Rusty Bowman

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since May 30, 2009
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Recent posts by Rusty Bowman

R Scott wrote:Here is one with comparisons and numbers.

Are you looking for totally off grid or will you have grid power for fans and such (you just want to avoid buying a tanker of propane every year)? There seems to be a difference in design to think about--grid tie is much easier to pump the heat out of the storage.  

Are you looking at rock, dirt, or water as the mass or a combination?

Holy smokes.... there's heaps of valuable info on that site! Just what I was hoping to find. Thanks much for that!

As to your questions, my new place will be on grid. And you're correct: I don't want to be paying for or burning a bunch of propane. As far as mass.... it will likely be mostly if not all dirt... but with a fair bit of rock on site, I could incorporate that in as well, depending on the design.

5 months ago

James Freyr wrote:Hey Rusty, may I suggest the book Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. He has been doing what you're asking about using cold frames and unheated greenhouses where he lives in Maine. It is an excellent book that I believe thoroughly covers the topic and offers a wealth of information, ideas and techniques to garden year round. Hope this helps!

Thanks, James! I actually have that book. It is where I learned how to harvest salad greens throughout the winter. As I recall though, his greenhouses were more conventional and he didn't use them for growing fruit... and I think the veggies he was growing in them required a second covering for protection. That said, it has been a while since I've had that book open. I'll have to take another peek. Thanks again for the recommendation on an awesome book!

5 months ago
In the early stages of designing a greenhouse for myself, I'm trying to gather various examples of greenhouses with track records in climates similar to mine or more challenging. I'm at 42.5 N latitude and 3700' elev.... in a 6a zone.

My goal is to grow year round, traditional veggies and fruit... WITHOUT supplemental heating.

After attending a greenhouse design workshop in the Colorado mountains where all manner of veggies and fruits were being grown (I ate freshly picked figs while pruning banana trees) at 7200' elev in a 4b zone with no supplemental heating, I was sold on that design. That design method is referred to as "climate battery" or "SHCS" (Subterranean Heating and Cooling System).

(side note: I attended the workshop partially due to a client wanting me to design one of these greenhouses for her. Unfortunately, her plan changed and I didn't get to use her as my guinea pig) ;-)

That said, I would be very interested in hearing/seeing what other designs have proven to work for people who are growing similar crops in similar climates without auxiliary heat. Of course, I would love to hear about those using the "climate battery" design as well. I am less interested in theoretical designs given all that can be found on the Net. I would like real-life and preferably long-term experience and numbers... even if they were not success stories.



5 months ago
Thanks for your post, Jen Fan. I edited mine a bit on your suggestion.

Really thought I'd end up building a home and living there. Life is always in flux though.


1 year ago
Own a confluence on 28 acres! Unique with its two creeks, I feel badly for letting this property go. It's time though. 20 miles north of Boise, 3 miles east of Horseshoe Bend. Access via country maintained road.

3 miles east of the Payette River, 3 miles west of the Boise National Forest.

Two sides of this property abut BLM land. The other two sides are buffered by the creeks.

Virtually unlimited access to public lands and various recreational opportunities out the back door: kayaking, rafting, MTBing, ATVing, motorcyling, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, snowmobiliing, camping, hotspringing, fishing, hunting, ziplining, paragliding......

Lax building codes with no minimum size. Build what you want!

Wildlife, including beaver on site. Well, power, septic approved, and private bridge. There's also a little and completely secluded island on one of the creeks. Perfect place to hang out or soak in a wood-fired hot tub under the milky-way! Priced to move. Please pass the word. Thanks!

Here's a bit extra info:
1 year ago

Kelly Beck wrote:Very good stuff! I'm hoping to do some grey water use this year. The washer is a great place to start. I'm sorry if this was already discussed in the thread and I missed it, but when using cleansers appropriate for eventual garden use, I need more info.

Does anyone have experience or info?

Here are some of my thoughts. Please let me know if I'm off base. I have used baking soda with essential oils for laundry in the past. I want to do this again. I'm also learning to make natural lye soap, but I haven't researched if its safe for the garden yet.

Also, how about grey water storage WITHOUT aeration? Would laundry water be nasty after awhile? Hmmmm....


Kelly B.


Yes, the "laundry to landscape" system is a great place to start. Very easy. As far as soaps, I don't know about the baking soda. I use a liquid detergent by ECOs that clearly states on the jug that it is greywater safe. Art Ludwig had a list of varying detergents that were good in one of his books and perhaps on his website too. I would check that out as he has or had a wealth of info there for free. Seems he even had a recipe for homemade stuff.

I'm not familiar with aeration but, can tell you from personal experience that greywater gets nasty smelling in a hurry. You want to get it on/in the ground as soon as you can so all those tiny creatures we can't see will deal with it.

On another note, not sure why the subject of crap and urine came up in this thread but for anyone that's apprehensive about its use...for anyone that cringes at the thought of it being called a "resource"... all I have to say is that the Humanure Handbook is a must read. Jenkins also has some good stuff on greywater in it and the philosophic aspect is excellent. In my humble opinion, it's one of the top books in the genre of eco, sustainable, etc living.
1 year ago
Had a few minutes and saw this forum so thought I'd make a quick post. Here's a pocket rocket fired sauna I made from salvaged materials. Have ~$100 in to it. Very happy with how it all performs and have enjoyed it immensely. The following is a copy & paste from the youtube video:  

"This sauna was built almost entirely from salvaged materials. The only things purchased new: Two stove pipe elbows, silicone, and some screws. It's an old grain hopper that was headed to the scrap yard. Its roof was missing so I turned it upside down and capped the auger hole with a domed skylight I made from plexiglass. Each cedar shake was tapered with a carving ax. Time consuming! The benches and walls are from a redwood deck and the ceiling is cedar and redwood fencing. The floor bears on 4" of locally harvested cinders for insulation. The stove is 4 pieces of scrap metal (no bottom- it sits on the cinders), the top being a disk from a farm disk I welded on concave side up... a built-in pot to melt snow for humidity and add essential oils to. There's a damper in the chimney but the stove has no moving parts. Starts super easy and burns hot and clean. The ring surrounding the stove and containing the rocks, is the middle third of a 50 gallon barrel."

1 year ago

Malcolm Thomas wrote:... seems like the more man invents the harder it is to clean it up.

And that's why, in my humble opinion, we as a society, should keep things simple rather than always look towards technology to build "new ways" to do things. I'm always leery of some new promise, some new invention, that's going to get us out of one pickle or another. I like what Albert Einstein said: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

But I digress. I don't come here often these days due to having so many irons in the fire but...I always enjoy it when I do get here. Great links and thoughts. Thanks, everyone.
1 year ago

Linda Sefcik wrote:IMO --
spilling "grey water" directly and repeatedly around a living area is less than hygienic.

Could possibly be, I suppose... if left to run out in the open on the same area without ever moving. However, if stationary, and the grey water goes to a sub-mulch basin, like Ludwig and others often speak of, the grey water is all covered... or, underground.

I use both types...but the above ground version is via two hoses which get moved around frequently. In other words, nothing builds up...and all the little micro-organisms take care of things... presumably (according to Ludwig, there's not a single documented case of an illness due to grey water). On my sub-mulch basin, I open it up to inspect on occasion... and it can smell fairly bad. But covered, I never notice and it's not something exposed and being spread about by vermin, stepped in, or otherwise in contact with me or anyone or anything else.
1 year ago