We had our blueberry plants get overrun with weeds one summer to the point we lost a couple. No they didn't die.... We freakin' lost them. Couldn't find them. After hacking down a bunch of Johnson grass and goldenrod and blackberry bushes that didn't produce well, we found them again, and they were healthier than the ones we had exposed earlier. It's as if they were nourished and protected by the weeds.
So last spring I decided I would run with it. I started by laying out the cardboard and straw to keep the weeds at bay a little, then planted in between the cardboard.
As the weeds grew up past the tomatoes and peppers, I only chopped and dropped the weeds that were on the south sides of the plants I was growing for food, just enough to let the sun hit them. I let the ones on the north side grow up tall. They ended up supporting the tomato plants and even some smaller viney squash.
From outside the garden it just looked like a weed patch. The critters thought so too. The only food that was stolen was from the plants on the outer edges of the garden.
Later in the season I noticed the Japanese beetles were ignoring the tomatoes and peppers and only eating the surrounding weeds.
The weeds held in the moisture, protected the plants from too much exposure and I think even helped to feed them. The smell when you bent down into the weeds was rich. I never had to water at all, even in the dry summer.
We had a good harvest. Finding veggies was like a treasure hunt that never ended, and I could never bring enough containers to harvest everything.
I think my next design will include covering the ground with a thick, lofty layer of sticks so the tomatoes, when they bog down the tomato stakes, will stay off of the ground and stay dry. Some rotted from all the humidity so I may cut the southern weeds down a bit lower in summer also... Just to eliminate the excess humidity.
i think, you would need an electirc dehumidifier inside your cave, alongside with other measures to reduce air humidity
I lived n a cinderblock house with cement floors and when we put in vinyl floor tiles water pooled up on the floors from the condensation. My brother in law said I'd need a dehumidifier. Instead I lit a fire in the fireplace and the humidity got sucked up the chimney and I never had humidity problems ever again. I think a little fireplace - or a rocket mass heater.. with a bypass vent that would let the heat go straight up a chimney in the summer time rather than store in the thermal mass... would do if you want to go off grid.
(maybe sans the living roof - cuz you'll want to collect rainwater to water your plants)
Greenhouses should be underground otherwise you have a tons of cold air rolling in at night. Berms hold in the heat. Sun only comes from the east-south-west.
Put together a 'plant processing center' (under the radar talk for 'kitchen') - sink, counter space for cleaning plants, etc..
Put in a rocket mass heater to keep the greenhouse warm in winter (under the radar talk for 'stove')
Put bed in there cuz sometimes you work late (under the radar talk for your bedroom).
Build lots of storage and a root cellar for storing plants and canned stuff - and sometimes you have to keep your clothes there. (under the radar talk for 'closet')
Get internet - cuz sometimes you need to ID weeds for edibility and medicinability (is that a word?) or pests, etc (under the radar talk for 'internet')
Tell 'the man' you live somewhere else and use a friend's address as your residence.
Don't tell your neighbors anything. They'll think you just live there. Legally you just work there. You just work a LOT.
Mine started with Mike Reynolds back in the 70s. Then Mike Oehler. Then with the dawning of the internet I'd have to say Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. Lately it's been Paul Wheaton cuz he's really on top of the new innovations. And I have to mention the Primitive Technology YouTube Videos! They're amazing! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA. Uncle Mud (Chris McLellan) and Sigi Koko I saw at the Mother Earth News Fairs in Pa and they conveyed invaluable building information. Wonderful people in this world! I'll be eternally grateful for what they teach us all.
Mike Reynolds designed a thermal mass refrigerator that I hope to build when we finally build our little shack on our land. He's got a full description of how to build it in I think his second Earthship book.
It uses a thermal mass chimney to suck the heat out of the air as it sinks down from outside. He lines the food part with beer cans - the little bit of alcohol in the beer helps prevent freezing and the metal also sucks out heat. He keeps it closed in the summer and open it in the winter to let cold air in. He also adds refrigeration coils and motor that runs on very little power, mostly cuz it doesn't have to run that much. You could use it without the coils, just disconnect it, but the coils are a good backup during really hot weather.
I've never used it so I can't vouch for it -- still a couch permie -- but it makes sense. I'd build it so it opens from the top to keep the coolth in. I like that it also uses the already cold winters, so we don't have to have a cold bx in a hot box
We read an article in the Bangor Daily News a couple years ago where people were commenting about the power outage from the ice storm they had there that lasted a few weeks. One person complained that all their food in their refrigerators was going bad cuz they had no power. LOL. It's an ice storm! Ice = cold = refrigeration?
Also - we saw Sandor Katz at Mother earth News one year and he's awesome. The way he describes it, you really can't screw up fermentation without it showing obvious signs of 'ew'.
http://www.wildfermentation.com/ We have his book and have tried several things. It's a lot easier than it seems.
