Thanks for the replies. Mike, I'm hoping that the warm and dry air will help resolve another issue, or rather keep it resolved. There was a musty smell in the house when we moved in, which I mostly resolved by thoroughly cleaning out the trash from the crawlspace (which seemed to never have been done), putting down a vapor barrier, and adding a dehumidifier (w/ pump, so it runs pretty much 24/7). That works well most of the year.
In the winter, though, the dehumidifier doesn't work -- not well when it's cool down there, and not at all when it gets cold. I've read that current best practice in controlling an environment is to seal it and condition it and I'm hoping that sending warm, dry air into the crawlspace will keep the pipes from freezing and also help maintain a low humidity atmosphere. As for pipe wrap: It does seem to work. I don't remember what the R-value is of the foam wrap I bought was. But I gave a leftover section to my friend, whose pipes, also in a crawlspace, had frozen (luckily they noticed and he got in there with a hair dryer and unfroze them before any damage happened). According to what he has told me, that has been enough to prevent another occurrence. I'm just more paranoid. That paranoia has also put me off heat tape.
I though about adding an L just to meet the requirement, but that would add a lot of bulk to the installation. Admittedly it's just a crawlspace and no one goes down there except for me, generally. But I was hoping for a more elegant solution. I may well end up doing this.
As for asking the company: I bought this from a parts wholesaler who, unlike some such companies, is willing to sell to someone who's not a licensed contractor (namely me). But the manufacturer isn't a consumer manufacturer and doesn't give contact info. I asked the wholesaler about vertical installation and they didn't want to say "ignore that" for obvious reasons. The guy I talked to suggested the decreased efficiency that Mike mentioned. He also said repeatedly, though, that he didn't know. So I thought I'd ask for some other opinions / experiences.
I'm bouncing back and forth between just doing the vertical and seeing what happens -- the power draw is very small and goes to something surrounded by metal. It doesn't seem like a likely fire hazard -- and putting in an elbow. If I do an elbow I may use wingnuts to make it removable when not in use.
If anyone else has thoughts, experiences, or suggestions, please do add.
Erwin Decoene wrote:
As a scientist you try to find answers to one or more questions. When confronted with complex issues, the scientific method only makes small progress and that slowly. Usually a scientist tries to break up what he/she is interested in in smaller questions that are easier to observe/manipulate/quantify/model/....
Complex issues such as the soil building process, the interaction between biological and non biological, soil remediation, ecological questions, .... are difficult to approach scientificly.
So... our crawlspace is unheated and our pipes are down there. I've been using a small fan to blow air from the upstairs through a disused duct into the crawlspace to prevent me having to worry about freezing. (The pipes are all wrapped but still.)
I finally went to the HVAC parts place and bought a duct fan the size of the old duct so that I can blow air down without the little fan. Everything seems to be no bigger a hassle than usual except that the directions for the new duct fan say repeatedly it's only for horizontal installation and I want it to be vertical, straight through the vent.
Anybody know that this is okay, or that it won't be? I guess I'm mostly worried about somehow the motor catching fire or something, though I can't think how. Can someone dissuade or reassure me?
Chris' post brings up a lot of things. For me, I often feel like I'm at a disadvantage in life, as I can usually see two sides to everything. (Just to be clear: Usually. Not always. Not for racism etc.) I often think that science-type posts have a point, and I've come to think that "purple" (in all its many shades) posts have a point, too. At the same time, neither is perfect, and each has limitations. Recognizing this has been important for me. I don't see it as an either/or question.
The point about spreading permaculture is an important one. But I think there's enough out there -- and enough in, say, permaculture publications -- that will put off those who are likely to be put off. But that doesn't mean that permaculture methods aren't useful to the broader world. We might want to present them as methods, rather than as part of a system.
Finally, I will note that this is an internet forum. A person -- no matter what that person posts -- is likely to see contradictory posts in response. Some people have different experiences, some people just like to contradict, some people know a lot, etc. etc. The reasons vary but the phenomenon is there. What makes Permies good is that the expression of these viewpoints should be nice. It's nice when people are nice.
r ranson wrote:I like the scientific method. One takes a situation, observes, change one variable, observe... repeat.
My experience is that scientific studies are often done in situations that are different than the one I live in. To find out what works in my location, the best thing I can do is observe and interact.
I agree with this completely. The thing is, it's hard for me to change only one variable, unless controlling all the conditions in an indoor setting, where I can decide most of what will happen. Even then, though, there's variation.
