Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

In June, I went to the Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017 at Stonehedge Gardens in Tamaqua, PA.  This was the first event like this here, but they do plan on having several more like this in the future.  Today I’ll give you a run-down on what the Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017 was all about.

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The Flow

Several times a day they had exercise classes that included Yoga and a Movement and Rhythm class.

They had a tent where many of the lectures were held, an inside area with a stage where many lectures, workshops and the evening music took place and they had several other meeting areas for the various workshops.  The site had two camping areas, one for tent camping and another for RV camping.  I stayed at a motel about 10 miles away from the event.

They had a couple of food vendors as well as one lady that was making fresh herbal drinks.  They also had a few other vendors there.  Some were selling plants and others just passing out various information.

They had an area set up for kids as well.  This area had its own tent, chaperones, and activities.  All of the kids there seemed to be having a blast.

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

They had music every evening and the big name was Charlie McGee from Formidable Vegetable Sound System all the way from Australia.  His songs are centered around permaculture and are great in a group environment like a permaculture convergence.

I ran into Kevin Smith, one of the coordinators, who was nice enough to give us an idea of what it took to put this event together.  Kevin stated that they do plan on doing another event in 2018 in the early June timeframe.  More information can be found at http://stonehedge.us/papc-home.html

The Workshops and Lectures

The first workshop I attended was a straw bale gardening workshop.  They described the process of and purpose of straw bale gardening and then we actually planted some plants into the straw bale.

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

I then attended a lecture on rain gardens and the advantages to having one.  That was followed by a lecture on composting.  Both of these lectures were given by local Master Gardeners.

The next workshop was a fermenting workshop.  We actually made homemade sour kraut and I had no idea how easy it was.  I actually ended up buying a book about fermenting vegetables.

I then attended a few lectures on growing and making herbal medicine followed by foraging for wild mushrooms.  The mushroom lecture was followed by a workshop on growing various different types of mushrooms and I ended up making an oyster mushroom kit that I was able to take home with me.

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Several times a day they had plant walks with various experts that took you through the woods and pointed out the vast array of edible plants, herbs and medicinal plants.  This was one of my favorite things because I love learning about plants so much.

They had a lecture on Heirloom Seed Saving.  The presenter had a slide deck where he described some of his successes and also highlighted a few failures so we wouldn’t have to repeat his mistakes.

At the end of the second day they had a panel discussion with several of the presenters and Scott Man of the Permaculture Podcast was the moderator and curator.

Some of the items that they had that I did not attend because of scheduling conflicts include; Herb Spiral Workshop, Permaculture Principles to Radically Change Your Life, Brick Oven Fabrication Workshop, Community Driven Ecological Design, Timber Framing Workshop, Wool Spinning Wheel Demonstration, and a Metal Working Workshop.


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The Video

Check out the video below Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017.

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

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Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

Pennsylvania Permaculture Convergence 2017

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Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review

Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review

This is a Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review.  We will go over the product datasheet and discuss my experiences with this product.  This review covers the Hydroplanet™ T5 4ft 8lamp Fluorescent HO Bulbs Included for Indoor Horticulture Gardening T5 Grow Lights Fixtures (8 Lamp, 4ft)


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I bought my system from Amazon.com on April 12, 2016 and installed it and used it for the 2016 growing season and I’m now using it for the 2017 growing season, with no issues.  I bought my system for $155 from Amazon, but this exact model is not currently offered any more on Amazon, as of this writing.  It can be purchased from Hydroplanet directly for $150 and I’ll include a link below to get you to that product.  I’ll also include an Amazon link below to a similar product in case you are an Amazon junkie like I am and prefer to buy from them.

Amazon’s rating system rates it at 4.3 stars out of 5 with 279 ratings.  Most of the low rating issues were dead on arrival units, refurbished issues, or shipping issues.

Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review

Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review

The Datasheet

The data sheet on the product boasts that it is made with European highly reflective aluminum interior, a power coated housing, and can be hung and operated vertically or horizontally.  It has a daisy chain outlet for connecting multiple systems together and operates on a 110V/120V, 15′ power cord.  The dimensions are 50 x 27 x 5 inches and it weighs 33lbs. The system is an 8 lamp, 4ft bulb T5 light fixture that includes 6500K grow bulbs.

Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review - Reflective

Hydroplanet Fluorescent Grow Light Product Review – Reflective

What is 6500K?

Color temperature is measured by a unit called the Kelvin (K). The 6500K is where it falls on the Kelvin Color Temperature Index.  A lower number is redder, a number like 2700K is more yellow, and a number from 5000K to 7000K is bluer, often referred as like daylight. Plants use blue light for vegetative growth and red light for flowering, ­­­­so when starting seedlings, you want something in the blue range.  In doing a quick glance online, 6500K seems to be the color of choice.


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The Products

4-Foot 8-Lamp System

Here is the product I bought.  The cheapest purchase option that I found is directly from Hydroplanet.

http://www.hydroplanets.com/hydroplanet-t5-gorwing-fixture-4ft-8lamp-fluorescent-bulbs-included-for-indoor-horticulture-gardening-p-59.html

Here are some Amazon options:

2-Foot 4-Lamp System

4-Foot 4-Lamp System

The Video

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SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

This is a SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review.  We give a brief description of how it works, tell you how it boosted our cell signal, and cover a problem that we ran into and how to fix it. But first, the description.


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Here’s What You Need to Know

The SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster boosts voice, text and 4G LTE signals for all North American cell carriers.  In the video, I stated that it did not cover Sprint.  It now appears that it does cover Sprint. It supports 8 users simultaneously.

The system reduces dropped and missed calls and also improves 4G LTE data speeds.  Because it increases the cell signal strength, the battery life of your cellular device will last longer because it is not searching for lost signals.  This particular unit will boost signal strength for buildings up to 4,000 square feet.

What are your Options?

SureCall has several different options for you to choose from.  For the outside antenna, they have a Yagi directional antenna or an Omni directional antenna.  For the inside they have a whip antenna or a panel antenna.

Inside Antennas

The whip antenna is sufficient for one or two rooms and covers a maximum of 3000 square feet.  The panel antenna is intended for the whole house or small office and covers a maximum of 4000 square feet.

SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review - Yagi

SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review – Yagi

Outside Antennas

The Omni directional antenna boosts signals from all directions, but only allows for a maximum of 2500 square feet of coverage.  The Yagi directional antenna is aimed at a cell tower and can give you up to a maximum of 4000 square feet of coverage.

My System

The system I purchased was the SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster with Yagi antenna and panel antenna.  Below is a list of what is included in this kit from Amazon (I have a link to the Amazon product I bought below).

The Kit

The kit I bought from Amazon includes: Fusion4Home booster, outdoor Yagi antenna, indoor panel antenna, 50 feet of RG-6 cable, 20 feet of SC-240 cable and power supply.

SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review - Booster

SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review – Booster

What does it do?

The outdoor antenna captures signal from the cell tower. The cellular signal is then boosted and re-broadcast inside to all mobile devices. It’s just that simple and it works great.  I had 1 or zero bars of service in my house, but had 3 bars of service on my roof.  I put this system in and I now have three bars of service in the area of the antenna and actually have 2 bars of service at the other end of the house in the basement.  Previously I had consistent zero bars of service in the basement.

What it does NOT do:

It cannot make a cell signal out of nothing.  If I had 1 bar of service on my roof, the best scenario I could get in the house is 1 bar.  If you have no bars, then you get no bars in the house.  You have to have a signal for it to relay.

What direction is your cell tower?

The link below can help you pinpoint where your cell towers are at for your area.

http://www.cellreception.com/towers/

Use the map to figure out what direction your cell tower is and then use a compass to point your Yagi antenna.  If you have an Omni antenna, you do not have to worry about direction.

