Join Jason Hartman as he interviews Paul Wheaton, founder of Richsoil.com and Permies.com, on the benefits of permaculture, which is a different way of gardening without irrigation. Listen at: www.HolisticSurvival.com for more details. Paul’s definition of permaculture is creating a more symbiotic relationship between himself and nature so that he can be lazier. Permaculture includes how you build your building, the energy used, social interaction, as well as the horticultural aspects. Some of the benefits of this type of gardening are no irrigation, no bugs, and no weeding. The garden grows with little to no help from humans. Paul explains how observing foods that grow wild, such as raspberries and strawberries, provides the keys to more healthy, flavorful foods. Paul goes into how it provides a sustainable way of living based on the way things grow in nature, how cast iron pans can last hundreds of years, and the nutrition of food growing amongst trees, shrubs, and what we would normally call weeds. Jason and Paul also touch on the subject of corporatocracy of chemical-based solutions and government laws and regulations that make it more difficult all the time for individuals to grow their own gardens and sell their excess food.
Paul is the founder of Richsoil.com, Permies.com and a few other gems (JavaRanch.com). Richsoil.com evolved out of a barrage of emails about lawn care and ultimately gave birth to Permies.com. Permies is a place where Permaculture enthusiasts come to learn, share, and learn some more from each other and is now the largest gathering of permaculturites on the web. As a certified master gardener and a certified permaculture designer, Paul Wheaton has written numerous articles (richsoil.com) and founded the permaculture forums (permies.com), which have since become the largest permaculture web site on the internet. Paul Wheaton has been practicing and preaching this new way of gardening, farming and living for the last nine years, because, as he says, “It’s the sort of eco system that nature intended. Paul has many audio and video podcasts, and several community forums from which much information can be gathered, such as: Organic Lawn Care for the Cheap and Lazy, CFL Fluorescent Light Bulbs: More Hype Than Value and Raised Garden Beds, Hugelkulture instead of irrigation, and Rocket Stove Mass Heaters.
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Start of Interview with Paul Wheaton
Jason Hartman: My pleasure to welcome Paul Wheaton to the show. He is an expert on permaculture. And we have mentioned that word a few times on prior episodes but we’re going to dive deep into it today and talk about it. Paul is the founder of RichSoil.com and also Permies.com and he has a big following in terms of this topic, so I’m looking forward to learning more about it. Paul, welcome. How are you?
Paul Wheaton: I’m doing great, Jason. Thanks for having me on the show. I always appreciate the opportunity to infect more brains with my gobbledygook.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. So, first of all, Paul, what is permaculture? Many people have heard of the word, many listeners to this show, but many haven’t as well. So, what is it? And how old is that term?
Paul Wheaton: I think the term came from the early 70s. The term was first made up by Bill Mollison in the early 70s and then of course there’s another guy, David Holmgren, that may have contributed to that. And then for each permaculture person that you ask, I think you’ll get a different answer to what is permaculture. The answer I like these days is creating a more symbiotic relationship between myself and nature so I can be lazier.
Jason Hartman: That’s great, okay. So you’ve got the benefit statement right in there which is fantastic. So what do people who practice permaculture, what do they do, how do they live?
Paul Wheaton: Wow, I’d say that some people are just getting started and the changes that they have are going to be fairly slight. I mean, they’re going to be focusing more on how do I get more food that I raise myself? And then as you get more and more advanced, I think once you’ve really mastered a permaculture system like in a garden, because permaculture covers like how you build your buildings, how you consume energy, a lot of different things, social interaction. But most people think of the horticultural aspects. But I think once you get a permaculture system going in your garden, then you shouldn’t have to do anything other than harvest. When that’s working correctly, you’ll be able to grow all the foods that you want to grow that you would normally grow in your garden, only you no longer have to irrigate, you no longer have to weed, you no longer have to fertilize, you no longer are concerned about bugs. All you do is harvest.
Jason Hartman: So this is growing in a way that just alleviates all of these concerns? How do you do that?
Paul Wheaton: A lot of it is through observation. If you look at nature, all this stuff, all the things that we grow in a garden originally occurred in nature and they were able to survive and reproduce without any human help whatsoever. And then we started breeding them in special ways to get more flavor and things of that nature, but it’s kind of like what do we do in our garden to kind of get it to grow on its own without any help from us? So, a lot of it, if you look at nature like if you go and you find a raspberry out in nature, because raspberry’s are very cold tolerant and so people will grow raspberries in their garden but they know that in their garden if they don’t water it it’ll die. But they’ll go out in nature, just a few hundred yards away and look, there’s a wile raspberry plant. And if you taste a raspberry from a wild raspberry plant, they taste so much better. So then you start to observe and ask why. Why does that raspberry not know that it shouldn’t be living without help from me? Why is it living? Why is it not dead and my raspberries that’s in my garden would die if I don’t water them? Why is the flavor so much better than the raspberries I grow in my garden? So, there is a lot of observation.
