Tyler Omand

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since Mar 08, 2014
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Recent posts by Tyler Omand

I really like what Jim Kovaleski is doing here in Maine on his 1/2 acre super productive market garden. Here is his synopsis of the technique he wrote for his talk at the annual MOFGA Commonground fair:
"I'll share how I am using a scythe to mow and gather fertility from a meadow polyculture as fodder for the Micro herd in the soil.concentrating The fodder from 5 acres of meadows averaging 3 cuts a year using all the plant material, essentially fresh cut hay, as a feeding mulch for the 1/2 acre of market garden beds at Lamb Cove Farm.I will also talk about my observation that the meadows having all the plant material removed for 7 years are surprisingly much richer than when I started. "  ---Repeat: He scythes 5 ac of meadow 3 times a season!!!--- that plus market gardening year round (he market gardens in the winter in flordia) is the ultimate fitness plan! He is a super fit older gentleman!
I have been to his talk several times and his technique consists of starting with 3' beds spaced 30' apart roughly on contour - 30' is 3 passes with his scythe - he just windrows the cut meadow into roughly 3' wide, 2'+ tall windrows and he utilizes the soil block system from 1.5" to 6" with high quality compost soil mix for most of what he grows. He then just plugs the 6" block transplants into the windrow. He plants root veggies at the edges at the edges of these now permanent beds to till the edges. He cuts and mulches the beds 3 times per season. That's it - no water -  no fertilizer - just roughly 3-5 acres of meadow condensed onto a intensively planted 1/2-1 acre of market garden beds. His veggies are pristine and gorgeous!. He talks about the advantage of using a custom site specific nature created polyculture as the ideal fertilizer suited perfectly to that site. He argues his meadow is grazed completely by his scythe, not selectively by grazing animals, and he mimics rotational grazing with how he cuts his meadow so he is seeing regenerative results similar to proper rotational grazing.
3 years ago

allen lumley wrote:- something R. Ranson posted reminded me - Check out this Wiki link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isinglass

Isinglass can also mean Large sheets of mica, which can be split fine enuf to be quite transparent - It can be found naturally in pieces large enuf

to make windows in Colman type lanterns . Really big pieces with few inclusions are a collectors novelty and are rarely seen on the market !

For the good of the craft ! Big AL

Thanks for sharing this, I grew up in Strafford, NH on Bow Lake which flows into the Isinglass river...
Strafford also has a an old Mica mine on the side of Parker Mtn, the mica mined was used for lamps, windows and more of the affluent residents of the area from the early colonists of Strawberry Bank in the 1600's up until the early 1900's when it was used for the faces of radios and more!
I have found chunks of mica bigger than my head and sheets bigger than frisbees at this old mine!
4 years ago

Andrew Parker wrote:

Lindsey Schiller wrote:
Rather than earth tubes, look into an "earth to air heat exchanger" (alternate search names, GAHT system or climate battery) which stores the heat of the greenhouse in the soil underground.

Semantics. They are, essentially, the same thing. You could include in your search the terms: earth battery and low-grade geothermal. YouTube has many sunken/underground/earth sheltered greenhouse ideas, as well as various geothermal/earth battery options.

Compost heat is another good option. I am not sure having it, and animals, in the greenhouse would be good year-round, especially if you get high summer temperatures and/or a lot of sun. You could have it, and animals, in an adjoining structure. Availability of biomass to feed the compost pile may be a limiting factor in some areas. This video was recently posted in the Compost section of Permies.

It is often quicker and, ultimately, cheaper to purchase someone else's expertise, so I am in no way seeking to detract from what Lindsey is offering.

-I suggested both a GAHT ("climate battery") system and an earth tube intake system-They are NOT essentially the same thing- A GAHT system is recirculating air within the greenhouse, the earth tube intake is the intake for fresh air into the greenhouse- without animals, compost, fermentation, or fungal decomposition generating co2 you will need to exchange the air within the greenhouse, the earth tubes buffer the intake air temperature then having the air warmed up further by directing through hot compost pile then through a biofilter (porus high carbon soil grow beds) to reduce ammonia gas then into the grow space.

