Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tackling the garden

Indi heroically spent a few days recently tidying up the wild but productive potager, much of which has been created with hugulkultur.  This year we have had beans, marrows and courgettes, salads and herbs, cabbages, chard, beetroot, carrots, pumpkins, potatoes .....
The idea is to create a no dig/no weeding system - putting down mulch (grass/nettle/fern cuttings, weeds, manure) onto raised or hugulbeds.  Eventually I would like to plant more perennial vegetables.
Indi at work:

The torchis chimney (cheminee en torchis)

I was told over and over by a series of artisans that the wooden/earth chimney in the house would have to go as it was not 'au normes' - dangerous .... so after chipping off the earth around the wooden framework, we set to dismanting the wooden structure after which a wood burning stove with an insulated flue pipe was fitted by an artisan as part of the grant I received for the house.
Some images of the process:
The wooden framework of the
upper part of the chimney once
the earth had been chipped off
Fabrice helps to carefully take
down the wooden chimney
Xavier and John adding planks to the hole in the floor
I cleaned the stones up as best I could with wire
brushes and a range of different products after
which I rendered over the top with NHL
3,5 lime and 0:2 sand and brushed this off
several days later to give the 'pierre vue' effect
(seen below)

Charlie and kevin heroically move the hearth  stones
forward to accommodate the wood stove
Kevin sands the beam above the fireplace
The woodburning stove arrives

External lime render (enduit chaux exterieur)

Although possibly a little late in the season, I have decided to start rendering the external torchis as it will need protecting for the winter, especially the South wall which seems to be particularly affected by heavy rain in the winter months.  Due to a lack of time to experiment, I have decided on a recipe based on the Eyrolles book 'Torchis' as well as on a conversation with an artisan who studied at the Avignon school of rendering.  Ideally I would have done extensive patch tests with different mixes.  The artisan advised me not to include fibres in the mix (contrary to the book) and to use dried and finely filtered clay earth to substitute for a third of the 0/2 sand (in this case sable de Bayeux).   I have decided to use more lime than normal due to the lateness in the year.
The idea is to use a mixture of lime - Chaux CL (chaux aerienne) on its own would take too long to dry and would wash off in the rain ... however it is the most supple and breathable of the limes hence good to put on to an earth wall.  The chaux NHL2 is the most supple and breathable of the NHL limes but hardens on contact with water so it will allow the mix to dry more quickly and give a more resistant surface ...
So the recipe:
Lime paint (badigeon) applied to torchis: 50% volume NHL3,5 and 50% water
Lime render:  One volume of sand/earth to two volumes of lime
The lime mix: 50% NHL2 and 50% chaux aerienne (CL)
The earth sand mix:   2/3 Sable de Bayeux 1/3 dried and finely sieved clay earth
The process:
The clay earth is dried out on old windows
Kevin filters the dried clay earth in a 1mm sieve. 
This is mixed with the sand and then left to soak for 24

I scrape off any loose earth and
high areas

I paint on a mixture of 50% volume
 of chaux NHL 3,5 (lime NHL) and 50%
water which provides the 'glue' between
the torchis and the render.

The limes were mixed in the concrete
mixer and the soaked sand and earth
added to this.  I then applied this mixture
directly to the lime painted torchis wall. 
It is always a good idea to protect the wall
with a plastic sheet (against the sun, rain
and cold)


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Making pallet furniture

Last week I managed to acquire a large number of free pallets from an artisan who came to install the woodstove.  Work has begun to turn them into furniture around the house:
Pallet coffee table
Pallet shelves
Charlie works on a pallet sofa
Sanding the pallet sofa

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Leisure time at La Mariais

Help ex Charlie bashed a piece of wood into the ground, tied a piece of string to it and used this to swing himself to and fro on the hammock in the front garden:
The little kitties are always up for cuddles and fun:
Indi and Spotty cat spend some quality time together
The evening cinema club:

Indi (otherwise known as 'duvet woman') and Charlie
get comfortable for film night

Fine dining with seasonal home grown organic produce:



 One of Indi's fabulous organic vegetable soups