Now, of course, we’ve got a long list of tricks on how we can go about doing that, which are not tricks to nature – it’s what nature does. The whole concept of the hose and the bucket is not something that’s part of the nature repertoire. And so these are artificial means that we have come up with to bring water to a scenario. And basically, when a plant is clearly dying of thirst, they are dying from a lack of water, it’s our quick solution to bring that water as opposed to let’s think about how did it get to be without water to begin with? Why is it needing water but the plant over there doesn’t need water? And that’s where we get started. So, I’ve been able to come up with about 17 different things to explain how a raspberry gets water over there and it’s not getting it in our garden. That would be a 2 hour podcast right there just talking about that.
Jason Hartman: But permaculture involves a lot more than gardening. What is it in the broadest sense?
Paul Wheaton: The word comes from permanent agriculture which later got massaged to be permanent culture. And so the idea is that this is going to be a collection of ideas on how to move forward, not just sustainably but in a way that we can all thrive, better get along with each other, to be able to be safe. I mean, isn’t being prepared all about personal safety? We want to have a more predictable future and so I think permaculture is very much that – how do we have a more predictable, reliable, comfortable future? So, does this answer your question or am I just babbling?
Jason Hartman: No, it answers the question. It’s great. So, how should people dive into permaculture? What are some of the steps that one should take to have this more predictable, safer, better future and sustainable future obviously?
Paul Wheaton: Well, a lot of people think that when they want to jump in the permaculture, they’re going to do something. But I really think that the path is to build the stuff in your head and to start getting your head wrapped around this stuff. It’s a different way of thinking. I mean, it kind of takes a lot of stuff from hundreds of years ago, plus a lot of stuff that’s from the last couple of years and trying to make a best from all of these things to move forward. Really it’s about using your brains instead of brawn. When we made a garden, it’s like we have a recipe that will get food to come out of the ground and requires a huge amount of brute force and often times materials from off site and things like that. Permaculture’s more about if you have this knowledge, then you can make your life a lot easier on yourself.
I think a really great example, when we’re talking about permaculture like what’s an example of permaculture, it’s hugelkultur and this is a very simple thing where we’re doing nothing more than burying wood. And this comes from the observation of a nurse log in the wild. You go out into the wild and it’s like why are all these trees growing here but they’re not growing over there? You’ll find that there’s a great big log that fell over and it rotted like probably 20 years ago and now when the winter rain comes, that log gets saturated with water and then these surrounding plants and trees are able to tap into that water when the summer hits. And so that’s why this patch over here is doing so much better than that patch of weeds over there that’s all brown and dormant over the summer.
Jason Hartman: It’s amazing how nature has just settled this up so well. It just works, doesn’t it?
Paul Wheaton: It does. I like to think when you look at it, when you look at a patch of ground that’s entirely untouched, it’s never been touched and if we were to think of it as sound I think what we usually see is an untouched field is basically like static that it’s just white noise. And then when we look at a field that is a field of corn, to me that sounds like a dial tone. That’s one big monocrop, nothing else is growing in there. And I kind of think of permaculture as being able to make symphonies in the seed and the soil. So, when we combine things just right and we put them in the right place and we add the right kind of texture to the soil, then we get this wonderful collection of plants and life coming from the ground that’s going to sustain us. And that I think permaculture is.
Jason Hartman: And tell us about cast iron cook wear. Why is that important?
Paul Wheaton: Well, I gotta say that I think a lot of people elect to not use cast iron because they’ve tried it before and something stuck. And it’s one of those things where with just a little bit of knowledge, a cast iron pan will really work great, it’ll be a non-stick surface and it will last hundreds of years as opposed to Teflon where we’re throwing these pans out every six month with regular use, not to mention the fact that if the Teflon’s not on the pan anymore, well where did it go?
Jason Hartman: You’re eating it.
Paul Wheaton: Yes. And it’s like, boy, that doesn’t seem to be a substance that occurs in nature. It’s not on the USRDA.
Jason Hartman: I bet DuPont would recommend it in our diets. I think DuPont invents Teflon, right? Not that I trust them or Monsanto for that matter.
Paul Wheaton: Now that you mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday in the future there was a USRDA amount for Teflon. Make sure you get 5 grams of Teflon every day.
Jason Hartman: That’ll happen when Obama or whoever the administration is at that time gets into bed with the chemical company that invented it, and I believe that’s DuPont. As ridiculous as that sounds, folks, it’s highly possible because there have been more ridiculous things already that have been realized. Amazing.
