Alan Wright

+ Follow
since Aug 21, 2012
Apples and Likes
Apples
Total received
0
In last 30 days
0
Total given
0
Likes
Total received
0
Received in last 30 days
0
Total given
0
Given in last 30 days
0
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Alan Wright

I think it is feasible and we're working on it. Granted 2 acres is HUGE to do no till. I think you'll need employees, especially during the start up. But, why 2 acres? We grow on 1/2 acre no till and should gross $40-45k this year with operating/capital costs around $10000. I think at 2 acres there's the potential to raise your operating costs significantly. Jean Martin has about %50 operating costs according to his book and I think a lot of that is driven up by his scale. To gain the "efficiency" necessary to manage 2 acres of no-till veggies at some point I don't think its worth the money.

So, in my opinion... Feasible, yes. But I'd think more on the 1/2-1 acres scale and limit your costs.
5 years ago
I think it is feasible and we're working on it. Granted 2 acres is HUGE to do no till. I think you'll need employees, especially during the start up. But, why 2 acres? We grow on 1/2 acre no till and should gross $40-45k this year with operating/capital costs around $10000. I think at 2 acres there's the potential to raise your operating costs significantly. Jean Martin has about %50 operating costs according to his book and I think a lot of that is driven up by his scale. To gain the "efficiency" necessary to manage 2 acres of no-till veggies at some point I don't think its worth the money.

So, in my opinion... Feasible, yes. But I'd think more on the 1/2-1 acres scale and limit your costs.
5 years ago
In line with what everyone else says, it really depends on your whole strategy and I also think largely on what the green manure crop is. Direct seeding into a bed that was just cover cropped is something we try to avoid. My first suggestion would be to only cover crop beds you will transplant into, IF YOU ARE ADVERSE TO SOIL DISTURBANCE. I think Jean Martin mentions something about a flail mower for his two wheel tractor being a good option but I've never done that.

We have really good luck of mowing/scything/weed-eating/pulling/killing the crop in some way, leaving it on the bed, covering the residue in 1/2" of compost and then burying under hay. After 1-2 weeks, depending on temperature and moisture, the worms have annihilated pretty much everything so we pull the hay, use it to mulch the adjoining pathway. Most times all the crop residue is completely gone and we've got a bed with 1/2" of worm castings. If we need to direct seed that bed we would rake it to get any remaining large organic matter out and if its not a good enough seed bed cover it with another 1/4"-1/2" of good compost and our little seeds germinate great! It prepares the bed while also building fertility.

Depending on your green manure crop this could work with a varied degree of success. If you've got something like rye, which in my experience has a very strong desire to live, maybe a tarp or soil disturbing method could be more effective at generating a fine seedbed quickly but if the crop will give up relatively easy than the method I've describe could could work well.
5 years ago
We've got 50' with an 8 inch system. We use an in-line fan to get it going and then once its warm she runs good, except when the wind blows hard. I know its "cheating" but we love the in-line fan, takes all the difficulty out of it.
5 years ago
Hello!

When I read about Permaculture, earthworks included, I often here statements like "base your designs off of nature" and/or "observe natural systems and mimic them." I think these are great points but for someone who is relatively new to paying serious attention to the natural forms and figures around me I often have trouble translating my observations into ideas for practice. I know that Sepp and many others have AMAZING ideas for earthworks; stabilizing steep slopes, retaining water, making and sealing ponds etc. but when I look at nature I don't see systems with big swales, huge mounded growing beds, terraces, and series of ponds connected with pipe drainage systems etc.

My Questions is two part.

Do you have recommendations that go one (or many) steps deeper for how to translate observation into practice? Do you sit in the forest for hours and just watch? Do you start observing with particular goals of things to observe? Do you have a process for developing your methods or does it just happen?

I know those are big theoretical questions, maybe this would be an easier question to answer. Do you have any stories of how particular ideas like swales, terraces, staggering of ponds, pond sealing, the pipe draining system you developed etc. came to you?

