If you got a container then you can have a garden

If you have got more than one container the better still

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

4eee9ac2564bffa39961da802db37cbeEven if you have but a small area where you can place such containers you can still have some kind of vegetable garden. And, if you grow upwards, by means of trellising and such, then space usage can be maximized even further and better.

If you have land and either the soil is poor or you don't want to dig then, obviously, there is the option of building raised beds with lumber surrounds or such. But if you don't have the tools needed for building a raised bed, or there is a lack of space for a large garden, then container gardens could be the solution. The fun thing is that any kind of container can be used, even old bathtubs and the like.

You do not have to go out to the garden center or such and buy any planters or tubs. Most of them can be had for nothing. Some of the ideal ones are the large buckets that catering establishments get their mayonnaise and such in, as well as plastic cooking oil barrels (just cut in half). So check on those places. Most of them, I should think, will be only too happy to let you have all of them that you can take off their hands (more than likely for free) as they have to pay to dispose off them and you, theoretically, are doing them a favor by taking them.

I know about at least one market gardening enterprise that grows everything they sell in those big buckets – between 10 and 20 liters in volume – and such a setting can even look quite attractive.

You can even grow potatoes in buckets like that. Just make sure it is just one plant per bucket as more than one will simply compete with one another and the output is not all that good. Been there and done it. One learns from one's mistakes.

I am also lucky in that I can lay my sticky fingers at times on tree buckets and tubs in which trees come for the planting in parks and along the roads of the town and countryside here. They come with nice drainage holes built in.

And that brings me to the all important drainage. Most of the containers that you may be able to scrounge will not have holes for drainage but that is nothing that a drill cannot fix. For a 10 liter (and also for a 20 liter one) the rule of thumb is: one hole in the middle and between five to eight spaced around the rim. And don't make those holes too small, although, then again, not too big either as you don't want the soil disappearing out of those holes.

So, get those containers, prepare your soil, and get growing food for yourself and your family. Time to prepare is now.

© 2017

Build a Simple PVC Water Well Hand Pump


Parts List for Hand Pump for Water Well Using PVC Pipe and Fittings

This goes with the Schematic Diagram

A – 1 inch PVC Schedule 40 pipe

B – 3/4 inch PVC Schedule 40 pipe

C – 1 1/4 inch PVC Schedule 40 pipe

D – 1 inch cap

E – 1 1/4 X 3/4 Sch. 80 adapter

F – 1 1/4 inch coupling, collar, Sch. 40

G – 3/4 inch, slip glue joint to external thread, Sch. 40

H – 3/4 inch, slip glue joint to internal thread, Sch. 40

I – 3/4 X 3/8 bushing adapter, Sch. 80

J – 3/4 inch diameter Stainless Steel ball, type 316, grade 100

K – 5/32 or 3/16 diameter PVC welding rod glued in as a ball retainer.

Read more here.

Build a Greenhouse from Old Recycled Windows


Repurpose old glass windows and doors by assembling them into a beautiful and unique greenhouse.

We garden, can, and preserve as much food as possible each year. We wanted a greenhouse to grow plants from seed and have fresh vegetables in the winter. However, we didn’t want to spend big money for a prefabricated structure. Instead, we came up with the idea to salvage and repurpose old windows, doors, and scrap lumber for our own “green” greenhouse.

Our first job was to find old windows and doors. We searched local papers, asked friends, and visited sites where houses were being remodeled or demolished.

When we had what we thought would be enough windows and old sliding glass doors for our planned 10-by-10-foot greenhouse, we laid out the windows in the yard like a puzzle so that we could determine their placement on each wall.

Construction began with us building the frame and the support structure for the roof. Then, we attached the windows and doors to the frame. Finally, we painted and sealed the entire structure.

Read more here.

Bible Smugglers

Or should we call them what they were? Spies in clerical disguise?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Bible1During the so-called Cold War era there were Bible smugglers at work behind the so-called Iron Curtain claiming, and thus conning the believers in the West, that Bibles could not be had in the GDR (East Germany), and other socialist countries.

Not only did they con those believers into cooperating with them and sending pages to addresses in countries such as the GDR, the USSR, Poland, etc., but also into parting with “donations” for the “work”.

What the Bible smuggler, some famous – though I shall not mention their names – some not so famous and some infamous, however, were doing was smuggling clandestine and conspirative messages across. It had nothing whatsoever to do with any unavailability of Bibles in those counties; none whatsoever.

The pages were Bible pages alright but what was written between the lines, literally and not just proverbially, was something else than the Gospel truth. How do I know? Because I saw those pages myself and the messages contained in the packages of Bible texts that the faithful sent weekly over to their “persecuted brethren” in countries behind the “Iron Curtain”.

The “work” those self-proclaimed missionaries were involved in was no more than espionage, plain and simple.

The house churches and such like who were claimed to be under persecution were cells of agents in the pay of foreign intelligence agencies, including and especially the CIA, BND (which is but a subsidiary of the CIA), MOSSAD, MI6, and other Western government ones, as well as private espionage agencies in the USA, and those “Bible smuggling missions” were the vehicles to make this all possible, but they were not alone.

Yes, so-called house churches were not well liked by the governments of the socialist states “behind the Iron Curtain” but that had less to do with the religious side but much more with the clandestine operations in which many were engaged, as well as the fact that the majority of those refused to acknowledge the laws of the state. They tended to reckon that only God's laws applied.

Not only the evangelical Bible Smugglers and their aides, gullible Christians in western countries who posted those “Bible parts” to be put together into Bibles in Russia, the GDR, Poland, etc., where Bibles just were impossible to buy and even illegal to possess (they were told), but the Roman Catholic Church too was in the game, though in that case as operatives, especially in Poland.

Almost every catholic church in Poland, the ČSSR, and other places, was an intelligence gathering station which would, through various channels, transmit materials to the Vatican' secret service who, in turn, would share that with those of NATO. In the GDR one could add to that many of the Lutheran churches. In many cases the priests (and pastors) also were the instigators of counterrevolutionary activities.

Members, and especially leaders, of the unofficial churches also and especially participated in those acts of espionage and dissemination of – more often than not – false information and outright lies to the Western intelligence services via “missionary” organizations and those “Bible Smugglers” and their “missions”. But, as said, the Roman Catholic Church too was involved in that game only in a different way.

© 2017

Neuer Boom bei Do it yourself

Mehrere Hundert Selbstmacher-Treffs gibt es in Deutschland, durchaus mit politischem Anspruch: keine Ressourcen verschwenden, eigene Ideen verwirklichen, Wissen weitergeben.

Bonn Offene Werkstatt (Matilda Jordanova-Duda)

Scherenschnitte mochte sie schon als Kind.  Heute arbeitet sich Tonda Freywald mit der Stichsäge durch das Birkenholz. Die Künstlerin macht ihre Einrichtung selbst, nach eigenem Entwurf. "Mir ist die Stichsäge inzwischen am Arm festgewachsen", scherzt sie. Bis Herbst soll ihre kleine Wohnung ein Gesamtkunstwerk unter dem Namen "Atelier Brot und Gold" werden. Dabei musste die Kunstpädagogin und Tänzerin das Schreinern in der Offenen Werkstatt erst lernen. Jede Woche kommt sie ins Bonner Haus Müllestumpe, wo sie die Maschinen kostenlos nutzen kann.