Paul Wheaton: You mean like the fact that the word organic right now is regulated by Monsanto. I mean, you’ve got Vilsack who’s in charge of the Department of Agriculture.
Jason Hartman: He was president of Monsanto, right?
Paul Wheaton: Yeah. There’s like 200 Monsanto people currently working in the Department of Agriculture under Vilsack.
Jason Hartman: It’s unbelievable that people look at our current administration, the Obama administration, as though they’re here for the little guy and they’re not in bed with the big corporations. I mean, it’s probably worse than any other administration really. It’s just ridiculousness.
Paul Wheaton: Basically what you’ve got is you got Monsanto tell us what organic means, and then you’re talking about this administration. I can’t even think about different parties anymore.
Jason Hartman: They’re all the same.
Paul Wheaton: They’re just scary clowns and they’re all puppets. And there’s just one puppet master above all the parties, so like what does it matter?
Jason Hartman: It matters a little bit but it doesn’t matter that much. It’s just not that significant. The two party system is a scam. You look at the fact that the media is just shunning Ron Paul and he’s so popular but the media won’t let him become popular.
Paul Wheaton: Right. And so I think as you sit down and you start thinking about all the political stuff and how scary it is and bad and wrong and gives you a stomach ache and everything, the good news is all roads lead to permaculture. You start thinking about permaculture and homesteading and then it’s kind of like, you know what, you can go and get this going and set this up and then it doesn’t matter what kind of crazy goes on out in the bigger world because you’ve got your stuff set up. You’ve got your resilience system set up that will continue to be resilient no matter what goes on outside of that chunk of land.
So, true, they could come up with all kinds of new kinds of crazy things and it’s like if you just start focusing on the crazy and the politics, I believe you just get a stomach ache.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, well I don’t want to get off on the government topic or sort of the conspiratorial topic either and talk about the Bilderberg group. We’ve done that before but the one thing I will say, though, is what really scares me is this government intervention where they’re trying to make it very difficult for people to grow their own crops, grow their own food. They do it as window dressing when Michelle Obama puts a garden in the White House. But in real life, in practice, they’re trying to make that kind of stuff difficult. There are various movements to try and make it impossible for people to capture their own rainwater from the roof. I mean, folks, this is scary stuff. The government wants us to be a bunch of dependent shills so that they can control the prices of our resources and control nature. I mean the fact that they let big companies patent things that occur naturally is insanity to me. I mean that you can patent a part of the genome or a seed that Monsanto has or you can restrict what nature does naturally, it’s ridiculous.
Paul Wheaton: I don’t think it’s the government that’s doing it.
Jason Hartman: Maybe it’s above the government is what you’re saying, right?
Paul Wheaton: That’s the distraction that’s put in front of us. We’re supposed to think that it’s them.
Jason Hartman: Then I’ll give you a minute to talk about that. Please, because I can’t let that go unheard but I want to get back to permaculture, but go ahead. Tell me.
Paul Wheaton: First I’ve got to qualify it by saying I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, but it just seems to me like there’s just a lot of scary going on that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But then when you start taking into account that there’s a bunch of people way above the government and pulling all the strings on the government, then it starts to make a lot of sense. So I think those people that are pulling the strings on the government and they happen to own Monsanto and some of these other chemical companies and own a lot of the things that you would think aren’t able to be owned by people and they do, it’s like no. I think that’s what’s going on. As far as all the chemicals and all the nasty and all the toxicity, it’s like yeah, I’d imagine that if you went to their house, they don’t have that. But for the rest of us, we’re expendable. And so I think permaculture is one way to be able to get us out of that expendable path.
Jason Hartman: Good point, good point. Okay, so the cast iron cook wear you’re basically saying that the reason one should use that is because the Teflon’s not leaching into your food. Other reasons?
Paul Wheaton: It’ll last 100 years, hundreds of years. You buy it and you’re not going back to the store every 6 months to buy another damn brine vat. You’re all set for life. So I think that’s probably the biggest one. I think that there’s a lot of other benefits as far as like health benefits from cooking your food in cast iron and there’s a long list of debatable benefits. But I do think that there’s some serious issues with the toxicity of Teflon and all of the Teflon-esque things that they’ve come out with lately.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, well it’s just amazing to see the amount of disease going on in our culture today when you look at the cancer rate, I mean, whether it’s electromagnetic or the Teflon or hormones in the food or the antibiotics, the combination of all of this stuff, we’re just in this bath of dangerous things all the time.
Paul Wheaton: Absolutely. Well, I’m gonna stand right up and say when you cook in cast iron it is possible to generate carcinogens from the smoke. But I think that’s gonna be 100, maybe even 1000 times less than the carcinogens that are gonna come from the Teflon-esque materials. It’s gonna be very difficult to eliminate all carcinogens from all of our lives, but I think it’s not too hard to cut it by a factor of 100. And really, cancer, and that’s the most obvious one to examine, we all have cancer every day, all of us. It’s just a matter of most of us have such a tiny amount that our immune systems are able to get rid of it.
