Biointensive planting template

By Cash Olsen,

I needed a tool to assist in planting my garden bed according to Biointensive instructions. In one of their companion planting schemes they want a hexagon with sides of 25 inches on a side. After studying the scheme I simplified the hexagon to a regular trapezoid of 25 inches on a side that can be flipped over to create the hexagon.

I made the template out of scraps that were ripped off of a 2X4. I used Guerrilla glue to assemble the template and then trimmed the excess wood to finish.

I show the trapezoid laid on the ground with soda straws marking the inside corners.

I show the entire 5 X 20 (100 sq. ft.) bed marked with soda straws. A corn seed is planted next to each soda straw. In the first placement of the template, all four corners are marked then the template is raised straight off of the straws and then moved to the right and placed over two of the straws and then the remaining corners are marked and the process is repeated. I was able to mark the bed in a matter of just a few minutes using the template.

I hope this is helpful to others.

Make Your Own Gravity Fed Home Water Filtration System


Note from Nick: Thanks to Cash for contributing this great article. I personally own the Royal Berkey system from Jeff “The Berkey Guy” at Directive 21 and think it is a great addition to any home from both a practical standpoint and aesthetic standpoint, however if you have been looking to make a quick little project and save some money this is a great way to make your own Berkey-Style water filter. Not to mention that home filtration is a basic prep I think everyone should have. If you end up getting the fitlers from Jeff over at Directive 21 please tell them that you are purchasing because of Save Our Skills and that would help to support the efforts of this website.

Thank you!
– Nick LaDieu

By Cash Olsen from KD5SSJ Solder Paste, Solder Tools and Solder Kits

I just made a water filtration system similar to the commercial units, cost about $100.

There is nothing real difficult, drills and hole saw. I have seen the details of a similar system, elsewhere. The major difference in my unit is that I used a Gamma lid in the top bucket for easy access to the filter elements and clean out of any silt and debris. The top bucket to bottom lid is carefully sealed with silicon caulk to make sure that no unfiltered water can dribble down the outside of the top bucket when being filled. The bottom bucket has a replacement spigot purchased for other water containers.

I purchased 4 sterasyl ceramic filter and installed two in this filter and will save two for future replacement. The filters are the same as used in the commercial units. Cost was $35 dollars each. So my total cost comes in right about $100. All the specifications of my bucket would also be the same as a commercial unit because the critical components are the same.

This was what my 5 gallon filter looks like.


This is the first bucket with the Gamma lid mounting ring attached. This should be done first because it must be driven on with a rubber mallet or hammer with wood to protect the ring from marring. This requires about 6 -7 sharp raps of the mallet around the ring with the lid removed.


This is the bucket with the Gamma lid in place. This should be removed for further assembly.

The next step is to mount a normal lid to the bottom of the bucket. This is rather critical. First apply a bead of silicon bathtub caulking around the inside recess of the lid so that when the bucket is set into it it will seal the bucket to the lid. Then apply another bead of silicon bathtub caulking around the bottom of the bucket just above the lid. This is important because you don’t want any contaminated water which might run down the side of the top bucket to be able to get into the lower bucket, that’s why it needs a very good water tight seal. Allow the silicon caulk to dry at least overnight, the instructions say that it is shower ready in 3 hours but this only means that the surface is skimmed over.


I measured 3″ from the center of the lid to the and marked two places, one on either side of the center. Use as small drill bit < 1/8″ (0.125″) and drill two pilot holes at each of the marked places. Drill as straight and perpendicular to the lid, as possible, through the lid and into the bottom of the bucket. Using the 1 1/2″ (1.50″) hole saw, picture 100_0117.JPG, enlarge the the whole in the bucket lid in both places. Using a 1/2″ (0.500″) drill bit drill two holes through the bottom of the bucket. The plastic lid and bucket are very easy to drill but be careful not to enlarge the 1/2″ hole size because this will only make it more difficult to seal the filter candle to the bucket in the next step.


From the top of the bucket mount the Sterasyl filters in the bucket. The rubber seal goes on the bottom of the filter and to the bottom of the bucket. Thread the wing nut onto the threads of the filter from the other side of the lid as shown in picture 100_0106 and tighten it good by hand. I used rubber gloves while installing the filter candles so as to avoid oils and other contaminants on the ceramic surface. There is a significant gap between the bottom of the top bucket and the lid, this is why it’s necessary to get a good seal and also the enlarged hole to give access to the wing nut.


shows the filter candles mounted in the top bucket. Picture 100_0112.JPG is a closer view of one candle mounted in the top bucket.


shows the bottom bucket with the drain cock, I have not yet mounted it at the time of this picture. Drill an appropriate hole for the grommet and mount it very near the bottom of the second (lower) bucket.


Shows the finished 5 gallon filter completed stack. I removed the locking ring and I have not yet determined if I want to seat the lid on the second bucket. I have found it to be very handy to be able to unstack the system and carry each bucket by it’s bail handle.

I purchased the buckets and lids (including Gamma lid) from BayTecContainers.com and I purchased the 4 x Doulton Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filter Candle 10″ @ $35.00 10 Long Mount W9121709 total including shipping was $141.99 from www.FiltersFast.com . I have a spare set of ceramic filters for replacement. I’m sure that there are other sources for all of the components.

Note from Nick: I talked with Cash and he agreed that Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters from Directive 21 was a better deal (saving about $10)

Follow the instructions with your filters candles for the initial use and restarting after prolonged lack of use.

