Many permaculture garden visitors ask me why I have no solar panels?
My stock answer is that I cannot afford them…but that hides all the other reasons why solar panel are not high on my wish-list of add-ons to Bealtaine Cottage!
I see the issue in much more simple terms…frugality!
Over the past ten years of developing Bealtaine Cottage, I have successively scaled back on my use of electricity.
From getting rid of many of my original electrical appliances and refusing to replace those that have given up along the way, I have the equivalent of a roof load of solar panels!
We are a wasteful society that is easily swayed towards consumerism, failing to take responsibility for our waste, when there is NO AWAY…just Mother Earth!
Studies in America, for example, have shown that 20% of all electricity produced is wasted. (Dr Helen Caldicott)
This is interesting as Nuclear power represents 20% of all the electricity produced!
The correlation between what we waste and our environmental concerns can be very revealing!
According to statistics produced by the WWF “Power plants typically only turn about 30% of the energy input into usable electricity.
We are losing up to 75 % of the energy in the fuel at the start of the process. Energy companies could do much better – combining power and heat production can lift efficiency to over 70%.”( http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/cause/wasting_energy_eff/ )
In a detailed study in 2001, the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that from 3% (Switzerland) to a scarcely credible 13% (Australia) of residential electricity used in OECD countries was standby.
“I was amazed when I first learned the dimensions of standby power,” said Robert Priddle, IEA executive director. “In my own home, appliances that I thought were ‘off’ were actually consuming considerable power.”
You have immense power…the power to choose!
Your power to consume is there as a choice.
It is MY DESIRE to have a wind turbine and solar panels, but it is MY CHOICE to live lightly with Mother Earth.
Understand power…but more importantly, understand YOUR power!
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The post you’ve all been waiting for…the Bealtaine Cottage Compost Toilet.
Easy to install and simple to use.
No running outside on cold mornings to tramp across wet grass to use the toilet!
This is located in the bathroom…not quite a bathroom though as I took out the bath and installed a shower instead!
There’s still a little bit of tweaking to be done to finish the project off to a high standard, like decorating the wall where the cistern used to be and making a wooden surround with a small door, but as you can see, it is simple and attractive.
This is the material used for covering one’s toilet.
It is grown here at Bealtaine Cottage, shredded in the shredder and smells nice and pine fragranced, as it is cut from evergreen trees in the gardens.
This material is also anti-bacterial.
There is absolutely no bad odour!
So what happens next?
The bucket is taken to a corner of the garden, tucked in behind a Willow fedge, and then emptied into a large bin. The bins have holes in the bottom so all liquid is drained out slowly.
This system uses five such bins on a rotation basis.
After about a year, the contents have turned into sweet-smelling compost that I use around trees in the lower gardens.
This compost is not used in the productive gardens as I have adequate vegetative compost on site in the vegetable and fruit gardens.
Besides…the trees thrive on the waste produced here at Bealtaine and in return, I have plenty of wood for my stove…cycle complete!
…and the Arum Lilies seem to like it!
In the course of life here at Bealtaine Cottage, there is really no need for a septic tank…flush it away?
There is no away!
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Passionate and gardening are two words that seem to fit seemlessly together.
There were three visitors to Bealtaine this morning and as walking around became enthused to talk of their own gardens! One had brought a photo album to show me…and it was well worth a look, as there were shots taken from just about every angle of her small garden in Dublin. it reminded me of a garden I once tended in London. It was an old garden, created when the house was first built around 1795, so the porportions were conducive to the size of the house…a Georgian Artisan Cottage.
We all had tea on the veranda, deciding that the outdoors was where it was at!
When I lived in London it became a Saturday ritual to go to the local park and the Teahouse therein for an early morning coffee…just to be outdoors! Summer and Winter alike, the same glorious ritual applied and more often than not it was shared with friends and family.
It is always the little cafe or teashop I go in search of…the big franchise, multi-national , always the same, just does NOT do it for me…!
Trying to control nature is not an aspect of personality of the passionate gardener…well, not that I have found! Valerian has found its own way up by the side of the tool-shed and there it will continue! Putting down a mulch or a sheet to stop growth of weeds is as much control as I have it in me to exercise…apologetically I may add…
Mulching around a garden sculpture, (home-made), using freshly shredded waste…
And mulch will keep the no-dig beds looking neat and work-free!
Some of the new beds this morning…mulched paths in between work really well and cost zero to make!