Mandy Miller

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since Jun 30, 2012
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Recent posts by Mandy Miller

About two weeks ago I bought a steam mop just to kill weeds growing in the paving stone paths and driveway.

So far it is working great on bindweed and all other greenstuff but I have to see if the bindweed will re-sprout.

When I lived in the UK my neighbor's husband once dug down 4 feet to try to get to the main branch of bindweed and he said the root was like a tree root at that depth and still had roots coming off that!

I know when you hand pull bindweed even a little bit of green stalk that falls off or the tiniest root left in the ground will regow.

That same neighbor tried bleach and that did not work.

Her best solution for weeds was clear plastic laid over the troublesome area. Under clear plastic the seeds germinate also (sterilizing) and at some point everything will die off due to heat or lack of water.

Will try to remember to update the outcome of steam on bindweed..
4 years ago

Your reply is music to my ears.

I was planning on the lime plaster, just need to find a good recipe now.

Before I begin on the house I am going to build a garden wall to get a better feel for handling the materials/plaster.

I'm fortunate to have a quarry a few blocks down the road that has an unlimited supply of scoria in all shapes and sizes at $60 a truck load.

Ideally I wanted to build with Hemp/Lime but the cost was too high, and the labor too intensive (I'm a 58 year old female). While researching the hemp house I found lots of references to Roman Concrete, and the idea stuck in my mind that if I filled the bags with Scoria/Pozzolan/Lime/Hemp Hurds, and then plastered the bags with a lime based plaster the result would be the bags may 'fossilize' over time?

Plans are starting to come into focus now, and it's getting very exciting...

Thanks for replying, it is sincerely appreciated.

5 years ago

Does anyone know what is involved in maintaining an earthbag house once finished?

Do you have to re-plaster the whole house every few years or once plastered is that it?

I am on the verge of building but would like to know how long the dwelling will last (Temperate Desert area) and how much labor and cost will need to go in the upkeep of the home in the years ahead.

Thanks for any help...
5 years ago
Just thought I would post here in case anyone would be interested.

Idaho, South Central. The soil is good with PH7, and there is drip irrigation for the whole 5 acres plus. The land has had no chemicals on it for 14 years, and there is water rights.

Property is open to sale in the future, and the adjoining neighbors acres are also available for lease or sale (1 x 5 acres parcel with water rights, and 1 x 2 acre parcel with no water but canal along back line).

Seems like a great opportunity with most of the infrastructure in place. Just ready to go!!!

Here is the link:
6 years ago
***UPDATE*** I'm the Original Poster (OP) had to re-register...

South Central Idaho (Cold/Dry/Windy/Dry/Hot). In one word TOUGH.

Wow, what a learning curve. Three years later we have a grant for; a 20' x 200' high tunnel, a four row windbreak around the five acres, and drip irrigation for the windbreak and two production acres.

My sole income for the last three years has been from seed sales.

What I have learned, and what we have done:

The alfalfa is still with us and thriving without any help which we are grateful for (Ph 7).

Growing for market is rocket science and hard work... "Know what your customers want and provide it".

Voles!!! They love masses of vegetation, drip irrigation lines, and something to grind their teeth on... Mow and weed round precious plants, keep a 15' clear perimeter from any future vole entry points, and a hosepie down the holes with a mouse catching dog can win those vole battles... Castor oil works for a short while and is expensive. Take action as soon as vole habitation is present.

Comfrey, Nettle, and Borage are great fertilizers.

French Tarragon and Alfalfa are the toughest plants I have grown naturally (without irrigation or care). Sage, Thyme, and Oregano come in second, and then Lactuca virosa (which I have stands for production... amazing medicinal plant) Other plants growing well here with some water are; Kale, Collards, Brusell's Sprouts, Upland Cress, Radishes, Carrots, SPINACH, Serviceberry, Chokecherry, Goosberry, Rasberry, Austrian Pine, Blue Flax, Yarrow, Mexican Hat, Coneflower, Cherry, Pears,.... and others.

The Chinese Elm is invasive in the places I water but I have decided to let it grow because it wants to so much (almost impossible to catch it in time to pull it up from the roots) and then when it inhibits growing space and outgrows its shade use I mercilesly cut it down and used it as wood chippings for mulch.

This project is challenging but extremely rewarding.

My intention is to grow as many edible and beneficial plants as possible with the least amount of input possible. If it wants to grow I let it. Careful watching and noting what likes to grow where, and what impact it has, gives me a good idea of what to plant when and where. Creating micro climates with plants, and planting specific species at specific times, in specific places can work wonders. The practice seems best starting at micro levels and working out to bigger areas because I do not have enough knowledge of swales and heavy earth moving to do a thorough groundwork right now... I can see in the future, years of hard work will have to be bulldozed to create the right pockets but for now just learning is enough. But at my age 56 and looking 20 years into the future, I just hope all this hard thinking has a positive and beneficial impact for future generations.

Still on the learning roller coaster!!!

Best share what we learn.

Oh, and for small, impossible patches of clay... a bag of dried beet fodder for cattle or horses dumped in a pile and left to winter will bring in enzymes, beneficial microbial beings, and start a wonderful break-down recovery, as will potatoes left in...

8 years ago