Remove the Gamma lid to fill the top bucket and replace it loosely while the filtration is taking place. At the rate of 1 liter per hour (gravity feed) for each filter you should expect 5 gallons (18.9 liters) to take about 9 1/2 to 10 hours, or 10 gallons per day (two 5 gallon runs in 24 hours).

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Why Your Grocery Bill Will Double in 2011 and What You Can Do About It

This is a 40 minute presentation given to a standing room only crowd at “Brave New Books” in Austin, TX..We deeply apologize to those we had to turn away. But, we did video the presentation and the YouTube links are below.

Marjory Wildcraft presents::

– Real food price increases versus CPI fiction
– The vulnerability of the US food supply
– Debunking the US ‘Bread Basket to the World” myth
– The 3 biggest factors pushing up food prices.
– Getting started with backup food supplies.
– How much land do you need to be food self-reliant.
– How much water do you need.
– Getting started right now! Specific directions for everyone.

Here are is the 4 part series on YouTube:

Click here to get your copy of Backyard Food Production

Beginners guide to nuts, bolts and threading

By Ohio_oz,

Identifying nuts and bolts for those odd projects can be confusing for the beginner, so I wanted to do a brief tutorial on nuts and bolts basics. I also wanted to show how a simple threaded hole is made and a repair that might give new life to something that is broken or worn out. For many of you, these will be things you already know, but I’ve found it difficult to get good basic information on things like this without lots of jargon and digression into specialized cases.

The following images will look at a grade 5 3 inch 3/8-16NC hex bolt. What does all that mean?
The length of a bolt is measured from under the head to the end of the threaded shank; in this case, we have a 3 inch bolt.

The diameter of the bolt is measured across the largest part of the threads. Bolts are generally made slightly smaller than their nominal diameter for ease of installation. Here we have a 3/8 inch bolt, and as you can see, it measures .370”. In theory this bolt would measure .375” there is a difference of .005, about the thickness of a hair.

Read the rest of the article

Review: Rain Reserve Water Diverter

Today’s entry comes from John Daleske. This is a great article because setting up rain harvesting is a big “to do” on my list for next year. It seems like a simple thing to install.

Review: Rain Reserve Water Diverter

by John Daleske

Capturing precious rain water will be critical in the future and important now for gardeners and permaculturists. It is also important as a back-up source for (mostly) potable water should there be a loss of one’s main water source.

The Rain Reserve water diverter

Rain Reserve makes a downspout diverter. I got a couple and have been testing them this past year. The design requires removing a downspout section, fitting the diverter in place, then screwing it in place.

Installation requires a way to cut the downspout (metal snips or a saw), screwdriver, and a drill. It took me about an hour.

As a closed system, it is supposed to keep mosquitoes and other water-loving critters out of the barrel. Rain water flows into the chamber. The center of the chamber has an upward extension with a hole at the top. Excess water and floatable debris flow out here. At the bottom of the chamber are the two outlets to which you connect the hoses.

The two hoses are pressure fit, though you could add clamps. One hose runs to a barrel. I installed two 50-gallon barrels.

The diverter input handles only the standard (American) downspout. All of my downspouts are the larger (6″), which required the reducer you see feeding into the diverter. That is an extra item, which I did not realize did not come in the kit. I am a little concerned that if we get a heavy rain for an extended period, the diverter would not be able to handle the excess flow, backing water up the downspout and eventually causing the gutters to overflow.

Rain Barrels hooked up to the diverter

I wanted the barrels high enough to let me water my garden using drip irrigation. The base is loose stacked cement block, two blocks high, leveled to provide a sturdy platform.

Note the sag in the feed hoses from the diverter to the barrels. There is no overflow pipe from the barrels. The intention is that the water fills up the barrel and up the hose at which point all other water fill flow out the center drain hole and down the downspout. The sag is caused by the weight of the water.

Also note the crimping of the hose on the left. When installed, the hose lines seemed the right length and could not have been cut shorter. I am trying to decide on the best way to correct that crimp. The barrel curently still fills up.

One of the main concerns I have is that this design does not handle debris wash from the roof to keep it from getting into the barrels. I have seen washer designs that collect the first few gallons from the roof, which will have the majority of small debris, then allow all subsequent water to fill the barrels.

The other concern I have is that this seems like it would not do well in areas with lower rain fall amounts. It allows too much water to just flow directly to the exit, only capturing a percentage of the overall flow.

For a small installation with just two barrels, it is an easy way to get started. For semi-arid or arid regions, I would look for a better way to capture a higher percentage of the flow.

Building a Solar Dehydrator

By: Archer

Finally finished my solar dehydrator. Started it last summer, completed most it, then ran out of summer. Decided to finish it last weekend.

Initial tests showed that on a 85+ day the inside was over 125. I need to tweak it a bit, want to add a few more air holes between the heater box and the food box (engineering mistake here… ). I also want to paint some cans black and put them inside the heater box. I also need to use some type of cooking paper since I’ve learned that the aluminum grills sheets may react to certain foods. This is made from scrap wood I had and the plexiglas I picked up off of Freecycle.

Read the Rest of this Article

Dewalt Battery Recycled

By: HumeMan

After reading an article in last months Back Home Magazine about re-using dead drill batteries, I decided to try it for myself. Cordless drills are the great, but if you are unable to recharge them due to a loss of power or you are too far from an electrical outlet, you’re out of luck.

Taking a junk battery that no longer works, I’ve given it a cord, perfect for attaching to your 4wheeler or car battery. This battery no longer works. It’s worn out and can’t hold a charge.

Read the Rest of this Article