Justin Hitt

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since Nov 05, 2012
Martinsville, VA (Zone 7)
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Recent posts by Justin Hitt


Thanks for this.  I just bought your last four SC10 cone-tainers from eBay.  Had to drill down on some listings.

If you've got more and a willingness to significantly discount used containers, then drop me a note.

My son and I are building up a nitrogen fixing tree nursery before they timber and terrace the property.

Nitrogen fixing trees are also great for live pegs when addressing erosion problems.  Can't grow enough of them.


2 years ago
I posted this a few months back, now offering a move-in bonus ... quick update.

House for rent, the beginnings of an eco-house, at 1102 Cherokee Court, Martinsville VA.  You'll live in the middle of what is becoming a permaculture demonstration center.  Behind you will be a victory garden and small nursery.

Now I'm offering a $150 move-in bonus which I'd rather give to a Permies member.  If you are into blogging your permaculture experience, then I'd even extend the wi-fi for free (2mb/2mb) -- that will save you about $99/month.

In this area there are also 36,000 job openings paying $50k or more.  The city is upgrading its 1GB service to accommodate the high-tech and cybersecurity positions coming on-line.  Other positions are trade and nursing related.

There is also volunteer land management opportunities and a nature preserve in the works.  You'll be living right up against green space (your zone 5) on a quiet court in a rural community.

The lake and nearby country club are considering permaculture style management options.  You'll be close to the action if you desire.  If not, you'll benefit from the lifestyle available in this up-coming community.

Write if you have questions.



Nina Turner wrote:I have come to terms with the fact that a move to Virginia would mean no more chicken breeding or dairy goat, but quail and rabbits would be more suitable for urban density.

Not necessarily.  Animal opportunities are available nearby.  I work with the Sustainable Homestead Institute out in the county -- they have goats, cows, and chickens.

There is a non-profit therapy farm nearby who has lama and milk goats, plus a collection of petty zoo of animals who are friendly with children.  Some opportunities to work with duck habitat at the lake.

Qual and rabbits fit in really well -- they are on my list.  I think they changed the rules on chickens, I'm checking into that.  Until I know for sure I'm expanding the worm farming.

Google maps didn't zoom in too much but I get the concept.  Anyone ecologically minded would be a delight, it would help projects come along, but is not required.

Behind this house here will be a large victory garden demonstration with a food forest below it.  Plenty of room for gardens, cut flowers, and hundreds of plants going in all the time.  

I'm getting a nursery license to start gathering trees for an food forest style orchard area.  Right now there are nursery beds being built, hugelkultur, and fish culture coming soon.

While I'm working on a certain curb appeal with cut and wild flowers, grass areas are slowly receding. If you have questions about the property, simply write.


Okay, so my wife thinks it's rural.  To me it is an urban space right up from Lake Lanier and around the corner from the Forest Park Country Club.  Seeking permaculture minded individuals to tenant on property for ridiculously low rent.
You get a 3 bedroom, 1 bath, single level home in Martinsville, VA.  Here's the Zillow listing … https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1102-Cherokee-Ct-Martinsville-VA-24112/108124840_zpid/
And, I'll pay for the permaculture projects.  This includes converting the 1958 brick home into an energy efficient eco-house.  There is work in the area, jobs paying fair wages.  However, if you fit one of two descriptions, then this place is perfect for you:

1) You  are a blogger or podcasters.  The city has 1GB internet, this location can have 150MB/s if desired.  All the better if you write on a permaculture topic, sustainable living, or homesteading.
2) You have a Permaculture Design Certification.  There are a number of opportunities to work on paid projects doing permaculture design -- even outside the property.

The first floor of this home is ready to move in.  You will be next several permaculture inspired gardens.  Landscaping and general maintenance is provided for you.  Your participation in other projects is desired, but not required.
In the works is a large victory garden with chickens behind the property.  It is pending the removal of several large trees and permitting from the city for the chickens.  I am arranging soil and equipment to terrace the space.
There is a market cut flower garden, rainwater capture, solar roofing, and insect habitat demonstration areas.  It is not a perfect home, and there will be trees in/out, ponds being dug, plus other exciting projects.
A large empty in-ground pool is across the street for a possible aquaculture project.  While the possibilities are endless, I'm very methodical about getting projects done.  Gardens left of the house produces a volume of food.
Here are the projects currently in full swing:
• Organics recycling, including composting.  There are 8 to 10 cubic yards of leaves and materials turned into about 8 cubic yards of compost each year.
• Insect habitat.  Large wildflower beds and insect hotels are stationed across the nearby properties.  More hotels will go up as materials come available.
• Small bird habitat.  From a few bird species to now more than 25 now.  A purple martin house is going up as of this morning.  Several birdhouses are going up too.
• Market flower beds.  The first market flower bed was a success, hundreds of flowers.  Looking to expand this to several other beds then a large market area.
• Worm castings.  Every week in season I get several totes of worm castings.  These worms are great for fishing and building the soil.  Would like to go bigger.
• Hugelkultur, hugelkultur, hugelkultur.  Several beds have been in for more than a year.  Great climate for this design and I'm building them everywhere.
My objective is to grow enough, in partnership for several other farms, to demonstrate food sustainability and resilience.  There are other permaculture and naturalist  certified individuals in the area to work with on projects too.
The house was recently acquired for this eco-house project.  You must be comfortable with possible publicity around projects of a permaculture nature.  I've got a PDC from Geoff Lawton, years of experience, live nearby, and intend the house to be part of an urban permaculture demonstration center.
Write with questions.  

