Grey water Worm Farm Grease Trap

With the bus complete our focus has shifted over to the outside area. Our priority has been two fold. Planting some ground cover to suppress the dust in the cleared area behind the bus and around the tank and develop a grey water grease trap. The seeds will be a few weeks off before we know how effective they have been, the rain today will help. The system for the grey water though is in place and seems to be working. So this post is dedicated to that.

Grey water Worm Farm Grease Trap

The idea is straight from a post we found on the permaculturenews.org website. The premise is that the grey water goes into the top of the worm farm with the water passing through the materials on top and out a drainage pipe at the bottom. The solids from the food are left deposited in the material for the worms to eat. What follows is the step by step process of how Deirdre created ours. Before that though here’s a list of what you need.

Equipment

1 plastic planter- 400mm deep, 500mm diameter.

1 garden pot- one recycled from a plant from a nursery

Straw

200-300 worms

Gravel

Compost

Lid

Plumbing pipe and 90 degree joins

Sand

Silicon and Liquid Nails

How to make

  1. Cover the holes in your big pot

Since we were using a planter pot we had to cover the corners to ensure that the hole base was water tight. This was relatively easy with some silicon and a little bit of plastic in each of the corner. To cut this step out you can use old animal feed bowls like in the permaculture sunshine example linked to earlier.

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The big pot with the corner holes covered.

2. Drill holes in the pots

Drill holes in the pots. In the big pot we drilled a hole at the bottom in which the pipe was to be fitted. In the small nursery garden pot drill multiple holes. The reason for the multiple holes is that this garden pot is acting as a screen in order to check and clear any debris that may accumulate in the drainage pipe. This is illustrated better in step 5.

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Deirdre drilling the plastic pot.

3. Attach the 90 degree join

Add the 90 degree join in the hole in the bottom. We found that it stuck best with some liquid nails and left overnight. Add silicon around the join so it is watertight.

4. Collect materials

Collect materials such as straw, sand, compost, worms and gravel. We found it easier to assemble in place. We also bought the sand and compost from the hardware as we didn’t have any of that on site yet. You could save money by using some compost and sand that you have at your place

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5. Add the gravel

We used a combination of 7 and 20mm gravel that we had. You can use river rocks or pebbles. The idea is that the gravel acts as a final rough filter before exiting the system. Be careful to ensure that you don’t get gravel in the drainage screen. We found that by putting the drainage screen in place and then adding the gravel around it little by little that we could do this. Cover the gravel to just below the top of the pot. In terms of overall sizes this equates to about a third of the pot volume.

 

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6. Add the sand

Add the sand. The suggestion was for around 2-3 cm of sand ensuring that the drainage screen can still be accessed. As mentioned we bought store bought play sand.

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7. Add the straw and compost

In layers add the straw and compost. This is the bedding for the worms. We added a few handfuls at a time of straw and compost, straw and compost, straw and compost. Be sure to leave some straw aside as this is needed to cover the worms.

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8. Add the worms

Add the worms and the straw you’ve left aside and put this on top of the worm farm.

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9. Cover with metal to help disperse the water

We add an extra worm mat to insulate the worm farm and added some metal to help disperse the water so it didn’t all pool in the one spot. But found that a large rock worked best.

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First lid. Scrap metal being held down by a rock to help disperse the water.

10. Add a lid

With two dogs- one who is particularly obsessed with every morsel of food- we added an extra lid to our worm form. This was made from a plastic lid from a bin we had. We simply drilled a hole in it to fit the extra down pipe into.

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So there you have it a worm farm grease trap. We’ve found it successful so far. we’ve still got to add a final tank for the water to drain into.

