Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good Morning Varmland or The First Day At School

This was the first day at school. The study of self-sufficiency has officialy started. Today it was all about introduction and all people are just great fun. I mean what kind of people study slef-sufficiency? :) They must be one of a kind ;)
The sky at 6:30 this morning was breathtaking ... or maybe Im just being too poetic here he he... 
So much for today, Im tired and cant wait for the bread to be ready in the oven so to go to bed and SLEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPpppppppppsssssssss......

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Garbage Warrior

Imagine a home that heats itself, that provides its own water, hat grows its own food. Imagine that it needs no expensive technology, that it recycles its own waste, that it has its own power source.
And now imagine that it can be built anywhere, by anyone, out of the things society throws away. Thirty years ago, architect Michael Reynolds imagined just such a home – then set out to build it.
A visionary in the classic American mode, Reynolds has been fighting ever since to bring his concept to the public. He believes that in an age of ecological instability and impending natural disaster, his buildings can – and will – change the way we live.
Shot over three years in the USA, India and Mexico, Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary film telling the epic story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds, his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living.
A snapshot of contemporary geo-politics and an inspirational tale of triumph over bureaucracy, Garbage Warrior is above all an intimate portrait of an extraordinary individual and his dream of changing the world.

A World Without Water

As less and less water is available, you have yet another problem being added and that is the problem of privatization. There are companies now saying why don’t we bottle it, mine it, divert it, sell it, commodify it. That greed of privatization, I believe, will be much worse than climate change and everything else that has left us with the water crisis. The world is running out of its most precious resource. True Vision’s timely film tells of the personal tragedies behind the mounting privatisation of water supplies.
More than a billion people across the globe don’t have access to safe water. Every day 3900 children die as a result of insufficient or unclean water supplies. The situation can only get worse as water gets evermore scarce.

10 Things You Can Do To Help Save The Bee

Bees are in trouble, and it is mostly because of us. We have destroyed much of their
natural habitat, we have poisoned their food and in the case of honeybees, we have
used and abused them for our own purposes while not giving enough attention to their
needs and welfare.
Honeybees have been evolving for a very long time – the fossil record goes back at least
100 million years – and they became remarkably successful due to their adaptability to
different climates, varied flora and their tolerance of many shapes and sizes of living
accommodation. They became attractive to humans because of their unique ability to
produce useful things, apparently out of thin air: honey, wax and propolis.
Until the nineteenth century, they were kept in pots, skeps, baskets and a variety of
wooden boxes intended more-or-less to imitate their natural habitat of choice, the
hollow tree. With the invention of the 'movable frame' hive, the second half of that
century saw an exponential growth in commercial-scale beekeeping, and by the time
motor vehicles became widely available, beekeeping on a widespread and industrial
scale became a practical possibility.
Since then, bees have been treated in rather the same way as battery hens: routinely
dosed with antibiotics and miticides in an effort to keep them producing, despite the
growing problems of diseases and parasites and insecticide-treated plants that have led
to the emergence of so-called 'Colony Collapse Disorder', especially in the massive beefarming operations in the USA.
It doesn't have to be like this. Some beekeepers have realized that, if bees are to
become healthy enough to develop resistance to disease and the ability to adapt to
pests, then they have to be treated differently – and not just by beekeepers.
Here are some things you can do to help the bees:
1. Stop using insecticides - especially for 'cosmetic' gardening
There are better ways of dealing with pests - especially biological controls. Modern
pesticides are extremely powerful and many are long-lasting and very toxic to bees and
other insects. Removing all unnecessary pesticides from the environment is probably
the single most important thing we can do to help save the bees.
2. Create your own Bee-Friendly Zone
By doing two simple things – avoiding synthetic insecticides and herbicides, and creating
habitat by planting bee-friendly flowers – you can create a Bee-Friendly Zone as small as
a windowbox or as big as a public park, a whole village or neighbourhood. See for details.
3. Read the labels on garden compost - beware hidden killers!
Some garden and potting composts are on sale that contain Imidacloprid - a deadly
insecticide manufactured by Bayer. It is often disguised as 'vine weevil protection' or
similar, but it is highly toxic to all insects and all soil life, including beneficial
earthworms. The insecticide is taken up by plants, and if you use this compost in
hanging baskets, bees seeking water from the moist compost may be killed.

