Posted by & filed under water.

Water Filtration Systems


Have you ever researched different water filtration systems, just to be more confused when you were done?  It can be confusing, especially with all of the “we are the best” marketing  solutions thrown at you.

Water Filtration Systems

You have heard of RO systems, but what are they?

  • Are they expensive
  • I heard they fail quickly
  • Are they hard to maintain?
  • Where do I buy a Quality one with customer support?
  • How much water will it make per day?
  • I heard they use 20 gallons per 1 gallon of water produced?


These are great questions to be asking.  I have a basic list of benefits for a three stage RO System, they normally come with the following:

  • 50 or 100 Gallons per Day Production membrane
  • Quick connect Fittings for ease of installation
  • Four Gallon Metal Reserve Bladder Tank
  • Pre-filter
  • Membrane
  • Post-Filter (Carbon)
  • Quick Connect half-turn Filter Cartridge change out

If you would like to treat all of the water coming into your house using RO, you can purchase systems that will treat 6,000 gallons per day.  What are the advantages of this size of RO system?

  • Whole house water is treated
  • Provides Boiler feed water
  • Clean water for humidifiers
  • Great water for Green houses (removes Chlorine and other chemicals)


There are specific requirements for the feed water supplied to the RO System.

  • Feed (Supply) water must have 40psi minimum pressure  for 50 gallons per day (GPD)  the larger membranes only need 10psi
  • Maximum Total Dissolved Solids in Parts Per Million (TDS in ppm) is 2,000ppm for 50GPD system.
  • There is a drain requirement for the waste water (Brine) for an RO System for larger units, the higher the supply water pressure, usually the less water is wasted with the Brine ( between 3 gallons per gallon produced up to 20 gallons of water used per 1 gallon made for low pressure supply, low quality membranes)
  • Zero water waste systems are available, but as of this post, they are for point of use only, and not for larger needs.  Those that produce more, are usually not approved for drinking water.  Instead of wasting the brine to a drain, the high TDS water is then added and diluted to the hot water supply line after the hot water tank.  This means that for zero water waste, you are running higher TDS water to all of your hot water faucets and any appliance that requires hot water, as in some dishwasher units.


Why would you want to use an RO membrane when you look at the pressure required, as well as the waste created?

The choice for membranes is that one, the waste of filters and filter media is lowered, but there is a risk of plugging the membranes.  That is offset by pre-filtering the supply water to your RO Membrane.  There is also the opportunity for cleaning the membrane of certain RO systems, but it does take more time and attention to your water system.  Membranes are built densely, which allows to have a larger membrane packed into a smaller area or cartridge.

The Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Systems

Osmosis offers the advantage that it is a process that can take place while temperatures are low. Therefore, this enables the treatment of heat-sensitive dissolved solids. That is why these applications are widely used for food production.

It is a process that does not require much energy and thus, energy costs are low. The process just requires energy to pump liquids through the membrane.   There are quite a few companies that have  RO units, with a solid reputation for making good high quality water filtration systems products.

I have used products from Omnipure filter company, as well as Watts Water and Good Water Warehouse.  Depending upon your needs and what you are looking to accomplish, choose what fits your budget first, then search for your specific needs from there.

As far as USDA Organic Certification is concerned, as you process your produce and your products, Your water and the quality can play an important role.  Even if you choose to become Certified Naturally Grown, I highly recommend paying close attention to your water supply.

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Turning your dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs ———————–  The Caretaker

Posted by & filed under Composting.

What is the deal with worm composting ?  What are worm castings and why are they so popular in gardening and farming organically?
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  • Are you concerned about what is in those worm castings?
  • How can you tell if worm castings are safe for your plants?
  • Where can I buy good worm castings?
  • What do I look for in worm castings?
  • How do I start my own worm composting?

What is the deal with Worm Composting?

First of all, when Worm castings are 100% Natural, they have a healthy, earthy odor and the appearance of coffee grounds. The castings slowly release nutrients needed for healthy plant growth and increased production rates for herbs, fruits and vegetables.  The make up of worm castings is dependent upon what you place in your compost bin.


Worms derive their nutrition from many forms of organic matter in soil including decaying plant parts, decomposing remains of animals, and living organisms such as nematodes, protozoans, rotifers, bacteria, fungi. They can produce their own weight in castings every 24 hours.

