Daily Archives: December 6, 2006

Herb spiral

I finally got rid of the last patch of grass this March and turned an unproductive area of the garden into a herb spiral. The idea is that you gain more space by having different levels and the top part caters for herbs which require more drainage while the bottom part is better for herbs which like the soil damper and more shaded. It is the ideal place for it as although in the winter it is in alot of shadow in summer it’s in full sun and well protected on each side, but most importantly it’s close to the kitchen.

As I have a limited amount of space when I took up the lawn I could not pile up the sods and let them compost in the traditional way so I upturned them and used them to give me the hight I needed for the spiral, the rest was filled in with well rotted compost and a small amount of grit for the upper part so as to aid drainage. I decided not to put a pond in at the base as our garden has a healthy population of frogs and toads along with the fact that nextdoor has a large pond. All the brickwork paths are recycled from an old brick shed which I pulled down when we had an extention built.

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It was planted with parsley mint oregano rosemary lemon balm thyme sage rocket and borage. I wanted to plant it up with herbs which I use daily and others which would encourage me to experiment. I also planted basil from seed but could not save it from the slugs. Some of the most surprising successes were the mint, thyme and parsley which were all from the super market at about 50p each, and are still going strong now in december.

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Mid summer I also used the spaces to plant tomato and chilli peppers which turned out to be my best ever.
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Now in December there are still remnants of many of the herbs and the garlic I planted in november is just coming through the soil. Over all I think that it has been a success but I must admit to not ever using the lemon balm but it has a great aroma so it can stay.

First time Bodger

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I’ve finally finished my pole lathe it’s been stuck outside since febuary half finished, but a brief spell of enthusiam got the thing finished. The design was taken from Mike Abbots fantastic book Green Woodworking, which has detailed plans of how to build a pole lathe shave horse and many of the techniques of wood turning. However I was stuck on how to make the metal screw threaded part which holds the piece of wood to be turned. I finally decided to sacrifice an old G clamp by cutting off end to allow it to pass straight through the G part of the clamp. I then made a point at the end with an electric grinder and drilled a hole through the poppet slightly smaller than needed so that as it was screwed in it created it’s own screw thread.

Lemon and Ginger Wine

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This a recipe for lemon and ginger wine that I got from modern day hippie on the selfsufficientish.com web site I got the brewing bucket and two demijohns from free cycle so could not wait to put them to good use.

Hi this is a bit of a self made recipe but have made three lots and seems to work fine
also unless you grow lemons or ginger most of its shop brought im afraid so a bit of a cheat but still a lot nicer and cheaper than any shop brought ones ive tried.
you will need a beer or wine fermenting bucket and two demijohs
this makes 12 bottles
ingredients
1LB stem root ginger (can be grown but never managed to grow that much)
12 lemons
2kgs sugar
yeast any will do i use two sachets of dried bread making yeast
this is the easy part chop up the ginger slice the lemons and throw into the bucket add about 6-8pints of hot water and soak overnight.
next day add enough water to make up to 10 litres and leave for a further two to three days this could be left longer but the ginger starts to go funny so i wouldnt recomend it.
now for the messy part remove the lemons and ginger and squezze at as much quice as possible strain the liquid and dissolve in the sugar.
place into the two demijohns and add a sachet of yeast to each.

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after three weeks or when all bubbling has ceased i add two cambden tablets into each demijohn and bottle
you can also filter the wine at this stage as well if wanted.
now the fun part this wine has two flavors if left for a week its very lemony with a hint of ginger but after three months it loses the lemon flavor and becomes more of a ginger wine
Ps for true ginger fans try making some now and leaving a couple of bottles till christmas but dont blame me if its to strong
happy drinking

Permaculture design course

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This June I did my two week Permaculture Design Course at Ragmans Lane Farm in Gloucestershire, held by Patrick Whitefield. It was a fantastic course helped along by some of the best weather in years.

Patrick takes most of the lessons however there are a few guest speakers from different fields, his wife Kathy also does a few of the lessons and is always present throughout patricks talks, which made for a very friendly atmosphere. I do admit to feeling slightly nervous before the course started as I was concerned that it would be full of hippies hugging trees, but it turned out that that there was people from all different backgrounds, so I felt more at home, me being northern council scum.

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Here is Patrick and Sarah Pugh taking an outdoor lesson on a beautiful June day, all teaching should be like this.

I did feel that there could have been more practical sessions but the amount of material we went through I can see how that takes up time, however there was enough to keep me busy. I still wanted to get my hands dirty so a couple of months later I went back to volunteer for two weeks which again was a great experience. I felt that I was putting the theory into practice.

For anybody who is considering doing the design course or is just curious about permaculture I highly recommend this course.

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Me building a Hangi

Scummy Scunny Scrumpy

This is my first ever time making cider and infact appart from a nettle beer experiment last year this will be my first ever brewing experience. All you need is apples and a press somebody told me. I did consider making one, after looking at others on the internet but due to the fact that It has taken me a year to build a pole lathe, I thought I would treat myself, but when I looked at the prices I was about to give it up. Fortunately though, a friend was also thinking of getting one so we went half’s, I made my half of the money by selling stuff on ebay, it’s amazing how much crap you have lying around. I bought them from http://www.winepress4u.co.uk/ who were one of the cheapest and it turned out very helpful, as when they turned up the crusher was badly dinted and the main frame had a crack in it. I phoned them expecting to have to wait another few weeks but they sent a new one the next morning and collected the old one aswell.

The crusher is a fantasticly simple piece of equipment, but works much better than I expected. You can fill the box full of apples and although it’s hard work at first it makes mince meat of them in no time, however this does depend on the ripeness of the apples. I did put some of the less ripe ones through twice so as to really break them down. My only problem with it is that like the press you need to make a custom built frame or table for it to sit on, unlike the photos it does not work just balanced over the bucket. Luckily I was just about to get rid of an old 50’s table frame which was almost made for it. I simply clamped it to the frame and it also had the added benifit of being at the right hight. Now thats permaculture.

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