I have a non-submersible pump which will be pulling the water out and running it through a radiator before going back into the tanks.
The water will not be super dirty, but I would like to grow a few water lilies in pots and keep a few fish to eat mosquitoes. And the tanks will be open, with plants in pots set on plants above them to save space. So some gunk will end up in the water. I need to protect my pump and more importantly the radiator.
If I drilled a bunch of one inch holes in a five gallon bucket, wrapped it tightly in landscape fabric, and put the pump intake inside of it, would that do a fairly good job of keeping unwanted objects out? How fast would it clog up? Any better ideas?
Chris, I would think that if the concentration of the contaminant were low and the starting population of microbes sufficiently diverse, a community that lived off the stuff would develop over time. Maybe the concentration could be increased bit by bit. (Of course, I have NO experience with this field, but I've heard of such things being done.)
I've got a scrap radiator that I will be using for a greenhouse heating application. The company I bought it from drained it but didn't rinse it. I'm going to rinse it out . . . what is the most environmentally friendly thing to do with the several gallons of water that result?
I've discussed in past posts that there is a lot of vacant land near Denver that could be used for urban farms, but most of it does not have water access and getting water installed is prohibitively expensive. With only 15 inches of rain a year, there is a very limited range of vegetable crops that can be grown without irrigation.
What if a farm was laid out in alternate rows on contour 8 feet wide, and every other row was a plastic covered low tunnel. However, the plants would not be growing in the low tunnels, but in the open rows. On the long sides of the tunnels the plastic would be buried in the bottom of shallow mulched trenches.
This would give the uncovered plots the equivalent of 30 inches of rainfall. Furthermore, light rains that would have merely evaporated off open ground would be concentrated into the trenches and sink into the soil, thus boosting efficiency of water usage.
Would this set-up work to grow standard vegetable crops? (Combined, of course, with mulching, varietal choice, etc.)
I know lots of people say pill bugs are harmless . . . but I've found them to be a problem. It seems that if plants are stressed by harsh conditions, they will happily eat them. I've lost lots and lots of plants, particularly beans, to pill bugs, particularly in growing seasons with harsh weather. Pill bugs really like mulch. It may be a good idea to pull mulch away from tender young plants. Also, I've heard that spreading pulled up weeds around the garden might help; it gives the pill bugs some other stressed greenery to munch on. But I've never tried it.
There are relatively new herbicides out there based on iron chelate. I'd like to get some thoughts on them. As far as I can tell, they contain iron in an organic, easily absorbed form, thus giving sprayed plants a fatal, systemic overdose.
What would the fate of this herbicide be in the soil? I assume that it would quickly become part of the 100,000 pounds of unavailable iron already in the average soil, particularly if the soil is alkaline?
What do you all think about the safety/ permie compatibility of this herbicide? It sounds like it would work better than the organic acetic acid herbicides available, since it is systemic. What would be the downsides?
I'm interested in this because to my mind one of the big problems in permaculture is removing spreading perennial weeds from established landscapes. Once a complicated landscape is in place, sheet mulches are not an option and hoeing/ hand pulling may be ineffective, particularly if the weeds are emerging from rock or masonry elements in the landscape, or near woody plants.
Mike: thanks for the advice. I'd much rather use 100 feet of PEX than 30 feet of copper.
Do you think the baseboard radiator in a tube idea would transfer the heat well? I was wondering if the air would just flow around and past the whole assembly instead of between the fins, thus minimizing heat transfer. But it is something to think about.
Unlike in the video at the top of the thread, I'm planning to have a heat exchange coil in the tank so that I can run a propylene glycol mixture through the radiator. I'd like to use PEX instead of copper. How long of a PEX tube would I need to get the maximum heat exchange?
Or would this be just too hard on the pump? Should I just run the tank water through? Buying enough propylene glycol to fill the tank is prohibitively expensive.
I really like the idea of ductwork; I'd been trying to think up ways to get the fan and radiator suspended up near the peak, and how that would work with headroom, vents, etc. Ducting the air to a fan at ground level would create much better airflow.
I may install one with a temporary tank to get the sizing worked out before finalizing anything.
I have (finally!) got my high tunnel greenhouse built and covered. It is a plastic, uninsulated structure, partially sunk in the earth, 16 feet long and 10 feet wide, with the aboveground height being 5 feet. I don't want to heat it through the winter, but instead want it to moderate the large daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations in Colorado. To this end, a scrap radiator connected to a tank of water sounds like a good idea: see here: https://northernhomestead.com/car-radiator-for-heating-and-cooling-a-greenhouse/
The big difference is that I plan to use water in the tank, but Polyethylene glycol antifreeze in the radiator, circulated through a coil of pex pipe in the tank.
I realize that you can't give me exact answers, but I'd like to get a ballpark idea on the following:
How big should the tank be to keep the greenhouse at 25 F when the outside temp is at 0 F? 150 cubic feet? 50 cubic feet? 300 cubic feet?
I did try; but I didn't have any proper equipment, so all I ended up with was a few tablespoons of green slime . . . which was the leaf protein, I guess. It didn't taste like much of anything, just a bit grassy. Mixed in with a grain of some sort and spiced properly it might have been fairly good.
