We recently decided that we weren’t going to spend several hundred dollars on fire bricks for our first rocket mass heater (RMH) in a greenhouse. At first we contemplated making our own bricks out of perlite and fire clay (Lincoln 60), but then I posted at the Permies.com forum and I saw Matt Walker’s video:
I hadn’t realized how easy it was to cast your own core and it’s way cheaper than buying fire bricks. We’ll use perlite, fire clay and fire cement, possibly also fiberglass. The only problem was that we we’re building a 6″ RMH and Matt’s dimensions were for 8″. There are tons of comments with Matt’s video and several people inquiring about the 6″ dimensions, but I have to admit that I just couldn’t focus as I’m incredibly busy right now. And with our super extra slow internet connection it’s really hard to go back and review videos.
We have Erica’s 6″ Annex plan, but it shows only how to lay out bricks (which we’re not using) and it doesn’t contain some of the dimensions.
I HIGHLY recommend the DVD Rocket Mass Heaters with Ernie and Erica (this is an affiliate link and we get $15 if you order through this link, but that’s NOT why I recommend it.) We also have Paul Wheaton’s streaming 4 DVDs on RMH, but I’ve come to hate Vimeo as we have not been able to watch it all the way through. If you’re serious about building a RMH, it’s worth the extra dollars to get the DVDs. Rocket Mass Heaters with Ernie and Erica is very well organized with chapters and sub chapters so you can review materials, building — whatever you need to review. It’s there when you need it!
Give your friends the promo code burn to give them $10 off.
That makes it only $37 including US shipping, but I don’t know when this offer expires.
Back to the 6″ core dimensions.
Our WWOOFer Geoffrey is really good with Autocad and Sketchup and after getting some more info from Matt, he came up with these sketches:
If you don’t understand the drawings, please watch Matt’s video! And don’t forget to send him a few bucks for his work. And of course please post here if you still have questions.
I’m going to ask Matt and the Permies people to have a look at these drawings and to let us know if we got this right. If so, I’ll post the Sketchup file and you can play with it too.
12/10/14: Matt had some excellent suggestions and I uploaded new pictures. And I’ll be looking for different cement, have to watch Matt’s video again.
I decided to order from High Mowing because they are 100% organic and they also offer bulk seeds, by the ounce or even pound. Since they sell to pros, germination rates should be high. I still order from companies catering to home gardeners and/or offering rare seeds (herbs, natives, medicinals), but I wanted to make sure we have high quality seeds and LOTS of seeds to give away to our friends, neighbors and gardening club members.… Continue Reading
We had a light frost a couple weeks ago and all the squash in the lower garden froze. Fortunately we had enough time to move a number of basils and peppers into pots before it got down to the low 20s or maybe even teens last Sunday night (our puppy ate the outdoor thermometer).
The tomatoes and Armenian cucumbers were dead as door nails and we already cleared them out of the hoophouse and we’re getting ready for planting salad.
I’m finally getting around to posting the pics taken in June. I made a HUGE mistake allowing the catnip and Chichiquelite huckleberries to self seed in the hoophouse. TWICE we’ve cleared all the catnip out and we’ll have to be vigilant. We transplanted many catnips, Chichiquelite and Sweet Annies along the fences in the lower garden and hopefully they will establish there.
We still have tomatoes in tiny seedling pots because we have no room to plant and what we did plant, was way too late.
So here are a few pictures from mid June and I’ll try to post some current pics soon.
We got the plastic for the hoophouse in October 2011 and it is rated for 4 years. We were rather skeptical with our high winds, but almost 3 years later it is still holding up quite well.
We plan to move the entire hoophouse to the adjacent area down the hill when the plastic goes bad. Some of the hoops will just be turned 180 degrees. While it is as cold inside as outside on cold winter nights, everything grows so much better than outside because it’s not nearly as windy and of course it’s much warmer during the day.
I made a mistake ordering 70% shade cloth last year, but we’ll eventually use that shade cloth for areas where we’re not growing plants, such as our patio, outdoor kitchen, etc. Most likely we’ll go with white plastic covering plus 30% shade cloth next time.
Since we have well established willows, pomegranates, bird of paradise, apricot trees, blackberries and many other perennials to shelter tender annuals, we hope that the hoophouse will turn into a productive garden in a year or so when the plastic wears out.
I’ll try to post some current pics of the hoophouse and gardens soon. We finally cleared out ALL catnips, Chichiquelite and Sweet Annie and will try to eradicate the white flies that invade every summer by spraying a little neem oil, cayenne pepper and Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap. And maybe we’ll order some more ladybugs. In spring we got praying mantis eggs, but we have yet to see any praying mantis.
Currently we’re growing many greens and basils with tomatoes and we are hoping for a bountiful fall tomatoe and Armenian cucumber harvest.
