I've been purchasing parts for my own system, which is "fancy" compared to Helen's system but very spartan compared to the norm around my area, here's the totals so far:
4-300w PV panels (1200w total), mounts and MC4 extension: $750 total
2000w 24v inverter: $345 (seems overkill, but that Instant Pot uses 1000w)
Outback charge controller and temp sensor: $457
Lightning surge protection device, grounding rod and wiring: $135
Circuit breakers, 4AWG wire by the foot and lugs for hooking up the components: $75~
4-225AH 6v FLA used batteries with 1 year of use: $300 total
2AWG battery interconnects and 2/0 battery to power panel (overkill): $100
Maintenance gear for batteries: $30
Total: $2192 plus tax;
After possible federal rebate: $1534~
The batteries total 5.4kwh, 2.7kwh @50% DoD, and while it seems small my estimated daily power use is almost exactly 1kwh per day. So it depends on how many of those cloudy winter days there are in a row as to when I'll get near 50% DoD. For the area's estimated cloudy winter days and estimated use, 600w of panels should be enough with a larger battery bank (like 10kwh total), but I doubled the panels and went with smaller used batteries (in case I mess up and cook them) and will see how this works. The charge controller is MPPT, so I'm hoping that the extra panels will produce more power earlier and later in the day so that the batteries are topped off more often.
One of my coworkers is totally off grid and his system seems massive, I think he said he has like 80kwh of storage, and "only" has to run his generator once or twice a week because that's not enough despite our sunny location. His system is probably more along the lines of $50,000+, which was still far cheaper than having the utility run power on to his rural property. To each their own, it works for him and I'm hoping mine will work for me! Fortunately if I find my calculations were incorrect, I can expand the system later. If battery technology continues evolving I'll be ready for new ones in several years-maybe a used Tesla battery! I read those are 24v so it would be compatible, definitely lighter than FLA and if I hook it up properly and set the charge controller properly, it shouldn't even explode! XD
I see that manufacturer also makes a model that includes a humidity sensor. I wonder if you used 3 of them, with one sitting inside the living space, one outside, and another with the probe inserted into the earth berm, might provide some interesting comparison points. Perhaps a piece of rebar could be pushed into the earth under the umbrella through an existing gap in the wofati wall (or one is made and then patched back up) and then the probe is fed as deep as it will reach into the mass and the hole is patched up to prevent any air flow from the opening.
If it was put in at say 5-6 feet from the interior floor level, it should have several feet of earth above, so it will be sort of in the middle of it all. Then you can see how quickly the mass drops in temperature relative to outside extremes during winter. If the interior space gets too cold and the RMH is fired more often than for cooking, you'll also see how the mass responds over time. You might need to tape something protective over the wire itself (not the probe) to protect it from the soil, as I doubt it's designed for ground contact.
I have found that a little baking soda sprinkled on a damp hand cloth, like maybe a "pinch" worth, and wiped on my arm pits eliminates any odor there and doesn't add the strong perfumes most "normal" deodorants contain. I also notice the perspiration change compared to the antiperspirants, I actually sweat there now which I expect is a good thing! While I don't use shampoo, I do apply hand soap to my backside during showers. The rest of me is good with just water, but those extra surfactants seem like a good deal in that one spot.
This is certainly an appealing setup, I've been purchasing my solar system parts and aiming for as small of a system as reasonable, and the inverter power draw is an annoying part. Even in standby there's a phantom load from the inverter itself, and of course you'll lose about 10% of your power in the DC to AC conversion, so a 100w AC load will take 110w of DC. As the inverter capacity goes up (to handle those power hungry devices), so does the cost, and man the charger/inverter model prices are steep! So focusing more power use to DC to limit those AC needs can become cost effective.
Does anyone have experience with DC lighting, such as good sites for buying the lamps/fixtures which use DC bulbs? I have a good supply of AC-powered LED light bulbs I bought when our utility was promoting them, I think they were like $2 each. While I have AC lamps, in a few years I'll be installing fixtures in the cabin and if DC-powered options are affordable, I can do that and run a DC fuse box and skip the inverter.
DC powered fridges are easy enough to find, although pricey compared to the $25 used AC chest freezer I have connected to a $25 thermostat controller which sets the temp to 35F instead of 0F, making it use just 240wh per day from my testing in a very warm garage. With inverter perhaps 300 watts of battery charge per day. Spending $1000+ for a DC fridge for similar power use and I get freezer space and can also power it directly without the inverter, so turning off the inverter when not needed could save that phantom draw.