4. Create natural habitat
If you have space in your garden, let some of it go wild to create a safe haven for bees
and other insects and small mammals. Gardens that are too tidy are not so wildlifefriendly.
5. Plant bee-friendly flowers
You can buy wildflower seeds from many seed merchants, and they can be sown in any
spare patch of ground - even on waste ground that is not being cultivated. Some 'guerilla
gardeners' even plant them in public parks and waste ground.
6. Provide a site for beehives
If you have some space to spare, you could offer a corner of your garden to a local
beekeeper as a place to keep a hive or two. They will need to have regular access, so
bear this in mind when considering a site.
7. Make a wild bee house
Providing a simple box as a place for feral bees to set up home is one step short of
taking up beekeeping, but may appeal to those who want to have bees around but don't
want to get involved with looking after them.
8. Support your local beekeepers
Many people believe that local honey can help to reduce the effects of hayfever and
similar allergies, which is one good reason to buy honey from a local beekeeper rather
than from supermarkets, most of which source honey from thousands of miles away. If
you can, find a beekeeper who does not use any chemicals in their hives and ask for pure
comb honey for a real treat.
9. Learn about bees - and tell others
Bees are fascinating creatures that relatively few people take the trouble to understand.
Read a good book about bees and beekeeping, and who knows - you might decide to -
10. Become a beekeeper
It is easier than you might imagine to become a beekeeper - and you don't need any of
the expensive equipment in the glossy catalogues! Everything you need to keep bees
successfully can be made by anyone with a few simple tools: if you can put up a shelf,
you can probably build a beehive!
Free Plans To Build and Easy Inexpensive Beehive

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Veggie Village - Stop In The Middle

Short film about how Veggie Village Community Garden at Peregian Beach started and what you can do if you 'Stop in the middle'.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Human Urine - an effective agricultural fertilizer

"Agricultural and health organizations should encourage people to use human urine as a fertilizer," Heinonen-Tanski concluded in the paper, especially in areas where wastewater treatment is unavailable or ineffective.

Researchers say our liquid waste not only promotes plant growth as well as industrial mineral fertilizers, but also would save energy used on sewage treatment.

"It is totally possible to use human urine as a fertilizer instead of industrial fertilizer," says Heinonen-Tanski, whose research group has also used urine to cultivate cucumbers, cabbage and tomatoes. Recycling urine as fertilizer could not only make agriculture and wastewater treatment more sustainable in industrialized countries, the researchers say, but also bolster food production and improve sanitation in developing countries.

Stored Human Urine Supplemented with Wood Ash as Fertilizer in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Cultivation and Its Impacts on Fruit Yield and Quality

This study evaluates the use of human urine and wood ash as fertilizers for tomato cultivation in a greenhouse. Tomatoes were cultivated in pots and treated with 135 kg of N/ha applied as mineral fertilizer, urine + ash, urine only, and control (no fertilization). The urine fertilized plants produced equal amounts of tomato fruits as mineral fertilized plants and 4.2 times more fruits than nonfertilized plants. The levels of lycopene were similar in tomato fruits from all fertilization treatments, but the amount of soluble sugars was lower and Cl− was higher in urine + ash fertilized tomato fruits. The β-carotene content was greater and the NO3− content was lower in urine fertilized tomato fruits. No enteric indicator microorganisms were detected in any tomato fruits. The results suggest that urine with/without wood ash can be used as a substitute for mineral fertilizer to increase the yields of tomato without posing any microbial or chemical risks.

