Hydroponics 101 – Choosing the Right Grow Light

Sunlight is, simply and easily put, light from the sun. There are all sorts of scientific ways to measure sunlight, and define it. But for the average human being gardener, sunlight is the amount of light that shines on our vegetables. Plants need the sun shining down on them to undergo photosynthesis- the process of using the energy of sunlight to change carbon dioxide into organic compounds that the plant uses as food. The byproduct of this process is oxygen. Without the light from the sun, our earth would not be able to sustain life. Plants would not be able to survive, and water would turn into ice because of the lack of heat. Our basic necessities to live on earth stems from this interconnectedness of all these processes.

When it comes to indoor gardening, we have to replicate sunlight as much as possible with artificial lighting systems. The sun seems to be a blazing ball of yellow or orange light, but the light emitted from the sun contains a broad spectrum of colors. Plants react to these colors in different ways. Plants associate the bluer end of the spectrum with spring. This spectrum promotes vegetative growth in plants. The redder end of the spectrum is associated with autumn, and this encourages plants to produce more flowers than leaves.

Indoor gardening lights come in different wattages, emits different spectrums, and tries to replicate natural sunlight as much as possible. There are many different kinds of grow lights available for the indoor gardener. One of them is the High Intensity Discharge light. This is one of the most efficient lights available today, and any serious grower will have one of these in the grow room. HID lights produce an intense light, and replicate sunlight as much as humanly possible.

Another type of lighting system available for the indoor gardener is the Metal Halide light. These have a balanced spectrum. The Metal Halide light bathes plants in light from the bluer end of the spectrum, and also provides some light in the red/orange spectrum.

Grow lights are an essential part of an indoor garden. Any serious grower will have at least one professional light for maximum growth and health. If the plants are supposed to flower or produce fruit, it is important to consider a light that has a balanced spectrum.

Like sunlight to life on earth, indoor gardening lights are essential to life in your garden.

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Factors Affecting High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is branded as a fearful disease because it can catch a person unaware that he has already a stroke, heart disease or any cardiovascular disease. This occurs when there is clogging of blood in the arteries because of stored fats; thus, preventing the blood to circulate smoothly to the heart.

There are contributory factors to high blood pressure. These include obesity, poor exercise, high sodium and salt intake, smoking, and the use of alcohol and drugs. Regular exercise is needed to reduce obesity. This exercise may include jogging, walking or strolling, gardening, bicycling or participation in sports activities like basketball, volleyball, lawn tennis, golf and other sports activities.
Sodium and salt can be minimized if mixed with cooked foods. Processed and even fast foods are rich in sodium and salt. These should be avoided to lower high blood pressure. Smoking, alcohol and drugs should be gradually eliminated if it cannot be done immediately. The use of contraceptive pills can increase blood pressure levels. Smoking as well as taking alcoholic drinks too can increase high blood pressure. Try to minimize the number of cigarette sticks per day. Limit also your alcohol intake to have lower blood pressure. Prohibited drugs as well as regulated drugs should be avoided since these can cause hypertension.
More of high cholesterol food intake makes our heart overworked especially on how blood is distributed to our body. This is due to clogged arteries which prevents the free circulation of blood to the heart. So, the best remedy for this is to have a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise and meditation.

For a healthy and balanced diet, it is necessary to include food which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and less fat. Whenever foods are cooked, always include garlic in it. But garlic has also negative effects especially if one is maintaining medications prescribed by the doctor.

Fish should always be part of the diet because of its omega 3 fatty acids component which may lower cholesterol levels and burn restored fats in the body.

If these are not your daily food intake before, its now time to change it for the health of your heart. Coupled with this are the regular exercises and physical activities normally performed for the purpose of lowering high blood pressure. Aside from sports activities, deep breathing can make you feel relaxed which is good to your blood pressure.
Meditation can be done for twenty minutes. When you do this, the muscles become more relax, making them function smoothly. Meditation is done in a room where nobody can disturb you. Just sit comfortably with your eyes closed and make your mind empty by focusing on a single word. Meditation is like a breathing exercise which is also good to ease pressure as well as depression, distress and anxiety. This does not only improve the mental health but also the physical health

These are costless ways of treating high blood pressure. This does not involve much money. You only need enthusiasm and determination for the exercises and physical activities. All of these can fight high blood pressure.

