Matthew Lewis

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since Oct 29, 2016
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forest garden fungi tiny house
My wife and I have been living in our tiny home on a trailer for over 9 months and just bought some land to homestead and farm on.

I have been interested in this lifestyle for well over ten years and have finally really started moving forward with it rather then just dreaming about it.

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Recent posts by Matthew Lewis

I think water conservation can get taken a bit overboard. There are some areas where water shortages are real and rivers and aquifers are being depleted.  In most parts of North America there is plenty of water. The real issue is water pollution or contamination.

For example if your city gets its water from the river and then puts the sewage back you haven't really depleted the water but you have contaminated it.

Same scenario if you harvest rain water and then use it to water your garden or wash your car. The water would have ended up on/in the ground anyway. You are just delaying when that happens.

Unless your water comes from a depleted aquafer or from hundreds of miles away. I would say wash your car. Just don't use toxic chemicals.
3 years ago
I agree with R.J.Smith that the shock collars make more sense then trying to build a chicken fortress. I have heard that hiding so the dog doesn't realize you are involved is a good tactic especially if you ever leave the dog unattended with the poultry. You want to zap them when they lunge for the bird so they realize it is their aggressive behaviour that is causing the shock and not just proximity to the bird. Soon the dog(s) think that they are lightning birds and leave them alone.

Breed selection is important obviously as some breeds are more prone to being aggressive with livestock.
3 years ago
With the amount for water that moves through your property maybe you can make a series of ponds instead of swales. Ponds higher up could be used as Gravity feed irrigation if you ever need it. They are also great for biodiversity and increase the value of the land.
3 years ago
Hard for me to tell what is going on there from just pictures. It almost looks like the property is basically 2 sides of a ravine and you may have large amounts of water moving under the surface through that area because of the size of the catchment area?

We have heavy clay on our property and a fair bit of slope but I highly doubt we have that type of water under the soil.  Also figuring out our earth works probably to install them next year. I will be digging some test holes in different locations  probably 6+ feet deep just so see what's down there other then clay.
3 years ago

Angelika Maier wrote:A short remark: I go to the plumbers supply store you get loads of huge cardboard boxes folded neatly.

Good to know and may come in handy for some smaller areas on my property. Personal gardens etc.

My long term plan is for 5-10 acres of orchard as one of our main income sources. Labor and infrastructure cost is a huge consideration at this scale. I'm really intrigued by Stephan's model. I haven't seen his video yet but will be purchasing it soon. He seems to have struck a good balance between business considerations and what would be environmentally ideal.
3 years ago

Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:It's called plastic mulch. You can find it from suppliers of 'plasticulture'. We used 4 mil (which is 4 thousandth of an inch thick). It comes in different widths rolls. We expect it to last the life of the orchard (30-50 years). As for the leaching from plastic it usually happens in the first few months so using a thin film like 1 mil, as is used for vegetable production, leaches out during the season and again the next and the next with successive new plastic mulches. Using a thick one mulches in the first few months and no more in the following years. It's a choice, I chose work saving with the mulch. If you have less than 100 trees go with organic mulch and reapply it every 1-2 years. If you have more than 100 trees and want to go with organic mulch invest in a mulch spreader. There are good ones that fit in orchard rows.

Thanks for the feedback Stephan and help finding the appropriate plastic. I definitely agree with saving as much labour as possible.

Are larger trees better able to compete with grasses and weeds? Does it depend on the rootstock? I am in Alberta and so far my research has me leaning towards standard rootstocks.

3 years ago
Does anyone know what this plastic is specifically called or what search terms to use to find it? I have come across some black films in rolls but I am not certain if it is the correct type of plastic and long lasting.

I like the idea of a plastic mulch in the initial stages of setting up an orchard but once the trees get large enough to compete better with grasses and other natives would probably want to remove it. I don't drink from plastic bottles and it just doesn't feel right to leave it there long term if it could be leaching. Not really sure if there are any other viable options for a large orchard though that would save the amount of work plastics will.

I think if you put in a swale system with your trees on or just below the downhill mounds with plastic, the swale would still work to help hydrate the soil. Thoughts?
3 years ago
I know it isn't the same technology but there are already sodium batteries commercially available. They are expensive and large but they will improve over time. It might take a decade or two but I think battery Technology will reach the point that renewable energy will go mainstream.

For me the most important aspect of this is freedom from the grid and the ability to be truly energy independent both at home and for transportation.
3 years ago
In this sort of scenario livestock that can eat grass or brush would be critical. Goat's, sheep, rabbits, would probably fit this bill. Even if you had to keep them in doors and bring food to them to keep them from being poached or stolen it would probably be doable. Grasses and brush will grow in almost any conditions.
3 years ago