This link shows the general cell strength in a given area.  This didn’t work so well for me out in a rural area.

https://opensignal.com/

My Thoughts

This system is awesome for my situation.  My house is in a valley and gets no or low signal down low and in the house, but I get 3 bars on the roof.  The SureCall system with the Yagi antenna is able to take advantage of these 3 bars and rebroadcast them in the house, giving me great cell service.  If you have good service in a spot where you can put an antenna and poor service in a structure, I highly recommend this product.

Amazon Link

The Video

Below is the video titled SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review


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Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Last month I had the fortune of interviewing Michael Judd, the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist.  This video is Michael explaining what his book is about.  There is a summary below.  There are also links below to Michael’s website, Facebook site, and an Amazon link to his book.


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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Edible-Landscaping-Permaculture-Twist-Have/dp/0615873790/ref=as_sl_pc_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=greescfar-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=d99a8d2ccb16461748017ec81d0147c7&creativeASIN=0615873790

Michael’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ediblelandpermtwist/?fref=ts

Michael’s Instagram: Permaculture Ninja

Micheal’s Website: http://www.ecologiadesign.com/

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist has eight chapters.  I outline each of the chapters below followed by my thoughts of the book as a whole.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Introduction

The introduction chapter explains what edible landscaping is and why you would want it.  This chapter also explains what permaculture is and how to give edible landscaping a permaculture twist.

Herb Spiral, The Ultimate Raised Bed

An herb spiral as explained by Michael is like a snail shell coming out of the ground to create microclimates and provide lots of planting space in a small area.  This chapter explains what an herb spiral is, how to construct one and why you would want to construct one.  He even gives some examples of what someone may want to put in an herb spiral.

Rainwater Harvesting, Swales & Rain Gardens

In this chapter Michael explains some of the ways to harvest and conserve water.  He focuses on swales, which are a ditch on contour, to slow and stop the water to allow it to penetrate the land.  Michael then explains how to make and calibrate an A-frame level, how to design and dig a swale, and some concepts for dealing with raised beds, such as mulching and planting into them.  He also talks about rain gardens for capturing water and how to construct one and explains how to make a good soil mixture to put into the rain garden.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Fungi!! Growing Specialty Mushrooms

The fungi chapter covers several different ways of cultivating fungi and harvesting the fruit – the mushrooms.  He covers a good deal of safety in this chapter, as you have to be careful and not eat any old mushroom.  One of the best ways to be safe with mushrooms is to grow your own and this chapter gives you several ways to do this and several sources to order material from.

Food Forests

To quote Michael; “A Food Forest is a low maintenance gardening technique that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes woodland species with edible trees, bushes, perennial vegetables, herbs, vines, and annuals.”  In this chapter he also touches on sheet mulching, companion planting, and guilds.

Uncommon Fruits

Here you will find some of the great forgotten fruits of our area as well as some not from our area.  The list includes persimmon, paw paw, hardy kiwi, mulberry, jujube, goumi, sea berry, gooseberry & currants, and cider apples.  He teaches us how to prune various fruit trees at different stages of a trees life cycle, how to graft, and how and when to paint a tree.

Hugelkultur, Mounds of Fertility

Hugelkultur is a mound of wood with soil on top.  The first year or two are not great to grow in, but after that there is added fertility and hydration in the soil available to plants.  Some mounds are built on top of the soil and some are sunken in the ground.

Earthen Ovens

Earthen ovens are better insulated than brick ovens allow the heat to be used longer and more efficiently.  This chapter explains how to make one of these and gives very good detailed instructions along with a lot of pictures.  He even offers up a recipe for your first pizza!

My Thoughts

I met Michael at the Mid-Atlantic permaculture convergence in August where he was the key note speaker.  He was selling books there and I bought one.  I went on a business trip the next week and read this book cover to cover and immediately wanted to build an earthen oven, herb spiral, and get some mushroom logs going.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd

This book is probably not for the career permaculturist.  It is absolutely for someone who is just starting out in permaculture or any level of gardening.  He explains permaculture concepts and actually all concepts in a very easy to understand way and does not drown you with unfamiliar technology and terminology, but you do walk away having learned an immense amount of new information.

