Michael Cox

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since Jun 09, 2013
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bee books composting toilet homestead rocket stoves wood heat
Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Recent posts by Michael Cox

Jonathan Ward wrote:Does anyone have experience just dropping the leaves around the plant after harvesting the stems?  Maybe cutting some of the larger leaves into smaller pieces.  Like a chop/drop scenario?  Was curious about doing that next year when i harvest a few.

I do that. Less to carry back to the house with me!

Also, I like to throw a bunch of leaves down in a layer on top of weeds. Not sure it does much but they take a week or so to break down and seem to slow the weeds.
4 days ago
I look at that and think “biochar”.

Somewhere around is a thread where I wrote about my experience using a trench method of biochar making. It might be suitable.
4 days ago
Most shop bought rhubarb is FORCED - dormant crowns are moved into dark climate controlled warehouses. As the crowns sprout they are harvested for the delicate pink stems, without the sourness that comes with chlorophyll. There is a only a limited window for forcing rhubarb as the crowns need to be on the point of breaking dormancy.

IN my garden, where we don't force it, the best stems are the first flush breaking from the dormant plant - they grow quickly etc... later in the summer they are a bit on the limp side, but still fine to eat.
4 days ago
Thanks for the link. At least I know what I'm looking for, but I'd rather find a supplier closer to home. I will shop around here in the UK.
4 days ago
Thanks for the tip on the staked furniture stuff. I've watched a few videos. Very nice, and simple to do with hand tools! We occassionally slab up logs, so getting some nice pieces to use as benches etc... should be easy. Any idea where to get that conical reaming tool? Or the pencil sharpener thing with the conical profile?
5 days ago
My little weekend project has been working with an old brace and bit, and set of auger bits. I picked them up for about £15 all together, and there are about 30 different bits. Some of the bits are damaged and they were all blunt. The brace itself seems to be in excellent working order, if a little tarnished in places. It has a ratchet mechanism which is working well, and a blessing when using the bigger diameter bits.

I bought a tiny file and found a youtube video with instruction on sharpening. An hour or so later I had salvaged 10 really nice bits that sharpened up and cut nicely. I'm pretty pleased.

We finished the evening making a mini-rocket-log. I bored a hole down vertically into the end grain of a log, then one to meet it horizontally into the side. The wood was a little on the green side, so it took a lot of coaxing to get get going, but then stayed burning steadily for about three hours at what would probably be best described as a "low simmer" - no rockety flames, but steady heat from embers lining the burn chimney. I'm thinking about fishing a bunch of logs out of the woodshed, drilling them now in advance, and letting them season for longer. The extra holes should speed it up.

Any ideas for simple bushcraft type projects? I'm thinking a split log stool with legs might be next. I also need to get a few longer bits, and at least one wider one. My widest is currently 1", but I'd like a 1.5".

Here are the videos I used as a guide

1 week ago
A useful bow saw safety tip...

If you hold the work with your left hand, and saw with the right, then the saw can jump and mangle the back of your left hand. You can totally prevent this by reaching  OVER or THROUGH the bow with your left hand and hold the piece of wood on the other side of the blade. The work is stabilised, but if the saw jumps it safely bounces the blunt side of the blade against your forearm, instead of the back of your hand. It takes a bit of getting used to, but for most jobs is just as convenient as the conventional grip. I do the same with my folding silky saw.
1 week ago
Hi folks,

I have experimented with a ferment at home. It is 3 liter glass kilner jar, so I can see the colour and activity.

It is jerusalem artichoke, some turmuric and other spices, and salt (amount as per a recipe I found).

The batch bubbled nicely, tastes fantastic and has a lovely vibrant yellow colour from the turmuric except for the very top layer, which is discoloured to a grey/green. I believe that is has oxidised, and looks unappetising.  I removed the top chunks and closed it up again. By morning the fresh top layer had discoloured again.

1) I the discoloured layer safe to eat?
2) What should I do differently to ensure future batches don't discolour?

I love ferments generally, and want to keep going, but need a little reassurance.
1 week ago

Neal Stephenson, "Diamond Age"
"You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices," Finkle-McGraw said. "It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticise others--after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?"


"Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others' shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour--you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.


"We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception--he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it's a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."

"That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code," Major Napier said, working it through, "does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code." "Of course not," Finkle-McGraw said. "It's perfectly obvious, really. No one ever said that it was easy to hew to a strict code of conduct. Really, the difficulties involved--the missteps we make along the way--are what make it interesting. The internal, and eternal, struggle, between our base impulses and the rigorous demands of our own moral system is quintessentially human. It is how we conduct ourselves in that struggle that determines how we may in time be judged by a higher power." All three men were quiet for a few moments, chewing mouthfuls of beer or smoke, pondering the matter.

1 week ago
I believe Paul posted recently about recycling. How what we need is 90% of people doing it imperfectly, rather than aiming for perfection.
1 week ago