Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This is Biofuel, or one of the forms its comes in. its made from sawdust, and is really compacted, this one 'briquette' weighs 2KG and is gaurenteed to to be properly dry. They are made in Wales, at Ruthin, which is where the saw mills are. Why is it better, what is so good about it? well I'll tell you. Firstly to say this is a new thing, and this is the first time we are using them, but I am hopeful it will sort out a lot of our problems and it is a very green solution. So first lesson is this, wood actually doesn't burn. It theramally degrades, via pyrolysis. This means that as you heat up a piece of wood it gradually yields flammable gasses, the hotter you heat it, the more these gasses become available - which in turn makes it burn even hotter. New generation wood burners, are very different from the old stove type thing, and they use careful control or airflows etc to get a really hot burn, and this is the key, once you get over 1000 degree c everything gets burned, so there is no pollution, no soot, char, creosote and all the other nasties that come out of wood when you burn it. Badly burned wood is very much an eco hazard, full of particulates and cancer causing agents, where as when properly burned all that comes out of your chimney is co2 and water - there is virtually no ash. And the Co2 is potentially neutral when you consider that sustainably managed woods reabsorb an equal amount of CO2 as they regrow (and htese briquettes are FSC certified). I cannot stress the advantages of this sytem enough, its clean, its eco, its c02 neutral and most importantly its local! we are spending our money with welsh faremrs and paying hem manage woodands sustainably, not sending our hard earned cash abroad to some Russian gas magnate or Suadi oil baron and encouraging the further destruction of the atmosphere of our precious planet.  Posted by Picasa

Beautiful autumn days. I love the clear views you can get at this time of the year, here is a view looking back over our place, with the mountains of Snowdonia in the far distance. I found some excellent resources on energy and climate change last night, I put them in the Reading room on the RISC site if anyone is interested. The debate is really hotting up (pardon the pun). For those who haven't been following, the Royal Society adn other eminent scientific bodies have accused Exxonmobil of propagating bad science adn funding organisations that argue against climate change, There is absolutely no scientific basis to what they are claiming adn they have been asked to stop doing. A key different between Kyoto in '97 and now is that then it was speculation, predicitions about what was going to happen, the point now is that it is actually happening, there is more evidence everyday. Techno fixes are not going to plug the gap, even slightly, and the real truth is we have to rapidly make that transition to a low energy society. That is what we are about here at teh 'shack, exploring those possibilities for our selves, constructinga mroe energy efficient lifestyle. There is a long way to go, in a lot of ways we have been only really playing at it so far, but with the increasing weight of evidence and a growing determination we are thinking about it the more seriously. The rediction we need to make in emissions is something like a 9% reduction every year for the next 30 years...! this is a serious challenge for everyone, but one I think with many unexpected rewards Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Its definitely autumn again when you are pciking pumpkins and squashes. Got some lovely ones this, inspite of the dryness, i forgot to do butternuts this year, which were a bit of a revalation last year, they dood really well in the tunnel. The outside pumpkins have done better than the inside ones, i think it was a bit too dry in the tunnel Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thanks to Kathryn Hill for this beautiful Fly Agaric specimen. Of course most of the Amanita family are pretty toxic, but this one A. Muscaria has a really wild history. Its a powerful hullucinogen, and gives an ingester huge amounts of energy as well as visions and transcentental states of mind. Famously used by the invading Norsemen to wind them selves up in to Berserker fury!  Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 01, 2006

BBC Gardener's World

Well believe it or not I am on telly tomorrow. On aforementioned prog on beeb2 at 8.30 or 9.00 depending on regions. They came to have a look at the roof garden in reading see the web site and talk about how it stood up to the drought. Its all rain water fed with a water cycling system, but we have had problems with it. But yes we survived the drought but with lots of supplementary watering by hand. The whole experience has taught us loads in truth and we are really ready to implement a second phase to our whole rainwater management program. What we are really looking for here is a sponsor for a 2 year monitoring project to collect the data from the Risc roof water system, and collect some empirical data as to how effective it is in a) water cycling and perhaps more importantly offsetting storm surge water and absorbing downpours.