Salvaging the Situation

Keeping his ultimate goal in mind, the Servant of Gomi Sama navigates the waste stream with aplomb.

He surveys the flotsam and without prejudice, salvages that which he recognizes as valuable.

He imagines a thousand new uses for these discarded things.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Compost Tea Irrigation

I have not written an entry for this blog in some months. My apologies. Events at Fukushima, the devastating tornado rampage in the US as well as the deteriorating financial situation, have forced me to prioritize. I have been very busy preparing a life support system for myself and my family. I urge you to do the same thing. It's time to buckle down and "git 'er done" if you take my meaning.
    Composting is a wonderful means of fertilizing your soil for gardening. The biological action of fungi, bacteria, worms and insects breaks down organic matter into forms readily absorbed by plants. Agitation or mixing increases the rate of decay; as does mulching, grinding or otherwise breaking down the materials prior to incorporating them. The addition of urine to a compost pile is a great way to increase nitrogen content. It also accelerates the transformation process. The finished product can be spread on your garden patch enrich the soil and grow larger, healthier produce.
    An alternative method of delivering nutrients to your plants involves a preparation called compost tea. As the name indicates a "tea" is brewed. Water is added to compost, allowed to "steep" and is then drawn off. Plants can then be watered with this rich mixture.
    My good friend Mundafar, currently preparing to cycle across Canada to help connect needy, hungry people with food producers, provided the impetus for this project. He spent an evening here last year and mentioned a compost tea trough he had seen another gardener using. The system he described was simple and effective. I was enamored with the idea and I gave it much thought. I used materials I had to develop something similar.
    I have recently (today) begun assembling this irrigation system to distribute compost tea throughout my 20X25 garden patch. It incorporates a bathtub, which will hold the compost and permit flooding it with water. A screen will help keep solids out of the pipes. The tub I'm using had a brass tailpiece attached and I needed four or five fittings to get to a point that allowed attaching poly pipe. Ask for help from your hardware dealer. Mine is a goldmine. I had some 1 1/2" pipe which I then reduced to 1". I used eight (8) 1" barbed T-connectors and 2' lengths of 1" pipe to fabricate a manifold ending in a 1" barbed, elbow connector. The nine resulting 1" take-offs were reduced to 1/2" to which will be attached 25' of 1/2" poly and plugged. Drip feed hoses will be attached as required by individual plants in the garden.
    As usual reclaimed materials were used wherever possible. The fittings for the tub cost about $8 and the rest of the manifold fittings will amount to about 30$. The tub was a freebie as was the pipe, reclaimed from an old well pump. Unfortunately I will in this case need to purchase some rather specialized irrigation hose and drip feed fittings. These will significantly increase my financial outlay. Perhaps another $100. Sometimes it can't be helped. I expect such items will shortly become much harder to locate. The important thing is to know when it's time to spend a few bucks. And when to get cracking. Good luck folks. The hour is getting late.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the People of Japan.

At this time, the Servant of Gomi Sama wishes to express his solidarity with the people of Japan. The images of devastation in the wake of the extremely powerful earthquake and equally awesome tsunami have transfixed the world.

The resilience, endurance and determination of the Japanese people have been evident in their reaction to this disaster. Gomi Sama is with them my friends. I know this because I have seen his genius at work already in the masterly improvised responses of the survivors. I am pleased to find my faith in human resourcefulness has been justified. The BBC online live coverage of events, on 15/03/11, showed the amazing work being done in the small village of Asahi Gaoka where Kuji Oyama has been thrust into a leadership role as resources are pooled and distributed. He explained that they had 800 people to feed and hadn’t even water to wash their faces in. Another man was cutting a 55 gallon drum with an angle grinder; turning it into an improvised cook stove. These people were taking charge and providing for themselves. They provide an excellent model that we should remember and strive to emulate.

55 gallon drums are an excellent resource for a collapse situation. Besides fire and cooking, drums can store water or other liquids of course, but also anything you might want to keep dry. They can be turned into a rotating composter/digester or used to fabricate a wood gas producer. Properly sealed they could be pulled behind a boat or kayak. There are countless other uses, limited only by imagination. Of course what use you put a drum to will necessarily be dependent upon its former contents. Many, many things get shipped in drums: molasses, motor oil, chemicals and who knows what else. Please assure yourself before hand that no toxic residue will foul your compost or food reserves or ganja or whatever you put in there that will end up going into someone’s body.

Cultivate the posture and attitude, the flexibility you will need to respond to a crisis. Mental preparation, considering a variety of possible scenarios and your realistic response to them will make it much easier to get moving in the right direction if and when something does happen. Then, like the old lady who lived in the shoe, you'll know just what to do.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who Will Profit From Reading This Blog?

First of all. This is NOT a debate forum; at least not about peak oil, financial collapse or any of that. 

Most of my contributions are anecdotal and represent my own opinion, if you are bothered by this, or need empirical data, endnotes or bibliographies supporting every assertion, you will not find my blog to your liking. Similarly, if you believe all is well with the world and that the economic, financial and ecological meltdown we are currently experiencing is just a hiccup on an otherwise smooth trajectory of endless expansion; if you are a person of means; have inherited a fully stocked nuclear survival bunker; are of the Amish-Mennonite-Hutterite faith or otherwise living in a mostly self-sufficient and tight-knit community; or believe that some sort of technological or theological solution to our fossil fuel impasse will save the day. Then this blog has nothing to offer you and it would be a complete waste of time for you to read it.

Having done you a service; I would ask should you belong to such a category, to refrain from disparaging others who might wish to participate in an open forum or thread.

The idea is to not waste time proselytizing or arguing but to focus on small, individual solutions to real problems dealing with collapsing infrastructure and self-sufficiency. With the added twist of achieving these solutions using recycled, scavenged and jury-rigged materials wherever possible. Here debate is crucial of course; as long as it is focused on addressing the subject at hand constructively and with civility. All the while remembering that, especially where scavenged materials are involved, there is never one solution that will apply to every possible scenario; but that the active exchange of ideas stimulates lateral thinking and "outside the box" solutions.

This is a creative effort, originating in complex, work-related humour devolving into performance art of sorts. Mostly it’s just a framework that allows departure from the status quo. Please bear with me. I promise it will be entertaining if naught else. The art, photos, and all text material are my own except where otherwise stated. I understand that the background image renders difficult the reading of some portions of text. However foolishly, I felt that achieving the correct mood justified a slight effort on the reader’s part. Some judicious scrolling may be necessary but I assure you the text can be read in its entirety.

The links on this page are those I consult on a regular basis.

Your Humble Servant
Frank Chapeau

P.S.: Watch Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars. I regularly see them addressing the kinds of issues we will soon be facing. Mindset is crucial to survival and contestants on these shows demonstrate the mindset required for the approach we will be discussing.