How To Compost Cat Poo

Like the poor man who had a pea growing in his lung (true!) most of us are growing a seedling of green conscience these days. We are being encouraged to recycle so many items that the ones that do make their way into the regular bin tend to stick in our minds. If you compost or otherwise dispose of organic waste youll probably end up with a bin bag full of plastic packaging. If you own a pet cat or dog the warm parcels of their waste will make strange accompaniments to all that inert plastic.

Toxoplasmosis & Toxocara
How can it be that something as natural, green and organic as your cat, can be contributing to landfill in this way? Almost anywhere you look the advice will be to keep your pet waste away from your compost heap despite a growing number of biodegradable litters appearing on the market. The advice is based on the danger of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoa (not a virus as is often thought) present in cat faeces. This can cause toxoplasmosis, a potentially fatal disease especially for pregnant women and small children with their still-developing immune systems. Toxocara catis (roundworms) are also likely to be found and can infect humans as well as cats.

Hot compost kills germs
Good reasons to keep cat poo out of your compost then. Well, yes, but there are ways to cope with these pathogens if you know how to compost correctly and with due care. Composts can get to temperatures in excess of 130C at which point very little living matter can survive. At much lower temperatures in the range of 65-70C, pathogens will still die in a matter of seconds. The British Standard PAS100 ensure that green waste compost reaches 65C for a minimum of 7 days, twice, which is erring on the side of paranoia but they cant afford to take any risks. Whats amazing is that compost generates these temperatures on its own given the right materials.

Biodegradable litter
With cats, unlike dogs, its not just the poo that has to be disposed of but the litter as well. Litter made from clay or silica will not breakdown (in our lifetime anyway) and will get stuck in landfill. There are compostable litters available made from wood chips, sawdust, newspapers and plant derivatives such as wheat or corn residues and wood chips but composting them means removing the poo first, unless you can be sure of getting your compost heap hot enough to kill the germs. This is perhaps ironic as the faeces are rich in nitrogen (which heats the compost) and the litter in carbon (which has a cooling effect) a match made in heaven from a composting point of view. Remove the nitrogen and the carboniferous material will take an age to disappear. Together they would be much more likely to reach the elusive hot temperatures required to make the compost sanitary. Even if you choose not to try composting the excrement, the litter will have soaked up urine, rich in phosphorus and nitrogen and be a valuable addition.

Cat Poo Wormery
Dog poo wormeries are being found to successfully deal with doggie do but cat poo wormeries arent as straightforward because of the amount of litter that accompanies the faeces. The worms seem not to enjoy the quantity or the mix. Removing the poos for the wormery and having a traditional composter for the litter, kept separate from the compost bin youll be using for any edibles, might be one solution but if it sounds a palaver having three systems on the go, then read on.

NatureMill composter
One composter that has yet to reach the British market is the NatureMill. Designed by scientist and inventor Russ Cohn, the NatureMill has started to solve the pet poo problems of San Francisco and is spreading across the United States.
The composter automatically grinds the input waste so it acts like a digester where shredding is part of the process. It is normal for digesters to need additional carbon-rich materials such as sawdust or wood pellets to keep the contents at the correct moisture levels and NatureMill is no different. This makes it perfect for the constituents of kitty litter.
NatureMill also maintains an internal temperature of up to 60C (140F) as a small current is used to heat the bin and it is well-insulated. The total electricity used is said to be 5 kWh per month, the same as for a night light. It has a carbon filter to absorb unwanted smells and can be operated indoors or outdoors. The bin costs $299 but a further $82.50 to ship it to Europe, but it really does solve the problem and keep your cats waste out of landfill. Compost for the garden is ready in an incredible two weeks. For any cat lovers with no or limited outside space this clever little disposal machine could be the answer. The only problem then is what to do with the compost when the houseplants are well-fed and blooming! How about a spot of guerilla gardening – feed a tree.