I've got a bunch of walnuts stratifying in plastic bags full of damp perlite in the refrigerator. Some of them have some white mold on the shells. Does this matter? If it does, what should I do about it? It will be a few months till I can plant them outside. The bags do have ventilation holes.
Sorry, I didn't document things . . . I tend to be great at coming up with ideas/ plans, very bad a following through on them!
I do remember that we had mountains of tomatoes in 2014. However, I now don't think sheet mulching is an idea way to grow standard vegetables on a large scale. It didn't keep the bindweed out, just made the bindweed harder to deal with. It tended to dry out. Most vegetables are ruderal species adapted to disturbed mineral soil. It was actually more work that tilling; spreading a foot of wood chips, cardboard, and manure over a quarter acre garden is back breaking, and the soil underneath didn't fluff up like it was supposed to.
I think that initial tillage followed by crimped cover crops would be a good low-till system for large scale vegetables. But I have not tried it yet, just looked at the projects of others.
Bindweed in the worst weed in my area by far. Climbs and smothers plants, develops a dense carpet on disturbed soil, can't be smothered, any bit grows a new plant, seeds last for decades in the soil, deep and extensive roots that can't be dug or pulled.
Quack grass is similar but easier to outcompete or dig, and it does not climb plants.
Buffalo bur is fast growing, very spiny, and toxic. But it is annual and fairly easy to hoe out.
Depending on how cold the air is in winter in Denver, a Freezer Wofati could be an option. While it may not be a freezer in the summer it could still be a root cellar. I don't know if anyone has built one of these yet...
Denver can be cold in the winter, but it is not predictable. The whole ten day forecast is above freezing right now. I've seen it hit 75 degrees in February. On the other hand, it can get down to zero and below. Just random. The top few inches of the ground freezes, but in sunny areas it thaws again during the warm spells. And there is never consistent snow cover, so albedo is low.
Root cellaring of one type or another is probably the lowest tech way of preserving food, and particularly in mild climates probably the easiest; a hole in the ground can successfully store some crop in a cool climate.
However, what about nutrient loss?
Canning loses quite a lot of nutrients, freezing keeps most of them, dehydrating is somewhere in between. Nobody talks about long term root cellar storage. The closest think I can find talks about short term refrigeration, which involves relatively rapid nutrient loss. Can this be extrapolated to root cellaring, or not? If it can, does the process slow down after the first week or so, or not?
If nutrient losses in cellaring are large, than investing in freezer storage and backup power starts to look advisable for those planning to subsist on homegrown food during cold winters.
I don't currently have a root cellar. I was in the process of building one, and then I realized that in my climate the soil never freezes deeply; so a combination of a high tunnel, low tunnels, and various "clamps" (straw or leaf piles) would get me through the winter.
However, my irrigated backyard garden is small. I have been gardening on various remote plots. Irrigation on these plots has always been a hassle. I've been considering various possibilities for dryfarming vegetables.
Which brings me to this topic. Many root cellar crops (turnips, cabbage, beets, carrots) could be grown in the spring before things dry out. Most of the precipitation here comes between March and June, with September through February being very dry. So a crop of early turnips would be ready to harvest just when things start drying out. Remaining in hot dry soil until the weather cools down in late October would ruin them.
How could I store a good many bushels of root crops until the soil cooled down and I could put them in a standard clamp, buried bucket, or low tunnel bed?
If I dug down far enough would a pit keep them from sprouting? I could dig a deep hole into subsoil, put them in, throw some buckets of water in it (the subsoil here is generally dry in late summer) and bury them, and then pull them out for more accessible storage in the Fall?
I could also dry them for storage, but I'd rather avoid that.
On large dry-farms, water storing fallows are used. Tillage or herbicides are used to keep all vegetation down for a whole growing season, thus allowing the soil to store water for the following year.
What do you suppose the minimum size of plot would be to get an advantage from this effect? On a really tiny patch, I'm guessing nearby vegetation would suck it all up. Would a quarter acre (100 by 100 feet) be sufficient? Would using a chisel subsoiler around the edges keep tree roots out? What about a trencher?
Of course, clear tillage for a whole summer or spraying herbicides is not sustainable. I'm thinking that a tall, dense, drought tolerant and frost sensitive cover crop such as sorghum could be grown one year to suppress weeds, and left standing as residue, which according to research would actually trap more water than bare ground. The cover crop would have to be timed right so that seed didn't mature, and the ground would have to be fairly weed free for this to work.
In short, could this result in extra water storage beneficial for a dryland subsistence garden?
Could rye be planted in the Spring, grow till the weather heated up, be grazed or mowed, come back in the Fall, go dormant over Winter, and be harvested the next Summer, thus having grown for 18 months or so?
I know there are special spring planted rye varieties which go to seed that summer. I know standard rye planted in the spring as a cover crop will NOT produce seed that year due to lack of vernalization. But would grazing/ mowing allow it to survive through that first summer?
And if it did, would it have a significantly earlier harvest?
