Mark Tudor

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since Oct 04, 2012
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Recent posts by Mark Tudor

Testing black locust seeds out a few weeks before I head up to try planting some more, starting with scarification. On my first trip I soaked the seeds in warm tap water for a little less than a day. I've heard that they do best when simulating a fire, and space is cleared for the new shoots to take a hold and grow. So the first picture shows the effect of tap water, nearly boiling water, and fully boiling water poured into ceramic cups, and 10 seeds added to each:

60% germination/swelling from tap water, compared to 80-90% for very hot to boiling water. I took all the seeds which didn't swell and the control seeds and put them back in just-boiling water and they all swelled the second time around. I left them in the water for an extra 2 days by mistake, and each one was also sprouting when I took them out.

I then put all the seeds in little pots in a sunny spot, and watered twice a day... most days... but at least once a day, and we've had consistent rain as well. many seeds started sprouting, but I've noticed that they lose their first pair of leaves fairly often:

I put about 6 seeds in each pot, and probably had 5 sprouts in each initially, but now I have maybe 10 total between 5 pots. So 35 seeds that were relatively babied is down to 35% success and they are all at 1 inch tall. Boiling water seems like the best bet to get them started, and I'll try the little peat pots next that you can place right in the soil, and I'll bring some pieces of fencing to put around as many as I can. Will also get a couple bags of mulch and will see this fall if it was any help. If not, I won't bother repeating the process until I'm up there every day to baby the plants along their first year or two.
6 days ago
I just discovered Josh's videos of the build on Youtube:

Shorter version:

Longer version:

Different shots in each video. So weird seeing and hearing myself!
Mike Oehler spent 30 years in his underground house (which the wofati is based on), and passed on what he learned compared to building the "first thought house" that most underground houses are based on, with water penetration the #1 issue. While it's inevitable that a leak will develop over the years/decades, that's true of any home. A big tree branch can fall and puncture the umbrella sitting a foot under the soil surface, and can also fall through the shingle/sheeting roof of a typical frame house. A french drain sitting at the edge of the umbrella could be poorly installed and fail to drain or clogs up and lets water back up under the insulated mass or even worse reach the buried posts. Or the building is placed in a flood plain or in a location that a french drain can't handle.

But all of those issues are either out of your control or due to poor planning/design, and not so much due to structure itself.
I’ve purchased maybe 4 pairs of Darn Tough over the last year and all are doing well. I was a little surprised at the variation in size and thickness though. I wear a US size 15-16 shoe depending on the width so I ordered the large sock size each time. One or two pairs are almost too tight to wear though, and the pair I have on now feel twice as thick as another pair.
1 week ago

Dr. Bronner's brand is a popular choice for safe use in greywater systems.
2 weeks ago
While these are usually more hands-on, what about:

"calculate sun hours for your site during winter use"
"determine expected load using use monitor like kill-a-watt"
"calculate storage needs based on estimated use and depth of discharge"
"generate current using people power"

These seem like important initial steps for most off-grid systems.
1 month ago
I would add my 2 cents to emphasize the "always safety first" aspect of each level for electrical. While there are lots of things that can kill us, I expect the average person to show some basic sense towards a running chain saw or felling large trees (although that is a risky assumption)... but how in the world could that little bare wire kill me just because I touched it?!?!

Perhaps there's already a plan to include the standard chunk of legalese to every BB so this covered. Best to cover all the bases in our litigious society though!
1 month ago
Hello all, wasn't sure if I should start to clutter up the announcement thread for the ATC to discuss pickups/arrivals to the event, so I started this thread instead. Feel free to merge it into the ATC thread if that's better!

I will be flying in for the 2 weeks of the ATC, and since it starts on a Monday I would assume I should arrive in Missoula Sunday as early as possible and then hopefully we could coordinate a pickup. If there's a time which is best, say some people are flying out of Missoula after the PDC so a vehicle will already be in the area, that seems like the best option. So I'm hoping we can figure out some times here to make it the easiest on those available to drive.

The only reasonable options I could find has me arriving in Missoula Sunday June 30 at 4:35pm, and leaving Missoula Saturday July 13 at 4:05pm so I asusme I should be there at 2:30pm or so? So I scheduled my flight for those times, and hopefully if there are others who will be coming/going at those times we can carpool to/from base camp!

Thanks in advance for any replies!
1 month ago
Registration sent for the ATC and confirmation email received!
1 month ago
In no particular order:

Rain catchment (planning a wofati/Oehler setup, but will likely have a "shop/garage" or possibly smaller structures like wood shed and storage sheds, that feed into cisterns)

Gray water system (I'm looking at this for year-round use in USDA zone 6, combined with composting toilet, instead of a septic tank)

Earth bermed shelter (is this like a livestock shelter, more like the berm shed, or livable structure? I think all 3 would be good experiences)

Deep well hand pump (I'm all for helping build this, assuming it's for the lab? How deep is deep? My own site has water at 60-80 feet all around so I expect a 125 foot well and having a hand pump backup would be smart)
1 month ago