Jason Hartman: And what you mean when you say that is we all have various cell replication that isn’t the ideal form of it where it’s out of control to some extent. But it doesn’t get so out of control that it becomes a dangerous cancer – that’s what you’re meaning when you say that, right?
Paul Wheaton: That’s true. We all start off with what is technically cancer inside us – we all have it all of time. And it’s just a matter of like when a glob of it kind of gets way out of hand, then that’s when it can kill us. So, I think this is a great example of how permaculture is different and just how you think. Conventional techniques are going to be all about you have cancer, let’s talk about a cancerectomy, let’s talk about getting the cancer out of you. Permaculture’s gonna be more like let’s talk about keeping you healthy and not getting sick from anything. And because once your general health starts to degrade or gets compromised, you’re bombarded with so many different toxins, then something’s gonna get you. And so permaculture’s going to be more about like how do we improve your overall health.
And this is kind of like the whole colony collapse disorder thing. I mean, people are coming out saying oh we found out what’s causing colony collapse disorder. Well, you know what, you abuse bees long enough they’re gonna die of something. And so rather than focusing on the virus and the fungus that are the official new cause for what’s colony collapse disorder, instead how about this? Why don’t we stop torturing those poor little bees and let them do their thing without so much compromise in their health and then they’ll be able to not only fight off colony collapse disorder but fight off other things. People who are raising their bees without any toxins in an area that’s free of pesticides, they don’t have colony collapse disorder. The reports are anecdotal but pretty substantial to show they’re not having problems. And it’s all about have a little bit of care for disease and then none of the diseases tend to affect them. No mice, no colony collapse disorder, all the different things that the more traditional conventional beekeepers are struggling with are not a problem with the people that are doing things in a farm more organic fashion.
Jason Hartman: A lot of times money becomes the motivator and it can be in a positive way, too. We’ve talked about the corporatocracy in the negative ways and the political elite, too. But how can someone listening make money with permaculture?
Paul Wheaton: I think that you can easily make a lot more money with permaculture than you can with conventional systems. A lot of conventional farmers right now are tied in, have 1000 acres, they plant it full of corn, they take off to the [0:20:47.4] mill and then they get their check from the government for subsidies.
Jason Hartman: Another ridiculous failure, the subsidy.
Paul Wheaton: I agree, I agree. And then they net $14,000 a year. In the meantime, Sepp Holzer, who I believe is the premiere example of permaculture and action, I’m going to speculate, without having looked at his taxes or anything like that, I’m going to speculate that this guy is making $1 million a year. And granted, he is crazy famous now and makes buku bucks, traveling the world and greening deserts and stuff like that. But the big thing is that just off of his 100 acre farm, I imagine that he probably gets half a million dollars from that. And talk about all the concerns that you have with all these different organizations, making all kinds of laws to make it so a small farmer can’t make a go of it – he just stays one step ahead of them every step of the way because he used to sell seeds but then they made laws against that. And then he would do this thing and that thing and the other thing and then they would make laws against that which favored great, big companies. But the little guys, it’s way too expensive to be involved in it. So now what he does – because he lives in Austria – and he says it’s 95 euros, so it’s about, what, $120-$130, to come onto his land, to just come on in and look around. And if you steal a bunch of food and then leave, that’s your own business. He doesn’t care. He’s not gonna police that. So then if he were to try to sell you food, then in come a whole bunch of laws and headaches and regulations and stuff like that, but if you’re stealing food, there’s no regulation there. In fact, who’s ever taking the food, they probably ought to be arrested or something.
Jason Hartman: What you’re getting at is another scary thing that the government is doing. It would look something like that. Say I have a farm and I harvest a bunch of food and I invite my neighbors over and we have a little co-op and maybe they bring me some of the food they grow or some other items of barter or they just bring me money. If I sell it to them, then I am a business and I am under all sorts of regulations. And it is illegal for me to do that without licenses and inspections and regulations and all this stuff. Even though these are my neighbors, they know me, they trust me, and we have a community. You can’t do it. The government is attacking all of these little co-ops, all of these little groups of friends in small communities that are creating permaculture type environments. The government is trying to just shut them down.
Paul Wheaton: That’s true. It’s a real threat, because it’s awesome. I have never in my life done any drugs whatsoever, I have never smoked pot, but I kind of wonder, wow, are we on the verge of people selling food the way pot is sold? Is there any black market food? Because here’s another big thing. When you go to your best, your favorite, your most organic grocery store, and you buy their most organic food, it’s still monocropped food. And I really believe that that food sucks.
