Peter Dörrie

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since Feb 18, 2020
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Recent posts by Peter Dörrie

There are specific areas in Germany that have lots of ticks, usually those with a milder climate. The illnesses they transmit depend on the area in question and you can get detailed information from the health institutions run by the federal states as to where exactly tics are a problem. This also tends to fluctuate a bit year to year.
7 months ago
If your garden is fenced in (and your child is not capable of opening the gates) I would have no problems letting my 3-year-old just running around and do whatever, no matter if he is in view or not. Sure he'll break stuff, but that is par for the course, in my view.

That said, a decent play area really helps with keeping children occupied in a garden. Our kids particularly enjoy slides, (easy) climbing opportunities and sandpits (ideally with running water. Nothing is more fun to a kid than making a mess with water and sand).

When it comes to gardening itself, offering kids their "own" area, where they can decide what happens helps with getting them interested. You'll still have to do all the work at that age, mind you, but you should do it in a way that they think they themselves did it. Over time (if you are lucky) they will actually grow into doing it themselves.

In terms of insulation, I have grouped the wet places (bathroom, toilet, kitchen) efficiently. We'll use untreated sheeps wool in the floor that limited area, and cheap local blown in cellulose fiber elsewhere.

One architect we talked to about our house warned us in very stark terms about sheep wool. He said he was involved in one property where the owner insisted on using it and it turned out real bad. They had to break open the walls and pull it out, because it started to smell. Probably due to inexperience on part of the planners, but I would be careful.

Why don't you use straw bales? You can use them for both floor and walls (as long as there is no constant source of dampness). A standard bale has good enough R-value to build a passive house, it is quite conductive to amateur builders and is quite cheap (surely cheaper than sheep wool). You an use them in standard wood framed construction (just make the walls a bit wider) and it plays really nicely with a an earthen finish.
8 months ago
Even if it is a hassle, I would definitely look for a structural engineer or builder with the necessary experience to check your plans and execution. It is easy to look at old houses and think that if they could do it 200 years ago, it can't be that hard. But those houses were built by experts, who knew what they were doing and had years of experience.

Regarding the original question:

- Your general ideas sound fine. Not sure if gabion baskets are needed/advisable. Car tires are probably harder to mess up and soil is more readily available in most places than gravel.
- I would read up on drainage, though, because if you experience periodically heavy rains/snow melt/etc and depending on your soil you might want to guard against having your foundations washed away.
- For underfloor insulation you could look at foamed glas. This is usually made from recycled material, it is chemically inert and thus very sustainable (your can reuse it almost indefinitely or dump it somewhere without ill effects).
8 months ago
Where is the project located? Foundations are usually regulated quite heavily by local building codes and (especially for larger house) will need to be signed off on by a structural engineer. You should probably contact an engineer practicing in your area and ask him for basic requirements.
8 months ago sells Meyer Lemons:

They are a Swiss seller and maybe they can arrange a delivery to Norway (they do send to Sweden).
8 months ago
Hi Bard,

I don't have a specific recommendation, but based on your description you are looking for a resolution of 0.5 meters or lower. This type of imagery is commercially available for the whole globe, usually shot within the last three years at most. There are multiple vendors for imagery like this (Bengi's Google search is a great start), but these types of images can be quite expensive, as they are usually marketed for specialist applications (in rural areas at least).

If they are too expensive for you, you have a couple of options:

1) Check if any of your local/in state Universities have a geography/agriculture/similar department. These departments should have ready access to high-res satellite imagery and if you write a nice email with the coordinates of your land, there is a chance that someone will just send you what you need.

2) Buy, rent or borrow a drone. Small quadcopter drones are readily accessible and, depending on the model, come with great cameras. They are easy to fly (check beforehand if you have the right hardware, like a smartphone or tablet) and virtually every drone will make higher resolution imagery than the best satellite you an access publicly, because it is so much closer to the subject
8 months ago
We are quite close in Mainz, south of the Rhine. Our garden project is in Rheinhessen, which actually has quite favorable climate. Where are you in Hessen?
8 months ago
Hi Bengi,

thanks for your detailed reply. That is already a lot of valuable info. We had already planned on adding a mycorrhiza mix while planting and mulching with wood chips around trees. We were also looking to plant Elaeagnus and black locust as fast growing nitrogen fixers that would also provide fruit and firewood.

Animals are unfortunately currently not an option, though this may change down the road.

Thanks again!
8 months ago
We recently bought a piece of land in Germany and are currently going through the process of getting building permits, so I'm somewhat up to date on the bureaucratic aspects of these things in Germany.

20.000 Euro will basically buy you 1ha of agricultural land, if it is considered decent by farmers. Woodland is less expensive, but also often less productive, as are less desireable plots.

BUT: you have no chance at all of getting a building permit (which is needed to install any type of permanent lodging) for agricultural land. In fact, you may even have to get permission to change the land use type (from woodland to field, or vice versa), although this is less complicated.

Building permits are only granted in specially demarcated areas (this needs a vote in the town council and is a very political process) or on plots that can be build on "by right", meaning that the plots around them already feature permanent lodgings. As you can imagine, buildable land comes at a premium in most places as a result. The exception are probably very rural areas (more than 3 hours from the next major population center) that have experienced population loss. This includes some areas in South-Western Germany, but primarily rural parts of East Germany. There you can find cheap "fixer-uppers", although good agricultural land will still be pricey.

I would support those in this thread that have advised to put "people first", especially if you plan on building a community. Moving anywhere with 20+ people will arouse suspicion by the locals and requires detailed knowledge of the laws and regulations. This will be no different in Bulgaria, England, Spain or Belgium. Speaking the local language is probably a basic requirement, as local officials especially in rural areas might not be fluent in English (I know they wouldn't be here).

I would suggest defining a few target areas along criteria like climate, language/culture and the general availability of cheap land. Then go there regularly on holiday or shorter visits, talk to the people and let them tell you what they think of your plans. Find local groups that share your goals. Build a network of people that can help you navigate the process.
8 months ago