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Jenny Barnes

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since Nov 17, 2015
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hugelkultur urban bike
Permie-ing up my urban garden bit by bit! Also working towards zero waste and campaigning against climate change.
Southampton, UK, Zone 9
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Recent posts by Jenny Barnes

Greg Mamishian wrote:It helps to live as far away from government bureaucracy as you can get. We chose to live in a rural unincorporated area which does not belong to any city so as to be free to do whatever we want.

Ha, good point but we live in the UK, not much chance of that here!
1 year ago
If I were in your position I would consider these options:

Solar panels which heat hot water - then use this as traditional central heating. The down side is that it's not much use when the sun doesn't shine! You don't say where you are in the country, but the south and east tend to be sunnier.
Electric heating - either from a ground source/air source heat pump to underfloor heating, could be supplemented by solar panels.
You could also look into infra-red panel heating which seems to be promising at the moment. This heats the surfaces of the room so it won't feel 'warm' in the same way as a radiator or wood burner.
A wood-fired mass heater. However this is only really of use if you've got an open-plan house because the infra-red rays won't go round corners.
You might also want to look into how efficient your wood burners are - there can be a massive difference between modern and old ones.

Obv start by insulating as much as you can first though!

Heating using wood in this country is expensive, as is oil. Wood burners seem to be something of a luxury item rather than a practical heating option. I guess with the other options it depends how much you are able to spend upfront and how much work you're willing/able to do to the house (for example underfloor heating requires taking up the floor first).

There may be grants available to you - worth checking on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Great that you're not going for gas; this is not the fuel for the future, and is likely to start being phased out so the country can keep to its carbon emissions targets.
1 year ago
Definitely agree that prevention in the form of long clothing and a hat are the heathiest options.

Please be careful when using natural oils as a sunscreen as they only have a relatively low SPF. Coconut oil and olive oil seem to be the best, with an SPF of around 7. In this study, sesame oil has an SPF of 1.

Please do be careful with this! Getting a painful sunburn once every two years triples the risk of melanoma.
4 years ago
I don't think there is necessarily a shortage of land in the UK; just that a very few people/ big ag own a disproportionate amount (even the Daily Fail agrees). Hope I'm not getting too political there - this is just the reality!

It seems to be that the only affordable way to buy land to build on in the UK is to either sign up for a One Planet Development in rural Wales, buy some land yourself and build a hidden off-grid house and face the risk of it being demolished (I bet there are hundreds of them out there), or join with a few others to by a larger swathe of land with buildings on.

You do need planning permision, even for temporary structures such as a yurt.

It is possible to convert an unused barn, although this is still a punt, as apparently half of those applications get turned down (make sure it's not in a conservation area, flood plain or anything else which they could decide against).

I've heard that you can rent land fairly cheaply, and that there are ads in Farmers Weekly, or even going and talking to farmers can be another way to go.

Personally, I'm aiming to get a few allotments, do a fair amount of guerrilla gardening, and make the city my permaculture paradise (or blimmin try to anyway!), rather than escaping to the countryside. We can't all escape to our dream plot, and also that could involve isolating yourself quite a lot.
4 years ago
Chives are supposed to be a good companion plant to roses, keep away the blackspot.
4 years ago
This is a lovely thread

A few years back, a trainee doctor from Spain turned up at my workplace for work experience. The place she was due to stay in was no longer available (due to the owner's wife having an affair so she was using the spare bedroom) :-/ The trainee, Laura, spoke very little English and had never been here before. Another trainee (John) offered to take her to visit some spare rooms available. Predictably, these were all grotty. Anyway, we had a spare room so she ended up living with us... for 8 months!

Her English improved, and she passed her qualifications. Laura and John ended up going out, and this August they will be getting married! (and we'll be going to the wedding in Spain)

Just goes to show that helping someone else out, even if it inconveniences you, often ends up paying you back.
4 years ago
In Suffolk, on the East coast of the UK, broom is a native plant. It doesn't appear to be invasive here, and in fact is sold in garden centres. The soil there is about as sandy as you can get, with scarcely any topsoil. I came across this website which details ancient botanical uses. I love the description "And is a shrub that growyth in a place that is forsaken, stony and untylthed. Presence thereof is witnesse that the ground is bareyne and drye that it groweth in. And hath many braunches knotty and hard."

I think there having something which thrives despite the poor soil is considered to be an advantage. I would imagine that the only way to control it would be to improve the soil.

Further, the website gives these uses:
"The Broom has been put to many uses. When planted on the sides of steep banks, its roots serve to hold the earth together. On some parts of our coast, it is one of the first plants that grow on the sand-dunes after they have been somewhat consolidated on the surface by the interlacing stems of the mat grasses and other sand-binding plants. It will flourish within reach of sea spray, and, like gorse, is a good sheltering plant for sea-side growth.

Broom is grown extensively as a shelter for game, and also in fresh plantations among more important species of shrubs, to protect them from the wind till fully established.

The shrub seldom grows large enough to furnish useful wood, but when its stem acquires sufficient size, it is beautifully veined, and being very hard, furnishes the cabinetmaker with most valuable material for veneering.

