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Gravel Pit Reclamation  RSS feed

 
Thomas Crinstam
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Hello all,

We are about to be moving to a property that was an old gravel pit. We will be starting with a trailer/rv and a 24x60 greenhouse.

After getting things set up, we will be starting on a compressed earth block machine along the lines of Open Source Ecology's GVCS.

From there, we want to build into the banks around the pit. They are mostly sand on an angle of 60 degrees or so (maybe a bit more), so I'm not sure how to do it without destroying the tops of the banks, something that I want to avoid.

I was thinking of driving stakes down above the area I want to put a building, and hope that if the top can't slide, the bank won't cave... I'm pretty sure that isn't a good idea though... lol

Trying to 'mine' into the bank, putting up supports as I go was another thought, but seems like it would be more work making the space for the building then the actual building, and then how would I collapse it back so it was covering the buildings without causing the whole thing to cave?

I have access to a backhoe/loader to do the digging.

Each building wouldn't be deep into the banks, in between 16 and 20 feet. The idea is that we'll build each one as time permits, with the front face just sticking out from the bank, and later on (a long time away) build a connecting hallway/deck connecting them all.

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies, Thomas I don't know anything about this stuff, but I was reminded of this thread
 
Thomas Crinstam
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Thanks for that, interesting read.

Lol, completely unrelated to my main issue, but was more then worth the time to read.

Our starting situation is a lot better then theirs was. We have about 3 acres that is forest that's been there for decades.

Let's see if I can paint this with words

The property is a bit over 6 acres. The front of the property, likely about 3 acres worth, is forested with maples, pines, birch among other species, likely 40 or 50 years worth of growth.

The banks around the pit, which takes up the other part of the property, range from 100' to 15' high. The main 'floor' of the pit, is on the same level as the road and driveway, the banks go up around it.

In the floor of the pit, there are a couple of deeper pits that have filled in with water. The main one is at around 15 feet deep, the secondary one is at least 6 deep... I say at least, because we don't know yet, we didn't wade into them to check.

There are already weeds, grasses and shrubs coming up in the pit, although it is still fairly clear.

The water in the ponds is clear and teeming with life. Frogs, both normal and bull abound.

What I call the secondary pond will actually be more of the focus of where we start, as we will be parking the trailer on the north side of it, so we will be looking out over it from the trailer. The greenhouse will be going over the trailer, have a wood cook stove inside it, an indoor chicken coop (for the winter) and work area.

The greenhouse is 24'x60' so there will be enough room left over for a work area that is protected in the winter (and rain), as well as planters, both permanent and for starting plants in spring.

It is really well recovered around it, with growing ground cover grasses, shrubs and bushes.

The front part of the property will be fenced off with electric fencing and we will have a cow (dexter or jersey) and her calves) wandering around there. Our chickens will be paddocked in a part of the pit that is part of the drainage of it and the area above. It is virtually unusable for anything else as it would have to have a lot of fill in it to make it level, for the chickens it will be great as it has lots growing in it and water running through it.

For garden beds, we will be building raised beds and filling them with strawbales and planting in them the first planting year (next spring). The following year, we will have lots of compost to mix into the straw that is remaining in the beds.

As far as all that goes, we are pretty well set to do it, have what we need and know how to do it. If we wanted, we could just build in a different manner and not worry about the issues of the bank sliding, just plant is with grasses and let it settle as it wishes.

However The idea of have the house built in a long narrow wrap around fashion with the center of the gravel pit as the 'courtyard' really appeals to me lol

The deeper pit, would end up having a cantilevered floor/deck, over the edge of it, with some steps going down into it. It's deep enough not to freeze to the bottom, so we can stock it with some fish as another food source.

I just need a way to hold back the banks of the pit when digging into them to build the house.



 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Butchart Gardens is the #1 tourist destination on Vancouver Island. It started out as a stone quarry and has evolved over the past century. It's a huge reclamation success story.
 
Daniel Morse
Posts: 265
Location: SW Michigan
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Dude, I used to work in a gravel pit. This sounds more like a sand pit. Local term. Shifting soil can be very, very dangerous. Be carfull. Having been trapped in shifting soil I know. There is little chance of survival if help is not asap. Be careful. Mother Nature warned you with the shifting soil. Like a snake with a rattle.

A hobbit house in dirt is great. I would build by the hill and just pull some down over you, so to say. That way your not tunneling. Once again a very dangerous thing to do. This I can not stress. Check your local geology. Do you have fault zones around you? What about flooding also. How is local drainage? Just saying.

The water should be tested just to be safe. We have a pit not far by Niles, MI not far from where I am. These people bought it and were developing it to make into a recreational park. Long story short, the site was once used for waste dumping from many, many well know companies up untill the 50's. The water is pure poison. The pits were often used to dump more than bodies in, lol.

I always thought the kids from that side of town were weird. We were not allowed to hang out over there, hmmmm? Grandma knew something?

There is an idea of tenting valleys on Mars and colonizing. I think you have a wonderful opportunity. Good luck.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Thomas, totally unrelated! Duh
I think my brain got stuck on the words "gravel pit"...
 
Daniel Morse
Posts: 265
Location: SW Michigan
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Liela, I am lost. He is building in a gravel pit and doing stuff. Did I miss something?
 
Did Steve tell you that? Fuh - Steve. Just look at this tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/wiki/48625/digital-market/digital-market/Mike-Oehler-Cost-Underground-House
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