During the digestive process, many insoluble minerals are converted to a plant-available soluble form and long-chain molecules such as cellulose are partially broken down by bacteria in the digestive tract. Investigations show that fresh earthworm casts are several times richer in available nitrogen, available phosphates and available potash than the surrounding topsoil.

Worm castings also contain many beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Analyzing worm castings  reveals that the number of beneficial bacteria in the ejected worm casting is much higher than in the material ingested by the earthworm.


It’s a fact that good fertile soil is full of red worms. It’s also known that poor soil has no worms. but few people realize that adding worms to poor soil, eliminating chemical use and giving the little guys/gals some food and water can quickly turn poor soil into the very best top soil.

Here’s How The Worms Do It

  1.  They make burrows and tunnels that let water and nutrients reach plants root systems. Whereas, night crawlers may go down five feet or more to find a home. This burrowing loosens the soil and aerates it.
  2. Worms eat and digest their body weight every day, producing a 100% natural fertilizer know as worm castings or worm poop.
  3. Worms castings are:
    • Richer In Nitrogen
    • Richer In Phosphates
    • Richer In Potash than the average top soil

And what’s more? Worm castings can be brewed into a potent liquid form organic fertilizer and organic insecticide called Worm Tea.


Worm Composting is the Way to Healthy Garden Soil, Naturally! Worm composting makes  your garden so healthy with worm compost and its twin, worm tea, that you wouldn’t have to use pesticides or chemical fertilizers ever again?

You’d probably say I was crazy. After all, bugs and pests are part of the gardening experience, right? Only  if you have sick soil, which happens through the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which can kill off essential soil microbes.

So stop throwing green kitchen scraps down the disposal and tossing old coffee grounds, coffee filters, teabags and even wet paper towels into the garbage.

Those items comprise the ingredients that digested by worms that make up worm composting as they eat your decomposing Organic leftovers.

Making worm compost at home does not require a lot of space. You can get started using a bucket, tote, old bathtub, or a wooden bin located outdoors or in a garage, basement or apartment balcony; anywhere out of direct sunlight. The combination of containers and locations are only limited by how much worm compost you need to make.

The best thing you can do, is to educate yourself, or come here and know for sure what worm composting is and how it fits into growing your soil to grow your plants.

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Turning your dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs———————— The Caretaker

Posted by & filed under water.

My friend David asked me “What are the basics of Water Filtration Systems”?  That is a  great question, especially since we are so dependent upon water for life.
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Do you ever fear tasting the water when you go to a restaurant, and it tastes terrible?

Do you add lemon and sugar from the packets there so that it tastes better?

Do you wonder what the heck is in the water in the first place, and is it safe to drink?

What Are The Basics Of Water Filtration Systems?

I have spent over 35 years educating myself about water.  From making water on board US Navy ships, to living in a small town in Washington State near the Canadian border where the water out of the faucet looked dirtier than the mud puddles that I drove through to get there.

I became involved in water treatment in the civilian world while working for a resort that had very high quality standards.  If the water tasted bad, so would the food, the pool would cost more to maintain, and the experience would not be enjoyable in the outdoors if the water was not palatable.

So how do you know if the water filtration systems that you are looking at will work for you?

The Basics Of Water Filtration Systems

A water filtration system is a device that removes the contaminants (usually measured in Total Dissolved Solids or TDS) or in Bacterial count usually measured in HPC (Heterotrophic Plate Count),

The WHO (World Health Organization) states the following:

Heterotrophs are broadly defined as microorganisms that require organic carbon for growth.

They include

A variety of simple culture-based tests which are intended to recover a wide range of microorganisms from water are collectively referred to as “heterotrophic plate count” or “HPC test” procedures. Accordingly, the terms “heterotroph” and “HPC” are not synonymous.


There is no universal ‘HPC measurement’.

Although standardized methods have been formalised, HPC test methods involve a wide variety of test conditions that lead to a wide range of quantitative and qualitative results. Temperatures employed range from around 20° to 40° C, incubation times from a few hours to 7 days or a few weeks, and nutrient conditions from low to high. The test itself does not specify the organisms that are detected.


Does not sound too good though right? 
Well,  the bacteria is measured in CFU/ml, or Coliform Forming Units per Mililiter.  The US Safe drinking water act standards are that there are no more than 500 of those units in your drinking water.

