7 Tips to Growing Citrus Fruit Indoors

In most places of the world where gardeners have citrus trees, the weather is pleasant enough that citrus is grown commercially in large orchards. But for those of us living in the northern reaches of the world with less than accommodating climates for citrus, we need not be excluded from a year round supply of fresh citrus fruit.

As the cold winds and frosts force life into hibernation outside, you can be enjoying the benefits of a brightly coloured citrus tree inside. What better way to bring you out of the winter doldrums?

Use The Right Tree

Because the tree will be growing in a limited space select a dwarf variety of citrus fruit, one that will do well in a container.
At a nursery, pick a healthy looking tree between 2-3 years in age. Trees can be planted from seed, but it's not recommended. It can take a long time for a tree planted from seed to produce fruit.

Some good varieties for indoor citrus growing include: Calamondin oranges, Everhard orange, Otaheite oranges, Nippon oranges, Meyer lemons, Eureka lemons, Ponderosa lemons, Persian limes, Kaffir limes, and Rangpur limes.

Put The Tree In A Comfortable Home

Plant your tree in a 10-15 gallon (40-60 L) container with several holes in its base allowing for drainage; good drainage is paramount.
A layer of gravel at the bottom of the container will help even more with drainage and keeps the roots from drowning. Some landscaping cloth over the drainage holes will keep soil from washing out from watering, but it isn't necessary.

Soil pH should be slightly acidic, a pH of 6-7.

Keep the tree in temperatures between 55-85 degrees F (13-30 C) - around 65 F (18 C) is ideal. Avoid rapid shifts in temperature. Don't place near things like exterior doors, drafty windows, radiators, heaters, or ovens.

Allow The Tree As Much Sun As Possible

Citrus trees prefer 10-12 hours of sun a day, but winters in more northern regions don't often accommodate those needs. Citrus trees need a minimum of 5-8 hours a day. Place the trees by a south facing window, or, if you have one, in a sun room. Consider supplementing lighting with a grow light. Use a 40-watt, fluorescent, grow light placed just above the plant.

When the risk of frost is absolutely gone, the tree can be placed outside. Very gradually acclimate the tree to the conditions outdoors, it's been inside all winter. The process is the same as hardening off seedlings that have been started indoors. Begin by placing the tree outside for a few hours in a non-windy, semi-shaded spot. Day by day, increase the time spent outdoors and the time spent in direct sunlight. Don't rush the plant, without a slow transition the tree can suffer from shock and sunburned leaves. To bring the tree inside for winter, do the same process in reverse. Initiate the reverse transition long before the first frost date.

Keep It Humid

Citrus plants like moist air, but during winter most homes are around a dry 10% humidity. The best humidity range is around 50%. A citrus tree in an environment that isn't humid enough, will start to drop leaves.

Take a tray that will fit under your container and fill it with lots of small stones and a little water. As the water evaporates from the tray it will increase the humidity around the plant. The tray will refill with excess water from watering the tree.

Placing the tree near a humidifier or misting the leaves with a spray bottle regularly is other methods of providing humidity.

Water Regularly

Check the top 2 inches (5cm) of the soil. When the top 2in (5cm) is moderately dry, water until excess liquid drips out the bottom of the container. You may need to water more frequently during summer months. Don't water too much, excess water in the soil can lead to lots of problems. Mulching will reduce evaporation, retain moisture, and provide some nutrition if organic material is used.

If using hard tap water, you may need to acidify a little the water to keep the proper pH in the soil. Use 1 Tablespoon (15mL) of vinegar per 1 gallon (4 litres) of water.

Hand Pollinate

With the tree inside it will be away from pollinating insects. Many of these trees don't technically require pollination, but hand pollination can raise the chances of a good yield.

Gently rub the yellow tips of the stamens (anthers) with a cotton swab or paintbrush, then gently rub the pollen laden brush/swab over the tip of the central stalk (stigma). This is it, the plant will see to the rest.

Provide Enough Nutrients

Without enough nutrients, the plant won't have the resources to produce flowers and fruit. You can use a 1-1-1 plant fertilizer, compost teas, or amend the soil with some cured compost/manure. Feed the plant once every 3-4 weeks during summer and half as often during the winter.

Am I Going Crazy or Growing Sane?

