Earth Plaster

Hi, this is Travis. My cousin, Ben, and I had a last minute opportunity to visit Factor E Farm. Ben has been helping with the open source Solar Turbine project and I am trying to get the earth plaster operation started. Last month I had the fortune of working at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage on a earth plaster job. Other than that, I have no experience. This is my first attempt at plastering inside the cordword area of the main structure. You can see more complete documentation of this and several different variations at the Openfarmtech wiki.


  • 1500 ml sifted soil, hydrated to a gel/paste like consistency. Gathered subsoil (16 inches deep) from near the well. Hydrated the soil and sifted it using 1/8″ screen.
  • 200 ml fresh cow manure. So fresh there was still steam rising off the top. I am told freshness is not necessary, but that composted manure is worthless.
  • 180 ml wheat paste. Added whole wheat flour and cold water in a pan. Stirred together well. Then heated until pasty. Add immediately. I ate the leftovers which were quite tasty.
  • Handful of micro straw. This particular grass was found above the tent site 10-15 ft short of the property line near the goat fence. Chopped into 1″ lenghths. Did not include roots or seed stalks.


  • Mixed together above ingredients by hand until homogenous.
  • Chose an area that was relatively smooth and void of large holes. Areas with holes much larger than 2″ wide by 1″ deep should probably be prepared with a rough plaster mix, i.e. cob.
  • Pre-soaked the area to be plastered. Waited 20 minutes for water to penetrate old cob.
  • Made a slurry. Took 10% of the plaster and mixed it with water in a separate bowl so that it would go on very thin.
  • Re-wet the area immediately before applying slurry.
  • Applied (smeared) slurry with hand approximately 1/16″ thick.
  • Applied plaster about 1/2″ thick by hand over the slurry. The plaster was very easy to work with.
  • Troweled the area. The tool for this was improvised from a piece of 6″ diameter PVC pipe fitted with a 1″ PVC handle.

  • 12 hours later smoothed out the trowel lines. The tool for this was a lid from a medium sized yogurt container. Used a pair of scissors to cut off the outer edge of the lid.


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