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William Bronson

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since Nov 27, 2012
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William Bronson currently moderates these forums:
Montessori kid born and raised in Cincinnati.
Father of two, 14 years apart in age,married to an Appalachian Queen 7 years my junior,trained by an Australian cattle dog/pit rescue.
I am Unitarian who declines official membership, a pro lifer who believes in choice, a socialist, an LGBTQ ally, a Black man, and perhaps most of all an old school paper and pencil gamer.
I make, grow, and serve, not because I am gifted in these areas, rather it is because doing these things is a gift to myself.
Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Recent posts by William Bronson

What do i want this structure to do/be?
Good question!
I was just musing on the nature of earthen structures, and trying to think of easier-cheaper ways to do them.

Walls have so many uses,  with many functions within each of those uses.
Security, privacy, thermal moderation, wind protection,  water exclusion...

I'm planning a 200 square foot shed.
Pallets fit the budget, as do tarps, and I already know that that can work out quite well.
But tarps disintegrate in the sun and pallets die from water and micro organisms.
So, how about a triple thick pallet wall, filled with rocks, soil,  woodchips, and planted with willow,  grapevines, elderberry and alfalfa?
Plant both horizontally and vertically, and plan on watering in the beginning.
Hammer some willow all the way down into  the ground underneath the wall,  to give it a head start on rooting there.
Plastic on the inside of the structure , to deal with damp.
Eventually,the pallets embedded in the earth walls would fail, but stakes could be driven into the wall as new anchor points for the plastic, or roots might be available by then.
Three layers of pallets makes for a wall foot thick.
Thicker might be better,  but you could add layers as you go.
I really like that idea,  and it makes me think of stepping down each additional layer by half a skid, creating something of a slope.
As the pallet wood and steel disintegrates, the plants are there to hold the soil together.
The roof could start with heavy duty rafters, add a roof deck of pallet stringers and layers of carboard and plastic.
The slightly peaked roof, edged with stringers,  would be covered with soil and plants.
It might be worth it to mix in perlite, vermiculite, or biochar to lighten the load, but ultimately the idea is to have soil protect the plastic and the plants to hold the soil in place.
Unlike most earthen structures,  we would want water to hit the walls,  to encourage the growth of the trees.
In fact,  peeing on your wall might be a good idea.

I am inspired  by the post mentioned above:
https://permies.com/t/27725/Photos-growing-eco-buildings

Konstantin Kirsch, have some great wood working skills .
Me, not so much.
This I would like to mimic him using  pallets


Posts like these by  Alder Burns  also inspire possibilities:

Alder Burns wrote:You might think along the lines of the carpet-sandwich idea for pond liners.  I've roofed a couple of cabins with a similar technique.  Basically you protect a couple of thicknesses of heavy plastic with carpet (or something else durable and puncture resistant....I've uses silt-fence fabric in a pinch) on both sides.  In a pond, algae and mud build up on the upper carpet.....and soil and rocks can be put on top of it where it is above water, mostly to protect it from slowly degrading in sunlight.  For the cabin roof, I laid the plastic in overlapping courses on a deck of cardboard placed on the frame, and then covered this with overlapping courses of carpets, which were then stuccoed with a soupy mixture of cement, which hardened in among the carpet fibers and formed a rigid surface.  Moss eventually grew on it, and I imagine some soil could have been added and a living roof done that way.  The roof, of course, had some slope to it......



The lack of used carpet availability near me, points me towards using roots to keep soil in place.

The idea seems sound enough to at least try it, so I'm going to do just that.
I've been focusing on plants that grow well from live stakes, this,  elderberry for instance.
Some dogwoods are listed as well, but not the varieties known as being great eating,  What do i want this structure to do/be?
Good question!
I was just musing on the nature of earthen structures, and trying to think of easier-cheaper ways to do them.

Walls have so many uses,  with many functions within each of those uses.
Security, privacy, thermal moderation, wind protection,  water exclusion...

I'm planning a 200 square foot shed.
Pallets fit the budget, as do tarps, and I already know that that can work out quite well.
But tarps disintegrate in the sun and pallets die from water and micro organisms.
So, how about a triple thick pallet wall, filled with rocks, soil,  woodchips, and planted with willow,  grapevines, elderberry and alfalfa?
Plant both horizontally and vertically, and plan on watering in the beginning.
Hammer some willow all the way down into  the ground underneath the wall,  to give it a head start on rooting there.
Plastic on the inside of the structure , to deal with damp.
Eventually,the pallets embedded in the earth walls would fail, but stakes could be driven into the wall as new anchor points,   or roots might be available by then.
Three layers of pallets makes for a wall foot thick.
Thicker might be better,  but you could add layers as you go.
I really like that idea,  and it makes me think of stepping down each additional layer by half a skid, creating something of a slope.
As the pallet wood and steel disintegrates, the plants are there to hold the soil together.
The roof could start with heavy duty rafters, add a roof deck of pallet stringers and layers of carboard and plastic.
The slightly peaked roof, edged with stringers,  would be covered with soil and plants.
It might be worth it to mix in perlite, vermiculite, or biochar to lighten the load, but ultimately the idea is to have soil protect the plastic and the plants to hold the soil in place.
Unlike most earthen structures,  we would want water to hit the walls,  to encourage the growth of the trees.
In fact,  peeing on your wall might be a good idea.

