Lauren Ritz

pollinator
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since Aug 18, 2018
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forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
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Recent posts by Lauren Ritz

I've spent the last few years narrowing my life down as much as I can, eliminating the drek until I can SEE my life beyond the fog.

I was so busy I couldn't turn around without having priority paralysis.

I had to take a good look at my life, decide what was causing my stress, what was causing me to always feel like I was behind, and whittle away at those things until I could either handle them or eliminate them. Honestly, a lot of it was wasting time that I hadn't even noticed as it crept in.

Interestingly enough, this past year has eliminated much of the stress because I don't have to be peopling all the time.

I need writing time (emotional grounding) and garden time (physical grounding) every day.

One thing I've learned is that time will be filled if we allow it to be. There will always be one more thing to be done, one more thing that absolutely MUST be done RIGHT NOW. If we take the time, many of those necessary things can wait.
3 days ago
Years ago I had a good job, with good earning potential. The bank said I could afford 240k. I told the real estate agent I wanted a cap at 130. She kept showing me houses that were in the 180 to 200 range, and yes there were plenty of homes available in my specified price range. I kept saying no. I finally cut her out entirely and bought my parents house, without interest, the caveat being that I take care of them as they aged.

I'm perfectly fine with that. I have a suburban lot to do with as I please. I was able to take care of Mom during her final illness (cancer) and now I'm caring for Dad who has a form of dementia. I ditched the high paying job in 2011, so this August marks 10 years.

Last summer it was brought to my attention that neighbors ARE paying attention, even if they choose not to emulate what I'm doing. It was quite a shock.

No regrets. I have a 20 year old car (2002) which still runs, dirt to play in, green friends in the dirt, a baby food forest, and a greenhouse. I've learned to live on nothing and I enjoy it.

3 days ago
Lots of possibilities. It's one thing I like about the brainstorming phase of a project--NOTHING is off the table! :)
6 days ago
The siphon will always flow toward the longer side of the hose. The effect is created by a vacuum (in a sense) at the peak of the siphon. The "inflow" must always be higher than the "outflow," or the siphon won't work at all because it needs the drop in order to maintain that vacuum. When the water level on the inflow side gets lower than the siphon, the siphon stops. If it doesn't get lower, and the "outflow" remains unobstructed, it SHOULD continue flowing.

It will require testing, of course, but the laws that govern a siphon are gravity and air pressure. You're thinking of the two tanks as one unit because of the siphon, but they're technically not in the sense of the physical rules governing the behavior. If they were linked by a pipe below water level, yes, they would even out, but other forces are working on the siphon. It's possible that other rules I'm not considering will eventually (or even immediately) stop the siphons from running. It's possible that the water in the receiving tank needs to be so low as to make it inoperable. It's something to test, and I may need to  make adjustments.

Rocks will not end up back at the top of the mountain after a rockfall, or the water end up back at a lake after running down to the sea. At least not in the same form. The force pushing the system in this case is gravity.
6 days ago

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:But if you COULD get it to push uphill, then the trickle from the hose could also help oxygenate the water a bit...

The siphon could keep going indefinitely as long as the end of the hose is lower than the start and both are in the water. That way there's no need to have pipes between the tanks, the water gets mixed and oxygenated simultaneously (if mildly) and no pumps! All the tanks would need to have essentially the same water level and it's a much larger system, but well worth exploring.

You're a genius! : )

With the fish tank draining directly from the bottom (rather than a siphon), it will create a continuous current of the dirty water into the plant tank, then siphons from the upper level of that tank (clean water) into the next.

So a number of things to test, but I think we have a possible solution!
1 week ago

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:What do you reckon is your main goal with the system? Like, do you hope you grow fish/crustaceans to eat (human consumption), or for feed (chickens/other) or plants for human consumption or animal feed, or is the idea to primarily grow plants to feed the fish, or all of these things? Or is it more a case of figuring out if a passive system could operate and then growing whatever works?  


Everything I do has to be low input, local, and no electricity or gas. It must also provide some kind of benefit, whether that's food for me, food for plants, whatever.

