Hackney Permaculture


Making leaf curd from lime tree leaves
April 19, 2009, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Doing, Learning | Tags: , , , ,

I recently invested in the British permaculture bible, The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield. It is a truly awesome body of work which I recommend to anyone with a pulse.

One of the first things to catch my eye was a recipe tucked into an obscure corner of the book about making leaf-curd and feeling slightly nervous about where us vegans are going to find tofu when flying it over from the other side of the world stops making economic sense, I thought it time to have a go at making some…

  1. First I accosted my friend Richard Godwin to climb up the lime tree and harvest some of the lovely young leaves, which just so happened to be a nice lime colour.
  2. Next we stuck the leaves into a liquidiser until we had a smooth leafy paste which was then strained through a tea towel to remove the pulp.
  3. The remaining liquid was then boiled and the curd which formed on top collected by skimming from the top of the pan and put into an improvised mould.
  4. Then we knocked up a quick stir fry and ate ‘leafu’ as it also seems to be affectionately called.

Richard also wrote a column about this for the Evening Standard which can be read here – http://godwin.thisislondon.co.uk/2009/04/permaculture.html

Further research lead me to this PDF document – Leaf concentrate: A Field Guide for Small Scale Programs by David Kennedy and Leaf for Life (1993) which is utterly huge and if you want to get geeky on the topic seems to pretty much cover EVERYTHING, ever that you could ever ever ever want to know about making leaf curd anywhere at anytime with anyone.

Richard Godwin harvesting lime leaves

Richard Godwin harvesting lime leaves

Lime Leaf purée

Lime leaf purée

Leaf curd in improvised mold

Leaf curd in improvised mold

Leaf curd or Leafu stir fry

Leaf curd or Leafu stir fry

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Fighting the good fight (slugs and snails)

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…

Anti slug defences

Anti slug defences

Anti slug defences (Part 2)

Anti slug defences (Part 2)

Cloches made from used drinks bottles to protect from snails and slugs

Cloches made from used drinks bottles to protect from snails and slugs

Cloches and netting to protect young plants

Cloches and netting to protect young plants



Dibbing potatoes at Laurieston Hall
March 22, 2009, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Doing, Learning | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was up in Scotland over the weekend visiting some friends of mine at Laurieston Hall, an intentional community near Castle Douglas. They were all up nice and early on sunday morning to dib potatoes and kindly let me get involved too!

The 101 on potatoes in that you need to chit them which can be done in a number of ways – basically you just leave them somewhere and they sprout little green shoots. Most of us have done it by accident before so I am sure you are glad you now have a name for it so next time you can make it look intentional. Then you dib, which is the lingo for making a hole, I seem to remember them being about a foot deep, then you plant them. Nice. These were ‘earlies’ which go in in March and I have totally forgotten all the rest I learnt about potatoes… must take notes next time.

Jamie dibbing

Jamie dibbing

The bottom of a potato

The bottom of a potato - note the little bump

The top of a potato

The top of a potato

Lots of other things growing here too - Laurieston Hall in spring

Lots of other things growing here too - Laurieston Hall in spring



Couchsurfing
February 22, 2009, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Doing, Learning | Tags: , ,

It may not have anything to do with growing veg but somehow couchsurfing feels like it belongs on this blog.

Basically you sign up to a social networking site of people who are happy for you to come and kip on their couch. Nice, huh? Have a peek here – http://www.couchsurfing.com/

I have had one person to stay so far and all went swimmingly. My first couchsurf will be in Glasgow in two weeks time.

Apparently Natalie searched couchsurfing for 'axe murder' and I came up

Apparently Natalie searched couchsurfing for 'axe murder' and I came up



Pedal Power, generating electricity with bikes
February 21, 2009, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Learning | Tags: , , ,

As mentioned in the previous post – Gunpowder park in Enfield has been hosting The Energy Cafe for a wee while. We went up to take part in a wonderful workshop on generating electricity using pedal power run by Magnificent Revolution, who have been providing electricity for music and cinema events around the country.

Lucy fixing a bike into the 'trainer'

Lucy fixing a bike into the 'trainer'

I was planning on writing up all that I learnt but luckily the girls are one step ahead of me and have comprehensive instructions on their own blog here – http://www.magnificentrevolution.org/diy-2/

I am not sure that this is going to be useful in the garden at the moment but you never know when it may come in handy, hey? Did someone say living in a yurt one day? Hmmmmm….



Smoke-free wood stove
February 21, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Learning, Thinking | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Andrew demonstrates his design for a smoke-free wood stove

Andrew demonstrates his design for a smoke-free wood stove

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!

A top view of the smoke-free wood stove showing the fan induced vortex

A top view of the smoke-free wood stove showing the fan induced vortex