Yoga Studio Stage 1: plans and footings

It’s been a busy couple of weekends here on the block. With Deirdre’s parents coming next week to help put up the frame we’ve been busying ourselves with shovels and concrete to get the footings and floor for the yoga studio complete.

The Design

The design process for the yoga studio was quicker than that of the bus. After toying with a few different sizes for the studio we settled on a 2.4m by 4.8m studio. Those dimensions being settled on by the simple fact that the wood for the bearers and joists came in that size. We figured it would be easy to not have to cut the wood down to size too much.

Continuing on with the ease of construction we chose a single sloping roof. Going from a height of 2.7m on the east to 2.4m on the west. The whole studio would be cladded in a combination of corrugated tin and wood. On the east and west there would be a window. On the north a double french style type doors. The dimensions and descriptions of which are on the photos below.




Having learnt our lesson from the decking we erred on the side of more posts and bearers then required. This way we could be certain that the studio would be as strong as possible. In the end this meant a design of 3 rows of 5 posts spaced at roughly 1200 intervals. Attached to each of these posts would be two bearers- on on either side. The joists would then be set atop of these. All of these can be seen better in the picture below, including the description of the wood we used.


Setting the posts

Over the courses of the two weekends we set about digging holes for the posts. Conscious of the structure needing to be square this took longer then we thought to complete. We marked out the first and last post on one row and then set those with prepared concrete mix. With the two posts in and set at either end we then marked out the three other holes and dug those out to roughly 550m.


End posts in, getting ready to measure and cut the next posts.

Next we then had to measure out the height of the posts. With the earth at various heights and the holes at various depths we had measure each post to the string line and then cut the posts to fit.


Cutting the posts.

With the posts cut we would then set the three middle posts one by one. To ensure that we had the posts aligned we used both a string line and one of the bearers. The bearer being a point of reference to ensure that the posts aligned correctly.


We then repeated this one the other side and then worked out the middle row, using the two outer rows to ensure that these posts were all in the centre of the structure.


All posts set and first of the bearers on.

Setting the bearers and joists.

The posts set and in place next we attached the bearers. A fairly easy task, although we did discover that with some of the warp in the wood we were 10mm narrower in the middle of the structure then on the edge.

With the bearers on Deirdre then set the joists. We had made the decision to use form plywood for the flooring. These were 1200 wide which meant that we needed to have joists there to attach the floor to. Deirdre marked these out and then placed the joists one by one, ensuring not only that they were at the right length but that insulation would fit without any need to cut it.


Deirdre checking for level on the joists.

Insulation and Floor

The joists completed and attached we spent one morning this week adding the insulation and then the floor. Again a task that was completed fairly quickly and we now have a floor ready for the frame to put up this week.


Halfway through the insulation.


Yoga studio flooring on ready for the frame!

Hugelkultur garden bed part 1


This week marks 9 months since we’ve been living on our block. It’s not a significant birthday but it does seem to signify a change in direction on our life here. Gone is the focus  on the bus (there are still a few minor jobs and the issue of mould to do before next winter.) Instead we are now shifting our attention outside to the garden, to the yoga studio: to the creation of other spaces.

The first of which has been to create some garden beds. Originally our idea had been to create raised wicking beds but as we collected a pile of logs our cleared trees our thinking shifted. Instead of raised beds we thought we’d attempt a hugelkultur bed. It would provide the water retention over time and would clear up some of the timber we hadn’t been able to mulch.

Step 1: Dig out your hole.

As the article link to above illustrates the rules for creating hugelkultur beds are general in principle. The main elements being to bury some wood, cover this with leaves and manure, add top soil and mulch. Reading through a variety of articles it was difficult to determine how deep to dig the hole. Working backwards from the height above ground we settled on digging out our bed to the depth of 30cm. This meant that over a course of a few days Deirdre and myself took to digging up our clayey soil creating a bed roughly 7 metres long and a 1.2 wide. For ease of access we added a few keyhole paths coming off one of the sides.


Step 2: Add your wood to your hole

In our case this meant a pile of 50-150mm diameter lengths of mainly silver wattle. We had some stringy bark as well but due to it’s allopathic quality we put them aside instead choosing to use the silver wattle. As the woods varied in lengths this meant some chainsawing before. To speed up our chainsawing I rigged up a wooden log holder from some off cuts.


Once the wood was cut to lengths of between 600 and 900mm we then carried them up to the bed and added them in. We started with the bigger bits on the bottom adding the smaller pieces on top of this.


Step 3: Wet down the logs (to promote breaking down)

With the wood in place (roughly up to the height of the hole) we then watered the logs to help promote breaking down.


Step 4: Add leaf matter 

After watering the wood we then set about filling in the gaps with some twigs, mulch, leaf matter as suggested from the article. This was the hardest part of the construct as we had scrounge around trying to find some leaf matter. We ended up settling on some green leaves from some prunings and a pile of bracken and broken down leaves from our wood piles.


Step 5: Add manure

Once the gaps had been filled we added in some manure. This was sourced from roadside stalls around the valley. We added it to about a 5 cm depth over the top of it all. To this we then added a few bags of biochar that we had created. Our rational being the biochar will help with the water retention.


Step 6: Add back some of the top soil.

The next step was to add back some of the soil that we had dug out. The reading we had done talked about adding the topsoil with the roots back. A little difficult given we were starting from a place of no growth. Instead I chose to add the more looser soil from around old tree roots to the top of the bed. Hopefully it doesn’t add to much clay to the bed, only time will tell I guess.


Step 7: Add extra top soil (optional step)

As mentioned our soil is mainly clay and therefore a little tricky to grow into straight away. Since we wanted to plant in our bed ASAP we order in some extra manure and soil. This was then added to the depth of about 10cm above the previous soil.


Step 8: Add mulch

With the soil added it was then time to add some mulch. Normally we would have settled on some straw from the local nursery but with the dry 2015 winter and spring and 15-16 summer the availability of straw is limited and so we settled on pea straw from the hardware.


The next step will be to plant it out with some seedlings and see how they go. This would have happened this week but our little greenhouse blew down in the winds this week and so we will have to start all over again.

All up the bed took us probably two-three hard days of work. Most of that being digging and chopping the wood. Once that had happened the rest of the steps probably took no more than a day. Hopefully the work has been worth it. I’ll add a part 2 on after summer to report on how the bed has gone.