Sunday, 4 March 2007

Saturday 3rd March 07

Ah, nice to have a day when I'm not expected to do anything in particular. My boys were up early and the noise meant no lie-in, so I got up too and as they had lots of energy I invited them to cycle down to school with me, so I could pick up the plum logs I chopped on Thursday night. Whilst down there, I did a bit of gardening, tidying up, pulling out a few nettles etc, whilst the boys played in the grounds.

I spent some time later in the day building a logpile, I put a pile either side of the front door to fully dry off before they come in and sit near the stoves. For me, logpile construction is a bit like an adult jigsaw puzzle, as it has to fit together and stand up, and cope with some shrinkage as it dries. It is common for the pile to shift and lean over, and it's quite an art to build a good one. I use a varity of logs in these 'final' woodpiles, taken from several 'single type' woodpiles of ready wood. Different wood has different burning qualities, some burns easily and very hot (ie hawthorn) and some burns quickly and with low heat output, such as poplar. Some pine and most dense wood like oak will stay in overnight, and enable the stove to be lit on the embers in the morning. Split logs dry better than whole ones, and burn better too. This knowledge is important if you cook on the stove, boil kettles, and choose not to use central heating (runs on gas). I love Clearview Stoves, but this week will ring Town and Country Stoves, in Pickering, to see if their model tested recently was deemed to be 'smokefree'. I had a good chat with the son of the MD recently, who told me lots about the testing process that enables a particular model to have a certificate enabling it to be labelled smokefree.

In the afternoon I prepared my seed compost, five parts riddled leafmold, four parts loam from upturned turves and one part garden compost. I then looked for my pepper seeds, and Gill told me that sometime over the past few months, during a clearup (I'm very untidy and chaotic!) she'd put all of the veg and flower seeds in a large airtight plastic box. Unfortunately she'd also put in some onion sets. The moisture from these had cause the whole box contents to rot, including the majority of the seeds. The only ones to remain dry were the ones in foil/plastic sachets, unopened. This was dreadful, as most of our seeds are now no good. However, in a way it was a good way to 'weed out' the old ones which would have had poor or no germination anyway. Fortunately, the most recent seed order from the allotment store was not in this box, it was sitting (untidily) in a bookshelf in an envelope next to envelopes of bean pods and last season's pumpkins. So they were OK, and they included some peppers. So they got planted.

In the evening my LETS friend David called, asking if I could cut a sheet of woody material to size for him, for an art project. I went for a walk with him, as I'd noticed a ripe skip with a holly tree (combustable logettes and compostable twiglets) and some unpainted planed wood and several pallets for building another compost bin, New Zealand type, to replace one which is itself turning into compost. I loaded up my bike trailer and again reduced our overburdened landfill.

Later, gazed at the lunar eclipse with binoculars, totally wow.

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