It all ends up resulting in less batteries needed. While the Edison nickel iron batteries are nice (especially their lifespan), the cost is still really high relative to FLA. Some sample math: 1kwh of estimated power use per day, 5 days of no charging during a winter storm would mean at least 10kwh of storage using 50% DoD for flooded lead acid batteries. NiFe Edison batteries can handle 80% DoD, so total storage needed for that 5 day window would be (5000/.8) 6.25kwh. For a 12v system, that's about 520AH and IronEdison sells 500AH worth of storage for $5468 plus tax/shipping (how much shipping for 800+ pounds of battery?).
It's rated for 11,000 cycles at 80% DoD, but since this will only happen a few days of the year during that winter storm, the cycles are probably much higher, say 15,000-20,000. Being 40-50+ years for that many daily cycles, it's essentially a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for a middle-aged purchaser.
Compared that to say a pair of Rolls Surrette 6 CS 25PS FLA batteries, similar usable capacity and about 5000 cycles for the averaged out DoD, runs $2200 plus tax (bought locally, no shipping) for almost 14 years of use for that many cycles. As a final comparison point, I picked up a pair of 1 year old FLA 225AH 6v batteries, $150 for the pair including tax and no shipping. Probably 1500 cycles left under my calculated typical use. To get the appropriate total watt/hours would cost $600 total for 4 years of use.
So overall the costs are pretty similar per year of use for FLA, if you don't abuse the battery DoD. The NiFe are less toxic and a little less maintenance, but cost the most up front and per year. Here's a point never mentioned about total cost of ownership that will always place the Edison batteries in last place- assuming you invested the *price difference* and earned interest, for example a conservative 4% return long term, the Rolls batteries are about $3400 less up front; that $3400 is worth almost $5900 after 14 years of 4% compounding interest (when you'd buy a new pair of batteries), so all future battery purchases (costing $2200 for another 14 years of batteries) are free using the interest earned, and you still have that initial $3400 of savings which is actually growing. And 4% is considered a conservative long term withdrawal rate to preserve initial capital.
So the take away is that if you have the money up front to buy the Edison batteries, and total cost is a primary driver, they are not worth buying. You can instead purchase flooded lead acid batteries, invest the rest of the money, and effectively never pay for the replacement FLA batteries again because they will all be purchased using just the interest on that 4% investment return. You essentially have "lost" that same chunk of money in that you don't get to spend it on other stuff, but at any point you can take that cash out and use it for something else, like a totally new energy storage technology, versus the Edison battery purchase is a sunk cost unless you resell the batteries. Sort of a moot point to me, I'm not trying to bash them or say it's a bad choice. But when I see sellers always pushing how the long-term cost is always less, that seems deceptive. It's the same with lithium claims of costly less long-term, it's not true when you include the opportunity cost of investing the money. Of course we could argue the chance that society collapses and those investments are lost, anything's possible. The reality is, unless you abuse FLA or hit 50% DoD on a regular basis, they are still the most cost effective option over the long term.
I would also compare what you'd pay in taxes to what services you'd like to receive in return. Some countries provide a lot more services than others, and taxes vary based on your income too. In the US if land is classified as something other than residential, and the structures you have are not as expensive, the tax cost is much lower. For example I see land in Washington classified as timber which costs $1 per acre per year, while residential 1/10 acre plots with a house is about 1.2% of value per year, which in my area is $4500-6000 per year, or about $500,000 per acre!
That said, there is a lot of services provided in dense suburbs relative to remote rural locations, but you can purchase several acres classified as non-residential and then have just 1 acre converted to legally cover the bases, and still pay way less per acre. Also Washington has no income tax, but has higher sales tax. So if you're a tightwad like me, then taxes on that front are very low. Several states in the US have no income tax.
I picked up the Instant Pot, and it's been great for steel-cut oats, I can toss it in and then my morning routine of shower/shave/dress and the oats are ready to eat. I have cooked basmati rice in it, and using the recommended settings the rice was a little dry, perhaps if I ate it ASAP after opening it would have been better, but I just add a bit more water. I haven't tried my favorite chicken/carrot/lentil with curry-ish seasoning slow cooker recipe in it yet.