Compost alchemy
A fear of germs permeates our culture to the point where stories of sterile homes being responsible for childhood complaints like asthma have spread in the press and the dreadful O.C.D. can lead to compulsive cleaning (not in my house). Yet our understanding of hygiene has saved us from cholera and typhoid epidemics so is there a balance to be aimed for? Perhaps the next stage of understanding germs will come from ecology and knowing how microorganisms interact and keep each others’ populations under control. The compost process is certainly a complex set of interactions of millions of these microbes, their numbers swelling and ebbing according to the conditions in the surrounding environment. And somehow, at the end of it, a clean, sweet smelling earth is produced that feeds our plants and stores potential greenhouse gas carbon in a stable form. Perhaps we can trust Nature after all.
Disclaimer: Composters of cat poo do so at their own risk.

Led Grow Lights – The Importance Of Spectrum

LED Grow Lights – Confused Anyone?

In the world of LED Grow Lights the products vary dramatically from one company to the next, as does the information behind those products. I’ve often found myself confused at times by the contradicting information I find on many sites, which has lead me to do my own research as many often do. After all, with all the tri-band, quad-band, 6-band, 11-band, 12-band, and 15-band lights on that market, how do you know which one to choose?

HID Grow Lights – Why they’re being Replaced

Most of us switching to LED Grow Lights have used an alternative form of indoor lighting in the past such as High Pressure Sodium (HPS), Metal Halide (MH), or High output Fluorescent (T5). Any of us who have used these lights know one important thing about them: they are limited by their spectrum. The majority of the light a HPS or MH bulb emits is in the 500-600nm range, much of which is inefficiently absorbed by plants. In fact up to 70% of the light a HID bulb creates can be completely wasted in a grow room. Why is this you might ask? It’s because plants absorb primarily red and blue light, and need a special balancing of the light in those regions in order to grow optimally. HID lights are weak on both red and blue output, even though HPS is stronger in red while MH is strong in blue.
In the past when using HID you would want to utilize the spectral differences of the MH and HPS bulbs to your advantage, relying on the heavier blue output of the metal halide bulb in vegetative stage to keep plants short, and the HPS in bloom to allow them to stretch. The reality however, is that plants need a balanced amount of both red and blue in both stages of growth in order to grow optimally. Limiting either of these wavelengths creates a stress response in the plant to either grow shorter, or stretch, but when they are balanced properly you get super tight internodal spacing in veg with monstrous flowers during bloom. That’s what’s so great about LED Grow Lights, in that you can use one single light source throughout the entire growth cycle. Many people are still under the impression however, that you need separate vegetative and bloom stage LED Grow Lights when this is simply not the case.

The Science that drives Plant Growth

The main ingredients for photosynthesis are light, carbon dioxide and water. Just as our bodies require certain amounts of nutrients for proper cell division, plants require specific ratios of light for photosynthesis. Plants convert light energy into plant energy in their chloroplasts (much like the mitochondria in human cells). The chloroplasts produce Chlorophyll A and B, the two primary compounds that drive photosynthesis. These compounds absorb primarily blue and red light, more specifically, 439nm and 469nm blue, and 642nm and 667nm red. LED’s give us the ability to target narrow wavelengths of light so they can be specificaly tailored to provide the proper”light” recipe for photosynthesis. So based on this information on Photosynthesis, a LED Grow Light needs 4 wavelengths to target each of the chlorophyll absorption peaks.

In my reading I learned that Photosynthesis is not the only process that affects growth rate and yield. In fact there are two other important sciences that can enhance yield dramtically if they are applied to a grow light. One is called the Emerson Enhancement effect which dictates that when 740nm far-red light is shone simultaneously 660nm, photosynthetic rates increase as much as 30%. The other is called quantum efficiency which focuses on the importance of balancing each of the 3 regions of PAR, specifically focusing on green. It’s been learned in recent years that green actually plays a vital role on plant development, fruit ripening, and overall growth times, and that green penetrates deeper into plant tissues acting as a delivery agent for other wavelengths, as well as stimulating the lower chloroplasts. Studies by Nasa confirm that when green us balanced in with the green and blue wavelengths in the proper ratios, that growth times can be reduced up to 30% with a 30% enhancement in yield! The most familiar green for LED’s is 525nm, which means in total I count 6 wavelengths that are essential for optimal growth. 4 stimulate photosynthesis, 1 stimulates the Emerson Enhancement Effect, and the last fulfills the quantum efficiency requirements for faster growth rates and bigger yields.