What happened to me? I wasn't always like this. I used to be normal - at least relatively normal. I've always been a little odd. As little as a year ago, I gave absolutely no hoots about lawns or whether or not someone frequently took to the hobby of gardening. I used to casually travel along the pale, gray sidewalks of suburbia and not mind a single thing. Now thanks to one additional past time, gardening, I'm disgusted by nearly everyone's yard. Who would've guessed that deciding to plant some vegetables would screw with my perspective so much?

Every lawn, every bare patch of dirt, every little piece of ignored land taunts me with it's wasted potential to produce a sustainable, local food source. House after house after house with tended lawns, every one a symbol of people's ignorance for the systems that support their blissfully unaware lifestyle. Nobody seems to care about how many resources are necessary to grow and move food around countries so that people can keep their precious lawns.

And if that wasn't bad enough, you suggest tearing up someone's lawn to replace it with a garden and often folks seem uncomfortable with the thought, like the suggestion blasphemes their god or something. Am I the one going nuts, or is everyone else just too enamored with the status quo and their blasted lawns?

At this point my opinion of gardening has evolved from a hobby into something of a personal responsibility, a duty if you will. I mean, why should someone else be responsible for growing my food, especially when it's probably some Mexican immigrant working illegally at a Californian farm?

Recently I saw an elderly woman spraying weeds in her yard with pesticide and it made me near furious. Not only was she cool with lawns, she was dousing her yard with synthetic toxins to ensure her lawns continued survival. I almost wanted to walk up to her and shout, "Really?! Do you hate nature and biodiversity that much?". Luckily she was old; she'll be dead soon and won't be pesticiding things for much longer. - I wanted to yell at an old lady. I'm such a nice person.

Pardon the pun, but I'm pretty sure all this lawn hate I'm harboring these days is my brain finally growing sane. Gardens are too wonderful and bring too many benefits to be a symptom of insanity. Eh, whatever. I'm sure folks will catch on soon enough to how great gardens are, if not, maybe I'll secretly plant fruit trees and vegetables in people's yards by night and become some kind of horticultural terrorist/ninja.

Fun Fact: Did you know lawns originated as status symbols? The concept of a lawn is only a couple centuries old, started when most people grew their own food right in their yards. But some wealthy people got the idea to leave their land as trimmed grasses as a statement of how they had so much money they could afford to not grow food on their land. And somehow somewhere along the timeline, lawns become the norm.

3 Plants For Growing The Freshest Air

Perhaps you've thought about growing some of your own vegetables, but have you ever considered growing your own clean air? All it takes is some carefully selected plants.

In 1992, 21 years ago, Kamal Meattle learned that the air in his home of New Delhi, air worse than Beijing, was killing him. He'd become allergic to the heavily polluted air, with his lung capacity reduced by 70%.

With plenty of research, he settled upon 3 plants that would provide for the clean air needs of a healthy human being. These plants are the Areca Palm, the Mother-in-law's Tongue, and the Money Plant. Meattle claims that if you have a sufficient amount of these 3 plants you could live in a completely air tight bubble and have enough fresh air as long as the plants remained alive.

  • The Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) converts CO2 into oxygen during the day. Meattle recommends a number of 4 shoulder high plants per person.
  • The Mother-in-law's Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) converts CO2 into oxygen during the night. Meattle recommends a number of 6-8 waist high plants per person.
  • The Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum) filters volatile organic compounds out of the air. Meattle recommends a number of 2 plants per person.

And this isn't some guess, musing, or theory, Meattle has put these plants to the test for nearly 2 decades. In a 50,000 square foot building on the outskirts of New Delhi, 1,200 plants have been cleaning the air for 300 people, and providing a myriad of benefits. The government has named it the healthiest building in New Delhi.

Studies done by the Indian Government in 2008 found that a person who spends 10 hours in the building will have an increase in blood oxygen by 1% and a 20% increase in productivity. Compared to people in other buildings throughout the city, the occupants of this plant filled building experience 34% less respiratory problems, 24% less headaches, 52% less eye irritations, 12% lung impairment, and 9% less asthma. The building also enjoys a 15% reduction in energy needs as there is no need to filter the air.

Meattle is currently replicating the project in a 1.75 million square foot building utilizing 60,000 plants.

