Tim Crowhurst

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since Jun 18, 2012
Bedford, England: zone 8/AHS 2
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Recent posts by Tim Crowhurst

Salad vinegar sounds like a plan. It would probably be good for pickling delicately-flavoured vegetables like beetroot as well.
7 years ago
Given the high levels of protein and fats found in most nuts, you'd need to jump through quite a few hoops. To remove the fats you'd need to use the left-over pulp from oil production, and the get the right balance of carbs to protein you'd need to add some kind of carbohydrate source, probably cornstarch. You'd need a ratio of at least 3:1 or 4:1 starch to pulp to get a balance comparable to grains and avoid problems like poor extraction of sugars into the mash, or a protein haze after fermentation.

This places quite a lot of restrictions on which nuts you can use, however there are three which are obvious choices. Chestnuts have about the same amount of fat as wheat or barley, and a 28:1 ratio of carbs to protein, so would be the simplest option. Copra meal - the pulp left over after coconut oil production - has a 7:1 ratio of carbs to protein, comparable to that of wheat, so may be worth trying if you can get it. And finally, any tree nuts where the pulp left over from oil production has a flavour that is strong enough not to be drowned out by adding loads of cornstarch to the mash. Walnuts would be my first choice, as long as you can get hold of the pulp.

You could replace the cornstarch with another carbohydrate source as a complimentary flavour, of course. Anyone for walnut and banana beer?
7 years ago
No and yes, in that order.

One of the main uses for roses (and other flowering plants) in a forest garden is to attract and encourage pollinating insects. The best flowers are those where the nectar is easy to access, so single blooms (like those on the Austrian Copper Rose) are preferable to double blooms (like those on the Theresa Bugnet) for two reasons.

Firstly, double blooms prevent insects getting to the nectar easily, and secondly petals have markings on them only visible in the ultraviolet spectrum (i.e. visible to insect, invisible to us) which act as targets or landing strips, telling the insects where to go for the nectar. The mass of petals in a double flower makes these markings confusing, so while an insect will initially be attracted by the scent it won't be able to find its way to the nectar. Some double roses do open up enough for this not to be a problem, but in general it's best to stick to single-flowered varieties.

Make sure you check the roses thoroughly for any sign of black spot, as the Austrian Copper Rose is particularly vulnerable.
7 years ago
The Woolly-leaved Oak (Quercus lanata) is native to the Himalayas, so should grow well in Ladakh. It's a 30m (100ft) tall evergreen white oak, so it won't be as fast growing as reds, but you can be confident it's suited to the Kashmiri climate.
7 years ago

Cj Verde wrote:The Inuit were very healthy - almost no heart disease or cancer - until they started eating a Western diet.

The reason why the Inuit had virtually no heart disease before eating a western diet was because of the type of meat they were eating. The traditional Inuit diet is predominantly fish, seal and whale, all of which are very high in omega 3, which reduces the blood's viscosity and ability to coagulate, reducing pressure on the heart.
7 years ago

Adrien Lapointe wrote:Did you ever try using the liquid that forms on sourdough starter as a yeast source? I read a few accounts of people doing this, but never actually got around to do it.

What would be a good source of yeast nutrients? I know there is the stuff you buy in brewing stores, but is there an alternative?

Last question, I guess I would add maple syrup to the water until I reached a specific gravity of 1055.

Sourdough starter isn't pure yeast as it includes bacteria as well, so wouldn't be ideal for making beer - especially since some bacteria feed on alcohol.
7 years ago
I've long thought about doing something similar, and have a few ideas.

Firstly, replace the north-facing cob wall with an insulated wall, perhaps straw bale, and shift the cob to the middle of the greenhouse underneath the fish tanks, with the rocket mass heater pipe running through the cob. That way the heat is transmitted directly into the water, which is more energy efficient and also allows the water to act as thermal mass. Adding some insulation under the cob, e.g. vermiculite, will limit heat loss into the ground.

Angle the front glass perpendicularly to the winter solstice sun, as already discussed. The easiest way to work out the angle is to add 23 (the latitude of the tropics) to your latitude. For example, in Friesland the angle you need is around 76 degrees, for East Anglia (where I live) it's around 75, for Portugal it's 60-65.

Add a length of guttering at the bottom of the glass to catch any condensation during the Winter. The warm water of the tanks will result in a very humid atmosphere inside the greenhouse, and that means loads of condensation. For the same reason, avoid right-angled corners if you're using a wood frame for the glass. Condensation will form on any cold surface, however it tends not to stick around if there's moving air nearby. Wide angles will limit the chance of the wooden frame rotting by passively increasing the amount of air movement around the wooden frame.

During the coldest five months of the year (mid Oct to mid-March) cover the roof with insulation, to prevent you losing heat through the glass. Double glazing only reduces heat loss through windows by about a third, and limiting heat loss is your main concern at that time of year.

