It looks like it got pretty cold last night and some of my bean pods lost all their colour almost cracking open in places.
I decided it was a good morning for a spot of seed saving.
London Permaculture Festival coming up soon – I will be the one wandering around trying to find carrot cake – click on the flyer for more info – see you there then!
Filed under: Doing, Learning, Planning, Thinking | Tags: fan, fruit tree, grapevine, pruning, training, trellis
When we first cleared back some of the undergrowth in the back garden we discovered an old grapevine stump that looked like it was dead. To our delight it started to sprout a tonne of leaves a few months back so todays job was to start training it up a trellis into a fan.
There is some good advice here – http://www.realenglishfruit.co.uk/content/treetraining.htm
You can see the beans at the bottom left, reed bed to the right with pond above, raised bed at the back and the cold frames/compost bins being used for storage at the back left. The middle bed has an apple tree and is covered with a hessian sack mulch. I think this may be the first view of the nicely wood chipped pathway. Happy days.
Filed under: Doing, Thinking | Tags: capture, compassion, head torch, prevention, slug, snail, vegan
Okay so slugs and snails can be a bit of an arse. I have tried EVERYTHING. Well, not quite everything as I don’t want to poison or kill/harm the buggers in anyway. Stupid vegan hippie I hear you stay but seriously the way I am going I may be reborn as a slug and I would like a fair innings no matter what shape or size being I become.
So what to do, what to do…
Midnight slug and snail raids with a head torch and a big plastic container to store them is the answer. I have been looking for an excuse to buy a head torch for ages. Then you take them to the nearest patch of waste or common ground and let them go… You will not believe how many of them I have ‘moved’ and it can be kinda fun playing hide and seek with them in the dark… They are quick too!
Filed under: Doing, Learning, Planning, Recycling, Thinking | Tags: grey water recycling, Horizontal Flow Reed Bed, reed beds, reeds from seeds, vertical Flow Reed Bed
One of the projects that really stuck in my head after reading my first book on permaculture was creating reed beds for recycling grey water (any waste water from the house except sewage from the toilet).
After a good deal of time spent researching and reading around the topic the time finally came to make it a reality. Luckily there is a builders depo at the end of my street who sell gravel and my friend Morgan was on hand to help me put it all together.
For an average household you need 1m² of reed bed to recycle each persons grey water and you need four reeds per square metre. As I already had two used bath tubs to hand which came to just over 2m² and the three of us who live at 33b don’t use that much water I decided to go with that even if it was a little below the recommended area.
Ten reed plants were bought from Reeds from Seeds who can be found here – http://www.brynpolyn.co.uk/ – The total costwas £27.60 most of which was the delivery cost to London from Wales. They were very helpful people indeed explaining that late April or early May were the best time to plant.
A depth of about a metre seems to be the order of the day from a couple of diagrams I saw. The bath tubs took a maximum of about 80cm so I went with that, filling them with a layer of fine gravel on top of a layer of coarse gravel, about 50/50 of each.
It was decided after some debate to run the water into the bottom of each bath tub with water exiting out of the top. This way it has to pass up through the whole reed bed and cannot flow straight through as some designs seem to indicate. Pipes were fixed in the bottom with bricks and slate to keep them from being crushed by the weight of the gravel and to stop them from coming out. You can see that the first ‘metal tub’ reed bed is above the height of the other ‘mighty white’ tub so the water passes from the house into the bottom of the upper tub, rising through the bed to a pipe which feeds it into the bottom of the lower tub before it overflows through the bath’s original overflow into either the pond or the adjacent bed.
The metal tub was lined with a plastic sheet as it had many holes in the bottom from a previous life as a planter. Making the right sized hole for the pipe fixture was a challenge finally managed with a drill, some elbow grease and a bit of love, hence the three photos!
A lot of designs have settlement tanks and other features. I decided not to go for these yet but allowed space further back upstream to retro fit a settlement tank if needed. Whilst the reeds establish themselves I only plan to put bath and shower water into them and to use only natural grooming and cleaning products in the bathroom so there shouldn’t be anything too nasty for them to have to deal with and not too much by way of solid matter as the plug hole catches all the hairs!
