Category: Renewables

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Environmentally Friendly Gardening

There are plenty of ways you can garden environmentally…

This Winter, don’t abandon your garden – do your bit to help out the environment with these Green tips for Green fingers.

As the Winter months kick in, here in the UK, it can be all too easy to want to stay inside and leave the garden to it’s own devices. Fight the urge to stay under the blanket, in front of the TV, throw another jumper on and get out into the garden for a potter – the Environment will thank you!

Start Composting

When the Winter months approach, us human beings tend to want to eat heartier meals. The root vegetables that come into season often need peeling or preparing and this inevitable leads us to accumulating more food waste. Instead of throwing this in the bin, why not use it to super charge you garden in the summer?

compost-pile

Starting a compost bin will help boost the soil in your garden next year, plus it’s a handy place to dump all the fallen leaves and other dead plant matter that crops up during the winter months.

Mulch Down Your Beds

Don’t wait until your compost heap is full to apply some tasty mulch to your flowerbeds. During the winter months, your soil still needs looking after and topping up with nutrients and moisture – mulch, either organic or inorganic, is an efficient way to do this and look after your little piece of heaven.

mulch_flower_beds

Most English gardens benefit from organic mulch rather than inorganic. Buy a blend of pine needles and leaf based compost, to give your flower bed a nice dark appearance – with the added bonus of helping the environment!

Save on Water

Just because it’s raining a bit more in these Winter months doesn’t mean you have to abandon water recycling. Using less water when gardening, is something that should be practised all the year round. Contrary to common opinion, a great deal of domestic waste water can be reused for gardening use.

greyuse_concept

Water used for baths or showers can be reused to water your garden – just make sure you’re not diverting any water containing extreme chemicals, such as bleach or disinfectant.

Welcome the Wild

There are loads of ways you can encourage some wild life to setup shop in your garden space. Regardless of the climate your garden is inhabiting, what’s important is that you maximise the space at your disposal and consider carefully what kind of animalia you’re most likely to attract in your local area.

back-garden-pond

Southern parts of England, with space, can utilise a pond to attract, frogs, dragonflies and other insects. Whereas colder regions up North should make use of bird houses, fat balls and log piles (to create a habitat for squishy insects that will feed your new bird friends).…

How To Make The Most Of Your Small Allotment

Small yields don’t necessarily mean small yields.

A great deal can be achieved with the smallest of spaces – you just need to get creative.

The garden allotment has long been a space saving solution for inner-city gardeners who don’t have a green space of their own. However, with the increasing demand for places to garden, the price per square metre has risen astronomically in the last year alone.

my-tiny-garden

Before you despair with your small garden or allotment space – try out a few of these space saving creativity tips to make the most of what you have.

Adhere To Absolute Order

Although you might well revel in chaos and love the ‘natural’ look of your unkempt back yard – you’ll probably find that you yield less vegetables and your flowers might well struggle to get the nutrients they need to flourish.

organised-allotment

It might feel like you’re putting limitations on your space – but really you’re liberating it. By delineating the spaces where you choose to grow your different types of veg and flowers, you’ll be able to have more control over your allotment and maximise growth all round.

Remove Any Unnecessary Ornamentation

That little garden gnome may well have been in your family for 3 generations, but not only is it thoroughly ugly – it’s also taking up valuable space that could be used for more plants!

gnome

Your allotment may well be the space where you get to ‘express yourself’ but it’s primarily a place for you to grow plants. Don’t stray into the realm of confused elderly folks all round the country; when you visit a garden centre steer well clear of all novelty decoration items and just stick to buying things that will help you grow more plants.

Grow Smart

Before you run out to the shops, grabbing as many plants and flowers as possible, take some time to consider your space limitations and your priorities. Different kinds of flowers and veg need different amounts of space and light to grow.

plan-garden

So before you go cramming your space up with a large shrub – think about if you’re going to want to grow any flowers or sun-hungry veg nearby. By carefully planning out your planting strategy you can successfully make the most of your smaller gardening space – and reap greater dividends come harvest time.

Consider A Garden Share

Lastly, if your plans and visions for your gardening space are simply too grand for your tiny allotment, then there’s one final resort which can double or even quadruple your land entitlement.

gardener

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who own gardens but don’t have the time or the passion to tend to them. By offering out your services as a private gardener you can realise your dreams of cultivating plants over a much larger space. You might not be able to wake up everyday and look out over the products of your hard toil, but you can have the satisfaction of knowing that someone else is.

Strike up the right deal with a neighbour or friend and you could even earn a little cash for doing their garden. If you do a good job you might even end up starting a little side business as a professional gardener – good bye day job!

 …

Renewables

5 Ways You Can Up-Cycle Pallets Into Something Beautiful

These Inspired Pallet Idea Will Have You Reaching For A Hack-Saw

If you’re looking for a cheap, affordable form of garden furniture, or simply a way of re-using some pallets that have made their way into your back garden, here are 5 easy ways you can create something beautiful out of the humble pallet.

