I love the idea and will probably get it to support it, but since taking Geoff Lawtons PDC, theres a better way to make the walls. Now all due respect to Michael Reynolds, I first saw earthships in 2004 and fell in love with them, theyre a "gateway drug" into alternative living. But he kinda had the same idea Bill Mollison had in the 70s about incorporating our garbage into our systems.
Just like the PDC's dont really get into using old mattresses to plant potatoes and such like they did decades ago, its time to get rid of the tires in walls. Geoff is going to make an "Earthship on Steroids" video where you use an excavator to dig a pond and use the fill and the excavator packs the walls, much faster and cheaper. Thats the only change id make, its a beautiful concept, and it looks awesome!!
I know some diehard dogmatics may disagree, but while im doing my earthworks anyway, id rather build my house with no toxic tires (I know they claim they dont offgas, and maybe theyre right, but why chance it to use a system that takes more time, more man hours and more money.
Not meaning to sound harsh or critical, just trying to make a good thing even better.
Hi Rick, I will pick up your book for sure just on that topic of animals in the greenhouse alone, im glad to hear the greenhouse as a barn works well. Im located in maritime canada so we get a mix of summer weather both dry and humid.
I had thought of using a concrete envelope (walls, floor, roof, etc) with lots of insulation and earth berm protection for the north and east sides, and using the climate battery concept to pump the warm moist air underground in a gravel filled concrete envelope, insulated from the earth to minimize heat transfer to the ground, for storing the heat for winter use. Whats your thoughts on that keeping the summer humidity down?
Hi Rick, am excited to hear your advice on greenhouses, esp with a survival aspect to them. Im looking at building one as my main living structure, kind of like the guys in Basalt, CO did, and others. Wondering if you have any tips/tricks for making the shift to one on the side of your house to making it your whole house. I like the idea of a "climate battery" or annualized geo solar, and such concepts, your input would be greatly appreciated. Also wondered your thoughts on using one to keep chickens/ducks/geese/pigs, heck if big enough even a cow or two through the winter, im up in eastern canada so its wet and cold here then. Thanks.
Hi there, its great youre looking at building a greenhouse to keep your animals, and push the envelope both in building technique and climate. While I like the wofati idea, i have some reservations that it looks like youre addressing which is great. PAHS is great and if it works its nice to have free heat and cooling, but i liken it to flying a fighter plane without an ejector seat, its on the edge and if you have no safety net, it can be bad.
As far as the depth of insulation at the top of my head i dont have any data on it, but i have seen something similar on another websites earthship forum about them using insulation below the frost line in scandanavia, so it makes sense on an intuitive level that youd want a thermal enevolpe that doesnt give heat back to the earth easily but has earth around to buffer the cold wind, etc.
Id look at geo-solar, Geoff Lawton did a video on a greenhouse in canada using it, id look at having the tubes blow that warm air back down into gravel contained in your thermal enevolpe instead of directly to the earth, it might be a bit warm in summer, but all that warmth will be held more for use in winter. Its an expense in the beginning but will pay off quick and is passive. Next id look at a rocket mass heater, its not passive, but its as close as possible for an active system, uses little wood and if something isnt quite right, you have a heat buffer that might someday save your animals in winter.
You might add solar hot water, or extra solar air heated "wings" off to the sides, a popular one is the aluminum cans painted black in cells, but im not an expert in them, maybe theres something better out there now, you could blow that warm air in winter and it wouldnt cover your main greenhouse windows.
If you have enough heat in winter you might check out some aquaponics systems to grow forage for the animals, plus you can eat the fish and grow veggies for yourself too check out the book solviva for a neat example, good luck.
Hi Jay and others who replied, thanks. Maybe I wasnt as clear in my post, I got the impression that Jay thought I meant learning by building other peoples wofati by myself, what I was referring to is, its the kind of structure youd want to work as a helper on some other peoples ones first before building your own.
I also did have a question in my post "My concern and question is what do you do if the design isnt just quite right, can you add a rocket mass heater, etc", although yes my post is was also part statement, guess not putting in the question marks may have made it harder to see, basically my question restated is how easy is it to put in supplemental systems for heat, and/or retrofit one in if you discover after that you need one?
