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Chris Kott

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since Jan 25, 2012
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bee dog forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
Toronto, Ontario
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Recent posts by Chris Kott

That's hilarious, Thomas! I nearly busted a gut!

Perhaps next time, you shouldn't keep a lady waiting, on the porch at 3 A.M.

1 hour ago
For ease of use, I can't really argue, Paul. I can see it being especially easy and safe to use with children just picking up useful adult duties.

But I think it's a solution geared towards your specific needs, which is why you've found it useful. Questions remain in my mind about the limits of it's usefulness. Aside from the fact that you need relatively straight, narrow lumber, and the gif appears to show the device being used to split quartered logs into kindling, I wonder how well it does on whole logs, and how large those whole logs can be before they jam between the upper ring and the wedge.

I certainly don't see anyone splitting even a normal face cord with this, let alone a bush cord, let alone what is required for any reasonable winter, but only because it appears geared towards kindling. But if you're coppicing or harvesting your logs at a smaller diameter, I suppose this would allow you to stack whole cut rounds indoors, without having to split them first.

But maybe I'm wrong. Did you ever get the larger version, Paul? And how do you use it? What size, dimension, and quantity of wood do you split?

23 hours ago

Graham Chiu wrote:Here we have a government plan to plant 1 billion trees.  Sounds like we could save that effort by buying the trees you're about to cut down.

It isn't rational to try and count trees that are already grown and have already captured their maximum amount of carbon in the one billion tree count. That's like Canada saying it's met it's climate goals because we have a lot of trees.

On the other hand, if any part of those trees harvested on Travis' land stays in the paper use and reuse stream, that carbon could be sequestered for quite a while, even if it ends up composted eventually, and more carbon is sequestered, even if a pastoral system replaces the forest one. And grassland ecosystems, which good permacultural pastoralists try to emulate, from what I see, do soak up their fair share of carbon, especially following permaculturally-aligned grazing practices.

Alkaline hydrolysis always reminds me of that scene in Waterworld where Kevin Costner's character witnesses the "burial" of a body in a vat of yellow stuff that apparently allows the body's water and nutrients to grow food.

For me, if the prion issue has been dealt with, the pH is the next concern for me, although it probably wouldn't matter in areas that tend towards acidity.

Personally, and I have stated this elsewhere on this site, I would prefer to have a burial suit tailored for me, with paisley spore print on black. I would want a temperate hardwood/boreal forest transitional zone forest guild sewn into it, and I would like my coffin to be woven willow. I would want to be buried in a hugelbeet by the outward bend of a small stream, and have my favourite medicinal plant grown above me, so that I can be balm and relief to those who mourn me.

Actually, what I want is for some overachieving geneticist to modify some fungus symbiotic to humans such that it turns us into ents.

1 day ago
To be clear, the goal is to leave the soil in the same orientation as it started out, yes?

I have a hard time seeing how such a design would work on different types of soil. Apart from having to stop for any larger-than-fist-sized rock, the success of the flipping would rely entirely on the ability of the earth to stick together. I also suspect that flipping the soil around like that will negatively impact soil structure whatever you do.

If strips of perennials are being left in close proximity, the soil life will recolonise any damaged area after a good mouldboard plowing, or really any plowing at all. In some cases, getting food for the soil life into the soil is more important than trying to nurture existing soil life in conditions not suitable for soil life.

And if the populations of soil bacteria and fungi need boosting, there's always actively aerated compost extract and fungal slurries.

Both of these, and working with tried, off-the-shelf equipment in a non-standard way (plowing between fallow or perennial strips) will accomplish the goal of healthy soil. It may even accelerate it.

I love the Schauberger plow concept, but I think it's a failed design. It's designer seems to have thought that material would feed through the mechanism at a constant rate, as though belt-driven, when in actuality, there's a lot more of friction and gravity to it.

1 day ago

Marco Banks wrote:It's cooled off enough that I started a bunch of new veggies in pots this morning.  I planted three different varieties of cabbage (two regular, and a red variety)—six pots of each.  Also Swiss Chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and head lettuce.  All total, about 35 pots of stuff.  Now I wait for it to sprout and my winter garden is underway.  Every two weeks, I'll plant some more.

We had an unusually hot fall, with temps in the 90's the past couple of weeks.  But last week cooled off and this week I'm starting the nursery back up.  They're even predicting some rain for next week (although we'll see if it actually happens).  We haven't had a drop of rain since early March.  Yup -- winter is upon us.

A "bad" winter is when we get less than 10 or 12 inches of rain.  I just hope we get 250 or so chill hours.  A good winter is 18 inches of rain, and 300+ chill hours, hopefully accumulated around Christmas or New Year.  When we get a wet year, it'll be in January with these long 2 to 3 day storms that sit over the Los Angeles basin and scrub the skies of smog.  Los Angeles is a giant concrete surface, with all the creeks and rivers turned into concrete channels many years ago.  But there is a movement afoot to tear out a lot of that hardscaping, to restore the rivers, and to capture as much of that rainwater as we can.  People freak out when it rains a half-inch ("How can we even drive in that stuff!") but I love it.  I channel as much of the water that falls on my house to go out to the orchard and soak the soil.  I'd like to find a way to catch the water that falls on the street in front of the house and pump it to the back yard where it will be stored in the soil.  Some day I'll dig some sort of sump and install a pump to capture that water before it flows into the storm drain and out to the ocean.

So let winter come!  Let it rain!  Let my little cabbages sprout and grow!  Let the oranges get ripe and the avocados keep getting fatter — it's winter!

