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About agg221

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    Senior Member, Raffle Sponsor 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Birthday 03/12/1973

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    Milling timber, growing fruit trees, wooden canal boats
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  1. Careful with that axe Eugene!
  2. I would agree with cutting one half out, but I would take the left hand side (cut shown in blue) and then straighten up the right as shown below. I have done this a few times with good results, usually where light has forced a tree to develop a lean that I want to correct. I cut a long, fairly stout pole (something like a piece of hazel 2" at the base) and brace it on the diagonal (shown in red), tying to the trunk like a tree stake at the lower yellow point, either using tree tie or a piece of bike inner tube. The top can then be pulled upright - I would anticipate the tie needing to be around where I have shown the upper yellow line. Bike inner tube is good for this. You sometimes have to play around with the angle of the pole if it bends more than expected when you start pulling the pole and the tree together, and may need to set the upper tie a bit lower if you get too much of an S-curve rather than just straightening. Take it off a year later and you won't even know it was there. Do NOT use string or baler twine for a heavy bend like this - it works really well for smaller bends which only need to stay on until the first flush of new wood growth but on something heavy like this it will cut in and damage the bark, so inner tube works much better. Alec
  3. 3' and 4' are the standard lengths for lath. It's a tedious job, but because of that there always seems to be demand for them. Alec
  4. Picture of the door attached. Our house had a chimney added c.1550 with a bread oven of the type shown immediately above (see picture) but this is not currently operational. It then had another chimney stack added in the 1700s, specifically as a bread oven. The door came from the latter (now demolished). Alec
  5. Not sure if this helps as it's a rather specific situation, but we have an agreement in place in advance with our neighbour (Anglian Water) relating to a large, unstable willow (>3ft DBH, height around 80ft). It was already hung up in a row of sycamores our side of the boundary and Anglian Water acknowledge it is unstable and will probably fall at some point. When it does, it will land on our side of the boundary. We have specifically agreed that we do not need them to take any action in the meantime. It is a feature on the skyline and we like having it there. When it falls, it won't hit anything of note (it will land on an unused paddock) but in recognition that they have not had to deal with a very awkward dismantle with no vehicle access and nothing to rig off, Anglian Water are happy to sort out a clear up when it comes down (although in practice I may well cut it up and turn it into charcoal). This is a mutually beneficial arrangement which we have in writing. Just a thought that such pre-emptive agreements can be useful in some circumstances. Alec
  6. Shouldn't be if shallow and well ventilated rather than forming a deep bed. Think disposable picnic barbeque rather than half an oil drum. Still worth having a CO monitor in the vicinity though, whatever the fuel. Alec
  7. I wonder if you could get away with charcoal? Essentially a portable barbeque, so still no requirement for a flue. Ironically, our bread oven of equivalent age was demolished in the 1990s when it became unstable, so the only bit we actually have is the original door! Alec
  8. Not in any sense seeking to be negative but two observations before you proceed. 1. It's worth reading the right section of the Building Regulations - available to download online. 2. Given the age of the place, is it listed? If so, that has a bearing on what alterations are allowed. Alec
  9. Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least) most household contents insurance includes public liability for the use of your own possessions outside of your own property, so long as it is not for hire or reward. That means, so long as you are using your own saw for cutting your own firewood, you are generally covered. I used to have a very helpful insurance broker who told me that when I first started milling (planks for my boat). Alec
  10. I use a pit burn for really small stuff which is much cheaper (essentially free), although less efficient. It doesn't work so well on material over about an inch in diameter, particularly in mixed batches, and it does take an enormous amount of post-processing time, separating out the char from the brown ends and getting it to a sensible form for charging and application. What I do not have to factor in is labour - the advantages of retort processing are that 2hrs or so of the process are freed up and at the end it is a self-limiting process which means you don't end up with a pile of ash unless you watch it constantly - my thought was that this might make it better suited to a scenario where waste was being processed down to char for use rather than sale as the labour cost is then offset against capital investment, ie people can be getting on with something else while it runs. I would be interested to hear of other, cheaper ways of making it, particularly since I may then be able to improve my own approach, particularly for sub-1" material. I would be interested to see what sources are giving this