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Mike Jay

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since Mar 24, 2016
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[img]https://permies.com/t/117852/a/83129/Mike.png[\img] Mike is a homesteader, gardener, engineer, wood worker, blacksmith and most recently a greenhouse designer. He heard about permaculture in 2015 and has been learning ever since.
Northern WI (zone 4)
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Recent posts by Mike Jay

Kenneth Elwell wrote:Your idea of insulating the floor maybe cuts off a resource?
Let's say floor, roof, and walls all have equal surface area... each 1/3 of total, and the floor is insulated. Now the roof is warming up because of the Summer heat, now it is effectively 50% of the area determining the temperature of the room.

There's a man I know in New Hampshire, who just the day before I saw him this one year, had been cutting ice and stocking the local museum's ice house. He was proud of all they had cut and put up, since they had more to do to replace the ice on the floor (ground?), which had been lost over the past year, owing to the previous Winter being too mild to cut much ice, if at all. Ordinarily the ice on the floor stayed year after year, he said.


I guess I'm seeing the floor (and all the dirt below the wofati) as a drain, not a resource.  As long as it's warmer than your freezer, it's working tirelessly to melt your freezer.  It's not able to work as hard as the summer heat above, but it's still there, sapping away at your frozen ground.  At least that's how I am seeing it.

Let's take that same example you give but change from percentages to real made up numbers...  Let's say summer heat from above generates 100 units of melting heat, summer heat from the sides generate 40 and the deep earth does 10.  At first blush you'd say the floor is only contributing 1/15th of the heat to the freezer.  But you insulate the ceiling and walls (umbrella outside the mass) which cuts those numbers by 2/3rds.  Now the ceiling of the freezer experiences 33 units from above, 13 from the side and 10 from the floor.  Now the ceiling and walls are only heating it during maybe 8 months of the year, in Montana.  But the floor is heating it year round.  So the annual heat load is 368 (ceiling/walls) plus 120 floor.  If the floor was also insulated, it would cut that year round total of 120 down to 40.  So the annual total drops from 488 to 408 (20% better).  Of course these are made up numbers, and I'm typing this when I can't sleep so I probably did the math wrong, but I think it shows that even a colder floor with constant heat load from below would still contribute a possibly deceptively large amount to heating the freezer.

I wish there was a museum with an ice house around here (need to look in case there actually is).  That technology seems pretty cool to me.  
One more thought came to mind.  When I did skirt insulation on my greenhouse (aka Swedish skirt) I saw schematics that suggested that heat is coming out of the core of the earth.  By trapping it under a building and not letting the cold air freeze the soil around the greenhouse, the resulting heat bubble helps the greenhouse, pole barn, house stay warm.

Now that we built a freezer wofati and have an insulated umbrella, I wonder if that thermal energy coming up from the earth will be a problem.  One way of saying it is "The earth is 40F down there and I'm only trying to drop it by 30 degrees, piece of cake".  Alternately, someone could say "I'm trying to freeze a huge chunk of dirt during two months of the winter and then a 30 degree warmer furnace is sitting under it for 10 months".

Long story short, should we put some insulation under the wofati mass as well?
9 hours ago
I plumbed rainwater into my greenhouse the other day.  Instead of buying a new faucet I found an old one in the plumbing parts bin that I had been holding onto.  It was too old for use on a house but perfect for this application.  Unfortunately after I put it in and opened the valve at the rainwater tank, I could hear air leaking out of the valve.  So I took it off and moved into the garage.  I expected to find a worn out rubber washer but the washer was in great shape.  Not that I've seen many of these but it was pristine.  There was some plastic-like junk sitting on the seat where the washer sits though.  I cleaned that out, put it back together and now it doesn't leak!

Pro tip:  The brass nut that I took off was a bit undersized for a standard "English" wrench so I found that a metric wrench actually fit better.  
9 hours ago
Both for me too, as long as there's room to write something in the dates...
9 hours ago
Luckily my mulch is chipped up leaves and very few chunks of wood.  We're sweating away putting it down right now.  In beds with a decent amount of mulch, we're pulling it away, putting down the compost and spreading the mulch back over the top.  In beds that don't have any mulch or are peppered with little plants (carrots), we sprinkle the compost on top of the bed and cover with some leaves collected from the edge of the garden.

Hopefully that's the best of both worlds and it keeps the fresh compost from drying out or getting sun baked...

Thanks for all the ideas everyone, hopefully this helps others in the future!
13 hours ago
I'm guessing 1/2" to 3/4" of compost.  Maybe I'll do some of each.  Where it's easy to rake back, I'll put the compost under the mulch.  Where it's a pain, I'll put it on top and cover with grass.

A wise man once said "If you're struggling hard with a decision, then either way must be ok so don't worry about it".  
20 hours ago
Cool, since it's also the easier way, I'm all for it  Plus the missus got started on that today while I was out so it's good that we don't have to change strategy...  Thanks Trace!
1 day ago
My raised, no-till garden beds are generally covered with anywhere from 0" to 1.5" of chipped up leaves and grass clippings from the fall.  We cover them evenly in the fall and that's what is left about this time of year.

My compost bin is ready to be emptied so I can put 1/2" of compost on all the beds.  I can also mow the lawn and collect the clippings and cover the compost with those clippings to protect the microorganisms from the sun.

My question is about the existing mulch.  Should I just spread the compost over top of it and the clippings on top of that?  Or should I try to move the mulch aside, put the compost down and then put the mulch back and clippings on top? (clippings wouldn't be as needed in that case)

Moving the mulch is tolerable around plants like tomatoes but would be a challenge in many beds (carrots, potatoes, sw potatoes, squash, etc).  I assume the soil biome is interacting with the existing mulch so moving it could aggravate those organisms.  But covering the mulch with compost may not allow the compost to integrate with the soil as fast.  IE the worms may not be able to eat through the leaves to get to the compost before next spring rolls around.  Then when I move this coming fall's leaf/grass mulch aside to plant seeds, I'd be digging through even more layers before I get to plantable soil.
1 day ago
There's a BB for that: https://permies.com/wiki/99566/PEP-BB-roundwood-sand-bench  This bench is wonderful but doesn't quite meet the specs for the BB but when those other trees fall.....
I think there's a recent thread about roosters who push their hens out of protected areas when predators arrive.  So while it's true that roosters are "always protective" in one person's experience, another person has alternate experiences.  So both are true.  What to do, what to do...  Thus the publishing standards encourage us to not say things are 100% fact.  We're more than welcome to say "My experience is that XYZ always results in ABC".  Keep on giggling