Build something on the other side of the north-facing wall. Even if it's only a lean-to tool shed, it'll help reduce heat loss through that wall by acting as an extra layer of insulation.
7 years ago

Dave Hanson wrote:Humans have grown hay (not straw) for winter forage for their animals for hundreds of years, with very good reason. They couldn't keep healthy animals without it in many climatic areas. To suggest otherwise is simply not correct.

The reason for growing hay in northern areas like Britain is that for the last several centuries farmers have used high-yield grasses in their pastures which are vulnerable to being churned up by livestock during winter, when the ground can get boggy due to the cold and wet, and the plants cannot grow quickly enough to recover from any damage due to the short days. So instead of leaving cattle out in the fields, farmers took them inside and had to feed them hay. On British dairy farms, the production of hay is a major use of fossil fuel.

However if the right combination of grasses is used the damage caused can be minimised or even eliminated altogether. Following WWII a British farmer, Arthur Hollins, set out to develop this form of pasture, and he succeeded. The down-side is that it took him about sixty years, and the combination he used won't necessarily work for every soil type, so while the blend he developed would be ideal for other farms in the immediate area the entire process would have to be repeated for farms in other areas since the blend would have to take account of soil type, rainfall, temperature. Fortunately the work Arthur Hollins did, combined with other advances in agricultural science, mean it would probably not take as long to do in other areas, but it would still take time.

This BBC video, A Farm For The Future, is about the agriculture industry's options for responding to peak oil, which is a major issue since agriculture uses a huge amount of fossil fuels and, unlike transport or energy generation, there are no viable alternatives for industrial-scale farming. The section on Arthur Hollins is from roughly 19.30, but it's well worth watching the whole thing as the conclusion the presenter (an organic farmer) comes to is that Britain will have to turn to forest gardening (i.e permaculture) to produce enough food - in part because it produces much more food per acre as conventional fossil-fuel-intensive arable farming.


There was one thing she didn't mention, but which you can deduce from her comments.

One of the main uses of straw in Britain is as livestock bedding, but if livestock no longer have to be indoors for the winter then this use of straw no longer exists (or at least there is much less demand for it). This wouldn't mean there would be an additional surplus of straw, however: the video also notes that switching to a predominantly permaculture-based method of farming would also mean a huge reduction in the amount of grain crops farmed (as Chris alluded to) so the availability of straw would reduce as well, gradually restricting it to the most high-value uses. Construction has to be top of the pile given the cost of housing in Britain, and straw is already a traditional building material here, in both thatch and cob.

On that basis I don't think the short-stalked wheat would be popular. Short stems have no value whatsoever for thatch and cob, which need long stems, so once the production value of cereal crops is as much in the stems as in the grain, long-stemmed varieties will always be the preferred option and fukuoka will probably not even be considered (although that may not be an issue if alternative methods of enriching the soil, such and spreading manure &/or compost, are used).
7 years ago

sheila reavill wrote:Did you use clay to pull out the extra dead yeast bodies? I'm asking because you said it was a little cloudy. I don't make mead, but I've watched my partner make it several times. It is delicious, and I really like what he calls "dragon's breath." He freezes the mead and that separates the water out, so it becomes stronger still. Those bottles look beautiful. Looks like you are set for the season.

Freeze-distillation is also known as "jacking" (it's where we get the phrased "jacked up" from) so another name for freeze-distilled mead would be honeyjack. It works because the freezing point of alcohol is much lower than the freezing point of water, so the ice in a partially-frozen barrel of cider will be almost pure water, which any liquid will have much more alcohol in. I'm making maple wine soon, and am thinking about turning some of it into maplejack.

One of the key features of jacking is that it gets rid of primarily water, and concentrates everything else in the source liquor, including unwanted chemicals like methanol and fusel oils. Heat-distillation allows the distiller to remove some or all of the fusel oils, depending on what the end product will be. E.g. whisky and grain vodka are basically the same drink (distilled beer) the difference being the presence/absence (respectively) of fusel oils and other flavours due to the differing methods of distillation and filtering.

Similarly cider can be turned into either applejack (by freeze distillation) or cider brandy (e.g. calvados, by heat distillation). Since what is sold commercially as "applejack" is heat-distilled, it's actually cider brandy and not applejack at all. The only way to get genuine applejack is to make it yourself, which is fortunately fairly simple: get a big bottle of cider, part-freeze it, and what doesn't freeze will be higher in alcohol. Remove the ice, repeat until it's strong enough for your liking, then enjoy!
8 years ago

Joel Hollingsworth wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:Do people have to trim it?

Maybe. Or animals. Or a very low-growing lawn mix could be used.

You could also use a mixture of resilient low-growing plants like thyme or chamomile.
8 years ago