The Video

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Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

This post is a Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review.  This jar is designed to do continuous brew of kombucha.


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My Jar

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

I received a Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar for my birthday this past week and figured I’d do a product review on it.  This jar is designed to do continuous brew of kombucha.  I have done posts on the past on Kombucha and how to make it.  It is merely fermented sweet tea.

The Kit

The kit assumes that you already know how to make kombucha.  It does give a high-level overview of the process, but really doesn’t go into a lot of details.  This kit comes with a 5-liter jar, a grease pencil for marking the date, and directions that include a few recipes.  The 5-liter jar has a special lid that allows the kombucha to breathe, but keeps fruit flies out of your brew.

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Grease Pencil

The grease pencil is intended to write the date on the rim of the jar so you know when you started the brew.  I found it difficult to write on this space and broke the grease pencil.  I was able to scribble a date on there, but it is barely legible.  I’ll probably continue to write down my dates on paper as I have been doing for the last few months.

The Brew

I brewed up several batches of kombucha.  I did some the way that I have been doing it in half gallon jars and I did a batch in the Mortier Pilon continuous brew system. After 10 days, I tasted kombucha from both systems and they tasted the same.

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Continuous Brew

The Mortier Pilon jar allows for continuous brew by allowing me to empty 2/3 of the brew out and then adding 2/3 sweet tea back into the continuous brew system.  The Mortier Pilon jar allows me to cut a few corners, but I only end up saving about two minutes per brew when used per their directions.

Modified Directions

The way I would probably do continuous brew would be to take about 1/3 to ½ of the brew out every three to five days or so.  Then I could have a continuous supply of brew at the rate I’m drinking it.  This would make much more sense to me.

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Product Thoughts

The Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product is pretty and I can understand someone wanting to use this if they are going to be brewing out in the open.  Personally, it is a bit expensive, selling for $60 on Amazon.  Brewing in the ½ gallon jars works fine for me because they are hidden off in the basement.

The continuous brew is a neat concept if you are not doing a second ferment like I do.  I like the carbonation and flavor and it is just easier for me to do a case at a time instead of every couple of days.

But that is me.  There are others out there that add kombucha to smoothies or drink it right from the first ferment.  If that is you, this is a great product that looks nice and is functional (except for the grease pencil).

Go or No Go

I’d have to say it depends on your situation, as described above.  If I was drinking from a first ferment on a daily basis, I would absolutely buy this product again.

Amazon Link

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The Video

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SHURflo 4008 Product Review

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

This is a SHURflo 4008 Product Review.  The product is needed for a rainwater harvesting system to provide instant on water pressure to a garden hose.  The requirements are to provide instant on access to water with pressure that can keep a mist irrigation system running.  It needs to be a system that runs on 115v and does not need a person to set it up or power it on or off every time it is used.

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

The Pump

I ordered my system from Amazon and it has a part number of ShurFlo 4008-171-E65.  It is a 115V 3GPM and is in ShurFlo’s Revolution series of pumps.  It is designed for high flow demand, low noise, can run dry without damage, and no rapid cycling.  The pump has 4.4 stars out of 5 on Amazon.

Product Test

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

In order to test the product, I needed to put it together to run it.  This involved putting PVC pipe on the input side to draw water in. I used hard PVC so it would draw water out of my fish pond.  Then on the output side I used hard PVC pipe connected to a hose bib.  This allowed me to connect the system up to a 75-foot garden hose.  This is the way it will actually be used in the field and the garden hose actually gets pressurized allowing instant on pressure.  I mounted the system on a piece of 2×6 I had laying around.

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

Not Weather Proof

The pump is not weather proof and needs to be housed in some kind of system to protect it from the elements.  This does not matter for my use, but I just wanted to let you know so you are not surprised by that.

½” Connectors

I could not find anywhere online what size the connectors on the pump are.  It turns out they are ½” PVC type connectors.  Even with a ½” PVC connector connected to a ¾” hose, it still kept the system pressurized and flowing well.

When you are putting the system together, take note of the arrow on top of the pump.  This arrow indicates direction of water flow.

