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C. Letellier

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since Nov 08, 2013
Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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Recent posts by C. Letellier

I move them earlier and don't mess with water as an intermediate stage.  At or before the first set of true leaves I move the plants right to new cells.  Simply gently pull the plant like it is a weed root and all, poke a hole in the soil in a new cell, poke the roots in the hole and firm the soil around it and water.  Loss rate is only about 5% typically and most of those because I accidentally break them off pulling them.  At that young age they transplant really well.  Usually I can't tell the ones moved from the rest from the growth rate.  At that early age it seems to have no noticeable effect.  PS I usually start 2 seeds per cell and move the spare plants to other cells.

1 week ago
A number of comments.

First I want to say I fully agree with Paul's statment about not understanding why heating isn't the big target here.  It is such a big piece of the pie.  But more importantly it is low hanging fruit.  We have dozens of answers that would let us take almost every home in the lower 48 to very low or zero CO2 to heat.  I have just lived all winter in northern WY without any auxiliary heat beyond using an electric heating pad in bed at night some nights when I came in cold.  And while this house is a mixture of passive and active solar I think the active part of this system could affordably added with solid benefit to any reasonably well insulated home with a basement.

That said I think we need to remember most people don't want to think, tend to be lazy about taking action, like their creature comforts and tend to follow the crowd.  If we don't recognize that, changing people will be at best difficult and more likely impossible.

Lets pick on me for example.  I have my flaws and places I don't want to change and yet I have done my homework and understand the issues.  For example I like long hot showers.  Both as a simple personal joy and as an occupational hazard.  I am a farm equipment mechanic and some of the time I come in wearing a full chemical factory of petroleum products etc.  The best way to get it off is soap and hot water.  Or take the clothes drier.  I know it is a huge energy waster.  But do I line dry everything.  NO WAY.  I hate ironing so dress shirts and pants are Horrors of horrors both permanent press and dried in the drier.  And I like my towels soft and fluffy.  So even if I line dry them I usually throw them in the drier for a bit to soften them.  And I dislike putting all the individual socks on the line so they are dried in the drier.  Now on the other hand my work clothes are line dried most of the time.  A washer load there is 6 or 7 pieces so hanging it up is fast and easy.  In the summer I even turn them into air conditioning for the house when I have the summer heat so the house is wide open at night.  Hang them up in the bathroom at night and they make about a 10 degree difference in the bathroom temp by morning and are nearly dry.  So if I who understands both the need and who is willing to work at it a bit am semi unwilling to make all the changes needed how can the general public be expected to make semi major sacrifices to accomplish the same thing?

Another part of the problem is lack of clear answers.  No 2 experts seem to agree.  Even simple stuff like Paul saying RMH and then saying not heating at all is the better answer.  People don't like to think so this superficial conundrum is another part of the problem.  Recognizing that each answer has its place is too much work for most people.

And not agreeing with the answers is part of my problem the institutional one size fits all forced approach.  Take for example the green new deal.  I agree with the goal but find the path they chose to be nearly completely wrong.  I think Savory is probably at least partially right and we can actually use grazing to improve the planet and buy us time.  If that is the case that means increased ruminants and increased grazing to feed more people and to generate natural fertilizer should be in the goals.  So forcing everyone to go vegan isn't the answer and is actually destroying an economic incentive to save the planet.  I also think that we need nuclear at least in the short term of 30 to 50 years because people don't like sacrifice and the only power source that is net zero carbon and capable of meeting all demands with current technology is nuclear.  And there are economic reasons why I object to its attack on the airline industry and on taking huge numbers of cars out of service before they are worn out.

Finally I have a bit of a problem with the negative carbon talk.  It only works as long as the practices that made it negative carbon continue to happen.  Some are easy.  Grow a forest, timber it, make furniture and the carbon is sequestered for the life of the furniture.  But build carbon in the soils is great but only lasts as long as the carbon in the soils last.  Pave the area over and make a parking lot and fairly shortly most of that carbon can be back out in the air.  I think we need to quit equating low carbon and zero carbon actions with negative carbon actions.  Negative carbon buys us time but over the long haul is not as good as zero carbon practices.


2 weeks ago
Fun run of thinking.  I will argue that greenhouses are a future necessity.  The world population is going to roughly double over the next 100 years.  So unless we want to wreck a bunch of the natural world we need to produce nearly twice as much food on the same amount or on a lesser amount of ground.  We can get 25% of it if we simply eliminate food waste.  Where is the rest going to come from?  Food forests etc will certainly be part of it.  Their problem is labor and the embodied energy of that labor.  Other things from other parts permaculture.  More still may come Savory institute stuff on grazing.  But in the end by the time we take more crop land out of service for homes and roads etc I don't think it will be enough.  And increasing population means more shortage of water too.  Greenhouses in norther climates should at least almost double productivity between being able to grow year round vs just 6 months.  Now lack of light will limit that a bit but we get the gains of weather protection and the losses possible there as part of the picture too.  The important thing will be optimal use of the acres under the green house.