When I look at a garden, for instance, I don't know how to change only one variable. Year to year, weather varies and rain quantity varies. Microbes are growing or dying or both, fungus growing and fading. Worms come and go. Seed varies. One year I do something and it's glorious; without knowingly changing anything, the next year is different. Even if I use seed I saved, some years the seed turns out better than others. That goes double if I buy seed. The variables seem innumerable. And that's staying on exactly the same piece of land, not trying to generalize across a larger area, with all the variation in soil and climate and microclimate that entails. (And it's setting aside the more purple aspects that I think I see: the quality of light shifting year to year, or the effect of the gardener's mood on the garden.)
This means that I don't think permaculture is testable the way that, say, a chemical reaction is. One can put chemicals A and B and C together and D will happen; on the other side of the world, if all works as it should, someone else can put chemicals A and B and C together and D will happen, too.
But permaculture is more complicated than that. I plant plant A and do B and add C and things slowly develop over time, unevenly even within the small space of my garden. Each year is different. And innumerable variables don't lend themselves to that testing.
So, like R Ranson, I observe and interact and go with what works for me, what makes sense to me, what seems to work in the conditions of my garden. I don't doubt that one can experimentally test aspects of permaculture. But the whole thing is, I think, too complicated for current methods to effectively measure.
This applies elsewhere, too. One textbook (literally) example is streptococcal bacteria, which a significant portion of the healthy human population can carry without any symptoms. But for others, sickness ensues. Things happen differently for different people and changing one variable is often harder than it might sound.
Thekla McDaniels wrote:
When I read the "and that's cool" part of the comment, it sounds more to me like "and I can accept that".
And the "some people just don't get it" does not sound as if the one who does not get it is lacking personally or intellectually, it just sounds like they don't agree, have a different point of view.
Exactly! I usually phrase this differently, focusing on myself and my own limitations, but I agree completely that this is about publicly expressing acceptance of other viewpoints. People have different perspectives and as much as one or the other may insist on being correct, people are going to continue to have different perspectives. "And I can accept that." :)
Mike Autumn wrote:I'm not on my main PC so I'm probably gonna forget some. I'm more of an agroforestry / gardening type guy so:
Masanobu Fukuoka and Akinori Kimura: Gave me the inspiration to follow my crazy dreams and to try unorthodox methods while always learning from nature.
Agroforestry.net "The overstory" - Awesome website that has amazing articles with good sources, it focuses on the role of trees in agroforestry systems and has helped me with designing some of my first "inventions".
Sepp Holzer - I haven't been able to read up more on him but I really dig (pun unintended) his style of using terraces and aquaponics systems in a way that is tune with nature and that actually makes good money.
Charles Dowding on Youtube - Great simple info on no dig, no till gardening, composting, etc.
Geoff Lawton with his Greening the Desert series definitely made me believe in the power of using permaculture to transform the desert and I will soon try to do the same on a hostile plot of land.
Fouch o Matic on youtube, they really nail what its like going off the grid and give valuable info.
One thing I've found that helps with stretching is resting the dough -- at least a couple hours, even overnight. Letting it sit in the fridge also lends the dough a nice flavor, I find. I notice this recipe calls for 00 flour, which the internet suggests might also help. Will be giving this a try, but first I have to find 00...
Dan Boone wrote:
Even if peer-reviewed studies were the be-all and end-all, there are many areas of permaculture too complicated to reduce to studies of this sort. The benefits of polyculture is a classic example, but whether some plants beneficially serve as dynamic accumulators of nutrients may be another...
This is an important point for me. The scientific method is good at testing hypotheses framed in specific ways, but cannot (at present) handle things above a certain level of complexity. This is why, for instance, it is extremely difficult to test TCM treatments: there are simply too many variables involved to readily permit reproducible, double-blind testing. Not everything is testable in those ways.
This is also why I’ve come to value thinking about “alternative” approaches, and trying things that seem to make sense if one takes into account cost and risk. Homeopathy for a cold? Not my thing, but if it makes you feel better, its cost and risk are low so I wouldn’t tell someone else what to do. Biodynamic approaches likewise: planting according to those schedules, for example, isn’t my thing, but if it works for you, well, why should I say don’t do it? The cost and the risk are so low I just don’t feel the need.
Along similar lines, though, despite the empirical evidence for dynamic accumulators being uncertain, they seem to work for some people and are generally low in (differential) cost and risk. And the theory makes sense to me. So I plant some things in the hope they’ll dynamically accumulate. Maybe the testing will catch up, or not, but I like them already.
I like short lists — unsurprisingly mine overlaps with Nicole’s
1. Paul Wheaton: for this site and his great articles and posts
2. Joseph Lofthouse: who helped me understand what I had been trying for and showed me how to do it
3. Alexia Allen: permaculture living
4. Steven Edholm: amazing gardener and arborist
5. Zhuangzi: the music of nature, the use of uselessness, the power of perspective
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Nobody on this inventive forum has tried this? I'd think it was a really good idea, except that it does not seem to be done much. I found one indirect reference to somebody trying to graft a giant pumpkin to it, but no word as to results.
