I just realized that I’ve never posted a follow-up to this project. Douchey of me, I know.
When we were building the earthbag wall, we discovered that we had dug our hole too close to the septic tank leach field. We decided to re-bury the whole excavation. In the process, we installed a network of tubing for underground heat storage, similar to a CRMPI-style climate battery. What exists on the site now is a hoop house that is heated by this system, as well as a kick-ass cheese/root cellar. I’ll snap a picture next time I’m in the area for those of you who are curious. I’m now living with my fiancee on the other side of town, so I don’t really ever make it over there anymore. I just thought I’d leave this update for the many people who are messaging me asking about the results. I’ll leave you with a few of my takeaways:
1. Always call before you dig.
2. After you call the county/city, and your digger calls again to insure the dig, you may still have lines that you don’t know about, including septic lines. If you have a septic tank, find out where the lines run. If you would rather play a game of mines with your leach field, know that your $300 dig will likely become a $1500 dig.
3. Earthbag/rammed earth is a totally viable means of building, but not so much if you have expansive clay or bad soil texture. University soil labs test soil texture and expansive clay content for like fifteen bucks. It’s worth it.
4. Poly bags are $200 for a huge roll, or free from breweries. If it’s worth the trouble to save the money, do it. Just don’t feel like you’re saving the planet rolling around town picking up a dozen bags at each and every microbrewery. The glow will fade when you fill your gas tank and the punchline sinks in.
5. Climate batteries seem to have better success in the Rockies than walipinis. I wish I had taken that money that I put into the walipini and spent it (or more like half of it) at CRMPI on permaculture courses.
6. Any agreements that are of consequence to your livelihood should be put into writing.
7. Listen to the professional excavator that comes to dig. They know more than you. If I didn’t listen, you might be touring my walipini right now and getting a staph infection from effluent runoff.
8. No matter what you go through in the process, it really is worth it. Really. I learned serious life shit that facebook and Tumblr will never give you.
That’s all. Thanks.