Current Gardening TrendsIn the interviews given by local landscapers in this months edition of The Property Magazine, the most fascinating trend that they are seeing in the requests from their middle income clients is the choice to include more fruit trees and vegetable spots in their gardens.
No doubt, the economic situation has impacted on the pockets of many people and this trend shows that small changes are being made to adjust household budgets and spending appropriately.
Should you choose to rather cultivate your own fruit, veggies or herbs, whether for financial or for improved health reasons, remember that regular feeding to the soil is an absolute requirement. Seagro and Neutrog are both organic fertilisers that can be used to top-up nutrients being leached out of the soil by regular watering.
Additionally, should your home grown crops bear too much to consume, invest in an earthworm bin (see vermiculture below) and recycle your left-over food and organic waste back into your garden as earthworm compost.
Thin-film solar is different. It has been a major focus of U.S. alternative energy research and development efforts since the early 1980s because it was seen, even then, as a true "breakthrough" in solar technology. Although more difficult to make efficient cells, the concept of thin-film solar cells allowed researchers to dream of printing semi-conducting chemicals onto metal sheets (like solar shingles) for building-integrated solar installations and having it convert photons into electricity at competitive prices.
First Solar exploded onto the solar scene in 2005 with a cadmium-telluride thin-film cell. Their manufacturing costs have dropped rapidly since then and they have received billions of dollars in contracts, largely with utilities. In September 2009, they signed a two-gigawatt deal with Chinese officials.
Nanosolar, a startup with a secret recipe for printing cheap solar cells on aluminum foil debuted its product recently, in what could end up a milestone for the industry. Its's technology consists of sandwiches of copper, indium, gallium and selenide (CIGS) that are 100 times thinner than the silicon solar cells that dominate the solar photovoltaics market. Its potential convinced Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to back the company as angel investors in its early days.
Two big announcements marked its coming out party : The company has $4 billion in contracts and can make a profit selling its products for $1 per watt of a panel's capacity (cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels in markets across the world).
The competition among solar companies is heating up, and there is plenty of room for multiple players in the expanding renewable energy markets. Competition can drive innovation and cost reductions too, which would be good news for solar energy advocates.
Source: Wired Science
Vermiculture uses earthworms and micro-organisms (such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa) to convert organic waste into nutrient rich humus. When organic matter begins decomposing, micro-organisms are actively engaged and the earthworms feed upon both the decomposing matter as well as the micro-organisms.
Earthworms are capable of consuming more than their own weight in organic matter each day from the moment they hatch. The organic matter consumed by earthworms is softened by moisture or by bacterial action in order for it to be sucked into the worms gut, where it is further refined in an internal grinding process. Other organic wastes such as dirty paper and cardboard, vegetable and food processing, abattoir material and green waste can be incorporated into the blend of the earthworm's diet.
After the organic matter passes through the earthworm's digestive tract, it is excreted as "castings". These castings and other organic particles are classified as nutrient-rich compost and can be immediately and directly used to enrich soil quality for stronger plant growth. Vegetable yield can be increased between 20 - 45% when vermiculture is undertaken.
The by-products of this decomposition process are water vapour and carbon dioxide. Unlike conventional composting, the organic material that is degraded by earthworm composting does not reach raised temperatures, has no urea and therefore cannot "burn" the plants.
Minimal amounts of odourless leachate (decomposition liquids) are produced during this process and can be easily contained and used as earthworm tea in the soil too.
For further information visit the DIY resources in our library and download the "Guide to Earthworm Farming" by Footprints Environment Centre.
Fireflies are familiar, but few realize that these insects are actually beetles, nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae. There are about 2,000 firefly species living in a variety of warm and temperate regions around the world and are a familiar sight on summer evenings after warm rains. Most fireflies are winged, which distinguishes them from other luminescent insects of the same family, commonly known as glowworms.
Fireflies have dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens that give off their signature glow. The insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat.
Firefly light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps fireflies find potential mates.
This annual phenomenon is a treasure for children and parents alike as fireflies only appear at specific times and for short periods of time each year. This year Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is expecting the fireflies to start illuminating their gardens between the 26th October and 14th November and is opening their gardens after hours for you, your partner and your children to experience this magical time walking amongst the fireflies in their beautiful surrounding.
We advise interested parties, during the expected firefly period, to call Andrew Jacobs at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on (021) 799 8674 or Jane Forrester at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty's Bay on (028) 272 9311 daily to hear if the fireflies have been spotted and when their evening enchanted walks are scheduled for.
The Property Magazine regularly publishes profiles and interviews with industry specialists. In July, the upmarket magazine featured well-known architects, and in this month's edition, The Property Magazine is featuring the profiles and interviews of 11 "green finger" personalities.
Cheral Kennedy from Living Matter - Landscape Styling and Design is featured with the likes of cricketer celebrity-turned-horticulturist Alan Dawson.
Positive feedback on the new and improved playground was received during the installation process and has continued flowing in.
The new section includes specific areas for:
Visit the Library now.
Description :Indigenous bulb to 0.75m with bright orange or yellow flowers on a single stem.
Flowering time :Spring
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