From Wikipedia the Free Enciclopedia;
Main article: Fertilizer
Urine contains large quantities of nitrogen (mostly as urea), as well as significant quantities of dissolved phosphates and potassium, the main macronutrients required by plants, with urine having plant macronutrient percentages (i.e. NPK) of approximately 11-1-2 by one study[20] or 15-1-2 by another report,[21] illustrating that exact composition varies with diet. Undiluted, it can chemically burn the roots of some plants, but it can be used safely as a source of complementary nitrogen in carbon-rich compost.[22]
When diluted with water (at a 1:5 ratio for container-grown annual crops with fresh growing medium each season,[23] or a 1:8 ratio for more general use[22]), it can be applied directly to soil as a fertilizer. The fertilization effect of urine has been found to be comparable to that of commercial fertilizers with an equivalent NPK rating.[24] Urine contains most (94% according to Wolgast[20]) of the NPK nutrients excreted by the human body. Conversely, concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, commonly found in solid human waste, are much lower in urine (though not low enough to qualify for use in organic agriculture under current EU rules).[25] The more general limitations to using urine as fertilizer then depend mainly on the potential for buildup of excess nitrogen (due to the high ratio of that macronutrient),[23] and inorganic salts such as sodium chloride, which are also part of the wastes excreted by the renal system. The degree to which these factors impact the effectiveness depends on the term of use, salinity tolerance of the plant, soil composition, addition of other fertilizing compounds, and quantity of rainfall or other irrigation.
Urine typically contains 70% of the nitrogen and more than half the phosphorus and potassium found in urban waste water flows, while making up less than 1% of the overall volume. Thus far, source separation, or urine diversion and on-site treatment has been implemented in South Africa, China, and Sweden among other countries with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided some of the funding implemenations.[26] China – in 2003 reportedly had 685,000 operating source separation toilets spread out among 17 provinces [27]
"Urine management" is a relatively new way to view it and close the cycle of agricultural nutrient flows, to reduce sewage treatment costs, reduce ecological consequences such as eutrophication, and reduce the influx of nutrient rich effluent into aquatic or marine ecosystems.[21] Proponents of urine as a natural source of agricultural fertilizer claim the risks to be negligible or acceptable. Their views seem to be backed by research showing there are more environmental problems when it is treated and disposed of compared with when it is used as a resource.[28]
It is unclear whether source separation, urine diversion, and on-site treatment of urine can be made cost effective, and to what degree the required behavioral changes would be regarded as socially acceptable, as the largely successful trials performed in Sweden may not readily generalize to other industrialized societies.[24] In developing countries, the application of pure urine to crops is rare, but the use of whole raw sewage (termed night soil) has been common throughout history. However, there are more calls for urine's use as a fertilizer such as a Scientific American article "Human urine is an effective fertilizer".[29]

Quote From the Energetic Forum;

What’s in urine?
Urine, 95% of which is water, 2.5% of which is urea, and 2.5% of which is a mixture of minerals, salts, hormones, and enzymes, is not a toxic waste product. Urine is a blood byproduct and though it contains some body waste, it is non-toxic. In 1975, Dr. A.H. Free, published his book Urinalysis in Clinical Laboratory Practice, in which he presents a few critical nutrients found in urine:

