Monday, November 06, 2006

Broad beans planted in soil improved with compost, rice husks and worm casts

Each row is being carved out of a mound of building rubble covered with clay soil

The soil contains horsetails which spring up out of the ground when your back is turned

This building rubble is not supposed to be here.
Somebody will have to pay to have this carted away, and it won't be us


stew said...

Hello again.

Thanks for the response to my last question. As you say, you have to design the house for where you are. It's easy to forget that for a small country, Japan has many different climates.

If by horsetails, you mean sugina, you have my sympathy. The best you can hope for is some kind of coexistance with it. Once established, its hard as nails. The spores you get in spring and pine-like branches you get later will sprout from half-inch sections of the root system that will go down a meter or so easy. In improved soil, healthy shoots you plant will still thrive, but you'll have to do more weeding than normal. Mulching works, but only to an extent.

My mother-in-law peels the spores and boils them up in soy sauce. I can't say I'm too keen though.

We've found an old minka that's really well located and have showed it to a couple of architects for a total makeover. One did a similar house for a German fella on that before-after tv show. It won't be cheap, but it should look pretty special. The fella from the tv show is well up on passive solar design, so I think we'll go with him. He puts in underfloor heating that runs overnight and uses large bags of water under the floor as thermal mass. The prerequisite for using stored radiant heat is having a proper envelope, so he must be producing well-built homes. Nothing is going to happen before winter though, so we'll have a good look and take our time.

Rod said...

Hi Stew,

Sugina is the one. It has a very Jurassic look and behaves like a Hydra. According to John Jeavons, growing Mexican marigold (Tagetes minuta) may be good for killing persistent weeds. I've eaten the tsukushi dish and found it most unpleasant. Today, besides the horsetails, I'm going to dig up a load of sasa that's grown back.

My concerns with renovating somewhere would be, the envelope as you mention, the quality of the foundations, earthquake proofing, and the likely remaining longevity of the building. Those issues could perhaps be overlooked if renovation were much cheaper than building new, but I rather doubt that. But from the point of view of living in a bit of history, and maintaining the traditional landscape, it's obviously an attractive idea. There were a few old buildings around here that we looked at with a speculative eye.