I think alot of people will do like in michaels post in that its probably wise to learn by building some outbuildings first and then do your main structure. The statement part of my original post is that im concerned that people will get all excited to get back to the land or whatever you want to call it, see wofati and if thats all they can afford as a house, build it, and its a great concept when it works right, I guess i can see alot of city raised "screenagers" as Geoff calls them building one and freezing or being wet all winter.
Interesting thread, think we all would like to do something like this, my 2 cents would be to examine what they used in France, seem to remember the bocage areas gave us a hard time with mobility in WW2, and see what similar species would grow in your zone. From the pic you supplied, it seems youre more interested in weaving the branches together to provide the main stopping power, so maybe some type of more flexible tree (willow, birch, alder, etc) and go for the thorns as a secondary consideration. I usually, like alot of the other posters tend to think of thorns when envisioning a living hedge, but if you can weave together enough branches, that might not be necessary and save you alot of pain putting it together.
Hi again, sorry ive been away for a bit. I like what youre saying about the grains used for livestock vs us eating them, its totally the way we should be using them. Ive been watching Mark Sheppard and like his youtube video where he talks alot about the oak savannah. I could work chestnuts into the mix and have more stable production, and its high carbohydrate and less work to process than acorns, just not sure about the time to harvest vs quick bearing newer oak varieties, not sure if chestnuts have been worked on much lately. Also his no bull approach and being tough on limiting inputs is probably the way ill have to go, cause the money for huge earthworks will be limited. Also been watching Ben Falk, hes close to my area so taking in alot of what hes saying as well. He was talking about feeding squash to ducks in winter, was interesting, long storage feed crop instead of buying grain.
Wish I could grow sweet potatoes well up here, just too cold, maybe in the greenhouse, am hoping to put my bucks in to a climate battery greenhouse type structure as my main living space (i lived in the tropics for a yr and miss it) also would like to have green veg all winter if possible, with a few smaller greenhouses to hold my chicken, ducks, etc. figure the chickens can feed on compost and the heat of it and the birds will help, could even add a rocket stove, and can grow some greens for them to eat all winter instead of buying grain, and if I can sneak a few plants for me in there well its a bonus.
Hope the new year is going well for you, cant wait to hear more about your place
So the idea of the wofati house seems great, cheap, no heat needed, no worrying about southern access for passive solar, etc. My only concern and this may be just as a total newb with them, but it seems to be based alot on getting the design right with no mistakes. In most houses you have a margin for error, put in more insulation, a second or bigger heater, etc. My concern and question is what do you do if the design isnt just quite right, can you add a rocket mass heater, etc(i know that technically no longer makes it a wofati). It just seems that its the kind of house you should have built a few of them first for other people before building your own to live in.
They are different in that the country has a Gross Happiness Index, i believe, kind of a GDP for peoples happiness. Theyre mostly Bhuddist so on paper a peaceful area, however there has been strife with Maoists in nearby Nepal so not sure if id want to live there just yet, they take visitors, its expensive though for a pass/visa, but I think thats to manage tourism and not get overwhelmed. At least thats from what a remember last time I was hearing about them. Interesting place
ps. and i LOL'd & did a doubletake when i saw the name of the interviewer, hes a famous journalist near my neck of the woods.
I first heard him on "Oneradionetwork.com" it sounded great, saw the video and it made sense esp. after seeing a bunch of geoff's videos, and lastly listened to him on the grow your food summit. As far as the religion, if youre religious, great, if not, just take the info, try not to let it turn you away from good info (btw full disclosure im not very religious). His system I feel would remove alot of the work in permaculture in the pioneer stage, just prepare your land, plant your final food forest and put the chips down as your ground cover/mulch/nitrogen fixing.
In the grow your food summit this summer he said he doesnt use any more chips on his plants, he has enough, he uses compost from the chickens, he also had his soil tested and it was far and above what is required for growing. Not to mention you can burn wood chips in a designed rocket stove/use for paths, etc. and you can get them free or low cost and make them when thinning/maintaining your woodlands,trails,roads, etc. what more could you want, its probably a bit more work in the first year or two of a new property, but i think it would save alot of work for all the years after, plus it holds so much moisture you need less earthworks,swales and ponds as you dont need to irrigate and thus feed as many ponds.