Im Raum daneben werden Fahrräder zusammengeschraubt, Elektronikgeräte in verschiedenen Stadien der Auflösung liegen herum. Im Nähtreff rattern die Maschinen. Hier kommen Leute, die wie Tonda Freywald etwas Einmaliges herstellen wollen. Und auch solche, die vielleicht noch Brauchbares nicht gern wegwerfen. Einmal monatlich wird ein Repair Café veranstaltet. Man bringt den kaputten Videorecorder, den verendeten Staubsauger, den wackligen Hocker mit und versucht sie unter Anleitung und bei Kaffee und Kuchen zu reparieren. "Die Besucher sollen die Scheu vor der Technik verlieren", sagt der Mitinitiator Ulrich Buchholz. Sicher, manches Gerät sei so hergestellt, dass es sich gar nicht reparieren lässt. "Das diskutieren wir im Dachverband der Offenen Werkstätten, auch mit Wirtschaftsvertretern". Was nicht zu retten ist, muss noch lange nicht auf den Müll. Aus Elektronikschrott wird beispielsweise Schmuck, aus ausgedienten Fahrradschläuchen werden Gürtel oder Armbänder.

Hier weiterlesen.

Is chlorinated chicken about to hit our shelves after new US trade deal?

Consumers could be exposed to American farming practices banned by the EU

Those of us who want to eat safe, healthy food awoke to a nightmare on Tuesday, a chilling interview on Radio 4’s Today programme. Bob Young, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, made it crystal clear that any US trade deal struck by Theresa May would be contingent on the UK public stomaching imports of US foods that it has previously rejected: beef from cattle implanted with growth hormones, chlorine-washed chicken, and unlabelled genetically modified (GM) foods.

Wiping the sleep from our eyes, we hoped it was just a bad dream, but the grim reality worsened. Martin Haworth, director of strategy at the National Farmers Union (NFU), was up next. Surely our own farmers, who have worked for decades to stricter EU standards shaped by consumers’ demand for safe, natural food, would reiterate their commitment to keeping them? Not a bit of it. Haworth’s only concern was that if such controversial American products were allowed into the country, British farmers should be able to use the same production techniques to ensure “an even playing field”. Do you find it credible that British farmers could beat the US’s vast industrial feedlots, hi-tech poultry plants and vast GM prairies at their own game? No matter, the NFU does.

Later, at prime minister’s questions, the Scottish National party MP Angus Robertson pressed May for the reassurance that everyone who cares about food quality and safety badly wants to hear. Would she tell Trump she wasn’t prepared to lower our food safety standards? Judging from May’s evasive reply – she would improve trade through prosperity, growth, jobs, putting UK interests and values first – it seems entirely possible that she would bin existing food rules in order to clinch a deal.

Read more here.

How To Grow Cucumbers Vertically In An Effective Way

If you ever wondered why you should choose vertical way of gardening, there are many benefits that come to mind. It is not a hot trend nowadays for no reason. Vertical gardening will save space in your garden and it will make it look neat and organized. Not only that, but it will also ease the harvesting process for you as a gardener.

These benefits can be efficiently incorporated if you are planning to grow cucumbers in your garden. Cucumbers are good to be trained to grow up a trellis, because otherwise they would take much space in your garden.

There are many techniques on growing your cucumbers vertically, and we will help you find out the best way to do it. If you didn’t know how to grow them in a vertical way, you will be left with no space for other produce in your garden.

They spread out over 12 to 20 square feet if grown in rows or hills. You can save this space by letting the vines expand upwards if you have a good support like a raised structure for the cucumbers. You can grow cukes in raised beds, containers, or small plots of land.

Read more here.

Bag It Up + Reuse

As part of our Bag It Up + Reuse! project, we’re giving away free reusable bags across north London. You can then pledge to use it and you'll be entered into a prize draw! Find out more and help waste less, and save more money too.

How it works

After the government introduced the 5p plastic bag charge for large shops and supermarkets, we wanted find a way to help customers of smaller shops reuse their bags. So for a third time, we’ve teamed up with 21 north London shops and provided them with around 100 reusable bags each, to offer to their customers for free.
Once you’ve picked up one of our reusable bags, you also have the chance to win a copy of our North London Food Lovers’ Cookbook, which is full of recipes which help to use up commonly leftover ingredients. All you have to do to enter is put your details into the form on our Bag It Up pledge page.

Why is bag reuse important?

Plastic bags are a big environmental problem. They take a long time to degrade, can damage wildlife and often end up littering our streets and parks. The government 5p levy on single use plastic bags has dramatically helped reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation with the seven biggest supermarkets reporting a reduction of more than 85% in the first six active months. This is great news, however as the charge does not affect small retailers there is more work that can be done to encourage customers of these stores to switch to using reusable bags. The businesses themselves will also be able to save money by not having to purchase plastic bags.

Read more here.

New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

Deltec, solar farmhouse, Deltec Solar Farmhouse, farmhouse architecture, farmhouse design, solar powered home, solar power, solar architecture, solar design, prefabricated housing, prefab home, prefab house, energy-efficient home, eco home, green home, eco-friendly home, passive solar design, passive design, solar home, passive home, passive house, deltec renew collection, deltec classic homes, deltec north carolina, where to buy a prefab home, how to buy a prefab home, covered back porch, metal roof, fresh air ventilation, passive solar awnings, detached carport, detached garage, front porch, covered front porch, passive solar design, air-tight building envelope, open layout, photovoltaic panels

In these uncertain times of erratic weather and changing climate patterns, net-zero energy (or NZE) is quickly becoming the gold standard in green building. If you can generate all of your own energy on site, you never need to rely on the grid or worry about energy bills. The North Carolina prefab builders at Deltec launched a line of affordable net-zero energy homes last year to great fanfare from off-grid buffs around the U.S. Now we’re thrilled to see them introduce a brand new design to this collection; a charming, classically-styled Solar Farmhouse with all of the old-fashioned curb appeal, plus the futuristic technology that makes this home achieve net-zero energy.

We’ve been following Deltec as they’ve gained fame for their net-zero prefabricated homes and smartly structured hurricane-resistant round homes. The North Carolina-based company has just added a brand new model to their Renew Collection that turns a time-honored American design into a net-zero build. The Solar Farmhouse contains everything that the classic vernacular farmhouse possesses — a pitched roof, quaint front porch, white wood siding and simple lines — updated with a slew of energy-efficient features, including a passive solar design with a photovoltaic roof and an air-tight building envelope that Deltec says simply “can’t be duplicated in the field.”

Read more here.

Purchasing “green” can be good, but buying less is better

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

old rocker on porchWhile purchasing “green” can be good, but buying less is better and making is better still. But how many of us are prepared to make things that we want (and need) for ourselves (and others)? If you have to buy then try to buy secondhand, and that includes especially clothes.

Many companies offer token green products – and they are nothing but tokens and often not as green as advertised – with the hope that consumers won't see how unsustainable the whole system is to begin with. The (other) problem is also so-called greenwash, that is to say falsely claiming green credentials for a product or even entire company.

Our grandparents lived a much simpler life – sometimes out of necessity – and for many that carried through into the modern era. They often kept their “old” furniture, wore their clothes for as long as possible, often expertly mended, and they lived the make do and mend culture and saw nothing special in it at all. Today this “culture” is becoming fashionable though I sincerely hope that it is more than just a fashion. Grandma would, often, also make the clothes for herself and for Grandpa and also for the kids and grandchildren. She would can produce from her garden and produce from the market when in season so they had stuff for through the winter. Grandpa would make many things for the home, the homestead, and what ever else, often by repurposing but also from scratch, though more often than not using reclaimed materials.

