Episode-598- Paul Wheaton from on Permaculture, Hugelkultur, Survival Housing and More — 53 Comments

  1. Nice one Jack. How’d you manage to get the ‘explicit’ tag on iTunes. You piss someone off?

  2. @Brian, nope I self applied it, since Paul dropped the F-bomb and I didn’t remove it. This way no one can bitch about being offended at least more than they normally do. LOL

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  5. Jack,
    Holy Crap!
    What Paul described about allowing cows to eat rather than force feeding them what we choose to feed them is Austro-libertarian philosophy applied to ranching!
    The implications of this are mind blowing!
    I’ll be processing this for months!

  6. This episode is chock full of interesting stuff. I’m setting out in 2011 to start my micro-homesteading and am interested in incorporating various permaculture methods. A bit overwhelming starting from scratch.

    About CFLs…cursed scourge of a “solution.” I will avoid the swearing, but this CFL push is utter nonsense. Whoever came up with that nightmare should be made to take a dive into a pool filled with them (ok, not really).

    RIGHT ON in regards to turning the lights off when you don’t use them. If there was ever a pet-peeve that is it. Imagine the immense energy savings…no make that reduction of needless waste that we could achieve, by simply turning off unneeded lights.

  7. Is there a link for the house concept he mentioned? I don’t know how to spell it so I couldn’t search.

  8. LOVED this show. I’ve been dabbling in permaculture techniques for a couple of years, and always meant to try hugelkultur. Looks like now is the time! Thanks so much for the ongoing fabulous content. It’s worth so much more than the membership cost…

  9. Dreaming of ice cream chickens and wofati hiding in plain sight of g-men…

    This episode is destined to be classic TSP.

  10. OMG an inch of snow!?! Sorry but that’s funny to those of us in MinneSNOWta, but I know down south that shuts you guys down since you dont have to resources to deal with snow.

  11. @dan, it ain’t the snow it is the 3/4th inch of ice underneath it. Ice shuts everyone down.

  12. Great show! Good to hear the back and forth. I would like to hear more about Paul’s Wofati. Has he built any yet? How much labor goes into one? Thanks!

  13. This guy ROCKS – fascinating info and he’s funny as hell! Awesome show, Jack – thank you so much for having Paul on, hope he’s serious about coming back soon. (And now I’ll be up all flippin’ night checking out his sites.)

  14. Thank you Paul and Jack. This show rocks!
    If anybody wants to check out more about Sepp Holzer the link is :
    the site is in german but at the very end there is a english translation on Sepp H. ideas and thoughts.

  15. Holy informative podcast Batman! Paul got me thinking about so many things, especially hugelkulture. I’ve heard about dry farmed tomatoes having the best flavor, but wasn’t sure how you would pull that off.

    I also want a rocket mass heater.

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  18. Jack,
    Totally unfair of you to ask for one subject to hear more about. Fascinating guy! I refuse to pick one subject. I want to hear more about ALL of them!

  19. @Shannon I am sure Paul will come back often, he is loving the results so just see the poll as the NEXT subject not the only one.

  20. Just listened on my way into work today. A little longer than normal so I had to drive around for while to finish 😉 A great show – have been listening since Ep 62 and this is one of the best.

    I was really interested in all of it, but particularly in the discussion about keeping livestock. I started with some chickens two years ago and while they have a run, I let them roam the yard whenever I can and have most of the same problems Paul described, specifically them getting into the mulch on all my trees and in the beds around the house. I am wanting to confine them more, but am struggling with how to make the switch to paddocks without a big investment in more fence.

    Also, the discussion about the, eating grass, weeds etc is great for 9 months of the year, but what do they ‘want’ to eat when there is snow on the ground and nothing is growing?

