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Hi from an unusual allotment
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rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 20 9:51 pm    Post subject: Hi from an unusual allotment Reply with quote
    

I'd like to say "Hi"!
Unable to escape London, I have at least achieved an allotment. Normal crops I have rarely grown. What I do grow is nettles, elderberries and elderflowers, mullein, blackberry, cherry plum.

When I need a bonfire I use friction fire methods and try to not bring anything to the site to help.

i have spent a lot of time hunting rare varieties of elderberry. and making trials of wine from the fruit and flowers.

I make jelliies and jams from crops as available.

With my bushcraft hat on I explore friction fire and firelighting with natural materials, natural cordage, hammock and tarp sleeping.

But then I have lived a few years. And I have so much to learn from you all.

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6380
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Welcome to the nuthouse!

Perhaps you can help me provide better advice to the folks I work with here in the US. Many want to grow elderberries, but every cultivated planting I've seen loses vigor dramatically after the first one or two years of good harvests.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 43429
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

bushcraft stuff is fun and very useful, a house you can put in a pocket is ace

i am rubbish at friction fire lighting, sometimes i can get a bow drill or bamboo saw to work, but pretty good at making things burn with a variety of other lighting techniques
flint and a good pyrite or ironstone is fun to practise(more about tinder than striking well)
for practical a fire steel is perfect when the gas or petrol for the lighters runs out


king alfred's cakes or other smoulderers are a neat way to avoid needing to relight if that may be inconvenient

i can go full stone age but some high tech stuff is too nice not to use if out and about

sgt.colon



Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 7365
Location: Just south of north.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Hello and welcome.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 14636

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Interesting allotment. What do the other allotment holders think, or are you on your own? I do some wild fruit picking, mainly wild raspberries and blackberries, as we don't really get enough elderberries to make it worth while. What do you get from mullein, as that is one I haven't come across for wild food?

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Hi Slim,

I've got some thoughts on the loss of vigour and I've seen similar on my allotment and I think I have got through it. But, can I first ask some questions? Are we talking S. Nigra or S. Nigra Canadensis? What sort of planting density? Mulched/ underplanted/ weeded? What is the management of area around the planting or the spaces between the rows?

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Hi dpack,

I see you have explored quite a few fire lighting methods. I never found the right set up to get pyrites to work - so far. Any tips?

I took it further by stepping up to teach hand drill and occasionally bow at a camp each summer. But, my bow drill is a little off beat to work with natural cordage rather than modern synthetics.

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Hi Sgt,

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Yeh, it was a little rocky once with the committee a few years back, thinking it was plain neglect. And thinking back I used to have an allotment on a different site where one or two people thought weed seeds would spread to their plots.

However, mostly it's fine. It is a private site rather then the council run ones, and they are a bit more relaxed.

Mullein comes in for a crop of straight stems used in friction fire lighting.

I've also recently collected some wild salsify seeds and aim to grow the tubers next year.

Mistress Rose wrote:
Interesting allotment. What do the other allotment holders think, or are you on your own? I do some wild fruit picking, mainly wild raspberries and blackberries, as we don't really get enough elderberries to make it worth while. What do you get from mullein, as that is one I haven't come across for wild food?

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 43429
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 20 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

best tip for pyrites and flint is super dry, use very easy to ignite tinder, the sparks are tiny and quite cold compared to flint and steel or firesteel

tis a faff but it can be done, tinder in a suitable compression and amount to keep the fire rather that flash and go out if using fluffy stuff, no wind or rain,etc

some prepped mushrooms will take the spark as will some thistle downs

i have not tried it but it might well work for petrol etc on a wicking tinder

pre charred tinder is good with cool sparks(or hot ones for that matter)

whatever you use for ignition having enough tinder and kindling in place as a bundle to fold or to drop the tinder into or set up waiting for a well delivered start by whatever means is best

fine grain or single crystal pyrites is better than the stuff that looks like sugar that got damp and dried out, that tends to knock out small crystals rather than sparks

sharp edge on the flint

practise and then play in the dark , proper dark, after 15 mins adjusting to night mode you might be able to see the sparks if you can still whack em together at a suitable angle etc

the sparks do not last long so tinder needs to be close or in gripped to the pyrites where the sparks will fly off.