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

SHURflo 4008 Product Review

The Demo

I tested the system out and was quite amazed by the amount of pressure that the system put out.  It kept the hose pressurized and the pump automatically shut off when I turned the hose off.  Then when I ran the hose, the pump automatically came back on after a couple of seconds and kept the water flowing.  The water shot out of the hose under pressure to a distance of about twenty feet from where I was standing.

The Review

I love this little pump.  For under $100 on Amazon Prime, I could not have asked for more.  It met all of my needs and was very affordable.

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The Video

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Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

This post is an Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review.  The product allows you to harvest fruit from a tree without the need to climb the tree or use a ladder.

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

The Product

The Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester is a basket on a long pole designed to harvest fruit high in a tree without a ladder.  There are several different sizes of the product.  I have seen them with both four foot poles as well as 8 foot poles.  They also have options for aluminum as well as wood poles.

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Assembly

When you purchase the product online it comes in pieces.  Mine came in three pieces plus associated hardware.  I received two four foot wooden poles and the basket.  Connecting the poles together was straight forward.  Putting the basket on the top pole was a bit more of a challenge.  I had to force the pole into the bottom of the basket assembly, which spread the metal out.  Then I had to use several tools to tighten the basket around the poles.  It did scratch the product label, but everything else was ok.  Once I finally attached the basket, the product has been rock solid and quite sturdy.

My Product

The one I bought was the eight-foot-long wooden pole option.  On the top of the pole is a basket that has hooks on the top to grab the fruit.  In the bottom of the basket it has a piece of foam so the fruit does not get bruised when it falls into the basket.

Operation

The way the tool works is to go extend it up into the tree, maneuver the fruit between two hooks in the basket and give a quick tug on the tool.  The fruit comes off of the tree and drops into the basket and lands on the soft foam at the bottom of the basket.

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

My Thoughts

I will use this tool a lot.  As I get older, I’m not a fan of climbing around in trees any more.  This tool will absolutely help with that going forward.  The tool works great for apples and likely would for pears also. However, I don’t think it would work well for softer fruit like peaches and plums, as the hook and pulling process would likely bruise or cut into the fruit itself.  I’ll have to try that next year and report back to you.

I would give this a buy rating for someone who owns an apple tree.  You can see a picture of some of my apple trees below.  This tool is great for them.  I cannot say buy it for any other type of fruit until I try it, which I will next summer.

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review

Ames True Temper Fresh Fruit Harvester Product Review – My Trees – About 25 Foot High

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Amazon Link

Here is a link to a product just like I purchased.

 

The Video

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First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

This First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review gives a demonstration of how to put this system together and describes how it works.  We then use a hose to fill the system up and show how it traps the first flush of debris and allows the clean water to go into your water storage tank.

The First Flush Downspout Water Diverter is a do it yourself bag of parts that lets you put together a first flush system.  A first flush system captures all of the pollen, oils, and other small debris that gets into your rainwater harvesting system when it first starts raining.

What the Kit Comes With

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review – Parts

The kit comes with everything you need except the pipe to put it all together.  You can purchase a first flush system for a 3” or a 4” PVC pipe system.  I went with a 3” system and that is what is depicted in all of the pictures and the video at the bottom of the article.

The kit consists of a “T” connection, a ball seat, a sealing ball, a screw cap, a slow release control valve and a bunch of other stuff like brackets.  The vertical PVC pipe has the “T” connection at the top with the ball seat and the screw cap and slow release control valve at the bottom of the vertical PVC pipe.  The sealing ball is free in the PVC pipe between the “T” at the top and the screw cap at the bottom allowing the ball to float in the water as the vertical PVC pipe fills up.

How the System Works

The majority of pollution, pollen, and other crap will come into the system with the first couple of gallons of rain.  The idea is that the first couple of gallons of rainwater fills a vertical PVC pipe and traps all of the pollutants in the PVC pipe. There is a ball that floats on top of the water in the vertical PVC pipe and seals the pipe off after the vertical PVC pipe fills so the pollutants and “floaties” can’t get into your IBC tote.  Once the PVC pipe is full, any additional water is diverted out the horizontal side of the T connection at the top of the PVC pipe and goes to you IBC tote.

