Printing and the Birth of Air Conditioning

It’s been two months since my last blog article. That sounds like a confession of a sin and in some ways it is, as I have deliberately stayed away from blogging over the past weeks. I was told by Sophie who set me up for blogging, that I “must” write one, or better two articles, a week. Sorry Sophie but two articles a week is just too tough for me. My reason for the recent lapse is I had to focus, even over Christmas, on my company Relequa. We are at a very exciting and very busy stage of developing and launching a new instrument for looking at the way moisture interacts with materials. During this activity I visited a printing company in Belfast. The owner of the printing company asked what Relequa was about and when I explained he said “air conditioning was invented for the printing industry”. Immediately that comment was lodged in my brain with a label “must investigate if that’s true”.…….. Continue reading

Moisture in Tea and Coffee – Part 2

Now for the second part of my little exploration into moisture in tea and coffee. This time I’m focussing on coffee. Unlike tea, there is a lot written about the impact of moisture on coffee and this splits generally into two issues. One is the growth of fungi, a favourite topic in my blog articles, and the other is an effect on flavour that makes coffee taste bitter. Have you heard about either of these two issues? There is a very good chance that you have….. Continue reading

Moisture in Tea and Coffee – Part 1

Back to moisture this week specifically moisture in tea and coffee. Should we be concerned? Both tea and coffee take up moisture in certain circumstances. Have you ever thought about why in a lot of places tea bags are left out for you to add hot water, but coffee is always prepared for you? Of course there’s the marketing angle of “Fresh Coffee”, but, because of moisture, there is a very good reason why we don’t see DIY coffee…….. Continue reading

Quality: Fuelling Growth – Reducing Risk

Fuelling Growth - Reducing Risk

Fuelling Growth – Reducing Risk

A bit of a departure from my moisture related topics this week. I attended a conference in Sheffield with the title “Quality: Fuelling Growth – Reducing Risk”. Of course, I cannot write on my blog without at some point mentioning humidity, and Sheffield nicely obliged with a humid conference room. In this post for my blog I thought I would quickly run through the speakers and topics at the conference. My reason for writing about the conference is simple. All the presenters and the people organising the conference gave their time for free to support a local charity “The Children’s Hospital Charity”. I really liked the idea of hosting a conference and giving the proceeds from the conference to an excellent cause. Over £5000 was raised for the charity. Continue reading

My Powdery Mildew Treatment Experiment – Results

Beware of Fungi

Beware of Fungi

At the beginning of July I wrote about my concerns with several days of very mild and damp weather that favours the growth of fungi. My main worry was rust fungus on our garlic, onions and leeks. Did this mean we should expect a bad season for the fungus powdery mildew on our newly planted courgette plants? Powdery mildew on the leaves of courgettes is a perennial problem and I have not yet managed to tie down the years when it’s likely to be worse, or find a prevention. As fungi like damp conditions, then I think with the mild weather we are having, a warning sign should be put up “Beware of Fungi”. Anyway this year I set up an experiment to see if powdery mildew could be controlled and I’m reporting what happened in this blog post. Continue reading

Taking Care with a Chemical Fertiliser

Courgette varieties from our garden

We grew different varieties of courgettes this year

I suppose our garden has to feature a lot in my moisture topics at this time of the year. Everything’s growing quickly. We already have to deal with a glut of courgettes, runner beans and dwarf beans. Yesterday we had runner beans in a pasta dish for lunch AND runner beans as one of our vegetables in our evening meal! Another bit of vegetation that is growing very well just now is the lawn. Not all of it is growing well though, but that’s my fault.…….. Continue reading

The Frizzing Humidity

Here’s a problem I do not lose any sleep over, Frizzy Hair! So why am I talking about it? Humidity of course. Somebody tweeted something like “Is this the most amazing product for frizzy hair in high humidity……”  I actually thought it was a joke! Some sort of pretend science marketing ploy. Curiosity got to me and I looked up the “product”, which was not an actual product, but an ingredient with a name abbreviated to OFPMA.…….. Continue reading

Powdery Mildew – An Experiment in its Control

I am getting a bit worried about the current weather. Staying with a gardening theme and fungi, we are having the type of weather that these microbes love. Days of showers and not enough sunshine to dry the ground. On top of that, the night time temperatures are sitting around about 11 to 13 centigrade. Very mild, damp and favourable for certain types of fungi. In my last post on this blog I talked about the fungi responsible for “damping off” by attacking young plants. This time my focus is on another troublesome fungi that attacks both mature and young plants, the dreaded “Mildew”.……..

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Basil Rescued from a Nasty Fungal Death

I got an email from Susannah who had picked up on my garden theme in my last post on this blog. Susannah’s got a problem with damping off in seedlings. She has just lost three young cucumbers and asked if I had any advice. Damping off is a fungal infection of plants, usually seedlings but can affect more mature plants also. I too had recently had a problem after repotting a supermarket bought basil plant. Within a couple of days in its new pot, almost the entire surface of the compost around the base of the basil was white with fungal mycelium. After a few more days most of the stems of the basil were covered in fungus and turning black… Continue reading