Jason Hartman: What does monocrop mean?
Paul Wheaton: So, monocrop would be like you got this big 100 acre field and there’s only corn growing in it or you got this big 100 acre field and there’s only carrots growing in it. So that’s all there is. And I believe that’s not the way nature intended and that what’s a superior form of food, a real health food, is going to be something where you go and you get your carrots and it’s growing in a space with like 50 other species. So there’s trees and shrubs and things that people call weeds all growing together in the middle of the carrot, and the key thing is the mycelium in the soil and the nutrition. And this is such a huge part of permaculture for the horticultural aspect.
And this is, if you think about it, mycelium is very sugar hungry and yet mycelium has no green leaves, so it can’t do that photosynthesis trick to get sugar from the sun. So what mycelium does is that mycelium kind of makes things that look rootesque and they literally touch the roots of plants that have green leaves and there’s a symbiotic relationship between the mycelium in the soil and the plant. And the mycelium will find the nutrients and trade them via water with the plants to get sugar. And then the mycelium now, when it got that sugar from the plant, like if it’s a carrot, that carrot has a whole bunch of nutrients that it has in excess but the carrot also has nutrients that it does not have in excess that it needs because the way the carrot is designed and the way any plant is designed, they’re specialists. A carrot has a deep cap root. It’s able to find things from down deep and select certain kind of nutrients that other cap rooted plants are not so good at getting. But the carrot will basically poop out its excesses of stuff that it has too much of. The mycelium picks it up and the mycelium will then use that to trade effectively with other plants that don’t have enough of that. So, nutrients are being traded between plants through the mycelium so well that’s one of the ways that you would no longer need to fertilize.
We are able to track that there are some things that a carrot needs. So, if we have a big field of nothing but carrots, we’ve got a pretty good idea of the plants in there to make it so that the carrots don’t turn out really pathetic. And so we’ll put that there. However, we’re only just getting started in trying to understand what a carrot needs in order to not turn out to be pathetic. There’s all kinds of nutrients that we learn about every year for just carrots. So now, as you go into a polyculture system, all the needs of that carrot are being met. And so now we have a carrot that’s far richer in nutrients that did not come from a chemical petroleum source but instead came from its natural source of other plants through mycelium in a rich soil that’s peening with microorganisms.
Jason Hartman: It works, it works. It’s a permaculture, just makes sense. I mean, there are motivations as we’ve alluded to, but there’s a battle against permaculture, right? There’s a war on it from the corporatocracy in the government, right? Because these companies see themselves as in competition with permaculture I would assume.
Paul Wheaton: Well, I would have to say that, okay, I’d go along with what you’re saying. I do believe that there is something. I don’t have a lot of evidence. I believe we’re seeing a lot of corporate trolls. Paul Stamets is doing a lot of work with funguses and he’s getting a lot of death threats. He’s come up with a fungus that will basically take out colonies of ants or bees – it’s just a naturally occurring fungus – and he’s trying to get it to market. But, of course, he’s being impeded by those people that are supposed to help us. And then, of course, it’ll impact the profit margins of chemical based solutions. And so you can imagine where the death threats are coming from. Fortunately, Paul Stamets is still alive and he’s still pushing. But, yeah, we do see some ugliness but I wouldn’t call it a war. I’m not seeing a lot of permaculture people getting shot in the head.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Well, when I say war, of course I’m using it metaphorically too, I’m not saying it’s a war like a real war but it’s a war of words, it’s a war of the legal system and the regulatory system and that type of stuff. That’s the war.
Paul Wheaton: Oh, definitely. Yes, we’re seeing a lot of that. And it’s amazing how they’ll come up with new laws to make it harder to do even certain forms of self-sufficiency. And then it’s like sometimes the laws are made and it’s like you’re not sure it really applies to you and I suppose at some later date you could find yourself in jail because you ate an apple off of your own apple tree?
Jason Hartman: Just the way, just have to comment on that, that is the ugly, dirty trick our government plays on us. Of course, governments all around the world do this, but the US government now engages in it more and more. And it’s really scary.
John Stossel did a great documentary news report recently called illegal everything. And basically, I was brought up and I remember my mother telling me when I was a child, she said to me “Jason, ignorance of the law is no excuse.” And I agree with that.