Inspired by Meattle, Julio Radesca has created a cubicle modeled after the same 3 plants. An approach to an office working space that will provide fresh air and leafy privacy.

Why not take some inspiration from Meattle too and put some air cleansing plants in rooms throughout your home? Your lungs will undoubtedly appreciate it.

Oh Dear, It Appears That Stuff Is Dying

Day after day you go out into the garden. Sometimes you need herbs for cooking or a head of lettuce for a nice, big salad. You pull a few weeds that are getting too big. You check your plants out for possible disease or pest problems forming. You know, business as usual sort of stuff.

But how interesting could anything be without the occasional, unexpected development? So one fine day, a particularly hot day, I waltz out into the garden around mid-day to take a look around and I'm greeted by the sight of an unexpected development. Several of my container plants had seemingly dried up into nothingness within 24 hours, and several others looked to be following the trend. And to top it all off, I have no idea why.

Okay. To be fair, this nasturtium had shown the odd sign of something being amiss. The flowers did wilt and fall off rather quickly, but, I swear, it was no more than a day that the plant went from green to deep-fried, crispy. In the bottom, middle of the photo is some mint seedlings that went the same route of near instantaneous death. Maybe the nasturtium and mint were in a cult together and committed group suicide.

Here the container carrots lie. I didn't honestly have much hope for carrots in a container only one foot deep, but I didn't think they would just suddenly give up. In hopes of there being something to get out of these, I pinched a set of carrot leaves and pulled. To my surprise, a carrot root came with it. The root definitely wasn't setting records coming in at a whopping 4 inches, but I'll take a container full of baby carrots over nothing. Did I mention that these are purple carrots planted here?

First purple carrot I ever ate, it was lovely. If I get a bunch of these, I'll be more than happy. The smallness of the carrot and the uncommon colouring almost makes the carrot seem like some kind of gourmet vegetable, a delicacy if you will.

Here is just one pictured, but there are 3 others sunflowers that almost look like they're suffering from clinical depression. The best part is the sunflowers were staying wilty after the sun went down. Oddly enough though, here I sit a few days later, and the sunflowers are doing much better. They haven't completely stopped the wilting thing, but they don't do it so intensely. So it was just a phase? Were the sunflowers trying to make a statement?

Seriously, what's going on here? Just the one set of lettuce has this weird droopy thing going on. I don't even have words for this, other than the droopy romaine reminds me of palm trees.

Here's the other side of things, the shape the sunflowers and nasturtium planted in the garden beds are taking. A juxtaposing garden set of images, no?

I really have no idea why those plants decided to crap out on that particular day. It wasn't even that hot out, no more than 28 celsius - 82 fahrenheit for any americans out there. I don't think it's a nutrient issue; I put plenty of compost into those containers. Ugh, I don't know.

It's a shame I can't figure out what the lesson is I could've learned from this.
 

Home Improvements That Save Energy

If you are tired of settling high utility bills every month, it is high time you carried out some energy-saving home improvements to lessen the burden before things get worse. Here are some of the best home improvement ideas that can help you save energy:

1. Get a Programmable Thermostat
Heating and cooling usually account for the bulk of energy usage in many homes. That's why switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat will help you save a lot of energy and money.
You can always set your thermostat to adjust the temperature of your house according to your schedule. For instance, if you are leaving for work, you can set it to start heating or cooling your house an hour before you get back instead of leaving the AC running the whole day.

2. Install More Insulation
Whenever you get an opportunity to add insulation, simply do so in order to keep your house more comfortable and energy-efficient. If you notice that some areas such as the attics, walls, or hot water pipes are under-insulated, insulate them properly using recommended insulators.
It is very advisable for you to consult with a professional building contractor who can easily identify areas that need urgent attention and help you find the most cost-effective solutions.

3. Upgrade Your Windows
If you have old, obsolete, or worn out windows, it is better for you to replace them with single-glazed or double-glazed models. Glazed windows are designed with advanced technologies such as vacuum-sealed spaces filled with inert gases, strong frames, invisible glass coatings, warm edge spacers, and improved weather stripping, all of which help in reducing undesirable heat gain or loss.
These windows also play a major role in providing insulation against noises and unpleasant smells that might come from outside. In addition, they are tougher to break as compared to ordinary windows, allowing them to provide greater security against break-ins.