Biochar is not a fertilizer, but rather a nutrient carrier and a habitat for microorganisms. First of all, biochar needs to be charged to become biologically active in order to efficiently utilize its soil-enhancing properties. There are numerous methods of activating and producing substrates similar to terra preta aside from mixing biochar with compost. …
This is the workhorse of the beneficial bacteria we’ll be discussing here. We use it for everything! Foul odors, clogged drains, cheaper pig/chicken/etc farming, aquaculture, the applications are amazingly diverse. Learn how to make and use this and you will have a powerful tool in your farming arsenal. …
They provide detailed instructions on how to make the serum and here are some pictures recipes:
… New “ag-gag” laws make it illegal to photograph animal cruelty on factory farms; in some cases, exposing cruelty can lead to more jail time than committing it. These bills have already become law in Utah, Iowa, Missouri, and Idaho. Right now, more states are considering them, and they are spreading globally. The agriculture industry in Australia is modeling its “ag-gag” laws after those in the states.
The latest trend is that the agriculture industry is even trying to ban photographs of farms taken from the air. It is unlikely that aerial photography can document animal abuse, but these industries are clearly concerned. So what are factory farms trying to hide? Will a drone allow us to see the scope of pollution caused by these industrial operations? I’m going to find out…
Let’s Shine a Light
We have to support the few Americans with the guts to expose the factory farms’ deplorable practices. We really don’t have any extra cash right now, but contributed $10 to this kickstarter. Even if you can only spare a dollar, please show your support for investigative journalism. Currently there are 732 backers when there should be many thousands!
A German farmer has revealed shocking GMO company tactics to silence him in an exclusive interview with RT Op-Edge.
German dairy farmer, Gottfried Glöckner, has told William Engdahl about attempted blackmail, character assassination and, ultimately, wrongful imprisonment he suffered when he refused to back off his charges that the Anglo-Swiss GMO company, Syngenta, had provided him with highly toxic GMO Maize seeds that ruined his prize dairy herd and his land.
After spending two years in prison, Glöckner is traveling round the world to tell the story and warn the public of the extreme danger of GMO seeds.
GG: In the midst of my divorce proceedings suddenly my ex-wife, after she left our common home (the children, who were 17, 15 and 13, lived with me), was being represented by a new attorney provided to her by the industry lobbyist. With him she made the new charge against me of rape within the marriage. They presented no doctor’s report for that, also neither a psychological evaluation, nor credible statements from others, merely her allegation; that charge brought me, “in the name of the people,” directly into prison. I was released somewhat early after the state’s attorney learned of the true circumstances of my imprisonment.
WE:Did they want to make an example of you for other protesting farmers or was it something else in your view?
GG: I have to say as a former customer and injured party of Novartis/Syngenta, I find it unbelievable the methods this company operates with. In the time that I was in prison, a default summons of my ex-wife from the divorce settlement was executed twice. I paid the amount once, and after that the amount was again entered into the land register. The opposing attorney received the enforceable copy, which had already been settled, through my own attorney.
They also created a new company out of my farm holding where I had no legal rights; my office was broken into repeatedly, my home, files, machinery and electronic devices were stolen.
Furthermore, I had to fight five long years with the German Customs authorities.
They seized all my bank accounts and demanded I pay back money for milk going back four years on the argument that I was no longer a certified milk producer in the meaning of the Milk Quantity Guarantee Payments rules. All this took place during the time I made public the proof of presence of GMO in certain raw materials that had been labeled “contains no GMO.”
Hazera Genetics, developers of cherry tomatoes, cluster tomatoes, and seedless watermelons, has achieved a new milestone with the development of Maggie, a gourmet tomato. Maggie gourmet tomato seeds are now available to growers worldwide.
“The Maggie gourmet tomato is the result of six years of our painstaking work using traditional cross-breeding techniques,” said Gadi Ben Ariel, Ph.D. School of Agriculture, Hebrew University, the developer of the tomato. “We succeeded in creating a tomato that has a Brix sweetness rating of 5.5, compared with the average tomato’s rating of 1 or 2. This is truly a snacking tomato that can be featured raw.” [emphasis added]…
… The tomatoes grown in Farmscape plots at homes in the LA area scored between 5.0 and 9.0 on the Brix scale. Farmers’ market tomatoes scored a 4.3 on average, while local grocery store tomatoes scored 4.0. None of the purchased tomatoes, Farmscape said, scored above 5.0. …
The High Brix Gardens brix chart lists Tomatoes from 4 – 12.
Why does Hazera Genetics say that average tomatoes brix at 1 to 2? And 5.5 doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment.
I checked a neighbor’s tomatoes and they brixed around 5. And unfortunately, it’ll be a while till we have tomatoes. We have a few volunteers with fruit, but I have yet to start most of the tomatoes I want to grow. More on that in another post.