March picture updates

The garden always seems to be in a state of redesign. This new keyhole bed will be an experiment in heavy cardboard mulch with several inches of pine needles on top. It is about 1/3 completed here
These young Koi are getting used to coming to me for food.
this solar panel is proving an easy way to power the filter pump for the Koi/ Plans are to add three more panels mounted on the wall just over the glass where the panels will get good winter sun without being in the way.
dumping a pot of tumeric roots. these were separated and put into about 8 separate pots.
The supervisor, quick look busy
excavating what I can from the upper pond area. When the pond is allowed to fill most of the area in the frame will be under water at least part of the year
The middle dam is above the projected water level already, but recent excavation here is turning up too much sedimentary rock to be useful to continue to build the freeboard here. I did go ahead and seed the back slope with clover, but as the different areas come under control, one of the later jobs will be to plant willows or bamboo and find better clay to finish the construction.
last years bananas filled this area with lush green above the roof level, but this year the plants get moved to an area where they will not interfere with the productivity of an area so close to the front door. There are already grapes started here, and in a year or two a trellis will equally shade the windows while allowing other bushes to grow underneath. As big as these plants were, I will be using the backhoe to dig up the roots and transplant them.
The middle pond is fed from surface run off and has an underground flow coming in from the bottom giving it the turquoise color
The back area of the pond is currently being made ready for development, but will probably have to wait till after the rains have stopped and things are a bit drier. For now I have turned off the drain to the middle pond and it is filling. from this point through the summer I will be alternately sending any extra water either to the goldfish pond below when it needs it, or to the contour pond across the driveway.

February update 2019

The month has been wet and cold, every week seems to be a combination of a few sunny often warm days, followed be several days of wet, sometimes intense rain days, with a couple small episodes of snowfall, but nothing lasting more than a day or so.

The roof has held up fairly well in it’s temporary configuration, and there will likely be no changes made till summer, although occasionally the wind rattles the metal sheets and I cross my fingers .

The increased solar panels and battery bank size have weathered the many days in a row at times with no real trouble. I do treat the sunny days with an extra bit of personal energy to take care of the things that draw the most electricity. Charging my tool batteries, washing clothes, etc, and though they don’t take great amounts of energy or time, remembering to do them in a timely manner can be a challenge, since sunny days I’m more likely to be outside as well.

I discovered this past weekend that my charge controller is not a true MPPT one. This means the 36 volt current coming from the solar panels has largely been wasted, and although I had been planning to buy a new small AC refrigerator to replace the propane one, I decided to scrap that idea and started looking for DC refrigerators in an effort to save money and conserve energy.

Which is the next project, although it will likely be a slow paced one. It will involve getting a new dc compressor charged with the new world standard refrigerant. Isobutane and isopropane. I finally found a somewhat obscure document last night documenting test results from an experiment that replaced freon R134a in a conventional fridge with R600a . It will require a new compressor, and I will try and find a shop to do that for me,(as soon as I find a suitable refrigerator body for my new frankenstein monster refrigerator.

While new dc high efficiency fridges cost upwards of 1200$, the one I plan to put together should cost around 400. It will require about 30% less electricity than an ac refrigerator which requires an inverter, and there should also be some efficiency gains with the new coolant.

After writing the last couple paragraphs I got a new charge controller in the mail, wonderful, it is multiplying amperage just like it’s supposed to, and has a couple of other features I will be exploring, but that is one part of the energy solution here.

The ponds got some more attention over the last few days of the month, everything from chipping up brush piles and general cleanup of the surrounding areas.

On the keeping machinery functional side of things I was able to start and run both chippers and that will help keep gas fresh and carburetors clean.

As a final act with the backhoe in February I dug up the rosa rugosa in the garden, it develops a net of roots underground, and I’m very curious to find out how sensitive it may be to being separated and transplanted. I have about half of the clump still in a big ball of earth just in case the individual transplants don’t survive with the minimal care I’ve given them.

The DSR stove has been performing better since I installed the steel fittings at the hot water exit from the tank. It is easy to take a temperature reading there to monitor the heat of the tank, but the location of the fitting on the side of the tank makes the system a bit awkward in use, and normal operation heating unpressurized water wastes a fair amount of water , and I plan to only use tanks from now on with a hot water fitting on the top of the tank.

The Koi are doing quite well, I feed several times a day, and wait for them to come to the top of the tank before I start dropping in food, and, when they all go back to the bottom of the tank I stop feeding. This means there isn’t extra food floating around, and they are slowly losing their fear of me.

I have a plan to enlarge the kitchen garden pond into a much larger koi pond, but probably in the short term I will reinforce the repairs on one of the smaller preformed plastic ponds and use it for the first part of the summer while their main pond is taking shape. I plan to buy a regular pond liner and really make an attempt to keep the water clear, possibly even have it deep enough to swim in.