Earthstar Greywater System, Comments on Chippers & Mulch in Israel

Subject: Re: 4th Edition "Create an Oasis with Graywater" available
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000
From: Art Ludwig <Oasis Design>
To: Nathan Kellum <nathan©>

Nathan Kellum wrote:

> I am presently remodeling my house using the information in your two
> books, Oasis and Builder's guide. I ordered those books from Amazon with no
> international shipping hassles. Please tell me the best way to order your
> two new books, 4th Edition and Branched Drain.

I suggest you order them from our web site (the URL is below), as Amazon does not have the BD book in stock as yet.
> For some reason your two original works do not include references to the
> $1000 earthstar from Jade Mountain You mentioned in one e-mail that it is
> "unproven." Is there any progress on this or any comparable filter pump to
> drip system? Even if I can't use such an animal on my veggies I see no
> reason why it wouldn't be a great help drip-watering my hedges and flower
> landscaping. What do you think are the chances of getting a filter pump to
> drip system like this in 220 for shipping to Israel.

The new edition mentions the earthstar. It is still "unproven;" a handful sold and I've not been able to get responses from them re: how is it working. In my opinion greywater sandfilter drip irrigation systems are overkill for most residential applications (see "greywater mistakes, overly complex systems..." on our web page). If you are totally enthusiastic about it you might be able to overcome the shipping, 220 compatibility, spare parts, unproveness etc. to get it to work; I won't try and stop you but I'm not the best person to help manifest it: I'd talk with Jade Mountain.

> You will be happy to know that after talking to a long list of candidates
> about doing my house plumbing here the Israel Galilee, only one outright
> refused to discuss the idea of installing gray water stub-outs in my new
> house. All the others were very eager to utilize the concepts from your
> books. Israel is presently in a drought that worsens every year with
> corresponding water price hikes. After my friends and neighbors see my new
> filter pump to moveable hose system, I think there is going to be growing
> interest. Later, the system will be improved to Branch Drain. One of the
> big problems to overcome in Israel is the simple idea of using mulch at all
> in landscaping. This is a given fundamental concept in your writings.
> Israelis are pioneers in high tech aquaculture, drip irrigation, desert
> agriculture, and municipal water recycling to agriculture. But the idea of
> recycling organic waist for composting and mulching on a household basis
> seems so unmodern and low-tech as to be
> inconceivable. I have never seen a mulching/grinding machine in this
> country! Some importable European mulching machines I priced at a supply
> store catalogue cost 3 to 4 times what they do in America. Mountains of
> prunings and clippings are routinely hauled off or burned so that people can
> maintain their clean red earth landscaping at huge water cost.
> This brings me to a related subject that should interest you. One of the
> landmark gardening books of Rodale Press in the 1970's was Ruth Stout's "No
> Work Gardening Book." Ruth started a revolution in gardening by
> demonstrating at her rural New York garden that regular deep garden mulching
> would solve in one step almost all problems of watering, weeding,
> fertilizing and cultivating. She kept all her flowers and veggies mulched
> with at least six inches of old straw and leaves and simply planted seed in
> the rich compost that was found after pulling aside the top undecomposed
> layer of mulch. As her surprisingly vigorous plants grew bigger, she simply
> moved or added more mulch around the plant bases, eliminating the need for
> almost all normal garden chores mentioned. The only remaining work was to
> "get more mulch."
> This brings me back to the subject of gray water. You describe with great
> confidence the amazing speed with which the surface layer of mulch pits
> decompose organic waists found in gray water poured into them. This being
> so, can you explain convincingly why a vegetable garden so heavily mulched
> in the Ruth Stout manner with six or more inches of mulch that is watered
> only once or twice a month (because of the heavy mulch) would be harmed by
> watering with gray water so infrequently as required. This idea is of major
> significance to desert and semi-arid gardening where gray water is in most
> demand. I think you need to do more research on this and add another
> chapter to your next edition. There seems to be health risk factors within
> limits on various sides of gray water utilization. But it seems that based
> on your own logic, heavily mulched vegetable gardens, that require
> relatively little water would not be harmed by gray water, especially since
> it will not be found on the
> surface. I don't see why gray water applied within 24 hours is any more
> toxic or damaging to vegetable plants than regular garden dirt that is wet
> and dirty and filled with bacteria in its own way, especially when heavily
> mulched. Why would this be any more dangerous than gray watering fruit
> trees in mulch pits as you advocate? Doesn't the issue relate more to
> whether there is direct contact of gray water to veggies or which parts are
> edible? Is there a book you can recommend that clearly describes why
> graywater is unsuitable for vegetables? Your response to this idea would be
> greatly appreciated.

The 4th edition includes a new section on greywatering of vegetables which I think states my case clearly.
Thanks for keeping me appraised. I trust you'll let me know if you'd like design
help in the future. Would you mind if I post this e mail to the ecological design
Q&A section of our web site? Your perspectives would be of interest to others,
I think.


Full greywater how-to details from our store