Mike Jay

garden master
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since Mar 24, 2016
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Mike is a homesteader, gardener, engineer, wood worker, blacksmith and most recently a greenhouse designer.  He heard about permaculture in 2015 and has been learning ever since.
Northern WI (zone 4)
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Recent posts by Mike Jay

Thanks for looking around Dean.  I think if you're selling one piece of property (ideally yours) the Permaculture Real Estate forum is the place for it (Paul's link above).  If you are selling lots of property or have a business, then to do advertising you'd need to investigate Blatant Advertising.
Thanks S for the tips!  I assumed I couldn't grow a Chicago hardy fig up here in zone 4a.  But I do get reliable snow cover all winter.  I wonder if I flatten it like you say and let a foot of snow insulate it, maybe it would make it.  The worst temps it would see is in November before the snow accumulates where it might see a low of 15 to 20.  Do you think I'd have a reasonable chance?

Jamin, if you planted a Chicago Hardy fig, why are you worried?  I believe they are good down to zone 5 so you should be fine without protection.
1 day ago
Great to know, must've been a bad tree.  Now I won't be afraid to saw up any that need to be sawn up.
1 day ago

Jamin Grey wrote:What do you mean by "a backstop of cement"? Also, how could I use the heat of the earth?

I meant kind of a cement slab version of the backstop for a baseball field.  So maybe a foot to the north of the plant you prop up some cement slabs as a wall.  It may reflect light/heat to the plant during the day and will hopefully direct thermal radiation at it during the night.  If the wall of cement is curved it could protect the plant from more wind and catch early and late sun as well.  Much like the serpentine walls in J's link.

The heat of the earth comment went along with the following sentence about tenting plastic or a frost blanket over the plant.  If you cover the plant with something like a 1' diameter tube, the tube has a lot of exposure to the cold air and a 1' diameter area exposed to the warmer earth.  If that plant was covered with a pyramid shaped covering, much more of the interior of the "greenhouse" is exposed to the warmer soil and would help keep it warm.  Without trapping the heat of the earth under a blanket/film/plastic material, I don't know how easy it is to use it to your advantage.
1 day ago
The previous owner here had some hemlock lumber in the barn.  It has such bad shake (I think that's the right term) that it is next to useless.  Even when it isn't quartersawn the wood will crack right along the growth rings.  Hopefully that's just from one bad tree.  If it is usually good wood, I'd be more interested in the many huge hemlocks I have back in the woods...
1 day ago
I hope some experts come along with good answers for you.  Does your ground normally freeze in winter?  Would you expect these raised pots to freeze (barring any stonework)? 

I wish there was a resource to say what mechanism of coldness kills each type of plant.  Is it the roots freezing?  Branch tips under a certain diameter freeze and die?  Is it excessive temperature changes while dormant?

I think the more mass you have the better because it can hold the heat longer into the night.  I think the mass shouldn't be too thick or the heat won't fully soak in during the day.  I think a back stop of cement (facing south) would give you the best "surface area of mass" to "surface area of sunlight".  I think if you can use the heat of the earth around the plant it will help.  Tenting a greenhouse over the plant or frost blanket would definitely help, especially if it has a wide foot print to expose more of the warmer earth to the air around the plant.  Blocking the wind should help. 

Side story, I've heard of people trying to insulate their figs in Chicago by wrapping them with fiberglass insulation and then plastic.  But they wrap them up like a corn dog (tight at the trunk) so the only thermal mass inside of the insulation is the 6 ounces of fig wood.  I think if they tented them at the base to include several square feet of soil it would help greatly.
1 day ago
I know a bit about chickens and they would tear any indoor plants apart if they could get to them.  I don't know if your birds would act the same way.  If it is indeed needed, do you have a way to protect the plants from the birds?  And if so, will it give them that natural habitat you're looking for?  Do they have an outdoor run to play in that could give them their nature fix?
Ok, I have more pictures.  Man it's hot out.  I started calling this "The year of three Augusts" back in June.  I think I under-predicted.  85F and humid today.  Sheesh.

The Aquavent material arrived so I got that installed today.  Now the outside is black instead of white so it hides from view better.  The East wall is framed up except for the corner where it meets the roof edges.  And I just got the inside half of the West wall framed up. 

This week I picked up 3 patio doors from the Habitat Restore.  They were 8' tall doors and had been sitting around for a while so I got a good deal on them.  They will be the entry vestibule on the East side.  One will be the exterior door (reworked to open outwards).  The vestibule will be inside the insulated envelope of the greenhouse.  It's the size of a pallet (48" by 40") since an IBC tote will be acting as a water tower above the vestibule.  The other door of the vestibule is another of these patio doors.  The south side of the vestibule will be the third door (stationary).  I may go back and pick up a fourth one to do the North side as well.

Once the West wall is framed I can detail out the corners where the walls meet the roof (and glazing).  Then I can plan a roofing party. 

#1   Sliding one of the roof vents up a sled that fits to my extension ladder.  Pulley system attached to a 2x4 at the ridge.  Worked pretty well and kept us safe.
#2   Staining the pine boards and installing them.  Gaps are deliberate to give some airflow between the boards.  Gaps are also hard to avoid since I didn't joint the boards.
#3   Boards halfway installed up the North side.
#4   Boards done, X brace strapping installed, wooden brace to the ground removed and wall ready to be tilted up into place.
#5   Aquavent installed.  Had about 40 square feet to spare
#6   View of the inside.  Chop saw for scale.
4 days ago