LED Grow Lights – What have we Learned?

What we learned from HID lights is their weakness is producing a bunch of unused or wasted light. The strength of LED Grow Lights is being able to focus on the 6 wavelengths we discussed above, so that no light is wasted during the growth process. So what does that mean for all of these 11-band and 12-band or 15-band LED Grow lights? Quite simply it means that just like HID grow lights, they’re producing a spectrum where much of the light is being wasted instead of absorbed by plants. Likewise what does it mean for the tri-band or quad-band lights? It means they’re not developed enough yet to provide the types of results you need to outperform HID. Too little spectrum is just as bad as too much, and with the cost of LED Grow Lights you certainly don’t want to choose wrong or you’ll wind up paying a lot for it in the end. The Goldilocks zone are those 6-wavelengths you really want to look for: 439nm, 469nm, 525nm, 642nm, 667nm, and 740nm.

Penetrator LED Grow Lights – The Goldilocks Zone

The closest LED Grow Light I have found that fulfills all of the scientific requirements I’ve researched, are the Penetrator LED Grow Lights from Hydro Grow LED. These lights use a 6-band spectrum with 440nm, 470nm, 525nm, 640nm, 660nm, and 740nm. They really seem to have a grasp on LED Technology, and provide a lot of great information on their site. In fact they had a few extra articles on green and quantum efficiency that I’d never seen before, which taught me even more than I know now. They truly appear to be a pioneer in their field, and that’s why of any LED Grow Light on the market I would recommend theirs. Their 6-band spectrum is the real deal.

How to Determine the Origin of Teak Wood

Many terms have come to light surrounding high quality teak. Two of these are -old growth- teak and -plantation- teak. Teak is a high quality hardwood which is grown in several countries in Southeast Asia. Being that from the time of planting to the time of harvest is fairly long, the return on teak trees can be a long time coming. In fact, some families in Indonesia plant teak as a retirement investment for their young children.

Sometimes, there are companies which exploit the demand and try to pass off a lesser-quality teak (or other wood labeled as teak) to buyers looking for a good price on high quality teak furniture. This is the case for some sellers selling -plantation teak.- This wood may or may not be grown in Southeast Asia and may actually come from South or Central America. Certified Southeast Asian teak is grown in sustainable farms or plantations and is heavily regulated by the government (especially in Thailand).

When purchasing teak from South or Central America, you are not getting the same quality nor the same sustainability of teak from Asia and these sellers should be treated with some level of caution. The wood from these -plantations- is usually very good, but doesn’t have the same level of quality as the true teak.

Genuine and high quality teak is very hard, with a straight grain (some variation happens when harvesting the sapwood and the grain may be more curved) and have a slight and pleasant aroma. The distinctive scent of teak wood is often described as the scent of vegetable oil or of leather. This scent comes from the teak oil in the wood, which has been described as -liquid gold- since this oil gives teak many of its qualities – bug and rot resistance among others – which make teak so desirable.

While the initial quality and appearance of teak chairs made from Asian and South American sources may appear the same – or in some cases the South American teak may actually look better, this is not always the case. There have been reports over the last several years of -dipped- teak coming from several sources, South America being one. This teak is dipped into a chemical which coats the teak, seals the oils in and gives lesser quality teak a more uniform color. This wood is truly inferior and is often marketed as -A grade- at a bargain price.

Whether you decide to buy South American or Asian teak, make sure that you are getting the best wood possible for your price and if it seems too good to be true – it usually is!

Rainwater Tanks

Almost in every rainy season, thousands of gallon water gets wasted. Rainwater tanks and slimline rainwater tanks are ideal for such situation where you can collect and store water. This storage equipment is designed to deal with problem of water scarcity. Water stored in this storage equipment can be used for varied purposes like washing clothes, gardening, etc.

