Six Years Later: DIY Domestic Greywater Treatment

Update on the for DIY kitchen greywater treatment
Update on the for DIY kitchen greywater treatment

In 2018, through some research online, I had a very simple DIY greywater treatment put together on two sections of the garden. One for kitchen greywater and the other for bathroom (sink and shower) greywater. Today, I took some videos and photos to show how it’s all working after 6 years.

Please refer to the post about what this simple DIY greywater treatment is all about. There I’ve put photos, explanations and links to the references I used to design and build the system.


These are important things I can report:

The grease trap is still in good working condition. I only had to replace the plastic sieve on top twice because they got brittle and broken from exposure to sun and the stress of cleaning them.

Most of the plants I planted in the infiltration planter died. They weren’t suitable for greywater. The best plants for this type of water are these that can be seen in the video, most notably: Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys), Costus Igneus (Insulin Plant, Chamaecostus cuspidatus, common name fiery costus or spiral flag), and Sunset Bells (Chrysothemis pulchella).

The water that flows out of the infiltration planter goes into a ground level planter and the video also shows a greater variety of plants that thrived really well. It took some patience trying out all sorts of plants in these locations to see which ones loved growing in greywater. It was worth the patience.

Update on the for DIY kitchen greywater treatment
Update on the for DIY kitchen greywater treatment



I had some soil dumped on the cemented gravel path where the bathroom water goes into. These plants grew remarkably well. I have not replaced the gravel or cleaned anything up.

The household is composed of only two persons, so our wastewater volume is not very large.

Best growers were the Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) and Costus Igneus (Insulin Plant, Chamaecostus cuspidatus, common name fiery costus or spiral flag), rising to 10 feet tall.
A closer look at the plants growing. The flowers are Sunset Bells (Chrysothemis pulchella) and they too love greywater.
The duck pond
The bathroom greywater goes through the planter, the gravel path, then some4-5 meters into this pond. I think the water volume is not really large enough to reach the pond.

The Impact of Typhoon Odette on our Livestock

The morning after a whole night of typhoon Odette (Rai)

Typhoon Odette was very destructive. Our neighbors that kept poultry in cages suffered losses. Our ducks and chickens were unharmed because they were free ranging and found their own safe places. The couple chickens in a small coop under the house were okay. Even the newly hatched ducklings were fine beneath their mother’s wings. Majority of ducks and chickens stayed under the house, protected from wind, rain and falling and flying debris. One young chicken stayed in her comfortable roosting place, a beam over the entrance of the house, about 12 feet high above the ground. It was a safe place because the roof of the house protected her.

Pigs seasonally allowed to forage.

The biggest impact was on the pigs. When the typhoon landed, I had a boar, two gilts and one very pregnant sow due in 2 weeks. A portion of the boar pen roof and fence was damaged by a fallen coconut tree. The sow housing was surrounded by fallen branches and trunks of gmelina, mango, ficus and various other trees. The pen where the two gilts stayed together was about a foot deep with muddy water.

The morning just after the typhoon we had to get help clearing the paths. It wasn’t easy going under and over fallen debris to feed the pigs. The boar and gilts were hungry and eager to eat. However, the sow seemed the most distressed. She ate, drank and lay down exhausted.

When the sow farrowed two weeks later, she had so much troubles. She was distraught, feverish, and seemed determined to lay on all her piglets. She had 15 piglets and when it seemed like they were all going to die, we decided to collect what was left and raise them ourselves. The piglets were not even two days old when we took them away from the sow.

The sow recovered and the piglets that survived made it to weaning age and were promptly sold. All seemed well, but there were a few subtle changes that I felt were an effect of the terrible distress brought by the typhoon.

For sure, all the pigs are more cautious and nervous and irritable than usual. The least affected are the two gilts. This is probably because they are housed together and had each other for social support. The boar, nearing 7 years of age, seemed unaffected. Beneath the debris of roofing sheets and broken lumber, he was more concerned with getting fed. However, he is now more easily agitated by the presence of people particularly if they are making noises around his pen.

The sow in her spacious pen. Unfortunately, she seem to be suffering from an anorexia-like wasting syndrome as a result of environmental stressors.

