Experiment with 64W basement winter garden in my climate. My climate is really freaken cold, and my basement is really cold.

Anyway, I had leftover wood, foam insulation, and some pallets. So, I decided to mess around, and make a basement vegetable and herb garden. I had to buy a light and 2 survival blankets, 30$ total. The rest was free / recycled. Depending on how it goes I may transition it to a mini aquaponics system. It has about a R6 insulation value on 3 sides top and bottom, plus a reflective Mylar door. The height of the light is adjustable. It is intended to grow lettuce, basle, parsley etc. I will make a nice post if it works out, but figured I would post what I have. Seems to warm up well with just the one light, and seems to have enough light if the door is down.




Winter notes:
I moved into my new house late in the season, and had no time to bring in wood. I decided to try compressed wood bricks. They have really worked well. They burn slower then lumber and leave almost no ash. They light easy and fast. I figure a ton of bricks equates to about 1 3/4 cord the way we are burning. Right now I have a bout 3.5 tones out in the garage. I think that will bring me through the winter. I got it delivered at $210 a ton. I will still bring in wood if I can get it free, but I think I am going to buy at least 2 tons of bricks each winter.

Cooool. Never heard of these wood bricks before. You think they recycle scrap wood to make this? Can I ask where you got these?

HERE is info on them. And yeah, its basically compressed wood waste. They seem to be based around Philidelphia with a couple oddball outlets in New York and Florida. Ace seems to be a bit source of them in the area. You can look up bulk retailers HERE and from what I am seeing $175 per half tone is average.

Just an update we bought them again this year and they are working out great. They were not from a big box store and they were 200$ a ton. This time I had to pick them up myself.


My wife made up some violet and dandelion salve, and was nice enough to write up a description for me.

This is a basic salve, using oil infused with both violet and dandelions. Violets are said to be healing and soothing, good for cracked and chapped skin, and dandelions are reputed to have mild analgesic qualities, helping with soreness and pain. It should make a good salve for sore, chapped, cracked skin, and achy muscles. I have never actually made this salve before—this recipe was cobbled together from several web sites and a basic knowledge of salves.
After collecting and drying violets and dandelions, fill a half pint jar full of the dried flowers and pour olive oil over them. Poke around a bit with a chopstick or knife to release air bubbles, and top off with oil. Cover and store in a dark place for at least 5 weeks. When you are ready to make the salve, strain the herbs from the oil and discard. Gently warm the infused oil (in a double boiler ideally) and add in the grated beeswax. I used about 2 tablespoons of beeswax to approximately 1/2 cup infused oil, and the salve is fairly soft. If you want a firmer balm-like mix, add more beeswax. Stir the wax into the warm oil until it melts completely. Add 1 tsp of vitamin E oil to act as a preservative, and pour into tins to cool. If you would like to add essential oils, put them in when you add the vitamin E.

So it’s winter and that means wind burn and eczema, yeh. I though I would repost this because my wife just made more. It works well and 2 tins last a long time.


Shortly after 2015 began, this blog hit 10,000 followers. I’ve decided that my New Year’s Resolution is that one tree is planted for every person following this blog.

I want to track how many trees we can plant, so if you would like to participate, please use THIS FORM to document trees you plant in 2015 as a result of this project. I’ll post pictures and submissions under the tag #10000Trees2015.

I’ve made a commitment to try and plant a minimum of #100 trees a year: If I live to be 85, that will be roughly 6200 trees in my lifetime. I count on planting many, many more. This year alone, I planted over 1000.

So far, I have been encouraged by the amount of collective action that has been taking place via this blog: the #Paw Paw Project has resulted in over 1000 free seeds of the Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) being planted in 9 different countries. If even half of those germinate and grow successfully, that is 500 rare fruit trees preserved around the world.

A tree can absorb 27 kg of Carbon Dioxide a year; one large tree can provide a day’s worth of oxygen for four people. [x] It is absolutely vital that ordinary people become interested in conservation and cultivation.

I have written hundreds of posts on #germination, #stratification, #cloning, #tree planting, #fruit trees, and #forest gardening, and you can always ask if you have any questions about planting tree seeds. Consider planting native and keystone species in your area: it is an easy thing to do, and it might just get you interested in working with plant life!

Hay, have you ever seen a gardening / permaculture book, or study that embraces animals, not just insects, but livestock, and even native birds and animals? I have been giving thought to using goats and maybe even pigs to get my back acre ready for planting, but can’t really find much on that sort of soil preparation. I have an idea of how it should go, but would like to find an example to follow. I would also like to see if anyone has ever enticed native animals to build up a planting area.


The third ethic of Permaculture—”Fair Share“— includes wildlife in my point of view. I share my currant, cherry and strawberry harvests every year, because I don’t net my plants. Most permaculturalists will talk about designing with native species in mind, because non-insect wildlife is an integral part of a sustainable design, biological pest control, and also soil building (I’ve written about how animal wastes and animal parts are a vital garden input). I plant way too many berries, and a lot of inedible or unappetising berries (like Pyracantha and Symphoricarpos) solely to attract birds.

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening by Sepp Holzer, and Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway both touch on Livestock, as far as I remember.

PermacultureNews.org has a livestock tag, which has pieces like “Reforesting with Goats” by Geoff Lawton.


Goats foraging in an understory to reduce competition

Pigs tend to turn an area into muck, and also host a number of parasitic worms: they aren’t the best choice for site prep where you will be growing things like root crops. However, pigs have traditionally been used to “gley” a pond (seal the bottom with an anaerobic layer that prevent water from leaking). If you are prepping an area for water retention, dig it out and make it a pigpen for a year or so.


Pigs gleying a future pond

Other uses of livestock include duck/chicken assisted composting: birds forage in the compost for worms and other invertebrates, which fulfills a lot of their dietary protein requirements. The birds also turn the compost while they forage, and leave droppings, which seeds the compost with compost-activating microorganisms. This is something laughingduckpermaculture writes about quite often.


Duck-assisted composting

Indian Runner Ducks are also well-known as being predators of slugs, so they are excellent to integrate into garden sites that are being established, as they will keep pests off of new growth. Plus, they look hilarious.


Runner Ducks: Yes, they do stand upright

Quails and Chickens both eat small weeds (that’s why they call it “Chickweed”) so in established spaces of cultivation, they are best left to roam around. My partner’s aunt has a huge free-range chicken pen with about 100 cultivars of Rhododendron, which are diligently kept weed-free by the girls.


Quail chicks

Other multi-functional animals in permaculture include Llamas and Donkeys as livestock guards, and fibre sources/beasts of burden, respectively.


Guard llama


Guard donkey

I tag all of my livestock posts with #animal husbandry, so you are welcome to check out the archive! I’ll try and write some more in-depth posts about raising livestock; however, I am not writing from firsthand experience.

Wow, I’ll get the books coming. Thanks for all the links and ideas!