We have started Plastering!

Its been a long time coming, but its finally here!

We have started plastering!

lime plastered larder

Our larder with part of its first coat of lime plaster.

We have done the first layer of plaster on some of the walls.  Our walls are anything but flat so it will take a couple of layers to get it looking…. rustic..

After a lot of research, a couple of courses and lots of umm’ing and ahh’ing we have decide to go with a base layer of lime and very fine gravel known locally as “cero”.

Benefits of Using Lime Instead of Cement

Our walls are made of a very porous sandstone (called “mares”) that acts like a sponge and sucks up water. If you cover this stone with a non breathable material (like cement)it will end up getting saturated, rotting and the result will be large parts of your plaster falling off.

Lime plaster is breathable, meaning that it lets vapour pass through it.  This allows your walls to regulate not only the amount of humidity in the actual wall itself, but also the level of humidity in the room. So, in theory we shouldn’t have the typical humidity problems that plague old houses on the island.

Another great benefit of lime is that its antibacterial and anti-fungal and so its a lot harder for mold and any other unwanted fungus’s and bacteria to grow in rooms that are plastered with it.

Lime is also thought to be more “eco” friendly as it takes less energy to make and emits less CO2 into the atmosphere than cement.  In the long run it actually absorbs more CO2 (from the atmosphere as it “carbonates”, which is the process which makes lime harden) than is used to make it.

Here are a couple more pics:

Master Bedroom
lime plaster wall with window and wooden beams

Kitchen/Front Door

kitchen door lime plaster

 

Its really nice to have some of the walls plastered as you can start to see glimpses of the house emerging from the barn.

If you are interested in learning how to plaster with lime and clay, Miquel Ramis does a 2 day course here on the island which is very good and cheap too!  He also speaks very good English for those of you with Spanish problems.

We saved a lot of money by going on that course as before it we were going to buy all of our plaster “ready made” and now we are making it ourselves at a fraction of the cost.

Construcción bioclimática y tradicional: Morteros de cal y morteros de tierra / Lime and earth mortars

http://www.artifexbalear.org/cursos.htm

DIY Water Filtration and Purification System

Here is the link to the people who designed this water filtration system.
http://www.aqsolutions.org/

Link to their resource page where you can download manuals on how to build this system and larger ones and how to make biochar.
http://www.aqsolutions.org/?page_id=927

Quick explanation of how the Biosand Filter works:

this isnt the one we built but works exactly the same.

We havent had the water tested yet because we havent finished the biochar stage.  We willl post another video once we get the water tested with the results.

Introduction to Passive Solar Design

After yesterdays video I thought I would make a more specific introduction to Passive Solar design in Google Sketchup.

Here are some links from the content in the video:

In my first blog post I explain how I used the passive solar design principles in designing our outhouse:
Click here to read the blog entry

http://www.sunsurveyor.com/

The Solar House Book

 

Ubuntu and Google Sketchup, Simple Overview.

I have just downloaded a program to record my screen so I thought that I would make a quick video to show you two things that I like very much.  Those two things areUbuntu and Google Sketchup.

Ubuntu is an open source operating system that is the only real direct competition to windows and mac.  The best part about it is that its free AND it has all of the functionality and control of windows and speed and stability of the mac operating system.  Its a WIN WIN situation on all fronts.  I have been using it for about a year now and would never go back.

You can find out more about Ubuntu here:
http://www.ubuntu.com/

The second thing is Google Sketchup, sketchup is a 3D design program that is super useful for designing anything and is also free.
You can download sketchup here:
http://www.sketchup.com/

Sorry for the audio quality on the video’s, I was using the computer mic.

Here is the bit I couldn’t show you in the last video about the sun path.

THE MANDALA GARDEN by the Apprentice Permaculturist

Today was a momentous day – we started our veggie garden! It’s hard work but it’s worth it, knowing with every shovel of earth we are a little bit closer to eating our own organic veg 🙂

So our huerto (Spanish for vegetable garden) is – obviously – based on the principals of permaculture. As most of you know I am an Apprentice Permaculturist so was happy to work under the Head Permaculturist’s guidance while he got on with fitting the door to the solar battery cupboard! One of the first steps with permaculture, whatever you are doing, is planning: the better you design it, the better it will serve you and the more yield it will give you for the least effort. It appears that the current stage is where most of the effort goes – hard digging on a hot spring day!

So we are following a design for a mandala garden from Linda Woodrow’s book the Permaculture Home Garden. The concept is that the veggie beds are circular (which is the most efficient use of space) and in a keyhole design so that you can reach all over the bed either by walking round the edge or by standing in the centre. This is so that you never have to step on the bed and therefore avoid compacting the soil which would mean re-digging every season. Each bed is 4 metres from side to side and there are 6 beds, arranged in equal spacing around a central circle of the same size.

keyhole bedThe Permaculture Home Garden

After marking the outline of each of the beds, we chose one to start working on and then dug a path all the way round the edge, just wide enough to be comfortable to walk on. The earth that was dug out from the path was chucked inside the circle to allow more earth for planting. What this also does is to raise the bed up a bit, above the level of the path, so that in the case of heavy rain, the water will drain off into the path and the bed itself will not get waterlogged.

Once the path was dug and the earth evened out on the bed, it was time for one of the principal concepts in the world of permaculture: MULCHING! Mulching, a wonderful and very important word which is becoming a big part of my life. It basically means “composting in place” and is a great example of another key concept in permaculture: MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS. All you do is to lay organic material over the earth and look at all the functions this covers:

  • Protects the earth from the harsh rays of the sun to stop from scolding and drying out, keeping it cool and damp and stopping evaporation
  • Allows any water to seep in gradually to soak the earth in a more even and effective way
  • Provides protection for worms and beneficial insects
  • The organic material will decompose over time and enrich the soil
  • A thick layer of mulch will also provide wind protection for seedlings until they grow a little stronger.

Good materials for mulching are hay, cardboard (recycling!), paper (watch out for prints which may contain toxic ink), or any garden refuse that you may have from trimming back other plants. We are using hay as we have a few bales of it on the land right now. Don’t forget to wet the soil before starting to mulch, and if you are mulching quite heavily then you can wet in between layers too.

Mandala Veggie Plot

So now we have a nicely prepared bed awaiting the first round of veggies which are to be planted this weekend!  Yum yum yum yum…..