The model I have is rated at 1000w, so this will impact my solar power system as far as inverter sizing. While it might only be on for 10 minutes between heating up and cook time and uses say 160 watt-hours as a result, I was planning on a 600w inverter which would now need to be a 1500w model to allow the IP to run while other things are on like lights and fridge. I was already planning to not bring my microwave which while a 1000w model actually draws 1500w due to the power loss during conversion, and I don't think I want that around down the road.
My crock pot says 240w on the bottom in comparison, so a smaller inverter would be fine, but if I'm running it on high for 4 hours that's 960 watt-hours of use, so either sunny days or higher battery capacity needed there. Or even better, making a "hay cooker", insulated box to put the crock pot or other cooking pot in after it's up to a boil. I have a ceramic coated cast iron pot which has the mass that would work well for that setup. I believe it can also handle an open flame, so a rocket heater to bring it to a boil, then in the box to simmer. No additional electrical capacity needed, but an outdoor kitchen for warm weather cooking would be good.
I can also see picking up a normal pressure cooker used as an option, to either cook food faster or for canning seasonal items in the outdoor kitchen. I expect with experience you'd learn how much wood to feed a rocket heater to bring the pressure cooker up to temp, but maybe that's not a recommended method due to safety?
I think the hypothetical allows us to step outside of where we are now, and more clearly state what we want to do and where we'd want to be, than when we are buried in our normal routines and expectations and assume we can't change courses. It's a good tool to get a person to realize their current actions and habits might not be aligned with their long term goals, and the hope would be that this person could make the changes to reach those long term goals.
In my case, I'd retire right now instead of in 3.5 years, and then do what I plan on doing anyways- build my wofati-ish cabin and try to grow more of my own food, raise some chickens, and live with a light footprint. I hope to travel to some places I haven't seen, and revisit the big parks and hike parts of the AT and PC trails. So maybe I'd do that more than I will in a few years, to pack in more enjoyable experiences into the 2 year window. But I've been finding less and less stuff necessary for enjoyment, so I don't think I'd go nuts buying stuff. If the world ended in 2050, then I'd continue to live the way I am, which appears might be helpful to the planet in the long run as well.
But I recall seeing a little cartoon of a person hugging Mother Nature, and apologizing for all the harm they had done to her. Mother Nature responds with something like "oh your actions aren't going to kill me little one, I will continue on as I have for billions of years. You on the other hand, will likely disappear as quickly as you appeared, as many other species have before you..."
Progress pics for the 24 black locust in the back yard, they have been growing well in the larger pots, although I'm thinking these pots are too small-a lesson learned for the next batch. I'm going to try this deer fence around the trees, and if it works I'll expand it each year:
Hopefully this batch will take root when planted in early October, and by spring will get established in time for the normally dry summer months. They are around 18" tall now, probably would be larger and certainly better rooting if in the ground directly... I'll be bringing some seeds too and will plant them directly to see if winter scarification works well, couldn't hurt to get extra trees started and would be interesting to see if they catch up to the transplants. It'll all depend on the deer leaving them be, although they are covered in thorns on the new shoots.
Fred and the boots have been using the dehydrator regularly, Fred has stated he's dried out many pounds of fruit at a time and during the 2019 ATC I saw herbs were in it. The internal temp depends on how cloudy the day is, how long the sun is out and at what angle, the ambient air temps, and how much mass/moisture in the plants you're trying to dry out.
I bought a used chest freezer from a coworker for $20, there's no adjustment that I saw and it has a target temp of 0F. I then bought a digital thermometer on Amazon for around $20, which has the temp probe and 2 outlets, on for "cooling power" and one for "warming power". I set it for 35F, +/- 2F. So when it hits 37, power is sent to the cooling outlet, which the freezer is plugged into, and it turns on to cool it to 35. If I needed to keep the temp within a tight range, say for brewing beer, then a heater can be plugged into the other outlet, and if the temp dropped below the lower number (33F for my example), then power goes to the other outlet and a heater could turn on.
This old chest "fridge" was using 240 watt hours per day in my 80-90F garage over 4 days of testing, compared to nearly 1kwh per day in regular freezer mode of 0F.
Ah gotcha, I ordered mine from altestore.com for $172 per 300w panel. Definitely heavier per panel, and safety is a biggie!