There are few like that left in our “modern” world, people as well as homes. We live in a time of such constant consumption that people and their homes are in a constant state of turnover and turmoil even. It is normal today to update, freshen up, change colors, style and furniture based on whims, deals and the latest fads. We are a society obsessed with and defined by consumption. But this does not need to be. It is up to us whether or not we want it that way.

Bill Bryson once said, “We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.”

The idea of reducing and especially ceasing unnecessary consumption altogether is highly unpopular, especially with producers (and the governments – more about that later though). So much so in fact that many companies offer token “green” products in order to alleviate the shopper's guilt.

In reality, however, those products are often less than green, despite their appearance, and the marketing that goes with them all too often. Many are made to be non-toxic or recycled, but are then packaged in ways that are unsustainable; think of packaging that's made from recycled materials but is non-recyclable itself, or those awful bio-plastics from corn starch or other sources that are supposed to be compostable but always end up in the trash because they are not truly compostable and also are not recyclable.

The British government – and others – are also not too keen on people reducing or ceasing consumption and have even gone so far as to label the thrifty and refuseniks as “domestic terrorists” for not supporting the growth of the economy.

Then there are all the products that are green, but spur people to unnecessary consumption because they look and sound so good from an ethical viewpoint. While purchasing green products of all kinds is certainly better than non-green ones when needed, the real problem lies at the root of consumption itself.

I have personally come across people who buy “green” products, such as recycled glass storage jars, while at the same time throwing glass produce jars that would do the job equally well and at no cost, into the recycling bin. The comment I got when I challenged that was: “but those jars are for recycling” and even when explained it still made no sense to the people concerned and I had one reply that was “but they are not all the same then”. And the same is true with the recycled steel pencil bins for the desk; a tin can cleaned up (and maybe even decorated) will do the job equally well. Oh, but the tin can from produce is also for recycling. Alas the consumer mindset will take a while to eliminate.

Some people also believe that they can only be eco-friendly if they buy more and more of those green products instead of thinking of reusing, repurposing and/or upcycling what is already there, such as packaging “waste”, whether in the form of tin cans, glass jars, boxes, or whatever. Other think, because they cannot afford to buy those green products that they cannot go environmentally friendly because they lack the funds. We really have to get that information out there to educate people.

We cannot buy our way to a green planet, regardless of how many green and eco-friendly products we may buy. There is just no way that consumption, at its current level, can ever be sustainable no matter how green it claims to be. The whole growth model on which our global economy is built is at odds with our Planet's limitations. Infinite growth, as the economy appears to need and want it, is not possible on a finite Planet, and finite its resources are, especially the non-renewable ones.

If we all stopped shopping superfluously, then yes, the system would collapse, but the current system is bound for collapse regardless. It is simply unsustainable and for that reason alone it is bound to collapse.

This is not about bashing capitalism, since other economic systems, be it socialism, communism, or whatever, are just as hard on the planet as capitalism. But then again, we, so far, have never really had proper socialism/communism anywhere; it always turned into a system of state capitalism rather, as the means of productions were not, as they should be, owned by the workers but by the state.

The common focus of those systems is on who owns the means of production, but we must also and especially question as to why we produce so many things in the first place, and that is where our discussion must ultimately lead.

We (seem to) produce things for the simple act of producing them, whether they are needed or not and we produce nowadays in such a way that every year or every couple of years things need to be replaced because they are designed to break down (built-in obsolescence) as if there is a kill switch in them that is set to have the machine – or whatever – die just after the one year or three year (depending) manufacturer's warranty has expired.

Instead of, the way it once was, producing goods that have a long life span – manufacturers then had to develop new or better products if they wanted to keep selling things – manufacturers have opted for the built-in obsolescence method. That way they don't have to do R&D and just can go on making the same thing and we have to buy the same thing again and again, ad infinitum.

It is time we challenged the system by cutting out shopping for anything but the necessities. Buy ethically made, organic clothes when you need them, or better still buy good quality secondhand from charity shops and such like. Drive less or get rid of your car and get a bicycle. Again as to the bicycle go for a good quality secondhand one and no, it doesn't have to have all those bells and whistles, though a bell it should have. Buy an old house instead of building new. Keep it small. Eat better and eat less. The fewer things we buy, drive, and build, the less energy (renewable or not) required overall, and the better off we will all be, and the Planet.

Simply put, the scale and pace of our consumption cannot be supported through sustainable methods. To live within our Planet's ecological limits, we are going to have to find a way to consume less, both of renewable and non-renewable resources.

Purchasing green can be good, but buying less is better. Can this become the new norm? It is not a question of can. It must become the norm. And we must (also) change and develop from a consumer society to a maker society.

We must regain the mindset of our grandparents and their parents that we make (and grow) as much as we need ourselves, from a variety of materials, including those that others regards as waste, and that we reuse, repurpose and upcycle as many things as possible.

© 2017

Government 'tried to bury' its own alarming report on climate change

Exclusive: The five-yearly assessment of what will happen to the UK as the world warms says one of an array of potential threats is the ‘significant risk’ to supplies of food



The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.

But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.

Read more here.

Shampoo bottle made from ocean plastics hailed as ‘technological breakthrough’

Limited edition Head & Shoulders bottle to go on sale in France represents tiny proportion of global sales

Beaches strewn with plastic waste have become a graphic illustration of just how much plastic we use in everything from food packaging to cosmetics, and how much of it gets thrown away.

Consumer goods giant P&G has become the latest company to attempt to show it is tackling the problem, announcing plans for a limited run of Head & Shoulders shampoo in bottles made partly from plastic waste collected by volunteers on France’s beaches.

It follows the likes of Adidas, which put 7,000 pairs of trainers made from marine plastics on sale in November, and Pharrell Williams, whose clothing line for G-Star RAW has featured denim containing plastic from the oceans.

Ecover, which sells cleaning products, has produced several limited edition bottles, using marine plastics from the North Sea and waste collected from Amsterdam’s canals. Saskia van Gendt, head of sustainability for Europe at Ecover, says it plans to launch new packaging later this year with plastic collected from UK beaches by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Read more here.

How to Plant and Care for New Fruit Trees

plant fruit tree

Once you’ve invested in new fruit trees, you want to make sure you get them off to a good start. Every step from digging, planting, mulching, watering, staking and pruning is important to their long-term health and survival. You’ll be able to do a good job with your fruit trees by following these steps:

New fruit trees that arrive by mail are best left in their box, in a cool place, until you have time to plant them. Before planting, soak their roots in water at least an hour to overnight.

The best holes for fruit trees are dug to fit the diameter and shape of the individual tree’s roots. Never prune roots to fit the hole! The depth of each hole is determined by the graft line. This line is recognized by a change in bark color or by a diagonal scar in the bark. This graft line must remain just above soil level to prevent “suckers” that will continually need removing.

When digging the hole, mix the topsoil with deeper soil. The cardboard your tree arrived in can serve as a surface on which you place and mix soil. This mixture is then placed around the new fruit tree’s roots. Using just topsoil or lighter soil in a hole whose walls are made of clay allows water to sit around the roots and drown the new tree. Scoring the sides of the hole with the edge of a shovel will also help to keep water from collecting around the roots.