Thank you all for your work,

Alan
7 years ago
Hi Cindee,

I am also planning to install a Rocket Mass into my greenhouse. I think it is a great idea for growing through the winter because of the slow but constant heat with little wood use. That being said I haven't seen many good examples of functioning greenhouse units with explanations of the effectiveness of heating.

I have read that having cob directly in contact with the stove pipe is good because it will allow the quickest and most complete heat transfer from the pipe, but I've seen plenty that don't do this. I can imagine that if you then had that pipe in a raised bed it would heat the soil which would act as a sufficient thermal mass. Also, the heat is right in the root zone and just above the soil, so if the greenhouse air is cool the plants will still be fine. Here's a video doing that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtFvdMk3eLM.

As far as depth I don't know what the minimum is but I would definitely play it safe, whatever that means... Maybe build a test before you do the final.

Something to consider is how much of the barrel you leave open to the air. I am contemplating how to best eliminate the loss of heat off of my barrel so that I can store the most heat in the thermal mass. This is something you might want to consider if you are only growing winter crops in the winter. I think it would be a better use of the heat to warm your soil not the air (another trick would be to place row cover over the plants to hold in the radiant heat from the soil). I am imagining covering most of the barrel in cob and also increasing the space between the inner chimney and the barrel so that less heat is lost from the barrel top.

As far as putting the heater on the top or bottom of your greenhouse I don't really understand your orientation. I am going to put mine on the ground along the back wall of my greenhouse so that the thermal mass gets lots of sunlight too. However, we are focusing on the production of spring starts for or farm and not on winter growing so our thermal mass is going to be a 3.5' tall cob bench that the starts can sit on.

I think cold sinks are rarely a bad idea, especially after reading Mike Oehlers book. But, I'm not going to do one because of my high water table.

If you haven't, read the Rocket Mass Heaters book by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson.

Cheers,

Alan



7 years ago
Hi Mike and everyone else!

Thanks again for being here. Just watched some Major Miracles with my housemates. We all laughed and also thought you were saying some truthful things.

I have many questions for you about my greenhouse and don't expect answers to more than one...

My water table is high and I want to limit the depth I need to put wood into the ground. I also want to increase the strength against hinging. Instead of doing 6x6 posts as you recommend in your book I am considering using Stanchions, as shown in the method on this link: http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Outdoor-Projects/Backyard-Structures/Retaining-Walls/how-to-build-a-treated-wood-retaining-wall/View-All

Do you think this would make a solid foundation (I'm in the same climate as you)? I'm also considering just doing Stanchions on the North wall that is to be 12' tall with larger support trianangles (roughly 6-7 feet). Then burying posts per your recommendation but adding anchor triangles to their backsides on the remaining sides. There will be horizontal cross supports that span the width of the greenhouse as well at 8' height. Any thoughts?

I read recently in "Biolshelter Market Garden" by Darrell Frey (great book!) they used a mixture of beeswax and turpentine painted on as a wood preservation. In your greenhouse book you don't talk about rotting as a large issue if you use the PSP method. Have you really had no issues with rot? Anyone have experience with homemade and non-toxic wood preservation?

I have been considering adding drain tile around the shoring to eliminate water issues but don't have the appropriate slope to "daylight" the pipe. I plan to angle the soil away from the greenhouse, and do the V shape mound on the North to divert surface water. Any suggestions for draining ground water away from structure?

Do you know any polycarbonate dealers in the North Idaho area or should I just order from Sundance? Anybody want to get in on an order from Sundance to cut shipping costs?

Thanks!

-Alan
7 years ago
Welcome Mike!

I just recently received your greenhouse book and am enjoying it so far. I am planning a 4 foot deep greenhouse with a North earth wall and a rocket mass stove bench for heating spring starts. Your information has already been extremely helpful. So, thanks and looking forward to asking you some questions.

7 years ago