I am inspired  by the post mentioned above:
https://permies.com/t/27725/Photos-growing-eco-buildings

Konstantin Kirsch, have some great wood working skills .
Me, not so much.
This I would like to mimic him using  pallets


Posts like these by  Alder Burns  also inspire possibilities:

Alder Burns wrote:You might think along the lines of the carpet-sandwich idea for pond liners.  I've roofed a couple of cabins with a similar technique.  Basically you protect a couple of thicknesses of heavy plastic with carpet (or something else durable and puncture resistant....I've uses silt-fence fabric in a pinch) on both sides.  In a pond, algae and mud build up on the upper carpet.....and soil and rocks can be put on top of it where it is above water, mostly to protect it from slowly degrading in sunlight.  For the cabin roof, I laid the plastic in overlapping courses on a deck of cardboard placed on the frame, and then covered this with overlapping courses of carpets, which were then stuccoed with a soupy mixture of cement, which hardened in among the carpet fibers and formed a rigid surface.  Moss eventually grew on it, and I imagine some soil could have been added and a living roof done that way.  The roof, of course, had some slope to it......



The lack of used carpet availability near me, points me towards using roots to keep soil in place.

The idea seems sound enough to at least try it, so I'm going to do just that.
I've been focusing on plants that grow well from live stakes, this,  elderberry for instance.
Some dogwoods are also possibilities, but not the ones that  are known as food plants.
Willow has a well deserved reputation for being malleable, but it's actually too damned vigorous for me to want to plant near my house.
I will use it in my other property, but not yet.





14 hours ago
Just like it sounds.
Jute bags of earth,with willow between each course.
Twin lines of willow stakes,backed by cardboard, filled with soil.
Willow grid atop a tarp roof ,mounded with soil.
OK,  could work.
But what other plants would you include aside from willow?
Grapevines?
Alfalfa?
Elderberry?
Alder?
Nannyberry?
What do y'all think?

22 hours ago
I put wood in my base layers in the hopes that it will provide aeration early on and a carbon heavy sponge for water later on.
It always provides bulk,  which is good.
I like tall beds, for my backs sake,  so bulk is helpful.
I never much worry about big chunks robbing nitrogen.
Branches, chips and leaves I do avoid mixing into the soil for fear of tying up nitrogen.

Never had to deal with brambles, but if they are as fearsome as advertised,  I think I would char them befit I buried them.
1 day ago
I was shocked about the bramble layer,  but only because it was so high up, instead of being a base layer.
2 days ago
Travis your expertise is incredible,to the point that I hesitate to describe your system as DIY!
I think you know this stuff better than most sales persons, and probably better than a lot if installers.
A lot of the DIY boiler setups  I see described are very simple, lacking in advanced controls, or many controls at all.
The fireboxes are not well metered or controlled so there is real danger of creating a steam bomb.
A system employing Programmable Logic Controller to control fuel,  air,  and water flow, is worlds apart.


I have been looking for a diagram to go with your explanation, something showing the primary and secondary loops,  and the metering valve.
I haven't found anything showing a metering valve persay,  but the illustrations that show primary and secondary loops make me think that a metering valve controls how much water from the primary loop is injected into the secondary loop.
Can a pump on the primary loop accomplish much the same thing?
5 days ago
Welcome to Permies!
Me own mum has commercially purchased cages for her two small vegetable  gardens.
We have had issues with the closures and with rabbits chewing through the plastic netting.
With that in mind, I suggest a high tunnel/hoop house, made of chicken wire or hardware cloth over EMT tubing or rear.
5 days ago

The radiator thing I've seen done in an Instructibles.
They were going for cooling more than dehumidification.
I like your toilet idea, it uses up the "cooleth" in batches,less waste that way.
No matter what,  we want to use all that water/electric/cooleth more than once.
Direct irrigation, or a storage tank(pool?pond?)for future use seems like a good idea.

I've seen people skybluing about using heat renewable dessicants, a known technology  and using thermal solar power as the renewing heat source.

Air to earth thermal storage systems rely on the relative cool of deep soil to condense water out of the air,  taking the heat with it.
Often touted for their ability to heat a structure like a greenhouse, they can be used for cooling and dehumidifing as well.
Unlike earthtubes, they avoid the dangers of mold and mildew by being perforated.
The condensation is absorbed into the earth,  and the native soil organisms easily out compete molds and mildews in that environment.

So maybe bring in air via perforated earth tubes, through a renewable desiccant filter and past a well water cooled radiator.
The constant positive pressure of chilled dried air could help keep out the humid outside air.
5 days ago
Ah,  I think I see where I was confused.
Let me explain, it might help someone else.
Radiant heating systems  and solid fuel boilers are  so often discussed together here on permies that I conflated one with the other, but one is the heat distributing system and the other the heat generating system
As Bob illustrated, radiant floors can be heated by conventional means.
The solar preheating connection he mentioned might be suitable for connecting to a wood burning boiler.
Either of those two sources might easily  exceed the working tempature for PEX, so they would probably require the use of a tempering valve.
I don't think there is much actual danger from a closed loop radiant heating system,  but there can be danger from a closed loop boiler.
It sounds like an open loop radiant heating system has few downsides.
In fact,  I wonder if such a system could be driven by a heat pump water heater that itself would be powered by PV solar.
That's a nice thing about  radiant heating systems, the seem adaptable to many diverse heat sources.
You could run a loop through a compost pile or a dragons maw, with the right precautions.
5 days ago
I'm very confused.
Open systems are usually considered safer, as they avoid the possibility of pressurized steam.
5 days ago
I thought this post would be about poop!
Feeding pigs cow poop for instance.
Of course,  insect and microbiological life play a part in that exchange as well.
It seems that every food can benefit from predigestion by microbes and such.
I wonder that more homestead pork producers don't keep chickens or guinea fowl right along side of the pigs.
Furrowing pigs would delight the chickens.
Pig poop would be a paradise.
This pairing seems like a composting super duo.
I do imagine some birds  would be eaten, but not too many.
Oyster mushrooms and   red wrigglers could also  be good links in the chain.
5 days ago