Being ruthless

I was letting these plants grow under the courtyard fig tree.  They had interesting foliage & tiny daisy type flowers – until – the flowers turned into a burr that disperses it’s seed on a sharp barb – porcupine style.  Now I’m encouraging everyone to pull it out & dispose of it in the green bin.IMG_4614IMG_4615IMG_4617  Anyone know it’s name?

Lasagna compost is ready for planting

The magic begins here

Even though I do this several times a week, setting the conditions for kitchen waste to become fertile soil is still the most amazing transformation.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a  layer of soil.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a layer of soil.

We planted nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos here last year, and it was cover-cropped with clover during the winter.  After another round of cover crops, how about some corn?  Will we get enough light? Not the best exposure, but let’s experiment

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

Now that I think about growing corn, i think i’ll toss in some lentils to boast the nitrogen in this cover-crop mix. I’m using “seeds” that we stock in the food lobby bulk room.

Visitors work in Ecovillage gardens

Visitors to the ecovillage are encouraged to help with our projects.

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ernesto (visitor) and irma (member) dug holes for potatoes in composted lower level site.  Potatoes will alternate with sunflowers for an interesting visual, and clover cover-crops will protect the ground while everything is growing.

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ellary planting fingerling potatoes (donated by george
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ernesto practiced hilling potatoes using un- composted straw from the hot compost bins. the large leaf pale green (fuzzy) plant is mullein.  It will send up a stalk with yellow flowers that bees love

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bulb out garden on Bimini.  revived by carol and irma last year; maintained by visitors: ellary, daniel, carla supervised by carol and watered by shaila.

 

Sunken garden construction courtyard, dec, 2014 – jan. 2015

This area of the courtyard gets scant sun from end of Nov., so what better time for garden construction? Motivated by recent draught and desire to conserve water, i’m experimenting with sinking the garden beds below the paths. i figure it’s like hair – if i don’t like the haircut, it’ll grow back in.

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02. one of the 18" holes at the "U" end of a bed that has just been "lasagna" composted for 12", keeping it 6" below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

02. one of the 18″ holes at the “U” end of a bed that has just been “lasagna” composted for 12″, keeping it 6″ below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

 

03.  1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material - the breathing tubes.  within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so il.

03. 1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material – the breathing tubes. within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so
il.

 

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12".

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12″.

 

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a "worm transplant" from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a “worm transplant” from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

 

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left). most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they're finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left).
most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they’re finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

 

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

 

08.  fingerling potatoe patch couldn't resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches.  composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6" below path.

08. fingerling potatoe patch
couldn’t resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches. composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6″ below path.

 

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation.  Lavenders, sages & rosemary - low water needs plants are planned.

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation. Lavenders, sages & rosemary – low water needs plants are planned.

 

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

DIY toilet top hand washing sink

toiletlidsink-bWhen you think of toilet water, you don’t necessarily associate it with clean hands, but the water flowing into the tank is not the same as the water sitting in your bowl. It’s much cleaner. In fact, it’s the same water that flows out of your sink faucets. So why not make use of this water before it gets dirty?

In Japan, most toilets are equipped with water saving features such as a little flush/big flush options and toilet lid sinks. This allows clean water to flow through a faucet before it fills your tank for your next flush.

Here in the states, you can buy a toilet lid sink, which is fairly pricey, or you can make one yourself for a small fraction of the cost. Here’s one that federico made with repurposed materials (see photo).

The Materials. We found the bowl at a local thrift store for $3.99. The wood for the lid was from a discarded piece of furniture donated by our friend Josh. The copper was harvested from an old broken refrigerator. We lined the bottom with rocks I had saved from an old lucky bamboo pot. The other parts (1/4″ plastic tubing, rubber rings, short pipe piece) were lying around from other projects. You can buy all of these parts fairly easily.

Because federico is pretty crafty, he didn’t follow any particular instructions to make this, but I did find a helpful how-to on Instructables here if you want to make your own.

Here are a few photos of the building process.

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Federico drilled a hole at the bottom of the metal bowl and attached a short pipe.

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He cut a piece of wood into the same shape as the original lid, and attached a piece of plastic to hold the lid in place. He drilled 2 holes in the lid — one for the copper tube which serves as the faucet and the other in which to nest the metal washbasin’s drain.

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Here’s the inside of the toilet tank. Federico detached the beige tube that directed the incoming water into filling the bowl. He then attached a 1/4″ tube to divert the clean water and attached the other end of the tube to the copper faucet.


And here’s a video of the water saving device in action. Happy flushing!