Ahhhhhhh, never thought about the critters eating it! Thanks Alice. You prolly saved me some work. We were thinking of getting goats LOL. You KNOW they'd eat the stuff. That's why I like to come here. Smart folks
Longevity: maybe grow a bunch of viney plants like honeysuckle and grapes and beans and just leave the old vines there to bind it together?
Screws: I've been really curious about using baling twine for construction. It'd be a lot easier to pull two poles apart that are screwed together than it would be to separate two that were bound together, and I imagine people throw baling twine away by the bags full when they're done feeding their critters.True the plastic in them decays in sunlight but if you bind the vertical poles to a horizontal one and cake on a layer of cob in the cracks it'll block the UVs from eating away at it. And the wood around the screws can rot (especially with rainwater soaking in around the screw) and pull loose faster than baling twine would decay even in sunlight.
I'm inclined to start a thread on baling twine construction. I'd trust it over screws any day.
What if you added a hollow section to the roof that also absorbed sunlight and piped it into an extended chimney up above the roof to create a syphon that could help to pull the air from the back chimney? Cheaper and less maintenance than solar panels.
Thanks, jeff. We really wanted to use vermiculture for this - it's so much more ecologically sound than a septic system. With the 4 grandbabies, we'd have to have at least a 3 bedroom - gotta separate the boys and girls (and us, for our sanity). I'm seriously considering just getting the land and the permit to build and just waiting til we can afford and acceptable system before we move in. Maybe they'll just sort of forget about us by then
But if I do have to install septic, I'll definitely use a sawdust and barrel anyway. Maybe drop an occasional turd in the septic in case they come by and take a look at it.
Grey water can be filtered underground using Michael Reynolds' later design. He digs a deep trench, fills with various sizes of gravel and puts a strawbale every so many feet. The earth will keep it warm - or toss a hugelmound on top of it and grow food on it. The extra depth will raise that frostline.
The township has no problem with us building anything we want. But the pooping thing is a setback. First the guy said "no composting toilets - for now", then referred me to the state. But the state says approved composters are OK. So I'm assuming composting is out 'for now', but I may need to go back and re-address that. We were originally going to move to the inner city and get a foreclosed house, but found we didn't have to move right away so we have time. We're trying to weigh the cost of maintaining a house in the city, heating it, paying for water and sewer and city taxes, to paying for whatever septic system we can talk them into letting us have. If it's just a matter of an approved composting toilet, we can probably go with that, but if we can't dig our own septic system, and have to pay licensed installers to do it, that can cost us more than we're paying for a down payment. Standard septic systems aren't rocket science. Designs are all over the internet.
It'll be another 11 years before the youngest is an adult - I'll be 66. The Nearings built into their 90's. I can wait if I have to, but grrr. It seems they are passing whatever laws they can to keep people from living sustainably.
So my girl and I can get a nice little 16 acre piece of earth here in Ohio to practice all the stuff we've learned on here but now we're facing this:
Composting toilets used as part of a STS must be certified to ANSI/NSF Standard 41 and are authorized
for use. A manufacturer of a composting toilet that is not certified to ANSI/NSF Standard 41 who seeks
approval for use in the state must submit an application in accordance with the requirements of section
3718.04 of the Revised Code and obtain approval for use from the director of health.
Commercial compost toilets are ridiculously expensive, and so are septic systems. We really don't want something we can't repair ourselves, and we aren't wealthy by any means. We're both artists, and we're positive we can build our own system - it ain't rocket science.
If we were already established and had built something, we could fly under the radar but we haven't built our earthship-style-yurt-village-huts-connected-by-greenhouse-hallways yet, and I'm guessing when we apply for a permit they'll what to know where we plan to poop. I'm thinking of applying for a permit to build semi-underground-bermed-on-the-north greenhouses (that look oddly like earthship-style-yurt-village huts-connected-by-greenhouse-hallways) then just gradually move into them without telling anyone, maybe by saying I'm working there, but that could get sticky if someone comes snooping around. We can't try a different state cuz we have my girl's grandbabies and the courts say we can't leave the state with them.
The County Health Department dude says they go by the state minimum requirements, but Ohio is passing ridiculous laws governing septic systems - even telling the Amish they can't have outhouses. Meanwhile many of Ohio's roadside rest areas and parks boast the nastiest outhouses I'd ever smelled. I have been to intentional communities that use sawdust privvies and never smelled a thing.
Anyone have any suggestions as to how to deal with state officials, or fly under the radar safely? Just wondering.
Hard working, creative (and artistic), sustainably minded permie family of 7 seeks child-friendly farm or neglected property "IN OHIO" to rent or purchase very cheaply. We're open to a caretaker situation, farm help situation (if separate living quarters are available). Post or email me at email@example.com and we can talk about it. Just a shot in the dark to see if anything's out there.