The most tragic impact was upon the sow, now nearing 4 years of age. The failure to care for her piglets was the first most obvious tragedy. Then over a month ago, her distress culminated in inappetence. I was puzzled and considered all sorts of viral or bacterial infections. But the symptoms were not there. The behavior linked to inappetence was so strange: more motivated rooting, crossing of back legs while walking, yawning, vocalizations in response to the boar. There were moments when she seemed to be getting better and started eating, but this would stop and she would return again to being a terribly picky eater. What she ate a little of today, she won’t eat tomorrow. She drank but not as plentiful as her usual self, and she would turn over her drinking bowl as if looking for something else beneath it.

The sow escaped from her pen once and visited the boar. I have put them together now and she is free to root in a large space. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible, free to roam and choose the food she wishes to eat, and to have company. The symptoms, I think, are more psychological (and at the same time hormonal) than anything else.

At this point, I did several minutes of Googling and found what may be the answer to this mystery: Anorexia-like Wasting Syndromes in Pigs

I read that influencing the serotonin in the brain may be a solution but I don’t have the means to do this on this island. Typically, this sow would’ve been culled a year or two earlier. But I don’t cull hard, unfortunately, because the facilities available for doing this to large animals is too cruel for my standards.

These are huge pigs more intended for intensive rather than pasture production. Nonetheless, these pigs enjoy rooting outside. They return to their pen when it gets too hot or when it rains too much.

This year, I have been working hard on a lot of changes that I didn’t get the chance to do over the past 12 years. Now my pigs have more space and freedom to root and forage. I continue to learn by observing the areas where they root and see how seasonal foraging would allow the growth of plants. With a very small herd, it is sooner than later possible to move away from large domesticated pigs that I currently have – a mix of typical industry breeds such as duroc, largewhite, landrace and pietrain – and transition to the much smaller and robust Philippine native pig. By the time I am ready to transition, the right breed for this island environment will hopefully be available. The fenced areas for the pigs may also be used for goats and perhaps other meat birds such as Rhode Island Reds which are quick finishers and aren’t as wild and rowdy as the native chickens.

Lately, I’ve sold enough of the ducks and chickens so that the crops would have a better chance of growing. I’ll be transitioning to growing more crops that we can eat, more native plants and trees for the wildlife, and hopefully diversifying into simple aquaculture. I already have tilapia but would like to add “hito” or mudfish) and freshwater lobsters (crayfish). Aquaculture is quite important to me because I am experiencing the effect of pollution on marine resources on this island and I think that fish and seafood provide essential nutrients that other sources cannot.

Overall, my values and goals have not changed. I grow food for our consumption, not for commerce. If there’s anything to sell it’s because there’s surplus. When we take good care of nature she is very capable of providing abundantly.

Pinky Boar Gets His Tusks Trimmed

My dear Pinky Boar, tusks trimmed and he’s okay!

By two years of age, Pinky’s tusks have grown enough for me to see them coming out of the sides of his mouth. Unfortunately a year later, the tusks were growing inwards. They were curved in such a way that the tips of the tusks dig into the sides of his face. The tusks began to puncture into the thick folds of skin on both sides of his face. I was hoping that the tusks would curl downwards or away from the face, but this wasn’t likely to happen based on how the tusks near the root were shaped. I was quite sure the tusks will just continue to grow into his face, which could later become fatal.

Tusks digging into Pinky’s cheeks. Ouch!

I asked people who raised pigs if they could help. When they saw how big Pinky was, they admitted they couldn’t do it. Pinky was just such a huge boar. So I asked for help from the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian. I asked if they could sedate Pinky. They told me this was too risky, explaining the reasons why. So they suggested that I get several strongmen to help restrain Pinky while an electric cutting tool is used to trim his tusks. I was given a list of medicines and supplies to buy, including an anti-tetanus vaccine and Lidocaine.

Ready to go …
End of the metal harness was hooked onto the post of the pig pen, while the other end was looped over Pinky’s upper snout. Powerful restraint requiring powerful men.
I got five strongmen, they were scared of gentle ol’ Pinky Boar!
Our awesome government livestock vets, not daunted by a 450kg boar.

The procedure was a success. Pinky didn’t like it, but he was restrained with a metal harness around the upper snout, and 5 strong men hog tied him. Anaesthetic was injected around the gum area, his tusks were cut, the cut ends were polished, anti-tetanus was injected, topical treatment applied on wounds on the sides of his face and tooth lesions. I think it took about 15 to 20 minutes. When it was over, Pinky was untied and he went straight back into his pen. He didn’t attack anybody, he didn’t bite anybody, he just walked back home glad that it was all over.