-And I suggested a biofilter between the compost/animals and the growing area, not putting them in the growing area- often a great choice (when feasible) is to have an earth sheltered barn as the north room of the greenhouse seperated by thermal mass and air circulated between the growing space and the barn space through a biofilter.
check out Justus Walker's post on his ambitious plan to build an earth sheltered greenhouse in siberia: https://permies.com/t/32195/greenhouses/Wonderful-AMAZING-News-Earth-Sheltered

And check out Anna Edey's greenhouse designs for other cool ideas.
4 years ago
Here's my two cents: Passive solar, earth integrated, heavily insulated north wall, north roof, and insulate the sill down at least 5' below ground and all the way up to the glazing in zone 4 with a minimum of 2' tall frost wall , insulated curtain (insulated blankets used in concrete construction work great) for night time, with earth tubes as intake ventilation through large compost piles inside greenhouse to buffer and heat up incoming air. Air lock (double door with space in between doors so one can be closed before the other is opened). As extensive a "climate battery" as possible. Rocket mass heater and/or sauna built into large mass north wall. Use RMH as the winter exhaust port with a solar powered fan, so as to "soak up" as much of the solar generated heat as possible into the mass. Oh yeah LOTS of low albedo mass: soil, cob, stone, concrete, water(best) placed where it can receive maximum solar gain . Also if you want inside temps and co2 levels to stay high integrate mammals into the mix, just design your structure so the hot moist animal air goes through a biofilter bed to absorb the excess ammonia from the manure (especially important with bird droppings). Not only can mammals produce copius amounts of co2, a mammal generates 8 btu/ hour/ pound! Also make sure your perimeter drainage is really, really good, wet ground surrounding the structure will drastically reduce insulating capacity. Also think about radiant heating loops with water set into the floor that can be heated with solar and wood. People are doing great things building the foundation and mass with earth bags filled with the excavated material and then stuccoed over. Use High R value, High E value glass where ever possible with shade system for summer. Twin or triple wall polycarbonate is the next best choice and it is a lot lighter than glass and just as strong saving money on structure cost. Devil is in the details: design a structure that is easy to make airtight, and make sure all the water details (ie gutters, sill drain, flashing ect.) are designed and installed correctly. Think about designing roof and walls so if there is any condensation in can be collected via indoor gutter systems to a cistern. Also it is very important to design cold sinks inside the greenhouse so the cold air has somewhere to sink to besides around your plants, I have seen peoples plans to incorporate a root cellar into the lowest cold sink of the structure. All I can think of right now...
4 years ago
Totally the best post I have ever read! Thank you for sharing!
4 years ago
I also have ordered flow frame light kits for our two langstroth hives. We do not own any honey processing equipment and over the years on average we have spent the better part of a day extracting honey, so we hope the flow frames will allow us to speed up this process without investing in extraction equipment. Our hives are currently empty, the colonies that were established since 2011 did not survive the winter of 13'/14' but they left us with 4 gallons of honey! We have reserved two nucs from Bob Egan in Skowheagan, ME for 2016.
I want to share my Facebook post from last Thursday.
" Yesterday afternoon I happened to be walking by the two langstroth hives that have been sitting vacant for the past two seasons when I suddenly smelled the glorious smell of sun warmed buckwheat/goldenrod honey. I thought to myself "Did we miss some honey comb when we harvested it last in 2014, the year the bees passed?" then I thought "Maybe our hopes that some feral honey bees would be attracted and take residence in the hives has happened!" Sure enough when I moved the the dense hedge of blackberries that has grown up since 2014 I saw some winged insects whizzing up to the hive, I thought to myself "I hope its not just become a wasp's nest!" But no! Under closer inspection I discovered it is honey bees! I have been seeing honey bess here and there on the clovers over the past few weeks and was very curious as to where they were residing. Although still rare in todays chemical laden hives, in chemical free hives such as ours its actually not that uncommon for honey bees to be attracted to vacant hives. By the looks of the activity in our hive the colony is small. We plan to encourage their efforts to stay and create a home by placing a few drops of lemongrass and lemon oil into the hive. We will do this on Friday, the next biodynamic flower day. Opening the hive on flower days stimulates brood activity and colony development. I will check on the development of the hive while I have it open. In the mean time, Heather placed a sprig of fresh lemon balm on their doorstep as a welcoming gift that will encourage them to call this hive their permanent home."
5 years ago
2.1 Acre permaculture Lot in Greenbush, ME. SE facing S sloping
1680 sq ft double wide mobile home on cement slab. 3 bedroom, 2 bath, cathedral ceiling open concept living and dining room area.

