Episode-1302- Listener Calls for 2-14-14 — 74 Comments

  1. Topic Time Markers

    [6:37] The Year 1302*
    [11:30] A bit on PermaEthos – focus on the farm for now
    [17:16] The best resource I know of on bitcoin
    [22:11] Thoughts on getting production going on leased land
    [31:02] Producing large volumes of garlic for market in a permaculture way
    [31:02] Adding polyculture elements to maple canopy
    [42:24] Is mining bitcoins a valid option anymore for small timers
    [56:29] What are valid options other than US Treasury bonds for a permanent portfolio
    [1:11:12] Dealing with pesticide and herbicide drift
    [1:20:08] Will they ever let you roll 401s into MyRA, nope
    [1:29:21] No you can’t clamp a 1600 watt inverter to your car, here is why
    [1:36:52] Will the 22 rim fire shortage ever go away
    [1:42:46] Can you build a pond from an old pool liner, more to the point should you
    [1:51:13] What is a banana circle and why should we care where bananas don’t grow
    [2:04:01] Permaculture edge and business consulting the two are related

    * – Added by me

    If you’d like to thank me, please consider sending me a bitcoin tip, but please don’t feel obligated to. The address is 1NT4uiDUBtQ5yjeQM4PbastdURpdkBZ5o7 QR Code.

  2. I stopped by northern brewer and sent them an email. I have been waiting for a home brewing discount. I also like paradise brewing small company and the owner is awesome.

  3. Steve (Northern Brewer)
    Feb 14 17:06


    Our marketing team is currently considering a sponsorship with the podcast. Thanks for your support!


  4. YES, we’d be very interested in hearing how Permaculture principles apply to business design for Tuesday. Thanks for adding this to Tuesday’s podcast.

  5. Yes, I absolutely would like to hear your thoughts about applying permaculture thinking to business, personal growth, citizenship or any other aspect of living. Go for it Jack. I think you would have many ears. Thanks in advance for expanding our thinking.

  6. Professor Jack, put me down as a yes vote for “working the edges” of bussiness show for tue.

  7. YES, permaculture business show yes!

    Already adding about 5 new dimensions to my business this week because of the open source show, once you think about open source as an aspect of permaculture or visa versa, man………

    How about you go full tilt and make it existential tuesday every week.

    Great show today and all this week, you’re on fire.

  8. Yes. Please do a permaculture to business analysis on different businesses (inside and outside said businesses) on Tuesday. That would be awesome!

    Thanks for all you do Jack! Have a great weekend.

  9. My new mantra: “Give to the Edge” 😉 Once I find my plot of land, I will be trying a cool temperate banana circle.

    Ammo prices are unbelievable! Im glad I stocked up before all this hoopla started. I bought my 22 ammo for $18.50 per 500. While I dont have as much as I want, I do have a sizable stock. Thanks for keeping us appraised on the Perma Ethos project. It reminds me of Joel Salatins book, “Everything I Want to do is Illegal.” Cheers and thanks for a great podcast!

  10. Both Steve Harris and Jack are wrong about running a furnace from a battery bank. As with everything the correct answer to “can you run a furnace from a battery bank” is it depends. It depends on your furnace and your inverter. I don’t know about furnaces in the United States but in Canada we have high efficiency furnaces. My gas furnace runs at a maximum of 75 watts during part of it’s run cycle. I know because of two things. One, that’s what the specs on my furnace say and two, that’s what my Kill-A-Watt meter says. I have two 96 amp hour batteries for a combined 192 amp hours. I have run that furnace for 10 hours on the battery bank with a 6 hour recharge time on a 2/10/15amp smart charger. The charger peeked at a charge rate on 9 amps but most of the time floated between 2 to 3 amps. I have also tried it on a modified sine wave inverter and a pure sine wave inverter. Regardless of what Steve says about there being no difference, in this instance, there definitely is. The furnace does not run at full speed on the modified sine wave inverter and it draws more power. I know this because that’s what my Kill-A-Watt meter says. It does run at full speed and draws less power with the pure sine waver.

