Clocks Changed and eco ideas

Clocks have now changed, we are now in winter time which means a lot less time for the allotment. Have not done anything lately due to lack of time, but I did order some field beans to grow over winter as green manuare. I am quite keen about this, I will be interested to see how things go over winter. Maybe Tuesday we will plant these.

Noticed that I can grow both broad beans and peas now if I do it under a cold frame. We do not like broad beans and we have plenty of frozen peas, but peas sound interesting. I have never tried any of this before and I think it might be a interesting. I do not know if I should make a coldframe using the windows that we found on the plot, or get the “greenhouse” shed in a good condition to do this. I will have a look next time we are onsite.


Went to Wales and the Centre for Alternative Energy. I was interested in their methods of growing food and recycling/composting – I read from the website that they are fully self sufficient, including the onsite cafe for visitors. It was indeed of interest, including their methods of generating electricity which included their hydropower from a reservoir in the hills. Lots of windmills, solarpanels and a diesel generator for bad days. This was running when we were there (not much sun, but lots of wind and water?) and it turned out to be an old diesel engine from a van, with the water going round some of the buildings for heat – this was good.

The solar power was of interest. The photocells was the normal, very expensive (£25,00 to power a house!), but the solar heating of water was good. They had some examples of DIY solutions, and even the commercial ideas were good, heating the water up to quite some bit – not hot enougth for a bath, but good for washing and certainly giving the boiler some help. Not practical for our house as we have no hot water tank. The DIY idea involved an old radiator painted black, placed in a box with glass on top and water piped through. The water was hot in this example as well, which made me think about the “green house” on the allotment. I wonder if I could use this for heating the earth in the green house? Problems include pumping the water around, maybe a solar powered pump – something powering a drill motor with a pump attached, or a small motor powered by a small solar panel (the type you get in kids kits). Another problem, this will heat up during the day, but how to keep it warm during the night? Having a hot water tank on the allotment may be a bit too much, and where would I find a cheap tank? I would have to find a mini tank from somewhere, or make a tank with the hot water from the panel going through a pipe through the middle of tank, heating the water. This now needs two pumps.

The garden section was interesting but could had been more interesting if they had said more about what they were doing. A good experiment of showing the effects of compost on the garden. Two plots, one with compost just laid on top, one without. Both with the same vegetables growing, showing how the compost (just laid on top) had produced some good results. The one without still growed, but produced smaller crops. I am interested, I think I will try the same here.

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