Being a fan of botany and natural vegetation, I have always been fascinated by green (or vegetation) roofs, which are quite fashionable these days, at least in countries like Holland, Germany and Scandinavia. Green rooofs have quite some advantages: they protect the waterproof black EPDM sheet, they insulate the house against heat and cold and they work as a water buffer, regulating the water drainage with heavy rains. This may especially hold true in cities where climate change seems to provoke more irregular and heavy rainfall. Urban green roofs also offer welcome new opportunities for insects, birds and plant life. Another personal motivation for green roofs is that they can be very economical, especially if you do everything yourself with the method I propose. When you hire professional help or buy the ready made green carpets from the garden center, you will have to spent 5 to 10 times as much.Continue reading
the treatment of grey water and human excrement
As I live almost off the grid, half a kilometer from the village (but am connected to the public water supply system) I had to find ways to treat the waste (´grey´) water from the sink, shower and washing machine and the `dark` material from the toilet. After studying the internet, I decided to start with relative simple systems and make them more sophisticated if needed. After almost 10 years I can say that more sophistication is not needed and that the systems work quite satisfactorily. By that I mean that there are almost no smells and for example the vegetation in the filtering ponds is doing fine. Part of the success is probable due to the use of biodegradable detergent, soap and straw. I will give a brief description of the two filter ponds and then discuss the equally successful compost toilet which treats the ´dark´ waste.Continue reading
These days, at the end of July, I have started to mow the vegetation around the house. Time and frequency of mowing depend mainly on the weather, the soil and on what you want to focus on. In my case one of the main objectives is enriching the vegetation with as many different spontaneous plant species as possible and then it is important to make the soil less fertile with your mowing management so that aggressive species have less opportunities.Continue reading
I already use solar energy for my electricity supply and for a hot shower (in the greenhouse), but for the heating of my straw bale dwelling I was heavily dependent on the wood stove, apart from the heating effect of the big window of the living room which is exposed to the south. A straw bale building is extremely well insulated and a minimum amount of heating can already have a significant effect. A radiant floor or radiant wall heating, powered by a solar panel seemed to be an interesting option, especially because I can make use of the existing plaster layer of clay inside the walls of the house. Continue reading
The fact that one hectare of land harbours more than 250 native species is already a feat but the presence of at least 9 different species of the Orchid family is remarkable. This spring they were exceptionally abundant. This ´orgy´ was probably partly due to the very wet weather but I have noticed a steady increase over the years, not only in plant numbers but also in species number. For example this year I welcomed the sudden arrival of 3 plants of Cephalanthera damasonium. Members of the Orchid family are notorious for their erratic and unexpected behavior, appearing one year in abundance and then hiding for several years.