Posts Tagged ‘Self Sufficiency’

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture & Aquaculture

I’ve been interested in permaculture for years but this is one of the best examples of cold-climate permaculture I’ve ever seen – really clever integration, in an incredibly difficult climate. If they can do it on an Austrian mountainside we should be able to do something here in Manchester.

Books: John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency

In our eclectic library of green and gardening books, this is one of my favourites. I combines being a coffee-table “pretty” book and a great starting point for most smallholding topics. There are a couple of sections that I find invaluable: there is a better guide to deep digging than that inHow to Grow more Vegetables; and I find the crop rotation guide, and pictures of the vegetable beds through the year, to be the clearest I’ve read – it’s what inspired our Crop Rotation fantasy plan. But most of all, I like the fact that it has a couple of pages on any topic that might interest me – from bees to chickens, building a storeroom to preserving, and it has the ultimate dream – plans for mini-farming five acres.

The book is beautifully produced, the illustrations are a delight, and the content is relevant and comprehensive. This is another book I’d recommend buying – it’s something to refer to on-and-off for ever.

Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Cheaper, better – vegan – bread – the results

I’ve finally tried the Real Bread recipe from my “Baking cheaper, better bread” post. I have to admit I was pretty sceptical. about a third of the yeast I usually use, no sugar to feed it and no butter? I put it into my standard one-hour breadmaker cycle and was expecting a flat, solid, uninspiring loaf.

Opening the breadmaker was not very encouraging, it had risen less than my usual recipe, but not by much:

It wasn’t a nice glossy brown on top, but it did look encouragingly bread-shaped:

Time to open it up then! The best reflection on taste and texture was that the loaf was half-gone by the time I managed to get a pic. It was a lot less crumbly than my usual  loaf, tasted nice, was pretty light, and sliced nicely. Pretty much all you could want:

So, it’s edible, how much does it cost? We’re using the same prices as my original “How much does it cost to bake your own bread” recipe, minus the milk, butter, sugar, and with the new Doves Farm large packets of yeast we’re getting from Waitrose – 125g for 99p.

250g Strong White Bread Flour 11p
250g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 16p
1 tsp salt 0.2p
5g yeast 4p
Electricity 3.14p
Total 35p

So this “Real Bread” recipe costs only 35p in comparison to my usual recipe’s 78p. That’s a pretty significant difference, so it’s our new favourite – until the next comes along! Any other suggestions?

Almost forgot to add – now it doesn’t use any chilled ingredients it’s even more green, and it can be made out of standard store cupboard ingredients – even better for our Peak Oil prep.

Book Review: Jeavons’ How to grow more vegetables

This is the bible by which we run our allotment-style vegetable beds. It’s not the only gardening book you’ll ever need – it assumes you have basic gardening knowledge already, or are getting it from another book. Where this book shines is in it’s explanation of Biointensive gardening practices. Unlike some “pretty” gardening books it is not a joy to read, however the tables of plant spacings, expected yields and typical consumption are invaluable if you are serious about trying to feed yourself from your land. One of my favourite parts of the book is the section of sample garden plans – they are a little complicated to follow but really help to build the confidence of novices like us.

The great testament to this book’s usefulness  is that it is probably the muddiest of all our books. It is the one with us when we’re working in the garden, not a coffee-table talking point or occasional reference.

If you want to move beyond just messing about, this Biointensive “mini-farming” approach is one of the ways to go. It’s not a book to get from the library, this is one to buy, and use. Order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Can Imagine and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Baking cheaper, better bread

An interesting challenge this – a comment from Chris Young from the the Real Bread Campaign on my post on “how much does it cost to bake your own bread“.

Apparently I can make delicious bread without the sugar or milk – Chris gave a link to this Real Bread recipe. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but will do next time I have a chance to play again. I think the main issue may be the small amount of yeast combined with the rapid cycle I tend to use, which produces a loaf in under an hour. We’ll see!

Here’s the recipe:

500g Flour (wholemeal or a mix of white and wholemeal)
5g Salt
350g Water
5g Dried yeast (or 10g fresh yeast, or 3g easy-blend yeast)
15g Butter or olive oil (optional – makes bread slightly softer)

Unless your machine’s instructions say otherwise, pour the water into the loaf pan and, if you are using it, add the fresh yeast. Disperse the salt in the flour and then sprinkle this over the water. If you are using dried or instant yeast and/or butter or oil, place them – not touching each other – on top of the flour. Secure the pan in the machine, close the lid and press the start button.

I’ll post a picture once I’ve tried it.

Happy New Year!

It’s been a great 2010 at the Trafford Eco-House, we’ve not posted updates recently not due to lack of activity, but the opposite!

The garden’s been going well and we’ve got trout and beds of winter veg surviving the snow. The pace isn’t going to stop in 2011 though, this is the year when the changes to the house should happen: Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Woodburner with Flue Boiler, extension with bike garage, wrap the whole thing in external insulation, put up much thicker curtains.

The garden in 2011 will keep us busy too – we’ll fix up the shed and give it a green roof, expand the aquaponics, and dig over another 500sqft of turf into veg patch.

Looks like a fantastic year ahead, and we’re really looking forward to what we’ll be saying this time next year.

Hope you’ve all had a good 2010, and are looking forward to an even better 2011.

Our crop-rotation fantasy plan

Getting to the end of our first year in the garden, we’ve been a bit chaotic. Digging beds just in time to plant chitted potatoes, or seedlings outgrowing their seed trays, and we’ve only managed to get three-and-a-half of the eight beds dug (each bed is 5ft x 20ft, and double-dug)

I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and plan it all out properly, ready for next year, and – several books later – I have got a full four-year crop-rotation plan mostly complete: Our Crop-Rotation plan (pdf)

Now I’ve just got to dig and manure the remaining beds, and buy a million-or-so seeds. It’ll be interesting to see if reality even slightly matches the plan . . .

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