Fall Projects

So I am in a mid summer lull.  Not that I have lots of free time mind you… we’re still building barrels, harvesting 1-200#’s of spuds a week, weeding, watering, working 50 hours a week etc its just that things are in a routine and I guess I have some mental free time which I have been putting to use.  Much of that has gone into Fall Planning.


We will not be putting in any large crops for fall, or more precisely any crops for market.  Projects are falling behind and I would like to catch up.  We still have alot of fall squash in the ground, and will see those, our beans for drying, onions, etc to harvest and will plant a winter hoop house for greens.  But the land that is coming out of production will be entirely put into cover crop at the market garden to allow us to get a better jump on weeds next year.  Hopefully next year will start to see a significant drop in the amount of tilling we do as well.  I also need to map out a Big Vigorous Veggie (BVV) rotation to ensure we are confusing the Colorado potato beetles and not taxing the land.


As we transition away from the Plug-in Prius plan (too expensive in a downturn), I am going full force into the TDI VW camp.  Still some major descisions there.  Do we go WVO?  Can I find grease, and will it still be there in 3-5 years?  Then there is what kind of VW.  Jettas are the more easier acquired and cheapest, but I want at least a Golf for the hatchback functionality if not a Jetta Wagon.  A Passat Wagon would be able to be a rain barrel delivery truck, and I have always loved them, but they are so dang pricey.  More thought, and more than a bit os serendipity, is needed


I am completely enamored with our gasifier, but it is impossible to put one in here.  We are committed to our next home being The One, but need to re build the $30k beating my 401k has taken in the past 6 months for that to happen.  Figure 2-3 more years.  I also think that a Bio Diesel still is where I will end up on the diesel front.  While a WVO is simpler and cheaper to maintain, every single engine will need one, while a Bio-Diesel still will allow me to make fuel for multiple, unmodified, engines powering everything from my Grillo to our cars, to farm trucks and tractors.  Also, if we build it oversized we could start a small fuel co-op and spread the start-up costs, but as importantly offset even more dino fuel by spreading to other families -in permaculture you strive for a surplus, right?  My wife Mia is uncomfortable with me making fuel in our HOA -safety, insurance, pushing the neighbors just a bit too far, etc so it will likely have to be off site.  Also, BD stills take a goodly amount of energy -the oil must be heated for a long time -and they typically use one or more 1500 watt heating elements.  That is like running 2-3 waterheaters for days on end -using electricity.  Ouch.   But back up a minute -BD stills need  heat and electricity.   Our gasifier  makes heat and electricity.   Can we do a “tri”-gen facility producing hot water, electricity to a grid tie, and Bio Diesel in one set up?  Time will tell.  But the ability to heat a home, power a site, and fuel a fleet from one contraption -that runs off of wood chips grown on site- may be eco nerd nirvana.

Lots of loose ends to wrap up here, but it will be an exciting Fall to follow an exciting Summer, which followed an exciting Spring.  Living in a time of Historical Change may be stressful, but at least its not boring!

Be the Change!



3 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t you lose a lot of efficiency going from gasifier to biodiesel, rather than running the engine right off a gasifier directly? Bearing in mind that I have no idea what I’m talking about?

  2. Strictly speaking, maybe. But in practice, not really -you are using the “waste” heat to keep the bio-solution at 120 degrees and only a fraction of the electricity to power the agitators. Remember our 30hp gasifier will make 10-15kW of energy in theory, so the rest of the electricity would be (in our proposed system) put back into the grid -you are just siphoning heat into making fuel rather than heating a structure.

    Outside of powering a farm tractor I don’t see gasifiers as a reasonable component for mobile internal combustion engines. No DOT I can imagine will license a truck powered by a giant wood stove. My other concern is that every vehicle would need its own gasifier, where as a fleet of diesels (everything from tractors to rototillers to pickups to Passats) could be fueled off one biodiesel converter assuming you had enough veggie oil. Mating that converter to a co-gen gasifier nicely matches some of the “wastes” or outputs of the gasifier with some of the inputs of the biodiesel converter. Only non-sustainable input is methanol, but there are ways to reuse it to cut your inputs there too.

    This is all arm chair stuff right now. But I am currently looking hard at some TDI vehicles so we may be moving in that direction.

  3. Dont forget to pay my IRS Tax man for making your biodiesel.
    Thats right any fuel you use on federal or state highways is to be taxed. Even biodiesel you make at home. Most people dont know this until the tax men come knocking your door down arresting you asking why you havent paid ole US of A their money.
    There have been several reports about people being arrested due to making their own fuel. I know doesnt sound right but thats life. It has happened in both the USA and UK.
    Just thought you might like to know this as a co op would definitely raise the eyebrows of the govt. Doing it just for yourself and keeping it on the downlo is one thing but providing fuel as a co op for you and others would definitely have the govt knocking on your door.

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