Chookie's Patch

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Chookie, May 30, 2014.

  1. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thankyou for the kind words Bryant RedHawk:) Feels really good to have come this far! Still have to get compost down there and with no vehicle access and a very steep slope, I'm not looking forward to it. Will be quite a few wheel barrow loads, so right now I'm wishing I had friends with bobcats hahah Like yourself at least we will get fit at the same time ;)
     
  2. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Yes indeed, I would love to have the use of a bobcat every now and then. I absolutely love the way you laid out the chook highway to the garden spaces. I got the corner posts sunk in this past weekend for the chicken coop. Next will be the pallet floor then walls and roof. We have a sweet, two wheel, wheel barrow that makes it lots easier on my shoulders to move full loads, can't make sharp turns but I would rather make big sweeper turns with the barrow rather than nurse and injury :D I've decided to take the attitude of "Yep, I did all this with my own body as the machine" at least until I can get funds together to buy an old tractor with FEL and hopefully a BH, that would be heaven on the homestead! :nod:
     
  3. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thanks Byrant, great to hear you have progress on the chicken coop, hopefully we will get to see some pics ;) and I like the sound of that wheel barrow!

    Well has been such a busy time of year, surprised I have gotten anything done!

    These are the latches i'll be using for the doors. Really frustrating having the welder out of action as it could have made my life a lot easier but found some wire loop clamps to hold it onto to door for now. They actually do the job really well and if the frame moves at all, you could easily adjust them.

    View attachment 2926

    Ive finally got some compost so have just started taking taking barrow loads down and applying it in the first garden bed. Bit of a mission to get down the slopes but getting there slowly.

    As I go I've been planting innoculated cowpea seeds and will probably throw in the french millet once the compost is all down.

    View attachment 2927

    The recent rains has made soil prep easier. Feel very relieved and excited to have the compost going down finally and feels good to be planting something. It's taken over 2 years to get to plant anything so I'm over the moon.
    Even in a few short weeks, the absence of the larger destructive wildlife in the garden has allowed a few plants to pop up. Ive noticed sunflowers and wheat coming up everywhere from left over chook scratch mixes. I even have a couple of stray veggies taking off and before doing anything to the soil, so it's looking promising.

    The next thing has been the searching for seeds and will be setting up a little seedling nursery soon. Being in a new climate has made things more interesting, having to figure out what I can and can't grow now. A lot of trial and error to come I'm sure :giggle:
     

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  4. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Today I finished sowing the remainder of the first garden bed with cowpea and noticed some I planted a few days ago have already started to come up! They are very quick off the mark :y:

    View attachment 2931
     
  5. Australian Beekeeper

    Australian Beekeeper Junior Member

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    Good stuff! Some good weather to kickstart them too!
     
  6. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Too right AB, hot humid sunny days followed by rain every evening. Seeds are loving it!
     
  7. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Wow Chookie.....just WOW!! That looks fantastic, what a great safe space for your chooks and your vegies.
    Are you going to grow climbers around the perimetre fence ?
     
  8. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thanks mischief :) Its so nice to have a space I can finally work on without the destructive creatures about, so good so far.

    Yes definitely will be planting either trees or climbers along the fence line. This summer I have learned some hard lessons in regards to micro climates in the vege patch. Its way too hot for some herbs and vegetables to survive in full sun, so I've been thinking about which perennials I can plant inside the enclosure and trees and climbers along the edge. In the mean time, Im thinking I may need to put up some shade cloth if I want anything to survive.
     
  9. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    I am seriously looking at how to get some overhead shade for the vegie garden. Our summers for the last three years have been so much hotter without that summer breeze.
    I read somewhere that over a certain temperature, plants shut down and I'm wondering if that is why my work mates are also saying there tomatoes in particular are not fruiting like they used to.
     
  10. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    I would agree with that mischief. Before the heat wave I had vigorous growth coming from a few veggies and then the heat wave hit and they are now just surviving/recovering and not growing that well at all. What were you thinking of doing for the shading?