Here are some more photos. The veterinarians estimated that Pinky weighed 400-450 kilograms.

Thank you so much to the wonderful vets at the Bohol Office of the Provincial Veterinarian.

First Parity for Beans

Beans was the runt in a litter, yet we decided to give her a chance as a sow. She gave birth to perfectly healthy piglets with no pre- or post-weaning mortalities, no disease, no need for teeth clipping and no crushing. Beans is a wonderful sow.

Beans (born June 25, 2019) serviced by Pork on January 30, 2020
(Both 7 months of age)
Farrowed May 24, 2020 (115 days gestating) at 9:00PM

A brown piglet is born. Beans farrowed next to the creepspace. Somehow, she knew how to use the creepspace because she was born in this same pen.

May 24, Sunday

At 9:00PM I saw Beans moving nesting material near the creepspace, then she turned around and lay down. By 10:00PM I could see a big brown piglet. At 11:10PM, Beans got up, some piglets squealed then she lay down again. By 12 midnight I could hear Beans grunting as she nurses her piglets. She starts nursing again 15 minutes later. Another 15 minutes later, I heard some piglets fighting but Beans quieted them down by grunting louder (perhaps, producing more milk?)

Through the fence of the pen, it is possible to see the piglets nursing.

The fan was on throughout farrowing which I believe encourages Beans to farrow near the creepspace and at the same time discourages the piglets from wandering away from the creepspace. By 4:00AM I turned off the fan as the temperature became cooler.

Beans in her nest with her day old piglets.

May 25, Monday

6:30AM Beans ate a light meal, water then returned to nursing her piglets. There are 6 piglets. A small litter but I am happier about small litters because it is less stressful for the sow and crushing incidents are less likely.

Beans is agile and flexible and responds quickly to piglets squealing. At 3:50PM, a piglet was squealing because it fell over on its back and couldn’t get up. It managed to get up after a couple of seconds. Beans got up startled wondering what had happened. When she lay down, her backside pressed on a resting piglet, it squealed so Beans got up to allow the piglet to escape.

Early on piglets seem to have learned to avoid their mother perhaps for fear of crushing.

Beans nursing piglets in the nest she built next to the creepspace.

May 26, Tuesday

Beans ate much better today. Her appetite is back to normal. Temperature is not elevated. I applied iron supplements on her teats while the piglets were nursing. I saw Beans panic a bit when she accidentally stepped on a piglet.

May 27, Wednesday

I saw Beans playing! She was running playfully after the piglets. I was worried she might step on them but she is very agile and careful. The piglets also know how to use the creepspace for protection.

Pinky Boar’s tusk trimming was scheduled for today. Despite the presence of people and the noise, Beans was not badly affected. She stayed in one corner of the pen protecting her piglets. I gave them food and forage to distract their attention from the tusk trimming.

Piglets sleeping together.

May 28, Thursday

I saw Beans playing again, which is a good sign after the noise and stress of yesterday’s tusk trimming (the nearby pen about 10 meters away). Beans mode of play is by jumping in the air and turning at the same time. She seemed to do this to attract the piglets’ attention.

Piglets in the creepspace are excited to go out the escape hatch.

May 30, Saturday

Beans was playing again, running around the pen and barking. The piglets have just discovered the different and more attractive soil found just out the escape hatch. I noticed that one of the brown piglets had a “gash” on its left flank. The gash looks like a skin had been pulled away and the wound already healing/drying. It is very difficult to tell what it is or what caused it. Could’ve been an accident with the sow or a sharp object in the pen or the escape hatch/piglet confinement area.

Piglets come out through the escape hatch and have a safe confined area that opens to the garden where they can forage and play.
Piglets playing just outside the farrowing pen.

Some important observations

Teeth clipping was unnecessary. We had no nursing difficulties. Fighting took place as usual amongst litter mates, but the sow was able to control the fighting. Piglets were very adventurous, not afraid of our presence yet careful and wary when wandering outside the pen. Once the piglets start wandering too far towards dangerous sections of the garden (for example near the neighbours where there are dogs), I start to close the piglet pen. This is at around 3-4 weeks of age. By 3 weeks of age the piglets are eating whatever their mother eats, testing new things to eat.

