Ashley Reyson

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since Sep 05, 2014
Montana
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Recent posts by Ashley Reyson

@Ian Sa, at risk of diverging into a different thread, I've been following the greenhouse in the snow, Mike Oehler's greenhouse, and quite a few other greenhouses for years. I agree that Russ Finch's work is very interesting, and I think it's likely that you and Paul might have a perspective gap on it. I have two related thoughts...

First... Perhaps you're familiar with Paul's Wheaton Eco Scale, and/or perhaps you've read the Building a Better World Book? If so, you're more likely to understand Paul's perspective on this, whether you agree with it or not. Paul does a lot of things that look extreme to others and not to me. He also does some things that look extreme to me. I don't have to do everything Paul's way, but I definitely appreciate his trailblazing in so many areas, because it's speeding my path. Concretely, I don't require the home I'm working toward to be as "freaky cheap" as Paul's Allerton Abbey & Cooper Cabin were (<$1000), but I'm borrowing many things from them, including rocket mass heaters - where Paul's endeavors were a principal enabler for me.

Second... I'm not certain Paul stopped watching at 30 seconds as you inferred, but I am certain he understands the design concept behind Finch's greenhouse, because that's the same thing that Paul's black pipe extending 20 feet down into a cold well is intended to passively accomplish - allowing circulation of hot air to store heat in the earth mass beneath the greenhouse. Finch's approach has more subsurface area, and probably more airflow due to the thermostatically controlled fans, but both approaches target the same end.

I'm very intrigued to see how well that mechanism accomplishes the goal, because there is a greenhouse in my future!

5 months ago
Lindsey, thank you for returning with an update. I often wonder what people do after a discussion like this, so I appreciate your follow-up.

Since you're going with a wofati inspired design, I highly recommend investing some time in Mike Oehler's DVDs, which you can find here on permies at the ridiculously good deal of $35. As you may know, Oehler is a major inspiration for the wofati design, and the 'O' in wofati stands for Oehler. If you want to keep the inside of a structure dry, his approach to design is tough to beat, even if you're building with concrete block rather than timber.

I empathize with your conundrum, because I'm working on designs for a couple acres I just acquired in Washington. At 25" annually, my rainfall is less than yours, but I'm in an area where basements don't work due to shallow water and springs. I'm leaning toward building mostly above ground, and berming earth up against and over the top of the structure, while covering it with the same sort of waterproof insulated umbrella as a wofati.

Good luck with your project, and I look forward to your photos!
6 months ago
Oh, and mulch!
If your concern is plants/soil drying out, then mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch.
Mulch is magic.
Joshua, I haven't tried core gardening, but I don't see any reason it would rot roots. I also don't see any reason some plants would be less satisfactory for the approach, as long as you have decent soil. Mels mix works, but I personally like the compost part of it and don't love the other parts. Plants are happy in it though. If you're new to gardening, then ignore everything I say and just get started with it. Plants want to grow, and are remarkably forgiving as long as they have decent soil. Nothing substitutes for experience, so jump right in, try things, kill a few plants, eat a few more. It's all learning.

If you're still reading, here's a few other things your question brings to mind...
If the reason you're trying this is concern about plants drying out, there are at least three other things I'd consider as options alongside this... ordered from least to most preferable to me:
  • Drip irrigation. A simple timer and a few parts let you put water when and where you want it. I'd rather not fund the plastic producers, but I have used drip irrigation before, especially when establishing plants during the heat of summer when I'll be away too often to care for them well.
  • Straw bale gardening. If you have straw to put in that trench anyway, why not consider straw bale gardening and save the effort of making the bed and mixing the soil?
  • Hugelkultur. The core idea seems to me to operate with the same intent as hugelkultur, just a bit more urbanized.


  • If you're not familiar with straw bale gardens, check here: https://strawbalegardens.com/. His TED talk linked from that page is 15 minutes well spent. If you try straw bale gardening, please do know that you can use any nitrogen source to condition the bales. There's no reason you must use a chemical fertilizer for that purpose.

    If you're not familiar with hugelkultur, a search on this site will find you tons of info.

    None of this is intended to talk you out of core gardening, simply related ideas you may find helpful.
    If you try it, let us know how it goes.
    Krystal, I just found your old post with no replies.