 

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Finally there: we finish the kitchen cabinet and get gas and water

So it’s been a momentous week. It’s been 3 months since we started the build and we’ve finally finished. On Monday we completed the draws to our kitchen cabinet and on Friday we had the water and gas connected to the bus. No more cooking outside! Bread, roast veggies and baking biscuits here we come. This post is a little bit of a catch up on this week. First things first…

The Kitchen Cabinet

Once again we chose an Ana White design as our basis from which to work. As the plan shows the first stage was to build a base for the cabinet to sit on.  As with most of furniture this was made from plywood and pine boards. Worried about the strength of the cabinets we added extra braces underneath roughly were the dividers would go. All of the pine board was pocket holed drilled together with the plywood nailed on top.

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The base of the kitchen cabinet being constructed under the watchful supervision of Oscar.

After making the base we cut out the sides and dividers. Wanting height symmetry with the kitchen bar we settled on the bench coming 900 mm high. We cut the two sides to this length with the dividers in the middle being shorter (900mm- the height of the base). With the sides we also cut a small corner out, as the base was inset from the cabinet front creating a kick stand. We painted these sides and dividers and bought them inside to assemble inset, since it would be too tall to move through the door if assembled outside.

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Adding the sides.

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Deirdre envisioning the countertop and dividers to work out how big the drawers should be.

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The dividers in place. In front you can see the wood we chose for the countertop, Tasmania Oak boards.

Once the dividers were in place we added some supports to help hold the cabinet square and also to act as supports upon which we would sit the countertop. As per Ana Whites instructions we used the offcuts from the plywood sheets we made the cupboard from. It was during this step that we stumbled upon our biggest issue with the cabinet. Yet again, it wasn’t square.

The gaps at the top of the dividers was different to the gaps at the bottom of the dividers. This meant it would be difficult to make doors as we’d planned as the doors would have to be offset. It would also create problems when we came to making shelves as each shelf would have to be different widths.

As with previous mistakes we’ve made we talked through and realised on closer inspection of the dividers the wood itself was warped and so we couldn’t really fix it. In terms of the shelves, well we would just have to tailor them to fit as we have done in most of the furniture.

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Once we had the supports in place we set to making the shelves and the countertop. Deirdre took to the task of putting the countertop together. Cutting the boards to a rough length Deirdre drew a rough triangle on the back of the table and then pocket holed each of the oak boards to each other. Board by board she assembled until the four boards were put together and we had ourselves a countertop. This was stained with the same oil we had stained the countertop with.

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Kitchen counter top being screwed together.

Once again we bought the countertop inside and went about assembling it together. A step that proved a little trickier than we thought. We had designed the countertop with an overhang on all four sides. As previous mentioned though the plywood bowed on the sides and in the dividers. This meant that the edges were uneven around the edges. After some measuring and finessing by Deirdre we marked out the right spot.We then flipped the top onto the ground. Turning the base over the top we lined it up and begun screwing the base to the top.

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Screwing the countertop in place.

The countertop screwed in it was now time to mark out and cut the space for the sink. A scary task that we were both scarred of stuffing up, but ended up being easy, finishing in little less than half an hour. With the sink hole cut out we then went about making shelves. As the cabinet was deep Deirdre thought that the shelves should be on railings. Deirdre liked the idea of doing bakery shelves (for want of a better term-as you can see in the photo). I wasn’t too sure, but have come to see Deirdre’s wisdom and great taste(!)

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Deirdre takes a jigsaw to the counter top, creating the hole for our kitchen sink.

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The kitchen cabinet in place.

So that was a week or so to Monday. Kitchen cabinet built and completed. All the furniture done in just on three weeks. Next highlights were…

Water and Gas: now we are cooking!

Monday was us finishing the bus. Tuesday was the first stage of other services being connected. First off, with the tank we’d ordered in March finally being delivered. A quick and easy process and a nice site to look up at. As you can see below it’s not connected to any water so that afternoon we had some 5000L of water delivered, for the whooping price of $75. Not exactly self sufficient but with the lack of rain a great solution.

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Friday saw the water and gas being connected. In preparation I spent Wednesday and Thursday creating a retaining wall along the cleared area. The original plan was to build a retaining wall, backfill this with soil and then sit the gas bottles on this. That was the plan. The more difficult plan. As the photos below show after building two walls I realised that it wasn’t going to work and therefore started again the next day. I built a retaining wall further back from the bus and created a shelf for the gas bottle to sit on.