information. My understanding of the accepted view is that, whilst biochar is by no means a miracle solution, it can add a number of advantages, the extent depending on particular circumstances. As a material, it absorbs water and adsorbs nitrates, both of which are released at a slower rate, so it reduces leaching. and rate of water loss. The particles are largely stable and weather slowly, so depending on the particle size applied, it can have an effect on soil structure. This makes it useful on heavy clay, where the larger particles create a more permeable structure, reducing hard pan formation with consequent water run-off, and on free-draining sand and river silt the retention of water reduces the need for irrigation and the retention of nitrates reduces the need for multiple applications of fertilizer. This has an effect on production cost (less time and sometimes less total nitrate applied) but has an additional benefit when farming in nitrate sensitive catchment areas, where applications are limited. If you happen to make your allowed application and then the next week there is a sudden downpour on your free-draining river silt field, you cannot apply more and your yield will be severely compromised. The total impact on yield in western farming is small, because the usual solution is to use more inputs (fertiliser and water) to optimise production. Where biochar appears to be useful is less in increasing yield over that optimum, and more in achieving the same yield with a reduced level of inputs. It is expensive as an initial set-up cost, and does not pay back against alternatives on a realistic timeframe if you buy it in as a raw material, but it works economically if you use your own waste streams to make it, meaning both reduced energy costs and substitution of the time/effort/cost vs. what you would otherwise have done with the waste. The other question is locking up carbon. If you treat the total amount of carbon associated with plants as a closed cycle (which isn't true as more of the planet gets built on or cut down for cattle farming in the Amazon etc) then in theory, carbon goes round a fairly short loop, from CO2 into plant matter and then released as CO2 again when the plants rot down or are burned. That cycle is from around a year to up to 200 years, with a few outliers for longer-lived trees. If you convert the plant matter to charcoal, it no longer rots so lasts an extremely long time, certainly thousands of years, in some circumstances much longer. The process does release some CO2, but only on the same sort of timeframe that it would have been released anyway by rotting or burning, and it's less than would have been released that way as some is now retained as charcoal. That means that to re-grow, plants now need to take more CO2 from the atmosphere, lock that up as carbon and release the free oxygen. On balance over time, that means more of the carbon on the planet ends up locked up as a solid (just as it was when it was coal before it was mined and burned) and more of the oxygen remains in the atmosphere as oxygen, rather than as CO2. I don't think this is going to be some magic process but on a local scale for anyone with the right sort of quantity of material to justify doing it, it makes sense and has a net benefit. It seems to work at the level of interested individuals on the market gardening scale. Yes - it would be great to capture and use the heat too, but haven't quite got there yet with smaller systems, in part due to the capital requirement and in part because they are not run consistently enough. The Pyreg system works but is phenomenally expensive and needs a complete district-level culture change to run district heating schemes alongside it. Alec
  11. Can I throw a radical suggestion into the mix. The trees are left to grow because they have no value. If the collective site buys a Dartmoor Dragon charcoal retort they would suddenly have value as feedstock to make biochar, which would both potentially improve yield and sequester carbon - which appear to be aims in line with the values of the site. It's a labour-intensive process but if the material produced by the trees has value then that means they are more likely to be maintained (topped to harvest the feedstock) which would prevent the problem recurring. Just a thought. Alec
  12. Propagating elm from cuttings is possible, but difficult. When I established the disease resistance trial for local surviving strains, that meant propagating and not everything had a convenient set of suitably sized suckers, so cuttings were required. Cuttings are best planted in a 50:50 mix of pearlite:vermiculite. A bit of compost can help encourage rooting, but also leads to more rotting, so take your choice on that one. Hardwood cuttings are best taken in late January. You might just get away with it now but it's pushing it. They need to go somewhere cold, but over bottom heat to encourage rooting before shooting. A propagator mat or reptile mat in a polystyrene box and then put the cuttings in pots, infilling with more vermiculite worked quite well for this stage, placing the whole box against the north wall of a building (outside). Success rate is very low - 10-20% at best and sometimes still nothing. It depends a lot on clone. Softwood cuttings produce a much higher yield. The timing is critical - you need shoots which are 8" long and then take out the soft top. That usually means late April but last year was really odd and by the time the shoots were long enough they were too hardened and didn't work. Same planting medium, get it damp, remove all lower leaves from the cutting leaving just one or two at the top. Put the pot of cuttings in a zip-lock plastic bag and place on a north-facing windowsill. When the hot weather comes they will suddenly root, unless they die first. Different clones can produce very different results. The only thing I would add is that, unless the clone you are propagating is known to be resistant, or you have good reason to believe it may survive to maturity, the odds are that your tree will just die when it reaches about 20' in height due to DED. Alec
