Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wayfaring Wanderer: Share the Love : A "Green" Giveaway

Wayfaring Wanderer: Share the Love : A "Green" Giveaway

I came across this blog while I was searching for like-minded folks and thought I would make another list of my five PROs and five CONs when it comes to being green.

5 things that I do to be greener or eco-friendly:

1: I was a Navy Photographer for 20 years and I saw how many chemicals are use and disposed of during the photographic process and now I am completely digital. I may still do a little photographic printing by I mostly share my images over the internet or in book form.
2: I have started to notice that people in my neighborhood have an abundance of fruit trees growing in their yards and for the most part the production is either allowed to spoil on the limb or rot on the ground. A gentle request goes a long way in being able to pick the excess and share.
3: The easy one is working in the garden... it provides exercise, produces a crop and I can control what goes into my food. 
4: Sharing what my garden produces and not asking anything in return. You would be surprised at how good that can make you feel.
5. This year I think the greenest think that I did was voting. Not just for a change in the government but also to voice as part of a nation what IS IMPORTANT!

5 things that I do that aren't so green friendly:

(I am cheating a bit here because I used most of these as part of my comment on the Wayfaring Wanderer blog.)

1. I need to figure out a way to use less paper at work, even with recycling it still seems like a waste.

2: I need to remember to turn off the TV when I am not in the room.
Leaving it on just so I don't feel like I am at home alone is a stupid reason. 
3: I don't need to buy the little individual serving size potato chip packages, a large bag of chips is better for the environment and I can portion out a serving in a reusable container for a lunch or a snack.
4: I can pack myself  a lunch rather than DRIVING to the fast food place for a greasy burger and fries.
5: This is the one that I am guilty of but am trying to CURE myself of this habit. A t-shirt, a pair of underwear and a pair of socks is NOT a load of laundry.

This one falls into both categories... I like buying stuff in bulk (PRO) but if I let it go out of date or spoil before using it is not a great way to safe money or protect the environment.

Remember that we should help our friend and neighbors when we can, use sites like Craigslist and local recycling sites... REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE





Another very good day...


Today is a very good day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and I got my new Envirocycle Composter delivered.

My partner (Ron) and I went out to breakfast and to get gas in the Honda Fit. The Gas light was lit saying I was almost out and to fill up was only $20.25. That is the cost of driving a little over 220 miles and I am still ecstatic about that. In my old Toyota Tundra pick-up I was spending almost $80.00 for the same distance. Funny what lower gas prices and higher MPG does to a person’s outlook.

As we were rounding the corner to the house I was saying, “Please, please, let there be a package on the porch” and there was. The composter was delivered by FedEx Ground and came in one large carton. Unpacking was simple and nothing to assemble. I took one of our weekly throw-away magazines (The San Diego Weekly Reader) and I shredded the black and white pages. I am trying to stay away from the colored ink pages and the glossy pages to keep thing a little healthier for the soon to be garden soil. 

The next addition was my stockpile of kitchen waste that I have been storing in the refrigerator. The majority of the kitchen scraps have been run thru the food processor to speed up the composting process. But things like the apple peels and cores from last night’s home made apple pie went in whole. There seems to be enough liquid in the mix to give the final mass the water consistency of a wrung out sponge. A couple of turns on the built-in rollers of the Enrivocycle and everything was well mixed.

The other think to be happy about today is that I was given permission by the neighbor to pick some fruit some the tangerine tree that overhangs his yard. My neighbor on the other side had a couple of stokes this last year and doesn’t get around as well as he used to. In the past he would be the one picking the fruit and then leaving a bag on my doorstep. Today I was able to return the favor and will try to do again in a few days as well. It is surprising on how a small act of kindness can make you feel inside.

I have yet to add the tangerine peels to the composter, everything I have read says that you have to be careful with the amount of citrus peeling you add to keep from shifting the PH levels to much in the final product.

Reduce, reuse and recycle.




video

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The CRUSH is on...

     Today was end of the season garden clean up day. I decided it was time to trim up the grapevines and was really surprised at the amount of grapes still on the vines. They ranged from very small and hard to basically raisins. Not being one to waste prompted a quick internet search. So today I am making wine.

     As with all of my Internet recipes I only use it as a starting point to get the basics and then go from there. I took all of my grapes and soaked them in a large bowl with cold water to encourage all of the “The Guests” to leave. I am trying to make wine here, not BUG juice. After removing the larger stems I ran the grapes thru the food processor to a course chop. I ended up with almost a quart of  “wine starter”. Next I took 1 cup of water and brought it to a boil along with 2 cups of sugar. When everything was dissolved that was set aside to cool to room temp. Again my impatience raised its head again and a tray of ice cubes hurried that along. In another container I dissolved two teaspoon of dry active yeast in 2 cups of warm water. Everything was loaded into a large glass container along with another 13 cups of water to bring the total water to a gallon. The top was covered with three layers of plastic wrap and tied in place with twine. This was placed in the cabinet about the dryer, a cool dark place and its future home for the next few weeks.