Are the panels plugging into a charge controller which has the diversion load attached? Is the goal to heat water when batteries are topped off, rather than the typical charge controller just cutting the current?
I just bought panels and parts for my off grid system, and was curious if you found the 100 watt panels better for a particular reason, than say buying 2 300 watt panels to put in series so you get the same voltage/amps? You'll still get 600 watts with either combo not 300 watts. 300 watt panels tend to be far cheaper compared to 100 watt panels, per watt, in my experience.
The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins goes into great detail about how modern composting toilets are really just dry toilets, not composting at all, and don't do a good job of eliminating disease vectors as a result. When you combine a good ratio or nitrogen to carbon, and add enough water/moisture and air, a compost pile gets up to the optimal temp range of 120-140F which will kill off every pathogen harmful to people within 24 hours or less (down to less than an hour at the higher temps).
If you use the proper cover material in the bucket and compost pile, there is no smell or flies. Compost piles need a lot of moisture when active, and if the cover material is sufficient no turning is necessary and in fact is detrimental to maintaining the proper temps and retaining the highest possible nitrogen levels.
Here’s a picture of the updated hot water heater by the showers. The changes included adding an insulated exhaust pipe with clean out; doubling the height on the heat riser; adding an extension to the wood feed to allow covering it with bricks while wood is in it; adding a P channel to the feed; and covering the riser with a nice metal outer skin.
Students learned several types of welding during the ATC and put it to use adding to the riser support.
Definitely sounds like dry earth which gets about 1R per foot, while wet earth takes 10-20 times more per R.
There’s a web site which sells recycled billboard that I’ve looked at, 40-60mil material without breaking the bank. As I don’t have enough wood duff to use for insulation, the poly sheets which are 2” thick should work fine. Suggesting that going green is an all or nothing argument feels like a Strawman; concrete is probably the worst offender of energy use in my book, so just eliminating that is a really big step forward.
I wouldn’t call my build a wofati for several reasons but certainly an Oehler/Hait hybrid. Hait’s Umbrella is a proven design with decades of use. Oehler’s design is similar, with just protection of posts being a work in progress from what I’ve read.
Heya Byron, I was on the team that was rebuilding Paul's earth berm shed last year and some videos were posted of that work, linked below. Pounding the logs into the hole with the excavator got them to sink several inches with the sandy soil. My own plan is to use a steel bar once I get a hole to 42" depth, and compact the soil down, then add landscape fabric to the bottom, which will keep the 6" of gravel I add for drainage in place. Then another piece of fabric on top, which will hold the borax, DE, and wood ash mix that is added to limit fungal growth due to any remaining moisture in the log which drains once installed. Then the log goes in, wrapped with something to keep the soil off, but the end of the log is not wrapped- just the 36" of the sides which will touch soil. That way the log drains into the 6" of gravel and once dried out should remain that way. Especially during the build, my concern is rain getting the site wet and having that wet soil against any wood for the days it takes to dry out. So wrapping the sides should help while the roof and then umbrella are installed.
If you can drain the umbrella to an elevation that's lower than the post hole depth, you should be set for rain, and as long as the water table stays several feet below during spring runoff/rain season it should be all good. I bought some 1" wood dowels to cut out "logs" to build a scale model, and you can then cut out furniture with paper to move them around to get a feel. My own property is pretty flat, I will build where I have a bit of drop as I plan to dig 4 feet down, so I want to french drain the umbrella perimeter to sunlight below that. Was also planning to add an earthship-inspired greenhouse on the south wall to use as a buffer in winter and try growing warmer plants using some techniques from the book The Forest Garden Greenhouse. Might work for you as well, add a few months to the growing season and you could run sink/shower gray water out through it to the outside. Perhaps compost the toilet Humanure style.
I highly recommend the Humanure Handbook method to process with no runoff into the ground. Burying unprocessed waste, especially as fertilizer near food, places pathogens in proximity with food and Joe's referenced research includes evidence of pathogens being absorbed into food crops where there's no washing it off. You definitely shouldn't go that route, instead use thermophilic composting which works really well when you include feces and urine in the compost, don't separate it. Hot compost goes through a lot of moisture, and if you cover it properly as Joe explains, there is no smell indoors or outdoors.
