Well after a week of rain i must say i’ve realised that i’m spending too much time moving water around and getting soaked in the process. Whilst it is fun and does make me feel like I’ve showered when i haven’t, it’s not really sustainable or practical…

The gutter on one side of the house has fallen off, so i’ve been collecting water in an assortment of buckets and basins and then pouring it down pipes into the pond to try to keep it from drying up. This has been depressingly ineffective until this week when it has rained a shitload (the IBC went from zero to 1000 litres in two days!!). I’ve also worked out how to siphon water from the sloot and i’ve been emptying the IBC periodically, so now finally the pond is filling up again and the lilies look happier.


Fuck knows why it got so low, i thought it was on ground water but seemingly it’s not. Until this week, july has been very very dry, so maybe it’s just that. But you can see from where i painted the bridge that now the water is 20cm lower than it was three months ago..

Anyhoo, now things are improving, since we skipped some huge bits of metal which have formed an imporvised gutter which makes the roof leak only in three places now. Once i buy some bolts, it should reduce to two places. The plan is to install the second IBC under one of these places. Then we’re in business. And i don’t have to run around getting drenched any more!!


I like plums

The plums are now go! B came up with a genius invention innovation to get those hard to reach plums, which i must say really trumps my shake the tree approach.


Basically you tape a container to a long stick, so for us it was cherry tomato buckets from the shitmarket gaffer taped to bamboo, which of course we have lots of.

You then poke the clusters of plums with the stick and see what falls into the container. Genius! We scored loads of plums.

It was good doing it with two, since we made different length devices and thus could reach different branches.

Rocket stove

Another thing to add to the research list is how to make a rocket stove. I’m a bit slow to realise this but it would be a good way to cook the kettle instead of using gas, with the added advantage that it would get me out of the house into the garden!

[Also on the list how to cut back ash, build your own gutter, dredge ponds etc etc]

I’ve built a rocket stove before but it didnt work so good in terms of efficiency, so I need to research it a bit (and that also fills time until I can dumpster the sort of big can I need…)

So far this instructables how-to has been quite helpful, and in particular this comment….

I’ve made lots of rockets, both the simple Winiarski L-rocket and the Ianto Evans J-rocket. I cook and heat with my latest model, right now. This one of yours is really nice; not least because – clearly – you understand the principles which make rockets work so well, and they’re faithfully reproduced in this handsome quickie knock-up. I would question, though, sand or clay as insulators; heat sinks, more like. And as you point out, good insulation of the riser tube is critical to make the stove work effectively. Very high combustion temperatures – near 1000 degrees Centigrade for larger-diameter rockets – are an essential design principle; only achievable with a thick layer of good insulation. The proportions which you built in, and the absolutely-vital insulation, are the outcome of long, careful, very much field-tested development periods, by Larry W., and by Ianto independently, and with help from many colleagues.

Beware the YouTube vids about ‘rocket’ making! Far too many of the posters clearly don’t understand the basic principles of rockets, and make very bad, cargo-cult-style sort-of-rocket-like stoves that don’t work right, because they’re not built right. Lots of cases, for example, where sand or soil are recommended as high-grade insulators, when they’re nothing of the sort. Quite a few cases where the insulation is deliberately left out altogether (kiss of death!). Lots of other examples where the proportions are quite wrong, producing vastly inferior results. Sure, they still cook stuff, after a fashion; but with low temperature flames licking out of the top of the riser, and sooting up your pans. Proper rockets produce super hot carbon-dioxide and water vapour at the top of the riser tube, just as they hit the pan, and virtually nothing else except a very small amount of fly-ash.

To achieve this final, very hot completion of the fuel burn just at the top of the riser, chimney height needs to be two-and-a-half to three times the diameter; and the more high-grade insulation round the chimney and the inner end of the feed tube the better. Make it three inches thick, at least. Play around with quick, dirt-cheap knock-up rockets like this one, whilst you get the hang of it all. That’s what I did. Proper rockets are in a class of their own, better than any standard wood-stove. PROPER rockets, that is! DRY fuel is a great help too.

BTW, don’t try glass-fibre for insulation. A properly built rocket gets so hot, it melts the fibre back from the riser-tube’s outer surface. Tried it. Doesn’t work! Good insulators are: DRY wood ash, perlite, or vermiculite. They can take the bright-red-to-white-heat.

Once you’re confident that you’re up to speed with all this, try making a rocket in stainless steel tube, with 3mm wall thickness. Stainless appears to resist burn-through indefinitely; well, for at least fifteen years in my experience. Four inch diameter is a good starting size. Bigger diameter tube gives a very hot, strong fire, which will need a little more fuel. Still amazingly fuel-economical, though. That’s part of the original design-spec. for rockets, for Third World and refugee-camp cooking, where fuel is very scarce, and is often nothing more than dried plant stalks. Tried that with nettle stalks; works amazingly well! The other main design spec. was a very clean burn, to reduce serious lung illnesses to people using firewood long-term for cooking. Only possible at very high temperatures.

Weld up the parts of the stainless fire tube, rather than just pushing them together. You will need an angle-grinder to cut them to shape. Outer can, to contain the fire-tube and the insulation, can be any suitable mild-steel available. Doesn’t have to stand up to the high temperatures and the super-heated oxygen, the way the fire-tube must.


We are going to have a SHITLOAD of brambleberries soon!
I mean, really a lot, most of the front garden once so painstakingly cleared has been reclaimed by bramble and nettle. So we are going to fight back, but we are biding our time, waiting for the berries to come then we will hack our way through, making jam and clearing paths.

What a load of rubbish!!

Previously when I had a car, disposing of rubbish was pretty easy, every so often I’d drive the bags to the bin when I was going out doing something else. It’s not like we produce a huge amount of rubbish here, maybe a bin bag every two weeks, but even this started to stockpile after a few months.

I was a bit slow to realise this and so kept on producing new bin bags, but now i’ve switched to using smaller bags, which I just bin when I go into town in any handy trash container.

The rubbish breakdown is:

Where What
Compost Uncooked food waste, garden waste green
Burn bin Cooked food waste, paper, mouldy stuff
Stoves Paper, card etc
Landfill Last resort waste, plastic packaging, crap
Metal bin Food cans, drink cans, broken tools, metal waste
Glass bin Glass bottles, jars etc

It’s interesting being so strict in breaking up things to see now how much pkastic packaging I use nowadfays. Sadly I almost always use a supermarket and so much stuff is prepackaged. Only taking a close look at how much I’m throwing away made me realsie that.