Matthew Nistico

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since Nov 20, 2010
Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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Recent posts by Matthew Nistico

Andrew McDonald wrote:...By far the chickens are the most work for the least output.
By far the best return on investment of time and feed and breeding-gestation-number of offspring-rebreeding, are my pigs...

Now that is a very interesting observation!
22 hours ago
I notice that nobody has suggested setting up an organic hydroponics system as a filtration method.  I think this has potential.

My own system is only theoretical at this point, but here is what I have planned...

I am currently building two smallish (10x15' sorta...) in-ground ponds with liners.  In the future, I plan to free-range Muscovies, who will have access to at least the first pond.  Stocking rates as yet undetermined.  Muscovies are forest ducks, fundamentally different from the various breeds of Eurasian origin domestic ducks.  Still, I understand that they will take to open water if it is provided.  I'm not sure if they will spend as much time befouling it as will other ducks, but I guess I will find out.

The first pond will be topped off as needed by nearby rainwater collection.  The first pond will overflow into the second.  The second pond I might consider fencing off, so that wildlife and aquatic plants can exist there without facing annihilation by ducks.  Overflow from the second pond, hopefully somewhat less over-fertilized at this point, will drain into a rain garden, and from there through a small patch of wild woodland before exiting my property.

So, my intention is to concentrate the duck filth in the first pond, which is where I will also direct greywater (including urine) from the nearby house.  I am giving up on anything living permanently in the first pond, as it will likely become too "polluted" too quickly.  Rather, the first pond will be a collection volume, and perhaps the second pond can host more of an actual pond ecosystem.

Rather than regularly emptying-and-refilling the first pond, I hope instead to filter it by running its water constantly through a bank of hydroponics bins, that will completely line one edge of the pond.  I should be able to get maybe 15' of pond edge lined with these bins, sucking up water and dripping it back down into the pond.  I imagine watercress would be a good crop to attempt.  If this is successful, and yet still proves inadequate to filter out the excess nutrients in the first pond, I have several additional options.

First, I can potentially expand the number of hydroponics bins, although this is somewhat limited by geography.  Second, I can occasionally pump extra water into the first pond when the water level is already high, forcing overflow into the second pond.  Third, I can occasionally attach a hose to whatever pump normally feeds the hydroponics bins and divert a bunch of dirty water out of the first pond into my surrounding food forest, refilling with clean water from my rain barrels.

I have no experience in hydroponics or aquaponics, so I cannot even estimate at this point how effective this setup might be.  Nor would it be easy to estimate, even with adequate studying, because there are so many unknown factors: I don't yet know how many ducks I will have, nor how many people producing greywater from the house, nor whether I can effectively attempt to fence off the second pond, etc., etc.  I also wonder what will happen during the winter, when my hydroponics are no longer growing. and thus my pond is completely without filtration?  I can divert house greywater back into the standard plumbing system (septic tank).  I intend that the overwintering population of ducks will be reduced to a core of just a few breeders.  How much muck will they accumulate in the pond over the winter months?
5 days ago

Alia Sunder wrote:Does anyone have any unique ways of using purslane, other than a green salad or steamed like spinach? Thank you!

Yes!  One of my favorite purslane dishes is a simple Turkish salad.  Couldn't get much more simple: it is just raw purslane smothered in a garlicky yogurt sauce.  I don't maintain a "recipe," but just assemble it by feel.

In a small bowl, stir together a good bunch of Greek yogurt with minced garlic, salt, and either fresh-ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, as you prefer.  Use more or less garlic according to your taste.  I use a lot.  Stir in olive oil until it reaches a consistency that appeals to you.  I would recommend not too runny, but a lot less stiff than straight strained yogurt.  Pour over the rinsed purslane sprigs and enjoy the juxtaposed textures of crisp, crunchy purslane and creamy yogurt sauce!  You want enough sauce to really coat the purslane.
1 week ago

Faye Streiff wrote:Be careful using comfrey if it is a deep puncture type wound.  It knits so  fast, it can close the outside skin before the deeper healing occurs and if any bacteria is present, can cause a nasty infection.

Yes, I've heard the same warning about comfrey use on deep punctures forming an abscess.  Great for surface wounds and abrasions, great for broken bones, but dangerous when applied to punctures.
2 weeks ago

Glenn Herbert wrote:The bell type heat exchanger you participated in (a "half-barrel bell" to be precise), or any other mass that consists of a large hollow box, is generally easier to build than the original duct-in-cob style, and has much less friction so draft may be better.

Yes, that's what it was called!  Thanks, I'd forgotten that.
2 weeks ago
I would also like to post an addendum to my original lengthy post, above, of 8 years ago.  Having since been part of an RMH build, I don't think I would do it in the future for myself quite like I imagined it in the past.  I would likely stick to a monolithic cob design, albeit one with a LOT of large rubble in-fill in order to minimize cob volume, and NOT the gravel filled masonry box I had previously proposed.

For one, the heater we built didn't use metal flu pipe snaking back and forth inside the mass bench.  I had previously thought this was the only way one plumbed an RMH mass.  Instead, it used a single, "half-dome," self-stratifying exhaust chamber inside the bench, on the ground, running the full length of the bench.  It was composed of two or three halves of 55 gallon metal drum - I forget whether two or three, and in any case you could extend as necessary to meet the dimensions of your heater and your room - laid cut side down, end to end, with vertical walls remaining only at the two far ends.  Combustion gasses from the heat riser entered at the near end, filling the chamber.  At the the far end, an open flu pipe collected the now-somewhat-cooled gases, and piped them back the length of the chamber to exit into the base of the chimney.  This flu pipe ran on the floor inside the larger half-dome chamber.