Alanine, total ..... 38 mg/day
Arginine, total ..... 32 mg/day
Ascorbic acid ..... 30 mg/day
Allantoin ..... 12 mg/day
Amino acids, total ..... 2.1 g/day
Bicarbonate ..... 140 mg/day
Biotin ..... 35 mg/day
Calcium ..... 23 mg/day
Creatinine ..... 1.4 mg/day
Cystine ..... 120 mg/day
Dopamine ..... 0.40 mg/day
Epinephrine ..... 0.01 mg/day
Folic acid ..... 4 mg/day
Glucose ..... 100 mg/day
Glutamic acid ..... 308 mg/day
Glycine ..... 455 mg/day
Inositol ..... 14 mg/day
Iodine ..... 0.25 mg/day
Iron ..... 0.5 mg/day
Lysine, total ..... 56 mg/day
Magnesium ..... 100 mg/day
Manganese ..... 0.5 mg/day
Methionine, total ..... 10 mg/day
Nitrogen, total ..... 15 g/day
Ornithine ..... 10 mg/day
Pantothenic acid ..... 3 mg/day
Phenylalanine ..... 21 mg/day
Phosphorus, organic .....9 mg/day
Potassium ..... 2.5 mg/day
Proteins, total ..... 5 mg/day
Riboflavin ..... 0.9 mg/day
Tryptophan, total ..... 28 mg/day
Tyrosine, total ..... 50 mg/day
Urea ..... 24.5 mg/day
Vitamin B6 ..... 100 mg/day
Vitamin B12 ..... 0.03 mg/day
Zinc ..... 1.4 mg/day
(Your Own Perfect Medicine? - Natural Health and Longevity Resource Center)
The following are the average quantities of various substances, in 100 milliliters of urine as reported in Introduction to Biochemistry by Dr. Pharon:
Substance Milligrams
1] Urea nitrogen 682.00
2] Urea 1459.00
3] Creatinin nitrogen 36.00
4] Creatinin 97.20
5] Uric acid nitrogen 12.30
6] Uric acid 36.90
7] Amino nitrogen 9.70
8] Ammonia nitrogen 57.00
9] Sodium 212.00
10] Potassium 137.00
11] Calcium 19.50
12] Magnesium 11.30
13] Chloride 314.00
14] Total sulphate 91.00
15] Inorganic sulphate 83.00
16] Inorganic phosphate 127.00
17] N/10 acid 27.80
Some other important urine constituents are:
Amylase (diastase).
Lactic dehydrogenate (L. D. H.).
Leucine amino-peptidase (L. A. P.).
Catechol amines.
Adenylate cyclase.
Sex hormones.
Is there a difference between male and female urine? Read HERE
Further reading; Stocholm Environment Institute

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Low Impact Woodland Home - DIY

Our society is almost entirely dependent on the availability of increasing amounts of fossil fuel energy. This has brought us to the point at which our supplies are dwindling and our planet is in ecological catastrophe. We have no viable alternative energy source and no choice but to reduce our energy consumption. The sooner this change can be begun, the more comfortable it will be.

For our energy consumption to decrease we must reduce consumption and dramatically increase the productivity of our land. This will require developing infrastructure and skills to enable locally self-reliant living. The simplest, sustainable solutions involve small-scale permaculture type land management systems centred around individual or small groups of dwellings. There is significant and growing energy at the grass-roots to start implementing these low impact developments. This enthusiasm comes from a combination of intellectual concern and the innate appeal of living closer to nature. The major obstacle is access to land. The price of land with residential planning permission is not commensurate with the income from this type of living. This will change, but these projects need time to develop and reach productivity. A few people are taking direct action but the numbers are far short of the critical mass that could be realised. If allowances can be made within the planning system to grant access to land, and the right to live on it, to those wishing to live this life, we can allow a grass-roots tide of people to make real progress towards a sustainable society.
Read More HERE

You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in
law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).
The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Oh and by the way I am not a builder or carpenter, my experience is only having a go at one similar house 2yrs before and a bit of mucking around inbetween. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverence and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.

This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology. These sort of low cost, natural buildings have a place not only in their own sustainability, but also in their potential to provide affordable housing which allows people access to land and the opportunity to lead more simple, sustainable lives. For example this house was made to house our family whilst we worked in the woodland surrounding the house doing ecological woodland management and setting up a forest garden, things that would have been impossible had we had to pay a regular rent or mortgage.

Visit Simon's web page to see the How To Build plans

First Earth - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture

FIRST EARTH is a documentary about the movement towards a massive paradigm shift for shelter -- building healthy houses in the old ways, out of the very earth itself, and living together like in the old days, by recreating villages. It is a sprawling film, shot on location from the West Coast to West Africa. An audiovisual manifesto filmed over the course of 4 years and 4 continents, FIRST EARTH makes the case that earthen homes are the healthiest housing in the world; and that since it still takes a village to raise a healthy child, it is incumbent upon us to transform our suburban sprawl into eco-villages, a new North American dream.

