Notes from Windward: #66


End of July Progress report

shade cloth, door, shelves and more

     Once the new entrance had walls and a roof, it was time to install a door. In keeping with our goal of re-using as many things as we can when working on sustainability projects, we refinished and installed a door that I was able to salvage as it was on its way to the dump. It's more work to build to fit and Sarah put a good deal of time in on scraping off the old paint and applying new, but the result is a good, solid mahogany door that swings smoothly, latches securely and is definitely peacock proof.

the entrace gets a door


     Vermadise is a passive design structure, so instead of using energy consuming fans for cooling, we went another way by installing a special slotted track to secure the plastic covering that keeps in the heat during most of the year. The track allows us to easily disengage the plastic and roll it back out of the way without damaging it. That way, as soon as the heat of summer is past, we can unroll the plastic back over the frames, snap it back into the track, and we're ready for cold weather.

Sarah and Virgil roll the plastic cover back out of the way


      During the summer we have to strike a balance between keeping the plants growing, and keeping the rabbits and earthworms from getting too hot. We do that by covering Vermadise with shade cloth. This keeps out part of the sunlight, but lets enough through so that the plants keep growing, and there's no heat buildup because the hot air rises up through the shade cloth.

Jacki and Virgil finish attaching the shade cloth


     This summer we're experimenting with summering a variety of plants in Vermadise ranging from your standards such as tomatoes to the more unusual varieties such as bok choy and okra. These are being grown in containers on grates over the earthworms; that way water from the plants drips down and keeps the earthworm beds moist -- in effect, using the water twice. This is one of the ways that Vermadise is addressing the challenge of growing vegetables using less water than traditional gardening techniques.

growing a variety of vegetables in containers over the worms


     In another corner of Vermadise, Virgil has been assembling the part needed for our micro-aquaponics unit. The purpose of this unit will be to provide us with experience at getting the nutrients balanced, maintaining the pH and the simple mechanics of getting the water cycling correctly.

Virgil test fitting the grow tanks
for the micro-aquaponics test bed


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 66