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Stuart Smith

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since Mar 01, 2015
Tuscany, Italy
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Recent posts by Stuart Smith

Hi Andy,

We've just got to that time of year when we need to start using our E580 again.

I have to say that after thinking long and hard about our purchase due to the cost of these stoves that we've nnever looked back.

As for the 1-1.5 degree drop in adjacent rooms we don't find we get quite that performance aand it depends on the layout of your house too of course but I can tell that compared to our old cast iron stove all other rooms in the house are about three degrees warmer with the E580 and our wood consumption hhas reduced by about two thirds if not more.

I think the bigger stoves retain heat for much longer than the smaller E580 due to all that extra mass, but for our house the E580 is as big as is practicable and still retains heat ffor hours, in fact the moment we let our old stove drop in temperature, even before we let it go out we would feel the cold, often with the E580 we let it burn out some time before going to bed as the temp only slowly lowers.

Hope this helps you make your decision, if you want more info just ask.

7 months ago
😂 sorry Dan, maybe the name was uneccessary.

Yes, basically it never digests, doesn't mmatter how much activator or what sort I put down there it just floats, fills, and then wants to back up, which it did to us a couple of years ago.

I can only think that the state our is in means there is zero digesting.

I helped a friend locate his tank recently, he bought a house four years ago and hadn't yet found the tank, when we did and opened it up I was not greeted with the same horror sshiw we have but a happily digesting tank, without doubt a fair sludge layer on the bottom but the top was clear.

7 months ago
Hi all, back looking for some more awesome and much needed help!

We have inherited a plastic IMHOF biological tank for our black water treatment at our farmhouse in Italy, it was installed by the previous owner about ten years ago.

It seems to my basic knowledge that the tank isn't working as it should as there is always a thick layer of ERM...crap on the top of the water sandwiched between the top of the tank and the water level and at varying levels of decay I guess, the older stuff at the very top almost black and soil like, this layer being around four inches in all.

The tank is dug into the ground BUT the top is exposed to the Italian weather, including very hot summers, is this killing any bacteria inside and therefore giving us our problem?

Looking forward to your replies and thanks in advance.

7 months ago
it really does seem to be the wonder plant that it's made out to be!!

we found a company with a large nursery an hour away growing this stuff, I think they're one of only two in Italy doing so right now, when we spent €400 with them last year they were full of praise for the plant which immediately put me on the back foot, felt it was all too good to be true and they were rying to pull the wool over my eyes and take the money from my pocket!

alas...seems not!

those videos are great Michael thanks, the splitting seems easy enough so will be giving that a go, the resulting slips seem exactly like what we purchased as plugs last September, we also saw up four inches of growth on the plants before temps dropped too low, now they're all straw coloured, we were told this would happen over winter so looking forward to seeing what happens in spring!
1 year ago
Hi Michael, sounds like you know plenty about vetiver!! Do tell me more about propagation 🙏
1 year ago
Thanks for the reply CK, a lot to think about there.

My first thoughts are how to firstly rid the area of bramble and black locust sufficiently.

Woody debris might be an idea, I had tried to make an intermediate terrace on each bank by hammering in vertical posts and building a wall of trunks behind but couldn't get posts in far enough because of the stone!

No water logging here, drains pretty well fortunately although the valley we are in is quite high risk for landslides, there are a small number every winter, thinks there is a bit of clay around and about which probably doesn't help.

Will upload some more photos when I'm at my computer 👍
1 year ago
Funny you should mention Vetiver Michael, we planted 200 alongside our driveway to the house in late summer, we're waiting to see how they cope with the winter before buying anymore, at €2.80 per plant it soon gets expensive and given the number we need for this part of the land I think prohibitively expensive...we will see how the first planting grows however 👍
1 year ago
Hi Bengi,

I too like the idea of stone filled gabion cages but the price I think would be just too high for the amount we would need, we have for terraces, each around 2.5 metres high and 25 metres long, having just looked at the cost of a single cage we would need to remortgage!/ 😂
1 year ago
Hi S Bengi and thanks for the reply!

yes, thankfully the banks are not anything like vertical, we have that in our favour.

we would like to avoid having to walk all over our veg beds every few weeks to cut the plant life growing on the banks in future, it's a lot of extra work each month on top of what we already have to do and we're bound to destroy our precious crops by doing so.

I might steal your haybale/mushroom combo idea for another part of the land though ;-)
1 year ago
Hello all,

Been a while, do apologise but had a lot going on over here in rural Italy since last visit.

My next concern that i'm looking for some sage advice on is our old terracing.

Our old farmhouse sit sin the middle of a steep hillside, full of sand stone i might add!

around the house is terracing (I will try and find some photos for you all), behind is partly an olive grove and in good condition, the empty space we're re-planting with more olive and some fruit and nut trees but below the house is another story.

When we bought the house we thought there was just a slope below as that is what it looked like, a slope covered in 8 feet of spiny bramble!

We cleared this rubbish after much blood, sweat and tears and now have a veg garden down there to make use of gravity to irrigate and free water! but the banks are in poor shape and the soil very soft until you hit bits of rock that is.

For the moment we have covered the entire area in landscape fabric for two reasons, firstly so that we don't have to try and dance around the vegeatbles every month to cut the bramble that regrows, and also to stop the huge amounts of rain we get here from washing away the terraces.

For my mind I have two solutions but am here because i trust you guys more than my own engineering ability

So i think it's either gabbions with stone (we have stone, although would need some work to move it) or polypropylene earthbags, what are your thoughts guys and gals?

Thanks i advance! Stuart.
1 year ago