Solar Station Construction Plans by Ben Peterson -- ebook
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Iain Adams

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since Mar 30, 2012
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Recent posts by Iain Adams

Excellent. Thank you!
6 years ago
Hey Ben,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Your book looks great, and I'll be ordering a copy today.

Do you have any safety recommendations for those who wish to compress into canisters? Wondering about best practices to avoid mixing in oxygen, and if the high hydrogen content of scrubbed gas will quickly deteriorate a metal tank.

Thank you!


6 years ago
In addition to the great culinary uses, staghorn, dwarf, and smooth sumac are all highly medicinal, and have a strong anti-microbial action, among other things. I've successfully used the bark against Staph and Strep infections, and there's a long and well documented history of other medicinal applications.

It grows rampantly around the edges of my young food forest, so I pollard them to feed goats and keep em from encroaching. They are a great and rapidly regenerative fodder source, and according to my goats, are just about the tastiest thing ever. They'll completely strip and debark them in minutes, turning them into EXCELLENT rocket stove fuel. I've also had some success using them as a trellis for vertical growers around the edges of my fields.

On the primitive tech side, they make great friction fire spindles, and the pithy cores can easily be hollowed out for pipes, blow guns, straws for coal burning, etc.

6 years ago
Anyone ever used it? XPS in particular is supposed to maintain almost all of it's R value, even after years of use and exposure to moisture, etc. I'm curious if anyone has experience with reclaimed or re-purposed insulation to back that up or otherwise.

It would be pretty darn green to use 100% recycled/reclaimed insulation, that was 30% recycled waste to begin with. Not to mention, the price makes it far more accessible than the new stuff. I have a local source for a load of R-15 Foamular that was reclaimed during a demolition job. Costs about 1/3 as much as brand new pink board, and is in great shape, so I plan to double up on it and add an extra R-10 or 15 to my thermal wrap.

Have any permies out there worked with the stuff? Does it hold up as well as the manufacturer claims?
7 years ago
I say go with two layers overlapped to seal up the seams. I don't think you need to worry much about compression with Foamular. It's really made for applications like that and can hold up fine under pressure. I definitely wouldn't put it under a tire wall though, unless it's part of a specially engineered concrete footer or something.

As for insulating the slab, that's a hotly debated topic. The folks in Taos recommended against it for my build, rightly pointing out that it would cut off a huge part of the thermal battery. I live in a very wet location though, so I'm considering using this stuff under the sub-floor:

How high is the water table at your build site? As long as you're more than 5 feet above year round, it may be more effective to spend that money on extra drainage to keep the thermal wrap dry (french drain around the whole perimeter). Definitely stick with at least R-20 XPS for the thermal wrap.

7 years ago

Su kraus wrote:My daughter is living in Senegal, W Africa and has been told it is very common to get parasites especially foot worm. Searching the web I found a company selling a trio of Balck Walnut tincture (made from green hulls of walnut) whole cloves and one other thing I've forgotten! Does anyone know if this is valid or have any recommendations of herbal remedies I should send my daughter. Thank you.

The Black Walnut / Clove / Wormwood trio is highly effective for a wide range of parasites. It's very important to take them together, as through synergy, the whole is greater than the sum of each part. The clove tincture disrupts them in the larval phase and prevents reinfection after the parents are long gone. The juglone and thujone (primary medicinal compounds active in the other two herbs) are very strong, and shouldn't really be taken regularly, though living in Senegal, doing a flush once a month is a very good idea.

More importantly, as was already mentioned, have her ask the locals what works for them.
7 years ago
Yes, they will multiply just fine if you leave them alone, though it takes a few years. Some disturbance / division of the tubers will speed up the process greatly, like it does with wild stands of sunchokes. I'd dig a few up and divide them into 3 or 4 and replant. If you do the same every time you harvest in the future, the patch will grow larger and healthier every year.

wayne stephen wrote:I planted 25 or so tubers last year. They did fairly well . I am interested in this batch for stock not this years food. If I leave them where they are will they multiply or do I need to dig them up and replant? I have too many other projects right now. I have heard they become woodier as they stay in ground but I assume they will form better eating tubers if I replant later. Right now I am just interested in forming a huge patch then to become bigger patches. What results have you all had ?

7 years ago
Colloidal silver, usnea, echinacea, oregano oil, goldenseal (and other berberine containing plants like oregon grape, barberry, goldthread..) are all fantastic for dealing with various infections. These are all fairly common, but sounds like you may not be able to access any of those from where you're at.

A reasonable alternative that's served me well is "fire cider", which can be made from commonly available ingredients. I've stepped on a bunch of rusty nails out in the barn and had various run-ins with wild critters, and relied on it rather than doing the whole tetanus shot and antibiotic routine. I've had great success using it for other things as well.

There are lots of variations on this same theme floating around out there, but here's the basic recipe:

Apple Cider Vinegar (the good live stuff with the "mother")
Horseradish (a decent quantity grated up)
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 whole onion
1 large chunk of cayenne pepper (any good hot Capsicum will work - I use 1/4 of a ghost pepper)
Ginger root
Black Pepper
Sumac berries

Blend it all up and chug a little at a time with water. Can be used topically also.
7 years ago
Personally, I like black cherries and find them fairly easy to harvest in large enough quantities. They're small but yield a lot. I've dried them and used them with Cornelian Cherry Dogwood in fruit leather. Delicious.

If you're going to remove them, they make good mushroom logs. I removed one recently while clearing a build site for an Earthship. Sawed it up and used it for mushroom logs (reishi, lions mane, shittake, etc) and it's worked great for that.

Dave Aiken wrote:Good tips, Michael. Thank you.

So the next question is, assuming they're black cherry, should they stay or should they go? My plan was to plant a sugar maple or perhaps a shellbark hickory, with some berry producers nearby (aronia and/or service berry). My goal is human edible fruits/nuts. The black cherry is not great for either. The lumber value is high, but I'll never harvest the timber for that purpose. If a tree must be removed, or if one is wind damaged, for example, I may use the lumber for something, but that's not my goal.


7 years ago
Hard to say with total certainty without a closer look, but they are almost certainly cherry trees. Look like pin cherries to me.


Dave Aiken wrote:OK, guys. Gold star to anybody that can identify these two young trees. I have a couple of guesses, but since there are no leaves this time of year and they're young, it's very tough because the bark isn't fully developed. I had my saw at the ready, but since I was pretty unsure, I spared them for now. I have largely cleared some rough canopy trees from this area to make room for some new tree plantings this spring. But I'd kick myself if I removed something I later found to be quite desirable...been there, done that. Rather not repeat that mistake.

Bark is dark with white spots. This may change as the trees mature (unless I drop them, per my plan)

Branches are alternate:

7 years ago