Water conservation should be seriously followed so as to deal with water scarcity problems. While trying to search for numerous resources designed for conserving water, one of the best solutions is to invest in rainwater tanks Melbourne.

Several companies offer wide variety of water storage equipment and some great resources of quality, variety and long lasting solutions.
Before starting your search hunt for quality storage water tanks, make sure that you identify essential factors that exist with different types of storage equipment.

Round tanks

This water storage equipment represent the conventional resource which many homeowners and business owners look for before investing in a storage equipment. When looking for storage equipment, it is very important to consider quality factor. Round rainwater tanks are ideal where space is not an issue and are found in wide choices of volumes and resources. This storage tank is designed to hold wide range of fluids which include- water & chemicals.

Similar to other storage water tanks, round tanks allow you to discover their capacity, diameter, total height and inlet height on the spot. With all this essential information presented right in front of your eyes, then you are sure to make right purchase.

Slimline tanks

They have become a great addition to urban homes, with ever increasing water restrictions. Several homeowners opt for this storage solution because of its compact design. Slimline tanks are available in several shapes and sizes.

They are the best kind of storage equipment available in the market and are ideal for homeowners who have minimal space in their area of residence. While purchasing slimline rainwater tanks, you must opt for storage equipment which is made up of high quality plastic, is robust and stable as well. Installing slimline tanks will enable you to make the most of water efficiency measures and ensures that your home is contributing towards water conservation.

Rainwater tanks

The primary reason why people opt for water tanks in Melbourne is to beat the water restrictions. If installed with essential accessories, they can satiate all your needs. These tanks are available in variety of sizes & shapes. Collecting rain water is not only a great way to save money, but it also beneficial from environment viewpoint. The stored rain water in these storage water tanks can be used for bathing, washing clothes, gardening, etc. They are often constructed from concrete, galvanized steel or polyethylene.

By surfing various sites and online portals on Internet, you can collect useful information about different types of water storage options available in the market. Thus, to summarize rainwater tanks Melbourne, round tanks and slimline tanks are designed to store water and to avoid wastage of this resource.

Shemya, The Black Pearl Of Th North Pacific

Shemya Island, is also referred to as the Black Pearl of the North Pacific Ocean, because of it’s black sandy beaches. This is a result of millions of years of volcanic activity. Shemya is located at the far western edge of the aleutian chain of islands and is part of what is known as the ring of fire. An area of active seismic/volcanic area that stretches from South America northward to California into Alaska and along the Pacific Rim of asia. My time spent on this tiny 2 miles by 4 miles was a weatherman’s dream. The daily climate was harsh with few exceptions. Annual temperatures are moderate for that far north of a latitude. Winter storms were violent, frequently accompanied by gale to hurricane force winds. It was difficult to measure snow because high winds would constantly blow it horizontally.

Late spring to early fall was a constant pea soup fog. And the sun was a rarity. On a few clear winter nights, we were treated to the Aurora Borealis. If your interested in reading on, below you will find more information on this tiny little island called SHEMYA. Historical temperatures as well as climate data can be found Climatic Data Center.

The following excerpt is a historical account from the army air corp during world war 2. The Alaskan Air Force was activated on Elmendorf Field 15 January 1942 to manage the buildup of the Army Air Forces in Alaska. It was redesignated the Eleventh Air Force on 5 February 1942.

Following the Japanese bombing of Dutch Harbor in the eastern Aleutian Islands and the occupation of Attu and Kiska in the western Aleutians in early June 1942, the Eleventh Air Force launched an air offensive against the Japanese on the two islands.

Missions were flown initially from Cape Field on Umnak Island in the eastern Aleutians and later from fields built on Adak and Amchitka. Headquarters Eleventh Air Force was moved to Davis Field, Adak in early 1943. Attu was retaken in May 1943, and the Japanese withdrew their garrison from Kiska in late July.