  13. No, they froze the pipe upstream of it. We had water out for less than an hour and nobody else affected. The person on the ground was very efficient - it was just the office team and survey team who seemed clueless. Alec
  14. This thread reminds me of an engagement I had with our local water company a few years ago. Me: 'I have found our stopcock. It was under an elm tree which must have grown over it 30yrs ago, the tree has died and the stump has rotted off. When I pushed it over, I found the stopcock under it. I have gently tried turning it but am a bit reluctant to try any harder as if it snaps there is no other stopcock out on the road.' Them: 'There will be another stopcock out on the road'. Me: 'No, there isn't'. Them: 'We will send someone to trace the stopcock on the road'. Turns out this is a moderately urgent situation in their books, so someone turned up the following week and spent two or three hours tracing every area of the road, opening every inspection hatch and turning off the water to each or our neighbours in turn, and generally annoying them. Them: 'You don't have a stopcock on the road'. Me: 'No, that's what I said'. Them: 'We will have to replace the stopcock in your garden'. Me: 'Good - when can you do it?' Them: 'Next week'. They duly turned up, and duly followed my clear statement that I did -not- want a meter (two small children, many running taps). All sorted, but it would be easier if they accepted that maybe some people are vaguely competent in the first place rather than automatically assuming stupidity. Alec
  15. You are presenting that as a statement of fact, rather than a hypothesis. There is an interpretation of your statement which is a truism - over time, more trees will grow, more ivy will grow and hence more trees will be covered in ivy and fall in that condition. The questions of significance are how to quantify coverage, how to quantify and differentiate between situations (e.g. species, location, health etc) and whether a greater percentage of trees with a given status are in a given condition. For example, I could argue that a smaller percentage of trees in residential areas are covered in ivy than 50yrs ago. I cannot test that statement but it is likely to be true if I define 'residential' as within defined residential zones, since settlements have generally grown larger, reducing the boundary to area ratio and most unmanaged trees (e.g. hedges) are likely to be around boundaries. Also significantly, the attitude to trees, the generally litigious culture and the ability to do something about them means more large trees are removed from residential areas. Finally, this period represents the rise of leylandii, with over 55M of them planted (2011 figure). These are clonal and hence always planted, so generally in residential areas, and tend to be too dense to support ivy. Therefore, based on the above, I am likely to be correct in my statement without even leaving my armchair! Your previous posts also suggest confirmation bias in that you are agreeing with people who indicate ivy to be a threat and disagreeing with those who do not. The point of good scientific practice is to formulate a testable hypothesis and objectively test it. Of course, most people have a preconception as to what they will find, but it is important to remain objective in the test method, particularly so if you believe you have a significant preconception to make sure that the data is not skewed. If, as you indicate earlier in this thread you have only been researching this subject for a few weeks, I suggest a longer study is needed, taking into account more evidence, before diving in with a strong opinion. I would be particularly cautious regarding dismissal of knowledge gained from books - the books you have been pointed at were written by leading authorities based on many years of practical observation. That does not automatically mean that everything they have written is correct of course - for example my own observation is that Richens contradicts himself at one point in 'Elm' which is generally regarded as authoritative on that subject. If he was around to discuss the point then I would gladly have done so. However, this does not diminish my view of him as the leading authority. Taking a contradictory view to the prevailing understanding is valid but only based on substantial evidence. My anecdotal observation is that ivy appears to be a contributory factor in accelerating the demise of trees, but that is analogous to the role of a co-morbidity in humans such as age or diabetes. Whether the co-morbidity is stress or age, and whether the outcome without ivy would have been retrenchment or failure, is a more complex point. Can I suggest that reviewing the existing evidence (literature review) followed by formulating and sharing a testable hypothesis for peer review on this site would be a constructive route forward? These are, after all, the first two steps in any well constructed research project. Alec


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