    Did you ever build this? I'd love to hear more about it, and I think others here would too.
    I'm especially interested because I'm assuming you're in either Pend Oreille or Stevens county, and I have friends, future, and interests there!
    7 months ago
    Amy, congratulations on making excellent use of your time and circumstances!

    If you're doing anything new, or just thinking about doing it, I'd love to hear about it!



    I'm enjoying doing many things... small steps forward every day, and an occasional big one. Here's a few examples:

    My work involves frequent travel. The current situation gifted me more continuous weeks at home than I've had in years. What an opportunity - more time with my wife and family! I'm also fortunate that some of my work can and does continue remotely. I'm using this opportunity to help my clients see how effective we can be remotely, with intention to maintain more remote work and reduce travel frequency even after the current situation passes.

    I recently reassessed my goals, celebrated those I completed over the last few months, and narrowed my focus on what I want to accomplish in the next few months.

    Garden things: It's planting time in Montana! I have onion sets overdue to plant outside, and I hope to complete that this week. I'm also starting seedlings, and cloning others from cuttings, to be ready to transplant in 4-6 weeks. My microgreens growing system spent the last year starved for attention, so I'm restarting it... cilantro, sunflower, yum!

    Food things: I enjoy buying eggs and mushrooms from fantastic local vendors. Despite the current challenges, my wife has been able to arrange delivery or pickup of those items, to continue our support for local vendors and our enjoyment of their excellent products. My wife is also working with our teenage children to shift our meal planning in better and better directions.

    Future things: I've been on a long quest for a piece of land suitable for the next steps in my life. I found it in January, and we closed the deal remotely this week. I'm working on a permaculture design for that property. It's four hours away, and there are many things I can't do without traveling there (make an accurate contour map for example), but there are so many things involved in good design that I can do.

    Family things: I've used zoom to setup conversations with family members around the world, play games together, and simply connect. I suppose there's no reason I couldn't have done this before, but somehow the current circumstances gave me a poke to do it.


    I guess that was more than "a few" examples.

    The essence of that list in my mind is that I'm consciously engaging myself in things every day to move forward. This is productive, and it's also protective from the anxiety pandemic that's raging around us. I notice that anxiety pandemic is far more contagious than the medical pandemic.

    Life is wonderful, even when I find speed bumps.
    So many opportunities, so much to do and enjoy, so much joy and learning I can share.


    7 months ago
    @Jennie, did you find a source? If so, I’d love to hear because I’m in the same area.

    If you haven’t found them yet, I know that Ace hardware carries them (there’s one on Brooks, and another on Broadway near the east side of town), and Tractor Supply has them (south of town, heading towards Lolo). I’d rather find a direct from farmer source so I have more information about what I’m buying, but I did buy a few from Ace last year.
    7 months ago
    A similar tool is available here: https://contourmapcreator.urgr8.ch/

    I find that which one works better varies wildly from one property to another.
    7 months ago
    For those still looking for greywater solutions, and future readers in this thread, here's a few resources:
  • Many would say that the leading authority on Grey water is Art Ludwig. This common errors page on hits site may be a useful starting point, but if you like building on a solid foundation then start with his books.
  • A first book to read is, “Creating an Oasis with Greywater”, which you can buy from amazon, or from the author’s site, which also has options to buy it bundled with his other greywater books and resources for a substantial discount.  His site has good guidance on when you want One of his other books, either instead of, or in addition to that one.
  • While you’re at the site, be sure to check out the Grey Water Central” section.
  • Be cautious of one size fits all solutions if you don’t understand the fundamentals. Like any other aspect of permaculture design, solutions are contextual and require understanding how they fit with other elements of your design and your location.


  • I don’t have any personal connection to or financial relationship with Art, but his work has been helpful to me. This updates on his website about trips to and projects in Mexico are positively inspiring.


    8 months ago
    I just tripped over this ad: https://kalispell.craigslist.org/mat/d/bigfork-insulating-fire-brick/6941073454.html
    TLDR is he has lots of new fire brick available for $1/brick or a pallet of 684 for $200.

    That's perhaps 90 minutes from me, but I think it's a very good price. Is it?

    How much do you pay for fire brick?

    If there's others in the area that want to go in together on a pallet I'd be open to it.

    (Should I have posted this in the Missoula forum instead? Moderators please feel free to move it if appropriate.)
    1 year ago