  21. Man,this was one of the best podcast interviews you’ve done. The more I listen the more I realize how much farther down the path I need to get. Jack, My respect for what you do for the community grows bigger every day! I hope you will have him back on again soon. My mind reels at all the new directions I now have to research. LOL
    Thank God for Google. Hugelcultur?! who knew? before today.
    Thanks again.
    Big Jim

  22. Jack…I have been listening to you since the very beginning and I have to say I think this is one of my top 5 favorite episodes! It would be great to see Paul back as more of a regular. Keep up the great work!

  23. I think this episode is fantastic. I’m generally very impressed with Paul Wheaton’s videos, writing and overall activism among the permaculture worldwide network. He is truly an inspiration! But during a discussion of rocket mass heaters, and seemingly out of left field, Paul says this around 1:07:45: “this is gonna be a sexist thing, but this is their culture: the women like it because now the women aren’t hauling … they haul 10 times less wood. awesome.” I am a bit confused about this statement and it was dropped as quickly as it was mentioned. If Paul has a followup/clarification on this short gender comment, please comment any clarification!

    • Relax, he was just saying the women liked it because they didn’t have to haul as much wood for the stove. What’s not to like?

    • The point was simply they use less wood, don’t make more out of it than that. His clarification was specifically because some people insist on applying US cultural norms to other nations.

  24. Getting the Paul Wheaton interview was a home run Jack! I had no idea who he was beforehand but I am a complete sucker for someone with a passion and the ability to express it in an entertaining manner. The same goes for Chef Snow.

    The audio quality seemed much improved on this interview. Whatever you did, keep it up.

    Thanks Jack

  25. Great show, Paul is really funny. He should get his own podcast!

    I’d like to have heard more about rocket mass heaters. I’d love to try one of these sometime but make it more practical less ‘hippy”. For example, I’ve seen one that was build into a brick kitchen island counter. The barrel section of the heater was flush with the counter and the top was exposed. This became an area to cook food on.

    I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to put in a window into a rocket mass heater so you can watch the flames like you would in a traditional wood stove.

    • @cool blue,

      I would say it is a big no go on the glass. Glass would fracture and poly or course would melt.

      • There is definitely heat resistant glass, otherwise you wouldn’t have glass fronts to wood burning stoves. Not sure how adaptable these rocket mass heaters are for any kind of structure other than some kind dirt floor earth structure. You really need a smaller scale home designed around a ‘great room’ as the center of activity. If you are really interested in something similar for use in a normal western framed home, just look at AGA stoves. They use them in N. Europe. but they are ALWAYS on. (used for cooking and home heat) pretty pricy though. Peace, Jim

      • @Big Jim the heat on a window for a fire place is nothing like the blast furnace temps in a rocket stove.

  26. awesome awesome awesome… this rocket mass heater… this seems like finally the thing that can help me mitigate my high heating oil bill.


  27. Hadn’t thought about that. I figured the temps were similar to a wood stove.

    Are the really high temps in the area where the burn tunnel is, or is it in the heat exchanger/chimney barrel?

    • Let me put it this way, in the burn chamber it is REALLY HOT, in the reburn chamber it is even hotter. The key with a glass burn chamber is the glass would be in contact directly with the flame for the full duration of the burn.

  28. awesome show- loved it.
    It makes parts of being totally self-sufficient(one day!)seem more achievable.

  29. This was the best show! I actually backed it up to listen again to the part about the chickens. This year is the year for getting chickens (in the city) for us. We have been debating on whether to build a coop, or a tractor, or whatever…this solved it for us.

    The no-irrigation part I need to study and will go to his site to do so. Would be wonderful to not have to water!.

    Finally, I wonder how the rocket mass heater could be modified to work inside an existing wood fireplace?

    Definitely want to hear more specifics too on the wofati!

    Jack, just bring him back and do a show on each topic! 🙂

  30. I have been critical of some of your shows in the past but this one was so outstanding that it will Get me to become a regular listener once more.
    You should invite Paul again for some upcoming shows. The man seems like so full of knowledge and experience and very generous with it. His style reminds me of Joel Salatin. Are they related in any way? lol


  31. Nothing short of Outstanding!
    I listen to your podcasts as I drive to & from work…so I just finished this one this morning.
    You two are indeed “kindred spirits”. The ease of information exchange, energy, clarity of communication, and variety of topics of such interest to me was impressive, to say the least.
    My appreciation to you both and I look forward to future interviews.