Greenhouses are water and energy pigs if poorly and stupidly built.  But that misses the point of all we have learned over the last hundreds of years.  Greenhouses built and run properly actually use less water.  So if we can capture the run off from the building we may actually be able to grow more crops or grow crops that are more water hungry without any increase in water needs.  And by building them correctly their energy needs are small or they may even become net energy producers.  And with proper siting they maybe be powered off energy sources we couldn't otherwise economically tap.

The one problem that doesn't have a permies compatible answer is glazing for large scale use.  I will argue every other problem can mostly be solved with answers that are compatible or nearly so with permies principles.

We can start with simple answers like tree walls with no glazing.  The low tech greenhouse that has been around since the time of the Romans.  France has so many of them around some cities that the nazies blitzed around the town rather than taking on all of those walls.  And other than the embodied energy to build and maintain those walls no more energy and because of micro climate affects already reduced water and rule of thumb says they are good for roughly one zone of climate improvement.  No ongoing energy use and reduced water use.  If we cap them with photovoltaic panels since walls that are durable long term need a roof with an over hang to help keep them dry they could be a net energy producer with no land lost to solar panels.

Now I will get back to glazing but will make one simple point.  Glazing is also supposed to be good for roughly 1 zone per layer of glazing.  If I run that up against a heat absorbing tree wall do I get 2 zones worth of gain?

So next you will point the structure of the green house using plastics or metals or wood that rots off rapidly not being with principles.  Okay we can change that with many different options.  For example black locust grows over much of north american and is extremely rot resistant.  They talk about posts of it in swampy ground that are still good 50 and 100 years later.  Surely is should be at least worth a look?  If we choose a variety already bred for its straightness and height like the shipmaster black locust.(also does away with the problem of the tree spreading by seed) then we have another piece of the puzzle.  We already know we can build laminated arches with spans in excess of 100 ft.  That leaves needing a permies valid water proof, rot proof glue.  We have options although here we may be better off mildly violating principles using modern glues for greater durability.  Another option if we don't get in a hurry is we may be able to grow the trees to shape for smaller greenhouses

Next piece of this is end and side walls.  Modern industrial green houses are doing them with tech answers.  But here we can do a lot simply building with earth, rock, cob etc.  And we can build machines to do them on a large scale with small labor.  There again mostly in keeping with the principles.  If we do it in a hole in the ground we make it easier to heat and make it so the resource to build the rest is already present.  We are simply changing how it is arranged.

Now you say that still isn't good enough to be worth glazing the greenhouse.  And I will say very possibly true.  Next step is to add earthbanking, earth battery, GHT type systems.  Most involve large quantities of plastic pipe buried in the ground.  At which point you are screaming VIOLATION of permies principles.  But then you look at the University of MN info on using rock beds made of of rock about the size of softballs to do the same thing.  Sorting rocks of a certain size and then keeping them seperate from the soil does away with most of the problems of that one.  Or alternately tapping local ground water for its heat.  Either answer you will be hollaring is energy intensive.  And I will point out that the power needs are comparitively small.  If all that is  running is a small pump or some small fans these are not energy pigs as expected.  And if we can tap a local waste resource like micro hydro we might be able to source this much locally, or wind or photovoltaic solar are other poorer alternatives.

As for keeping the greenhouse warm adding an active foam insulation system using the dish foam type type system we add another active power element but being able to wrap green house in R12 to R30 or R40.  This home has run all winter without any heat in northern WY.  The coldest I have experienced this winter is 51 degrees.  If we can put in say 5 to 10 times the sun by virtue of it being a greenhouse  instead of just a home and insulate better at night in a green house it shouldn't be a serious freezing risk in any form no matter the weather.

And there are dozens of other systems we can add if we need more heat.  Compost heat, RMH built into our earthen walls, Pain pile wood chip heat etc.  Dealing with heating is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle but we have so many options.  If the green house is going to run year round cooling is the next big piece of the puzzle.  This is one of the places commercial greenhouses go wrong and become energy and water wasters.  Using big fans to promote air change and water for swamp coolers for the incoming  But if we design properly we can mostly eliminate those.  The ability to open enough of it up for natural ventilation while still recovering as much outgoing humidity as possible can be designed for.  Here we may still want those horrible earth tubes rather than the rock bed.

