Back from Flower Paradise

We’re back and we were very happy to see everything growing and developing in Portugal. The flower and colour variety is quite astonishing. Here are some pictures we made of our site:

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But we didn’t just enjoy the flowers, we also worked. Our neighbour made some beautiful steps on the side of the water tank and also finished the walls for the showers.

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Last January we made the fundament of the showers, so our neighbour could go on to build the walls. It’s amazing as all of these stones are of our site and he had really much work to keep them, to bring them up, to break them if needed and to build the wall with them… We’re so grateful for his help! 🙂

Unfortunately the tank is not completely waterproof, but as some of the stones have quite big holes, this was not a big surprise. Now we will have to find a solution to close it completely. 20170524_200818.jpg

We also reconnected the water system for the trees as it is getting really hot now.

I had a lot of work in the herb garden, as it was really difficult to find the herbs between all of the wild plants. I used the weed to cover the herb beds.

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Besides this we harvested some kind of Portuguese beans (favas) and made the vegetable garden together with His father so we and His family will be able to eat our own vegetables again in August. His father will care for this garden until August.20170524_1236572.jpg

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That’s it for now 🙂

We made as much as possible what we could do in these few days and we’re quite pleased with our work.

Now we’re looking forward to August while we finish our compost toilets.

Portugal in t – 6 days

Next week we will visit our terrain in Portugal again. As we just have one week of holidays we will have to fly. But we’re very excited to see, what’s growing on the site and how it develops.

The last weeks were quite busy, but we worked on our compost toilet, which we will install in August on the site. All the wood is recycled and we used a pallet to build the toilet on. The walls are separated, so we can put them in the car and just connect them afterwards in Portugal. Unfortunately they are a little bit too big to carry them in the plane…^^

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The toilet is not finished yet. The toilet lid is just laid on the wood and we have to make the box under it. But the outer side is ready. As you maybe can see, He cut the wood in order that the rain water will not be able to seep inside.

Here are some more pictures of the process:

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We also worked on our car to change it to a small camper, but this you will see in another article 🙂

Besides this we still have free places for August! So if you’re interested, just contact us 🙂 We’re looking forward to it!

3 weeks in portuguese winter

After Christmas we and my parents traveled again to our site in the Algarve to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve and to go on with our works.

First of all, of course we had to see the wall. Though there were two waterlines damaging a little the outside of the loam wall, it looks quite good. Almost no cracks, nothing broken 🙂

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On the inside of the wall there are some small cracks, because we didn’t have the time to finish the wall as we should have.

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We didn’t have the time to fix the wall, but at least I fixed the holes in the plasticplane, which caused the waterlines.

The most important work in the last three weeks was the water system. We want to make two showers outside. There are enough showers in the holiday house, but we want to have everything what we need outside of this house, as it is the holiday house of His family. Next year we just want to use the bedrooms there 🙂

So we cleaned the ground and made the fundament for the showers. The walls will be out of stones of the site, like the fundament of the loam house. On the bottom left you see the small tank, where the dirty water will be connected. We had quite a lot of work to open the lines where now is the red tube.

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The water will stop in another small tank, where will be a filter to clean the water. After this it floats into a small lake, where we want to put sand and some water plants, to clean the water. As we will just use natural cleaning products in the showers and we hope we find a good filter, the idea is that this mini lake can also be used by birds and other animals.

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After the water is clean, it runs into the big tank, which our amazing neighbor had spent the last months building. It’s so big, you almost can call it a pool 🙂 He had used the stones of our site, which looks really beautiful.

We spend a whole day to make the fundament with concrete. We don’t like concrete that much, but we didn’t find a better way to close it completely without losing water afterwards.

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While He and our neighbor spent the most time on this works, I and my parents began to create the herbal garden. It will be a garden with herbs for the kitchen and for teas, medicinal plants and eatable flowers. He had digged over the soil a little, so it was soft but very heavy thanks to the rain. We began to mark the trails of the garden with the stones laying everywhere and to plant the first plants we had.

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When it began to rain again we saw that the rain water would run directly into the trails, so we decided to secure the trails with smaller stones and to create some rain water lines in order to keep the trails dry. This is also very comfortable when you want to pick out stones of the garden, you just have to let them drop on the trails:)

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After that I distributed seeds of different wild flowers and other plants and we’re really excited how the garden will look like the next time we see it…

Besides this I was really happy to see my mushroom grow 🙂 Yes, I made a course last year, how to grow eatable mushrooms, because I really like mushrooms but I’m not talented in finding and identifying them, so I decided to grow my own mushrooms. I planted one of them last year in a piece of wood and it grew really beautiful and is quite tasty. The german name is “Austernseitling” 😉

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Building with loam – the movie

Last August the most of us made videos and photos of our work. We collected them and made a small video of the growing wall. As this is the first loam wall we ever made, this is not a guide how to make loam walls in general! This is just how we made it and we wanted to show it as an inspiration. Maybe there are better ways to do it 😉

As I cannot put videos on this blog, you can find it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j8zg34bw8e3g6a4/Lehmbau%20Kohlcabana%202016.MP4?dl=0

Watch and enjoy 🙂

 

The masterplan

Today we want to show you our plan of the site. We began to plan about two years ago and it has been changed a lot of times, because we try to adapt our works and plan to the already existing landscape and conditions. But I think now the most parts are fixed and there will be just small changes, so we can present it 🙂

The whole space has an inclination to the north, so the parts on the left are on the top of a hill, while the right side on the bottom is much lower. As you maybe know, Permaculture works with zones. Zone I for example is the area, where you stay every day, where are the elements, which need very much attention and care, while zone IV contains areas for animals, where you don’t have to be every day. This saves a lot of energy and time.