The Aleutian Campaign ended with the reoccupation of Kiska on 15 August 1943. Primarily an air war, it was the only World War II campaign fought on North American soil. The Eleventh Air Force flew 297 missions and dropped 3,662.00 tons of bombs. One hundred and fourteen men were killed in action, another forty-two were reported missing in action and forty-six died as a result of accidents.

Thirty-five aircraft were lost to combat and another 150 to operational accidents. It was the highest American combat-to-operational loss ratio of the war. Weather was the prime culprit, especially the Winter Climate.

The Eleventh Air Force accounted for approximately 60 Japanese aircraft, one destroyer, one submarine and seven transport ships destroyed by air operations.

Following the occupation of Kiska, the Eleventh Air Force declined from peak strength of 16,526 in August 1943 to 6,849 by the end of the war. For the remainder of the war, it flew bombing and reconnaissance missions against Japanese military installations in the northern Kurile Islands from Attu and Shemya Islands. The first land based bombing mission of the World War II against the Japanese home islands was launched from Attu on 10 July 1943.

The Eleventh Air Force was redesignated the Alaskan Air Command on 18 December 1945, and its headquarters was moved from Adak to Elmendorf AFB on 1 October 1946 to better manage Alaska’s emerging air defense system.

Alaska’s air defenses were greatly expanded during 1945-1955 period. An extensive aircraft control and warning (AC&W) system was constructed along Alaska’s coast and interior. The Alaskan segment of the DEW Line was built, and later the DEW Line was extended to the eastern Aleutian Islands.

By 1957, AAC had reached the height of its strength with over 200 fighter interceptors assigned to six squadrons. Early warning and fighter direction were provided by 18 aircraft control and warning and 12 DEW (defense early warning)Line sites tied together by the White Alice Communications System. Its assigned strength was 20,687. The forces were organized into two air divisions providing “Top Cover for America.”

The late 1950s and the 1960s saw a major reduction in AAC’s forces as Air Force air defense doctrine began changing, and emphasis shifted to a defense against a mixed threat of missile and bomber attacks. The number of fighter interceptor squadrons shrunk to one, the air divisions were inactivated, and the aircraft control and warning sites reduced to 13. The assigned strength dropped to 9,987 by 1969. The Aleutian DEW Line segment was dismantled. Emphasis shifted towards supporting other commands.

The manpower intensive, 1950s era aircraft control and warning system radars were replaced with minimum attended AN/FPS-117 minimally attended, long range radars. The system achieved its operational capability in October 1985. The outdated, semi-automated Alaskan NORAD Control Center was replaced with the fully automated Regional Operations Control Center.

Further improvements were made to the force structure with the arrival of F-15As in 1982, upgraded to “C” models during 1987-86. On 1 July 1986, the 962nd Airborne Warning and Control System Squadron was activated at Elmendorf AFB to operate two E-3 Sentry aircraft on rotational duty to Alaska. (The aircraft were later assigned to the squadron.) A second F-15C squadron was added the next year. The modern radar system, the F-15s and the E-3 resulted in a greater capability to protect the air sovereignty of North America. The number of Soviet aircraft intercepts increased dramatically from an average of ten a year during the first half of the 1980s to a record of 31 in 1987, after which the numbers began to decline dramatically following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Four Russian aircraft were intercepted in 1993.

One of the most singular events affecting AAC was the disestablishment of the Alaskan Command on 1 July 1975. The Commander, AAC assumed the additional responsibility of Commander, Joint Task Force-Alaska, a provisional joint command that could be activated in the event of an emergency, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in March 1989.

The Alaskan Command was reestablished on 7 July 1989, as a subordinate unified command under the U.S. Pacific Command in recognition of Alaska’s strategic importance to the defense of the Pacific.

With the activation of the Alaskan Command, the next logical step was to place its air component (AAC) under the Pacific Air Forces. On 9 August 1990, the Alaskan Air Command was redesignated the Eleventh Air Force. Finally, in keeping with Air Force Chief of Staff guidance to retain the most illustrious units, the 343rd Wing, a veteran of the Aleutian Campaign, was inactivated in August 1993. The 354th Fighter Wing was activated in its place.

