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Annie Hope

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since Mar 05, 2012
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Recent posts by Annie Hope


I wondering what you do with your biogas waste?  I have read bits that it is not that good for the soil, but can't find a lot on it.

I did find this article, and read the more understandable parts, and its conclusion is the need for more research.

Quite heavy reading, and it seems that it is staying that it gives an immediate flush of nitrogen small green growth, but long term does not support bacteria life required for the breakdown of organic waste in to mineral nutrients available for plants.

It did say in one small section that when fermentation was 18-20C rather than 40C or more (and so different bacteria), then it was less of a problem.  Do most home biogas systems sit closer to this 18-20C range?
4 months ago
I want to mount a solar panel with plex risers against a house wall that is already insulated.  

I am in NZ, and so the cheapest tee fittings will be $4 each but I can get the cheap box timber from the mill for $1 per metre (and have 200m sitting in  my paddock now), and have heaps of second hand greenhouse plastic to line it with.  
I also have heaps of sun-facing area to put them on.  
Being near the coast, our minimum winter temperature at night is -3C, and average winter maximum is 13C, so a single layer of plastic does bring quite a bit of warmth.

My question, then, is how wide can the risers be to make the whole thing cost effective?

Looking at the bottom of this article, doubling the risers only gives 10% improved efficiency return, as does adding aluminium fins.  My guess is that having a quarter of the risers in the same space would result in about a 50% loss of efficiency, but I was wondering if any has tried this before I spend the time and money experimenting.
8 months ago
Thanks for the hydrangea tip.

Sorry - my science terminology went a bit wrong - I meant a low PH garden, not low acid.

what application of sulphur do you use to make your soil more acidic (e.g. what form and how much and how often)?

1 year ago
A raspberry is not quite a tree, but I hope this is the best place for this.

I family emergency has meant that our 12 x 24m and 100 plant raspberry patch has been left untended for a few years.  Half is overrun by weeds, and there are still small plants that easily transplant, but where the woodchip went down thick enough, we have a forest of raspberry canes.  It is now early summer in NZ, and so the second year canes are giving us our first abundant crop, and I will cut them in a month when they stop producing, but this year's canes are now a thick forest almost as high as me.  I want to thin them so they are pickable and don't mildew, and also to establish another patch in our "pick your own" paddock.  

They are a first-year autumn and second-year summer variety.

If I cut the canes down about a foot high to move them, what will happen? I am not so interested in fruit this year, but production in following years.
1 year ago

Wondering about a low acid food forest for blueberries on a small commercial scale.  I have the following questions:

- Is this a good idea, our would they be better planted in a woodchip garden bed where they are not competing for soil and can be netted easily.

- Would it be best for them to be the highest plant, or do they prefer partial shade?

- What plants would also go well in a low acid environment?  It doesn't have to be edible.  We also have need for a windbreak, and anything that would be good for animal fodder, fire wood or untreated fence posts that don't rot would also be a useful plant in this.  I have also considered growing a small crop of Christmas trees, so that is one that could go together with the blueberries.

We are in New Zealand, by the beach, so frosts down to -2-3C often in winter, but never more than -4C on record.  We also have summers that average 22C high, and never more than about 30C on record.  VERY temperature zone!
1 year ago

I am basically wanting to make it safe for swimming without using chlorine.  So basically I am trying to turn a round plastic pool in to a small natural pool.  I am mainly wanting to sift out any nutrients carried in that  make grow algae, and also sift or balance the dangerous bacteria.
1 year ago
No - my son's pool that got abandoned during a family emergency for a few years currently has a frog living in it.  I have an old cement laundry tub moved into position that I will set up as a frog pond so the frog has somewhere to go, and then we will turn the pool back into a swimming pool for the New Zealand "summer".  
1 year ago
I am wanting to make a simple natural filter to get back into action my son's 8ft pop-up pool for the New Zealand summer.  (After we make a tub into a pond and relocate the frog in it).  It is 2,300L (600 Gallon) capacity.

I have easy access to river sand, gravel and stones.  Our hottest summer month has an average high of 23C (73F) so it will live inside a home-made greenhouse with lots of stones for thermal mass, and the water will be heated as well.

I am considering three options:

- a simple sand filter

- a basic aquaponic set-up, with heat-loving plants like capsicum - as the water we pump through its roots will be heated

- A water cascade with water plants in them similar to grey water tank filtration (hence this forum but feel free to cross-link if you know how or where)

Which would be best - or should a do a combination of all three, and if so in what order??

Any suggestions or links to really easy ones??

1 year ago
I am in New Zealand on the North Island where very little grain is grown, and straw is usually sold by pre-order before harvest.  But I do have my local tree guy dump truck-loads of wood chip in my pasture.

This includes some fruit trees, but mainly ornamentals, including a lot of New Zealand natives - and often a mix of trees in the one dump.  New Zealand natives are usually a soft-leaf evergreen, as we are in a climate where is is light winter frosts, but not enough to kill the grass, as most land is so close to the coast.  I think they are often also a hardwood.

I have read bits about what type of wood will grow oyster mushrooms and so far have gleaned the following bits of information:

YES - hardwoods, oak, deciduous

NO - fruit trees, pines/conifers

What I am wanting to know is the theory behind it.  Or to make it more simple - if a mushroom grows on the wood, is it OK?  E.G, do they not grow on pinewood, or if you grew it on pine would will it give a bad taste to the mushrooms?

Basically, can I go out to each pile that does not smell of pine/conifer resin and steam a trial batch, and if spawn grows on it, then I know I have a winner pile, and I save it for growing mushrooms?

1 year ago
Have you considered increasing your spores by growing spores in cardboard?  I just came across it last night, as well has how to sterilise grain in jars and increase your own spores that way.  Plan to try it myself so can update.
1 year ago