Saturday, March 27, 2010

Heating Up

Over the last week or two we have been all conscious how much warmer it has been as compared to the long dark days of January. The spring flowers are also feeling the warmer weather coming as the daffodils and crocuses come into bloom. In our garden the daffodils are about two weeks later than last year.
Those of us with solar hot water panels will also have been noticing the difference. We have now started having days when the panel alone can provide all the hot water we want.
At Northfield Ecocentre we record the performance of the panel. The graph in the picture above is updated to yesterday but clearly shows the rise in output. It shows the amount of daily heat produced by the sun on our panel expressed in Kilowatts. The way it dramatically increases in the summer can clearly be seen on the graph which started last spring.
If you want to watch how it performs during the summer it is regularly updated and can be seen here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I have tried to understand the principles of permaculture on a number of occasions but each time have found myself bogged down in statements like “Provision for life systems”
Last night I attended a talk at Northfield Ecocentre by two people who are applying permaculture to their garden in Sutton Coldfield.
When shown in a garden setting it seems easier than when trying to apply it to “life as whole”.
I came away from the talk with the impression that if I tried to apply some of the following then I am doing some of the permaculture design principles.

· The garden must be sustainable. Ie it should not rely on inputs such as fertilisers from outside.
· Plants should be planted to help each other. Ie some like shade and some like to give shade.
· Every plant has its use whether it is to encourage bees or provide fertiliser such as nettles and comfrey.
· Understanding diversity to make things work together. Ie companion planting.
· Make use of edge effects. The sides of woods and ponds all have a use.
· Be creative in fitting things in. This may have things climbing up each othe or compost heaps heating up new plants.
· Recycle and reuse to create the infrastructure of the garden.

It is hoped the garden at the Ecocentre will have permaculture features incorporated in it. Now that the better weather is coming volunteers will be needed to come and help.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Northfield Photographs

Taking photographs often makes you see things in a different light. On Saturday I walked round the 1000 year old St Laurence Church area. I had driven through on a number of occasions but never stopped and had a look.
Northfield Ecocentre has just launched a photographic competition. The photographs have to be taken in Northfield but can be either of “Nature”, “Cityscape”, or “Community”. There are a number of age groups. So here is a chance to wander round with a purpose and see what you can find. You have until the end of May to find the perfect photo!
Details of the competition can be obtained by downloading:
The Brief
The Entry Form
There is a lot going on at the Ecocentre these days so keep an eye open for something that suits you.