Based on my previous visit in October, putting on shoes/boots inside the front door of the FPH caused a bit of a road block and/or the door was open a bit letting heat out. Perhaps a bench on the porch which is covered in case there's rain, where 2-3 folks can sit at once and remove shoes, and the shoes are left outside under cover, would clear up the inside entryway?
Steve Humbolt wrote:Thank you all for the replies and suggestions.
Can anyone suggest a place in Arizona that is well suited to permaculture?
Pretty close to Arizona, but in Utah, is Heartwater Farm which I've visited and is a nice place. Their kids weren't into permaculture so they were looking for someone to take over. The wife passed away last year I think, so if you want something already developed for like 20 years it's an option. Year-round water, a nice pond with little island in the middle that nests migratory birds, monolithic dome house with solar and off grid, geodesic dome greenhouses, and they raised pastured beef for someone using a dozen paddocks and rotated the cattle almost daily. At the end of the year on top of being paid they kept a cow to butcher for a year of meat, but if you're not into that you just don't keep one or find a different use for the land to earn a living. No idea what price he is asking these days, or perhaps it already sold and the web site is outdated, it never worked perfectly in the past. You also are less than an hour from Bryce Canyon, and maybe 90 minutes to Zion and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
My fig tree is definitely the most vigorous fruit tree in the yard, it's 8 feet tall and fruiting 1 year after I planted it at 3' from a 1 gallon pot. Perhaps making a 10' diameter, 1' tall mound to plant it in will help the root rot? And if you keep it pruned to a manageable height you could toss a tarp over it on nights where you expect early frosts in the fall? Might get some extra weeks out of it that way.
Fig is definitely one of the planned 'Mediterranean' species I plan to try in an Oehler-inspired greenhouse up in zone 6. I'll probably include a climate battery as described in The Forest Garden Greenhouse which is a good read on growing plants in areas 4-6 zones colder than they can tolerate. You could probably start with a simple cover, bending pvc pipe up and over the tree and tossing a cover on that as needed. You just remove the cover and leave the pipes in place in the fall, so quick to go out each night and cover it as needed.
Diane, yes just keep cutting back new shoots before they develop, so the plant spends more nutrients sending up shoots than it receives from them and it will eventually run out of juice. If you can cover up the spot to prevent light from reaching new shoots that will help too.
I heard that if you cut back to a stool at an early age the tree might not survive, so I’m growing a batch of trees from seed each year so they will grow with proper timing without an initial cut. Also limits me to say 100 trees per year to start as well.
Diane Kistner wrote:Question: How many years should one wait after planting young trees to allow them to establish before attempting either of these methods?
That depends on the species and local conditions, as far as how fast the tree can regrow. If you cut down a tree when it's too small, there might not be enough energy stored in the smaller roots in the winter for it to generate new shoots the following year. Then the growth rate will determine how soon you can cut again. I've heard a minimum of 3-4" diameter trunks before cutting the first time. Under ideal circumstances I've heard black locust could take maybe 5-7 years from seed to reach the first cutting size, and regrow in 4-5 years for each successive cut. I believe I heard around 7-8 years for Hazel, and you could also harvest nuts for a couple of those years as well for multiple functions.
Say you had 20 hazel trees as part of the rotation, cutting down 3 each year, and having 10 big enough each year to produce nuts to eat/sell. I'm hoping to establish black locust, osage orange/hedge apple (as part of a hedge/fence), hazel, and maybe red maple which all should coppice well. A variety of species provides some redundancy in case one species is hit by a pest or disease, and while you take a production hit you aren't left with a total loss. Having around 2 acres with trees spaced pretty close like 10'x10' would give around 800 trees in that space and encourage straighter growth. Cutting 1/4 acre=100 trees each year with an 8 year rotation which should give all species enough time provided they get enough water and stay healthy, and those 2 acres would have a range of habitat ages for critters to use.
Just have to keep the deer out or you'd come to discover all those fresh tasty shoots getting eaten to the ground and the trees all being killed as they run out of juice to keep making new shoots. Thus my hope to plant osage orange as a hedge around the perimeter and grown high enough that deer can't see over/through it and thus won't try to jump it, while being short enough that I can use long handle pruners to harvest hundreds of branches each year. In my ideal fantasy world, I get several thousand osage orange planted around the entire 20 acres, and maintaining a hedge size gives thumb-thick cuttings which would add up to several thousand each year and that would be all I need for wood heat without using a saw. The black locusts could then be thinned out to larger standards and cut for posts or larger timbers on a longer schedule; hazels are mixed into the OO hedge and kept for nuts (I harvest the inside, deer can harvest the outside).