The twigs and branches are serviceable not only for making brooms, but are also used for basket-work, especially in the island of Madeira. They are sometimes used in the north of England and Scotland for thatching cottages and cornricks, and as substitutes for reeds in making fences or screens.

The bark of the Common Broom yields an excellent fibre, finer but not so strong as that of the Spanish Broom, which has been employed from very ancient times- it is easily separated by macerating the twigs in water like flax. From the large quantity of fibrous matter contained, the shoots have been used in the manufacture of paper and cloth.

Tannin exists in considerable amount in the bark, which has been used in former times for tanning leather.

Before the introduction of Hops, the tender Freen tops were often used to communicate a bitter flavour to beer, and to render it more intoxicating.

Gerard says of the Broom:
'The common Broom groweth almost everywhere in dry pastures and low woods. It flowers at the end of April or May, and then the young buds of the flowers are to be gathered and laid in pickle or salt, which afterwards being washed or boiled are used for sallads as capers be and be eaten with no less delight.'

Broom buds were evidently a favourite delicacy, for they appeared on three separate tables at the Coronation feast of James II."
4 years ago
In the UK - the agroforestry research trust is a good source, you usually have to order popular plants in advance for next year.
Identify good unusual edibles at - they have a rating system for edibility and medicinal uses.
Ebay is often a good place to find unusual plants too
4 years ago
Speaking from a psychology background, I may be able to offer some suggestions.

1. Jerry has been described in some posts as acting like a teenager, however I understand he's only 20 years old. During puberty, our neurones go into a massive re-organisation, and this is largely what's responsible for 'teenage behaviour'. This only finishes in our mid-20s, and is responsible for a need for more sleep and difficulty with empathising with/ understanding others' motivations, amongst other things. Obviously, we go through this at different rates.
2. Younger generations have been largely brought up in a society where you can get everything you want very easily. Food and clothing can be bought from the shop, restaurant, or delivered. You get to drive everywhere. Excellent entertainment is available, free, and at no effort through the internet/TV/gaming. People brought up in this environment probably need a slow introduction to the value and sense of achievement you can get through hard work, especially physical labour.
3. We react to threats by fighting, fleeing or freezing.

Being of this age group and cohort, Jerry probably has a poor attention span and struggles to plan things through properly (which is why I imagine he bent the spoons without thinking through the consequences). I imagine he is not very emotionally literate, which could be why he reacted by criticising Paul (fight mechanism) and avoiding (fleeing mechanism) rather than taking responsibility and apologising. Before arriving, he may have thought about all the benefits of the gap stay (being in the outdoors, feeling healthy, learning, making good friendships), but not adequately comprehended the workload involved.

We humans are motivated by two things. The first is one advocated by many posters so far: avoiding punishment (being told off, kicked out, shamed). This manifests itself in different ways. Some DO work harder to avoid the punishment. Many others will lie, cover things up, or avoid the punisher. Imagine kids stealing cookies when their parents are out of the house, then blaming their brother or sister.

A much more effective way of motivating people is the second way: getting a reward (e.g. a sense of achievement, enjoyment, being thanked, status, praise, or a 'token' for getting rewarding things - usually money). This needs to be done carefully however, because we find different things rewarding. For example, some people love being publicly recognised for their work, whereas others find this embarrassing. Some find money rewarding, some less so.

We also have to be careful not to turn the reward into a punishment. For example, if a reward is expected and we don't receive it, we get resentful (e.g. someone not receiving their annual pay bonus).

External rewards are difficult to manage. If other people are publicly rewarded, this can create jealousy. Some will pretend to have done more than they actually did in order to get the reward. Praise, thanks and status do have their place, though. What's easier to work with are internal (intrinsic) rewards. These include the endorphins we experience when doing exercise, the sense of achievement when we look back at a job well done, learning and mastering things.

Also, the power of advertising can be used, telling people how pleased you are about what you'd achieved during the day, saying how much fun you had, despite the fact that you were shovelling manure! Tom Sawyer got it right!

Paul, I agree with many posters that it's not your responsibility to get Jerry through this phase. I think one solution to this would have been to give him a 1-2 week trial, so that he could have an escape clause and leave without his pride being hurt. But also identifying some tasks which have the highest sense of enjoyment/achievement, and lowest hard-work element (for example, picking mushrooms with someone else so you get to chat to them), and gradually easing the Jerrys of this world in to the harder stuff could help. This would mean that the more experienced would probably have to take on the burden of the more difficult, less rewarding tasks for a short time. But those people could also be the ones working alongside the Jerrys, giving them support and advice.

For situations where people do need to tell people off, a 'sh*t sandwich' can be a good approach - layering the criticism between praise for two things. E.g. "You did a really good job cutting that log yesterday. However, we are concerned about you not contributing as much as we'd agreed when you arrived. You're a really valuable member of the team here, we all like you, so I hope we can find a way to work this out".

It's an art! For further reading, I would suggest "Don't Shoot the Dog!" by Karen Pryor.
4 years ago