Only one solution for that, friend!
If you do it, please post some pics.
Todd Parr wrote:I haven't learned everything there is to know about relationships in my 50+ years certainly, but I have learned this. You know how people say relationships are hard work? I think that's nonsense. I think they are only hard work if you are with the wrong person.
There is some truth to that. But I have yet to encounter anyone with whom I always agree, or who always seems reasonable, or who always understands me, or whom I always understand, or who always thinks I’m reasonable. (That includes my own self, too.) To understand someone else takes effort, as does being understandable to someone else, be the other a spouse or not.
We use borax with sugar for ants inside. The thing is, they can consume a lot. We never use cotton balls, we just put the mixture in old lids and set them where the ants will find them and refresh as necessary. It is always slow and the ant population seems to grow at first. But with patience, eventually they depart.
We have heavy clay soil in our gardens and improved it through the addition of much organic matter, including manure, used stable bedding, and compost (ordinary and vermi-), plus cover crops.
Cover crop is a state of mind. Any plant that will grow could theoretically be a cover crop -- it just has to catch sunlight and build organic matter. Even the grasses or whatever that is growing there already (provided it's not something nasty like bindweed etc.) could work. You could let the field grow out, knock the plants down in a non-till fashion (rolling, crimping, whatever you like) and leave it to regrow. Selected species can be quicker. Turnips worked well for us, too, but the feed issue didn't exist for us, and buckwheat sometimes does well but is a bit up and down. Even corn is a possibility -- it produces lots of organic matter and has an extensive root system. As long as you leave it in the field, you shouldn't be depleting anything.
Awesome! That's something I've always wanted to try.
I'm sure that you could do an analysis of everything and calculate it out, but in all the reading I've done about aquaria, I haven't seen home aquarium keepers doing elaborate analysis for freshwater tanks like that: trying to determine what plants will take out would be very complicated. Add to it two additional factors and things get even more complicated: 1) you'll need some sort of mechanical filtration to remove fish doo and other gunk; over time, the media for that will become home to bacteria that eat waste chemicals; 2) the gravel (or whatever) substrate is going to become home to those bacteria, too. At the same time, your fish will be growing, then stopping growth, then some will die, you'll get new ones. And so on.
End result: A very very very complicated thing to figure, probably something that takes a lot of technical knowledge to do, and it will still need to be adjusted over time.
I think you should go slowly and test as you go.
Basic aquarium tests can for the primary things you need to watch for -- nitrites, nitrates, etc. -- are not expensive. I think you should do what you're planning and just test on a very regular basis. If levels get too high, you can always insert a sponge or a gravel section or something in your water flow to host bacteria and clear your water. You can add plants, etc., too. As long as you start with a low bioload, as you've mentioned, and grow it slowly, you and your fish will be fine. A well planted tank can handle a fair bioload without additional filtration (though if the plants are submerged they may need extra carbon dioxide to flourish) and a low bioload with some sort of filtration will not go out of wack quickly under most circumstances. As long as you're careful, you won't harm your fish.
Please do post pictures and write about your experience -- I'm really curious about this.
A spinnable barrel composter or something like that is a good way to deal with ivy and other plants that regrow from cuttings: seal it up and leave it rot, rotating periodically, and don't use any of it till it's all gone. Trumpet vine goes wild around here and that's how we dispose of it.
Yes to sheet mulching the ivy. But it may come back -- it did for us. Took a few years though.
Marco Banks wrote:I'll be a contrarian as well.
If you think education is expensive, what is the cost of ignorance? There is clearly a tremendous value in apprenticing under people who have valuable life experience. But a formal degree is recognized as a kind of currency in so many ways beyond just the job you can earn using it. If your only reference point for ROI is what kind of job you can get from it, you have too small a view of what a college degree is all about.
I agree with this. I went to school for a long time and much of what it taught me was not what I would have expected, and that's what made it valuable. I am completely different than I would have been.
I would like to add a complicating factor concerning cost, too. To me, speaking about education in general as being too expensive is too broad. There is a world of difference between state universities and private universities and colleges. Private universities and colleges are very expensive, generally, although there are exceptions (the most obvious is Berea College, which gives a massive automatic scholarship to everyone it admits).
State universities are, for residents, as a rule far cheaper. The irony is that the teachers may be better researchers; whether or not that equals better teachers is another issue. You need more personal focus to get the most out of a big school, because it's easy to blend into the crowd. But if you're self-driven, you can learn a ton for much less than you would at a private institution. Each has its advantages, but if cost is an issue, public is the way to go. If you're interested and do well, you can even parlay that into graduate study that you fund by being a teaching assistant or something. It's not glamorous, but it's education.
