Charli Wilson

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since Apr 07, 2013
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cat chicken urban
Derbyshire, UK
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Recent posts by Charli Wilson

Bindweed! Spreads underground and bursts up everywhere, regrows from the tiniest scrap of root, find the tiniest hole/gap in sheet mulch and escapes.

It does have quite pretty flowers, but you only get to see them once its strangled some other plant you probably wanted more.

I'm not overly fond of horseradish either, I have a 'patch' of it that I've been trying to eradicate (or at least shrink down) for 4 years- tiniest bit of root regenerates into a whole new plant! Leaves are good compost-fodder, but I don't seem to be able to make a dent in it.
1 week ago
I have a food forest at allotment (community garden), which has rather strict rules on what things should look like (they like conventional rows of vegetables in bare earth)- its perfectly possible to make food forests look good enough! I use wood chip instead of their preferred bare earth, strawberries as ground cover, plenty of flowering bulbs and flowering shrubs. I have to do somewhat more tidying up than a 'proper' food forest as it has a look 'tidy'- so its more work in cutting down/picking up plants past their best and putting them in a compost bin- then spreading the compost. I also can't keep all the plants I'd like- sorry dandelions. But the extra work beats not having a garden!

So my advice is to start on a smallish area (half?) as a compromise, and make it look beautiful!
1 week ago
I was at school. The teachers stopped the lesson to tell us a plane had gone into the first tower, we made comments like 'you're meant to fly around the building'- not understanding the severity of the situation, nor that it wasn't an accident (or indeed the size of the aircraft involved!). It wasn't until a few hours later when I got home that we got to see the news and realise what has happened.
1 week ago
We've recently had very awesome weather for Feb! I reckon it is all a ruse, and it'll soon snow. But in the meantime the greenhouse raised bed is built, and filled with compost and soil!

The beds are just made of some planks I already had, painted with some water-based shed paint (that I already had!). I've put plastic (damp proof course plastic) on the inside in the hope the planks will last longer.

Me trees are in! There's a fig, an apricot a hardy pomegranate and a peach. All trees that have survived a few years here outside anyway, but I'm hoping that by being inside I might get an actual crop. The bed on the right is 80cm tall, the one on the left 50cm- nice and deep and my other half (with the bad back) can garden a bit without having to do much in the way of bending. I had to move a hell of a lot of soil though!
2 weeks ago
So this should be a really a tiny job.. however there's complications!

I have a path- just paving slabs set onto sand. Underneath them somewhere is electrical cable (steel armoured cable). A tree root from the neighbours house has come under the boundary and lifted some of my path. Only a small section, but I need to be able to get a wheelchair down the path (or I will need to, in the summer).

I live in a Conservation Area- which means I can't touch the trees without Council permission. This costs money and takes 6 weeks, they can also say No. No one can see this path apart from me, not visible from the road, not visible to the neighbour (unless she stands on a box and looks over the fence- which she does do sometimes). The Council require a 'specialist' to submit a report for their consideration- a photo of wonky slabs and me saying 'the tree root did it' isn't sufficient. I'm not really willing to pay a specialist to come out and confirm it is the tree root for the sake of 2 paving slabs.

So I want to do this job in a quiet manner! The neighbour shouldn't notice me working so long as I don't make lots of noise. Even if she does notice, I'm quite willing to ride out the storm with the council (I don't think they will actually care). I don't really want to hurt the tree, as it is quite a nice one, but I really do need to be able to get wheelchairs down that path- it seems wrong that a tree root and awkward neighbour can deny access to the garden for half the household.

So.. how to remove a tree root in a small space with only hand tools? How much am I likely to damage the tree (it is quite a nice tree really). Other ways I can accomplish flattening out the path without removing said root?

It is infuriating that such a tiny thing, if done the 'official' way is likely to cost hundreds of pounds!
1 month ago
Thanks for this advice- though I haven't posted anything I have been making use of it! It turns out that my local council do Joinery Courses that would cover various joints I'd like to learn, I am on the waiting list for a place to become free. I haven't managed to find any privately run classes that cover the same thing that are short enough to fit around work, or affordable- I can find timber-framed houses course but these cost thousands and are a bit grand for what I want to make!

