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Beth Simmons

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since Apr 25, 2012
Vermillion, SD
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Recent posts by Beth Simmons

I've been reading permies for awhile now, asked my first questions on RMH and have tried to become involved with what experience I have. I thought it time to introduce myself! I live on less than an acre, last year was hideously hot here, and we are in the worst of the drought.

I am in mid-process with my RMH in my green house. We have the mortar work and are hoping to do the perlite/slip tower asap and begin cobbing. Drying in the current cold weather is really concerning me and I am worried about cracking. I am actually considering trying to do the burn tower insulating in the kitchen, letting it dry and very cautiously carrying it out to the green house and joining it to the fire brick on a bed of clay/sand. I get the just-try-it-and-learn-from-your-mistakes philosophy, but when you have physical limitations, planning, contemplating and seeking feed back are the better strategies and make it harder to embrace your failures. So, any feedback would be appreciated.
8 years ago
I'm in the southeast corner of South Dakota.
8 years ago
Further south in Vermillion. Current project aquaponics, not so much permaculture but I'm on less than an acre.
8 years ago
A quick and easy way to collect the info from hours of winter gardening browsing is a free add on to Firefox from Carnegie Melon called Zotero. It is actually citation management for like a dissertation, but I have had parents write me in appreciation for using it for recipes, crafts, and yes gardening.
Sounds like treasure to me! My father-in-law talks about using green manure to build hoop house raised beds in MN in the 30s. They mixed it with sawdust and put dirt on top.

Consider ways you can use it for vermiculture one the inside of the greenhouse for helping heat year around. Newspaper or wood chips could keep down the smell. You will benefit from heat and year-around compost cooking.
8 years ago
I get the desperation. For most of us this is a considerable investment in time and money, and for some of us who are older and disabled, mistakes are not just process but painful. So as somebody in the middle of a similar project, though by far not as expert as many here, I thought that I would share some thoughts. I too am in a northern climate, though a bit more extreme of one. Our RMHs are for a specific goal.

So let's look at the goal for a minute. From the temperature goal you have, I am guessing that you want to do talapia? Blue talapia can go down to 65 F. My plan is to maintain a breed stock in my basement and raise them in the greenhouse in the summer half of the year where we have extremely hot temperatures, I will try something like walleyes that can handle lower temperatures. We also have more sun than you year around. To maintain that water temperature you will have to heat year around if you stick with talapia. The survival range for trout is published at 35 to 75 °F (2 to 23 °C).

Another thought is your layout. Your pond has considerable thermal mass, but you are trying to maintain a temperature, where your cob can get nice and toasty. Ideally you would want to be able to close off one or the other exhausts. Definitely plan a clean out there.

Are you planning to insulate the tank, likely not on the bottom, but the top and sides? Maybe a different top in the summer for me at least.

The thing to think about is that it is a system. Think about how your water will transfer heat in the tank and as the water cycles through your grow beds.

I guess what I am saying is be realistic with your goals in terms of water temperature, and do a dual exhaust with controls so you can decide which thermal mass that you are heating first. Since the mechanism is metal and it is hot coming out of the barrel, this may need regular replacement. Also remember curves need clean outs, so not under the tank.

My hope is that this forum will be a place to bounce ideas, trouble shoot and share experience, so I hope to follow your project and share.
8 years ago
I'm not an expert, but I see you have been waiting for a long time for an answer. I did heat completely with wood at one time and have written green HVAC curriculum.

You cannot calculate KiloWatt hours, because there are too many variables. All heating systems are exactly that: a system. Some of the variables are fuel, insulation, thermal mass and insulation. The kind of wood, its dryness and density, all impact its burn time, heat and efficiency. My green house will lose more heat than a cob house or other well insulated building. Thermal mass will be warmed by both the RMH and solar gain. I originally was going to just do sand, but now I am going to do clay with that sand to reduce the air pockets and have a more dense thermal battery.

RMH stoves are designed for gassification of the cellulose. Key areas for clean out are the feed, immediately exiting the barrel, and any turns or bends where the exhaust will slow. Rob from web4deb has included a clean out to his design feed so he can remove ash without totally letting his system cool. Exiting the barrel is another key place. I am told that the bends do not need to be cleaned as often, as little as yearly. I would only use a vacuum on a totally cold system.

Avoid wet wood in any fire. I have not seen screens, because of the drafting properties of a rocket, but hey, better save than sorry.
8 years ago
I too am working on an in floor in a small space, but I am doing a green house. I am using 8". I had thought sand/pea grave at first as well. I have reconsidered this due to two issues, first being the natural clay and sand with some straw will help the pipe support weight structurally, and second, the air around the grains of sand rock is not the best thermal mass. When we dug down we found really hard packed clay, so this pile of indigenous clay will be mixed with sand and pebble and packed in to make the floor. Since I am being careful with water by using aquaponics in this green house, I can keep the floor dry. It has stayed dry through several melts and an inch plus of rain through the winter.
I'm good with the floor heating up and radiating. I just won't heat more than I need. Do remember to put clean outs in the bends.
I'm not an expert, but I thought feedback from another novice would be better than no feedback at all.
8 years ago
Shared! Nice for elders! Do you need beta testers?
8 years ago