    Cucumber that was growing nicely before the heat.

    View attachment 2945


    2 days after the heat ..... :n:

    View attachment 2946

    Shade cloth will be easy to attach to the existing structure, so will do a few trials at some stage. Glad I could see this happening to a few random plants rather then seeing it happen to a whole crop. Tomatoes were the same, went great guns until the heat and are now burnt and look exhausted. I think species selection is going to be really important during these hot periods so will look more into varieties that handle subtropical conditions.

    The Cowpea crop is doing nicely. Its been an easy plant to grow and extremely hardy. They did get a little burnt but seems to be handling it fine. I threw around some french millet but it hasn't really come up that much but I'll keep trying with the other beds and see what happens, it may be just timing.

    View attachment 2947

    Also looking into solar now for the main house, which has been interesting. Expensive and hard to know if its worth investing in a system which can store energy or a system which feeds back into the grid. Definitely more research needed into that one.
     

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  11. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    yes, various plants do tend to start having trouble keeping up with water/cooling demands as the temperatures go up. some days in the summer here for the tomatoes i have resorted to spraying them with water to cool them off and to help set more fruit. it works, but we also get the increase in diseases. so the negative tradeoffs are there too.

    what about a tree that you can keep trimmed somewhat so it lets through most of the light? at least then it isn't a formal structure. the right kind of long arm saw will help in chopping and dropping to thin.
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    if you don't already have rooftop hotwater i would do that first, i don't think that is very expensive in comparison and may need a small solar component to run the pumps needed, but it doesn't have to grid tie and it can be done in such a way that freezing isn't a problem either. just make sure that it is designed so that more solar can be added later as the price will likely keep dropping...

    this cuts the price a great deal (no need for storage/batteries and no need for a large number of solar panels, they are just sized to run the pumps and the pumps are only needed when there is light).

    the benefit is that if your system is set up right and sized just a little bit bigger than the hot water needed you can also use it for spare heat at times when the sun is out during the colder spells. so it can reduce not only your electricity or fuel use for hot water it can contribute to the base heating system.

    i think such heat pumping is a more efficient overall than converting sunlight to electricity and then using the electricity for other things.

    of course, all of the other recommendations apply. (efficient appliances, the right kinds of insulation and air flows or venting, good windows, ...)
     
  13. Les

    Les Junior Member

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    Chookie,

    I'm a solar installer in the US. To your question about a battery system vs a grid tie system, it largely depends on your local regulations. There are states in the US where it can be advantageous to sell power to the grid to lower your costs per month, however, in my state the local monopoly power company pays the grid tied consumer only half of what they charge the customer. And there is pretty much everything in between in terms of what utilities will pay you per kW. Here's what I tend to think about and I have a battery-backup system and it isn't grid tied. I like the autonomy of not being dependent on the utility. And consider this as well, any grid tied system will be non-functional in a grid down scenario, unless it has batteries. Net meters are designed to stop the flow of electricity to the grid when the grid is down because it will put the line workers in danger if lines are being powered from someones rooftop solar. There is a fair amount of grid tied solar in the Northeast US, but during hurricane Sandy most of those grid tied systems were useless at a time when a battery-back up system would have been most welcome. There were lots of people who were genuinely shocked that their systems didn't work in an emergency. Just some things to think about.

    Salud!
     
  14. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Ah ok, I haven't looked into heat pumping yet but will check it out. Our current system is electric and inefficient, so I was looking into evacuated tube solar hot water but haven't really looked into many systems at this stage. It might be a better option. I will still need solar for other running costs but I totally agree that hot water can be generated easily on the rooftop. Our problem here is more cooling the house, we have mild dry winters and very hot wet summers.
     