    Stop telling people you cannot run a furnace off a battery bank. It is wrong. As I said, it depends. Do the math and figure out if you can depending on the furnace you have.

    By the way, I live just North of Toronto in Southern Ontario and keep a 2,7,00 square foot house at 23°C (73°F) for the full 10 hours while it was minus 22°C (-7°F) the whole time so it can be done.

    • High eff furnaces have multiple or variable blower speeds, the high eff means its high eff in combustion and heat exchange, not its blower. it likes to run at a lower blower speed but if it turns itself on high it’ll still be a full 1500 watts to run that blower and will suck your battery down to nothing in minutes I had a high eff furnace in my last home and I saw the blower go in and its specs, it was a full 1100+ watts.

      75 watts is still something you’d NEVER run off a battery bank for a long period of time. That is way to big of a load for a battery bank for a long period of time. You just took both your batteries all the way down and did measurable harm to them. *IF* your furnace was run on low at 75 watts it would be better powered off of a car and NOT a battery.

      I don’t know how you are running your furnace off of a killawatt meter because here in the USA they don’t have plugs they are hard wired into the electrical system.

      Also.. your numbers are off, if you have a 75 watt draw and a 192AH of batteries, it should of run it for 32 hours, not 10 hours.


    • I don’t mean to be argumentative but how do you account for me being able to run it for ten hours. The battery bank never dropped below 12.3 volts. The Kill-A-watt meter was at 75 Watts for half the run cycle. I watched it the whole time

      I guarantee you that it ran at full speed. I’ve lived in this house for three years and know my furnace.

      I wired my furnace with a plug and had it plugged in a receptacle to the main panel on the Kill-A-Watt meter while it was running. It never exceeded 75Watts and did run full speed. The sales literature for the furnace says it uses less power then a 100 watt light bulb.

      I think you might want to see what high efficiency furnaces are on the market. It also did recharge in 6 hours and for most of that time floated between 2 and 3 amps. Occasionally going up to 9 amps. I have a 15/10/2 amp smart charger. A Motomaster Nautilus from Canadian Tire.

      I have done it twice. Each time as a test. the first time for 6 hours. The second for ten. No problems either time so I know it can be done.

      The inverter is a Motomaster Eliminator 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter from Canadian Tire. One of the reviews from a fellow in Toronto says he hooked that up to his Jeep and ran his furnace for several days when they lost power during the January ice storm. I guess us Canadians are just a crafty lot.

      • Just for clarification I plugged it into the wall to find out what it would draw before doing my tests with my batter bank.

        When they wired this furnace they only switched the live. I put in a 3 way switch. The live from the panel is on one of the switched poles . The live from the cord is on the other switched pole. The common pole on the switch goes back to the furnace.

        The common conductor from the panel and the cord are spliced together.

      • I ran another test last night with the furnace plugged into the wall outlet. This was just to verify the watts. It ran for four hours. It did run the blower at full speed. It had a low of 12 watts during it’s idle time. It had a low of 38 watts during it’s run cycle. It peaked at 166 watts for about a second and settle into 75 watts for about five minutes.

        There is a blurb on the the blower motor of my furnace below. It says it uses “less than a 100 watt light bulb”. The results from the watt meter confirm that. If the Kill-A-Watt cannot pickup the 1500 watts claimed by Steven Harris then it is a piece of crap but I’m absolutely sure the meter is correct as is the blurb below. Maybe the Carrier Infinity line of furnaces are only available in Canada. If so then aren’t we lucky, eh?

        The point is if you have the type of furnace I have go ahead and run it off you battery bank. Recharge the battery bank during the day with your generator as I plan to do. As Steven said you should be able to run it for 30+ hours. Although, I don’t think you want to do that. I ran it for ten during my test to see if I could get through a nigh which is all I need and then I will use use my generator during the day. This will extend the fuel for my generator and I don’t have to have it running during the night.