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

The slow release control valve at the bottom of the vertical PVC pipe is what makes the system automatic.  It slowly releases water out a hole that is very small.  It might take an hour or more to fully drain the vertical PVC pipe.  Once the vertical PVC pipe is empty, it will catch the pollutants from the next rainfall.  The bottom of the vertical PVC pipe has a screw cap so you can periodically empty the pollutants out of the pipe.

There is a small filter included with the First Flush system to keep the slow release control valve from clogging, but there is an additional option that can be purchased separately called the Stainless Steal Filter.  The other filter is still used, so you end up with two filters in the First flush system if you use this one.  Since the slow release control valve is so important for this system to operate automatically, I will be using the extra filter on all of my systems.

You use a PVC pipe in the vertical section that is long or short based on the size of your roof.  There are calculations and suggestions with the directions in the kit to help you figure out what size PVC to use.

My Experience

My experiences with the first flush system have been overall pretty good.  I have had to do a good bit of trial and error with the slow release system to get the right size gaskets in the system.  You don’t want too large a hole or you end up wasting a lot of water in a slow rain.  But you don’t want too small of a hole or the automatic reset will clog up, which has happened to me several times now.

The other thing that got me was the screw cap fitting that goes on the bottom of the vertical PVC pipe fits rather loose.  I did not put enough glue on the connection when I put my first system together, so I had to buy another system, cut out the old cap and put a new one on.  I found that when dealing with this system you need to glue both sides of the joint and use a lot of glue.  If you do that you’ll be fine.

The first flush system has helped the water in my IBC storage totes to remain very clean.  Last weekend I used all 1200 gallons of water to water the food forest. Even using all 1200 gallons at once, I did not clog the sprinkler at all.  I have to point directly at the first flush system and say that is the reason why my water is so clean and not clogging my systems.

I would have to rate this system as a must have for a medium or large system. Especially if you are going to use any kind of sprinkler or any other system that could clog with pollen or other contaminants that come off a roof with the first flush of water when it starts raining.

The Directions on the Package

Click on the picture below and it will open a new window to a larger image that is easier to see.

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review – Directions 1

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review - Directions 2

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review – Directions 2

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review - Directions 3

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review – Directions 3

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review - Directions 4

First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review – Directions 4

 

Below I give you an Amazon link to the two different systems.
 3″ Kit

4″ Kit

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Check out our YouTube video called First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review.

 

 

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Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review

Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review

This post is an Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review.  This tool allows you to easily unwind barb wire without getting cut.  The tool easily hooks and unhooks from the roll of barb wire.

 

Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review

Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review

The tool is made in such a way that you can put a ½” pipe through the handle.  Once the pipe is through the handle, you can hook the roll up to a tractor or 4-wheeler for unwinding.  The tool allows the barb wire to spin, but it does have a breaking system so it won’t continue spinning when you stop.  This breaking system will help prevent those nasty tangles that often happens.

The tool handle is about 5” long and is a little larger than a ½” pipe.  Welded to the handle is a shaft that is like a large framing nail with the nail head on the downward side.  Setting on top of the nail head is the barb wire holding assembly.  Because it is sitting on the nail head it freely spins.

The barb wire holding assembly has two hooks that are facing opposite directions.  It is these hooks that connect to the handle of the barb wire.  Because they are facing opposite directions, it allows you to easily connect and disconnect the tool from the barb wire roll.

The Recommendation

I used the tool to install four rows of barb wire around my perennial garden.  It would have taken at least twice as long to do this job without the tool.  I would highly recommend if you are going to install a lot of barb wire, that you invest in this tool.

Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review - The Tool

Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review – The Tool

Here is the product I bought:

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Any time you are going to buy something from Amazon, please go through our site.  All you have to do is click the Amazon button on the menu bar at the top of every page on our web site.  That link will take you to Amazon and you then shop as you normally do.  It does NOT cost you one penny more!  Thank you very much for helping to support our small business!

