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Kat Cearns

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since Oct 10, 2011
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Recent posts by Kat Cearns

I'm not certain this info's accurate, but a very experienced arborist told me that lichen and moss are not harmful to a tree. If fact, they may be helpful in that they provide a slightly more acidic environment on the tree's bark which discourages growth of infection and infestation by insects. Maybe look more at the roots/ base of the tree. Does it have a well with nice mulch kept back from the trunk? Or is it overgrown with weeds and (gasp!) grasses? I think that those things would be a more likely suspect. Good luck with your lovely cherry! But don't use poisons or chemicals please!
6 years ago
Thanks Brian! Your advice and information really does help. I wish we could go back and not put in the plastic VB, but it's in there now and the tip on using 2 layers of felt below the plaster is a very useful one! We live on Vancouver Island, so the climate is mild but often damp, so we'll definitely pay extra attention to flashing. Thank you again! Where else but this site can a person get such a helpful and friendly response?
6 years ago
Well! Last time I came here to ask the collective Permies oracle a question, I was stumped about what insulation I should use in my walls. After much dreaming on my side, and much practicality on my family's side, we met in the middle at denim insulation.

It was really easy to work with (a bit fluffy when you rip it, but no prickles- oh, and the blue snot it gave me was pretty fun too), but I could not get around putting a plastic vapour barrier over it. I know I don't feel comfortable about sealing the walls, but I can't really make a decent argument as to why when I'm speaking with people used to building to code. Anywho- so we've now got to-code insulated walls complete with plastic vapour barrier and more tuck tape than you can shake a stick at, and instead of drywall we have plywood walls (for strength, mostly).

I'm going to plaster the interior with American Clay Loma, but the exterior is where I'm stuck. I know that I would rather work with a natural plaster than a cement stucco, but I'm worried that a breathable finish like earthen plaster over tar paper might allow moisture to enter and create condensation? I'm really stuck on all this. What I get from the conventional builders is, "well, you just need vapour barrier! Without it your house will be draughty and your walls with rot!" But now that there's a vapour seal on the inside, should I have a tight one on the outside, too? Does this mean I have to say goodbye to my natural-ish house all together? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Any other exterior finish ideas would be wonderful too : )

Kat
6 years ago
Thank you for your ideas! I think I would love to do a straw bale wrap, but the biggest problem with that is the existing roof doesn't create enough overhang. I love the idea of insulating on the outside, but the roof just makes that difficult. What seems to be the popular option here is just using denim batt insulation and then plastering the exterior and interior of the walls. I'm feeling a little set back because I wanted to do a real "green" building, but perhaps the most permaculture-minded thing to do here is work with what I've got, and what will be the most convenient in that case. Is it okay to earthen plaster over a vapour barrier? I'm thinking that I would put wire/hardware cloth over the vapour barrier and plaster that. I'm absolutely firm on not using drywall, so I've at least got to find an alternative to that.
Mid-Vancouver Islander here (for sake of climate info)-

I'm wondering if I can pick your collective brain about cob/slipstraw building- retrofitting a stick-frame 20'x30' building with a trussed roof on a cement pad. There is plywood on the exterior and, apparently, it's structural, so I'm not allowed to remove it. We're trying to figure out if there is a safe way to insulate the walls and roof of this shack without using synthetic materials which will off-gas or get all up in my nose, eyes, skin, and throat with little prickly horrible bits.

We already have planned a little cob extension on the front of this structure (south side) and we will be loading that up with glass and windows to let in light. We'll be making a thermal-mass floor for the entire building. Because of the cob section (its look and feel) I would really like to extend the earthy, rounded, smooth feeling to the rest of the building's interior, so I thought that maybe a slipstraw infill between the studs, and then plastered, might work. But by many accounts, slipstraw doesn't have a very high R-value. I'm also a little worried about moisture moving in the plywood, and the need to put up tar paper on the exterior of the plywood in order to plaster it (cutting off the path vapour, possibly causing condensation?) I would really like to earthen plaster both the interior and exterior walls. Any suggestions (even outside-the-box ones) are greatly appreciated! I've been searching and searching for a solution to this, but I think a discussion might be what I need most. Cheers!

Kat
Hi Vancouver Islanders (and beyond!). I just thought I might spread the word here about a PDC in Nanaimo starting in March. It's Part time (every second weekend, great for us workin' folk!) and I've signed up! The only problem is, there aren't enough people signed up for it to run yet! If you feel like this might be the year for you to get your learn-on, contact Javan or just sign up through the site. I hope to meet some fellow VI permies there! http://www.permaculturebc.com/permaculture-design-certificate-british-columbia-vancouver-island-nanaimo-2012
7 years ago
Okay, first post here. Hi everyone!

I think it's pretty imperative that I make my way down from Vancouver Island to Missoula in 2012! When I saw Sepp Holzer was going to be there, I nearly flipped! But then, I noticed Skeeter's PDC(is it okay to call him Skeeter if I haven't met him?). Oh jeeze! Decisions! I think what I'll have to do is sign up for the PDC, and then try to get in one or two days of Sepp to round it all out. I hope I can make this work! I really feel I need to take a PDC, and I can't think of a better person to learn from! There are a couple in B.C., but I'm hooked on the Permies site now and want to come down and see everything going on down there!

My partner and I are transitioning from a pretty urban lifestyle to a more rural one come next year. We have 3 acres to fiddle with and we also want to be sort of... permaculture missionaries in the town we'll be living in (we'll be on the outskirts of a typical cookie-cutter subdivision hell. You know the ones, where they tear out a forrest to lay down asphalt and then name it "Eagle's Nest Glen Forest Sanctuary"). So to do all this, I think we need to do a bit of learning our selves! Now I just need to get over my fear of the border. Ack!
7 years ago