        Variable-capacity furnaces
        Variable-capacity furnaces provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance. In addition to the benefits of two-speed furnaces, they offer “smart” motors than can monitor your homes comfort needs and automatically adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the most efficient heating or cooling. They offer added electrical efficiency as well: the “smart” fan motors on Carriers variable-capacity furnaces use less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. They operate so efficiently that they can actually increase the efficiency rating of your central air conditioning system and offer you added energy savings when you use continuous fan operation in any season.

    • It’s not that “it is on”. I’ve listened to all the shows with Steven. I bought the battery bank videos. I think they are great, I really liked the format and did learn a lot. I’m just saying that when you wire you furnace with a cord and plug then plug it into a receptacle that goes back to the main panel and it runs at 75 watts it runs at 75 watts and that is with the blower at full speed.

      • Hey Dude, that was just some Canadian humour, no harm intended.
        I too have purchased Steve’s battery bank videos; a Motomaster inverter and Motomaster charger (all on sale of course – what red-blooded Canadian would ever pay ‘full retail’ price at Canadian Tire!)

  11. Here is a follow up. I have an Infinity 96 furnace.

    Greater Operational Efficiency
    Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE is like gas mileage. The higher
    the gas mileage or AFUE rating, the more efficient the automobile or system
    is. While an ordinary furnace will consume 625 watts of electricity during
    heating operation, most Infinity™ 96 models use less than a 100-watt
    light bulb.

    • Yes I agree. I haven’t worked out the math yet. But I know my natural gas combustion burner has a 1/16 hp Motor. That is about 50Watts if you do the conversion. It has a standing pilot so the motor is the only power draw on the whole unit it doesn’t actually have a transformer either. My intention is to have a dedicated deep cycle battery, inverter, charger set up. My house is a very unique however as I have a single point return steam it requires no heat pumps of any type The steam pressure pushes the heat into the radiators. It is an extremely reliable system it’s too bad they stopped putting them in houses 60 years ago.

    • It’s really handy to get a Kill-A-Watt Meter. Use the meter and watch you furnace through the entire cycle from venting, burning and circulating to stop. That way you will know exactly what the furnace is drawing. The meters are excellent for figuring what else you can run on the battery bank or you generator. You can also program them with the cost per kilowatt to figure out what something is costing you.

      • Well you sure ruffled some feathers with that tidbit of information, my fellow Canuck.
        The Kilowatt meter is an excellent idea.
        It is true that a lot of responses could lean towards the “it depends” side of things more often, but I always appreciate the ferocity that Steve takes in his approach.

        • I am happy that I have a woodstove. Match, Tim Trays, Kindling, poof

          I know it’s not practical for all, but an 80,000 BTU Regency wood stove is priceless

  12. On the subject of Inverters, an induction motor will draw more current, start harder, and have a shortened lifespan. I use MSW for anything that has to get converted back to DC. And the price difference now is narrowed to the point, where I am willing to spend more for pure sinewave.

  13. Since the first comment is still awaiting moderation (probably for the link), straight text version. Apologies for the delay.

    Topic Time Markers

    [6:37] The Year 1302*
    [11:30] A bit on PermaEthos – focus on the farm for now
    [17:16] The best resource I know of on bitcoin
    [22:11] Thoughts on getting production going on leased land
    [31:02] Producing large volumes of garlic for market in a permaculture way
    [31:02] Adding polyculture elements to maple canopy
    [42:24] Is mining bitcoins a valid option anymore for small timers
    [56:29] What are valid options other than US Treasury bonds for a permanent portfolio
    [1:11:12] Dealing with pesticide and herbicide drift
    [1:20:08] Will they ever let you roll 401s into MyRA, nope
    [1:29:21] No you can’t clamp a 1600 watt inverter to your car, here is why
    [1:36:52] Will the 22 rim fire shortage ever go away
    [1:42:46] Can you build a pond from an old pool liner, more to the point should you
    [1:51:13] What is a banana circle and why should we care where bananas don’t grow
    [2:04:01] Permaculture edge and business consulting the two are related

