Archive for the ‘Triple R (Re-use. Recycle & Re-purpose)’ Category

Just the other day I was in a desperate need of any kind of container to plant some Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes), Comfrey Bocking 14 and ‘Czar’ Runner Beans which I was ”gifting” to some relatives overseas. I had said that the plants will need some care until a root system was established because these plants are going from a Temperate Climate into the Tropics and luckily I happened upon these ready to be thrown away bags, from a recent clothing shopping spree.

Paper bags are ususally quite strong when supplied in Malls / Shops where the customer is expected to buy heavy loads, the best part is that I intend to merely submerge the plant with it’s paper ”pot” directly into the ground such as those common compostable / biodegradeable plant pots – completely eliminating the need for plastics and giving the plant and other organisms some additional nutrients!

Method:

Step 1: Take bag and cut vertically in half, you can pull out any handles / straps and re-use those later if you like

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Re-purposing a Bench Paper Bag into Two Plant Pots – Step 1

Step 2: Once cut, lay both pieces down on their thinner Vertical Sides as in the below photo, then deicde for yourself how large (wide at the base) you need your two pots so you can follow the follding lines and cutting lines in the diagram further below …

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Re-Purposing a Bench Paper Bag into Two Plant Pots – Step 2

Step 3: In the below diagram, the following notes are key to complete this project:

The RED Line is the base Horizontal folding line,
The two Orange Lines are the side Vertical folding lines
The two Dotted Green Lines are the only cuts you will need to make

bag-pot-process
Once all folded and ready
, the final step is using a stapler to keep it together and perhaps to re-attach the handles for ease of transport and handling (Optional)

 

 

So here it is, as stated in a recent post, I missed last year’s Blackberry picking season due to being very busy with projects in my free time and the sad realisation that I had also missed Sweet Chestnut season TWO YEARS in a row!!

There really is not much of an excuse for not foraging for Blackberries considering they are so widespread in the UK and the fact that you can freeze them until needed (this may not be suitable for some recipes however.)

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2 kg’s of Blackberries in a Large Saladmaster Pot

 

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • 2 kg ( ) Blackberries, freshly picked or from frozen
  • 1.450 kg ( ) Granulated Sugar
  • Juice of 1.5 Lemons
  • Large Pot
  • Cleaned Re-useable Jam / Honey or other Jars with Lids
  • Tongs if possible
  • Small Pot or Pan
  • Oven Gloves
  • Wooden Spoon and a Ladle
  • NOTE: this same recipe can be followed in a smaller amount ie: 1 kg of Blackberries with Juice of 1 Lemon and 750g of Granulated Sugar

Method:

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Step 1: Place your freshly washed and rinsed jars inside your oven and leave there until later

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Step 2: Place the jar lids inside a small pan or pot, covered in water ready to being to the boil (this is where you use the tongs, to take them out of the water one by one when needed)

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Step 3: Slowly heat the Blackberries until they give off some of the juice liquid, you can help them along by semi squashing with a spatula or potato masher, this should take maybe 5 minutes (expect more if your blackberries were frozen)
Note: If you want your jam to be lumpy thick, minimise how much you stir and squash the blackberries)

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Step 4: Now add in the Lemon Juice as well as the Sugar, mix well then bring it all to the boil, once boiling, simmer gently until it thickens and reaches 105 Degrees Celsius

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Step 5: When there is an obvious change in the density of the liquid (becomes runny / watery) you can start boiling the water in the small pot / pan and switch your oven on to a high temperature (150 Degrees Celsius) to start sanitizing your jars and their lids.
After your Jam-to-be has boiled nicely for around 30minutes to an hour since adding in the other ingredients, you are looking to have a temperature of around 105 Degrees Celsius before you switch off the heat and start filling your jars, there is a Simple Method to check if it is the right temperature without needing to obtain a Candy Thermometer, just do the Cold Plate Test.

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Step 6: Once happy with the thickness after testing on a plate, start ladling the Jam into the jars one by one (I keep the other jars in the oven and only take out one at a time)
As soon as a jar is fill, use a damp cloth or tissue to remove any bits on the rim of the jar then place a lid and give a good firm twist, place the jar on a cloth or tissues away from the reach of kids etc.and let sit until morning or a few hours later.
Note: Oven gloves and tongs will be needed at this stage

I managed to fill 6x small / medium, 2x medium to large and 1x Large Jar which was quite impressive, note that the jars are mostly different, I do re-use any jars that I can from my grocery shopping, it does work and jams / chutneys I preserved last year are still fine today – there is absolutely No Need to go out and buy expensive specialist ”preserving jars” in fact, the one time I had a failure is in a dedicated larny Kilner Preserving Jar!

Date and label them if you wish, then store in a pantry or cupboard which is not too close to your cooking station.

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And so I finally get around to posting ”what’s going on” photo’s of both my Allotment and Garden …

I love bees, but unfortunately with this year’s cool weather, I haven’t been able to get a nice photo yet compared with previous years, I do have a frog though 😉

Click on each picture below for a larger image of such

 

Wildlife have increased both on the Allotment and Garden, mainly due to the added varieties of plants as well as ponds on both sites, I can’t stress enough how important a pond is, even if you just get a small container and place it in a hole with a few plants inside, it will go a long way to help the local ecosystem, not only that but can also create a Micro Climate which you can take advantage of in terms of Plant Variety and options …

Tadpoles are, Still Tadpoles! … in the small pond at home, I’m leaning towards that maybe they don’t have as much food due to the pond size compared with the Allotment, so I’ve made a mental note to throw in a few more ”accidentally stepped on” slugs to help them along …

I’m growing Achocha for the first time this year, they are climbers so they are growing amongst the Pumpkins on the large trellis, they are related to the famous ‘Exploding Cucumber’ but the reason why I’m growing them is I feel like giving up on Peppers, the slugs are too Rambo here and this variety is said to taste like Green Peppers when fried – they are also a vine plant so a bit out of reach for the slugs.

The Japanese ‘Hokkaido’ Pumpkin are said to be one of the easiest Heritage (Heirloom) pumpkins to grow in the UK climate, are quite prolific and highly recommended as well as the Pumpkin Masque De Province.

I chopped down my Bocking 14 Comfrey literally 3 – 4 weeks ago and already have a plant almost two thirds back to the original size! You definitely need to divide the roots every year after the second year onwards … the crowns sell for reasonable money online so keep that in mind! I am pondering opening an online shop here, this will be something on offer if I go ahead with the idea.

Above are the photo’s from the Allotment plot, starting with a nice sunrise sometime perhaps after 6am? Once cloud, wow, amazing for the UK skyline eh?

The wildflower bed is doing better now than I had expected (I really waited very late to buy and sow a pack on that dedicated bed) luckily all worked out fine, I suspect maybe less than half of the varieties mentioned on the seed pack germinated so I was quite happy with what came out. The Borage flowers are beautiful aren’t they? No wonder they are used in salads for a visual touch!

The Pumpkin is another French variety Galeuse d’Eysines which I had some reasonable success with last year, it climbs well and does pretty good in storage

I placed Marigolds ‘Tagetes’ too late ( well I discovered that Marigolds really should be the First plant you germinate before you start sowing vegetable seeds – this is a personal observation, but I bet not my own) and hence lost a Pumpkin and Courgette plant to slugs, the other marigolds under my Achocha plants almost got completely decimated (that’s their purpose anyway) but are coming back to life now, their new purpose is ornamental to brighten up the plot and finally to provide me with seed for next year

The Water Mint ‘Mentha Aquatica’ are now flowering, they are insect / Bee beneficial and if you look closely in the photo, you can see a resident Frog on the left near the flower right in the emergence zone at the water line.

Till the next Garden / Allotment update – most likely a Harvest Update but there might be more ”mid summer” if we suddenly get good hot weather so the plants can get a boost

In the coming months and even years, I will be posting some recommended Heirloom, also known as Heritage plant varieties which I have personally tried out in my small typical UK garden (South East UK climate region). I have one main seed supplier whom have, as one of their goals, maintaining certain seed varieties and ensuring they don’t go extinct!

Unfortunately, These seed varieties may not be available worldwide and the supplier can only legally ship to Europe however, many of these seed varieties area from outside of Europe so you may be able to track them down locally yourself!

The Pumpkin variety I recommend is a French Heriloom named ‘Galeuse d’Eysines, it has this name as it produces a warty surface once mature which is not any kind of GMO Malfunction or weird cause of Hybridization, I do not promote GMO’s and neither does the supplier realseeds, this is a genuine Heirloom / Heritage Variety.

One of the fruits last year was over 4 Kilograms (8.8 lbs+) and the flesh is very thick, the plants also climb / sprawl well so therefore are great on a trellis, the foliage is not severely prolific so a 10 ft long trellis should be fine to hold around 4 – 5 plants.

Why do I insist on growing pumpkins if I have such a small growing space? the answer lies in Permaculture practice, you need to look at not only plant yield but also if you can store the produce to last longer into the following season/s. With pumpkins you can store sometimes into March and in some lucky cases people have been able to store up into May (given the right conditions of course). The other point I would like to make is that I only grow Pumpkins vertically on a trellis at the back end of the garden so ensuring that I am not shading out any other plants, in front of this home made Bamboo Trellis (Reusing / Recycling), I grow Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines (Eggplant), and Courgette (Zucchini).

I remember now my first few visits on a Permaculture Forum online where I was asking loads of questions with the reply generally being ‘ do you really need to go out and buy it? look around, ask neighbours, look on freecycle, streetbank etc. ‘

rubbish

It took a while to sink in, what was the problem in buying a few essentials, I thought. Now years later, I find it quite un-moralistic to get to a garden centre or DIY type store to get something which, may very well be lying in a rubble skip two streets away from my house! I strongly believe, or Know that consumer culture is pretty much responsible for most of the issues we have in this world today including War.

Here is one small idea I am sharing of the permaculture mind vs the consumer culture mind, my goal is merely to show you the great difference even in such a small case and if you apply this in almost every situation you come across, your life will change for the better!

Every so often, I came across people (some are friends and colleagues) whom have consumerism so engrained into their minds that they even disregard recycling, reusing, re-purposing etc. almost as some sort of alien practice that needs to be eradicated for the fear of an economic collapse if everyone suddenly started living in an eco mindset! One example being when I discovered Honey (even willow leaves soaked in water) is a great alternative to rooting hormone (when you root plant cuttings in water or compost, you can use honey instead of buying a special gel or powder), a good friend of mine was adamant that it would not work, that it is probably just ”some old folks tale” and that ”I should go to the B&Q or Homebase to buy the hormone gel”. Fortunately, I am the master of my own self and trusted my source, I have never and will never need to buy any rooting gel or powders due to the Honey WORKING!

An unusual post, yes. I just hope that I may have planted a seed of thought in some of you

Example of Permaculture vs Consumerculture:

Scenario: You need some stirdy sticks to stake your tomato plants

Consumer:
Get in car / walk to bus stop or train station,
Travel for a period of time to get to shop / garden centre,
Spend time looking for item, probably distracted by stuff you didn’t go there for and don’t need,
Purchase item/s with money,
Travel back to home,
Spend time outside staking the plants,
Time consumed? Anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 or 3 hours (depending on transport and locality of shop / garden centre)
Pollution: Contributed through transport AND purchasing a processed product that has packaging etc.
Money spent? Anywhere between £2 and £10 for a pack of canes, separate charge for twine etc.

Item used? Possibly contaminated with chemicals due to factory processing and any preservation agents for storage

Permie:
Looks at tomatoes,decides they need staking,
Grabs secateurs or loppers and searches around garden for dead branches on shrubs and trees,Cuts suitable sized branches,
Goes back to tomato bed and stakes the plants.
Time consumed? Perhaps 10 minutes all together if extra time spent looking for dead branches
Effort? Minimal
Pollution? None (Zero)
Money Spent? Zero
Item used? Organic

I figured out this idea mainly out of frustration, the basic story most of us have experienced is: You go out and buy a bunch of bamboo canes from your garden centre store and by the next season some of them have already molded and started rotting down!
This is not very sustainable and in turn ensures the consumer keeps coming back, the other thing to note (slightly deceptive too) is that these canes are sometimes painted or tinted a green colour, although it doesn’t say this on the packaging, I assumed this paint also served as a preservative / anti fungal coat to prevent rotting hence why I bought this in lots when I started Gardening before discovering Permaculture …. but no, it’s just colour to look enticing, has no real value at all really.

Eco Plant Stakes

Smaller Re-Useable Bamboo Stake supporting a Broad Bean on a very windy Permaculture Garden

Anyway, first off you need a supply of bamboo, bamboo does need thinning out and it can be spotted from a distance so you should be able to see which of your neighbours have a batch and you can go ask them! If they or their gardener don’t thin out you can ask if you can do it for them and payment will be all the felled bamboo!
Another thing is you should definitely reserve a space in your garden for a bamboo mini plantation if you follow permaculture methods or at least, if you are a keen gardener, instructions as follows:

Step 1, Making Re-Useable Plant Stakes

Step #1: Get Bamboo Canes (to your own length requirements), Pliers and Wire Cutters

Eco Plant stakes

Step #2: Measure out your wire length based on the eventual thickness of the plant stem you wish to grow, attach the wire using the pliers as above

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An Excellent Pete Seeger Quote