Con of Formal Raised Hugelbeds: Many Permies--probably including Daron--know this, but there are potential downsides to raised edged hugelbeds that I've noticed first hand. Much of the attraction of raised kitchen hugelbeds is to create a more formal bed. Usually whatever the edging material, in time the edges of the bed will accrue weeds or grass along the top and bottom of the edging that can be really tough to eliminate if you're really trying for a (perhaps overly) neat effect. Assuming the edging material is wood and you live in a humid climate, it may harbour excess slugs (which may simply indicate a "duck deficiency" on your part:). If the edges are formed with stacked timbers, the gaps between them can shelter weeds and rodents to a degree. The bed top will slump into gaps over time as debris accumulates between the logs and spill out. If you're a real neat freak, grass trimming around the middles and bottoms of these is not easy. You can line the insides with moisture and/or weed barrier, but this is fussy and not permyesque. We don't have any ducks on staff yet, and we've moved away from these edged hugelbeds to either veg beds on the flat or just slightly raised without logs but with wood-chipped paths. We've started bigger hugel beds for less formal areas where we don't care about any of the above-mentioned concerns or where we want to build soil.
For those of us with smaller flocks, you can find a farmer who harvests or buys grains in bulk and you can purchase and fill garbage cans with grain. If you have a mix of grains and you add minerals, calcium, etc. and soak or sprout, you're off to the races. For our flock of 25, a garbage can full lasts months, although we pasture ours for 3/4 of the year.
"I think including the suggestions here by Bryant, the adding of soil layers, capping pile with soil, Biochar considerations etc would make this the “Awesomest Maximus” of all the systems! "
Sounds good. Carlos--I have checked into Johnson's activities and he is on to something--and so are you and Dr. Redhawk! I'm fairly familiar with many types of composting, but Johnson's seems to be a bit of a better beast for various reasons. I encourage any readers to check out the longer video about Johnson and any other online info that's related. Especially interesting were his controlled studies of using different types of composts--including his own--to grow peppers. As any compost sage knows, all composts are not equal, and Johnson's appear to be superior. I'm diving in this spring!
Form into a cylinder & use as root crop washer? Attach to posts and use as wind fencing--or snow fencing if you get much snow! Place on top of a support structure and use for shade, attaching more shade material if needed. Cut into 3-4 ft. wide strips and use as nursery tables. Form into "U's" attach to ground and use as animal shade shelters or rain shelters with flexible sheet goods on top. I'm mildly jealous...
"I switched design as I decided that the "cleaned" grey water that I had originally intended to obtain did not justify the expense in terms of money, work, and space taken up by the tanks and other elements of the initial design. You may ask why have a grey water system at all then. the answer: as a minimum, by separating grey water from black water, I ease the burden on the septic system; the grey water draining into a swale and mulch basin will benefit the landscape during dry spells in summer; and finally, as the pipe drains into the open, I still have the flexibility to modify the final segment of the design if I want to add new elements later on (e.g., a wetland, small pond, etc.)."
I have a similar perspective to yours and live in a colder climate. I'd love to see some pics/maps/diagrams. I have a grey water system plumbed inside my home, but it currently goes...nowhere, except back to the septic system until I flip the diverter lever. Expense, using the elements that make the water "grey" and future design flexibility all seem like the most important design parameters to me.
"If you are in an area with more than 3 junctions of water passage, then you want a main line setup instead of a key line setup, because that will work better for you."
Bryant, I respect you greatly, but I'm a little confused by the above quote, and I thought I had a better handle on keyline than most. Can you elaborate on "main line setup" or refer me to a pertinent resource? Thanks, Peter
The images still are not there for me.
Just remember, as Darren Dougherty has said, that the Keyline was originally phrased "the Keyline of the valley." Figure out your valley's keypoints, then you have to figure out how your various valley keylines/keypoints will mesh. And then, as Mark Shepard has said, don't stress too much about getting it exactly right.
Barring exterior insulation, I'd build joists over the walls but under the roof, and put your preferred sheet film over them which you would roll/unroll into place with a greenhouse-style sidewall ventilating rod & handle combo. The end walls under the rod handles would be tricky to air proof, but you could hang vertical film walls INSIDE the ends of the overhead roll to take care of that if you wanted.
Make yourself a hoop house on timbers made with bought or made arches and cover with 1-2 layers of greenhouse plastic. On pallets with traps underneath or at the edges. Then you've got a sunny place to warm-up & dry the bales, a place to work in in bad weather, and a place for season-extension and/or equipment or animal storage later.
Google "The Endeavour Centre" in Ontario Canada. Lots o' great DOCUMENTED open source plaster ideas & experience. Look at the old blogs. I know they've used rock wool and a lot of different plaster/insulation assemblies, & they're good folks.
"This is like 1880 - 1890 technology prior to running things like lathes on electric.
We seem to have lost this technology which is unfortunate because people off the grid like me
could use this without even having to pay for solar."
The Amish and Old Order Mennonites STILL have belt-driven machine shops that power everything from farming to woodworking to metal roofing manufacturing, and often outcompete their competition.
I believe the code assumes exterior with the wall being a "wafer thin shell." I could be wrong--check with an official somewhere (else?). For an outbuilding under the 100 sq. ft./10 m. sq. parameters, they won't really care. If it's round, they're likely not going to bother doing the math and just take your word for it if you're close.
A few books that train your brain how to think BEFORE you get too infatuated with any particular techniques are: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand; Designing Your Natural Home, by C.G. Woods, M. Wells (awesomely visual, often hilarious); Home Work by Lloyd Kahn (buckets o' funky photos); The Owner Built Home; The Owner Built Homestead by Ken Kern (out of print--library loan?). And "A Pattern Language," of course... .
HI Ron: Thanks for the reply. I'm not worried by these nuggets--I've noticed them for years. They'd be tough to sift out because they're a similar size to some of that charcoal chunks. You can pretty easily squish these nuggets into powder with your fingers. The source for my firewood is all local trees growing above limestone bedrock. I'm thinking the substance is inherent to the trees, but I have not been able to correlate it to a particular species. We have trees similar to what you do in N.H. I burn a lot of maple, ash, beech, some elm, hop hornbeam.
Howdy Any and All: I sometimes discover little nuggets in the ash after my masonry heater fires. The nuggets are popcorn-like but smaller and a distinct green--the colour of oxidized copper. Is it copper? I burn 90% hardwood with cedar kindling. This maybe isn't the best forum for this question, but I didn't know where else to put it. Maybe I could include a photo if I can find some more of the substance, but as this is only my second post ever, I don't even know how to do that! Thanks.
Hi Steve: I'm a LONGtime Permies Lurker and I can't believe there's anyone else in South Bruce Peninsula besides myself that trolls Permies! I also can't believe Dale's from Wingham. In terms of sawdust, of course you can get cedar sawdust from a lot closer than Wingham--like Liverance's north of Ferndale, ON and in South Bruce Peninsula (Hayes). I have no earth bag experience, but lots of cordwood, some straw bale, and a good bit of plaster experience. Maybe I can be of some use before you're done, 'cause I'm local.