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Tom Nicholson

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since Oct 17, 2015
Back in London, now with an allotment plot Working as an independent electrician (for the past 11 years). I'm a qualified mathematics teacher, worked sporadically as a reflexologist for 7yrs. Most of my adult life has been spent in London.
I plan / hope to save enough money over the next few years to move out of the city and live as self-sufficiently as possible ...
London, England
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Recent posts by Tom Nicholson

Thanks everyone, great info. I'll try winnowing and maybe try some crushed pods+seeds and compare results. I don't have a whole lot of experience so for me it's all about learning and finding out what works in different situations.

On reflection, it's very possible that they are not hybridised as the other allotmenteers probably picked all theirs before flowering.
Thanks James, that's great info. They're from an allotment, so very possibly randomly crossed, so I guess it's not worth going to too much trouble with them.

Having said that, if I have a space somewhere I may try planting the whole crushed pod / seed mixture as an experiment (and if it works harvest the resulting fresh pods as food - apparently any variety taste OK cooked or pickled).
I have dried radish pods from last year and wish to save the seeds. They are fiddly to remove from the pods.

Aiming at maximum laziness, can I simply crush the dried pods and plant the whole crushed-pod-plus-seed mixture instead of painstakingly separating the seed from the pods?

Hey, maybe the crushed pods will hold moisture or something, actually benefiting the germination ... maybe I'm not just being lazy

Anyone tried this?

Confrey, inedible? Tell that to my mother, she used to serve it up with dinner. Apparently the leaves are a traditional food (and medicine), but then someone extracted a particular chemical and showed that was harmful.  "Reductionist blindness" leads people and advisory bodies to draw the illogical conclusion that therefore comfrey is harmful.

Daffodils. When I was about 9yrs and quite evil, me and my friends were in a feud with a rival "gang" from the next village. We heard daffodil was poisonous and figured we could use it! So my friend, to make sure, volunteered to try eating a whole daffodil head. He was a bit ill, nothing serious. (Not that that proves anything, of course.)
1 year ago
I've tried carelessly scattering a variety of seeds over mulch with very little success - except buckwheat, which took quite well. Have you tried just casting them over the mulch? My situation was a cool English autumn and a mulch of old leaves (mostly about 1 year old). The winter weather soon killed of the buckwheat, by the way, but the germination rate was good.
1 year ago
To get estimates of panel and battery sizes I would want to ask someone with a set up in your area or a similar climate. I think they would have a feel for it. (I don't, sorry). In the meanwhile, the calculation tool at might be interesting to look at. It's been a while since I looked at this but from what I remember, it's for a grid connected setup but you can get it to give a calendar of a hypothetical typical year showing daily energy generation and from this you can see what a bad day looks like in your area and make sure your setup will still be effective on a bad day. Or if you want to have enough battery capacity to see you through a few bad days, you can see a worst case scenario where there is a succession of days with low generation. I don't know which would be cheaper: more panel and enough battery to see you through each day, or less panel and batteries to see you through a string of dull days. Bear in mind that lead acid batteries don't last very long so need replacing (or reconditioning?) on a regular basis, it is best not to drain them each day so you may need around double the capacity  (if you want to store 50kWh for each day's usage, you may need to get more like 100kWh capacity batteries so they don't run down - I'm making these figures up to explain what I mean), and factor in the inefficiency of the batteries.

Like I say, I don't have practical experience and it would be better to find a neighbour doing a similar thing and ask them.
2 years ago
Regarding the panels, I don't have practical experience but I understand the geometry and some of the principles so take what I say as food for thought rather than definite advice.

Your Sun goes more or less overhead throughout the year so I would suggest a panel more or less horizontal. If it slanted 8 degrees towards the south (if you are northern latitude) or 8 degrees towards the north (if you are southern latitude) then you will be maximizing reception at midday around the equinoxes (March, September) and getting a good reception throughout the year around the middle of the day. I'm not sure if panels are subject to pooling water or if there is a recommended minimum slope angle to encourage water droplets to trickle off.

If you are storing up your energy for night usage this is probably best. Regular daily weather patterns may effect you choice of angle, so, for example, if you mainly get clear mornings and clouds build in the afternoon, then consider angling them a little to the east to catch more of the morning Sun.

If by any chance you mainly need most of your energy in the morning and middle of the day and you want to minimize battery capacity, you might consider positioning them more towards the east.
2 years ago
He didn't give details, just saying "as you would build a dam". So maybe with the right amount of water added? I know they build dams by hand in India without formers by pummeling damp earth bit by bit. There must be a way to do this with an excavator more quickly if Bill did it in a couple of days. He also mentioned building walls with formers using 1 part mud and 1 part lime made into a sloppy consistency with water and adding just over 1 part "grass" (?) then building up in layers of less than 2 feet for a glass-like wall, and they also discussed using cob to build houses.
2 years ago
Bill Mollison talked a bit about this kind of building in one of the PDC vids. He said he got it built in 3 days. Unfortunately the vid series seems no longer to be on youtube.

I've just found it on my computer (vid 34 Housing part 2)... he built it in Buckan, I think he said, don't know where that is (Australasia? I think that's where the PDC was). He excavated a dip in the ground to get some soil and laid it nearby to give a raised floor. He continued excavating and built up a compacted earth circular wall as you would a dam wall, rough cross section like the letter "A" but not so pointed. He put on the top of the wall what he calls a siller (?) which seems to be a narrow load bearing platform which forms a ring sitting all the way around the top of the wall. He doesn't say what it's made of. Wood? Stone? Brick? This sits firmly as the wall is compacted. He built a pillar in the centre and put the roof on. He didn't say what it was made of. I guess some kind of framework with some kind of paneling ... corrugated metal? ... because he said some of the panels were transparent ("Laserlite" - polycarbonate) to let in light (and grow veg underneath on the walls). Obviously a good door is needed! He describes a moat around it, created when excavating the earth, which is connected to a "well" - an access to the moat water - within the house via an underground channel. Fish in the moat, feed the fish via the well. He says it's suitable for any climatic zones, cost about 2000 - 3000 dollars (Aussie I guess). Flood proof.

2 years ago