Irene Kightley

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since Apr 13, 2009
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South West France
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Recent posts by Irene Kightley

No Susan, these are a Chinese quince Pseudocydonia sinensis.

However, I do have photos of lots of cydonia oblonga plants grown from seed. I planted a 'Lucitanica' ten years ago, a wonderful, productive, beautiful, clay-loving and resistant to wind little tree. Each year we make lots of things from the near perfect fruit. Some rotten ones (You have to be quick with quince!) lie on the ground and I literally just step on them and grind up the fruit on the round with my boot then water well. One or two years later, I usually have 5 or 6 new trees which I replant or (mostly) give away. This year, I'm leaving a few to flower because I'd like to taste the ungrafted fruit.

1 month ago
Thanks for the lovely comments! I love my chickens.

I've been keeping chooks for a long time and worked out lots of way of using them to help me a manage the hectare of gardens around the house. A few areas of the garden are fenced, some things are covered or protected with sticks, but the chickens are allowed to go all over the place, with their fantastic colours and busy ways. You need a big garden to do this though.

We change our cockerels almost every year, so George went to a neighbour a long time ago. If any of our boys are other than perfect gentlemen, they go in the pot. This was one of my favourites:

Jen, I don't have Angoras any more, I gave away our last goats, a beautiful big male and his castrated pal last year. That was a bit sad, the end of 25 years of keeping Angoras but I'm 70 in a couple of days and it was time for me to relax a bit.
1 month ago
This tiny hen sat on 6 goose eggs and brought her brood to maturity!

This hen raised this brood from 8 eggs I brought from the UK to France - some of the eggs were more than a month old!

This is George our Brahma cockerel in front of our chicken shed

Our chickens never eat our veg and always use the paths. Hoho.....

When I want to plant a new area the poultry clean it up for me. One of our Dachshunds is supervising that the job's done well.

Our chickens clean up around the shrubs and keep snakes away from the house

Chicken with chicks and some pheasant chicks they raised in front of the henhouse

Our chickens are trained to pick ticks and lice off our angora goats after shearing. The goats love it!
1 month ago
If you choose a house with a roof ridge that's orientated west/east as a basis, and ideally, already has the living areas facing south, you can, if needed, add bigger windows and shading to allow the sun to shine into the house in winter and keep it out in summer.

I'd recommend having a lean-to greenhouse on just part of the south-facing side with a way of sending the heat upstairs to an open loft area in summer and use climbing plants, trees etc. to shade the sun. I use plants a lot for wind breaks and for controlling the comfort around our house. They're cheap and beautiful and carefully chosen, can leaf and flower exactly when you need them.

We're in South West France and have temperatures that range from -15°c to 42°c. Our house is about 350m² and I've never seen it more than 25° in the summer and it's warm and comfortable where we need it in the winter. A few times a year we've more than twenty people here for PDCs and other courses, normally in October and January. We use less than 4m² of wood each year to heat the house, cook, for hot water, drying plants, clothes etc. We also buy two small bottles of propane a year for summer cooking and use a pocket rocket fuelled by corn husks and waste wood. We're off grid with a very modest array of photovoltaic panels.

I've posted some details of the house (including a video of the interior temperatures when it's more than 40° outside) plus a few more ideas to provide more comfort. The thread is here, I hope it helps you in your planning.
1 month ago
Bob, I have the same problem and I solved it by lowering the evacuation tube and letting the excess water flow out, then quickly putting the tube back into the tub I use to capture the water. I hope that helps.
1 month ago
I have metal tops for my mason jars (Le Parfait) too, I bought them from Amazon years ago and they've been great for liquid soap but clog up easily and squirt in your eye if your soap has lumps!

We also use magnetic soap holders which save soap from going soft. It's quite satisfying clunking them on to the holder, so it encourages people to use them.

3 months ago
These are the same quince trees I showed a few years ago. I haven't eaten or used the fruit yet because there wasn't enough. I decided to give them away to folk who wanted to sprout the seeds, especially the woman who gave me the first fruit - who now has a garden to plant hers in.

I think that they're worth growing for the autumn colour alone!

3 months ago
...and this year, there's fruit !

1 year ago
Nice one Nik!

We eat the flowers straight from the garden or in salads or for whatever platter tastes great but needs a colour boost and a bit of fun.
The leaves dry really quickly, you crumble them and store them in airtight jars and use them in a salt mix or "straight" to give an interesting peppery taste to food.

They grow fast, are beautiful, edible, fill spaces beautifully, climb when they have to.

Grow them.
1 year ago
Hello Harry,

Check the voltage of the curtain opener, many of them are 12v and have an in-line converter to change domestic current to DC. (Just like your laptop, tablet, mobile telephone and probably your WIFI box have too). So you may not need an inverter, which wastes a lot of energy just by being switched on.

While you're designing the system, why not use a slightly larger solar panel than you need and run a few LED lights, charge your telephone and do all sorts of other things with the spare energy? After all you only open and close curtains once a day.

Solar panels are relatively cheap but batteries and reliable inverters are not. Am I being cheeky asking why you want to spend time and money on stuff when you already have a system that works on your domestic circuit?
1 year ago