Sign of a bad winter: those out of the temperate zone gloat incessantly about their problems involving too much water, and the need to maybe put on a long tee.

I love winter. I just wish that I was in a nice, tight cabin, with a winter's worth of stores and a nice efficient woodstove or RMH. That way, I go out to enjoy it on my terms, and not have to slog through it five days a week to work and back.

1 day ago
Depending on how the house is built, you might be creating moisture and condensation issues within the walls adjacent to the greenhouse.

I would bury the IBCs in the floor of the greenhouse. I wasn't kidding about adding excess moisture within the building envelope. Your drywall will rot away, virtually guaranteed, unless you spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort into combatting the moisture issue you're introducing.

For someone who prefers a passive approach, I would think you'd want to do all you can to avoid causing problems first.

1 day ago
I would be very careful when taking house ventilation from a greenhouse. You're courting mould issues, especially if you're retrofitting a standard-build structure of matchsticks and (god-I-hope-it-stays)drywall.

You compound that with the addition of fish tanks.

Don't get me wrong, I love virtually all of your ideas. But sometimes, when we get into function-stacking mode, we compound unintended consequences.

Without changing much of what you want, I would see what is possible with regards to dehumidifying the air coming in from the greenhouse, and filtering it for any disease vectors. With moisture issues, you also court increased spore counts. I would probably have an allergen filter on the incoming air, and if it were possible to have a dehumidifier going in the second-floor air intake room, that might head off some problems.

You might also, if you haven't already, rip out any moisture-sensitive finishings and replace with tile, laminate or linoleum, and see what is recommended for sealing drywall up against the threat of increased moisture in the air.

Conversely, you could figure out if there's a heat-transfer method that you could use that would enable you to benefit from the heat of the greenhouse without actually taking in the greenhouse air. Such might be a closed-system hydronic setup, but perhaps with a more suitable transfer fluid. You could also look to see if there are filtration setups that allow you to dehumidify without dropping the air temperature, and in-line with an exhaust. Then, absent excess moisture and having passed through a good particulate filter, it would be safe to use to augment the heating capacity of the home.

As to excess greenhouse heat in the summer, first off, if it's getting that hot in your greenhouse, chances are you're boiling your fish, your plants, except perhaps tropicals, are dead, and any soil not kept perpetually damp will have reverted to lifeless dirt. In my opinion, you need to be able to vent your greenhouse to the outside at need, and via automatic vents, preferably, or it won't work as a greenhouse, except for tropicals. And even those have maximum temperatures.

It is recommended that shade be included in the design, as if you design your greenhouse to utilise minimum winter solar energy to maximum effect, there will most probably be instances in the summer when you need to provide shade to block out some of the solar energy, for fear of heating it more than the vents can manage to cool it. So if you have shadecloth on rollers that you pull down when it's too hot and sunny, that could do it.

I think the best way to proceed is to build your greenhouse attached to your house as you have indicated, but to wait on the use of the greenhouse as a tool to heat your house, at least until you get a handle on the temperatures and humidity. It seems straightforward, but there are so many tricky variables in what is proposed here that something would definitely die. I'm betting on your plants, or possibly your fish, but if you get really unlucky... well let's just say that you don't want to get really unlucky. Do you know what it costs to clear a house of a full-blown mould infestation? Do you know to what extent your insurance company will cover mould damage from a scenario as described here?

If you want an auxiliary heat source, you've already mentioned RMHs. Why not simply build one in your basement rather than introducing excess humidity and agents of decomposition into the living space where you breathe?

1 day ago
Hi Jared. Nice tractors.

I agree with your point that there doesn't seem to be enough grass getting through the slats. I was thinking about 1"x1" or even 2"x2" welded wire bottoms. I mean, if they're on the ground and vegetation is pushing up through the grating, the rabbits won't even feel the bottoms for the greens.

Looking good, though. I hate typical confinement setups, and yours looks to have all the benefits of a stationary hutch with a lot of the benefits that pasturage brings. I remember even with my tiny rabbits (we had dwarves when I was little), they were ecstatic when we put them out in their cages sans plastic bottoms, directly on the grass.

Keep us posted, and good luck!

1 day ago
Dale, I love the spot improvement method. As you have detailed, it's a flexible idea that maximises output from a singular focus. This doesn't apply to you, but if one were to have an air-conditioner, something producing condensate, that condensate might evapourate in under a minute if it is left to drip on a tile roof or onto concrete. But give that tiny drip somewhere to land where it doesn't immediately evaporate, with a little life and fertility, and it will start the process on it's own. Give it some help, and it's the start of soil generation in the area.

Jess, I am glad to hear of your ramping-up. I think that rather than weeds, my concern with imported hay would be persistent pesticides and herbicides. I hope you don't have any unpleasant surprises when you go to germinate tender greens or some such.

Hopefully, weeds in your hay are all you have to worry about, though. The method you describe seems sound.

Don't despair of your rototiller, incidentally. If you haven't perused the threads yet, Dr. Redhawk's Epic Soil Series has enough soil info to cause a brain hemmorhage if you try to take it in all at once. He covers how to make and use compost extracts to best effect to get the soil microorganisms where you want them, talks about bacterial and fungal interactions in the soil, about clays, amendments, and about organic matter.

He also mentions two things that may be of interest to you. The first is when it is preferable to till, and how to do so to achieve the goal of jumpstarting healthy soil from degraded dirt. The second is a compost extract injector, essentially a spike that you drive into the soil that connects to a hose that you use with compost extract in what I think is a venturi valve setup to inject compost extract into the soil strata without inverting or even really disturbing it.

But your gardens look lovely. I wish you every success.

2 days ago