I started imagining how a passive aquaponics system might function and kept coming up against the electricity thing. Pumps and filters are entirely out. I don't work that way. So alternatives. I came up with two that I think are workable to get circulation between the tanks and there are a couple more good ones in the thread. The experiment until it works thing is pretty much me. Somebody tells me it can't work I just go to work and (often) prove them wrong. : )

My goals, definitely human food (plant and fish). I can do the plants, no problem. But fish need other things. Circulation was the first one I decided to address, and here we are.

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:Could something using gravity work? Like a drain in the bottom of the tank, which you can release to flush out some poo heavy water from the bottom, and the drop in water level allows fresh water to flow in at the top? As long as you didn’t replace too much water at once it shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the fish.

It’s not achieving circulation (without coming up with a way to clean and return the water to the top), however it would give you nutrient heavy water to use somewhere else, and if you had enough water catchment to feed the system, then the re-circulation of cleaned water might not be so necessary. Would depend a lot on water availability I guess. Aquaponics are often utilised to address water scarcity, but if you have plenty you could set it up as a kind of fertiliser production system?


I live in a desert, so water is certainly not plentiful. There are drains at the bottom of the IBC totes, so that kind of setup isn't out of range. The fresh water in that case would be put in the tank with no fish, so it shouldn't shock the fish as it would take a while to mix. The leavings in that case would probably go right back into the soil in the greenhouse.
1 week ago

Stacie Kim wrote:

As aside ... I know Texas has a tremendous amount of wind power that's been installed in the last decade.  I wonder if the operators of those windfarms are tied to the Texas grid or if they have chosen to tie to the national grid?



I am under the assumption that Texas wind farms are tied to the Texas grid. However, the crazy cold temps have frozen the windmills. They are nonoperational right now.

I am using this scenario as a sign that we cannot depend on others for our energy needs. We need to take responsibility for our own household. Help each other if we can, but depend on no one.

EDIT: Here is the interview: it's the first story of the newscast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcJ7hohtsAE

The solar and wind are part of the Texas grid. Wind systems automatically stop when a) the wind speeds get too high or b) the blades are unbalanced (as from ice on the blades). These are safety precautions which work against the grid when conditions are not ideal. The solar plants are covered with snow. They also had a nuclear plant go offline because it hadn't been winterized. So a few coal and NG plants are supporting the whole state at the moment.

Other areas are working with similar limitations, although not as extreme because of the interconnected nature of the power grid. So power from the water or nuclear plants in the west can support the power grid in the east (mostly "renewable,") and vice versa.
1 week ago

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:I think the reason the fish are fenced away from the plants is cause they can have a tendency to eat the roots.

Which is actually something I've been considering. Depending on the circumstances (LOTS of different issues involved!) that could be part of their food.
1 week ago

C. Letellier wrote:
Now your other option is eliminate pumping totally, grow plants in the top half and fish in the lower half and fence them away from each other.  There are a number of you tube videos on this type of system also.  Most of these systems are bigger tanks though so one end of the tank can be devoted to letting the fish surface and feed etc.

I thought that's what I said. Two tanks, tops inverted with plants on them, roots down into the same water the fish are in. I guess I wasn't clear enough. Not planning on "fencing" them away from each other, though. Not sure what you mean by that. One big tank split down the middle? I'm planning on linking two 250 or 300 gallon IBC totes, so technically room for 10-20 full sized fish. The fish will only be in one tank, except for the cleaner fish. Both will have plant rafts and I'll try to choose plants that put oxygen into the water as well as choosing fish that can eat plant roots.

I'm just in the planning process at the moment. When I get to that point I'll start with two or three baby fish and work up, learning as I go.
1 week ago
A while ago I remembered that during the summer last year I was trying to work out a way to passively keep my hydroponics tanks up to the right water level, and I tried one of those plastic milk bottles. The bottle was completely sealed, no water leaked when I tested it, but when I put the hose down in the water it drained immediately. Apparently the bottle was sealed enough to keep water from getting out, but not enough to keep air from getting back in.

I'll have to test it some more and see if it will work as an underwater bubbler.
1 week ago