The mission of the Eleventh Air Force shifted during the early 1990s from defending Alaska against the Soviet Union bomber threat to committing its forces to worldwide deployment and providing training opportunities for others.

Credit Crunch Hits Our Allotments

The Royal Horticultural Society have recently published a public interest story concerning the rising prices and popularity of allotment gardening and you may be shocked to find out how plot space translates into wallet space.

The earliest renderings of officiated allotments in the UK can be traced to the Birmingham of the 18th Century – some of the plots featured in an engraving made in 1732 still survive today. However, due to a lack of royal endorsement, some believe the oldest allotments to be those of St. Anne in Nottingham, an accolade later award to the Wiltshire free gardens located in greater Somerford which was relinquished by the king, on the behest of the local parish, from the Enclosure Acts of that century. However, the rest of the country was not so favourably treated and as such the number of allotments available to the peasantry was greatly reduced. This called for the introduction of allotment legislation in order to cope with the high demand for domestic vegetables.

With the new legislation, the popularity of allotments grew steadily with several hundred thousand established by the turn of the 20th century, spiking at the outbreak of World War One at 1.5M and after tailing off slightly in the subsequent peace time, again reaching 1.4M in 1941. Remaining at over a million until the end of the decade the number of plots began a steady decline, to 600,000 in the late sixties and falling below half a million by 1977, while paradoxically demand for them only grew. By 1997 the numbers had fallen to just over a quarter of a million plots with an estimated 44,000 not in use and 13,000 plotters on waiting lists. Taking their cue from the ecological awakening of the late nineties the number of allocated allotments began to rise and by 2008 had reach over 330,000. However, while the number of plot failed to even double, the number of those waiting had more than quadrupled to 100,000.

If I had had 22 to spend back in 97, rather than a pocket full of lego men, then I could have afforded an average plot, perhaps not within biking distance or on one train, but somewhere there would have been a waiting list I could get on. The basic contractual agreement of a plot is a yearly fixed rate per rod (a rod is equivalent to thirty square yards) and most will stipulate a minimum number of rods per plot. However, the Lego King wouldve found his treasury wanting were he to rent in certain boroughs and counties of today – Staffordshires Cannock Chase for example, more than double their prices in the last year to over 100 per full plot. Worse still you have Berkshires own Runnymede demanding 55p a square metre which, when you consider the minimum parcel is approx. 125 sqm, certainly adds up.

If that hasnt managed to put you off though, then you should apply for a plot through your local council who can be contacted through the appropriate governmental portal.

And I dont use should lightly – with the continued urbanization that has run rampant since trains first went choo, the availability of green spaces will only dwindle. For those of us who suffer most from this blight, allotments are fast becoming the only hope of environmental relief to our concrete jungles, not to mention a valuable source of nutritious and flavoursome organic fruit and vegetables a place to meet people and socialise, and, if nothing else, an antidote to a growing distrust in our corporate trough fillers!

Solar How To Roof Gardening

Energy is the latest buzzword to garner media attention. Fuel costs are rising, and finding an alternative and economical fuel source is vital to todays economy. Concern for the environment is also at the forefront of the energy issue. Solar energy is both an economical and eco-friendly alternative fuel source.

One simple step in harnessing solar power is planting. Growing fruit tress or having a vegetable garden is a healthy and natural way to use solar power. Home-growing fruits and vegetables also cuts down on grocery bills. Plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which helps to clean the air of toxins. This idea can be taken a step further by planting a roof garden. Roof gardens can be planted on the tops of houses, garages or sheds.

Roof gardens help to insulate and retain heat in houses more efficiently than conventional thermal insulation. They also use natural precipitation for water, which reduces run-off and a homeowners sewer costs. Roof gardens also absorb ultra-violet light, which can strip a roof over time.

There are three different types of roof gardens:

o Extensive living roofs

o Semi-extensive living roofs

o Intensive living roofs

Extensive living roofs are the easiest to maintain and require the shallowest soil systems. They are also the lightest and are ideal for sheds or garages. The downside is that extensive living roofs lack the visual appeal of the other two types of roof gardens.