Your local water utility works to meet those requirements, and are usually strictly monitored.


However, the water can taste like chlorine or other sanitizers to meet those requirements.  And what if you are allergic to chlorine?


That is where water filtration systems come into play.


First, a water filtration system needs to be sized for the home or farm that it is being used on.  If you have a well, you should have the water tested to ensure that there is no contamination going into your well from other sources. If there is, you want to treat your water to get rid of those contaminates.


A basic water filtration system has these following items:


  • Pre Filter:  usually 5 to 10 micron filter for the big stuff


  • A Carbon block filter to remove the chlorine and other items for drinking water


  • If needed, a Reverse Osmosis Membrane that removes up to 90% of the Total Dissolved Solids from the water and places them in the drain as Brine.


  • A post Carbon filter for taste and to add some minerals into the water if needed.


  • Some people may add an UV lights for extra disinfection safety.  Wikipedia defines UVlights: Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is a disinfection method that uses Ultraviolet (UV) light at sufficiently short wavelength to kill microorganisms.



There are extra filters that you can purchase that will remove lead, arsenic and other contaminants.  There are also water filtration systems that soften the water using sodium (salt) to reduce the hardness of the water.


So, the Basics are just the Basics.  There is much to learn about your water, and I will go over more specific details as you ask your questions and share your stories.


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Also you can leave a comment or a question below and I will be happy to answer you .


Remember, the more you know, the easier it is to reach your goals of a Healthy Sustainable Life!


Turning your dreams into the Life of Your Dreams


Chris Downs     ———————   The Caretaker

Posted by & filed under Farm Equipment.

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How do I approach Farm Equipment Repair?  The reason I am asked, is that there is a growing problem with the cost of new farm equipment, and the apparent  lack of parts for the older equipment that can be found at a decent price.

You know how it is, you need some equipment to increase production and save your back right?

A new Tractor can be upwards from $14,000 to $100,000 or more depending upon its size and the attachments that you need and want.   For the most point, you can purchase a tractor that is in the field covered in grass for a lot less.

How do I approach Farm Equipment Repair?


This option can be daunting in itself though also:

  • Can you find parts for it?
  • Can you fix it yourself
  • Is there a maintenance and overhaul shop manual for it?
  • Do you have the skill to fix it?
  • If not, who will fix it for you for less than the cost of a new tractor?
  • Where do you start?


I get asked regularly how do I approach Farm Equipment Repair?  The reason is, I started working on equipment when I was 8 years old.  I had a push mower, and I would mow the neighbors yards for them to help out at home.  I learned quickly that the sharper the blades as well as the lubrication on the wheels that drove everything, the faster the job went.  I was shown how much easier it is to use a well maintained a piece of equipment than one that barely limps along.  You know how it is when you go to use a tool, only to find it broken right?  It is a pet peeve for me.


The other thing that bugs me, is seeing someone using one of my screw drivers or a crescent wrench as a hammer.  I have to admit though, I have been stuck in the woods with a broken vehicle and have used bailing wire and a pair of pliers to be able to get back home so that I could work in the shop rather than spend a half day towing it back home.


The first tractor that I overhauled was a Ford 9N.  My Dad and I started completely rebuilding it in 1968.  It took us two weeks, and it looked new and ran like new, well, actually better, when we were done.  We had one bay in the garage just for working on equipment.  While I was growing up, we did a lot of different types of equipment in the garage, and we fixed them all.  Some with the help of a manual, most of them with just torque specifications and laying parts out as we took them off , the placing them back together in the opposite direction.  It worked well and we saved a ton of money!


Since then, I have become a master mechanic, and Airframe and Power plant mechanic  working and rebuilding entire aircraft, as well as working on and rebuilding boats and yachts.  The thing I learned is that there is nothing that can not be fixed if you take your time, obtain a shop manual for the equipment that you are working on and maintaining, and FOLLOW the directions exactly.  If you do not understand a step,  ask someone for help.  Most people I know, especially parts stores and Equipment parts stores are more than willing to help.


Here is my list for farm  equipment repair:

  • Know how your equipement is supposed to work
  • Read and understand the equipment manual
  • Keep your equipment clean so that you can see how it is supposed to look like, take regular pictures and compare them as the equipment ages.
  • Perform daily inspections prior to operating equipment
  • Perform suggested maintenance on time, or sooner.
  • Operate the equipment for what it is designed for, do not use a hammer  as a wrench or vice versa
  • When something quits working as it should, STOP.