Not sure if that is easy to picture from my description.  But it impressed me as an easy way to plumb an RMH mass.  I should mention that this was an Uncle-Mud build, and he knows his stuff when it comes to RMH tech, so I'm sure he had good reasons for choosing this design.  Some of those reasons may have been site-specific; I couldn't say.

However, I don't see how this type of plumbing would be easily compatible with my gravel-filled masonry box design.  Moreover, while my old design was focused on ease and speed of construction, I think perhaps it would have a hard time achieving the solidity to serve as a functional bed or bench or whatever.  Not sure.  But not sure I'd be willing to chance it, either.
3 weeks ago

allen lumley wrote:Since what you want should fit in about 4-6 5gal. buckets you Do Not Want A Truck Load...

Perlite (2 bags ), can be found in Builders Supply places...

Builders sand will take somewhere around 5 cubic yards...

I am slightly concerned with the impression given here regarding materials.  With the perlite, I'm not sure where he intended that to be used, so I won't comment.  The 5 cubic yards of sand, that sounds about right.  But talking about gathering in-fill rubble (or at least I think he was) in just a few 5 gallon buckets...?

In the 8 years since this thread started, I have actually participated in an RMH build, and my take-away was that you cannot underestimate how truly massive it is, and how much material you will need!  We used many many 5 gallon buckets worth of in-fill rubble, and could have used twice as much.
3 weeks ago

Katherine Burelle wrote:

Chip Friedline wrote:
A completely lime based mortar is not waterproof until it has aged by fire or time (chemical change). A mixture by volume 3-1-1-1 of fine sand, fireclay, hydrated lime, and Portland cement will be waterproof and stable at high temps. Yes the Portland will burn out at some point but it will keep the mortar waterproof and stable until the lime takes over as the binder.

Would you say that your 3-1-1-1 mixture is a good cob alternative for use in a greenhouse? I am building a RMH in a 10x26 greenhouse, the mass will be the soil, I need a suitable substitute to cover the exposed feeding tube and would rather not use cob as the environment will have a high RH value.

I can't really answer your question, and I don't know if Chip will even see it, 8 years later.  I would point out two things, however:

1) What was the point of Chip's comment in the first place?  Why should I need to be concerned with how waterproof is the mortar on my RMH?  It is an interior appliance.

2) See Erica's comment above on strictly avoiding lime or Portland cement in an RMH, in favor of clay/sand mortar or just monolithic clay/sand (i.e. cob).  Anything from Ernie or Erica I would take as The expert opinion when it comes to RMH tech!  Doesn't mean there isn't room for different ways of doing things, but she sounded pretty definite about the dangers of these materials in an RMH build.
3 weeks ago
I'd like to add that I also only ever use natural deodorant.  And rarely at that.  At most, I would guess maybe 1 out of 5 days I wear any at all.  Not throughout the cooler months - there just is no need.  During the hotter months, only when I'm going out and I know that I will 1) be sweaty; and 2) desire to be presentable around people.  When I'm working at home, what do I care?  I just go ahead and sweat, and I can wash my pits at the end of the day in order to feel fresher.

A few years ago I bought a tube of homemade, unscented deodorant from a local couple at a craft fair.  Very simple ingredients list: coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, arrowroot powder, shea butter, beeswax, tea tree EO.  And let me tell you, it works!  Odor protection under any circumstances for 48 hours.

I am recently run out, and am tempted to tinker with the ingredients in attempt to reconstruct the same product at home.  But then again, considering the last tube I bought for $7 lasted me 3 years, I might just track them down and buy another.
3 weeks ago
I have been poo-less for more than five years now, and I wish to report great results.  I will never go back!

I have naturally greasy hair, which I keep fairly short - the lady who cuts my hair says she visualizes George Clooney while she cuts it - and which has been fairly low-maintenance throughout my life.  For sure, if I don't shower daily, I LOOK very much like I haven't showered.  But I've never had scalp issues, nor have I ever damaged my hair with bleaches or dyes or other chemicals.  My hair is naturally thick but has gotten notably thinner as it has gone gray.  Funny how that happens.

At first, I experimented with a couple of different natural DIY shampoo alternatives and hair rinses.  I settled on one using teas and rye flower, as I had read about the long-term damage you can do to your hair with baking soda.  As others here have noted.  They worked well enough.

But in the end I got lazy and began using nothing: just 30 seconds of vigorous finger scrubbing and lots of hot water.  Towled off and air dried (an advantage of having short hair).  And guess what?  Just as good!

Then I stopped using soap in the shower: just hot water and a lot of attention to the important places.  And guess what?  Just as good!  The only time I ever use soap is while shaving or while washing my hands in the sink.

Showering is so much simpler and significantly quicker, not to mention, of course, less expensive.  I have now been years on my hot-water-only regimen, and I am completely happy.  And confident.  Nobody would ever accuse me of looking or smelling unclean, and my ex-GF would attest to that.  My hair is just as soft and easy to manage (or not) as it always was.

The only addition to my routine is that, when I'm home, I like to use this little scrubber instead of just fingers on my hair.  It feels so nice on your scalp!

Amazon link - hair scrubber
3 weeks ago