I usually like to do things fast!
Why bake when you can fry?
Why whittle when you can use a bandsaw?
Why bother planting all your seeds in perfect rows when you can scatter them everywhere and thin later?
Yet sometimes, taking things slow leads to wonderful results. In the case of my friend Joe Pierce’s homemade earth oven, his patience and design work have created something beautiful, and profitable.
This is his third cob oven and he believes it’s so well engineered at this point that it will be around long after he’s gone.
For those of you not familiar with “cob,” it’s an ancient method of earth construction that relies on clay, sand, straw, and sometimes other ingredients such as manure and sawdust. Once mixed properly and kneaded together, cob can stand for centuries – and its insulation power is incredible.
You can use cob to build ovens, houses, and even (with some extra ingredients) showers and ponds.
Building with cob is not as quick as framing up a building or buying an iron stove, but when you see this oven and hear Joe share how many days it stays hot after firing, along with how versatile a “low-tech” earth oven can be, I think you’ll agree that the extra work was time well-spent.
Check this video out:
He’s using that oven for making pizza, baking bread, drying jerky, dehydrating, and even for making biochar for his gardens. Joe also explains in the video how you can use this oven for wood gasification or even generating electricity!
Something that surprised me as well is how little wood it really takes to get multiple days of baking out of this oven. I went to Joe’s knowing very little about cob construction and received a whole education in earth oven construction — and he was nice enough to let me film the entire thing and share it with all you wonderful members of the [Grow] Network. (By the way — I post a lot of gardening and homesteading videos on my YouTube channel — you can subscribe here: davidthegood’s Youtube channel).
Building that oven took time, yet it certainly proved to me yet again that good things come to those who wait. It was also quite peaceful working the cob into the sides of the oven… reminded me of being a kid again. Unfortunately I couldn’t film and apply cob at the same time, so you won’t see me covered in mud in this video. That’s going to have to wait until Marjory signs off on my Homestead Mudwrestlemania idea, which should happen any day now.
So — have you done cob construction or had experience with earth ovens? I would love to hear your stories in the comments section below!
Note: if you’re ever in Micanopy, Florida — you can see this oven and check out Joe and his wife Emily’s excellent homesteading, bake shop, and coffee joint at www.mosswoodfarmstore.com.
David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.