way out west

No Dig Gardening. Interesting Experiment To Compare Three Mulches – And Full Results…

250 elephant garlic plants growing under 3 different mulches. And a control area with no mulch. That was the experiment. The results after a full growing season showed that the 10 best bulbs from under the sawdust (5 kg) weighed more than the ones from the straw pellets (4.5 kg) and the sand (4.5 kg). And they all out-weighed the un-mulched ones (2 kg). Now the next step to this experiment will be to compare the next crops – do the various mulches have a beneficial or detrimental effect on them? I’ll be putting some winter brassicas in that bed soon so maybe we’ll find out..

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - June 2017

June! It's been a mixed month with some things thriving and some failing. But all in all it's a lovely time to sit in the garden and watch it all unfold..

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How We Built Our House -The Grass Roof

It’s been ten years since we designed and built our house, so it seems appropriate to start an occasional series about it all. Building your own house has to be one of the most exhilarating and exciting things anyone can do in their lives. (It’s also expensive, exhausting and stressful too, but we wont go there for now…) We weren’t filming anything back then, but we have a few (hundred) photos which we hope you’ll find helpful. This one is about the design of the roof – there’s much more we can say about it, but that will have to wait. There was a leak along one edge recently – which we fixed easily. Perhaps we should put up a video about that? Apart from that – the roof has performed better than we had hoped. Our house isn’t perfect – we made it ourselves. but it's a great house and we love it. We built all the parts in advance in the workshop (with a small crew) and then friends and family turned up and worked incredibly hard to assemble it. Most of it was put together in two weeks. It was a good time and we will always be so grateful to those who helped. (Already one has left us forever - Pam. It was a privilege to know her and count her as a friend.)

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - May

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - April!

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - March

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - July

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A Year In Vegetable Garden - August

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Cleaning and filtering beeswax iIn a homemade wax steamer

Getting clean wax from old combs and frames is not that easy. I do it in two stages. The first stage -- Wax Extracting -- is covered here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzkxq...
This is the second stage -- cleaning blocks of dirty wax to get the bits and pieces out.

If you just pour hot wax through a filter, it will cool instantly and solidify on the filter. That's why it's worth putting the whole thing in a box and heating with steam.

Of course the pillow-cases get clogged up. When that happens you could either pour the warm wax into a second case (a bit dangerous and heavy too) -- or you could wait till the block has set hard (the next day) and peel off the dirty case and scrape down the wax before putting it into a clean one.

This is an important part of beekeeping -- it's part of the process of recycling and accessing all that wonderful wax. Solar wax extractors just don't work here in Ireland (or, more accurately they work on one or two days in the year) and anyway they're too small for my needs -- so here's what I came up with. I hope it helps and inspires you. (Please like and share!)

Notes: 1. Hot steam will burn you badly, so be careful!
2. Doing anything with an old gas bottle is also potentially dangerous unless you are certain that it contains no gas. I find it necessary to remove the small frame that protects the valve so I can get at it with a spanner. The copper pipe fittings didn't quite match the thread -- but there's no pressure in the system so this isn't a problem.

Ideas & Tips: 
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