A final thought: If you want to live in the boonies and you're thinking about pieces of paper that make it possible to have a good living, you might also think about the skilled trades. They don't get enough respect in the US. A good electrician, for instance, who is reliable and easy for customers to deal with can make very good money. Like six figures good money. (I know one of these.) Those skills are transferable around the US and might make for a good career as solar specialist or something. This is just one thought -- there are possibilities.
Dangus McFinghin wrote:I've read this thread in great detail and still can't say I'm at all clear on what the rules are in any consistent and technical sense...
That's because Paul, the owner, deliberately doesn't lay out a set of rules. A set of rules invites people to argue and play sea lawyer. Instead, he and the moderators make decisions based on principles, including "Be nice" and "Nobody gets to tell others that they're wrong here." If you are always nice and don't tell others they're wrong, I don't think you'll have any trouble.
I agree about getting this stuff -- you'll be doing your land a favor.
Two thoughts: I do lazy person's composting of horse manure (the "pile it and wait" method). It's pretty hot at the start because the wood chips etc. have soaked up a lot of nitrogen, plus that in the manure itself, plus the wood = nice. After that, I don't get any weeds where I use the manure that are different from what pop up elsewhere.
Persistent herbicides are a concern for me, too. I always do a simple and cheap test: Because those herbicides are intended to spare grass, they kill broad leaf plants. Answer: plant broad leaf plants in the composted pile and make sure they sprout and start leaves looking like they should. I haven't encountered a problem but better safe than very sorry.
Nothing I do seems more natural -- more inevitable -- to me than gardening, with the single possible exception of reading.
I like that I can grow things that are free of pesticides and man-made fertilizers, but it's an outgrowth of doing something dear to me already. Kale and chard and okra etc. etc. make me happy when I take care of them and they feed me. Squash, too. And tomatoes, and ...
We have squash vine borers pretty bad here and have worked out some things that work for us:
1. Plant early and plant late. Squash vine borers are active for a set period of time, which will vary depending on your area. You can do succession planting of squash seed starting as early as possible and continuing as late as possible -- this is good for people with long growing seasons -- and you'll get fruit around the borers.
2. Plant resistant varieties -- moschata (butternut and the like) are famous for being resistant, and we've had luck, but other types also work. It's not that they don't get borers, but the types that succeed despite them tend to put down lots of roots along the stem and then aren't killed (apparently) when infested. You can help encourage this by burying stem nodes, too.
3. As TJ has suggested, saving seeds will help you succeed by giving you the progeny of plants that have done well in your specific area. Asking your neighbors if you see them getting squash is another good idea.
By glue I assume you mean construction adhesive -- cheaper, quicker, and stronger. Nails will work just fine to hold the 2"x4"s together and be quicker than bolts. The resulting bond, according to professional carpenter / former neighbor, will be extremely strong after the adhesive cures.
Dave Ramsey has advice on buying without credit. One of the things he recommends is looking for a mortgage provider that still does old school "manual underwriting." That allows them to be more flexible than banks etc. that rely on formulas and fixed policies. I don't always agree with Dave, but he gives away a lot of solid advice.
Roberto pokachinni wrote:... The other best thing to do, besides plant nurse trees, is to incorporate as much organic matter in your clay, and then mulch it substantially. Well mulched clay soils, particularly with plenty of organic matter will hold a tremendous amount of moisture in your upper layers. This is particularly true if the clay soil is also shaded from intense sun, and sheltered from drying winds...
This is exactly what I was going to say. We have fast-draining clayey soil too, but the areas of the garden (where I've been adding organic material for a few years now) retain the water much better than the rest of the yard. Keep at it with the mulch. One idea I've had, though I haven't tried it, is to load a swale with coarse wood chips to catch and hold some water. They could then be moved to elsewhere, say to aroudn your trees and things, already past the initial breakdown.
I think you're fine adding it in there, though it may accelerate the breakdown of the wood.
When I get a new pile of horse doo, I let it sit for a few months then plant seeds in it. The persistent herbicides on hay are supposed to target broadleaf plants, so I plant various broadleaf plants to make sure they sprout and leaf out normally. So far this seems to have prevented any contamination.
I guess I wonder if having puppies is really the right thing to do. There are so many unplanned litters that shelters and pounds put dogs down all the time. Unless you have a special purpose dog -- like a great LGD or something -- I don't think the world needs more puppies. I'd suggest you consider waiting till she's out of heat and then getting her fixed. There are groups in many regions that will spay a dog for little money.