I was thinking the same thing as the guy from Victoria and was directed her from another thread re: the wood chips, they might not be ideal in terms of dryness, but after watching Return to Eden the whole wood chips on gardens has me hooked, so I figured what if the highway service wanted to give you waaaay more than you needed, could you burn them??? Ive seen chicken feed on compost so i figured nothings impossible. Might not be what a person sets out on, but if theyre local conditions mean theyre up to their eyes in wood chip mulch, could it be burnt in a rocket type stove?
Thanks Bryant, Im trying to figure out as many possible income possibilities, may not try them all but its good if they can be built in or able to be used on the property if needed. Interesting you mentioned first nations ideas, thats where I got the idea of the acorns and wild rice IMO its an under utilized food and at the same time it attracts wood ducks and the ponds attract other species of duck, either for hunting, enjoyment or hosting hunting/bird watching groups. Toying with the idea of a small visitor center that at different times of the year can have different groups there: permaculture/yoga/meditation/maple sugaring/ summer activities/hunting and fishing/winter skills/bushcraft). Figure if youre going to go to the trouble of hosting one activity the stuff youd have to build could better be used all year long if possible. In addition the usual common streams of food/timber/food products, etc.
Im trying to go with whats natural here, while keeping in mind the total time length for a finished food forest, and what age and possible health situations ill be in ( there may not be things I can/want to do in 15-20 yrs, so im trying to think about having it as work free as possible, or having the work close to the house, or in an area of the property id like it to be). But at the same time keeping an eye on planting stuff that will be around long after im gone, thats also an important thing to consider, as that can be a source of satisfaction thats overlooked in todays instant society. Also funds will probably be an issue so if I can avoid the cost of massive earthworks with the wood chips, thats a plus( not that the ponds arent nice by themselves, one has to wonder how much theyre needed to pump irrigation water/flood/drout control. (in my area neither are common of course the earths always changing, but it be nice to have the ponds as an option and not a necessity that I might not be able to afford).
You sound like you have alot of knowledge to lean on thats great!! Be interesting to see how the straw bale rows turn out, they can also be great for weeding and keeping moisture in, and if its around, why not use it to best advantage, thats good. Im betting you could stack bales for a potato box to get alot of them in a small area. Also like that youre able to give back OP seeds to people, thats great and its a valuable skill should it be needed down the road (seeds will be worth more than gold IMO when it gets bad).
I like your cooperative approach, thats how i like to prepare as well, by helping and cooperation rather than fear. Thats also why I pick the foods Im focusing on as well, I dont eat alot of grains, and hearing a talk on grain free prepping,it got me thinking of nuts as a primary store, technically wild rice is a grain, but its high value for its size and you dont have big fields of it to draw ppl in, and frankly most ppl wouldnt do the work needed to harvest and get it ready for storing. Also not a big fruit eater, theyre great in small doses but theyre finding a big health connection to sugar and the illnesses of modern life, so the typical food forest you see, id tend to modify to focus on high nutrient like blue/black/raspberries and similar types(huckle,haskap,salmon, lingon, etc) some apples for cider,vinegar and selling with a few for eating, plus the pigs will like them, with a few others(im partial to pears & the forums on cold tolerant apricots and pomegrantes have tickled my interest . Also try to focus on herbal and health specific trees and shrubs (hawthorn for heart, ginko for brain, etc).
Anyhow im starting to ramble, sounds like you have a good garden to tide you over till your forest kicks into high gear.
So im big into the garden of eden approach to gardening using wood chips as your mulch, it got me thinking, what if i got ahold of too many wood chips, could they also be used to fuel my rocket stove to heat the house as well? Im a total rocket stove newb so this is either the dumbest question ever, or an awesome idea mind you I would chip up perfectly good coppiced wood or regular rocket stove sized pieces, but thinking if my local govt highway service dropped a BIG load of chips it might be a cool use for them.