takes a while to learn and can take ages to do even with practice

emergencies only, i recon i would look for a decent fire drill long before i got a flint/pyrites fire going and if i did i would carry fire/stoke the fire to keep it going

battery, a bit of wire and a shredded field dressing or tampon is rather unusual and fun, electric sparks from shorted a battery are very effective in the middle of fluff

gas or liquid+ reliable ignition are easy, a decent fire steel quite easy and other stuff less so
i do rather like lens or parabolic mirror if it is sunny

a major point is you dont light a fire with a flame you light it with a "blade"
ie shred or otherwise prepare tinder, kindling and bulk fuel before getting to the first hot bit

dry and/or activated(mechanically or by process)is good for tinders and kindling(and fuel)

kapoc is ace as fluffy tinder, i discovered that when i had to extinguish a kapoc stuffed sleeping mat which i got in a surplus shop
the remains were repurposed as tinder
give the stuff a warm smile and it will be on fire

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 14636

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I did wonder if you used the mullein stems for something rather than eating it.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 45038
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Welcome on board Rich

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6380
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

rich59 wrote:
Hi Slim,
I've got some thoughts on the loss of vigour and I've seen similar on my allotment and I think I have got through it. But, can I first ask some questions? Are we talking S. Nigra or S. Nigra Canadensis? What sort of planting density? Mulched/ underplanted/ weeded? What is the management of area around the planting or the spaces between the rows?


Sambucus cannadensis, varieties like 'york' 'adams' etc.
Grown in rows with wood/bark mulch, drip irrigation.
Similar to highbush blueberries

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Slim wrote:
rich59 wrote:
Hi Slim,
I've got some thoughts on the loss of vigour and I've seen similar on my allotment and I think I have got through it. But, can I first ask some questions? Are we talking S. Nigra or S. Nigra Canadensis? What sort of planting density? Mulched/ underplanted/ weeded? What is the management of area around the planting or the spaces between the rows?


Sambucus cannadensis, varieties like 'york' 'adams' etc.
Grown in rows with wood/bark mulch, drip irrigation.
Similar to highbush blueberries


My experience is with the European Sambucus Nigra, so I can't give completely relevant comment.

I have noted articles like https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/ElderberryGuideComplete.pdf that mention this problem and various solutions.

On my allotment in the UK - original plantings grew vigorously for 2-3 years. Then they seriously stalled. 2 things I have changed. Firstly, I now feed twice a year with an NPK granular fertilizer. Secondly, I am clearing weeds so that spaces are either bare soil or plastic woven sheet paths.

Again with S. Nigra - I have observed farmers of elderflowers/ berries. Both use organic fertilisers like chicken manure. The more mature farm prunes to near the ground every 3 years or so.

Observing nature - most of the vigorous flowering/ fruiting bushes are ones that get cut back every 2-3 years. They also love being interplanted with other bushes and over growing them. And, general observation that they have wide ranging superficial roots that are probably the main feeders so don't like competition for several feet around the bush.

So my provisional answers for S. Nigra are - feeding/ removing root competition for several feet around/ appropriate pruning, and speculatively possibly interplanting with another shrub crop?

With Canadensis I did recently see comment from a grower that they seem to wander away from the original planting site - New suckers are vigorous away from the original plant. Suggests they exhaust the ground of certain key nutrients.

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

dpack,

Many thanks. I will try again. I've got some pyrites in a drawer in the shed.

When I did try before I tried with true tinder fungus but I think the bits of broken rock smothered the small dim sparks.

Another dim spark method I have tried and failed with is the temiang bamboo and china cup method. I can get a "spark" that doesn't travel at all. So difficult to create a setup where that instantaneous spark gets together with a top notch tinder.

I guess in this modern age of video posts online I could probably learn about both. Videos like that didn't really exist back when I was trying before. I'm very self taught in many of my bushcraft ways. That allowed me occasionally to invent something no-one else was doing - such as fire lighting with damp fine kindling.

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