Gardening continues very slowly at Ligaya Garden as I've been focused on policy and planning and helping folks get fed during a food shortage. The biting cold doesn't help gardening much either. Here's my #hivegarden #gardenjournal post for late July
What has been going on?
I've been going through a time when I've been working with a few non-government groups and local Council. We've been working on food security policy at a local level, getting groups linked up and some policy sketched out. The cold of Winter is a good time to do such stuff but I make sure we don't work in stuffy offices and make sure we get out for a coffee or at least to see the real world for a bit.
We've been connecting up local growers with local cafes and restaurants as part of a long term, grass roots effort to keeping local places open when there are supply issues. It all seems to be working.
I haven't been blogging much lately, even on our Instagram account or website. Not a lot of DIY stuff either, just monitoring the plant growth in the garden. I've even been skipping my duties as a mod for this community.
Stir crazy, a guy and a dog
That all led to me going stir crazy and getting stuck into a new project. Athena and I decided, on an overcast, bitingly cold day, to make up a vortex brewer for our microbes and fertilizers.
The idea is really simple. An air-lift pump lifts water and pumps it into the top of the bucket. The water flows out and runs around the edge of the bucket and spins the water. An outlet at the bottom lets the water flow out and back into the pump for redistribution. The spinning water and the outlet at the bottom form a vortex or whirlpool and this sucks further water down.
The water becomes super oxygenated. The air lift is just a bubbler at the bottom of a pipe. The bubbles lift water up to the outlet, mixing it with air. The circulation of the water in the bucket mixes in further air and the walls of the vortex increase the surface area available to absorb oxygen. The continual breaking of the surface tension of the water allows more gas exchange and Bob's your Uncle, highly oxygenated water!
We found a few variables that need to be tweaked to reach perfection but we're not far off. A second try with a larger diameter pipe allowed more constant flow and smoother and faster vortex formation.
Our biggest problem was thinking that we could get a massive whirlpool going in a 10 litre bucket using an aquarium pump. We did get it working though and are really happy about that.
Most of the systems you see online make more than 60 litres at a time but with our fertilizers and small space, we don't need a lot. When I have a good brew going, we can do the whole block with one bucket!
What good is swirling water, you may ask?
The brewer doesn't just mix oxygen into water, it will be used for much more. When I brew up any of our liquid fertilizers or additives, such as worm casting tea, Nettle tea, chook poo tea or anything else, I can strain the liquid and add it to the brewer, often with a teaspoonful of molasses and let it do its thing.
The microbes will be well fed, mixed around a lot to allow a bigger, healthier population and of course, well oxygenated. This will give us a very healthy garden additive, full of life and vitality.