Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Permaculture-ish Experiment

Snow's gone, so I've finally got around to giving the allotment a bit of the permaculture/no dig treatment. The idea is to try to maximise natural processes and minimise the effort that goes in. A big part of this is not walking on the soil which compacts it and ruins its structure, so I dug a couple of paths to keep feet off the beds. Then I spread compost over the bed to add organic material which the worms should process down into the soil. The last thing I did was to spread some horticultural fabric on the soil to keep weeds down. I'm going to plant through the fabric on at least one of the beds.

Here's before:

And after:

I'm not 100% sure about this approach, I have to admit - at the minute it looks very artificial and not very wildlife friendly. And I may have dug the paths a bit deep, so they may need flags or gravel in case they get muddy. We shall see...

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So what about the Himalayan glaciers?

You've probably seen in the press that an error has been found buried in an IPCC text. It said the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 and it turns out that the statement has no scientific backing. The denial industry has gone into paroxysms of rage/joy, but the claim wasn't even featured in the document summary. The fact is that no-one knows for sure what is the state of these glaciers because they simply haven't been studied enough despite the fact that 2bn people rely on them for drinking water. Have a look at this short video and you'll see that we'd need to take a closer look because the limited information we have doesn't look good.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010


Have you seen the Yike Bike? - looks like a fantastic piece of engineering if you watch how it folds at the end of the ad. Until now, many of these kinds of vehicles (Segways etc) have been illegal on UK roads, but the Department for Transport is now consulting on their road use. About time, too - this sort of antiquated legislation is holding back the innovation we need to make eco-living practical, funky and fun.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

A clear route from farm to fork...

Yesterday I had a lovely, warming lunch in Blackfriars cafe in Newcastle. Even better were the placemats which showed you where they get all their produce from in the region. Nice one.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Don't forget the birds...

If you're in this strange snow-bound world that we call the UK, don't forget our little feathered friends. Fresh water, fatty foods, seeds etc etc will all help them through. Don't bother with bread and you're better losing the plastic nets that peanuts and fatballs come in - they can damage birds' feet.

The snow seems to have brought a few new visitors to our garden. We had a woodpecker at the nuts yesterday and as I type there are three redwings up in a tree, eating snow. I've never seen either in the garden in the ten years we've lived here.

One thing I have noticed about the snow is a resurgence in walking. People are wrapping up and trudging their way around the city - maybe the habits will stick for a while.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Oh for a 4X4!

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you all had a fantastic break.

Mine was great, but fell down on the green front. Santa went a bit overboard for the older boy. And me. Less so for the old girl - my tightness saves on a lot of resources. Actually she got a merino wool walking top - very sustainable indeed.

Foodwise, we couldn't get our usual organic turkey and the free range we did get came in at a whopping 2kg more than we expected, so the meat once a day pledge went out the window in favour of not wasting something that died for us.

Then there was our New Year break, in Belford, Northumberland. Our house was lovely, but solid stone walls and poor insulation (our roof snow went first everyday), and some idiot left a window open while the it was empty for 5 days in sub-zero temperatures... it took about 24hours of full on heating to get the place to a temperature which meant we could change the little one without putting the prospect of grandkids at serious risk.

It snowed and it snowed and it snowed. In the old, sprogless days, this would have been a great opportunity for tramps across the snowy landscapes, but with little ones it usually meant hours of Thomas the Tank Engine. It also meant we had to dig the car out and skite across ice to the A1 to get home. For only the second time in my life, I wished I had a 4X4 - the local farmers were having no problems. Still, we ate well, the NY fireworks were just outside our window, I got to catch up on some reading and the scenery was fantastic.

By the way, lots of people will be thinking, how come all this snow with global warming? North-easterly winds is the answer - we're just getting someone else's weather for a while. Siberia's to be precise.

It is holding up the start of my permaculture experiment - part of my 10:10 commitment - the agricultural mulch rolls have been bought, but the spade is staying put for the time being.

I hope 2010 brings you harmony, health and happiness!

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