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Aaron Tusmith

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since Jan 08, 2018
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earthworks greening the desert ungarbage
Western Idaho
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Recent posts by Aaron Tusmith

Glad to hear you are quitting smoking. It is one thing you will not regret. I quit last February and I actually started a thread here on permies titled Quitting Smoking as well. I smoked for 13 years and used nicotine gum and lozenges. One thing I can advise is to tell a lot of people that you're quitting both in person and here on the forum because for me, it created a sense of accountability in that I like to stick to my word. Saying that I was quitting meant that I had to do what I said I was going to do. Either way, quitting is possible and you are going to succeed.
3 days ago
the title of this post had me intrigued... I thought i was going to be about using bed sheets as mulch. Still I am in a bit of a desert climate myself and I am always interested in other's success stories. I will be furthering my approach to making things grow in the spring and eventually will be implementing some sunken bed methods as well. Best of luck.
1 month ago
The holidays are the hardest, definitely in the same boat. A fun thing I tried this year was weighing myself before Thanksgiving dinner and then weighing myself after I could eat no more. It is interesting to see the instant weight gain actually. Either way I really enjoy the holidays but as a person who tries to stay fit, the food culture that comes with the holidays makes it hard to stick with your healthy eating habits. Oh and at my weigh in after dinner on thursday I had put on eight pounds! ahh!
1 month ago
Ok, now I'm home at the computer. Since sometime in May I have been treating this floor like it was a standard plywood subfloor. I just figured if there was any damage I would cob it over. I can say that it is very durable and I would probably use this method again but improve on my execution. I'll try and answer questions that came up and explain my logic in this project. I gathered all of these cans from local restaurants over several months. I just approached them and told them I could use them for a building project and weekly I would come by and pick up a garbage bag full. With my floor, a couch, or bedposts or something heavy with legs would probably create a depression over time but I would bet that a 3 inch cob layer with an oil-hardened finish would stop that from happening with typical floor use. I think the trick in using cans in this way is to tamp and compress a lot before the floor is completely dry. If I had done this (which I did not), the floor would be in much better shape than it is. My theory is that if you dont give the cans anywhere to go then they wont move. Essentially this means tamping out any and all air pockets. At most I am able to work on the cabin 3 days a week during decent weather, so I missed the ideal windows of tamping because by the time I would get back the floor would be too dry. All I was going for anyway was a level-ish surface to work on so I could complete other interior projects in the cabin more easily. All in all my reasoning for this method was that I would either have to purchase more lumber and frame in a floor or I would have to mix up a ton more cob to make up for the volume that the cans take up. So, if we accept ideal building conditions as a given; that is -quality clay, plenty of straw, plenty of help, a few screes, a laser level and a reasonable timeline then I think this method works very well. Also, make sure the cans are clean because there were tiny little ants early on in the season. I washed all of these with soap and water but it seemed apparent that I missed a few spots.

In some areas I set the cans too high and the top layer of cob was too thin. This let to cracking but still it was functional as a floor. In other areas if the cans were set too high then I just lowered them by beating them down with a hammer. It was the quickest way, then I just poured more cob and leveled it of best as I could. In one particular area I beat the cans too much and there ended up a large depression -still fixable however.
2 months ago
It just so happens I am at the property today and tomorrow, I was working outside all day and didn't see the recent activity on this thread. So I'll write up a quick update and then take some pics tomorrow to post. I finished the floor back in May and once it was dry enough to walk on without leaving a depression I just treated it like a regular floor, or subfloor rather. At this point I intend to add several additional inches of cob to be sure it will withstand future use but with as little one inch of cob in some areas it is surprisingly durable. I insulated the ceiling all summer and the floor held up great under the ladder in every spot I put it in. Note also I did all of this solo so a two person crew could really make it an effective use of materials. More updates tomorrow, I'm writing this on my phone and its taking forever, thanks everyone!
2 months ago
Also it is good to consider what you will be covering the interior and exterior walls with. If your on-site material contains a low amount of clay as it is you might have difficulty in creating an earthen plaster which is an ideal application to straw-clay walls mainly for managing moisture. Gerry is right in that very little clay is needed in getting straw clay (slipstraw) to hold its form but it sounds like you might run into more trouble coming up with enough clay for your plasters and finish work. Still it is possible to have functional plasters with lower clay content than desirable but in that case it is more important that they remain dry as they are not as durable.
2 months ago
This is a close-up of a batch of black locust seeds I processed this morning. They look very cool with their different sizes, colors, and patters, seeds are amazing.
2 months ago
Thank you I will definitely give that a try!
2 months ago
Living in a ski town I get so ski, besides that I do a lot of prepping and planning for the spring. Sprouting seeds, nursing seedlings mainly along with doing research on permaculture. I also do a lot of brainstorming on the future of the property I'm working on. I am in an apartment so my indoor project capacities are limited but over the long winter here I am able to approach projects that by nature take a long time.
2 months ago
Does anyone have any methods they have used successfully in germinating the seeds from the russian olive tree? Hard freezes have just begun to occur here and I have collected some "olives" I would like to cultivate indoors over the winter to plant in the spring. I have read some about scarification and then stratification -in the fridge for three months. If that's the way to do it I will but I would like to begin now if possible. Either way I would appreciate any info on growing the russian olive from seed, thanks in advance!
2 months ago