Then the next steps are troubleshoot the problem,  find the parts that need repair or replaced, then fix it or better yet, improve the quality of parts on your equipment if available.

As you can see from this picture, I replaced the old woreout engine with a new higher quality replacement.  It ran better than new and we sold the tiller for more than we had in it when we moved.

Your mindset when working with equipment is important.  Do not get frustrated, easy for me to say now, remember, you are the one choosing how to look at the maintenance and repair of your equipment, as well as deciding how to use it.  Do so with knowledge and patience, and good friends who are willing to help, and you will save lots of time, money and meet some great new friends alont the way.

Sign up here now for our newsletter so that you can read more great information on how to repair or maintain your farm equipment.

Turning your dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs    —————–  The Caretaker




Posted by & filed under Permaculture.

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The first time you walk into a hydroponic store there can be a little sticker shock.  At first it doesn’t look too bad, $15 for a bottle of this, then, …oh wait I have to buy these three as well and you leave the store paying $90 or more to grow some basil and lettuce.  I like to know how much I will be spending before I start out so I did some more research.  I went to a few websites that sell nutrients for hydroponics.  I got the information below from  It was an eye opener.  I did not include the nutrients that were specifically for illegal plants.

So what is the Best hydroponic Feed Schedule?  It is the schedule that is specific for the nutrient solutions, or solids that you dilute, for the stage of growth of the plants you are growing.  Personally, I like mixing my own, using a constant, slow flow of nutrients using wicks to pull the nutrients that I mixed together myself.  Everything else, you are relying upon someone else to create a solution for you that may or may not be organic.  This hydroponic feed schedule allows for regular feeding, and keeps the plant both hydrated and fed.  My opinion, and it has worked for me well through the years that I was growing hydroponically.


I started experimenting with Hydroponics in 1983, and I grew tomatoes indoors during the winter in Washington State in the middle of winter indoors.  Close to the Canadian border, it gets cold.  However, we did have a great crop of fresh Organic Tomatoes in a shorter time period than I had ever previously harvested.  62 days from starting seeds to the first fruit.  It usually would take up to 100 days where we lived, due to the weather and time to get some good sun on the plants.  That is where we lowered our time to harvest, Indoor lighting and a warm environment.  The only other additive was worm castings and good clean natural water to make a tea for our plants.

Now these seem like they may be organic, but I did not look at all of the ingredients.  There are also nutrients that are strictly labeled Organic.
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Advanced Nutrients Bloom

Price: $11.45


‘NEW Advanced Nutrients Grow PH PPM Perfect

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‘NEW Advanced Nutrients Micro PH Perfect

Advanced Nutrients Micro
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‘NEW Connoisseur A&B Set PH/PPM Perfect

Ph perfect Connoisseur A&B Set.

Price: $63.95



NEW *** PH/PPM Perfect Sensi Bloom A&B For  the Flowering Cycle

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NEW *** PH/PPM Perfect Sensi Grow A&B For  the Vegetive Growth Cycle

Price: $30.24


Advanced Nutrients “BLOOM”

Advanced Nutrients Grow, Micro and Bloom can be combined to provide specialized nutrients for plants in structural, foliar and blooming stages. Formulas can be custom mixed for specific applications by combining the 3 components to suit the needs of your plants particular growth phase.

Price: $11.49


Advanced Nutrients “GROW”

Advanced Nutrients Grow, Micro and Bloom can be combined to provide specialized nutrients for plants in structural, foliar and blooming stages. Formulas can be custom mixed for specific applications by combining the 3 components to suit the needs of your plants particular growth phase.

Price: $11.49


Advanced Nutrients “MICRO”

Advanced Nutrients Grow, Micro and Bloom can be combined to provide specialized nutrients for plants in structural, foliar and blooming stages.Formulas can be custom mixed for specific applications by combining the 3 components to suit the needs of your plants particular growth phase.

Price: $15.49
The thing with these nutrients, if you noticed, is that they are specifically for either flowering stages or Vegetative states.  How do you choose what and when to purchase the nutrients that you need?

Hydroponics can be expensive, or it can be very economical.  I will be performing a cost and nutrient comparison over the next few days.