Hold your new fruit tree upright as you place soil around its roots, and then step on the ground around the fruit tree’s trunk to remove all air pockets. Fruit trees can be planted by one person, but it does help to have a helper holding the trunk to assure it stays upright and the graft line remains just above-ground.

Read more here.

Die große Kartoffel-Verschwendung

Die große Kartoffel-Verschwendung: Ein Drittel der jährlichen Ernte schafft es nicht auf unsere Teller

Kartoffel Verschwendung

1,5 Millionen Tonnen Kartoffeln gehen in Deutschland auf dem Weg vom Acker bis zum Teller jährlich verloren. Das zeigt der neue WWF-Report „Kleine Makel – Große Folgen“. Schuld an der immensen Lebensmittelverschwendung sei vor allem der Handel.

Der WWF untersuchte, welche Vorgaben aus dem Handel die Verluste verursachen und welche Auswirkungen sich für Umwelt und Landwirte ergeben. „Auch bei der Kartoffel kommt es auf die inneren Werte an. Der Handel legt hingegen den Fokus auf die äußere Schönheit. Die Kartoffel soll eiförmig sein, eine bestimmte Farbe und eine makellose Schale haben“, kritisiert Tanja Dräger de Teran. „Erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass Kartoffeln inzwischen vor dem Verkauf gewaschen werden. Der maschinelle Waschvorgang und das Wasser zerstören ihre natürliche Schutzschicht. Sie können nicht mehr so lange gelagert werden.“

Ähnlich kritisch ist, dass die Knollen in Netze oder Plastikbeutel verpackt werden. Licht bringt die Kartoffel vorzeitig zum Keimen und setzt die Bildung von Solanin in Gang. Der Stoff lässt die Feldfrüchte grün und damit giftig werden.

Hier weiterlesen.

London's largest solar retrofit project delivers big carbon savings

A waste management firm has saved 361 tonnes of CO2 in nine months following the delivery of a 1000KW solar retrofit project at its plant in East London.

Bywaters expects the installation on the roof of its Bow facility to deliver a positive return on investment within six years

Bywaters installed the 700MWh solar panel array on the roof of its main facility in Bow last February. The array provides most of the power needed for Bywaters’ 650,000 tonnes per annum materials recovery factory, making the company nearly self-sufficient.

“Feasibility studies convinced us of the validity of using solar panels in the UK and, we are already saving more carbon than anticipated,” Bywaters managing director John Glover said. “As well as reduced energy costs, the solar panels are enabling us to operate more sustainably.”

Set the benchmark

Bywaters expects the installation to deliver a return on investment within six years. The retrofit forms part of the firm’s ambition to reduce the environmental impact of its own operations and its customers.

The Bow facility processes 670,000 tonnes of waste from across London and exports around 470,000MWh of electricity to the National Grid - enough to power the equivalent of 100,000 homes. The company recently commenced a five-year waste collection and recycling contract with the Parliamentary Estate, with the goal to boost recycling rates and further its sustainability efforts.

“We have taken a number of decisive actions to clean up the capital’s air and believe in setting the benchmark for how businesses can carry out core processes without causing damage to the environment through harmful emissions,” Glover added.

Read more here.

The great British make off: how a new materialism can give us back control

A true march of the makers will turn the tables on our abusive consumer culture and deliver the richer relationship with ‘stuff’ that our economy is crying out for

Materialism has become synonymous with consumerism – wasteful, debt-fuelled and ultimately unsatisfying. But what if we’ve not been looking in the wrong place for happiness, and we’ve just got the relationship badly wrong? Like an abusive relationship, we voraciously acquire things we barely use to fill acres of storage space while underpaid workers sleep in tents outside warehouses that feed our seemingly insatiable desire for more. There must be a better way.

Writing in 2012, Andrew Simms and I made the case for a “New Materialism” in which we nurture a more deeply pleasurable, and respectful, relationship with the world of things. Not only do we think it will significantly enhance our collective wellbeing, it’s a vital step if we are to find ways for everyone to thrive while living within environmental means. The New Materialism also offers solutions to key economic challenges such as the need to generate ample, good-quality jobs, rebuild hollowed-out economies and communities – and make everyday goods and services available in ways that escape the consumer-debt trap.

Far from eschewing materialism, a deeper understanding of humankind’s place in a living world of materials suggests the need and opportunity for a different kind of love affair with “stuff” – a long-term relationship of appreciation, slow pleasures, care and respect. Instead of abstinence and austerity, embracing the New Materialism could have profoundly positive effects. Inverting classic expectations of productivity in which fewer people produce more stuff for consumption, the New Materialism points to an economy in which, in effect, more people produce less stuff for consumption.

Read more here.

A place in the country: meet the new woodlanders

If you go down to the woods today... you might find a school, a photographer’s studio, or a carpenter’s workshop. Britain’s forests are getting a new lease of life

In the stillness of autumn, the only sound on the old Saxon road is the gentle tapping of beech nuts falling on a carpet of terracotta-coloured leaves. “You must meet Robert Cunningham – he’s tremendous,” says Kathy Harris, pausing to touch the huge trunk of a venerable beech tree. Harris knows all the ancient trees in this 25-acre wood as individuals. There is also a decaying ash called Cecelia and a beech with two trunks: one has thrown out a limb to fuse with the other, like twins holding hands. There are badgers, rare bats, otters and water rails. A bonfire crackles with burning holly and, as dusk falls, a tawny owl hoots.

Harris is one of a growing number of small woodland owners in Britain – a market for resellers, who buy big forests and subdivide them into “affordable” four- or five-acre plots. One, woodlands.co.uk, has sold more than 625 plots in the past four years. Prices range from £39,000 for six acres in Wales to £95,000 for a similar plot in Hampshire. The reasons for becoming a woodlander are varied and often idealistic, but the Mark Twain quote “Buy land – they’re not making it any more” usually lurks somewhere in the background. Large forests may be the preserve of tax-dodging multimillionaires (if a wood is managed commercially, harvesting timber, it is exempt from inheritance tax), but most woodlanders are a long way from being able to run a commercial operation.

Harris’s motivation is more altruistic than most. In 2003, her 12-year-old son, Louis, died of leukaemia. During his long illness, she struggled to find places to take Louis and his two older brothers; with his depleted immune system, he couldn’t enjoy crowded amusement parks or busy beaches. After he died, Harris wanted to provide a place of peace, privacy and fun for other terminally ill children. She had spent much of her adult life running a research station for ecologists in east Africa’s Rift Valley and wanted to help protect the environment back home, too. After a year of searching, her eldest son, Joe, spotted 25 acres of boggy wood for sale three miles from their home in Norfolk. “We drove down. It just grabbed me by the ankles and I bought it.”

Read more here.

Stories of Change Gartennetzwerk Dresden

Achtung, das Ansehen dieses Films über die Gartenszene in Dresden verursacht akutes Jucken im grünen Daumen.

Eine andere Stadt ist pflanzbar! Schon über 20 Stadtgärten haben sich zu dem Gartennetzwerk Dresden zusammengeschlossen. Es sind Orte der Begegnung, der bewussten Ernährung, der gemeinsamen Aktionen, der Ruhe und der Vielfalt. Entdecke den Wandel und besuche den Gemeinschaftsgarten in deiner Nähe: www.dresden-pflanzbar.de

Tips For Small Property Gardening

Upon first glance, limited gardening space can seem like an insurmountable obstacle in regards to mass food production, but, with a little creativity, it is far easier than one may imagine to produce reliable crops. These are just a few of the tricks that our family has been using for nearly a decade on 1/16th of an acre to grow healthy and delicious food for our family.