     I was surprised to see how quickly everything has started to work. Within 2 hours of combining everything I was able to look at the mixture and watch it churn and bubble. The plastic wrap has extended to a tight skin and now I just wait for the process to continue. I did make sure to inform my partner about “the experiment” so he wouldn’t freak out if he opened the cabinet door and see something growing in there.

      A recap on the recipe is:

1 quart crushed fruit (in my case, end of the season grapes)

2 cups sugar dissolved in 1 cup water (dissolved completely)

2 teaspoon of dry activated yeast in 2 cups of warm water

13 cups of water

     Combine everything in a clean vessel and seal to keep stuff out and fermenting stuff and smells in. Wait until the MAGIC stops and then filter, bottle, let everything settle and then re-bottle.

     As this is my first foray into wine making since I was a kid at home with my mom I will be interested to see how things work. I expect the process to take about 2 to 3 weeks for the MAGIC part and will update from there.

     I have told folks in the past that I grew grapes and they always asked if I made wine. Now I can answer with a resounding YES!

     Other things on the horizon include a new ENVIROCYCLE composting system and work on the garden. I recently celebrated a birthday and received a few books on gardening, Living Like Ed and a couple of windmill books so look for an explosion of activity. 

     Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CSA's, composting and other things

Here it is the start of November and I realize just how lax I have been in keeping everyone up-to-date with life in San Diego. 

I have recently joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) after hearing about them on Planet Green. 

What is a CSA? In my case it was trying a 4-week trial plan to see if I would like to be a supporter of a local farming co-op and share in the seasonal crops that they produce. When you go pick up your weekly “SHARE” it is like Christmas and opening a present. You don’t know what you are going to be getting but you know it will be fresh, seasonal and organic. I am into the second week of the trail and I will probably not continuing with it. In theory it is a great program, in reality I have gotten a lot of vegetables and fruits that I wouldn’t normally buy. I have had the opportunity to try things that haven’t been in my personal menu before and I doubt that they will make it in the future. 

Some of the things that I have enjoyed are the organic apples and pears. It is surprising to find the different that an apple has when it hasn’t been polished and waxed to shipping to a store. The radishes have been great and the various greens have been an adventure into the salad world. 

On the other side of the coin, the avocados, while very tasty, all seemed to “ripen” on the same day and what do you due when your bounty is over-flowing. My co-workers have reaped those benefits. I am working with a large group of vegan and semi-vegans so that does give me an outlet for unwanted or over-abundance items. Fresh dates and collard greens were a big hit, with the group. Pomegranate was also received well. 

Will all of this new vegetable scraps have come a renewed interest in composting. My ultimate goal would to get a solar powered self rotating compost drum but as of right now I am using an old 55 gallon storage bin or directly burying the scrap into the garden. 

I use a recycled zipper type storage bag and keep the “extras” from trimming veggies in the freezer. Once a week I will run them through the blender to break the pieces up to speed up the breakdown. I also strain the blended mix and use the resulting liquid as a “tonic” for my various potted patio plants. On occasion I will bury the pulp mixture into one corner of my raised bed as a treat for every diligent earthworms, you know you have to keep these little buggers happy. 

 This was a rebuilding year for the garden. I removed a wooden walkway and replaced it with concrete pavers. It is much easier to maintain and I done have to worry about water issues and termites. I have also replaced my raised bed. I am working on enriching my soil so that I can get my garden to be a useful addition to the “homestead”. 

The last thing to mention was the change from a 2001 Toyota Tundra pickup that got a normal 12-14 mpg to a 2008 Honda Fit that gets an average 23 mpg. Short trips and a hill between home and work account for the low mpg rating but I feel so much better. I do occasionally miss having a pickup for getting large items but I can carry 8 foot 2X4 and 2X6 lumber in the car with no trouble. The big items that don’t fit are just things that I guess I really don’t need. 

Well, I will end for now but will try to be better at updates in the future. Reduce, reuse and recycle and have a great day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green in SD - The infection is spreading...

I have been sharing my view on wind power and such with friends and family and I have come to an interesting conclusion. My brother stated it the best and said that I am spreading an infection. My brother says that he is hooked… he doesn’t have the time to do anything about it but his mind is going strong with ideas and input for me. He will call and give me his ideas about what would be a good blade design or ask me questions about this output or that.

I have to laugh because my brother and my father have a much better background for working with electricity and wiring to get a wind turbine up and running. My dad has the training as an electrician and a mechanic, he has been into ham radios his entire life and has built radios from kits and has built his own home from the ground up.

