Michael Cox

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since Jun 09, 2013
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books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Recent posts by Michael Cox

I had a bad period of depression when I was a student. SAD was a contributing factor, and I have been aware since then of low mood in winter.

Getting sunlight is important, but so is simply being aware of your mood and recognising when you are getting low. Exercise, fresh air and sunlight do help.

This year I have switched my daily commute to an ebike. It’s far enough that I wouldn’t routinely ride there and back with a normal bike. With the ebike it is a positive joy. And more exercise than sitting in a car would be.
4 days ago
Indoor smoke due to cook fires and heating causes an estimated 1.6m deaths per year in developing countries. Indoor smoke is a serious health issue, and doesn’t seem compatible with a healthy home.
5 days ago
Can I quibble with this?

Varroa destructor is the "parasite" referred to here. It is endemic globally, bar a few specific island nations (eg Australia) and is present in essentially all colonies to some extent. The only way to have a hive that does not have varroa destructor present is through distinctly un-permaculture practices - specifically treating colonies with a variety of different insecticides (eg oxalic acid vapour) to kill the mites. Various beekeepers worldwide - myself included - are breeding for bees that are resistant, or tolerant, to varroa, but even the very best of these colonies will always have varroa present to some extent.

On top of that, treating for mites interferes with the evolutionary processes that are necessary for bees to evolve the resistance mechanisms to survive varroa - unfit bees survive instead of dying, and pass on their unfit genes to subsequent generations. So not only are these treatments specifically not very "permie" they also undermine the wider genepool - it is trading off short term honey profits, at the expense of the overall genetic fitness of the species.

Ethical/permaculture beekeeping is a huge topic, and I don't really see how this BB as written aligns with that.
1 week ago
I don't like using old canes as mulch.

1) I garden barefoot, a lot. Prickles = not good
2) The canes - unless manually cut to short lengths - make other weeding harder, especially the bindweed which is a problem for me. I need to be able to pull long root sections through the mulch.
2 weeks ago

Leigh Tate wrote:Katerina, ouch! This past summer I spilled an entire canner of boiling water all over my bear feet. Like you, as soon as I took my feet out of cold water, the pain was unbearable. Here's what brought instant relief.

I'd be getting those bear feet seen to by a professional as a matter of urgency.

In all seriousness - keeping it cool, and allowing time seems to be about all that works. I've not found a way to shortcut the process.
2 weeks ago
It was called “random orange tomato plant that Oliver picked from the shop” :p

Sorry :p

I might have a photo of the label somewhere.
Hi folks,

I grew tomatoes from seed for the first time, and planted outdoor to boot. I had a bumper crop but was hit by late blight.


The flavour was a bit disappointing. I’d say 15% better than shop bought, but not anything super exciting.

The exception was one plant, which my three year old picked out at the garden centre as a small plant. It had orange fruit rather than red, and the flavour was like a punch in the mouth. Sweet, juice, a bit of citrus sour. They were amazing.

I saved some seeds, but the plant was low yielding and the fruit small. However, it has has given me an idea of what is possible.

So, help me find seeds for next year. I’m keen to try a few varieties and care about flavour above all.  What is your taste explosion?
Our deep litter chicken run is on a concrete slab, almost exactly as you describe. We included a waterproof roof, which is a big help, but more than half the side area is open mesh, so we get some wind blown rain in still. Provided it isn’t excessive, it seems to dry easily enough.

As Tyler has suggested above - all you need to prevent moisture issues at the house wall is a small air gap.
1 month ago
Re bucket systems...

We have previously had them setup, but not at present. We had two buckets in the room. One in active use in the toilet. The next is the one containing the sawdust cover material. As the first fills up remove it and put the now nearly empty one in its place.

Empty the bucket into the compost heap, and clean it immediately - nasties only get nastier if left. And provided you use enough sawdust it should clean really easily.  On your way back into the house bring a fresh bucket with new clean sawdust.

This way means you only ever have two buckets in the room. It may not be quite as compact as some are proposing, but it is simple minimal mess. Decanting buckets of sawdust indoors inevitably requires some cleanup afterwards, which would get old quickly.

Oh, and don’t let buckets get full - we empty ours when they get a bit over 3/4... easier to carry, and handle and less chance of needing a 2am dump and finding it over full!
1 month ago
Straw/woodchip starts off as indigestible. It has zero food value. Saying that spent grain has “more” food value than zero doesn’t say much.

How much more are we talking about? What about all the remaining indigestible material? Is it a preferred food, or do you need to starve you animals to get them to eat it?

My chickens have shown essentially zero interest in mushroom mycelium, or mushroom fruiting bodies when I have thrown them in the run. I’m not sure how I would get them to eat a meaningful quantity of either as a food source.
1 month ago