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Jambo Reece

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since Jan 25, 2015
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Recent posts by Jambo Reece

Taken me a while, but I've finally managed to create a lid for this pit kiln.  When it's rained the pit has filled with water and turned into a nasty swamp.  

Hopefully the rain will keep the water out.  May still have a problem with the water table,  but we shall see.


Anyway, my question relates to brick making as this will be my first project.  

So basically I'm trying to come up with a recipe.  Because I want these bricks for thermal mass, and not insulating, the two things I feel I need to consider are addition of grog and shrinkage rate.


To create a recipe I need an exact quantity of water, and to know the weight of my clay when it comes out the ground.  

Not really sure how to do this.  Perhaps I clean the clay (remove as much sand and stones etc as possible), dry it out to a leather like consistency, weigh it, fire it and then weigh again to see what the shrinkage it.

Then I would make several bricks using the same consistency to test:

1) Pure clay

2) 5% grog added

3) 10% grog added

4) 20% grog added

Fire them, and should start to give me an idea of what amount of grog will prevent shrinkage and cracking.


The plan was to use crushed brick dust.  But I also read that sharp river bed sand can be used as a grog.  What do you think?

I'm also having trouble filling the molds.  When the clay is too dry, you get a lot of air pockets.  When it's too wet it sticks to the mold.  
Great ideas guys.  I was thinking along the lines of planting Elaeagnus Mulitflora Goumi but am open to whatever. Just trying to grab some knowledge on how tall to make it.  Or rather how short can I get way with and it still be effective.
1 month ago
Thanks Dave
1 month ago
Hi everyrone

So I am setting out my forest garden on a fairly exposed site.  But it is an allotment plot i.e. very small indeed.  3m x 12m

I know that windbreaks are supposed to provide 8 x the distance in protection, but my plot is only 3m wide.  So 3000mm / 8 = 375mm tall (1ft 3 inches)

However, isn't there a minimum height you should start with?  e.g 3ft tall.  

Surely if you have too small a windbreak the wind will just barrel over the top of it, or is this not so?

I reality I would make it at least 500-600mm i.e. 2ft tall, but still, I wonder how effective it would be.

I really can't go any higher than 600mm (2ft) because the width of the plot is so narrow, it would shade out most plants there.  

1 month ago
Ok Glenn thanks.

I had a similar design idea in mind, so I will readdress that after I've tried firing the pots this way pit kiln stylee.


Anyone know how to rotate images within a post?. The sketch was the right way up before I uploaded it.  
2 months ago
Hi everyone


I have posted several times on permies forum about kilns and rocket stoves.  I suppose slowly slowly I am working my way backwards to see if I can literally start from scratch.   I had discussed a backyard stoneware kiln a couple of years ago, but I think I was jumping ahead of myself and will start with the basics of a pit kiln.

So I guess I am just looking for some comments on my ideas because I don't really know what I am doing.


I have dug a big old hole in the ground of my allotment.  I don't think the allotment committee would look too kindly on a big old kiln sticking out of the ground, especially since I haven't got any veggies growing yet.

So I am trying to keep everything sub surface.   Dimensions are 800mm Internal diameter, 700mm deep.  There will always be risk of rain getting in although I will build a cover, so I sloped the base of the pit towards a drain hole bored into the side of the pit at the base, which at some point in the future may serve as firebox.

The plan currently is to simply build a firepit using wood, dried cuttings, manure, soil etc, and make clay items from that same clay with a bit of grog added in.  I am also experimenting with insulative bricks to make my rocket stove, so I may want to fire those in there aswell.  I will cover it towards the end of the firing with some corrugated sheet metal.

So any comments on the procedure and anything else are welcome.
2 months ago
Thanks for the feedback guys.  

As far as the first question goes, I'll play it safe and just tie a bag of spices around the neck of the bottle and supply a pot of honey.  Not worth taking the risk on the spices or I might end up with a fizzy cider, or something that tastes a bit off,

And as far as storing leftover mulled cider, I'd leave it in the fridge for a few days and then consume or throw it out.  As has been pointed out to me, the alcohol may evaporate either during cooking or when in the fridge, and things may ferment further now that the honey has been added so the flavour probably won't improve.  I guess in theory if it will ferment, it could go back in the demi-john.  An experiment to be had I suppose.  

Cheers
3 months ago
Two questions really.  

I have plenty of hard cider I made at around 6% alcohol content stored in demi johns.

1) So I was going to make a bunch of mulled cider, bottle it and give it to people as Christmas gifts in screw capped wine bottles.  Just trying to think of the best way to do it.

Clearly there is no guarantee that people will use it over christmas.  Provided I leave out things that can putrify like apples and oranges, and anything that can ferment like honey, would it not just keep as long as regular cider would given that it only has some spices in it like cinammon, allspice, cloves and ginger?
Should I even bother heating it up to infuse the spices?  Does heating it reduce it's storing qualities?  I know they'll probably heat it any right, but thought the flavour might be better if I heat it before giving it to them.

2) Similar question.  I will probably make some mulled cider with honey, oranges, apples etc plus the spices for myself.  If I have any leftover, how long will it keep?
I have seen some comments online about it only lasting 3 days even if I refrigerate it.  This seems a bit short to me.  Why does it go off so quick?  If I remove the fruit chunks, would it last longer in the fridge?  
Can I even re-bottle it in a demijohn?


Thanks all. And have a great xmas
4 months ago
Hi Mike.  Thanks for the reply.  Yes, the shadows are late in the day.  Just thought the afternoon sun is quite important, so I thought I would practice with that.  I understand that this is virtual, but I can tell you from experience that sketchup is not a million miles off.  Definitely worth trying

There is no fence or trellis along north line.  Oh the irony!!  My whole design a couple of months ago had trellises running along the north side (I presume you mean in the East-west axis), but I removed them, since I read that trellis in open space (say for an espaliered or fan trained fruit tree) should run north south, so both sides of the fruit get some sun.  Hoping this what kind of happens with the greengage (a plum)

Anyway, number 3 huh.  Great, will wait to see if any more votes.  As I said, am willing to move things around, doesn't have to be one of my designs.  Quite difficult.  The width of the plot if very narrow, and in reality, my trees and shrubs, albeit mostly dwarf, are probably a bit too large for the plot so it's really tricky to create that layered effect i.e. short at the front, tall at the rear.

My main concern has been the shadows cast from the western side to the eastern i.e. if trees or shrubs are in a line running east to west, that the western most plant casts afternoon shade on the next plant and so on.  Leading me to think of ways to somehow stagger the plants.  It does get rather complicated then, and from my other post I wrote on that subject, I don't see many designs that even take this into consideration.  I guess I should probably just be allowing say at least a foot of space between trees and shrubs, so some sunlight can get to their east and west faces.  Hope that makes sense

Looking forward to more comments

Thanks again

10 months ago
That big white rectangular wall to the south of the greenhouse is on the neighbours plot, and the only thing overshadowing my plot, but obviously can't be moved.  It's just some blackberries on a trellis.
10 months ago