Daily Archives: December 12, 2006

How to use a ratchet press

The ratchet press I use is very simple but came with no instructions, so here are some, it’s not rocket science.

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Start by filling the wooden barrel with your crushed apple press down firmly and fill to the top. Then add the two half moon wooden pieces, and press down. Remember to have the bucket under the press from this point as juice will start to flow immediately. Next build up a stagered tower with the timber blocks, you are only given four pieces but I cut a few more to give extra hight. The trick is to build the tower as high as you can as this saves unwinding the ratchet to add more pieces.
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Then srew on the ratchet untill it meets the wooden blocks. Then comes the important part, as you need to slot in two shieves. The ratchet will not work without them. They are always placed in opposite directions.
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If you want the ratchet to go down point the shieves in a clockwise direction and visa versa.Think of it like this, if you want it to go down, as you place the shieves in, think of a clockwise motion and have the pointed end of the shieve pointing in that direction. When you want to reverse it just swop them over easy.
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When it gets to a point when you feel that you can’t possibly go any further, stop, and then wait a while. I normally give it half an hour to an hour, smoke a fag make a cup of tea. When you return you will find that you are able to crank it with ease again for a while. When it gets stiff again stop wait a few mins and then reverse the shieves, take off the ratchet and wooden blocks open the barrel an you are left with a squashed apple cake as my son calls it. My press is a 15 ltr I -guess this is the volume of the barrel- this gives me on average 5ltr’s of juice from each press. It also will be necessary to build a table or have something to fix it to when pressing as without you are unable to exert enough force.

Best of all it’s great fun, next year I will be able to enjoy some year old cider between presses.

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Allotment petition

Allotments as we know are a valuable resource that create an environment and community which is vital to some people. They should be available to all that require them and also more should be encouraged to take part, but sadly there are not enough in some places to meet demand.

Please join us in signing the petition here to lobby the government to provide more allotments in the UK.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/allotments/

christmas trees real or fake ?

I have a slight dilema this week as a relative brought round a fake christmas tree, that they no longer want. It is in perfect condition but it causes the eco warrior in me to take stock of the situation. Normally we choose to have a real tree, that we source from local growers. You could say that the sacrifice that the tree makes, for years of growing to then be cut down to spend a few weeks in the corner of the room, means that I should go for a fake tree that may last for many many years, leaving the living thing in the ground. However you would be wrong.

If a tree is sourced with care then you can find yourself purchasing from a local suppiler, which means the embodied energy in producing that tree is virtually zero. I knew a game keeper who reared pheasants for shooting, he had a patch of land where he grew various types of Christmas tree, it provided him with a bonus at Christmas and the rest of the year it was cover for the young pheasants. A duel purpose crop which also was a much needed break in the hedgeless expanses of the Lincolnshire agricultural landscape. Without this regular coppicing this small area of trees would soon turn into an overgrown copse which would not cater for the same variety of animals, or would end up being turned back into farm land.

On the other hand buying a live tree each year is a wasteful tradition that contributes needlessly to deforestation. A plastic tree will last for years. A fake plastic tree however comes from half way round the world not to mention the petrolium based materials that go into making it. Also as fashions change and things break these things find there way to the landfill site, you can stick one on the compost heap but you may be waiting a while. Thinking that buying a fake tree will stop the trees being cut down is a false hope, if there was no call for them you may see a whole plantation cut down in favour of a more lucrative crop.

However this does not solve my present problem of what to do with this fake tree I was given. I could put it on freecycle then go out and buy another, but would that be against my principles? I have this thing in my possession, should I make use of it in favour of what I want?