Chocking up over 300,000 hits on YouTube even before its official release, FIRST EARTH is not a how-to film; rather, it's a why-to film. It establishes the appropriateness of earthen building in every cultural context, under all socio-economic conditions, from third-world communities to first-world countrysides, from Arabian deserts to American urban jungles. In the age of environmental and economic collapse, peak oil and other converging emergencies, the solution to many of our ills might just be getting back to basics, focusing on food, clothes, and shelter. We need to think differently about house and home, for material and for spiritual reasons, both the personal and the political.

Quote from the movie;
"There is one measure by which we will be judged by the people who come after: and that is the health of the land base. That's the only thing that matters. The only thing! They're not going to care if we're nice people. They will care that they have water to drink and that they have food to eat, and that they're not being poisoned, and that the planet hasn't gone to runaway global warming. That is what matters."

Watch the whole documentary by clicking here >  FIRST EARTH Uncompromising Ecological Architecture

Our Summer House Garden 2011

This is where it all started :) The idea about Self-sufficiency :) in our summer-house garden last year. That was the first time my wife and I decided to garden yet we had this summer house since 2007. I bought a book called "The New Self-Sufficient Gardener" by John Seymour. He wrote about the Deep Bed gardening so I went for it. One must start someplace so why not "deep" ;) 
Underneath is the photo journal showing how all this beginner gardening developed;

Testing the seeds for germination
I decided to cover the onions, carrots and radhishes
Got some very good compost soil for the Beetroots
The summer kicked in and all flourished

Not too bad for the first timer ;) And this made me decide to change my entire life style and be a self-sufficient householder :)

Urban Roots - Farms in Schools

URBAN ROOTS is the next documentary from Tree Media. Produced by Leila Conners (The 11th Hour) and Mathew Schmid and directed by Mark MacInnis, the film follows the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit. Urban Roots is a timely, moving and inspiring film that speaks to a nation grappling with collapsed industrial towns and the need to forge a sustainable and prosperous future.

Farms in schools across the Nation

Tree Media Foundation's Urban Roots call to action is to put farms in schools. Across the nation, schools cover large areas of land that are often covered in asphalt. This asphalt-covered land offers up a terrific opportunity to turn it into organic, food-producing land while also creating a valuable, outdoor classroom.

Currently, school budgets nationwide do not provide for this activity, so we are taking the lead. Tree Media Foundation has partnered with Sarah Didvar-Saadi and Gina Powell of The Green Schoolhouse, a Los Angeles-based school garden consulting and design build company, to create a pilot program to build school farms. We are calling these farms, “Field of Dreams”.

A Field of Dreams Farm is an outdoor classroom where High School students learn the sustainable practices of planting, composting and water con-servation to grow food with the highest organic nutritional value. Each school will experience the growth cycle of Seed to Harvest to Table. Students will take the message home that growing your own food is a simple and vital process.

Also, schools will have the opportunity to parti-cipate in their communities by growing food for their local community’s food banks and homeless shelters. Farms In Schools

Lasagna Gardening - No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding

No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding :)