Decking

Why pay a dodgy contractor thousands of pounds for a decking job that will take weeks and yield inconsistent results, when you can grab a few pallets, give them a quick paint job, then rearrange them to your own needs. Design your simple and effective decking in a flash and arrange your furniture around it, to add that extra touch of class.

pallet-decking

Garden Funrniture

Heck, why stop at creating your decking out of pallets, when you can populate your entire garden with furniture made of pallets? Say ‘goodbye’ to the cheap and nasty plastic garbage that you’ve been telling yourself is OK and say ‘hello’ to your new super chic pallet furniture. Varnish, paint or leave to bleach in the sun for an extra rustic look.

pallet-furniture

Garden Space Saving

Sometime you just don’t have enough space in your garden for all the plants that you might need – in the event of limited acreage, hack and stack those left over pallets and create gorgeous plant shelves out of them. Grab a pot of rich, dark varnish to match with your fence and let the vibrant colours of the plants within naturally contrast with your new space saving device.

pallet-stack

Pallet Swing

Capable of holding up to three (average weighted) individuals – jazz up your back garden or front porch with a gorgeous swing. All you’ll need is a couple of strong pieces of rope and a secure place to fix them to (a strong overhanging branch could even be used!). Hack away at your pallet until you have a suitably shaped seat, strap it together and you’re good to go!

pallett-swing

Gardener’s Workbench

Are you in need of a some extra work space in your back garden, or perhaps you need a place to hang up your tools at the end of a long day’s work? You won’t believe it but there’s answer to your needs and it comes in the form of hacked up pallet. Arguably not a wonderfully practical solution to your problem – it, nevertheless, photographs very well.

work-bench

If you’re some kind of barbarian and don’t actually have any pallets lying around then you can always straight up buy some. They’re relatively cheap, compared to buying bespoke furniture, and you can make so many things out of them.

You can try your hand at nabbing some from a building site or you could go to Timber Packing Cases and purchase their reasonably priced pallets. Happy hunting!

Biomass Fuels – A Viable Option?

What is Biomass and should I be using it?

If you’ve ever been to a bonfire night or mulched down some manure – chances are you’ve already used Biomass fuels.

Put simply – Biomass is any form of organic matter, whether it be animal waste products, wood or even wheat. One of the oldest forms of energy known to man (except the Sun, of course) – we’ve been using it since the dawn of civilisation to heat our homes, cook our food and illuminate the dark.

manure_fireAll biomass energy is derived from the Sun – without it, we would have nothing. The sunlight activates the chlorphyll inside the leaves of plants – creating the chemical reaction that converts water and carbon dioxide into the oxygen and sugar that they need to grow.

The sugars and carbohydrates that are contained in these plants are excellent sources of energy for animals and people – they also happen to burn very well – giving us the heat and light that were paramount to our early successes as human beings.

The sunNow, we have developed more efficient, streamlined methods of processing and burning Biomass – allowing us to gain greater control over this quickly developing form of renewable energy.

Here are the 4 main categories of Biomass Fuels, so you can work out what’s best for you:

Solid Waste

rubbishesAlthough it might not seem like the most environmentally friendly way of supplying energy to your home or farm, there are literally tons of usable fuel trapped within the trash that is thrown away from both the domestic and commercial sectors each year.

On average 2,000 pounds of your average garbage can produce the equivalent heat energy of 500 pounds of coal. However, it’s important to remember that using waste product as a fuel is not completely renewable, as certain elements of rubbish (plastics or petroleum) are not classed as biomass.

Landfill Gas & Biogas

big-ol-landfillThe decomposition of any biological matter is a chemical process. Fungi and bacteria eat away at dead matter, animals and food waste – converting the cellulose to sugar which feeds the hungry cells.

The by-product of this lovely process? Methane gas! It may be colourless and odourless, but it is certainly not harmless – it can easily be ignited causing explosions and fires. That’s why this gas is collected by landfills and then sold on to produce electricity that can light a house or cook a meal.

Wood and Agricultural Waste

One of the oldest forms of Biofuel known to man, burning wood for fire and light is a no-brainer – but over the centuries we’ve figured out smarter, more efficient ways of doing it. From straight-up wood logs to premium wood pellets, there are plenty of options.

The waste from wood-based industries can now be effectively processed into small, uniform piece, perfect for burning in custom made wood pellet burners that blast energy back into the industries that have caused the waste in the first place.

Ethanol & Biodiesel

ethanol_gasTwo forms of Biofuel that are growing increasingly popular over the water in the States, both ethanol and biodiesel involve the fostering of chemical reactions using alcohol to obtain energy. Creating ethanol requires the fermentation then distillation of sugars and starches, mostly found in corn.

Ethanol only makes up a fraction of the final fuel product (around 15%) whereas Biodiesel (America’s fastest growing transportation fuel) can be blended with petroleum diesel up to 20% and can even be used in it’s ‘neat’ form using modified engines.

For more information and ideas on how best to utilise Biofuels – 

One-page infographic style print out from need.org

Government sourced collection of statistics on Biofuels

Government funded information centre on Biofuel sources…