The point is that while this may not exactly be nature we can get benefits from it that I think far out weigh both the risks and the expense if we are smart about how we do it.  The glazing is the only major piece of the puzzle that I see no semi permaculture valid options to get around.  


2 weeks ago
I find there is no easy answer to this.  If I show my work and my logic people are usually too lazy to follow it.  If I simply assert then I am an incompetent know it all using bias or bad sources.  In the end the only cure is results.  Even then it is better to get a whole bunch of people to repeat my results.
As for the wire breaking when deer hit it can you install springs in the wires so the have give.

As for insulating the wire from the fence short pieces of black poly pipe slit down one side so you can snap them over the electric wire should work as insulators and then point the slit up and wire the pipes to your mesh fence.
4 weeks ago
Love the visibility of tape and ease of use.  But I would never install it for permanent fencing.  I want a solid metal wire.  The reason is dealing with weeds in the fence.   With a temp fence you simply move it so the animals can graze the weed problem away.  So there tape is fine.  But if the fence can't be move you need to deal with weeds.  If you don't want to burn the tape in two you need a special high frequency fencer.  The trouble is it doesn't burn weeds either and shorts out easy meaning way more work to maintain the fence.  On the other hand with wire you put a big nasty fencer on it and it will burn many of the weeds that get into it off.  Big weeds and wind are the your main danger of it shorting out.

As for breaking and tensioning problems with solid wire fences most of it can be solved with ordinary old style screen door springs.  In most cases you can cut them in half.  You put them in the fence with one spring set in each run where the wire is anchored on both ends.  They let the wire stretch with the animal rather than breaking plus they keep it tensioned under all conditions.  Depending on the weight of wire and distance between posts you may need more than one spring in parallel to put enough tension on the wire.  Just be sure the wire is stronger than the springs even when the springs are stretch to near max.(really light aluminum wire with long distances between posts can get you in trouble.)  Also a firm believer in aluminum wire even though it is more expensive.

Finally you want to specify what the fence is protecting from because design matters.  A deer fence for example we had the best luck with 2 fences 4' to 6' apart with the wires about 3' off the ground.  Then at the top of the inner fence posts we strung an unpowered white fence tape for visibilty both night and day.  The wires can then burn thru weeds and mostly deer won't jump into a short hole and the combined height and width is more than they will attempt to jump over and they don't dive under because then they are standing up under second wire.  On the other hand if you are stopping raccoons that is a completely different fence and build is different.  And a general livestock fence is different yet.
4 weeks ago
I think this is going to be far harder than you think to accomplish.

1.  how are you going to protect your low voltage circuitry from the high voltage? MOV, Sidactors etc all have limited life expectancies and you will need at least 2 layers of them to provide enough clamping.  The other answer is to put a high frequency filter in and use it for clamping.  Problem here is cost.  You will need a fairly hefty inductor and high voltage capacitor.

2.  how are you going to sense animal type, direction and identify weeds?  Realize they may be wet or dry, dirty or clean meaning their electrical signal will always be changing as well as the environment around them.  Also realize that you are talking slow microprocessors so simply measuring the arrival time of 2 electrical signals is tough too.  Modern systems involving timing mostly use some sort of signal interferance system to measure the difference between signals  But if you are going to detect side of the wire you will need detection stations out a distance perpendicular to the wire because measuring along the wire unless your stations are extremely close together is going to be difficult.  

3. Likely you will find you need to run a ground wire too around to make your system work.  So be aware of induced voltage and its affects on fencer range.

If you are doing this for the fun of it more power to you.  If you are doing this for commercial reason how does any of this information make the system pay?
4 weeks ago
You need more storage.  That size compressor won't handle that size air gun.  You can use it for quick runs if you can add storage.  If you need it to work steadily you will need more compressor.  Good air guns are stronger than their electric counter parts.  But there are lots of cheap air guns that are far lower power than the electric.
1 month ago
They are great for cleaning out bottles for long term water storage.   Wash and rinse the bottles first.  If they still flavor the water then clean with denture cleanser tablets.  Finish up with a baking soda water soak to get rid of the denture cleanser tablets.  Works best with 2 normal and 1 fast acting tablets per quart of water soaked overnight followed by a rinse, backing soda rinse ad rinse again.
1 month ago
Can you simply cut a stairs into the dirt? and stretch a rope or 2 from top to bottom to act as hand rails?

As for the brambles it is interesting how one person's trial's are anothers dream.  I would love to be able to grow any sort of bramble here.  Would prefer raspberries but would love either.  Soil and weather combine to make it very difficult right where I live.
1 month ago