Love this thread although im in zone 4b so itd be pushing the envelope, but would be worth it as pomegrantes are so good for your heart, also liked the info on Apricots, anyone had success on growing ones like in the Hunza area, I like the ones with very bitter hearts as they are full of vitamin B17 aka laeitrile(sp) seen in the documentary "World Without Cancer". Now if only there was a cold tolerant Moringa leaf tree, my superfood guild would be complete
Thanks Bryant, appreciate the info on the beds, depending on the permit situation for the ponds (meaning how much water ill be holding uphill) ill probably keep my mounds hugel free on contour, esp when i can use the garden of eden method to put the tree matter in play, not worth the risk. As for the age thing, its more wondering how old ill be when my food forest is in the start of good production. (about 20 yrs ago was into organic gardening but hadnt found permaculture, so sometimes I feel like im 20 yrs behind schedule
So id rather use the garden of eden approach for my mulch, nitrogen fixing, and not needing to lay irrigation and start with food forest species right away and reduce the need for pioneers, kind of like Geoff says about stacking layers of time, but on a new level, as Tim the Tool Man would say "More Power" nothing like a big bunch of tree mulch to replicate a 100 or so years of forest litter. I figure the local tree services may provide some cheap, and the site ill probably use will be heavily forested (see below) so the time,money and effort done now early putting down chips im hoping will pay off in less work to do in later years planting cover crops, nitrogen fixers, chopping and dropping, etc.
Im near Maple Syrup country, zone 4b. My desired site would be a mixed hardwood forest to plant low tannin oaks for making oak flour and such, and any ponds seeded with wild rice for either sale or storage, as well as attracting wild ducks, depending on the site maybe some fish ponds as well. Along with beech, butternut, walnut & hazel for nuts and maples for maple water( is similar to coconut water for minerals) or making maple syrup possibly. But hardwoods take a lot of time, so thats my concern. Im looking at a multi income stream and using nuts as my main safety food instead of fruit or grains.
My plan is the garden and quicker growing shrubs and trees will keep me going till the hardwoods are established. So ill probably keep the hugels close to the house. Thats just a small part of the whole plan, but hope it illustrates my though process a bit more clearly. Thanks again for the info and appreciate being able to send questions your way
In keeping with the whole permit workaround feature, not sure if it should be in the pond or earthworks forum but it deals with both. Saw Geoff Lawton video of a permacuture farm in the midwest and instead of building ponds with dams, they "dug holes" where they wanted the water to be slowed/stored and it seemed to work for him, although it wasnt a pond in that it kept water all year round. I was think of instead of doing the traditional pond with dam, id just "dig a hole" on my property and if it fills up with water, fish, ducks, etc, well its just a happy accident i guess LOL. Has anyone had success with this approach over the traditional dam building option?
Thanks for the replies, everybody, yes, I do sometimes get sloppy with my terms I "generally" think of swales as the trench and the berms on each side, I guess, cause I figure most times you cant have one without the other, but I can see where that can cause some confusion, so ill work on that. You guys have pretty much answered my question as it seems that tree planting would not be very successful unless theyre VERY large, and that would defeat the whole stacking/efficiency thing im trying to do.
Im thinking the best bet is doing regular dirt berms and use the paul gautchie wood chip method to get the low to no watering and mulching idea im looking for. My rationale is im 45 and might not be till im 50 that I can get my plan up and running so im trying to get to food forest production as quick as i can, cutting out as much of the pioneer stage and avoid the need for irrigation as much as possible, to give me more flexibility for my water features in case permits/plans/etc are in issue in whatever area I set up in.
Greetings, been enjoying Geoff Lawtons videos, and one thing I liked is the different ways people applied the same basic principles. One idea that ran in my head was in an appropriate area (heavy forest that needs to be thinned) could Hugel beds, especially if made larger to allow tree roots to penetrate properly, be used as swales? In my newbie mind, im thinking it would hold more water and organic matter for the plantings, reducing the need for irrigation, and if you miss a few chop and drop sessions, theres plenty of feed. You could even take it a step further by using Paul Gautchie(sp) Garden of Eden approach by adding wood chips to the top. What do people think of that?