Danny Rhodes of Desert Fungi in Velarde, New Mexico gives us a detailed tour of his greenhouse mushroom farm operation. I found the wet wall/swamp cooler system he rigged to control the temperature in his mushroom growing greenhouse in the summer especially interesting. Danny produces between 100-150 lbs of Oyster, Shiitake, and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms per week, most of which he sells at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and direct to local restaurants.
This video (in English, despite the title in Russian which translates as ‘house build from tires’) takes a look at “Earthship” houses in New Mexico. The houses are designed to be stand-alone, self-sufficient, off-grid units.
In this case, the “Earthships” have thick walls that allow for passive solar heating formed from rammed earth in recycled automobile tires. Empty aluminum cans and glass bottles also provide filler for the walls.
The thick walls can store so much solar heat that the inside temperature is easily a stable 70 F without additional heating, even on freezing days.
So, heating = solar passive via thick walls and window siting, energy via solar panels and wind turbines, water and waste = special filtration and septic systems.
The following videos feature a small (800 sq ft) “hybrid” house built by designer Ted Owens in Corallis, New Mexico, near Albuquerque. His house uses post and beam construction (he got the lumber from salvage yards and home renos), straw bale and adobe with mud used as plaster. The house draws its electricity from photovoltaic solar panels.
The house also uses sunlight, heavy materials (adobe walls and concrete floors) and shifts in temperature (passive solar concepts) to keep the inside temperatures comfortable. Windows are also carefully placed to maximize comfort in the house.
Mikey and Wendy live on an off-grid, homestead in New Mexico (see their Holy Scrap Homestead blog). As such, they were looking for more efficiency from their appliances. Mikey has come up with a temperature controller that has allowed them convert a small chest freezer into a refrigerator and so downsize from their full-size fridge that cost them a lot in energy and was underutilized.
The temperature controller can also be used to regulate temperature for stuff like tempeh and yoghurt making, incubation, heat pads, raising bread dough, and controlling the temperature on simple crockpots and on hot plates for tasks like candy-making. There are a lot of possible uses.
The design and instructions on how to build it are “open source” in other words, free, off his website but he also sells kits to build it yourself and already completed units from there, as well.
Here is Mikey talking about the controller and what he was able to do with it. BTW, I don’t know Mikey or Wendy and they haven’t asked me to blog this. Just stumbled across this and thought it should be shared.
Here’s Wendy making yoghurt using the device:
Wendy using the temperature controller to make tempeh: