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Irene Kightley

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since Apr 13, 2009
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South West France
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Recent posts by Irene Kightley

...and this year, there's fruit !

2 months ago
Nice one Nik!

We eat the flowers straight from the garden or in salads or for whatever platter tastes great but needs a colour boost and a bit of fun.
The leaves dry really quickly, you crumble them and store them in airtight jars and use them in a salt mix or "straight" to give an interesting peppery taste to food.

They grow fast, are beautiful, edible, fill spaces beautifully, climb when they have to.

Grow them.
2 months ago
Hello Harry,

Check the voltage of the curtain opener, many of them are 12v and have an in-line converter to change domestic current to DC. (Just like your laptop, tablet, mobile telephone and probably your WIFI box have too). So you may not need an inverter, which wastes a lot of energy just by being switched on.

While you're designing the system, why not use a slightly larger solar panel than you need and run a few LED lights, charge your telephone and do all sorts of other things with the spare energy? After all you only open and close curtains once a day.

Solar panels are relatively cheap but batteries and reliable inverters are not. Am I being cheeky asking why you want to spend time and money on stuff when you already have a system that works on your domestic circuit?
4 months ago
One of the mini-designs I submitted for my Diploma in Applied Permaculture was about free-range chickens.

It's entitled "Free-range Chickens : Observations of their needs, multiple functions and beneficial relationships with examples of their use in a Permaculture garden design" and covers a lot of the ways in which you can use chickens in a garden and around a smallholding. It's long - 27 pages but as with everything I publish, there are loads of photos.

I hope you don't think I'm being pompous by including a link to the PDF and suggesting that it might be an interesting read.
This isn't an earth floor but it had a lot of earth in it. It was our very cheap but very time-consuming alternative to expensive terre cuite tiles. I thought about an earth floor but I dye wool and make a lot of conserves and we have some older dog/cats and sometimes lambs and kids who pee on the floor occasionally, so it was too much of a risk to try an earth floor, then have to redo it because it couldn't stand up to the humidity.

I read how to use straw for insulation under the floor and make the tiles in a book called "The Straw Bale House". So on top of about 75cms of rocks, we laid straw bales with mortar mixed with straw between them to support the floor. The floor is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. On the left in the photo is a small underfloor cellar which stays really cool.

Then we laid a classic screed floor and on top (because our house is bioclimatic and we wanted loads of thermal mass) we made a mix with sand, clay, white cement and ochre colours and made "tiles", tamping them down, then cutting and shaping them by hand (plastic bag over hand) to consolidate the mix and give them a nice finish.

Finishing off the last joints between the "tiles"

Floor after 17 years (Although I promised to wax it every summer, I don't) I love the floor and it doesn't show the dirt much with loads of muddy boots and 5 dogs coming in and out.

8 months ago
As we're near the top of a hill, we have a lot of small vernal ponds to prevent water run-off. This is one right on top of the hill, looking towards the house.

This is another small pond just in front of the house

The same tiny pond from another angle with ducks and geese enjoying the water

This pond was puddled by the pigs and tends to keep water all year round

This is our biggest pond (A double pond with false bridge) for swimming and fishing, we made it about 30 years ago and it's fed by a stream

This is a pond we re-laid with cement after several years of problems with liners. It's fed rainwater from the house front roof and takes the final water from the grey water sewage system that we finished last week! I can't wait to see how the system works and to make it a pretty place to sit doing nothing.

This is our latest pond which is being puddled by wild boar, it's fed from a swale

8 months ago

What is it that you leave on all night ?

Just to check : 1kwh = 1000 watts used in one hour, or 100 watts used for 10 hours. Is that what you meant to say?
9 months ago
Good permaculture design allows water to be collected, protected, conserved and reused as much as possible before it is lost.

In the hectare (Mostly Zone 1) around us it was vital - before we built our house, built roads, gardens and shelters etc. - to design our water strategy. Although all our animals are extensively raised, their shelters are concentrated here and we sometimes have more than 200 animals to feed and water.

At first, we had to connect to the city's water to make sure that we had enough, but with careful management, we now pay less than 300€ a year for water - a very small amount for a 37 hectare farm. 🤠

For a guide to practical details on how we manage water, click on the link HERE to see the original photo in flickr. Then move your cursor over the photo for links to larger photos.

9 months ago
A quick and easy way I use is to use Word or Open Office. Open a new page, choose "landscape" for your new page layout then insert a photo, move it to the left, copy it on the right and adjust the sizes of both photos to fit on the page then use screensave to make a new photo in jpeg.
10 months ago