Lime, Charcoal, Seaweed and Stools

After a busy few weeks and before Anthony disappears on his Aikido Summer Course we thought we’d post out a quick update on events here…

In this newsletter:

Stool making course
Lime Rendering opportunity
Seaweed harvest
Charcoal and firewood

Stool Making Course

Woven Bark Seat
Woven Bark Seat

Anthony is running a stool making course on 20th/21st October.
You will spend the first part of the weekend shaping ash and drilling mortices to make a ‘post and rung’ stool frame, then weave strips of Elm bark to make a beautiful, comfortable and durable seat. All tools and timber will be supplied.*

As before this is being offered at a variable rate depending on the number of participants- 6 places available. Weekend will cost £360, so if all six places taken each person pays £60.

*NOTE: The Elm bark seat is not included in the above cost- This product is one we have had to buy in and costs £2.25/metre, so a 350mm² stool will use approx. 16m of bark strip- so £36.

Lime Rendering Opportunity

Roundhouse Walls just waiting for render...
Roundhouse Walls just waiting for render…

The Roundhouse is in process of having it’s wattle walls rendered with lime. This is a fascinating process and, although lime has a lot of mystery surrounding its use it is fairly straightforward if one applies a few basic principles.
If you would like to come and have a go at applying some lime render we will supply all tools necessary and of course some guidance!
We are planning to do this process in two stages- the first will be to finish the first (scratch) coat on 23rd-25th July, then the second will be the second (float) coat on the 13th-15th August. This is a process which is weather and progress dependant- please keep an eye on this Calendar for regular updates on this and other events.

We will start each day at 10am and work until about 4pm

Please let us know if you are planning on coming out…

Seaweed Harvest

Seaweed harvest 2018
Seaweed harvest 2018

One of the annual food foraging highlights is a seaweed harvest.

We all took a much needed chilled day (though it was scorchingly hot!) and took off to the coast to gather some lovely sea vegetables…

We returned after the obligatory swim with a boot full of buckets each with a different seaweed. The different varieties we collected were;

Gutweed
Sweet Oarweed
Dulce
Bull Kelp
Laver
Sea Spaghetti
Sea Lettuce

After rinsing then drying them they are all now safely stored for use over the coming year. Yummy!

Charcoal and Firewood

After having various bits of our kiln replaced we have just completed our first charcoal burn for many years. You may remember in an earlier post a mountain of sweet chestnut which we cut in the winter of 2016-17? This is the timber we have used for this burn.
It took 6¾ hours from lighting to shut-down. For the first one in such a long time we are very happy with the results.

So… we have 2.25Kg bags of top quality local sustainable hardwood charcoal for sale at £6/bag. Purchasing this charcoal helps support local coppice woodlands and all of the wildlife they support. Please contact us if you would like some.

We also have loads of Ash or Alder or a mixed load of firewood for sale at £120/load. Place orders now to secure your load for the winter.

Appreciation for rain

Appreciation for rain – Anthony…

Amongst the things that came out of the Nature Culture Regeneration weekend we attended recently was the idea of verbalising an appreciation as a way of bringing our attention to something special we notice each day.

Today it was easy to find that appreciation- the blessed rain.

In the hottest driest part of the year, when all vegetables are in constant need of water and animals, including the humans on site, all need this precious resource, we can run very low. Very low!

Catch it all...
Catch it all…

The last few weeks have seen us having to be incredibly frugal- using the washing-up water to irrigate the plants in the garden and washing in the pond (though obviously without soap!)

Every last drop...
Every last drop…

Showers have been massively rationed, even though the solar thermal panels have given us plenty of scorching hot water in the cylinder.

As of 7am this morning (Sunday) all of our stores were basically out. Other than the pond, no water but for the small amount a minute or so of pumping from the borehole produced. Then… one drop… two… and then it came down properly and whilst its not quite the same as monsoon season in drier countries, the relief and joy, the smell of water on soil, the feel of it on our skin… well you get the picture!

All our downpipes have been used to fill every receptacle we could find- and when they were full we have set up a gutter run to take the rest into the pond (which has dropped by about 5”).

I would therefore like to voice my appreciation for this precious life giving rain.

Appreciation for rain – Ele

As the gardener at Pentiddy I am acutely aware of our water situation. We have ensured that we can collect whatever falls when it falls so our storage capacity is good but when it doesn’t fall for 3 months things get a little tricky. I have been amazed however at how much easier it’s been with the garden since moving over to a no-dig-system last year. The plants’ need for extra water has been noticeably less. I have only really watered in the polytunnel and on new seedlings. The garlic didn’t swell as I would have liked but everything else has been fine. As we completely ran out I made a point of mulching around the new pea transplants so the water they got when planted wasn’t lost to evaporation in the very hot polytunnel.

Swimming pond 'reservoir'!
Swimming pond ‘reservoir’!

Knowing the pond was there as an emergency reservoir made a huge difference and what a luxury to be able to bathe in deep water during a ‘drought’. Without today’s rain I would have been filling watering cans from the pond for the polytunnel so we still actually had 50m3 (50,000litres) of water available to us but the wildlife in the pond (including the kids) might have had something to say about us draining that!!

Context: Without a mains connection we rely entirely on what we can gather here. Our ‘main’ supply which feeds the house comes from a store collected from the barn roof at the top of the site (currently 4500 litres but another 1500 litre tank being installed soon).

As well as this store we have a range of other tanks collecting rainwater and greywater from the other structures on site, notably the house (3 tanks from various downpipes/outlets totalling 3500 litres). A few other smaller water butts and excluding the pond and what small amount we can pump from the borehole that’s our total available water. About 9000 litres (with the new tank 10500 litres)

Other news…..

It’s been a very quiet couple of months here with our volunteers all off on various courses and adventures. Tim is presently helping our friend Jeremy with his cob building at Velwell and is then continuing on to look at a bit more of the outside world before deciding whether to return. The other 3 return tomorrow and we’re having a couple of concentrated weeks on charcoal making, firewood prep and liming the roundhouse. It’ll be great to have them all back again. It’s then Summer craziness until the new interns start in October. We’ll introduce them to you soon……..

So much to say but even more to do so we’ll leave it there for now.