Philosophically, it has to be true because each citizen has to be responsible for knowing the laws so that they can act in a legal way. But here’s the deal, what we’ve got now. We have got mountains of laws. We have got so many laws in this overly legalistic country that nobody can possibly know the laws. And the laws don’t even obey common sense anymore. When my mother told me that years ago, ignorance of the law is no excuse, back then of course even then nobody could know every law. There are too many. For many, many years that have been too many laws for any one person to know them all. But at least back then, it seems like you could use common sense and the golden rule to govern your actions and obey the law. But now, some of these laws are so obscure and ridiculous and nonsensical that you can’t even use common sense to try and obey the law anymore. And so what happens is the government identifies people as people they want to harass, people who are target, maybe people who don’t agree with the zeitgeist of the time or the current administration or someone who gets into an argument with some stupid bureaucrat about something, and then they find something to attack them fore. It’s insanity what’s going on and they’ll levy them with fines, they might even levy them with arrest. Like, these people in the co-ops I talked about, it’s just ridiculous.
Paul Wheaton: Sepp Holzer has paid more agricultural fines than any other farmer in all of Europe, just going along with you’re saying. And I thought I heard something about how as of January 1st of 2012, 40,000 new laws took effect.
Jason Hartman: 40,000 new laws?
Paul Wheaton: That’s what I heard. I don’t really know.
Jason Hartman: Remember, are those federal? State? Local?
Paul Wheaton: I thought it was just federal.
Jason Hartman: That’s just at the federal level, folks. So now you’ve got state laws also, they never repeal laws, they always just make more of them. It’s ridiculousness. Let me take a brief pause. We’ll be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: So 40,000 new laws, let’s just assume they’re federal, we don’t know but for purposes of conversation – it’s such a ridiculous number anyway. So there’s 40,000 federal laws, for example, and how many thousands of new state laws are there, and they vary from state to state, and then municipal laws in each city and county. Folks, this is insanity what is going on. The bottom line is everybody on both sides of the aisle, they will agree government is corrupt. There’s too much corruption in government. Everybody will say that. You could be a leftist liberal socialist communist and you’ll probably agree with that. And you could be a right wing conservative republican and you’ll agree with that. Everybody agrees with that, right? So, the only solution in my eyes is that you just gotta know in any human organization such as government, you’re going to have corruption. It’s just the way it is. Tis’ human nature. Nobody is going to change it. No series of laws is going to change it. No great president is going to change it. It’s going to happen – corruption will happen. And the only way to deal with it is to minimize its impact on our lives. And the only way to minimize it is to just simply minimize the size of government. So, a smaller government, smaller level of corruption, a larger government, larger level of corruption. More government equals less freedom, less government equals more freedom. Period, end of discussion, nobody can argue with that. I don’t know, you care to argue with it? Go ahead. There’s my rant for the day.
Paul Wheaton: No, I’m not arguing with it. Without really any knowledge – I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a politician, I avoid politics like the plague, I can’t help but speculate that right now every one of your listeners, each and every one, and you and me, probably breaking some kind of law. If anybody got a burn under their saddle that they want to come out and put you or me or any of your listeners in jail, there’s probably a law out there that would validate that.
Jason Hartman: And especially if you own a business. If you own a business, I guarantee you you are breaking more laws than you can imagine. Because, if you have a physical business, what’s the height of the countertop in your little kitchenette area? What’s the level of the opening of the door of the dishwasher? What is the weight on the hinge tension on the bathroom doors? Are the aisle ways wide enough between your furniture? Has your fire extinguisher been checked recently? You are breaking more laws than you can possibly imagine if you have a business with a physical location. And those laws I was referring to, height of countertop, hinge tension, dishwasher, I’ve dealt with them all because they’re under the ADA, the American with Disabilities Act, a well-intended thing. I mean, my aunt has multiple sclerosis, she’s in a wheelchair – I certainly understand the need for that. But, folks, all this does is it ends up into more restrictions of freedom.
Paul Wheaton: A lot of the work that I do is with the idea of all that stuff you’re talking about, really, really scary, depressing, and suffocating. And so a lot of the work that I do is where it’s like, okay, let’s set all that aside for a moment and how can we move forward despite all of that. And so it’s like you’ve got hardly any money, you are a wage slave, and you just gotta get out and get onto some land and build your safety net because the scenario that you’re describing is there and it does not feel safe. And so basically what can you do? So then a lot of the work that I’m doing is all about things that you can do for yourself to try and build your own safety net, to be able to build a better world for yourself, for your friends, for likeminded people, and possibly even for the larger world.
One of the things I write about is the rocket mass heater. This is something where you can heat your home using 10 times less wood than a conventional wood stove.
Jason Hartman: Tell us about that.
Paul Wheaton: And it’s a whole different way of burning wood. With a conventional wood stove, you’ll see the smoke going out the chimney at 300 to 600 degrees. But with a rocket mass heater, what it does is that you have exhaust going up the side of your wall like a drier vent at about 70 to 100 degrees and that’s almost exclusively steam and CO2.
Jason Hartman: A lot less waste.