    * – Added by me

  14. We neeeeed more business + permiculture content from Mr Spirko ASAP!! lol.. seriously though, that would be awesome.

  15. Jack
    I just quit corporate america after 14 years to put myself in a position of freedom. I would love to hear you merge permaculture into business.
    I took Geoffs last online PDC and i’m opening an architectural salvage/antique/green gardening retail store in Jersey City, NJ. Please help me merge the two!
    thank you
    Feel free to use my idea as an example
    the Damaged Wear website is my tee shirt company

  16. Hi Jack,

    Yes, more of the Jack insight into the business sphere. I miss the FMJ… for folks that haven’t yet checked it out look up Five Minutes with Jack to get more great Spirko insight.

    • Agreed. I’d give jack 150 bucks right now to do another year or episodes, even at 1 hour a week.

  17. Permaculture and Business needs to be done-IMO the two topics when you are at your best. Lets do this!!!

  18. Just wanted to say: Excellent answer to the gentleman concerned about neighbor’s over-spray on their crops. I am in a situation, almost exactly as described by the caller, and have implemented a solution, almost exactly as you suggested. It works, 100% confirmed.

    My property receives significant water run-off from a neighboring corn field just up hill. Between the properties, there is a 20′ wide wind break, mostly older oak trees. Beneath them, native dogwood. Covering the dogwood are wild grapes. Coming into the property a few more feet, a ditch about 6′ wide and 2′ deep diverts a lot of the water. That ditch is gradually being leveled out into a swale system (it was dug by the previous owner, I would have done a lot different there). The ditch is full of water nearly all year, and has wild rushes and cattails which have covered it entirely.

    This is an older established system, and the end result is water that tests free of any herbicides and pesticides, with one big exception. One of the pesticides (sorry, I can’t remember which one) basically absorbs oxygen as it is broken down. It decays, gassing off into harmless byproducts leaving no residual chemicals as it breaks down, but a consequence of the breakdown is that it leaves the water with little dissolved oxygen. I have kept fish in an adjoining pond, fed by this water, and a month after the field is sprayed, the water becomes crystal clear, and the fish die. I’ve repeatedly had the water tested by multiple labs, all assure me the water is clean, and suitable for fish. I spoke with the neighbors to see what they were spraying, and when. Tested for that chemical specifically. It’s only begins to be mildly effective at rates starting at around 200 ppm, Multiple samples after spraying have it at < 1 ppm (zero a few weeks after spraying). Everything checks out, no residual chemicals. Just no oxygen either.

    Last year I added some rocks to the ditch to disturb any water flow, in an attempt to aerate the pond. It helped a lot, but it's not enough. This year the plan is to research some oxygenating microbes that may be able to survive these conditions. There's a lot for me to learn there, I'll gladly report back if I have success.

    Different chemicals break down in different ways. I know some copper based fungicides effectively bind calcium and magnesium, which could effect the soil, and consequently the vegetation.

    I'm just scratching the surface of this topic. A little bit of research into the decay of these chemicals has turned up information that would take 10 lifetimes to go over. It seems, in an effort to make more eco-friendly sprays, rapid decay of the active chemical components has been pushed as a positive thing. But short of radioactive decay. most chemicals don't just break down. They require some source of energy to undergo that change. That energy may come in the form of a vital nutrient which is taken from water or soils. It gets bound up in the otherwise harmless and inert byproducts. Even the "Earth-friendly, organic" sprays can lead to severe depletion of nutrients.

    Any aspiring horticulturists or permaculturists out there may want to look into this topic. There are mountains of research to reference, but the problems are so varied, there have been very few practical solutions. Jack's advice is extremely effective but nailing down the design formula for mitigation of specific chemicals is what we really need. There could be a very fruitful career in that area of study.

