Friday, June 28, 2013

Do you want to eat Local?

You get to eat three times a day, Sometimes even more often than that!

Your best bet, to eat local...

And this is where you can find your local farms

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How big and spread out should a swale be?

I was contemplating some of the swales that Geoff Lawton, The Prince of Permaculture, builds. 
He is building these things 2 yards wide and 3 feet deep.

And I was thinking, "Man, that is just way too big. Can't I just build one that is, oh, maybe a foot wide and six inches deep?"

So, I did the math. Now here in Central Texas, we have a problem of too much or too little rain. Rarely do we get a consistent rain of an inch per week for the months of summer.

It is not uncommon for it to rain like crazy for five minutes and leave behind a half inch of rain.

It is also not uncommon that it can rain for five hours solid and dump 4 inches of rain, and then not rain for two months.

A half inch of rain? That isn't going anywhere. It will wet the top 4 inches of soil.

But the 4 incher? Most of that is going down to the river.

This is where the swale come in.

In five hours, I would expect that one full inch of water will seep into the soil. But three of that will travel downhill.

To catch this in a swale, you need  a cubic foot of swale for every four square feet above the swale.

So if you have 30 feet between swales, you need 30 / 4 cubic feet of "ditch" in the swale. In this case, roughly 7.5 cubic feet of ditch. So here in CTX, I might place swales 30' apart, and make them 1.5' deep and 5' wide.

The general equation would be H x W = d / 4 where H is the height, W is the width and d is the distance between swales. The further apart the swales, the larger they should be.

I would also add that H = W / 2. This is a good rule of thumb I think.

For the math geeks out there, this makes W = sqrt(d/2) and H = W/2;

This will catch nearly all of the largest rains that we have here in CTX.
And rian bigger than this is something that we would only get every few years, and I would only want to design for biggest rain likely in a year.

For a 1/4 acre getting 24 inches of rain per year, that comes to 163,000 gallons of water that you get in a dry year. I think that is a useful quantity of water. Of course we average 30 inches, and our low is probably about 15 inches in a calendar year, but even when we got 15", we got it in 3"+ spurts.
You have got to keep that water on your property.

Note, if you have some yards uphill from yours that drain into yours, then you have a bonanza on your hands, and I would increase the size of the swales to take in that acreage that drains through your backyard.

Site location is important. Design is also important.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Birds and the beeswax

I was at the local craft store looking for some glycerin soap for a soap project. Right next to it was the candle making section. I love candles, sort of. And I noticed that they had wax there. This is a good things since that is what candles are made of. Well, there were two waxes there. One is the old oil based paraffin, the other is beeswax. Both blocks of wax cost $16. But the Beeswax was 1 lb, and the paraffin was 2 lbs. Hmm, said I. How hard can it be to get the beeswax from the hive and turn it into a product?

Turns out that it is simple...

stage 1 - pulling the wax out of the beehive trimmings.

1. put big pot of water on to the heat. Place all the comb into the water. Wait for it to melt.
2. place several layers of cheesecloth across a strainer and pour the pot with the hot water and wax through it.
3. let the new pot cool to room temp.
4. pull off the plug of wax on the top of the pot.
5. Clean off the underside of the wax plug.

Stage 2;  - further refining
1. Use a double boiler to melt the wax.
2. Strain the wax with a very tight weave filter material to remove all the solids. gossimer. is said to work well
3. and place wax into a mold

Yep, that is it.

So you need to melt the wax a couple times, but that isn't so bad.
The question I would have is how would you do this economically with 30,000 pounds of wax a year?

here are a couple of people that have actually done this...



Monday, June 3, 2013

Another resource collecter

FoodForestRetreat blog

Lady in Austin that is doing permaculture design course from Geoff Lawton at