Chris McLeod

Food Forests, Part 4: Humanure (black water)

Poo. We all do it. Even the smallest microbes do it. However, when you are connected to a centralised sewerage system, unless it stops working – which is not much fun – you don’t have to think about it much at all. A quick flush and off it goes, somewhere else, to be processed at some distant location, somehow or another. It’s all very mysterious really and for most of […]

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Food Forests, Part 3: Closing the Loop

Local legend around here has it that at some point in the past a guy by the colourful name of the “bush bandit” removed most of the topsoil from the land hereabouts and sold it off to householders in Melbourne for their gardens and lawns. Whether this story is true or not, I can only state for the record that when I purchased the block it had virtually no topsoil. […]

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Food Forests, Part 2: Looking for Clues

Click for larger view As people become urbanised, they start looking at the world in urban ways. What does that car or house say about that person? How does that person’s occupation affect their social standing? People may not admit it, but they understand the answers to these questions intuitively. As permaculturalists, we need to apply these same observational skills to our permacultural adventures. These observational skills are important for […]

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Food Forests, Part 1: Ronald Reagan’s Day Off

Save Ferris! Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a 1986 movie about a teenager, his girlfriend and best mate — all of whom were just about to finish high school and enter the adult world. It represented for them a moment in time; a very hedonistic look into their lives for just one day, where responsibility and long term planning were dismissed. I’ve always felt that it captured the spirit of […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part IX: The Conclusion

This is the concluding article in the series A Solar Powered Life which looks at the various issues, compromises and components of an off-grid (standalone) solar power system. In previous articles I have written about the individual components in this system, but in this article I’ll explain how all of these components are connected. It’s also worth reflecting on the question of why a standalone solar power system would be […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part XIII – Wire and Myth Busters

So far in the series, A Solar Powered Life, we’ve covered most of the components of a solar power system. To have a complete system though, you have to connect all of the separate components using wire and fuses. You wouldn’t think it, but the wire used is one of the most important (and potentially dangerous) components of the entire system. Some people may think that wire and fuses are […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part VII: To Invert or Not to Invert

When I selected the various components for my home solar power system, I always had to keep in the back of my mind the words of my wife. “It must be able to run the hair dryer and the coffee machine”. Wanting to ensure that my wife was happy and given these two appliances are usually designed to be plugged into a 240v AC mains electricity socket, I had to […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part VI – The Ideological Debate

The series, A Solar Powered Life, is intended for those that have an interest in the generation and storage of electricity using solar panels. I’ve tried to write the series in such a way that it is accessible for everybody and not just for those that are technically minded. By the end of the series, if people have followed all of the parts, then they should walk away with a […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part V – Living Within Your Means

Editor’s Note: This is Part V of a series. To see all parts, click here. Mick Jagger sang “I can’t get no satisfaction”, and that’s exactly what will happen if you use more than you produce in any renewable self sufficient system. It’s exactly the same for both energy or food as anyone who has worked towards self-sufficiency quickly realises. I know that even with my extensive and diverse orchard, […]

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A Solar Powered Life, Part IV – The Dirty Little Secret

Editor’s Note: This is Part IV of a series. To see all parts, click here. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see many electrically powered motor vehicles on the roads, despite all the recent hype? Well, it’s because electricity has a dirty little secret: We have the technology to generate massive amounts of electricity, however storing those massive amounts of electricity for later use has been something of a […]

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A Solar Powered Life – Part III

When the band Bananarama penned the ditty, “A cruel summer” back in 1983, I’m sure they must have been singing about solar power. Well, upon reflection, they probably weren’t. Anyway, it is an appropriate metaphor for solar power generation in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and indeed elsewhere across the country for this summer given the La Nina influence on our weather. In the article A Solar Powered Life – […]

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A Solar Powered Life – Part II

In case you hadn’t realised it, I’m a big fan of renewable energy systems. In the article A Solar Powered Life – Part I I gave an introduction to both grid connected solar power systems and off-grid (or standalone) solar power systems and described some of the differences between the two. In this article I will cover some of the common questions that I am asked by people and look […]

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