Border Planting/ Pea Patch and Chamomile

Companion planting has been instrumental in our success. For example, when we plant our carrot seed we also sprinkle French breakfast radish seeds among the planting. With a maturity rate of about 25 days, the radish is ready for harvest far earlier than the carrot so instead of thinning the carrot patch and dispatching a useless product, we are giving the carrots much needed space while putting a garden-fresh item on our plates. Then later in the season when the carrots are ready for harvest, we plant another group of radishes for a fall harvest thus maximizing our small space.

Read more here.

13 Life Lessons All Parents Should Teach Their Kids


Forget the Mom guilt—these basic health, nutrition, fitness, and happiness lessons are easy to impart to your family. In fact, you’ve probably ingrained most of them already! But it never hurts to reflect on how well your kids are hearing and adhering to these life lessons and see if it might be time for a refresh.

1. Eat Your Wheaties

Or another healthy breakfast—the meal is a no-brainer for power days at school and better health down the road. Studies link even the simplest morning meal of a bowl of cereal, a splash of milk, and a few banana slices with better attention spans, sharper fact recall, and happier moods for kids. Newer research links morning eating with less obesity, stronger bones, and healthier teeth. Yet kids are dropping out of the healthy breakfast club at an alarming rate. Although 95 percent of elementary school kids (and 87 percent of teens) ate breakfasts in 1965, fewer than 86 percent (and fewer than 70 percent of teens) do so today. The reason is rushed mornings and busy families. You can eat a bowl of instant oatmeal and fruit in less than five minutes—so set the clock a few minutes earlier and make sure your children eat up at home before school.

Read more here.

Church of England groups tentatively back fracking

The stance is at odds with some Christian environmentalists, but the church says there are caveats to its support

The fracking industry has praised the Church of England (CoE) after two groups at the church tentatively backed the controversial technology as a way to help the UK cut carbon emissions.

Shale gas was a “potentially useful element” in switching to a low-carbon economy as it was cleaner than coal, so long as it did not harm renewable energy’s expansion, a church briefing paper said.

The view puts the church at odds with Christian environment groups opposing fracking, who say it risks exacerbating global warming and holding back cleaner alternatives such as wind and solar power.

The church said it had been prompted to assess fracking because communities affected by exploration applications had looked to it for leadership.

But while the CoE said “legitimate concerns” on fracking should be heard and that it sympathised with people in areas such as Lancashire, Yorkshire and the east Midlands who are likely to see the first exploratory fracking in the UK, it did not oppose the technology.

Ken Cronin, CEO of industry body Ukoog, welcomed the document published on Wednesday by the Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environment Working Group.

“We commend the committee for the care it took to review all available research and opinions,” he said. “We agree that shale gas can be a useful component in transitioning to a low-carbon economy and that there is a robust planning and regulatory regime.”

Read more here.

The Dead Good Deadwood Blog: What’s so good about deadwood?

TCV is currently working with the Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the Scotland Counts Project to produce a new Citizen Science project all about Deadwood! How exciting! This first blog will give you a bit of background information about deadwood and why it needs our help

So what exactly is Deadwood? And why is it dead good?

  • Deadwood is a tree or part of a tree that has died and is in a stage of decomposition.

Here are five different types of deadwood (figure 1):


  • Deadwood is extremely important to the health of woodlands and even us humans! It plays a big part in nutrient recycling. As plants grow they take nutrients from the soil to help them thrive. If the plant is then removed from that soil, as it often is when you are growing vegetables to eat, then those nutrients are taken away, which is why farmers have to add nutrients back into their soil with compost and fertilisers. In a more natural environment like a forest, where plants like trees are left to grow and die, then the dead wood from the trees will slowly release nitrogen into the soil as it decays for other plants to use.
  • Deadwood also acts as a carbon storage system, capturing the carbon that the tree has taken in over its life and locking it into the ground to prevent that carbon being released into the atmosphere, which is a cause of unnatural global warning.

Read more here.

17 Vegetables That Grow Well In The Shade


Most vegetables are high-light plants because they have to produce food. Sunlight is what helps them in food production process or photosynthesis. Unless they get sufficient time in the sun, they cannot make enough food for themselves and for us. However, there are a number of shade tolerant vegetables.

Leafy vegetables and herbs are at the top of the list because their food production as well as storage happens right there on the leaves. Root vegetables follow next. If you have a patch that receives light to partial shade, choose plants from the following selection.

1. Bok choy

Commonly called Chinese cabbage, this vegetable does not grow any cabbage heads, but have an open-leaved structure consisting of large, green leaves borne on long, spoon-shaped leaf stalks. High in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as cancer protective glucosinolates, bok choy is ranked by CDC as the second highest among nutritionally dense vegetables. It is worth growing in any vegetable garden as a cool season crop, but can be grown all through the summer in partially shaded areas.

Minimum sun 2-3 hours

Read more here.

Garden Planning for Seed Saving

Planning a garden involves deciding what crops to plant, how to efficiently use your space, and correctly timing of planting each crop. With a little extra planning, you can have a garden that provides a bountiful harvest of both produce and seeds. Whether you are planning a large backyard garden or have only a small garden plot, these tips and strategies will get your planting efforts off on the right foot.

Know Where to Start

Planning a seed garden does not have to be overwhelming and can be done to your ability and interest level. Just as a new gardener is told not to take on more than can be managed when planting a vegetable or flower garden, starting small and knowing just what species to begin with when growing a variety for seed will help ensure success. And by growing familiar varieties, it is simpler to measure one’s success at collecting seed that is true to type when that seed is planted and grown the following year.

Read more here.

No courgettes? No problem. Grow your own!

Beat the veg deficit -T&M has the answer!

Courgette Defender Organic COU4998A TOZER[2] crppedArticles in the press this week have flagged up a shortage of courgettes in UK supermarkets. This will consequently affect prices with courgettes – and many other vegetables – becoming more costly. However, Thompson & Morgan has the answer: grow your own!

Cold weather in Spain and Italy, which supply many of our supermarkets with fresh vegetables, has been blamed for the lower-than-average production. The shortages are not just limited to courgettes; suppliers suggest that imports of aubergines, spinach, peppers and tomatoes could also be affected. The laws of economics mean that prices in shops and supermarkets are already being driven up, putting even more pressure on those trying to stick to healthy New Year’s diets.

Thompson & Morgan has long promoted the health and cost benefits of growing your own vegetables. The company is offering 20% off a collection of seeds of the vegetables most likely to become more scarce and expensive as the year goes on, encouraging gardeners to grow their own.

For those on a New Year health drive, home-grown veg is always going to be a better bet than shop-bought – for a start, it hasn’t spent weeks in transit and then on a supermarket shelf, so its nutrients and vitamins are fresh and ready to give you that 2017 ‘new you’ boost.

Growing your own has never been easier either; with a variety of ‘How to’ articles and videos on the Thompson & Morgan website, amateur gardeners can find all the information and support they need to grow a variety of tasty and nutritious veg. Thompson & Morgan’s full range of vegetable seeds and plants can be found on its website.

Based in Ipswich, Suffolk since 1855, Thompson & Morgan is the UK’s most successful horticultural mail order company. It is the only mail order seed and plant specialist to develop its own plant lines in the UK. Due to the continued success of its breeding programme, the company has introduced more species and varieties to the British gardening public than any other mail order company in the industry. Its product range includes an award-winning choice of seeds, young plants, bulbs, seed potatoes, onion and garlic sets, soft fruit and fruit trees, as well as an extensive range of gardening equipment and supplies.

See the full range at www.thompson-morgan.com

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher offer new RS556 assault rifle system

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

2017-01-11_RS556_assault rifle system_page3_image1January 2017: Two of Europe's most respected defense companies, Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher, have joined forces to manufacture and market the RS556 modular assault rifle. This German-Austrian cooperation project adds a key item to Rheinmetall's growing array of infantry products.

The RS556 is based on the highly regarded STM556, which Steyr Mannlicher first unveiled in 2012. Outstanding modularity characterizes this easy-to-use, future-proof 5.56mm x 45 cal. weapon.

Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher are offering the RS556 assault rifle as a jointly produced product, made in Germany, with a German valued added share of 60%. Among other things, the two partners thus have their sights set on the German market. This innovative weapon is a possible candidate for the new “System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr”: the German armed forces intend to replace their standard G36 assault rifle with a more advanced system starting in 2019.

2017-01-11_RS556_assault rifle system_page3_image5Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher each have well over a century of experience in developing and manufacturing infantry weapons. The RS556 project underscores both companies' commitment to supplying military and security services around the globe with reliable, future-proof, state-of-the-art systems and equipment.

Featuring an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and rotating bolt, the gas-operated RS556 is based on the tried-and-tested Steyr Mannlicher AUG, or Universal Army Rifle, a design concept that has proven itself in decades of service on every continent.

With a 16” barrel (406 mm) and a fully loaded, 30-round magazine, the RS556 weighs around 4.2 kilograms, just over 9 pounds. The adjustable-length light-weight stock clicks into seven different positions, meaning that operators can adjust the RS556 to match their individual equipment profile in optimum fashion.

In a matter of seconds and without tools, the hammer-forged barrel can be easily exchanged. This means that the RS556 can be readily modified for various missions. A number of standard barrel lengths are available (14.5”, 16”, 18” and 20”); however, customer-specific barrel and rifling lengths can be easily created.

The RS556 features several standard and optional NATO accessory rails with receiver systems designed in accordance with MIL-STD-1913, STANAG 2324 and STANAG 4694. This means that the weapon can be fitted with various optics and night observation devices or laser light modules. A 40mm grenade launcher can also be mounted on the new assault rifle. Moreover, the RS556 is compatible with Rheinmetall's modular “Future Soldier – Expanded System” (IdZ-ES), and can also be connected to other soldier systems.

A special breech system with an emergency operation feature ensures that the weapon always functions reliably even in extreme operating conditions, e.g. in severely hot and cold environments.

Founded in 1889, the Rheinmetall Group is a tech enterprise specializing in mobility and security. Consisting of three divisions – Vehicle Systems, Electronic Solutions and Weapon and Ammunition – the Group's Defense arm is one of the world's foremost defense technology makers, supplying a wide array of advanced military equipment: from vehicle, protection and weapon systems to infantry equipment and air defense solutions to networked target engagement sequences and electro-optics and simulation technology. In the small arms domain, Rheinmetall has produced such renowned products as the G3 assault rifle and the MG3 machine gun.

Established in 1864, Austria's Steyr Mannlicher has long been one of the great names in the European small arms sector. The company's many technical achievements include the Werndl-Holub breechloading rifle, the Mannlicher straight-pull bolt-action rifle with en bloc clip, and the SSG69 sniper rifle. The Steyr AUG bullpup system is used by at least 37 nations worldwide. As the standard rifle of military organizations ranging from the Austrian Army to the Australian Forces, it has proven extremely effective in all climate zones. In addition, Steyr Mannlicher supplies modern sniper rifles such as the SSG08, the SSG Carbon and the .50 cal. BMG HS50M1. Likewise meriting special mention is the company's GL40 40mm grenade launcher, which can be used in build-on or standalone mode.

It is just such a shame that Germany (and Austria, in this case), as well as the UK and the USA (OK, I guess the Russian Federation does too) concentrate so much effort in designing killing tools rather than producing things that help humanity to survive the many other challenges. Do we really want to have arms production and arms exports to be what keeps the economy going?

And, obviously, in order for this to function the governments must keep creating phoney wars and threats ad infinitum. Where else would the arms industry be were it not for conflicts and wars, often caused by our governments' actions and interference?

© 2017

Nottinghamshire farmer plants 'edible woodland'

David Rose with Shona Martin of the Woodland Trust and some of the fruit that Home Farm will grow. Picture:  Toby Roberts/WTML

An array of locally-grown fruit will be added to the menu in Nottinghamshire following the planting of an "edible woodland" by a dedicated farmer in partnership with the Woodland Trust.

David Rose is turning six-and a half hectares of arable land at Home Farm, Screveton, by planting more than 4,000 fruit and nut trees. The hard work was done last month when volunteers turned up at the progressive farm to plant the young trees and bushes.

Fruit species include apples, pears, cherry, wild cherry, plum, currants, gooseberry, raspberry, damson, whitebeam, elder, mulberry, wild service tree, apricot, quince, lime, Japanese silverberry, rowan, dog rose, sea buckthorn, medlar, hawthorn and crab apple.

The fruit should be available from the farm and local greengrocers after five years. The nut trees should be producing sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazels and almonds after ten years.

David said: "Farming is going through such changes and there needs to be a way that smaller or medium sized farms can have an opportunity to have a sustainable business.

"I believe that agro-forestry gives that opportunity to produce food in a way that maximises the potential of every acre.

Read more here.

With Housing Costs Sky-High, the Commune Makes a Comeback


Several years ago Aurora DeMarco, 53, was having health problems. The divorced masseuse and hospice care provider was stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed by all the upkeep of her three-bedroom condo in the tony Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, known for its majestic brownstones and trendy boutiques. And she hated that simply meeting a friend in one of the nearby artisanal coffee shops had become “astronomically expensive.”

“Life was a grind,” says DeMarco. “It was a lot of money, time, and effort to maintain that lifestyle.”

So two years ago, DeMarco left it all behind.

In the glorious ’60s, we might have said that she turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Or maybe we’d just cut to the chase and say that she joined a commune. In fact, DeMarco did the modern-day equivalent: She joined “an intentional community,” a group-living arrangement that in some ways harks back to the heyday of hippies. It’s becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for more mainstream residents as rents, home prices, and the cost of living just keep rising.

She now pays $810 a month for her own room in a 10-bedroom house in New York City’s Staten Island as part of the Ganas community. The 75-member group is spread out over eight buildings in the neighborhood. And the best part for DeMarco, who still works outside the community, is everyone shares in the burden of cooking and other daily chores.

“I feel like I have a support network,” DeMarco says. “I’m not so much on the hamster wheel.”

Read more here.

Delhi bans disposable plastics

plastic bottles in India

India's capital city has taken a strong stand against plastic pollution, but now it needs to convince its residents.

India’s capital city, Delhi, has taken a courageous step toward fighting plastic pollution. In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) voted to pass a law banning the use of all disposable plastics throughout the national capital region. This came into effect on January 1, 2017.

