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Triton Nomad

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since May 10, 2012
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PNW Zone 8
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Recent posts by Triton Nomad

Carmen, I clicked on your name and followed you. I hope that will help us to stay in touch - I can see your posts sooner.

Stacy, thanks for the info! I just finished the hoophouse and I am preparing the beds. We might have issues with voles  but not with ventilation - I have 2 big doors and my hoophouse is not big.
6 days ago
I have the same question, I am in a similar situation with you (Washington state) but on the hills not the coast.

I do have a couple of suggestions to start with. These are things that I have tried as I am learning about root cellaring.
1) Soil. You can check the gov site web soil survey ( to see what soils you have in your yard and their properties. The site is extremely useful for many different things (fertility, ability to build etc) but in this case click on the soil and look at these properties:

Depth to water table: ...
Frequency of flooding: ...
Frequency of ponding: ...

2) Of course you also need to test yourself - dig a small hole and add some water (soil is already wet right now). If it does not drain in a reasonable amount of time (hours) you have a problem.

3) About your suggestion to build above ground - I think it would definitely work. Just be aware that soil is heavy and you need to move cubic yards, unless you already have a hill/slope in the right location and preferably with a northern aspect.

4) I read somewhere that a good use for an old fridge is as a "mini" cellar. You just dig a hole and put the fridge inside lying down with the door up. You can use a strawbale or some reflective insulation on top. I can see problems with this because there is no ventilation but maybe there are workarounds?

2 weeks ago
About building: I built a small cabin and a couple of sheds by myself. I researched earthbags, cob, log and wattle and daub. In the end I went with the classic wood design because in US there is very little support and materials for alternative building style.
Maybe you can still do it but I have a full time job and I traded time for money (even though standard wood construction is not much more expensive)

I only have just one piece of advice - don't use fiberglass insulation. I used rockwool (available at Lowe's) is 10% more expensive but it has 20% more insulation, it does not produce lung destroying fibers and it works when wet.

About your second question: I am from Eastern Europe, from a place that only started "modernizing" after the fall of communism. As such I was lucky enough to see a lot of traditional practices.
For example houses were still built using wattle and daub or adobe, every home in the village was practicing permaculture and even people in the cities kept chickens, pigs and even cows (grazing on the side of the road).

I don't have a good link online - the people that practiced all these traditional methods have passed away or are too poor to have internet. There is a "back to the land" movement but weirdly but not surprisingly they prefer to copy the western models instead of asking their grandparents.

In terms of climate, it was continental so comparable to Eastern Washington. In terms of society, it was very different since most people cooked and other than bread they got the animals/vegetables from the backyard or directly from a farmer.
The weird thing is they are copying the west now (including all the problems like obesity and diabetes and stress) while here some of us are trying to move the opposite direction. So my hope is that PNW will become closer to what I have seen growing up
2 months ago
Hi Carmen,
I will try to post more. I tend to read a lot but contribute little so I hope to help somebody with my experience.

About events and meeting up - I saw your previous post on that and replied.
I am not native to this area (or US) so I don't have many contacts locally.
I would like to learn more from other people. I can try to create a meetup and post it here.
Or if you know of any classes or groups, let me know. For example in my area (Lewis County, WA) Raintree Nursery and Burnt Ridge Nursery used to have classes about fruit trees, making cider etc. Nothing this year of course

Alternatively, if anybody needs any help come spring I am ready to help for a day and hopefully learn something too.
2 months ago
I hope this post is not too frivolous for this forum. As I am getting deeper into permaculture I notice how important local knowledge and experience is.

I ordered a NUC and a Langstroth hive from a local beekeeper. Immediately after I started reading some posts on and I discovered Leo Sharashkin, his incredble website and the book (Keeping Bees with a smile). I am reading the book right now and I have to say: finally! I read 5 beekeeping books in the last month and it was depressing. Finally a book that makes sense from an evolutionary perspective and matches my limited childhood experience with traditional beekeepers.
So now I have this split personality where I learn the standard industrial way (I take the beekeeping class from the state beekeepers association) while I build my own horizontal hives and prepare for spring.

Are other people in the area doing beekeeping? What do you use? I know James Landreth was talking about log hives I hope he can chime in.

Secondly, I have researched more into greenhouses/hoophouses and I noticed a big split. Most people build a greenhouse above ground and use gas burners to heat it up if needed (throw energy at the problem). A small minority builds gigantic superinsulated underground greenhouses with huge thermal mass and even geothermal heating (throw money at the problem).
Since I have limited experience, I would like to try to build a cheap PVC hoophouse with a small twist - dig 2 feet under soil level and use tall raised beds inside. I think that might provide enough thermal mass for a mild climate like ours. This is based on Mike Oehler ideas but simplified.

Anybody using hoophouses/greenhouses around here? I am not worried about the fall (even though I hope for an extra month). I am just hoping that the thermal mass of the ground combined with the big insolation in Mar/Apr will make a lot of difference.
2 months ago
I don't know anything about crochet :(
About the farmer's market in Olympia - see
Like I said, it seems to be the only permies friendly event that I know of in the whole WA state. How is that for depressing?
2 months ago
Yes James I would really like your help, and thank you!
It's good to hear that I can do better and that it's not all my fault (I only bought the house less than 2 years ago).

I am at 1000ft altitude - that could be another reason. But it's not that cold - I barely saw snow last winter.

2 months ago
Hi Lana, I don't have the depth of knowledge that James has but as I am (relatively) new to Lewis County, I can share our experience.
My family and I bought a house with some land in the middle of Lewis County and we love it. We are only 3 miles out of town and close to all amenities while at the same time feel in the middle of nowhere.
I am starting to see more people with vegetable gardens and greenhouses.
There is one downside - the weather. Unlike James, my peach trees died the first year. I love eggplants but they will have to wait for the greenhouse.

The house we bought also has an older mobile home that the previous owner rented. Since it has wheels, is not considered a dwelling despite being connected to water, sewer etc.

I am not a lawyer so please don't consider this legal, but here is my 2c.
I have seen other people parking trailers on their land. If I understand correctly, vehicles (anything with wheels basically) are not taxed or considered dwellings. If you call the assessor for the county (for example they are usually very helpful. Even the real estate agent might be able to help, since there are many people in the area buying land.

About composting toilets, you can look for the relevant codes. There are even tiny house groups that can help (

I don't know about the rest but let me know if I can help.

2 months ago
Me and my family were in a similar situation to yours. We lived in KC for a long time. We bought a place in Lewis county but I am still working (online) for a company back in KC.
You can try to create a meetup or maybe we can meet at Olympia farmer's market? That is the only permie place that is still going, I think.
2 months ago
I agree with Janet Reed - I am now in a mild zone (PNW) but I lived in a harsher continental climate and the seedlings do fine if they get a chance to grow deep roots.
Another interesting thing to notice is that fruit tree seedlings can do better if grown in the shade the first season - I grow some of mine under alders then cut the alders down.
6 months ago