I look forward to you sharing your experiences and what works for you.  Sign up here for our RSS Feed so that you can get access to our series on Hydroponics and the hydroponic feed schedule.


Turning your dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs   ———  The Caretaker


Posted by & filed under Organic Gardening.

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If your are wondering how does a greenhouse work then the simple answer is that it takes in sunlight which heats up the internal environment.

This converts solar energy (sunlight) into thermal energy (heat). Greenhouses are designed to allow sunlight to filter through the walls and ceiling. The sunlight warms the trapped air inside, creating a more stable and temperate climate.

How Does A GreenHouse Work?

This helps the plants to grow and protects them from extremes just outside of its walls. Most people know that  plants grow better when they have a consistent temperate heat and a good water source. A greenhouse can provide all of that if the grower ensures that everything is maintained and the system is kept in proper balance.

The composition of a greenhouse is key.

  • Typically, greenhouses are made of plastic or glass.
  • The purpose is to trap as much light and heat as possible
  • The plants and soil inside absorb all the sunlight and then reflect it back out.
  •  As the solar energy is redirected, however, it is changed. Sunlight is composed of shortwave infrared radiation that is able to pass through the greenhouse’s exterior. These waves turn into longer-wave infrared radiation after absorption by the plants and they are no longer able to pass through the greenhouse’s exterior.
  •     With more sunlight coming in and more energy being trapped, everything inside the greenhouse heats up further.
  • Through convection,the plants, soil and circulating air grow warm and moist. which means that as the plants heat up, they release moisture.
  • This moisture produces humidity within the greenhouse. Humidity is water vapor, which is a greenhouse gas. (no, it is not destroying our atmosphere)

I live in a cold area of the country now, Colorado (I pronounce it Cold or Hotto)so now it is imperative to have a better understanding of how does a greenhouse work.  We lived in Washington state prior to moving here, and it did snow there, but the weather was a lot more predictable.  A longer growing season, as well as we have lived there and grown lots of produce in our area.

So to combat the loss of plants due to the extreme growing environment at 7,000 feet above sea level, plus the added extreme of being located on top of Monument Hill, we are re-learning the science and technology of a greenhouse environment.  The problems that it will help us with are these:

  • Extreme temperature swings
  • High winds that pop up unexpectedly
  • Extreme hail or rain showers
  • 80 degree temperatures one day, snow the next
  • Keeping the birds from swooping down and “testing” the flavor of the new plants

So how do you build a greenhouse?

When planning a greenhouse, pick a construction site where it will receive optimal sunlight throughout the year. Pay close attention to temperature fluctuations of the different seasons in your area so that you can  choose your plants accordingly.

The temperature inside the greenhouse will always be warmer than the air outside.
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  • In freezing climates, however, a secondary heat source will have to be provided to keep  the temperature stable and allow the plants to continue growing big and hearty.
  • On the other end of the scale, a greenhouse can become too hot and will need to be allowed to cool off some.  A good ventilation system is necessary, including a shade screen in some areas on the roof top.
    • This is to ensure that the hot air can be let out.  Similar to opening the windows or skylight in a home. If you do not have a roof vent, you may open the doors of the green house in install a fan.


Another  way I have seen is that the caretaker of the greenhouse will spray the floors with water.

So to recap, how does a greenhouse work

The short answer is by creating a positive environment for which a balance of heat, water and sunshine will promote optimum growth and health of the plants that you are growing.  They keep out extreme weather, and in our case the curious birds who want to taste test.   But just like any sustainable lifestyle, the greenhouse system must be maintained properly by the owner or caretaker.

Just like anything in our lives, we need to balance all things to create a positive environment to produce the fruit of our lives.  I take step everyday to keep myself motivated and positive.

Each day I need sun, healthy nutrients, but I believe most importantly gratitude to God for Creating not only me, but everything that surrounds me and my family.  Especially the challenges, for without challenges life would be a bit boring and there would be no personal growth.

L earn how to keep your life in balance.  Robert and Terri TallTree are Native American trainers that will share the knowledge passed down from generation to generation.
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The steps to balance may appear simple, but the knowledge will change your life and help you grow to find your purpose and passion that you were created for.  Go here now, to grow into the life you have dreamed of.
Turning your dreams into the Life Of Your Dreams

Chris Downs ———————-  The Caretaker