Semi-extensive living roofs are more aesthetically pleasing than the extensive living roof. They require a denser soil and can support different types of vegetation. They are heavier and are more suited to flat domestic buildings.

The third type of roof garden is the intensive living roof. This type of garden requires a strong structure to support it, such as the roof of a commercial building. The soil is denser and can sustain trees and full working gardens.

Roof gardens can be planted on flat or slanted surfaces. When choosing to plant a roof garden on a slanted surface like a shed, be sure to check for adequate structural support. The best types of plants for roof gardens on slanted surfaces are mosses and lichens.

The first step in planting a roof garden is to layer a moisture-retaining protective mat over the area. A root barrier and drainage layer must also be added. The root barrier protects the waterproofing of the rooftop. The drainage layer allows for collection and proper evaporation of water run-off. A filter layer is added to protect the drainage layer from fine particles being washed out of the soil. The vegetation layer contains a zinc-mineral based soil that helps the plants adapt. There are several different types of vegetation to choose from when building a roof garden.

The choice of plant life for a roof garden should be based on the type of garden and the climate. For extensive living roofs, the lightest vegetation is mosses and lichens. These are small plants that do not flower. They can survive in various different climates and are a hearty option. Sedums are the most widely used variety of plant as they are drought resistant. They also change color based on climate change. Wildflower and Calcareous Grassland plants can also be used for living roofs. These types of vegetation need ample space and would not be a viable option for a shed or small garage.

Roof gardens are a natural way to harness solar energy and insulate buildings. They can add style and beauty to a home while also saving a homeowner on heating and cooling bills. Investing in a roof garden or small home garden is an excellent way to save on natural resources and energy costs.

An alternative to a Slab Shed Base.

Plastic Shed Base – an alternative to slabs or concrete

There has been many uses for plastic alternatives for a lot of products. A plastic shed base is the latest product to hit the DIY Market by Storm. A plastic shed base grid is injection moulded and produces a strong shed base grid.

A plastic Shed Base is now a popular option to form a permanent shed base in your garden. Not only is it more popular and easy to install – you will find that there are other reasons to use a plastic shed base too.

To form the area needed for your shed, the shed base is assembled using a a grid of 600mm X 600mm grids. Weighing in at less than 2 kg, each shed base grid is a dream to use and light to carry – and will not break if you drop it.

Made from strong reformed injection molded plastic the shed base grids will least for years, they can also be taken up again and moved if need be – as many times as you like.

Constructing a plastic shed base:

Work out the size of the area the shed base will cover and you should ensure that it is free from debris or holes. There is no need to dig any foundations as you would for a slab or cement shed base, you will need to ensure that you have a reasonably level surface though. If there are any parts of the area which are lower or have indentations in them simply fill them with some sand the shed base grid will sit on top of sand.

When you are happy with the area that the shed base grid will be laid upon, the next job is to lay the membrane down to prevent weed growth under the shed base and damaging the wooden shed.

Once the membrane is down you simply need to lock the shed base grids together, even for a 10 X 10 shed base area, you will be done in minutes. Its that easy. Once you are happy with the shed base, simply follow the manufacturers instructions to build your shed. The shed base grids lock together using a simple peg insert.

As well as being easy to use, the plastic shed base has the following benefits:

– No heavy lifting involved this will of course make it easier to lay the shed base yourself and not have to employ a builder at a cost.

– The shed base is robust and durable

– This plastic system for the shed base can be re-located with ease

– The plastic shed base grids allow the air to circulate through underneath the shed. This allows for good ventilation on the base of the wooden shed and helps prevent rotting.

– The shed base will not store water or moisture like a concrete or slab shed base this will also help prevent any deterioration of the wooden shed.

– Being lightweight you can practice your design or location of the shed base without making any permanent decisions unlike slabs or concrete.

– The Shed base grid system can be laid in minutes, meaning you can build your shed and the shed base all in the same day.

The Plastic shed base in summary

Cost effective shed base system which is very Easy to lay and can be completed DIY. There is no Permanent damage to the underneath surface and it allows ventilation within the shed base. It provides a very strong structure for a shed base which can be relocated.