My brother is a computer repairman and works with electricity and such. He has a wonderful outbuilding shop that would make a great staging area. I like to kid him and tell him that a wind turbine would be a great Father/Son project and even a better 3-generation event for my dad, my brother and his kids. His reply is that everything he reads about the magnets he would have to use would end up with someone in the family having less fingers than they started with. It doesn’t matter than I asked him how much money he would need to make a working wind turbine.

I am still working towards a working windmill/wind turbine that will give me enough power to at least give me light. My first attempt does produce power but it is currently not in a usable level. I think the windmill looks great and the tail makes it track and follow the wind so at least on that level it is a success.

My drive and enthusiasm is still in place and very much burning like the embers in a fire. I just need to keep working on getting the right fuel to get a fire going. I am finding some very interesting things on the internet and am may be getting close to purchasing some of the main components but wrapping coils and making a stator and setting magnets and making a rotor or two still seem intimidating.

One of the websites that probably gets me the most excited is Large 17’ Homebrew Wind Turbine. There are a lot of other sites but this one seems to capture the ultimate goal. It may be a little ambitious but what are dream for other than to stretch and try to reach them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My First Windmill -- SPIN TEST

Hello from San Diego California.

 

I decided to see what I could do about making electricity from the wind on a homemade scale. After searching the Internet I came up with many great links and such.

This first windmill is an ornamental eight-foot tall kit that I got from Amazon.com. I purchased this after my trip with Ron up the coast to Moro Bay. Monterey, San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe. I take very little wind to male it spin and with the tail fin it easily keeps the blade into the wind.

This is my next step into wind turbine energy. At this time my wind turbine doesn’t produce any power but it should when completed, in theory anyways. The DC motor came from a treadmill that I got off of Craigslist.com in the FREE section. In truth, I have been working on this turbine for quite a few months and sort of had a breakdown as far as the next step. The original blades were wooden and shaped with a belt sander but didn’t have enough “lift” to catch a breeze. It has been resting behind my sofa in that incarnation for a few months but that changed today. The new blades were cut from a section of PVC pipe. If you look closely at the video you can see that it took a couple of tries to get the right angle as seen by the extra holes drilled into the blades. The wind turbine is temporarily mounted to the roof of the patio pergola with clamps. The eventual mounting will be via a 1” pipe sleeve over a 1/2” pipe that is connected to our backyard patio cover. A tail fin will be attached as well and then this windmill/turbine should also keep its head into the wind.

 

I have also been looking at working on the micro level as well and have recently been acquiring old VCRs and printers to remove some of the small step motors and gears. With just the twist of my wrist I am able to light an LED with no problems. The next step for that is working out a propeller/blade configuration that will work with the smaller scale parts.

 

I will keep you posted as to progress and new endeavors. Stay safe and be eco-smart.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A little about myself...

My first Blog

Hello and welcome to GREEN IN SD.

I have thought about what it means to GO GREEN for a long time, even before it was the politically correct thing to do. I grew up with the upbringing that you could do anything you set your mind to and that NEW doesn’t mean BETTER. 

I am the third of six kids and had two loving parents that believed in us. College was encouraged but it wasn’t set as the goal, only a step to reach our potential if we decided to follow that path.

My journey included two years at the University of Arkansas. My plan was to work on the Pre-veterinary program and then apply to a Veterinary School. I developed very poor study habits in high school, even thought I was an honor grad. Lets just says that my first choice didn’t work out and I change or re-aligned my next career site on commercial art. 

With no improvement in study habits I set out on my third option and joined the U. S. Navy as a photographer. Twenty years in and an honorable retirement later and I am were I am today.

I work as a receptionist in a veterinary clinic so I got close to my first dream job. My partner told me after I retired from the Navy that I should do something now that I enjoyed rather than what could make the most dollars in my pocket. That is why I also have kept my toes in the pool so to speak with my website… http://members.cox.net/sdpetportraits/Site/Welcome.html

I grow a garden in my back yard and have grape vines, and avocado tree grown from a pit that finally has fruit on it, a raised planting pet with sunflowers (for the bees), pole beans, green peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, garlic, watermelon and apple gourds right now. The garden is always changing and growing but nothing tastes better than eating something fresh from the garden.

I am addicted to Green Planet on cable, Ed Bagley Jr. is my hero, I have a need to figure out how to make my own electricity with either wind or solar power. I am always spending time on the INSTRUCTABLES website and Google already knows what key phrases I search for… homemade wind power or turbine. I also have my lifetime subscription to Mother Earth News. 

I am starting out small and working with DC motors, one is from an old treadmill and another is from an old cordless drill. Also looking into stepper motors from a printer/scanner but that brings in the whole other issue of building an inverter to handle the power. 

I will try to update weekly with what is going on at the homestead and until then please read and reply. Questions, tips and advice are always welcome. Thanks

 

Thom