Here are a few other pages of interest -
Filed under: Brainstorming, Doing, Learning, Recycling, Thinking | Tags: battle, cloches, copper, defence, drinks bottles, egg shells, recycled, slugs, snails, war
Okay so we had to lose our virginity at some point. You create a nice bed, you plant stuff, it grows, then slugs and snails come and eat it…
One of the first things planted out were some beans which got utterly munched within days. It was clear that some extra thought was required and non-lethal reinforcements came in the shape of cloches made from plastic drinks bottles, broken up egg shells, copper from wire and coins, and midnight slug and snail raids with my brand new head torch!
Not wanting to kill any of god’s creatures, I have just been throwing them over the fence so far which seems to have worked, making a huge dent in the local population and seems to keep everyone happy as next door don’t really do much with their garden and there is lots of nice green stuff growing there.
Our veg is safe for now…
Filed under: Doing, Thinking | Tags: cardboard, claudia pohl, edge, mud, mulching, pond liner
As previously mentioned we now have a pond but quite a bit of the black liner is showing which is kinda bad news as it is more likely to get punctured as a result.
The back story is that it is virtually impossible to make a small pond which is deep enough to keep bugs and grubs happy over the winter without having some steep edges. Depths of over 70cm are advised so frogs and toads can survive the pond freezing but it you only have a metre or two for your pond you are not then going to have shallow enough sides so that any organic matter can sit on the liner for stuff to grow in.
I thought I might have a go at mulching the edges with cardboard and then piling some mud on top to cover it over. In order to stop the mud from falling straight off the cardboard I peeled back the top layer from dampened cardboard to reaveal the bumpy underside, threaded some twigs into the cardboard to create ridges and made very thick icky mud which was really really fun! Seriously – this is an excuse for adults to make mud pies… oh yes.
Seems to have done the job nicely thus far and hopefully plants will start to bind it all together creating a long term organic cover over the liner.
Filed under: Learning, Thinking | Tags: burning, fan, flume, recycled, reuse, smoke free, wood chip, wood stove
A quick jaunt up north to Enfield on the train from Hackney Downs and we are in Gunpowder Park at The Energy Cafe for a workshop on pedal power. Andrew was also about and demonstrating his smoke-free wood stove which impressed me muchly.
Hooking up a fan to feed the flames more air increases the efficiency of the combustion and decreases the amount of smoke, which is essentially unburnt hydrocarbons or very small bits of wood to you and me.
All of the stove had been made from reused parts found in local skips. The main body was an old flue buried into a tyre filled with soil, the fan was from an old laptop. As the flue was already double walled it provided excellent insulation so the wood could burn at a higher temperature. The fan created a vortex in the main chamber which meant better mixing of air again leading to a higher burn temperature resulting in no smoke at all and 5kW of heat apparently!
So this is where we are at now – starting to look much better…
Filed under: Thinking | Tags: community, free stuff, freecycle, friends, gardening, landlord, neighbours
It has been amazing how my neighbours, friends and landlord have responded to all this new-found mischief.
I seem to have met and chatted to a lot more neighbours than usual in the last two weeks. I guess people who have lived on the street for many years see gardening as a sign that I care about my home/street/area and as a result they seem keener to make conversation or maybe I am being more extrovert as I hunt for free stuff!
I have got a wooden trellis, a garden bench, bagged garden cuttings and soon some wood chippings all as a result of people on my street. I also got half a bag of posh compost from freecycle. All for free. This is good.
My landlord is delighted – the house was his family home where he grew up and his mum was a keen gardener, which shows as the soil is in great condition. We have already found one of her grapevines which looks good to give us a crop next year with suitable amounts of love and attention.
Finally, my friends all seem enthused about getting involved and indeed have already mucked in admirably. I hope that once we have set up my garden we can continue this momentum and go and find some other spaces to transform. It seems pretty easy so far and not a penny spent yet.
Next up after mulching is working out how to recycle grey water – this looks like being a big challenge but that is okay cos I like big challenges.