Christopher Harrison

+ Follow
since Apr 22, 2011
Warwick, NY
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Christopher Harrison

When I read Cassie's message on Paul's daily-ish email, I could not get to the link fast enough to throw some money to your effort, Justin. I'm currently reading Harvey Ussery's book now, and planning to do a run of chickens this spring/summer. I'm planning to do a straight run of 25 red broiler chicks for meat production, and also 25 Wyandottes to cull out all the cockerels except 1 and keep all the hens as an egg-laying flock. I'm very committed to raising my chickens as much along permaculture/holistic guidelines as possible -- to include a variation of Geoff's Chicken Tractor on Steroids for the Wyandottes.

My only complaint is that your film won't be ready until this fall, which means that I have to proceed this year without the benefit of watching it first. Alas, I guess I'll just have to make do with Harvey's book and the many articles I've gleaned from Mother Earth News, Backwoods Home, and Countryside over the past few years....

Best of luck in your efforts. I'll definitely do what I can to hype it among the few permies I know in my neck of the woods.
Thanks Feidhlim! I really appreciate the advice.

Constructed wetlands for secondary treatment were a direction that I looked into as well. But this addresses mainly the secondary treatment. What I was looking for was a way to get around the regular pump-outs for a septic tank -- especially since the community is looking to largely prevent auto transport of all types from traveling through the property.

I had a couple of conversations with Bob Hamburg (aka Biogas Bob of Dragon Husbandry) about methods to do anaerobic digestion in a cold temperate climate. He's also worked on biodigester designs that more closely mimic an intestinal tract -- flexible rubber with long horizontal runs instead of batch runs -- that would work inside of a greenhouse.
5 years ago
Hi Feidhlim!

I'm a permie and a licensed civil engineer in New York, so this is a topic of definite interest to me. One of the big challenges I've found with the state regs here is that there is no leeway from a traditional septic tank if you want to have a flush toilet. Having read Joe Jenkins' Humanure Handbook, I personally would have no issue with abandoning them and composting -- but for the vast majority of folks (my lovely wife included), this is a non-starter. The need for a septic tank for primary treatment (settlement) means that you have to have someone come in every so often and pump it out.

I've been doing some minor consulting work on the side with a group that wants to found an ecovillage in my town, and the whole septic arrangement has been frustrating. One idea I had was to tie several housing units into one system that used a low-HP grinder pump to push the sewage uphill to a small greenhouse with digesters, use the sewage to produce cooking gas through anaerobic digestion, and then allow the effluent to flow back downhill for fertigation purposes when the process is complete. All well and good -- except that by the regs you have to have a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator on site 24/7 for any system that involved any moving parts/processes.

One idea I've had is to look at bringing in a university department and approach the site as an experimental station in order to get the DEC to relax the regs. Wondering if you have any experience dealing with these kinds of thorny regulatory issues surrounding blackwater treatment for a small community. Thanks!
5 years ago
About 1/2 mile away from me there is a housing development that recently mucked out their sedimentation pond. The muck from the bottom of the pond is stockpiled next to the pond, just off the road into the development.

I know that this soil would be pretty filled with nutrients and microorganisms, and could provide a good additive to my garden beds, food forest, and compost. A cursory look on the interwebs also showed that pond muck can also have trace metal levels 5 to 30 times higher than normal soil. Since this pond was built within the last 15 years and the development is very low-density (only 3 high-priced houses on 10+ acres) and in a fairly rural area, I think that "bad" metals like lead and chromium would be relatively minimal while "good" ones like manganese, magnesium and zinc would be the ones present in elevated levels. I know that the only way to know this for certain is to take a sample and run a TCLP test on it, but those are pretty expensive (somewhere around $600 a pop here in NY).

Does anyone else out there have any experience with using pond muck as a soil additive? Any advice to offer before I jump in? Thanks in advance!

Chris Harrison
Warwick, NY
6 years ago
I especially liked the part of the podcast where Ernie, Erica and Paul were talking about how you can find many engineers who are actually interested in helping to push rocket mass heaters, and other natural building techniques, more into the mainstream so that they are not held hostage by outdated, overly-constrictive building codes.

I liked it because... I am one of those engineers. I'm licensed in New York State (with the plan to expand to NJ and PA, possibly CT as well) and will be constructing a rocket mass heater for my basement in the next year or two, time allowing. I plan to develop plans of my heater and apply my stamp to certify those plans in order to help pacify any inspection requirements. Please note: I've read Ianto's book and read up other sources on RMHs over the internets, and I'm planning to put in a straightforward design directly based on those sources as opposed to "innovating" without mastering the basics first.

If anyone else out there is interested in coordinating similar efforts, or is actually engaged in this sort of thing, I'd love to link up and discuss further. Thanks!
8 years ago
Last year I direct seeded one of my tomato plants, a Gardener's Delight heirloom cherry tomato.  No cloche to protect it -- and I live in southern NY.  It outperformed all of my transplanted plants by far, growing up and over the cage and sprawling on the ground besides.  Plus, when the transplants were stressed by the hot and dry stretch of the summer, the direct seeded tomato did just fine.  Of course, there wasn't a transplanted tomato of the same variety, so the others don't provide a true control group.

This year I not only set up my milk jug cloches, but I also surrounded each tomato seed in the composted horse manure with a circle of small stones (planted them Sunday).  I figured that the stones will provide a small heat sink, not only helping to warm the soil that little bit more, but also to ward off frosts.  In fact, I transplanted some peppers Wednesday and used the same method, then our temps dipped into the 20s last night.  When I checked on them this morning, all of the transplanted peppers were just fine!

I'll let you know later how well the direct seeded tomatoes germinate.  My thought is that so long as the temps don't dip down past the upper 20s at night, they should do fine.  In fact, I'm going to try them even earlier next year -- probably around April 10 -- and see how they do.
9 years ago