The Video

Please also check out our YouTube video titled Easy Fence Barb Wire Tool Product Review.

 

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Rain Harvesting Leaf Eater Product Review

Rain Harvesting Leaf Eater Product Review

This Rain Harvesting Leaf Eater Product Review will first give an overview of the rainwater harvesting system and then dive into the Leaf Eater product review.

Rainwater Harvesting System Overview

Leaf Eater Product Review

Leaf Eater Product Review

The system starts out with a gutter that has a screen called a gutter guard.  It is used to prevent the larger items like branches and leaves from entering the system.

Downspout Diverter

Then we go into the downspout where we have a “Y”.  This “Y” part of the system is called a downspout diverter by Aquabarrel.  I ordered mine from Aquabarrel and it cost about $35.00.  There is a lever that allows you to divert the water in the downspout to the left or to the right.  I use this because I am in an area that freezes.  During the winter I drain my rainwater harvesting system so the water doesn’t freeze in the system and break pipes.  In the winter I also aim the water down the regular downspout.  In the summer I aim the water toward the rainwater harvesting system.

Leaf Eater

When water is diverted into the rainwater harvesting system it then goes to the Leaf Eater.  This is a product by a company called Rain Harvesting.  I ordered mine from Amazon for around $33.00.  The Leaf Eater is simply a break in the pipe with a screen at an angle that prevents leaves or debris from entering your system.  It also prevents mosquitoes from making a home in your system.

First Flush

The next device is a Downspout First Flush Diverter Kit by Rain Harvesting.  I ordered this device from Amazon as well for around $32.00.  This device traps the first flush from your roof of toxins, pollen, pollutants, and other small particles.  The thought is that most of these items will be rinsed off with the first few gallons of water.  The first flush system traps it so it does not end up in your water harvesting storage system.  It has a small pin hole in it to drain the bad water off and reset itself for the next rain.

Water Storage

Once the first flush system fills and traps the toxins, it then diverts the rest of the water to your storage device.  I have been using IBC totes that I find in the farm&garden section of Craig’s list.  They run anywhere from $50 to $175 for the totes.  The totes range in size from 275 gallons up to 330 gallons.

Leaf Eater Review

Leaf Eater Product Review - The Product

Leaf Eater Product Review – The Product

The Leaf Eater Advanced is made by a company called Rain Harvesting.  The leaf eater is a tub that has a PVC fitting on the bottom.  This fitting can be 3 or 4 inch.  You need to purchase the size Leaf Eater that matches your system PVC size.

The Leaf Eater is designed with a quick disconnect PVC.  This allows you to glue your PVC to the bottom side and the quick disconnect is between the glued connection and the Leaf Eater tub.  This is handy if you have a first flush system below the leaf eater.  From time to time the first flush systems need to be cleaned and the quick disconnect makes this simple.

The tub has a screen on top.  This screen is what keeps the crap out of your system.  It will prevent a number of things from getting into your system.  This includes sand from your roof shingles, pine needles, and some pollen.  It will also prevent mosquitos from entering your system and breeding there.

One of the nice things about the screen is that it is self-cleaning.  It is angled at a 45-degree angle so any excess of debris just falls off.  I have found that some pollen will stick to the screen.  If you get enough of that pollen, it could clog the screen and cause the water to run off the screen instead of through it.

The screen does lift off of the top very easily allowing you to clean it.  Once it is clean, it simply snaps back into place.

My Recommendation

I have had my system up and running for a season now and I would highly recommend the Leaf Eater as part of any larger system.  You could probably install a smaller system using 55 gallon drums without this.  There are other ways to install your own screen system that would be cheaper.  But for the larger systems, the leaf eater just makes the overall system so much more automatic and trouble free.

Here is a link to the product I bought.  Note that there are 3″ and 4″ options.

 

The Video

Please see the YouTube video below titled Leaf Eater Product Review  for an overview of the water harvesting system as well as a video version of this product review.

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