Shed 2.0

It was a long time in the planning but we finally completed our shed addition.

The new addition is also 8’x12′ for a total size of 16’x12′. The new addition will now be a workshop ( with a level workspace ), and the original shed will be for storage.

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Papercrete Brick

Here’s a follow-up to our DIY Papercrete Brick Press.

Our mix (by volume) was 3:1
(3) shredded office paper (newspaper works well also) Soak your paper for at least one day.
(1) Portland cement
Add water as needed. Make your mix a little drier than oatmeal or experiment with it until you get the consistency you like.

Press form block (interior dimensions)
W: 5-1/2″
D: 5-1/2″
L: 12″

Papercrete block dimensions (after drying)
W: 5-3/8″ (loss of -1/8″)
D: 4-1/2″ (loss of -1″ due to compression)
L: 11-5/8″ (loss of -3/8″)

Final brick dry weight
4.8 lbs
2.2 kg

It was hard to say exactly how long it took to completely dry since we had it in the house (cold/wet weather during our test) but we figure it would take 3-4 days in warm/hot sunny weather, turning it twice a day.

It is very sturdy, light and hopefully a good building material.

Our next building test will be on latex concrete roofs and wall panels.

Stay tuned for that.

Earth Oven

We had always wanted to build an earth oven, so while our friend Michael was here, he took the reins and built us a great earth oven.

The basic shape of the oven sculpted out of sand.

The clay/dirt/sand mix forming the oven.

After removing the front door brick mold, the inside mold of additional bricks and lava rock are removed.

Fitting the oven door. Additional clay was used to finish the oval shape on the top of the door.

Firing up the oven for the first time to dry it out and cure the clay mix.

We added a quick roof cover which will be covered with shingles for when the weather turns.

Preheating the oven for baking bread with twigs and small sticks. It took 2 hours to reach about 400-500 degrees. (That’s a guess)

Removing the ashes before putting in the bread dough. We made an ash rake and a handy ash catcher to simplify the work.

Here is our test loaf. We crafted a quick handmade peel out of a 1″ x 6″ board. This peel pictured is just a piece of cardboard… which also worked fine for the job.

Placing the loaf into the oven. We baked it for 25 minutes.

Here is our first loaf baked to perfection.

A shot of our homemade peel with a mini pizza on it for a quick snack.

The oven stayed warm enough 5 hours after baking to make rice pudding in it. This will save us a lot of money on using propane for baking.

An excellent book on building your own Earth Oven is Build Your Own Earth Oven.

Summer eclectic

Summer is in full swing here at the homestead. Here are some photos of what we’ve been up to lately.

First Layer of papercrete on the earthbag dome

It was a battle to get the first base layer up during all of the rain we had a few weeks ago, but we managed to finish, and learned a lot for when we apply the second layer at the end of July.

Our PVC skylights finally have a glass cover on them.

The Garden of Eatin’

Our garden as a whole is 85% completed, and 95% planted. This season’s garden is five times bigger than last season.

Here are some of the kids who have made an appearance so far.

The tomatoes are off to a good start.

Our onions are happy campers.

Potatoes are starting up.

The walking onions are strutting their stuff.

The horseradish is growing like gang-busters.

There will be more of what we planted as they come up.. stay tuned.

And the greenhouse has three varieties of cucumbers… Parisian Pickling, Cucumber Delikatess, and Suyo Long. We also have some Zucchini, Crimson Sweet Watermelon,  Valencia Winter Melon, and Kazakh Melons.

Planting Siberian Pea-shrubs

We also planted 300 Siberian Pea-shrub seeds along our road, and around 300 seeds in a bed to grow for root stocks that will be replanted next Spring around the property.

Outdoor Shower

We also put together our outdoor shower. This year we built it out of pallets We still have to install the glass windows at the top, and we’ll be adding pine shakes to the interior and exterior with our froe, and some spiffy floor tiles.

We connected two five gallon buckets and spray painted them black to heat up better in the sun.

We cut a hole in one of the bucket lids and inserted a section of garden hose in it with the connector on the ground for easier access to the garden hose.

The makeshift shower head which works really great.

DIY Solar Night Light

And… made a sconce out of a wire hanger to hold a pair of solar garden lights to add a night light inside… simple and functional.

More to come later.

Running Water

We’re in town briefly today to clean up and finish our final packing… but we hooked up our water system at the property yesterday, a big plus. We used an RV water pump, and a 30 gallon water tank hooked up to a sink and shower head. Here are some pix.

Cleaning out the sink.

The filter, the accumulator, and the pump. We’ll run this on a 12 volt battery until the solar system is set up.

The shower head in our outdoor shower.

DIY Storage Shed

Here are the photos of our new shed we completed last week… from start to finish.



Neither of us have ever done a project like this before, so it was a good learning experience. We insulated the ceiling and walls (no photos of that). We added a tarp to the front for an outdoor cooking area, and moved our outdoor shower and latrine to the East side of the shed.

Building this was not without it’s challenges, but I’ll spare you the details. It’s functional, secure, water-tight, and completed. What more can you ask for?