Lasagna gardening isn't about growing lasagna, and it isn't about growing the great vegetables and herbs found in lasagna recipes. Instead, lasagna gardening is a timesaving organic gardening method developed by gardener and writer, Patricia Lanza, which requires no digging, no tilling and no sod removal. Too good to be true? Read on.
A Garden of Layers
Lasagna Gardening is a nontraditional organic gardening method that relies on a layering method called "sheet composting." The name "Lasagna," comes from the way garden beds are created from layers, the same way you layer ingredients when making a pan of lasagna. Watering and weeding are reduced through the heavy layers of mulch and by planting crops close together. The lasagna layering method quickly builds soils that are incredibly rich in nutrients, resulting in higher than average garden productivity. The method also works great for container gardening.
What Makes It Different
Thick layers of organic mulch are the main ingredients of every lasagna garden. Chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, compost, animal manure, newspaper, etc., are just some of the materials that might made up the layers of a lasagna garden. Individual materials will vary in each individual's garden according to what is available locally.
How Do You Make a Lasagna Garden?
To make a lasagna garden you stake out your garden site and begin building up the beds layer by layer. The first layer involves laying down something heavy over sod, like thick pads of newspaper or flattened cardboard boxes, to kill the existing grass. The next layer should consist of 2-3 inches of a water absorbent material like coir, or peat moss. I recommend coir because of the growing environmental damage caused by extracting peat from bogs. Next, a 4-8 inch layer of organic material, such as compost, is spread over the coir layer. Another layer of coir, or a peat alternative would be added on top of that, and then yet another layer of organic material, like grass clippings on top of the coir, and on and on until the beds reach 18-24 inches high. Finally, the tops of the piles may be sprinkled lightly with bone meal and wood ash for added phosphorus and potassium.
"Baking" the Beds
At this point, some gardeners elect to "cook" their lasagna gardens (give the layers of mulch time to breakdown). This reduces the height of the beds and produces high-quality workable soil more quickly. Cooking the beds is optional, but certainly not necessary. One of the greatest advantages to the lasagna gardening method is that you can layer your beds and plant your crops all in the same day.
Planting a Lasagna Garden
When you're planting a lasagna garden, no digging is required. For transplants, simply pull back the layers of mulch, drop in the plant and pull some mulching materials back over the roots. Sowing seeds is easy, too. Sprinkle a little finished compost over the area you want to plant, sow the seed, and cover it with a little more of the finished compost. Press down on the bed to secure the seeds and water thoroughly. It's that easy!
Because it uses no power tools, heavy equipment or expensive commercial additives, lasagna gardening is an easy way for people with space, age or physical limitations to maintain garden productivity. For more information on this easy, stress-free method of organic gardening, read Patricia Lanza's book, Lasagna Gardening, available at Lasagna Gardening
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web

Monday, February 13, 2012

Off The Grid

"Thoreau said that if an emergency struck, a man should be able to leave his home with nothing more than the clothing on his back and feel like he left nothing behind.
Self sufficiency is almost impossible to obtain in modern society.
Did you know there’s a dream that still prevails now as strongly as it did in 1882 when Thoreau wrote Walden? It’s that of a return to the wild.
This is not the story of hippie-communal-back-to-the-landers, this is the story of what it takes to live with alternative power sources now – to live with nature in this modern age.
This is to be our permanent Walden; a life lived off the grid."
- Watch the full movie;

Homemade Bread

My wife and I used to bake homemade bread a few years ago but for some reason we stopped with it. Now I decided to resume this lovely work and here is what happened yesterday :)
1 liter of luke warm water
50g of Yeast desolve into the water
4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoon of sugar (or honey)
400g Graham's Flour (wholegrain flour)
400g Rye Flour
200g Wheat Flour
50g of Linseeds
50g of Sunflower Seeds
Mix it all good!

add 1 liter of luke warm water (hot water will kill the yeast and cold cant desolve it fast)
 Break the Yeast into small pieces to desolve faster. Add sugar and salt at this stage
mix well unitl the yeast is totaly desolved
add all the ingredients and mix well
Butter up the sides of the baking trays
Fill the trays with the dough and glaze the surface with a bit of milk or water
Set the temperature of the oven at 225'C for 50 minutes
The dough goes immediately into the cold oven. No need to wait for it to raise beforehand.
Set the temperature of the oven at 225'C for 50 minutes
I use the oven fan
After 50 minutes the bread is ready
Take it out of the trays and place the bread on top of the trays so it gets enough air underneath to cool down and not get wet from condensation
Once cooled down cut a few slices and enjoy it :)