Put a ping pong ball in your funnel if you are using it dry. Periodically dump a cup of ice in it after use.

The light ping pong ball will seal the hole between use, yet float in small amounts of liquid.

Ice lowers the temperature which keeps down ammonia. As the ice melts it washes the bowl.

A small amount of ice over the ping pong ball is okay as water from ice will leak down the drain.


5 years ago

The right paths in your garden can be a great win, however, be careful about mulching in paths for both your comfort and to reduce disease vectors. Since 2012 I’ve used shredded wood chips as mulch paths in the garden.

Anything that could be chop-n-drop stayed on the raised beds, all else went through composting cycles. Large amounts of woody mass, ideal for walking paths, don’t always play nice with nitrogen as touched on previously.

Here’s a recent post on the topic of “Mulch path magic” (just because you inspire me.


6 years ago

Thomas West wrote:The application of knowledge as a skill deserves compensation, the knowledge itself is the collective property of humanity, independent to the degree you add to it or not.

You sir have earned a place on my wall ... this quote should have a thread of it's own! While I won't likely be as scientific about temperature testing on my hugelkultur beds, this thread has opened up my eyes that different sections of beds are likely to have different temperatures.

It's likely beds will have bands of microclimates with surface and soil temperature, as much as they have microclimates between elevations. With distribution of plants in polyculture these variation in temperatures may produce lower chance of full crop failure from heat/cold spells.

Since I eat a lot of the greens across their maturity, plus tend to plant in cycles I'm hoping warmer beds will extend my season. If not, I'm sure something will survive as I've had brassica's across a mild winter when I lived further north. Now if I can just keep my neighbor from stepping on the sides of the beds.


7 years ago

Thomas West wrote:We used our temperature gradients to inform our plant selection for a given space on the bed

Good expansion on the topic of hugelkultur bed temperatures. I'm measuring temperature center of bed (deepest part, core) and can now see a bunch of wholes in my methodology. It's possible bed was warmer in early months due to composting, later due to holding suns heat, and in between a combination of both.

Because I'm only measuring center using a compost thermometer, I'm getting a combined temperature. It is possible the soil on a hot day is 100 degrees F on the surface and 70 degrees at bottom. On a cold day, I may have surface temperatures of 70 degrees but retained heat of 80 degrees for majority of the rest of pile.

I did notice today that straw mulch on beds is much warmer on the sun side than it is on the back. As for planting, I'm in a race with a vole to get as many plants in the ground in a polyculture grid according mature plant size -- placement also impacted by available sun. I'm using the "plant the crap out of it" method.


7 years ago

Wesley johnsen wrote:does anyone know a way to get money to buy big timberland tracks?

Best way to get started is to do a lot more homework. The right piece of uncultivated land will have revenue opportunities out the gate, cultivated timberland may need to wait till maturity, in both cases there are costs associated with ownership.

If you don't have the money to buy the land, you may not have money to thin brush, cull trees, or invest in other income per available acre. Large undeveloped land costs much less per acre than a small plot. Most consignment harvesters won't touch under a certain amount of acreage -- and when they do destroy everything. Different story if you'll harvest yourself.

If you just want to make money in timber, then look at companies like Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. For $47.44 you can get started in the timber business. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with buying land and if you don't have enough of it -- you could get unfavorable pricing or limited outputs. Lots of "How to Buy Your Own Timberland" on the Internet, you'll have less risk getting some experience first.

You could use Clara's idea of land options on existing timberland, a lot of people get out of land positions for reasons that might make a purchase favorable to you. It's also great advice to lease options with specific terms that let you make money off the land. They may not let you bring in a logger the day after you sign the lease -- but they would let you grow mushrooms, food forest, manage hunting rights, or other activities that will help you raise capital.


7 years ago

Planted out 25+ crown cuttings of Bocking #4 Comfrey from Coe's Comfrey in NC (USA) -- within three days I have tiny shoots on the cuttings planted temporarily in pots. You'll have to ask if he ships internationally to your specific country -- every country has different export rules on receiving plants. I'm just so happy with these plants that I had to say something.