Bobb Quinn in Montana is dry farming squash, potatoes, corn, and other vegetables, even watermelons. His town of Big Sandy gets 13 inches of precipitation a year. It is a little cooler on average than Denver, CO, but not by much.
I had a similar post on here a week or so ago, but have now typed up a partial list and thought up some changes in how I would like to proceed.
A relative who has been saving seeds for years donated me a huge stash of different tomato varieties. I've worked with them for five years, and found the types that can stand up to our wacky climate. She asked me to pass on ones that don't work for me, so I'd like to do that.
I also have huge amounts of landrace tomato seed from past years that I'd like to share. Basically, it is just a jumble of thirty or so varieties, with the types that did best with minimal care in Colorado predominating. Everything from cherry tomatoes to slicers, different colors, etc.
And there is lots of commercial seed that is getting older that I'd like to get rid of. I'm trying to consolidate and focus on the stuff that is really important to me.
I’ve decided I don’t want seeds in trade; after all, the reason I’m doing this is that I have too much stuff to deal with!
Don’t PM me without posting on here what you want. That way, I won’t get duplicate requests. If a variety is marked “many” go ahead and request it even if others want it; I’ve got a lot.
More seeds will be posted shortly; I'll edit the lists.
For tomatoes and other small seeds, a single self addressed, stamped envelope should be fine for five or six packets. For larger seeds, you’ll have to send more for shipping; we can discuss that by PM.
Relatively old commercial seed
*radicchio, many packets
*sunflower, mammoth, skyscraper, several
*sunflower, micro greens, 50 grams
*Sweet corn, many varieties, heirloom and hybrid
*Early Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, many
*Snowball Cauliflower, many
*Swiss chard, fordhook, Silverado, many
*Beet, early wonder, gourmet blend many
*Chinese Mustard many
*Santa Fe Grande Hot Pepper, Fatalii pepper,
*Hybrid Max’s Gold Zucchini
*Luffa Gourd, several
*Yardlong Bean, several
*Assorted zucchini and squash, many
Stinging Nettle several
Garlic Chives several
Alexandria Alpine Strawberry
Mexican Tree Spinach
Scarlet Gleam Nasturtium
Chinese Parsley Cilantro
*Much of this seed is non-organic but non-treated.
Old tomato seed: Most saved by home seed savers, all fairly old (up to 10 years; tomato seed should be still somewhat viable at that point. I know little about any of these varieties.)
Aunt Gertie’s Gold
Sweet Gold Cherry
Tricolor Cherry (a mix)
Austin’s Red Pear
Black from Tula
Heinz Classic Processor
Grandma Oliver’s Chocolate
Doucet’s Plum Red
But I'm still interested and still researching. Before I do a large scale test I'll have to get some semi-permanent land, preferably without heavy weed pressure.
The patch I was getting ready to use a year ago turned out to have so much bindweed that I didn't want to bother trying to plant perennials, and I will only be able to use if for one more year. If I was to use it longer, I'd try to suppress the bindweed and then get perennial cover growing (other that the bindweed!) for these experiments.
But I did plant 15 pea varieties in a standard garden bed to trial overwintering. I think peas sown in September and harvested in July as a dry crop might work sown into a dormant summer pasture, if I can get them to overwinter. The problem is lack of snow-cover here in the winter. They are looking a little sad, but still alive so far.
Those watermelons do sound interesting, though I wonder if they predate European colonization. I know many native tribes adopted watermelons and traded them from tribe to tribe, so that explorers would find the melons had got there before them. Maybe these seeds were packed into an older container, or the pitch coating or radiation in the cave through off the carbon dating? I'd also guess that the germination of the seeds would show them to be old, but not quite that old. But who knows, the world is a strange place.
In any case, I'd be interested in the seeds.
I'll post a list of the non-tomato seeds that I have when I'm done sorting. The maxima squash are a landrace; I got the foundation seed from Joseph Lofthouse. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, like twenty varieties all mixed up.
I'd rather not spend a lot of time typing up the tomato varieties; there are so many of them, and many of them are old. I was planning to just send a bunch of packets to anyone who was interested. The proto-landrace tomato seeds are a jumble of maybe 50 different varieties. Eventually, only a half dozen types stood out in my garden.
I'll update this in the next few weeks and PM you.
A relative who has been saving seeds for years donated me a huge stash of different tomato varieties. I've worked with them for four years, and found the types that can stand up to our wacky climate. She asked me to pass on ones that don't work for me, so I'd like to do that.
I also have huge amounts of landrace tomato seed from past years that I'd like to share.
As I sort through my seed stash, I'll have more stuff. I'm trying to consolidate and focus on the stuff that is really important to me. I'll probably have lots of maxima squash seed from last year once the new batch is processed. I'll update this as I get more stuff ready to go.
Much of this seed is fairly old, but most should still germinate.
I'm going to ask that you pay shipping, but otherwise the seed will be free.
The tomato seeds can just be sent in an envelope. Other seeds will need a padded mailer.
So, if you are willing to send me a self addressed, stamped envelope or mailer, send me a PM of what you want, and I'll get my address to you. First come first served!
If you have seeds you'd like to swap, they could cover the postage; let me know what you have.