Please Note: No Owner Financing Available

For pictures please see our listing:

Attached greenhouse, on south side of house, 15’ x 55’ with 8mm diffused polycarbonate roof and glass walls, built in 2013. Framed with 2’ x 6’s and hemlock walls. Ready to be heated by included wood stove. Seven entrances and attached chicken coop. Deck is half in greenhouse, half outside. Wash station and sink, 2 2.5’ x 14’ beds and 1 3’ x 8’ kitchen herb bed, 3’ x 20’ bed. 3’ x 3’ stepped strawberry beds. Crushed stone floor with 1000 feet of ½” irrigation pipe installed in stone for future hot water circulation.

Chicken coop designed to be passive solar heated with metal roof. 8’ x 8’ with 4’ x 8’ chicken area and 4’ x 8’ greenhouse. Solar powered, automatic door with photo sensor. 8’ x 8’ adjacent chicken yard and composting area.

12’ x 36’ x 10’ stand alone hoophouse greenhouse with 4’ hemlock sidewalls and 8mm diffused polycarbonate roof. Insulated around sill to below frostline and has 200’ of 4” corrugated, perforated drainage pipe installed 1 foot deep into gravel floor. Air can be circulated through pipe to use insulated gravel pad as heat mass. A 8” rocket mass heater has been installed along north wall on inside of greenhouse, feed tube is in the NE corner and goes underground, exiting northwest corner. 6 gauge rebar mat panels installed on inside of greenhouse frame for added rigidity. In the walls two 3000 cfm exhaust fans with shutters and a 2200 cfm solar powered gabel exhaust fan, with 50 watt solar panel installed in west end. 2 electric actuated intake shutter vents installed on east end. 6’x 8’ door on each end. Placed on gravel pad/terrace within the recently installed and partially planted 20,000 sq. ft rain harvesting hugel swale system.

System is designed to carry water from upper 20’ x 20’ x 4’ deep pond (dug, not finished) throughout 1000’ of zigzagging hugel mounds to lower pond (test pit dug, not finished, does hold water). Test pit for third pond dug as well, not finished. Includes perennial plantings described below as well as medicinal plantings (Echinacea, nettle, chamomile, calendula, ellecampain, hyssop, etc) and some annual plantings.

Intensive 25’ x 100’ fenced in garden adjacent to attached greenhouse (within 15’ of kitchen door). Includes 17 3’ x 15’ framed raised beds with 1’ x 8’ hemlock; 16 have been used for rotational annual production, 1 is strawberry bed. There are also 2 other unframed 3’ x 15’ strawberry mounds. Area includes 6 of the apple trees, 6 of the peach trees, small 4’ x 12’ x 2’ deep pond (dug, not finished) that is outflow for wash sink in attached greenhouse. Designed to flow along peach terrace, which contains other medicinal plants, sunchoke patch, and 4 grape vines along fence.

We have planted over 40 trees: 10 apple trees (14 varieties), 9 peach trees, 4 pear trees, 2 black cherry trees, 2 plum trees, 3 Carpathian walnut trees, 1 gingko, 4 linden, 2 redbud, and 4 honey locusts. All fruit trees are 2-5 years old.

Perennial shrub plantings include: over 60 high bush blueberries (multiple varieties), 8 elderberries, 6 honeyberries, 6 seaberries, 6 grape vines, 2 arronias, 10’ x 50’ raspberry patch (4 varieties) and 6 arctic kiwis (males and females), several strawberry patches.

Adjacent to house is a gambrel tool shed that is 8’ x 16’ with metal roof, placed on compacted pad.

A second shed, 12’ x 12’, three stories, originally planned to also be a climbing tower and possible studio. Top story is a greenhouse with 7mm solex panels on south side of metal roof. Solar powered peak vent. First story currently used for tool storage, second story used as storage. 2’ x 6’ construction throughout. Upper floors currently accessed via ladder, but plans for stairs exist.

Propane powered 7kw automatic standby generator on-site with 2 100 gallon tanks.

16’ Gate with solar powered gate opener at beginning of 100’ gravel driveway.

Lower half of property (bottom of hill) is undeveloped forest, has harvestable white pine, spruce, hemlock, and poplar. Prime for agroforestry. There is also a 50’ x 100’ undeveloped “bowl” between house and road to the north that contains mature white pine and poplar.

