Winter’s Little Building Projects

‘Slow and steady’ is the motto du jour at Earlwood Farm. One of the luxuries of turning our urban rental living situation into a project for learning about growing our own food is that we aren’t entirely dependent on our own labour for subsistence. We don’t have to get up at first light and begin a day’s hard yakka. Although we hope to be able to grow a steady amount of food for our household in the coming months and we are looking forward to increasing the amount of manual work in our lives, we do hold down several jobs between us and still shop weekly at Alfalfa House and with Food Connect. At this point in our lives and in history, we can be a little bit lazy if we want. So the cold and wet winter days have provoked us to retreat indoors, snuggle up, read, reflect and plan.

Despite this delightfully slower pace, to match the weeks of rain and shifting circadian rhythms of the body around the Winter Solstice, we have managed to engage in a couple of small DIY construction projects. The first of which was the Pizza Oven. We wanted to build a pizza oven and on the June long weekend we managed to do it. I don’t want to write our story here, simply because it is quite similar to the million plus stories available on Google’s “build your own pizza oven” search. However, I want to add a couple of little tips for the first time builders amongst you.

The key ingredients are:

1) Russell Jeavons’s book “Your Brick Oven

2) Bricks, Mortar, Angle Grinder, Bolster, Wheel Barrow, Water, Pallet, Wood for a ‘dome gauge’ & a door and some random junk such as extra bricks, hay & sand to fill the dome with for the final courses of bricks.

3) Two Days

4) Three Key Stakeholders and Two Amazing Friends, each with varying degrees of desire.

5) The calm and authoritative voice of a professional potter/ceramicist saying “My friends always ask me to help them build a pizza oven and I refuse to do so because it is stupidly easy; you really can’t go wrong, all you have to do is stick some shit together and it’s done”.

The method was to follow the basic instructions from the book, combining ingredients 2, 3 & 4 until your handy work and gravity give in and you rely on the fact that if you just “stick some shit together” it will work.


We fired it the following weekend, the weekend after we followed that up with an adobe render and also some charmingly crude mosaic work. The relentless rain has actually almost destroyed the adobe render layer, but we shall not be stopped; our first public pizza party was on one of the rainiest days of the year!

The other little building project is the Rain Barrels. Again, advice abounds on Dr Google, but the main thing is that you don’t really need to spend much money on rain barrels. We got the barrels from The Bower and the down pipe attachments from That Shamefully Oversized Hardware Store That Does Not Need Our Hyperlink. It is not a major modification to the drainage system of the house and won’t be too difficult or expensive to remove them when we leave and have all the drain pipes returned to their pre-Earlwood Farm state if required.

Stay tuned for our next stage farm development: Rethinking the Prime Vegetable Real Estate Under the Hills Hoist.