    I'm not one to say "Never spray anything". Far from it. I wouldn't begrudge a neighbor their livelihood because they spray their crops. I'd love it if they didn't, but I don't have control over that. It's a definite challenge for me to overcome, but Jack's recommendation will get anyone 99% of the way there.

    Here is my advice:

    • Ask what is being sprayed. You need to know what you're dealing with, and a lab needs to know what they're looking for.
    • Get accurate and complete soil samples and water samples.
    • Find out about the chemicals being sprayed. Specifically:
    – does it break down
    – How quickly does it break down under your conditions
    – Does that decay require any additional inputs to facilitate it
    – How frequently is the chemical applied
    – What is the actual application amount
    – What is the infiltration rate? (how much of what the neighbor sprays actually makes it to your property)
    • Don't be a jerk about it. Seriously, that crap they're spraying costs money, they really don't want to pay to spray your land. That makes offending neighbors very approachable on the topic, if you bring it up as "hey you can save some money here!" If however, you pound on their door screaming "Stop this, you A**hole", they will ignore you. You may also find you have little to no legal recourse in many of these situations. Best to keep them on your side.
    • When testing deep, standing water you need to get sample from all levels. Oil-soluble chemicals will be at the top, water soluble will be spread into multiple strata, and heavier elements will be on the bottom. If you just skim the top of the water, you may get inaccurate results.
    • If testing flowing water, most of it will likely be clean. It's the small still catchments where a lot of the chemicals get trapped. Test multiple locations in the water. If you find it is getting caught, you can trap it with a little planning and a shovel.
    • Test before spraying, and after. For all you know, the active chemical may break down very slowly, and the previous owner of the land may have applied it by the truck load. Having that base-line established, you can more confidently say "this is over-spray from this field". You don't want to put in the time and expense to prevent infiltration if that is not the primary source of the problem. Mitigation of the existing elements might be more pressing, and that may influence your design significantly.

    Hopefully that will help people struggling with this problem. If anyone out there has ideas for aerating nearly still water without pumps, please let me know.

  19. Seconding or thirding or thirtysevening the calls for a permabusiness show or series of shows.

  20. Could another reason for the low ammo supply be the administrations currently buying as much as they can? I recently read a story about the USPS “posting a solicitation to purchase “assorted small arms ammunition” on the federal government’s federal business opportunities website.”

  21. Bit coin seems like a fine idea and very ingenious. I do think however if the govt at any time in the future decided to regulate it heavily, moderately or whatever then it has a big disadvantage because it’s totally electronic. In some ways paper money is better or precious metals. I can’t help wondering if that is part of the plan and why the guy who invented it is no where to be seen.

  22. Well, James Smith, looks like you were right, large Bitcoin theft. Nail in the coffin is right, game over

    • I may have been right about bitcoin thefts, but game over? I’ve been following bitcoin for 3 years now, and if I had a bitcoin for everytime someone said “game over.” I’d … be rich?

      • Yep there have been almost as many “game overs” that weren’t for bitcoin as there were “its over” posts from Karl Denninger in the past three years.

    • Let’s see people put their bitcoin into a criminal exchange with no security and they got robbed so it is game over for bitcoin? All I can say is my bitcoins are sitting in either paper wallets or coin base and all are present and accounted for.

    • It’s not good for customers of MtGox that’s for sure; but it’s good long term for bitcoin. Some people might freak about in the short term, but nothing fundamental about bitcoin has changed.

      What do people expect? Do they want Japan to bail out MtGox or something? This isn’t a government backed currency/commodity, this is the real deal. This is how markets weed out bad businesses; people need to take responsibility when they deal with bitcoin related companies, daddy isn’t going to bail them out.

    • This has a much of an impact on bitcoin as say the Target hack had on credit cards or say the robbing of a armored car should have on cash.

      • That clears it up, was not sure if ‘Bitcoin’ failed, or whatever word Im looking for, or if it was hacked, or as you illustrate, it was simply stolen.

