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Dale Ziemianski

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since Apr 18, 2013
I'm a fulltime freelance digital illustrator in love with sustainable living.
Lancaster Ohio
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Recent posts by Dale Ziemianski

I've been gardening in the weeds.

We had our blueberry plants get overrun with weeds one summer to the point we lost a couple. No they didn't die.... We freakin' lost them. Couldn't find them. After hacking down a bunch of Johnson grass and goldenrod and blackberry bushes that didn't produce well, we found them again, and they were healthier than the ones we had exposed earlier. It's as if they were nourished and protected by the weeds.

So last spring I decided I would run with it. I started by laying out the cardboard and straw to keep the weeds at bay a little, then planted in between the cardboard.

As the weeds grew up past the tomatoes and peppers, I only chopped and dropped the weeds that were on the south sides of the plants I was growing for food, just enough to let the sun hit them. I let the ones on the north side grow up tall. They ended up supporting the tomato plants and even some smaller viney squash.

From outside the garden it just looked like a weed patch. The critters thought so too. The only food that was stolen was from the plants on the outer edges of the garden.

Later in the season I noticed the Japanese beetles were ignoring the tomatoes and peppers and only eating the surrounding weeds.

The weeds held in the moisture, protected the plants from too much exposure and I think even helped to feed them. The smell when you bent down into the weeds was rich. I never had to water at all, even in the dry summer.

We had a good harvest. Finding veggies was like a treasure hunt that never ended, and I could never bring enough containers to harvest everything.

I think my next design will include covering the ground with a thick, lofty layer of sticks so the tomatoes, when they bog down the tomato stakes, will stay off of the ground and stay dry. Some rotted from all the humidity so I may cut the southern weeds down a bit lower in summer also... Just to eliminate the excess humidity.
2 months ago

i think, you would need an electirc dehumidifier inside your cave, alongside with other measures to reduce air humidity



I lived n a cinderblock house with cement floors and when we put in vinyl floor tiles water pooled up on the floors from the condensation. My brother in law said I'd need a dehumidifier. Instead I lit a fire in the fireplace and the humidity got sucked up the chimney and I never had humidity problems ever again. I think a little fireplace - or a rocket mass heater.. with a bypass vent that would let the heat go straight up a chimney in the summer time rather than store in the thermal mass... would do if you want to go off grid.
10 months ago
Do this

(maybe sans the living roof - cuz you'll want to collect rainwater to water your plants)
Greenhouses should be underground otherwise you have a tons of cold air rolling in at night. Berms hold in the heat. Sun only comes from the east-south-west.
Put together a 'plant processing center' (under the radar talk for 'kitchen') - sink, counter space for cleaning plants, etc..
Put in a rocket mass heater to keep the greenhouse warm in winter (under the radar talk for 'stove')
Put  bed in there cuz sometimes you work late (under the radar talk for your bedroom).
Build lots of storage and a root cellar for storing plants and canned stuff - and sometimes you have to keep your clothes there. (under the radar talk for 'closet')
Get internet - cuz sometimes you need to ID weeds for edibility and medicinability (is that a word?) or pests, etc (under the radar talk for 'internet')
Tell 'the man' you live somewhere else and use a friend's address as your residence.
Don't tell your neighbors anything. They'll think you just live there. Legally you just work there. You just work a LOT.
10 months ago
Mine started with Mike Reynolds back in the 70s. Then Mike Oehler. Then with the dawning of the internet I'd have to say Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. Lately it's been Paul Wheaton cuz he's really on top of the new innovations. And I have to mention the Primitive Technology YouTube Videos! They're amazing! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA.   Uncle Mud (Chris McLellan) and Sigi Koko I saw at the Mother Earth News Fairs in Pa and they conveyed invaluable building information. Wonderful people in this world! I'll be eternally grateful for what they teach us all.
Mike Reynolds designed a thermal mass refrigerator that I hope to build when we finally build our little shack on our land. He's got a full description of how to build it in I think his second Earthship book.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_mass_refrigerator



It uses a thermal mass chimney to suck the heat out of the air as it sinks down from outside. He lines the food part with beer cans - the little bit of alcohol in the beer helps prevent freezing and the metal also sucks out heat. He keeps it closed in the summer and open it in the winter to let cold air in. He also adds refrigeration coils and motor that runs on very little power, mostly cuz it doesn't have to run that much. You could use it without the coils, just disconnect it, but the coils are a good backup during really hot weather.

I've never used it so I can't vouch for it -- still a couch permie -- but it makes sense. I'd build it so it opens from the top to keep the coolth in. I like that it also uses the already cold winters, so we don't have to have a cold bx in a hot box

We read an article in the Bangor Daily News a couple years ago where people were commenting about the power outage from the ice storm they had there that lasted a few weeks. One person complained that all their food in their refrigerators was going bad cuz they had no power. LOL. It's an ice storm! Ice = cold = refrigeration?

Also - we saw Sandor Katz at Mother earth News one year and he's awesome. The way he describes it, you really can't screw up fermentation without it showing obvious signs of 'ew'.
http://www.wildfermentation.com/
We have his book and have tried several things. It's a lot easier than it seems.
2 years ago
Ahhhhhhh, never thought about the critters eating it! Thanks Alice. You prolly saved me some work. We were thinking of getting goats LOL. You KNOW they'd eat the stuff. That's why I like to come here. Smart folks
3 years ago
Longevity: maybe grow a bunch of viney plants like honeysuckle and grapes and beans and just leave the old vines there to bind it together?

Screws: I've been really curious about using baling twine for construction. It'd be a lot easier to pull two poles apart that are screwed together than it would be to separate two that were bound together, and I imagine people throw baling twine away by the bags full when they're done feeding their critters.True the plastic in them decays in sunlight but if you bind the vertical poles to a horizontal one and cake on a layer of cob in the cracks it'll block the UVs from eating away at it. And the wood around the screws can rot (especially with rainwater soaking in around the screw) and pull loose faster than baling twine would decay even in sunlight.

I'm inclined to start a thread on baling twine construction. I'd trust it over screws any day.
3 years ago
What if you added a hollow section to the roof that also absorbed sunlight and piped it into an extended chimney up above the roof to create a syphon that could help to pull the air from the back chimney? Cheaper and less maintenance than solar panels.
4 years ago
Thanks, jeff. We really wanted to use vermiculture for this - it's so much more ecologically sound than a septic system. With the 4 grandbabies, we'd have to have at least a 3 bedroom - gotta separate the boys and girls (and us, for our sanity). I'm seriously considering just getting the land and the permit to build and just waiting til we can afford and acceptable system before we move in. Maybe they'll just sort of forget about us by then

But if I do have to install septic, I'll definitely use a sawdust and barrel anyway. Maybe drop an occasional turd in the septic in case they come by and take a look at it.

Grey water can be filtered underground using Michael Reynolds' later design. He digs a deep trench, fills with various sizes of gravel and puts a strawbale every so many feet. The earth will keep it warm - or toss a hugelmound on top of it and grow food on it. The extra depth will raise that frostline.
4 years ago
LOL, oh yeah - sustainability is bad for the economy
4 years ago