Beans nursing her piglets. Beans is happy, relaxed and content.

July 18, Saturday

Beans appeared to be in heat. She was anxious, made deep but soft growl-like vocalizations, and kept looking towards Pinky Boar in a pen about 12 meters away. So I decided to separate her from her piglets July 19. I took her to the pen next to Pinky and she seemed very excited about it!

Playing with the weaned piglets!

A day before weaning, I gave the piglets a herbal concoction to prevent diarrhea. The piglets usually get diarrhea 3 days after I’ve separated them from their mom. But this time, no diarrhea at all. Herbal medicine works! I didn’t need to give them any anti-scour medicine or antibiotics.

This is ABC, Avocado, Bayabas (Guava), Caimito (Star Apple). Coffee leaves ma be used instead of Caimito. Leaves from these trees are cut up and boiled. A decoction is made and given to piglets. I started giving ABC to the piglets a day before they were weaned. Usually, when piglets are weaned, they suffer diarrhea on the third day, and depending on the situation, may continue on until 7-14 days. This is detrimental to the piglets’ health. Without mother’s milk which has natural antibodies, the piglets’ digestive systems may become colonised by bacteria from the environment. Often, anti-scour medicine containing antibiotics are given to piglets. However, natural remedies such as ABC are better.

The Bohol Lechon

I got a pig roasted. A roasted suckling pig is called ‘Lechon.’ This is how it’s often done on our island Bohol. Just backyard roasting. Our butcher Yokyok and his assistant Noel do everything, from slaughter to roasting. Normally, a small pig or weanling is best for roasting, from 15 to 25 kg. 40 kg is also OK. But that wasn’t available. So this is what I got, a 54 kilogram pig. As of now, live roasting pig costs 130-150 pesos per kg (US$2.50-US$3.00), and can get up to 160-180 pesos/kg (US$3.50) during peak season (such as fiesta and school graduation). This one was 140/kg so that’s 7,560 pesos (US$148). The smaller the roasting pig, the more expensive the live weight. Yokyok charges 500 to 800 pesos (US$9-15) for slaughter and roasting. If you order a roasted pig, this size would cost about 9,000 pesos (US$177). It is delivered to your house ready to eat.

Prices may be different in other provinces in the Philippines.

Because this pig is quite heavy, Yokyok needed to make sure the pig is secure. The pig is tied to the metal spit from the inside of the pig (traditionally, people used a straight bamboo spit). The spit Yokyok uses is just a G.I. pipe, about 8 feet long, with a handle attached to one end for manually rotating the pig. There are kits specially for pig roasting, including an electric motor, but we don’t have those. This is the simplest and most primitive but effective for us.

To secure the pig to the spit, it is tied via its spinal column and ribs (shown in photos). Raffia twine is used. To do this, a rib is removed on each side (not sure if that’s obvious in the photos). Legs are also tied to the spit. Seasoning is prepared and rubbed all over the pig, inside and out. If the pig has way too much fat, sometimes the butcher will remove some fat. I think it is more difficult to roast an overly fat pig. Pig is also stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, onion, onion leaves, chopped lemon, fermented black beans. Then the belly of the pig is stitched up really tightly. Notice how sexy the pig is! This process is crucial to ensure the pig will not fall apart or move when it is rotated. Especially a pig this size. Yokyok has roasted a pig of 115 kg! It was not easy and not really recommended! The smaller, the easier and better for everybody.

Anyway, the roasting took 3 hours. During the last hour, a piece of cotton cloth dipped in coconut oil is rubbed all over the skin of the pig to crisp up the skin. After 3 hours, the pig was perfectly cooked all the way through. Awesome flavour, soft meat, and remarkable crispy skin! The skin remained crisp even after the lechon has cooled! Amazing!!

There are regional variations, but here, the seasoning usually consists of: lemongrass, garlic, onion, onion leaves, chopped lemon, fermented black beans, salt, soy sauce, black peppercorns, salt. The most important aromas that enhanced the pork are from the garlic, lemongrass, black peppercorns and lemon.We are still under COVID-19 Community Quarantine. So we cut this up and packed in lunch boxes with pork blood stew, vermicelli and egg noodles and steamed pork buns and distributed to people. Normally we would have a party at home. Still, everyone in the village had lots to eat!