  23. Ok so now I read the following:

    Trustwave said on Monday that it has found evidence that the operators of a cybercrime ring known as the Pony botnet have stolen some 85 virtual “wallets” that contained bitcoins and other types of digital currencies. The firm said it did not know how much digital currency was contained in the wallets.

    So, does that mean the ‘bot’ infected individual computers ie) if I had a wallet on my machine and the ‘bot’ somehow got on my machine it was stolen?

    • That sounds right to me.

      The important thing to note about bitcoin vs. USD is that your “bank” accounts are only as secure as your computer. The case of a Chase, Wells Fargo, Credit Union, or other online banking, it’s difficult for a hacker to log into your account and send money to themselves without being traced – even if they have your password. If they did, or more likely if they stole your credit card, the bank will be able to restore your funds fairly easily.

      However, with bitcoin if someone acquires the private key of your wallet they can send the coins somewhere without being traced. Even in cases of nearly 100,000 coin this has been done. It’s also important to note that these bitcoin “banks” are not insured, so if coinbase, crytsy, btc-e, bitstamp, etc is compromised, or if your account is compromised on those services, it’s relatively easy for people to take your coin and you will have no recourse.

      In that sense, bitcoin is less secure than storing USD in a bank. But ultimately you have a greater ability to secure your bitcoin than you do your USD. For example, federal and state governments can seize or freeze any US bank account rather easily while it’s practically impossible for the US government or any other entity to determine how much bitcoin I have let alone acquire the private keys – assuming I take the proper precautions. You could bury your USD in the back yard I suppose…

      Proper precautions are a lot more complicated than walking down to your local bank; they include things like using an offline computer to generate addresses and sign transactions.

  24. So we get into the “what is likely to happen” vs “what can happen”. Right now the “can happen” is the govt seizing your money, is it likely?. I live in Canada, and our banking industry is a tad more robust, but it can happen. As with anything new, the Pioneers have the arrows in their back. It looks like the theft of bitcoin by hackers IS more likely (at this juncture) to steal your wealth than the govt seizing your money

    • Sure, and that’s why I don’t store my bitcoin at places like coinbase or btc-e. They are all a lot higher risk than their USD counterparts. Good point.

      • Um Coinbase is in San Francisco California. They are about as secure as any merchant provider is, like say PayPal. People have been stupid and had paypal accounts hacked, so is paypal dangerous or a scam, should we ban it? Should we fear it? Should I stop using it because the G-Man may seize my money? How much money over 12 years would I have NOT MADE if I feared using paypal?

        This hacker nonsense is getting dumb, part of the consorted attack.

        MtGox this is what happens when you let a fricken GAMING company hold your money. Don’t let GAMING COMPANIES hold your money. Peolple knew MtGox was f’d for over a year. Anyone who lost money there is proof that a fool and his money are soon parted.

        Silk Road this is what happens when you trust criminals who tell you they are criminals with your money, don’t trust criminals with your money.

        All this FUD and sabotage and attack by government and media tells me that they are afraid of bitcoin, flat out afraid of it. To wit I say,

        “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. “

        • There is a difference between FUD and reality. The reality is that a bank account is less risky than PayPal and PayPal is less risky than coinbase. This is coming from one of your biggest bitcoin advocating listeners since 2011.

          I’m not saying not to use coinbase but for me it defeats the purpose of having bitcoin. Coinbase is more susceptible to an internal attack than is paypal if for the only reason that the former holds bitcoin while the latter does not.

  25. At my old place, I had maple trees along a rock wall. Volunteers underneath: fiddle heads, blackberries, raspberries and a Concord grape vine that produced 10 lbs of sweet, tasty grapes per year. The grapes got a lot of energy from the rock wall.That was a nice surprise! My old property used to be a berry and maple sugar farm in the 1800s- I planted none of these foods! The trees along the rock wall were heavy sap producers. In the back, I had a partially dead maple with wild Fall Oyster mushrooms (choice edible) growing on it.