SCANDIA BANQUET OVEN July 24 2015, 2 Comments
EG’s Viv Hamilton solves a heating dilemma by retrofitting.
What to do when a much loved IXL wood stove in an 1880’s cottage finally burns out? We could have it restored, but given that we can have mornings of -5c, a more modern and clean burning stove with a bigger wood box would be a better option if it could come in at a comparative price.
We started looking around and everything was either too big or too expensive (like an AGA). But wait! Of course! I should look no further than our trusted Earth Garden supporters, and lo and behold, a Scandia Banquet oven set my heart alight. We got their specs and with a little retrofitting modification, decided that it would fit right in to our 130 year old hearth. Such a relief.
So, we got to work, took out some 1940’s fill and render and exposed some bricks in a hippy/hipster/urban cafe kind of way that meant we didn’t have to de-render the whole chimney. We went and picked up our gorgeous new stove, and with some help from some ‘mates from work’ the boys carefully moved it on rollers across our floorboards and slid it exactly into place. We needed to modify the free standing legs to become just a facade as we were insetting it into a fireplace, and it is lower than it normally would be (weren’t people smaller in the 1800’s?), but that was fine by us as we didn’t want to modify the chimney.
The first chilly evening in Autumn and we fired her up. Glorious. A bit of a learning curve with the cooking, just to get used to the intricacies of a different stove and we’re away. Curries, casseroles and cakes abound. Wood fired pizza on Saturday nights and quince paste for the year ahead. We have a gas stove with an electric oven but the oven remains unused this winter.
So not only are we saving money on fossil fuels but our house is more comfortable than it has ever been. It is a typical 1880’s Victorian cottage with 12 foot ceilings, two rooms in the front with a central passage, but the back two rooms have been opened out into an open space kitchen/dining lounge. The new wood stove is far to one side of the open space. We have insulated the floor and double insulated the ceiling but haven’t got to the walls yet.
This is a wood oven so doesn’t run an internal fan like your typical Coonara style wood heater, but we have a ceiling fan running and our kitchen is never dropping below 18c on the coldest night and the front two bedrooms are a cosy 18-20c during the day, then closed at night for sleeping. We have very little solar passive heating and are running no other forms of heating, so we are extremely happy with the results. It is burning wood efficiently like a good slow combustion stove should and cooks beautifully once you get the hang of it.
As an added bonus, we purchased an Ecofan. These little beauties generate their own electricity by drawing warm air up over their fins which then powers a fan that moves heat throughout your living space, pushing up to 125 CFM (cubic feet per minute). No batteries required, it increases the efficiency of the stove. Genius, and you’ll be able to purchase these through Earth Garden very soon.
So, we couldn’t be happier with our Scandia stove. It was an economical unit to buy, looks magnificent, runs efficiently, heats and cooks, is lovely to warm yourself by and solved our dilemma. We would recommend that you check them out.
Pumpkin Ginger loaf
The Old IXL
Reddy to cook
Firing up the Quince paste
Potato, garlic and rosemary
THE HUNGRY BIN May 26 2015, 0 Comments
Worm Farm by Wormlovers
EG's Viv Hamilton, reviews this modern take on worm farming.
Such a small box I thought as I excitedly signed for my package from Wormlovers (thank you!). The components were cleverly packed one inside the other allowing for easy carrying, unpacking and assembly. With the clear instructions to follow, it only took about ten minutes to put together.
We filled the bin 3/4 full with commercial compost to get us going as I didn't have any ready in the garden, popped the worms in out of their box and we were ready to go.
Although a tad more pricey than the traditional tiered worm farm system, this bin is has a far better approach. On wheels, it is a cinch to move around to a warmer or cooler spot and looks a lot better than stacks of ugly black boxes.
Feeding the worms is simply a matter of lifting the lid while still standing. No bending. No lifting of heavy trays either as the castings are harvested by releasing clips from the bottom of the unit and removing the filter tray. Generally the worms won't come out with the castings as they are surface feeders and like to stay in the top few centimetres of the bin. The odd one can be easily popped back in.
The Hungry Bin also works more efficiently than traditional bins thanks to its tapered sides, meaning that the castings continuously flow downward, gradually compacting neatly at the bottom ready for removal. Worm juice can be collected directly from the lower try, or you can place a container (as we have) in the tray to lower the surface area of the juice and help prevent evaporation.
We think this bin is brilliant. So easy to use and perfect for people with dodgy backs. I've become very fond of my compost worms and carefully choose which food is going to them and which is going to the chooks. The worms tend to love things that the chooks don't like so much such as potato peelings, and the chooks love what the worms don't like such as bread and meat scraps. Neither of them much like citrus or onion though! The added benefit is that now nearly all of our scraps are being utilised, instead of being left on the chookhouse floor encouraging unwanted rodents (did I mention the Hungry Bins is rodent proof?) The team of willing worms are also happily munching on coffee grounds, wood ash, autumn leaves and sawdust - balancing out their scrappy diet.
My household has been trialling our bin for nearly six months now and couldn't be happier with it. We'd recommend it for any urban garden and particularly for people who already prefer the benefits of raised style garden beds. Councils are crying out for people to stop green waste going to land fill and this is the easy solution, processing your kitchen and garden waste and turning it into super easy to harvest, nutrient rich compost.
Oh, and I reckon you'll end up with a soft spot for your worms!
To see the specifications and buy your Hungry Bin click here.
Fan Forced Twig Stove January 01 2015, 0 Comments
Watch Alan Gray's video review of the fan forced twig stove.
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The Kelly Kettle November 01 2014, 0 Comments
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