Paul Wheaton: Yeah. And the preppers are keen on it because they can be out in the woods and have one of these to heat their home and it doesn’t give away their position because there’s no smoke. And on top of that, 10 times less wood. The thing is that I don’t think there’s a form of heating your home that is more sustainable. There’s people that are heating their homes using nothing but the twigs that fall of their trees and their yard. And there was one guy that heated his home one winter using nothing but junk mail.
Jason Hartman: That’s just a funny commentary right there. All the junk mail, all the wasted junk mail, heat your home with it. That’s great.
Paul Wheaton: The key is energy is one of those big government, big icky business kinds of things. It’s energy is the reason behind most of our wars and behind most of the corruption and stuff like that. So, one of the things I would do with a rocket mass heater is what if half the people that live in cold country had one of these? I think that would completely change the world. It would change everything. If half the people out there had one of these, that would vastly reduce the amount that’s used for gas, electric heat, oil heat, all these other forms of heat that are basically energy.
Jason Hartman: We’ve got to get wrapping up here but I’ve got two more little topics I want to cover with you which is about water harvesting ponds and alternative energy and early retirement. But just explain how this heater works real quickly if you would. What is it? It’s a rocket mass heater? Is that what you’re saying?
Paul Wheaton: Right. The first time it was described to me, I was adamant that it’s a piece of fiction from fairytales and then I saw them in action. And it was such a bizarre thing to actually see. I made a whole bunch of YouTube videos so other people could actually see it doing this and see that it’s real.
Jason Hartman: There’s a Wikipedia entry on it too, by the way. I just looked it up. Go ahead.
Paul Wheaton: So then the idea is that you stack your sticks vertically and it’s just a few. It’s just hardly any, just a handful of twigs vertically. Only the bottoms burn. The fire burns sideways and then there’s a chimney that’s only like 3 feet tall. But the chimney is super insulated, so it gets super hot in the chimney. And the thing that you do is you try to create a chimney fire every time. And that chimney fire re-burns all the smoke. So you burn the wood and you burn the smoke. Everything gets burned.
Jason Hartman: It’s sort of a vertical pipe. It’s the size of a barrel or thinner. It’s interesting. I’m looking at some pictures of this online.
Paul Wheaton: A lot of people will use a 55 gallon drum to be the bell that redirects the smoke from the chimney back into a thermal mass. And so the mass is typically a bench, but other people will use other things. Some people use a floor.
Jason Hartman: Do people always make these things or can you just buy one?
Paul Wheaton: I have yet to hear of one that’s being available for sale. Everybody makes them. First of all, wooden ship, it’s way too heavy – there’s too much mass. But I’ve heard of people building them for as cheap as $20. Usually it’s more like people when spend like a couple hundred bucks to get one. But it takes about a weekend to build it.
Jason Hartman: On Amazon.com, there is a rocket stove.
Paul Wheaton: So, a rocket stove is going to be about cooking and it’s cooking outdoors. A rocket mass heater is about heating your home.
Jason Hartman: This actually looks like a heater, though, even though it says stove. Some people, that’s interchangeable like the old pot belly stoves that are really heaters. This is for cooking, by the way. I confirm that. Sorry, okay, go ahead.
Paul Wheaton: With the rocket stoves, it’s going to burn in such a way that the exhaust is going to end up in your house which I’m not going to advocate. But the rocket mass heater is going to direct the exhaust outside. So, yes, it’s true. In fact, the rocket mass heater was derived from the electric stove which is invented by the same guy. He actually went down to Africa where they were building fires in their home and to let the smoke out they would just open the door. Their homes would fill with smoke. They had all these eye problems and lung problems. Then he came up with the rocket stove so that they could continue to cook their food with wood, but yet they used 10 times less wood and on top of that, had hardly any smoke at all. And it alleviated a lot of the problems they were having.
Jason Hartman: I also want to make sure to give out your website because it is up now, which is RichSoil.com and there’s a picture of you looking sharp in your overalls there.
Paul Wheaton: Damn, I look good.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Two more topics I want to cover just real quickly here. Number one, water harvesting ponds.
Paul Wheaton: Okay. Water harvesting ponds, that can mean so many different things. I do know I just released two podcasts that were about natural swimming pools, about the idea of having a swimming pool and rather than treating it with chlorine you would have plants and other life forms that would basically work in symbiosis with cleaning the water like a good, clear lake wood. There’s that.
I’ve written extensively about ponds and how to seal ponds and ponds for farms, aquaculture versus aquaponics, all of that kind of stuff. When it comes to water harvesting, permaculture is a collection of all kinds of thing, your winter water, so all that rain and the spring and winter and fall that falls when all the plants are dormant to get all that to stick around through the summer. So ponds are indeed a part of that strategy. Is that what you had in mind?
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Well, I’m kind of just looking at some of your bullet points and your outline and asking you that question. So let’s find early retirement, the extreme version of it.
