Posted in permaculture, Plans

Permaculture Homework

I’m taking a class in permaculture through the Cornell Agricultural Extension School and the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute.

It’s called, Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve started what is called a base map of the farm which you can see above. I’ve labeled all the different areas and identified structures and characteristics.

This is my first time back taking classes at a university since I took Statistics classes at the Harvard Extension School back in 2009 or so. Talk about things being super different!

Posted in Greenhouse, Lessons Learned, Plans

False Starts

Yeah, yeah – that is not a pretty picture. But it is an important picture. Or, more like, it was an important picture.

I was trying out starting some seeds in the greenhouse in not-quite dead of winter, but in the pretty fricking cold (hello high of 23 degrees!) start of winter. I planted a flat of seeds in an old flat of dead squash babies that were cruelly murdered in the spring of their lifetime by an dead irrigation system battery. I planted some tomatoes and some parthenocarpic squash (which are pretty cool, like baby-Jesus squash they don’t need to be fertilized to grow, or wait maybe that’s Mary – whatever, I’m Jewish). Anyway, these squash are perfect for the greenhouse since they can produce fruit without pollination and the status of bees and other pollinators in the greenhouse is questionable.img_0642

And then a little tiny mouse came along and ate all the seeds before they could even have a chance.

Lesson learned – DON’T SET FLATS OF SEEDS ON THE GROUND!

will try again later….

Posted in Greenhouse, Plans

Blowing Up the Greenhouse

I had been using a blower we found in the greenhouse to get the fire in our wood-stove roaring, but then I realized that it already had a purpose! In the greenhouse! To keep the greenhouse warm in the winter I want to both absorb as much heat during the day and store it in things such as the pond and other high thermal mass materials and also insulate the greenhouse at night to keep in as much of the heat as possible. Our greenhouses are double glazed, meaning they have two layers of the plastic sheeting that covers the outside. Apparently this is actually a great way to insulate a greenhouse, and if you can get a nice amount of air between these two layers, then all the better. So we are trying out blowing up the greenhouse.img_0606

It is apparent from the holes that were already present in the inner layer of glazing and the fact that there are blowers in every greenhouse, that this was something the previous owners already were already doing. Hopefully this means that it will work!

I’ve been doing a ton of research about heating and insulating the greenhouses. This post from Midwest Permaculture seems awesome and has great information about things such as TMV and R values of different materials which is super useful.

THERMAL MASS VALUE BTU/Sq. Ft./degree F.

  • Water  63
  • Steel  59
  • Stone  35
  • Concrete  35
  • Brick  24
  • Sand  22
  • Earth  20
  • Wood  10.6

 

R-Value Measurements (hr°Fsq.ft/BTU)

  • Fiberglass glazing- single layer  R = .83
  • Glass double layer  R = 1.5 – 2.0
  • Polyethylene Double 6mil film  R = 1.7
  • Glass triple layer 1 / 4 “ air space  R = 2.13
  • Polycarbonate 16mm triple wall  R = 2.5
  • Polystyrene (styrofoam) 1 inch thick  R = 4.0

 

I need to check them out some more and read up on Midwest Permaculture

And then there’s always THIS