Hackney Permaculture


Mulching the edge of a pond
April 11, 2009, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Doing, Thinking | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

The problem - visible pond liner

The problem - visible pond liner

Cardboard ridged and threaded with twigs covering liner

Cardboard ridged and threaded with twigs covering liner

The solution - mulched pond edge covering liner

The solution - mulched pond edge covering liner

Claudia planting around the pond

Claudia planting around the pond

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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



jakob’s magic seed sorting technique
February 11, 2009, 8:39 am
Filed under: Doing, Thinking | Tags: , ,

A little while ago I posted an entry about drying squash seeds and I have been saving and drying these and other seeds since including pumpkin and melon.

There was a little incident recently when mice found the seeds but luckily they only ate a few of them and then moved on to tastier finds.

One of the annoying things about saving and drying seeds is how fiddly it is… cue my housemate Jakob with an ingenious idea – why not put them, goop and all into a big bowl of water, mix it about and let the seeds float to the top! Much more fun…

drying seeds



The big picture
October 11, 2008, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Thinking | Tags: , ,

So this is where we are at now – starting to look much better…

The big picture

The big picture



One week gone
September 22, 2008, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Thinking | Tags: , , , , , ,

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.