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Retaining wall mark 1

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The gas bottle on shelf awaiting to be connected.

Friday morning came and the plumber arrived. After a few hours of work he connected up our tap, gas and water from the tank to the bus. We now have an almost complete home. Just waiting on the solar to be connected next week. 3 months and we are now finally cooking with gas!

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Now we are cooking!

The end in sight: We build a kitchen bench

So the build is coming to an end. The last fortnight has seen trenches being dug for water and electrical cables with both our solar, tanks and water cartage to be delivered next week. In the meantime while we wait for the water and the electricity we have been busy finishing off our final pieces of furniture: the kitchen bench and cabinet. Whilst we are still adding the shelves to the kitchen cabinet I thought it was time to share a run down on our second to last piece of furniture: the kitchen bench.

The Kitchen Bench

Our original plans for the kitchen bench was for a bench 1500mm long, 600mm wide and 900 high. Our original plan was to build something akin to the farmhouse kitchen bench here at Ana White’s. All this changed though when we found a supply of nice timber at the back of a local antique place in Huonville. The timber was reasonably priced and wide in selection from Huon Pine, Blackwood, Myrtle, Celery Pine and Black Hearted Sassafras. With so much plywood in the bus we decided to buy a feature piece of timber as our bench top. After three 3 visits we settled on a piece of Black Hearted Sassafras.

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Staining the black hearted sassafras with kitchen oil.

At 1900mm long and 430 mm wide this was longer and narrower then we had planned. We had intended to bring it home and cut it down to length but on advice from Tara, we decided that it was too good a piece of wood to do this to. This meant a longer and narrower bench, more of a breakfast bar as such. On the suggestion of one of the fellas at the hardware we went with skinnier oak beams to make the apron (the part on which the table top sits) and legs. The skinny legs and apron chosen as they would hide under the bench top allowing the sassafras to shine in all it’s beauty.

With the wood chosen we headed home to re work the design and get started. I took to painting the bench top with a coat of kitchen oil. The oil was made from nut oil meaning that we could still use food products safely on the bench. Whilst I painted the oil Deirdre worked on the design working out the lengths of the legs and the apron.

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Deirdre checking the plan to make sure we have got the apron for the base correct.

As usual there was much finessing around the squareness of the rectangle. No matter how many ways we tried to assemble the wood there was a millimetre or two difference in the diagonal lengths. Whether it was a fault in the cutting or the wood shifting when we screwed, it was still frustrating. It was as we found later something that would present further problems.

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Adding the legs. Once again this provided challenges as the legs were slightly different lengths making it hard to get the table to sit square.

After we got the base as square as we could we moved onto the legs. These legs were again made from the same oak lengths we had purchased for the base. To work out the leg lengths we used that old trusty measurement of the size of our hips. This worked out at 900 mm legs and so these we cut and then attached onto the corners of the base.

Once we attached the legs into the corners we then added some support struts across the top. These were added to help keep the base square and for us to use when screwing on the piece of sassafras. With the legs attached and the struts in place we flipped over the table…

To find that the legs were not even. Meaning the table wobbled and didn’t sit flush. Measuring the legs we realised  that one of the legs was 1mm shorter then the others. We thought about cutting the legs shorter to even it out but were worried we would screw it up even further, so settled on it as it was.

 

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Tara and Deirdre working out how to assemble the bench top to the legs. You can see the extra struts for support and the leg bar we have added.

With Tara’s help we flipped the legs over onto the bench top and screwed them into place. We then put the bench top in place and sat back to enjoy our new bench and view.

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The bench bar in one of it’s guises as a sowing storage area whilst Deirdre makes some curtains for the bus.

Since the bench bar has been in place Deirdre’s added a few extra screws to the legs, attaching it to the bus wall. It’s made it more stable and a more permanent fixture of the bus, which given that we’re going to be here for 5 or more years is not a bad thing at all.