Edit: I forgot the downside for that though- osage orange has thorns (which is a plus for a protective hedge), so there might be thousands of ouchies in the process of pruning. So while it is one of the densest and hottest burning woods in north america there is a price!
RMHs provide a lot of heating through conduction and radiation, so if you are in the same space you get the best results. Convection also happens but to a lesser extent. My main experience with RMHs was spending about 10 days at Cob Cottage where the Myrtle (library) was running the RMH each night around dinner time for say 40 minutes, and that was it. In the morning it might have been 38-40F degrees per the outdoor thermometer, but you'd step inside Myrtle for breakfast and this wall of heat would greet you at the door.
That space was essentially one room, so most of that could have been radiant heat. But as several of us were moving around, you never felt like you do near a fire, where the side facing away is cold. The Myrtle is a totally cob structure, so that big thermal mass would absorb RMH radiant heat during the evening and solar radiant heat during the day through passive solar design. So perhaps that balanced the heat we felt in the morning. The day would warm up to 50-55 but the house was always very comfortable. All that said, heating the basement up nice and toasty would certainly happen, but if the foundation isn't insulated on the outside then the walls would be a heat sink and rob some/a lot of the heat. Meanwhile the wooden floor joists and framing aren't going to conduct as much heat up, and some convective heat can travel up the stairwell but I doubt it would be enough for the rest of the house.
If you can use waste wood to run it, then the RMH would probably lower your heating bill, but probably not eliminate it.
Thanks for the info on the site, it's a nice layout over there. How long have you used this particular pump now? My own site has sandy soils, but no well drilled yet so no idea how sandy it will be 70' below. I'm thinking a large storage tank kept filled with a solar-powered pump that runs when the sun is shining, with a float switch to stop it when the tank is full. Some pumps like Grundfos look good but are pricey, while the one you mentioned seems great if it's reliable. At 1/8 the price of the Grundfos, seems like I'd just buy 2 and keep one stored as a backup, and when the first fails I order a new backup. If each lasts a couple years, then a big savings overall.
Maybe it's more of a USA thing, but I see a definite link between housing size and "stuff accumulation". Most of the houses around me are older 1960-era ranches which all have closets that these days appear small. My current house is 1200sqft, and with just me it's more than I need- one bedroom is just for the occasional guest, and another has a few things sitting in it but otherwise is totally unused. So something closer to 800-900sqft would be plenty. I have some shelves in the garage but nothing fancy, and actually park my car in it.
Meanwhile most neighbors have their garage totally packed with stuff, floor to ceiling, that I see when walking the dog. There's always a product to buy to solve some contrived issue that's marketed to consumers. Know anyone that has a large treadmill in a room, with a few pieces of clothing laying on it because it hasn't been used for years, but "one of these days" it will? So newer, bigger houses have a lot more storage for stuff, including attics or basements. They also tend to have more than one communal space like a living room plus family room plus office space, so every member of the family can go to their own 300-400sqft area to do an activity and not interact with others. Each child getting their own bedroom is another factor, rather than 1 room for boys and 1 for girls, using bunkbeds or just 2 singles. I remember as a kid having a chest of drawers built under a bed once, rather handy for a 10'x12' bedroom for 2 kids which was the standard size.
It can be very liberating to break from the accumulation of stuff as a bandaid for being bored or trying to distract yourself from an otherwise unhappy life. Nothing wrong with hobbies that involve stuff of course, and especially when you have kids there can be a lot of stuff between holiday decorations and toys, but the less stuff you have the less space you need and more housing options are available to you.
I plan to include plenty of shelving in an Oehler/Wofati design, including built-in storage between posts to separate rooms and along the outer wall seems pretty straight forward, and I plan to have a root cellar as well as an electrical room for batteries and solar power gear panel. Not sure that more storage beyond that would be necessary, but planning for storage under the bed too, to save something other than dust bunnies.
