
“Jean Pain – A French innovator who developed a compost based bio energy system that produced 100% of his energy needs. He heated water to 60 degrees celsius at a rate of 4 litres a minute which he used for washing and heating. He also distilled enough methane to run an electricity generator, cooking elements, and power his truck. This method of creating usable energy from composting materials has come to be known as Jean Pain Composting, or the Jean Pain Method.”
This video follows Greg Willerer of Detroit Dirt and Brother Nature Produce in Detroit who is trying to help build a viable food system in Detroit. As part of those efforts he’s trying to create a local compost network (he’s involved breweries, coffee houses and even the Detroit Zoo — all of whom give the project their waste).
Chris Towerton, in Australia, shows us an experimental compost heater he build to provide heat for at least two hours per day for up to 9 weeks. He’s using his system to heat one room in his house with a hot water radiator.
Happily, he talks in detail about what he did – so if you’re interested in doing something similar, this is a good starting point.
Helpful here too are Chris’ comments about how long the process took to ramp up, how long the effects lasted, etc.
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.
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.
This is a treasure trove of information about vegetables and vegetable growing. If you don’t live in Texas you’ll benefit from the general information, if you live in Texas or in the same region you’ll be able to take advantage of the region-specific information they give.
Vegetables covered in detail are artichokes, asparagus, beets, carrots, cilantro, “cole crops” (broccoli, cabbage, etc.), collards, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, melons, okra, onions, peppers, Irish potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips and mustard. There are also guides for fruit and herb growing.
Other topics include composting, disease management, fertilizing, harvesting and handling, insect control and so on. There is a variety selector that divides Texas up into regions and shows you good selections for each area along with days to harvest for each vegetable and variety.
I noticed that they list both conventional and organic insecticides in the insect control documents, though I thought they might have written about methods like companions planting as controls for insects. So, they don’t offer a wealth of info on organic gardening, but if you’re just getting familiar with the plants, this collection is a good starting point.
Oh, don’t want to forget, they offer a link to a journal article by George Washington Carver, the great American horticulturalist, entitled “How the Farmer Can Save His Sweet Potatoes and Ways of Preparing them for the Table.”
These are high quality PDFs that you can download and print, even use to create your own reference binder.