In the meantime I have made my greenhouse- but not with any joinery finesse- just not very well-cut bits of wood and many screws! It is solid enough for its purpose, but it won't be lasting eons like a medieval barn!
1 month ago

Seth Marshall wrote:Hi, could you please explain why this doesn’t matter to you because you’re on a hill?  Thanks

When I was starting to build I looked at my area- I'm on a huge hill and the ground water is some 27m below me. So I didn't think water moving around would be an issue to me- dead flat so the water doesn't really go sideways, only down. Since I was only affecting the top 1m of earth I figured it wouldn't matter. I put more effort into finding material from a waste stream, because I though the differences between the two materials wouldn't make a difference in my circumstances.  I'm obviously no engineer or anything, so this thinking was made up from random internet-reading, anecdotes and my experience of insulating standard-built houses.

As my own greenhouse thread shows it turns out perhaps I should have thought more of it- because the clay here gets saturated and very soggy, despite the actual water table being so far below me. So perhaps I should have paid more attention to it!

Having said all of that- I'd do the same again! The climate here is not very cold (East Midlands, UK), we get ground frosts but nothing more so I don't really have to protect from extreme weather.

Does that make any sense? I'm not convinced my thinking necessarily does make sense.. apart from to me.. but the reasoning inside my head, without having to explain it to anyone, seemed sound at the time!
1 month ago

Mike Jay wrote:I used extruded polystyrene.  I think I heard that expanded will let water through and isn't as good for below grade.  Hopefully I didn't get that backwards.  I looked for a while for a greener alternative.

In external insulation for houses in the UK, below grade they recommend extruded polystyrene- so you are right! The expanded stuff is meant to let water through (which is what I used, I'm on a massive hill so this didn't matter to me) and isn't quite as insulative.
1 month ago
If we're going for absolute dreams.. then I'll take an outside insulated workshop please (easier to leave the dust and mess in a workshop, in the house I feel compelled to clean it up!). And a natural swimming pool. And an attached greenhouse (heck, I'd like an attached garden too! I can't see my garden from my house as the two aren't actually next to each other).

More realistically I'd love a mudroom/porch. Our door goes straight into the kitchen and everyone treks mud in.

Seth Marshall wrote:

Charli Wilson wrote: I used EPS- expanded polystyrene (it goes down 3ft below the ground level). I couldn't find anything else that would survive being constantly wet and still be insulative, and that I could afford.  

Thanks, not knowing much about this product I always assumed it was a “green” choice. But this website makes it sound very environmentally friendly.

Would the normal closed cell foam option not be as suitable or environmentally friendly?  I’m concerned about it breaking down in the soil, do you use something to back against it?

I was intrigued about the use of the expanded clay to “insulate” inside French drains. I had only heard of people using rocks for this.


I wouldn't think EPS is environmentally friendly, but if you're taking it from the waste stream where it would otherwise be landfilled- then the choice is up to you (the decision I made was to count this as a resource!). XPS- Extruded polystyrene would work just as well (probably better, more insulating)- I used EPS because it was easily available second-hand in the form of used packaging. It is recommended if you're insulating externally on a house, below the dpc- that you use XPS. EPS was really hard to work with- I had to keep hoovering up the 'little beads' as I cut it and shaped it, I was afraid the birds might try to eat them!

I had the EPS for my greenhouse in situ for the buried portion of the SCHS- buried a metre down and sticking up about 30 cm, for over two years- no sign of breakdown! However I can't comment on if the plastic is likely to leach or anything. Since then it has been covered up- it has recycled plastic cladding on both sides (to stop me putting spades and things through it)- soil in my greenhosue raised beds is up against this plastic board. The use of plastic nearby your food crops is a decision only you can make- it isn't something that bothers me (I live on an old coal mine, there's much worse stuff in my soils), but it depends on your preferences. I only really know about 'standard' building, not more green/natural building practices- of which there may be many.

Leca in french drains is mostly used because it drains easily, but it does also claim to have insulating properties:
1 month ago