The decision applies to all disposable plastics, including produce bags, chai cups, and cutlery. While the change is meant to reduce the staggering amount of plastic pollution generated by India, not everyone is supportive of the change. Many fruit and vegetable vendors are concerned they will lose business, as customers will go elsewhere if they cannot get a bag in which to carry their purchases. Other wish there had been more time to get used to the idea of such a ban.

In the eyes of environmentalists, however, there is no time left to waste. India and four other Asian nations are the top plastic polluters in the world. They are responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the 8.8 million tons of plastic that are added to the world’s oceans each year. If current rates continue, Asia will be dumping 80 percent of the world’s plastic at a rate of 200 million tons a year by 2025. That’s not very far off, which means action is needed now.

Read more here.

IKEA Live Lagom

See how Live LAGOM is changing people's lives


Lagom: It’s a simple Swedish phil­­­osophy on everyday life that means ‘just the right amount’. An idea that we can strike a healthy balance with the world around us without having to make extreme changes, and without denying ourselves anything. With LAGOM in mind, we think you can live a more sustainable, healthy and cost-conscious life at home, without any dramatic upheaval. To learn how to make sustainability affordable and easy to achieve we created our Live LAGOM project, an active community to help save energy and water, reduce waste and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Read and see more here.

Why Your Urine is Too Good to Waste

Almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest comes out of our bodies—what if we could return it to the soil?


Follow Kim Nace into her bathroom. Yes, it’s okay; many people visit here, headquarters of the country’s first community urine recycling program. Let her show you the odorless, waterless toilet: a wooden box inset with a conventional toilet seat and lid. Under the lid, a large, clean hole in the back lets solid waste drop to a container in the basement. In the front, a wide, plastic funnel channels urine to an underground tank.

What if we could keep urine out of wastewater and use it?

It’s the urine that captivates Nace, executive director of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. For the past five years her organization has grown a movement of scientists, farmers, and volunteers seeking to answer the question: how can we intercept the nitrogen and phosphorous polluting our waterways, reroute it to farmers’ fields, and in the process, reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers?

The crux of their solution, it turns out, lies within each of us—and the choices we make in the bathroom.

What comes out of our bodies contains almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest. Abe Noe-Hays, research director at the Rich Earth Institute, explains it this way: “When plants grow and produce food, that food is full of nitrogen and phosphorous. When we eat it, we rearrange the molecules, but the elements don’t go away; they come out dissolved in our urine. If we can return those elements to the soil, it really is giving back the very thing we took in the first place.”

Read more here.

New Plastics Economy: Businesses support action plan to recycle 70% of global plastic packaging

A cross-sector coalition of multinational businesses have today (16 January) thrown their weight behind the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's new global action plan to recycle and re-use 70% of the world's plastic packaging.

The report estimates that $80-120bn of plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy due to a linear, take-make-dispose value chain

The New Plastics Economy initiative, which has released its latest report at this week’s World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, provides a roadmap of priority actions for businesses to move towards a circular global plastics system in 2017.

Supported by more than 40 major industry actors such as Unilever, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and the Coca-Cola Company, the report highlights that re-use provides an attractive economic opportunity for 20% of global plastics packaging, while a further 50% could be profitably recycled through concerted efforts on design and after-use.

The remaining 30% of plastic packaging must shift towards fundamental redesign and innovation, or face the reality of never being reused or recycled, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: "The New Plastics Economy initiative has attracted widespread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take. The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a clear plan for redesigning the global plastics system, paving the way for concerted action."

“We look forward to following the progress of this singular and powerful initiative over the coming years as it stimulates the innovation, redesign and new thinking needed to pave the way towards creating a plastics system that works.”

Read more here.

Over Two, Under One: Basket Weaving With Reeds

If you like working with your hands, basket weaving can provide you with beautiful objects for your home, to give as gifts, or to sell.

basket weaving fig 04 japanese weave 550p jpg

Everybody loves a basket! And whether you're using that woven container to tote vegetables from the garden, display fruit on your kitchen table, or just stash away an unfinished needlework project, you'll find that your satisfaction in the task is doubled if the basket is one you've made yourself.

Many types of material are suitable for basket weaving, but one of the best is reed. Strong, pliable, and light, reed comes from the core of the long shoots of the rattan palm, which grows in the tropical forests of many South Pacific islands. These shoots reach lengths of 200 to 600 feet as they trail over the floor of the jungle or hook onto other trees and plants. And once the thorny outer bark has been removed, the smooth, glossy underbark is stripped off in specific widths to be used for caning chair seats and such.

Beneath this layer is the actual reed — the core of the vine — which is harvested and machine-processed into round and flat strips of different diameters and widths. The sizes range in diameter from No. 0 at 1/64" (used for making miniatures) to No. 12 at 3/8" (used for sturdy handles). As a rule, the spokes — which are the ribs or framework — of a basket should be two numbers coarser than the weavers... which are the flexible strands that are woven over and under the spokes.

Read more here.

A picture is worth.... how to avoid the flu

flu ad

Read more here.

Refurbishing an axe head

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What is a hatchet and what is an axe?

hatchet1-1A hatchet is a small axe of up to about 2 pounds in weight while everything above 2 pounds in weight becomes an axe proper.

Hatchet and axe are important tools for the woodsman, coppice worker and greenwood carver and -worker, although the main tool for the coppice worker, more often than not, is the billhook.

Good hatchets and axes often can be very expensive to purchase new and thus refurbishment of good to high quality old ones that at times can be had at flea markets for little money are well worth the time and effort. At the same time while giving you a quality tool at a reasonable cost it also saves valuable resources.

The proper refurbishment of a hatchet or an axe head is not something to be hurried along by use of power tools, however. And it is amazing to see even so-called experts coming out with the most stupid things imaginable. You look at those articles and videos and wonder “what the heck?”.

Do NOT use angle grinder or bench grinder, especially not for regrinding the edge and never burn out the (remains of the) old handle in a fire. Both of it can and will affect the temper of the steel and could ruin the axe or hatchet head.

Time and again, and only recently in the Bushcraft magazine in the UK, when the talk (and advice) comes to refurbishment of axe heads the use of an angle grinder (and in some cases and incidents the use of a bench grinder) is talked about. This is as stupid as burning out the remains of a handle in a fire. Both will harm the temper of the steel. And I do not care about whatever supposed credentials the author who writes such an article has. The same goes for sharpening billhooks and also knives. A bench grinder or similar is an absolute no go here.

While it is fine to remove any burring over of the back of the axe head with an angle grinder, a belt grinder, or even a Dremmel tool – and even that very, very carefully – to use a high-speed grinder on the edge is a No-No. Even the slightest overheating will change the temper of the blade and make the edge soft and that is something we definitely do not want to happen. Unless, that is, you know how to and wish to re-temper the blade in the end.

The only way to resharpen the edge is by way of hand tools, that is to say by file and by sharpening stones, aka whetstones, or, if you have access to one, a sandstone wheel in a water bath, like the big old whetstone wheels that used to be found in village smithies and on many farms, that needed a second person to turn the handle. And the same, obviously, also goes for the sharpening the edge on a newly forged tool.

But, as said, again and again we see people, even those claiming to be experts, using dry high-speed bench grinders with their harsh abrasive “dry” wheels and then comments such as that one needs to keep quenching the tool in water to prevent overheating. Hello! You heat that steel to such an extent that it requires quenching you have already done damage. So, don't do it.