Paul Wheaton: Okay. There’s a website called EarlyRetirementExtreme.com and a guy wrote a book there and it’s brilliant. It’s a lot of stuff in common with the book Mortgage Free. But basically, what this guy did is unfortunately whenever anybody thinks about retirement, they think about what’s my monthly expenses, how little can I live on, and how much money do I have in the bank, am I debt free, etcetera. When can I retire? Let me plan out when I can retire. And then you can talk about early retirement. Like, if I cut my expenses in half, I can retire even earlier. And Jacob takes it even further to early retirement extreme. He has cut his expenses per month down to $510 per month.
Jason Hartman: Unbelievable, yeah. He said save 75% of your net income. This just does not sound very appealing to me. I like living well.
Paul Wheaton: Oh, yeah. He wrote a book. Basically, if you think about it, if you are working in a job or even a career that you no longer care for, then it’s kind of like what are your alternatives? And so are you willing to continue this grind day after day with the idea of this is what pays for your fancy pants car and your big house and your fancy education and all of these fancy things that you opted in for? And so basically, the book kind of lays out a path of like, okay, how much are you willing to give up? How low are willing to go? So, it’s not saying to go all the way down to where he went, and I’ve heard of people who’ve cut it even further. Like, they live on $100 a month.
Basically, it’s like depending on how low you’re willing to go determines how quickly you can retire. Now, granted, it’s about extreme, early retirement extreme. Some people will do some crazy things. There’s this thing called the Olympics – I’m sure you’ve heard of it – which they will push themselves far beyond what anyone else will push themselves to for the sake of just being there. So, granted, that level of running or that level of athleticism is beyond our own personal comfort zone, you might find something that’s halfway between where we are and there. And so I think it’s really great to be able to be aware of what our options are that we may not have considered. And for a lot of people it’s like I’m going to cut my expenses, so I’m going to eat half as much pizza. Well, guess what, that really doesn’t change the big picture all that much. That’s just phoning it in. On the other hand, some people are saying I’m going to cut my living expenses by a factor of 5, and by doing that, they can retire within 4 or 5 years as opposed to retiring 20 years from now.
Jason Hartman: That’s interesting. And I’m looking at this guy’s website and I’m gonna look through it just because I want to challenge myself to think in a new way, but my philosophy is nobody ever got rich saving money and there’s a limit to what you can save. And this is really extreme what you’re talking about, but there’s no limit to what you can earn. And it just seems like this is a scarcity way of thinking rather than an abundance way of thinking.
Paul Wheaton: That’s true. And, granted, if you can have both, that could be better. But I’m with you. There are certain comforts that I enjoy.
Jason Hartman: I mean, it says live on $6000 a year. Gosh, I can’t live for 2 weeks on $6000.
Paul Wheaton: I think that there are many, many schools of thought. And, frankly, I don’t know what the word capitalism is supposed to mean anymore. But what capitalism means to me is I can go and work hard for 6 months and take 3 years off goofing off. And I like that idea. And some people are like that’s not capitalism or whatever, I don’t care. But the thing is this guy followed his own recipes and after 3 or 4 years, he stopped working as a physicist.
And now, last time I talked to him, I did a podcast with him, and he was talking about being on a crew for yachting and that was his passion now. And it’s like he can have a new passion every other week and go do all these new things and he didn’t have to go and work for however many years in order to build up enough money to be able to do whatever it is he wanted to do. It is a path, it’s not the path but a path. I think it’s admirable. He chose the path.
And the other thing is, I think, as I listen to him and he talks about this path, is he can now go on any new path that he wants to go on. He can go out and earn millions of dollars a year now and not be a physicist. He’s not tied in as the wage slave thing now.
Jason Hartman: Well, he’s out the rat race as Robert Kyosaki puts it. So, there are multiple ways to get out of the rat race. No question about it. Well, hey, give out your website one more time and any other resources you want to share with people and this has been very interesting, Paul.
Paul Wheaton: RichSoil.com is where I keep my podcasts and my articles. Permies.com is where we have a community of permaculture enthusiasts. It’s the largest permaculture site in the world. And both of these sites will have links to about 150 different YouTube videos about permaculture.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Well, Paul Wheaton, thank you so much for sharing this with us today and it’s definitely something to think about. It’s really amazing, when I became interested in sustainability and survivalism, modern survivalism, it’s sort of amazing how it really impacts the environment on such a positive level. I didn’t really consider that before I became interested in this topic. So, it’s good to hear you tie a lot of this together as it relates to permaculture. And keep up the good work out there. Appreciate you being on the show.
Paul Wheaton: Thanks for having me, Jason.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. (Image: Flickr | bert_m_b)
Transcribed by Ralph
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