Sale of house could include tips and plans for further permaculture development if desired.
Looking Great! Keep up the great work! I really love to see more and more land regenerated by caring, thoughtful people such as yourselves!
It makes me feel extra warm and fuzzy that you're doing it here in Maine!

Our free range Muscovy ducks, and paddock shifted and tractored chickens took care of our slug problem here in central Maine (Maine's Awesome!!).
Also the addition of a garden frog pond within the garden that is filled with rain water and wash water from our veggie sink in our attached greenhouse was a great help as well as creating toad houses every chance I get amongst the perennial border surrounding our kitchen garden. Toads can eat a lot of slugs. The ducks and chickens patrol the perimeter around our fenced in kitchen garden while the snakes, frogs and toads help take care of the slugs within the garden. We let the ducks in to the kitchen garden late fall and early spring to forage for slimy treats. In the rare occasion when we do find a slug or snail in the garden we just chuck it into the adjacent chicken yard/ compost pile and let the Rhode Island ladies take care of 'em. I also choose to frame our (20) 3'x15' raised beds with 1"x8" hemlock which not only helped control slugs it drastically reduced the amount of "weed" pressure on our annual veggies. The hemlock frames allowed me to keep our 1' paths between beds and still cultivate right to the edge of the path with less plants leaning over the paths because the beds now have straight sides. Mounded raised beds with 4'+ wide walkways between are great, mounded raised beds with 1' walkways between are not so great and its hard to keep the sides of the mound productive, "weed" free, and from slipping into the walkway. Before we framed them we only had 2'x 14' (28 sq. ft) of "effective" growing area per bed, when we framed them we increased the "effective" growing area to 2'10"x14'10" (42 sq. ft). The frames also created structure to mount quick hoops made from 1/2" emt with pipe straps screwed to the frame. The hoops are pushed into the ground 12" or so below the frame and can easily be removed by just sliding them up out of the pipe straps.
Even though I am not fond of floating row cover we have used it as a very effective alternative to slug attracting mulches, we only mulch onions and garlic with straw the rest of the garden gets mulched with top dressings of chicken yard compost (kitchen scraps w/ homemade bokashi grains, wood shavings from brooder bedding, shredded leaves, newspaper and cardboard, "used" potting soil, weeds with immature seeds, char, small diameter woody shrub cuttings, and pruned green leaves including cannabis, comfrey, yarrow, dandelion, horestail, rhubarb, clovers, nettle, and elecampagne.) and covered with floating row cover over the hoops, the covers are opened periodically for pollination and/or to attract beneficials.
You may find some effective control using slugs in a biodynamic broadcaster unit - read about it in Secrets of the Soil by Christopher Bird and Peter Thomkins.

Our biggest "pests" now are mice and voles which have vacationed over winter within our low tunnels. Our cat is a very efficient hunter but only gets one or two a day, might need to get a couple more kitties. I will continue to trap the rodents and feed them to the chickens. If this doesn't have a large enough effect I will biodynamically ash some rodents around the production parts of our landscape.

Here's to a fruitful future!

5 years ago
Beautiful work Marianne and crew! Do you have any plan view drawings of your property design?
Like other comments before I am very interesting in the various aspects of this design, such as bugeting, planning, sourcing plant stock, etc...
Keep up this amazing work and keep posting pictures! So inspiring to us all! Thanks!
5 years ago
Even before I read this article in my copy of Pop Sci I've often thought how it would make a great flexible frisbee. We made candy once with dried scoby, ginger, and sugar. We snuck it onto the snack table of a family gathering and watched how people reacted when they ate it. Some relatives loved it, others were appalled when they found out what it was. In my opinion it was wierd vinegary, gummy, sweet and gingery with an unpleasant mouth feel but loaded with probiotics.

As soon as I read the article in Pop Sci I told my wife that is what we should do with the layers of scoby we peel off our constant brew kombucha every couple months.
If the scoby is dried below 105 degrees to preserve the microbes in a semi dormant state the resulting clothing would reanimate when you perspired onto it or it got wet - Probiotic Clothing!

Check out how much we get each time we peel our scobys - it may be enough for a shirt!:

Imagine how much you could harvest from a commercial kombucha brewery!
5 years ago