  15. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Hi Les,

    Its sounds very similar to here in Australia. We can sell back into the grid but it's much lower then what we pay for buying the same amount back. Also the infrastructure here isn't really designed to handle all the solar feed in's, so by march 1 this year they are also restricting solar systems to only 3kW. Im hoping I can get in before then with a 5.2Kw system but the only thing with batteries is they cost sooooo much! Will take a while for it to pay itself off. I was looking at getting an inverter which can be used for both grid feed and storing to batteries, so once the price of them comes down a bit I can convert it over. I hear you though, I would love to be able to generate it all and not rely on the utility.
     
  16. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    ah, ok Chookie thanks for the added information. how is your roof? if you are picking up a lot of heat gain from that then it may be well worth it to change the roof somehow before adding solar on top of it.
     
  17. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Hi Chookie, if you can give me some of the details on the construction of your house I can give you some retrofit suggestions to keep the interior cooler. What I need to know is how the house is situated to the sun, amount of shade the roof gets, type of roof currently on the house, thickness of walls and how much insulation is in them. Also if you would want to use passive systems. The house I have designed for us will have many passive systems so we can keep our electric cost low and we will be using wood heat for our winters. I've designed the house to be R-80 overall. There are several options for each part of a house, so when I get your information I can give several options that you can do DIY and keep the costs to the minimum.

    Garden is looking super by the way.
     
  18. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Appreciate any suggestions songbird, thank you :) Its a tin roof, so it gets very hot. Very large surface area as well. I was thinking with solar and the hot water on the roof the heat would somewhat be reduced. No insulation unfortunately due to have no roof space/cavity, just exposed beams. May have to lose the exposed beams and get some sort of insulation in there but it would be a big job though :sweat:
     
  19. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thanks for that Bryant, much appreciated :y:

    Well basically its a 3 storey pole house with a weatherboard exterior. Very robust strong structure however as mentioned in the above post, the roof is tin with zero insulation and no roof space. and gets full sun all day. During renovations Ive looked into the wall spaces and can safely save there is no insulation in the walls either, they are about 10cm thick. During hot periods the house provides no protection from the heat except the bottom level of the house, so air con and fans are used during our very hot days but we try and keep it to a minimum to save costs. The house has decks/balconies which wrap around 2 sides of the house....we spend a lot of time out there to escape the heat. Winters are fine here, no frosts or anything and we use a wood combustion heater which works great. So we find energy consumption is quite low during winters.

    So things can definitely be done, it wasn't designed very well in regards to heating and cooling.
     
  20. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Hi again Chookie,

    I've come up with some good (and least expensive) ways to reduce the interior heat of your house.

    1) Since the roof is tin with no insulation, and it would be very time consuming and expensive to take that down to put on a double roof, this first one might very well be the only thing to take care of. There is a great product made by the Ames Company called Maximum-Stretch Premium Roof Topcoat, this stuff is simply wonderful, It is a very white, reflective, rubberized coating that can reduce interior heat by as much as 30 degrees. It is fairly inexpensive (here about 170 per five gallons) 1 gal covers 100 sq. ft. per coat. This stuff also seals the roof so no worries about leaks, two coats rolled on is the normal application but three is what to use if you did have any leaks. The reflective index is upwards of 90%. If you go this way, you may not even need to add insulation or could do so at a later date.

    2) Your walls are thick enough for a spray foam or foam board (the one I consider tops is a blue color here), which is what I prefer in humidity prone parts of the country such as where I live (avg. humidity 50%). It comes in panels from 1/2 to 1 inch thick (1.25cm to 2.5cm), cuts easily with a razor knife or utility knife and can be simply pushed into place or even glued in place. The 2.5cm thick sheets are R rated at 6-7 per sheet thickness. This same material could be added to the inside of the roof tin by using adhesive. The panels are cheep compared to spray foam and far less messy.

    Those two things should get your air conditioning cost cut down around 30% and perhaps even more. There are other things that can be done, but these are the ones that will give the best bang for the bucks.
     

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