I don't recall who made/had the list, but it was a list of "jobs that earn over $50k/year with no college degree". Maybe Early Retirement Extreme or Mr. Money Mustache? If a person is willing to go to a trade school, there are quite a few jobs out there which pay well after just a year at a low cost school. My first time through college I got a degree which I used for a few years, but it was more an interest academically and not something I enjoyed so much out in the work force. So the second degree I pursued once I knew I was more interested in that field, which fortunately was also in demand. My favorite subjects and cstrong points prior to college were always math and physics, in my time machine scenario I would go back and pursue an engineering degree.
It can be a tough fit to find a career you enjoy that is also in enough demand to make a living doing it, especially as a kid when you might not have any idea what's available. It would help if aptitude tests and highschool education were tied together in a way to explore a child's interests in a variety of fields.
LuAnne Welch wrote:The goal is to heat a 20 by 48 foot space as efficiently as possible. There is no insulation along the walls. (this is a temp tent situation)
So I'm looking to extract as much heat from the barrel as I can - the hotter the barrel the better.
I would offer that getting as much heat into the thermal mass of the bench, so that it radiates the heat out over many hours, is going to be more efficient than trying to radiate lots of heat from the barrel during a burn and then having to burn more often as it also cools down quickly (just like a wood stove). Once you settle on a size and layout, try to get the mass all in place including some cob/mud/dirt directly on the pipe, so there is no air gaps at all right where the pipes are in contact. Do this while it's still warm out, and fire it up several times to get the mass to dry out (where you use soil/cob) so you don't lose heat to that when you need the heat.
After seeing all the math people get into for the proper CSA of the heat riser torus but also considering possible ash buildup on the top of the heat riser, I'd suggest you just make the gap between 50-100% the height of the system: 3-6 inches for a 6" system, 4-8 inches for the 8" system. The feed/burn/riser ratio of 1/1.5/3 is always measuring the feed and riser from the bottom of the burn tunnel, not the top. So 16"/24"/48" on the 8" system includes the 7" or so from the bottom of the burn tunnel to the top- your riser would be an additional 41", and feed tube 9" above the burn tunnel. The RMH Builders Guide should also mention total length of the extraction pipe, minus 5' for each 90 degree bend and some possible bonus based on the chimney. If you made a little bell at the end instead of 2 90 degree turns, then you don't lose the 10 feet there.
Geoff Lawton has a video I recently watched about pollarding schedules for chop and drop in the food forest garden, based on precipitation/evaporation timing. A point he made was getting young tree growth back in place to help shelter smaller plants from full sun at the hottest times of the year. But it's rarely intended that the tree is creating a full shade environment underneath, as most plants you'd grow for food require some sun.
My plan is to have mostly herbaceous chop and drop plantings around the base of fruit trees to improve soil fertility for the trees, and to prune those trees to keep their canopies open and reachable without the use of a ladder, say 8' at max. For my area I could also allow black locust standards to grow with wide spacing nearby the same area, as BL canopies are reported as being pretty open, creating light dappled shade but far enough from the fruit trees to give them 100% sun in that 10-2 window. Under the BL I could plant shrubs/vines/ground cover plants.
I don't think a food forest that has full sized trees over dwarf trees over shrubs over herbaceous plants over ground covers over root crops with vines on the tree trunks all packed tightly together is going to provide enough light for everything unless you are extremely particular about species and spacing. I think it's intended that there will be a bit more spread and while all 7 plant elements can be present, they aren't always all present in the same space but rather spread out around the area.
Being a tropical plant, I doubt the seeds store well but I still have a few in the fridge I can test. I bought them last year but only used half, would be great if the remainder are still viable after 12 months stored at 35-40F.
Yeah I would start with searching counties for those with lax/no building codes outside incorporated cities, and also note properties near enough that they might become incorporated down the road after you're building/built. Unless you find a spot that's out of sight and you dig by hand/shovel, neighbors are likely to notice if an excavator shows up, and then code enforcement can show up if you pick the wrong spot.
Ideally if the RMH is drafting properly there would be nothing to smell when burning. I’ve heard some can have a skin reaction to BL sap so perhaps that’s also the smell source and proper aging will minimize it.
I removed a rain gutter on my house and noticed the dutch white clover really took off on the new drip line. The clover in my back yard has reached 12-18" but no taller. I'd suggest you find a ground cover suited for the site and plant that, and you can also try adding a little swale along contour to stop surface water flow down the slope. Some mulch to hold the dirt in place until the ground cover grows in should help too.