Solutions for Self-Reliance

What I Found Interesting This Week 3/13/2013


What a great week.

Not only did I get my handmade stone wall finished, I was able to hand dig a trench for another hugelkultur terrace and make plans for a third. It’s great to get back outside again, every day.

Hope you are doing the same.

Here’s what I found interesting this week.

DIY Dentistry? A dollar fix that can last years?

It seems that lots of people liked the DIY surgery item earlier this week. Here’s something else that works like a charm.

It’s a temporary dental filling. It costs less than $5 but it can literally save you hundreds. A tiny tub is good for five applications (that’s a dollar a use).

Tooth repair

I cracked a tooth off a couple of months ago. The tooth that was left was sharp and it was lacerating my tongue. Luckily, I had a tub of this dental putty. I put in a temp filling in about 10 minutes and it was as if nothing had happened.

In fact, it worked so well, it lasted the week it took for me to get to the dentist. Talking with my dentist about it, I found out that this material is similar to what they use with temporary crowns. BTW: if you can’t afford a full crown, you might want to consider a temporary crown. Those are much less expensive and they can last for a long, long time.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. rinse your mouth with warm water (don’t dry the area). It sets faster with moisture.
  2. scoop out a small bit of putty, roll it into a ball, and insert it into the area.
  3. bite down to press it into place. Chew a bit with your teeth to rub off any raised areas.
  4. Add more putty if you need to and wipe off any excess residue on other teeth with a moist cotton swab.

That’s it.


Terraces have been around since the dawn of farming. They are commonly used in Asia and were refined to high art by the Incas — at the height of the civilization, 1 m hectares of terraces were being farmed.

Terrace Incan

In fact, due to some archaeological work that turned into a social movement, Incan terraces and canals are being rebuilt throughout Peru.

Good terrace design focuses on controlling, directing, and optimizing the flow of water down the hill.

Of course, building a home scale terrace that can last a lifetime doesn’t require all of the skills that the Incas used to build their masterpieces. Instead, here’s a simple way to control water flow:

  • Take note of the slope of the hill and how water flows down it.
  • Dig your terrace at a slight angle to the slope, to allow water to flow down the length of it. A terrace that is perfectly perpendicular to the slope is fragile to water erosion.
  • Put a thin layer crushed rocks at the bottom of the terrace, to allow water to drain along the length of the terrace.
  • For a hugelkultur terrace, add a thick layer of rotten wood and cover it with overturned sod. This layer will soak up and retain water.
  • Hill soil and compost. Plant grasses and fast growing, deep rooted plants along the leading edge of the terrace to hold soil in place.
  • As an extra touch, add a stone wall to the leading edge of the terrace. This stones will serve as a heat sink, moderating temperatures and improving growing conditions.
  • Direct excess water flow into a rain garden or pond.


Using Linseed Oil to protect wood?

I’m currently building a couple of wooden raised-bed gardens. If you are doing the same, you are probably thinking about how to preserve the wood (so that it will last more than a couple of years). Here’s a little insight into using Linseed oil.

The traditional way to preserve the wood is to use Linseed Oil (it’s inexpensive).

Unfortunately, natural Linseed oil can take a very long time to dry and if it doesn’t dry correctly, it can remain sticky. You can use “boiled” Linseed oil, but that’s typically just oil that has some chemical preservatives in it to speed up the drying process. Other downsides to Linseed oil is that it doesn’t have any UV resistance and since it’s organic, it’s food for mildew. So, be careful in how you use it.

That’s it for this week.

Resiliently Yours,

JR Small


PS: If you like the work I’m doing here, make sure you sign up for the e-mail delivery. I’m going to send out the first issue of a Resilient Community newsletter brief to email subscribers later this month that is full of great stuff. It would be a shame if you missed it.

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