  32. I’m in West Texas and the only wood I have access to is mesquite. Could I use that for the hugelkultur?

  33. Hey, Jack. I had to laugh a the “green washing” comment in regard to cars. I painted my truck forest green when I rebuilt it. So, I AM driving green! Even better, it’s an old clunky Dodge diesel that will pull your house down the road at 75mph, no problem.

    Paul is a blast to listen to, thanks for having him on the show. My wife isn’t so sure that she is going to let me build a rocket mass heater in our house yet, but I’m working that angle pretty hard. We are changing our garden up this year, hearing about Hugelkultur gives me a lot to think about when setting up the new plots.

  34. Great show, thanks.

    I noticed that the audio quality was much better than previous interviews. Did you do something special? Whatever it was it worked great, please use it for future interviews.

  35. Great information–the answers to the questions I didn’t know I had. Looking forward to implementing pastured poultry paddock system this spring. Paul Wheaton rocks!

  36. Great show! I was thinking, and you alluded to this at the very end, that combining hugelkultur and square foot gardening would be cool. Instead of just a 4×4 plot 8″ deep, dig a hole about 2 feet deep or more, put the sq ft garden frame over the hole, and do the hugelkultur technique up to the rim of the frame. Thoughts?

  37. Very interesting show. I have found this podcast because of this show.

    I was left with one question… If only 30% of a paddock is eaten and that means all the “ice-cream”… stuff the chickens love… will the paddock not then become over-run with undesirables as the desirable plants are the only ones continually cut down?

    • @Chelle Lewis

      A great question and one I will discuss with Paul on his next interview, scheduled for tomorrow BTW, will air on Friday.

      • Did he already state the minimum acerage to support a small flock? My orchard sits on a quarter acre and I was hoping to setup a small paddock system within the orchard. IE… this is outside my fenceline which houses 2 very hungry Nordic dogs.

        There is plenty of apples dropping and mostly vetch/clover/grass type of cover

        I only mow it rarely and it gets to about 10″ and wonder if this is an issue of chickens or if they will just consume their way through it.. ha ha

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  40. I wrote this stupid rant (the over-stimulated ramblings of one that has been awakened) before reading all of the other comments here, but I’m going try to post it anyway and see what comes out of the other end. But yep…back to lurking for me after this silliness.


    This is easily one of my favorite TSP episodes and probably the best podcast interview I’ve ever heard anywhere. Most notably, THE WHOLE “PERMACULTURE THING” FINALLY CLICKED FOR ME. I now understand why Jack is so, geez, Jacked-up (wow, lame) and passionate about Permaculture. It’s a helluva flag to wave.

    If nothing else, Paul is a great entertainer and this is a FUN EPISODE. His story about the yuppie-type growing tomatoes in a pile of sod that was bound for the LANDFILL is a keeper. Wheaton actually teaches a few powerful lessons in this episode that come out in the form of a cool story, (“rocket mass heater”, “chicken tractor”, “CFL”, “green flag wavers”, etc.), and it’s an extremely effective vehicle for him and a perfect fit with his personality. He’s fun. And he’s absolutely hilarious.

    With Jack’s help as interviewer I think that I actually retained all of Paul’s stories/lessons in this episode which just doesn’t happen with me and I normally have to listen a few times if I want to hang onto something. But everyone learns differently. (I have to keep repeating this to myself but I’m probably just retarded, eh.)

    BIG thanks to Jack for bringing Paul into the TSP fold, and vice-versa.

    Permaculture –> I’m sold now. Jack was right. –> Awesome. Jack was right.

    Summary: GREAT EPISODE. Paul Wheaton is a Great One and this was the perfect introduction for me. Give it a listen. But move it to the top of the playlist.