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The entrance is on the left, so let’s begin there: the “Haupthaus” is the loam house, which we began to build last August. It will be kind of bureau, library and community room for everyone. Attached to this will be the kitchen with a food store room and the workshop. The small blue box on the right side of this complex is our water source.

For now we work mainly on the first two terraces, which will be the zones I and II. So we will have our vegetables, herbs, most important fruit trees and small animals like chicken and rabbits there. The big green bubbles are trees, which existed before (mostly almond and olive), the small green bubbles (more on the left) are the trees, which we planted last year.

The blue lines are lines, where the (rain) water would flow down the hill. We try to collect as much water as possible of the rain and guide it down into a lake. We already began to open the lake, but then our machine broke and we’ll have to repair it first.

The two grey circles in the middle of the plan are domes, which we will use as green houses. One of them already exists, the other will be similar. On the south-west of the domes we’re planning already some compost toilets, which we hope we can begin in 2017, too. A little bit more in the south we found a place quite convenient for a windmill, but this is not one of the first priorities now.

As you see the street going at the bottom of the plan from left for the right and also going down for the north-east, you see that the site is not finished there. The site is much larger than what we painted, but it’s too big for us for now, so we concentrate on what we have.

For December/January we will work on the showers (left on the top) and the first two terraces. Our neighbor already began to build the small water tank on the bottom (“Waschplatz”), where we will also collect (rain) water and where will be the place to wash clothes.

The first wall – Part II

Finally we could begin to put our hands in the dirt 🙂

For the outer part of the wall we used about two parts of water, three parts of sieved loam, one part of sieved sand, about two buckets full of cut straw and about 200 ml of linseed oil and mixed it all together in our cement mixer.  As I wrote before we had made some tests to find out which mixes would be appropriate for our soil and our wall. If you want to work with loam, too, you will have to make your own tests and I suppose that you will have to use different quantities.

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A leaf of Agave on top of our water barrel

First you have to put some water, then slowly add the loam and wait until everything is dissolved. Just after this you can add the sand, the straw and the linseed oil. The linseed oil will make the wall a little water-repellent, when it’s dried out.

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The bottles fixed with some loam

The water we used, we had prepared 2 days before: We cut some leaves of an Agave and put it inside the water. With these leaves the water became a little sticky, which was useful when building the wall.

One day before we had mixed some loam, water and sand just to fix the bottles in the places, where we wanted to have them, in order that they wouldn’t move.

But how do you get the loam on the wall? Quite easy: You throw it as strong as possible 🙂

 

 

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Throwing loam on the wall

Ok, a big part of the loam will fall right through or splash back (and hit you), but the most was retained by the chicken wire and the reed.

It’s important always to put your fingers sometimes between the chicken wire and the reed to close the holes inside and to build up the whole wall all at once. Because if you’re waiting too long and the first part is already dried a little, it will be difficult to fix the next part on it.Still we sometimes had this problem and then we sprinkled the wall with water, before we went on with throwing.

After we had this done, we waited a few hours (which was a great time to go to the beach) and then formed out the symbols and forms, that we wanted to have. In our case it was a stylized tree and a lizard.

Then we had to let the wall dry. In this process, when the loam is shrinking, occur very much cracks, which we closed from time to time with a little loam until it was dried out. Finishing the outer wall needed about 2 days (including long siestas and swimming in the sea).

For the filling of the wall we used very much water, 2 parts of loam, 1.5 parts of sand and linseed oil. This mix really didn’t look very tasty… more like cow shit. But at least it didn’t have that smell 🙂

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The loam-baguettes

We put this mix on a plastic sheet, took a little long straw and rolled the straw inside the cow sh… inside the loam mix, until all the straw was wet and we had a kind of baguettes 😉 These baguettes we tramped with sticks between the finished outer wall and the chicken wire and the reed on the inner wall. As the baguette-wall was growing up, we had to close more and more the chicken wire and the reed on the inner wall. For this part of the wall we needed about 4 days.

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The finished outer wall, the infill with baguettes and the bottles

After this was finished, we made the completion of the outer wall, where we mixed 1.5 parts of very fine sieved loam, 1.5 parts of very fine sieved sand, about 500 g of lime and about 300 ml of linseed oil. This mix we put with some cloves (!) and sponges as a thin layer on top of the outer wall. It is used as a protection against erosion and makes the wall a little bit more stable. Normally you should wait about 2 weeks for this completion, but we made it after just 2 days, because we thought, it would be hot and windy enough to dry the wall out fast and because we didn’t have the time to wait for 2 weeks…

The inner wall was made in the same way like the outer wall and was decorated with some ornaments. We worked together with our guests for almost 2 weeks to finish the wall and we’re very happy we made it. The only tools we needed to make all of this were the cement machine, a saw, scissors, a drill, pliers, knives and hammers, some shovels, a wheelbarrow, a scaffold and a ladder, sponges and a reed stick.

And the most important: A good shower to wash away all this loam on your body 🙂

Now it’s protected of the rain by a plastic sheet until we come back and make the second wall. And here is how the wall looks like now:

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Outside with the tree and the lizard

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Inside with some ornaments (and our scaffold)