Most billbooks, hatchets and axes are, in fact, soft enough in the cutting edge to be sharpened by use of a mill bastard file, a fine cut file, and those that are not will have to be done with “stones”, by hand. The only safe and precise way that will ensure the integrity of the steel is maintained. It is not difficult but may take a little while.

I must say that there are times when I cringe as regards to the advice that is being given by people claiming to be expert on the subject as to how to refurbish an axe, a billhook or a knife and of the sharpening of same. It is worrying in the extreme, at times.

© 2017

Cabin fever: how Scotland is back in love with the joys of ‘hutting’

Bothies once offered a bolthole for urban workers. A legal change has revived them

Dylan Thomas had one. So did Roald Dahl, Arthur Miller and Norman MacCaig. Virginia Woolf wrote her last words in one and Gabriel Oak had one in Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd.

Fishermen and shepherds have long recognised their value and between the wars they were promoted as boltholes, a means for the working classes to escape toxic cities for the good of their health. In Scotland, the hut, whether a mountain bothy or forest retreat, has long been part of both the scenery and the cultural landscape, immortalised in the “but an’ ben” of the Broons cartoon strip – a tiny two-room, one-storey holiday cottage.

But a toughening up of land access rights, a change in attitudes by landowners and tighter planning regulations led to the tradition of the rustic getaway almost disappearing, leaving just sheds for those with gardens, and holiday lets for those who could afford them.

Now a ‘hutting’ revival is predicted after the Scottish government signalled that later this month it will change legislation to exempt huts from building and planning rules, allowing people to put up these most simple of second homes in the countryside wherever they can rent or buy a plot of suitable land.

Read more here.

Neighbors feed neighbors with Little Free Pantries

Little Free Pantry

These ingenious kitchen cupboards are mounted outdoors, and food and toiletries free to the public.

A new type of food pantry is sprouting on American lawns. Called a ‘Little Free Pantry,’ this outdoor cupboard is mounted above the ground, with a see-through, unlocked door that allows people to give and take food items at their leisure. The idea is to have a constantly-accessible, public source of food for anyone who may need it, and to enable generous-minded neighbors to share their bounty in a direct way. The name, of course, is inspired by the Little Free Libraries which operate on the same concept of "give what you can, take what you need," only with books.

The Little Free Pantry, which only came into existence in May 2016, eliminates the need for a ‘middleman’ or additional paperwork, which can be deterrents for some people when visiting public food banks. It’s entirely anonymous and available 24/7, which is attractive to those people who do not want to be seen accepting donated food.

Read more here.

Message in a Bottle: Permaculture & Disruptive Innovation

At this critical time in human civilisation, what are the next steps for permaculture? How can it become widely recognised as a vital tool for regenerative agriculture? Here are five ideas to help us explore this questions.

In 1974, two pioneers, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, gave birth to permaculture during the heyday of industrial agriculture. Permaculture has been quietly developing at its own pace ever since, like a message in a bottle. It is time for humanity to read this message: permaculture can feed our hungry planet in a way that does not poison the land and water, reduce biodiversity or remove topsoil. If this is true, why has it taken so long for permaculture to become widely practiced?

The answer to this question can be found in the patterns of human evolution. By understanding how consciousness evolves, we can trace the development of permaculture and even predict what will come next as we endeavour to design a viable nutritional ecosystem that is beneficial for all life.

Permaculture was born out of crisis in Australia in the 1970s. Environmental degradation had reached crisis levels in Tasmania in the 1950s, and had stopped Mollison dead in his tracks:

It wasn’t until the 1950s that I noticed that large parts of the system were disappearing. First fish stocks became extinct. Then the seaweed around the shorelines went. Large patches of forest began to die.
I hadn’t realised until those things had gone that I’d become very fond of them; that I was in love with my country.

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Purple paint means 'no trespassing' in Texas

purpleTYLER, Texas (KETK) - While visiting the countryside of Texas, have you ever seen trees and fence posts with unique markings the color purple? It's not backwoods graffiti,  it means no trespassing.

"It holds the same weight and the same law violations apply," said Prairie View A&M Extension Agent Ashley Pellerin. "It's no trespassing period."

It started out in Arkansas in 1989 as a way for property owners to notify the public of private land and in 1997, the state of Texas adopted the law.

"The reason the Texas legislature did that is they were trying to keep landowners from constantly having to replace signs," said Jonathan Kennedy, owner of EastTexasLands.com. "In Texas as we know, people like to take target practice at signs so they are having to replace them frequently."

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Nifty Tote Bag Made From a Feed Bag

Feed Bag Tote

You'll find step-by-step directions, with helpful photos, here: DIY CHICKEN FEED SACK TOTE on the Community Chickens pages from Mother Earth News and Grit magazine.

Poster Rebecca Nickols has made these totes from other kinds of feed bags, too, including a very handsome one from a bag of wild-bird seed.

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Innovative Neighborhood Farm Adjacent to Housing Complex Increases Food Access and Grows Community

orchard-gardens-neighborhood-farm-and-community-garden-photo-dave-victor-min-683x325“Beyond growing vegetables, beyond growing soil, we’re building community through agriculture,” says Dave Victor of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden. “That’s a big part of the mission, a big part of the vision for the farm. It’s all about providing healthy fresh local food for low income people.”

Dave Victor, after five years honing his growing skills with Garden City Harvest, became the manager of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm just last year and he couldn’t be happier with his new position.

“Just like any sustainable agriculture farmer the focus is on building soil,” says Victor. “I tell people that I’m a vegetable farmer but first and foremost it’s all about growing soil and building that soil ecology.”

Using a diversity of growing techniques and products, Victor and his team integrate urban food growing with urban community growing focusing on building a firm relationship with the local youth.

The farm sits against the fence of the Orchard Gardens Apartment Complex on the west side of town in Missoula, Montana. Founded in 2005, the farm covers two acres of historically agricultural land in an area now occupied by housing projects and busy roads. The farm is a partnership between Garden City Harvest—Orchard Garden’s umbrella organization firmly established in Montana’s community and urban agriculture movement—and Homeword, a sustainable housing construction company. Together they planned the construction of the farm in unison with the construction of the apartment complex. The land needed for the farm meant that some of the complex’s parking space went underground.

Three paid staff positions, two long term interns and 20 volunteers made up the bulk of the farm’s work force this year. In the last growing season, Orchard Gardens produced 19,000 pounds of food using bio-intensive growing methods on half an acre of land. In addition to growing seasonal vegetables, the farm contains a small fruit orchard, herb and flower gardens, and a community garden.

The farm produces over 30 different varieties of vegetables for its 25 CSA customers and also sells culinary herbs and orchard fruit. CSA members can also participate in a u-pick flowers program during the 18 weeks of their CSA program. Orchard Gardens is a “combination site” also housing a community garden with rentable 15 x 15’ plots. One of those plots is ADA accessible with raised wooden garden beds. ADA plots are common among Garden City Harvest community farms.

The produce is distributed to members of the farm’s CSA as well as to the local community through its farmstand outside the apartment complex every Monday and Thursday night. The CSA operates on a sliding scale and runs from June through October. The surplus produce is sold to the community at a vastly reduced rate. Children living in the housing complex, ranging in age from 3 to 13, spend a lot of time on the farm and around the farmstand helping with set up and learning about the vegetables.

“As soon as they all see us out there setting up, they’ll all come running over immediately,” says Victor. “They like to help us carry out boxes of food or help us set up our tables, spread out the tablecloth and in return we give them carrots and peas and green beans and they just love that.”

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