4. Use Fluorescent Bulbs
Replace all incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs and tubes. Even though fluorescent bulbs are a bit expensive as compared to the ordinary ones, they save you money in the long run and can serve you for more than 5 years.

5. Install a Water Heater Timer
Just like thermostats, water heaters consume a lot of energy. So, installing a water heater timer and setting it to turn your heater on or off at different times of the night or day can be very beneficial to you. Water heater timers are very affordable and easy to install.
Before you start installing the timer, be sure to turn off electricity. If you have any doubts about your ability to carry out a safe installation, consider contacting your local water heater dealer or a qualified electrician.

6. Install Low-Flow Shower Heads and Taps
Installing low-flow shower heads and taps in your home will reduce the amount of water and energy considerably. Apart from being readily available and inexpensive, they are very easy to install and maintain.

7. Get an Energy Audit
Whenever professional energy auditors visit your house, they take time to asses it for energy efficiency (insulation, cooling, and heating).
After that, they give you vital tips on how to make your home more energy-efficient and reduce your power bill. If you would like to get a power audit, you can ask for assistance from your local power provider.


Author Bio
Writing for Mr Renewables online, Keith Barrett discusses a variety of issues relating to home improvements and renewable energy solutions.
 

7 Steps to Growing Bigger, Healthier Tomatoes

A staple of summer harvests, every gardener wants bigger and healthier tomatoes. Here are 7 steps you can take to maximize your tomato plant's yields.

Step 1 - Give the tomatoes a head start

Start your tomatoes in pots at least 3-4 weeks before the last frost date. When the risk of frost has passed, they should be about 1 foot (12 inches) or a little more when it's time to transplant.

If starting plants indoors, be sure to provide a strong light source with the full UV spectrum to prevent the tomatoes from becoming leggy.

Use an appropriately sized pot so the plants don't become root bound. An optimal pot to start tomatoes in would be around 1 foot deep, but it can be a little shallower than this.

Step 2 - Incorporate fertilizer into the top soil

When the chance of frost is gone, it's time to plant. Start by gently mixing a fertilizer (compost, worm castings, etc.) into the top couple inches of the soil of where you intend to transplant the tomato.

Step 3 - Dig a hole

Dig a hole about 2 feet deep. Place the top couple inches of dirt you mixed fertilizer into as a pile separate from the rest of the dirt. At this time place any items that need to be secured by soil, e.g., stakes or deep watering pipes. If these are placed later they will damage the roots of the tomato.

Space holes out so tomato plants will have 3 feet between each other.

Step 4 - More fertilizer

Fill the hole with a wide variety of organic material. Stuff like fish bones or heads, crushed egg shells, crushed bone, bone meal, compost of varying size and decomposition stages, worm castings, etc. Cover this organic matter with a thin layer of soil.

All this material will provide long lasting nutrition to the tomato plant as it slowly breaks down.

Step 5 - Trim the tomato

Prune the lower leaves from the tomato plant, leaving only the top 5-6 inches of the plant with leaves.

Step 6 - Transplant the tomato

Take the tomato out of its pot and put it in the hole. Make the hole as shallow or deep as it needs to be. Gently fill in soil around the plant keeping the top 6 inches of the plant above the soil. When filling, make sure the soil you mixed fertilizer into finishes on top.

The lower stalk of the plant, previously unburied, will now put out new roots. Tomatoes are part of the same family as potatoes and take well to being buried up to their neck.

Step 7 - Water the tomato

Water the soil thoroughly ensuring everything is properly soaked. As the plant grows, water in a deep and infrequent manner; this will encourage a strong and deep root system.


 

General Tips -

The Cursed Beds - Tour Time 2

Okeedoke, I've covered the main garden, now onto the secondary garden. You know, I may start calling the two gardens by different names, because I think my calling one "the main garden" has lead to me viewing one as more important than the other. I tend to be less involved and caring with the secondary garden for this reason - I think. Maybe I should just plant crops that require less attention in the secondary garden, or change the names?

Anyways... Here's the secondary garden in mid-march. Look at it, such a promising patch ready to tenderly nurture seedlings into a bountiful crop. Along the far right is peas. Along the inside of the beds on the right is radishes and carrots. Along the middle of the beds on the right is broccoli and cauliflower. The front left bed is a mixture of spinach, beets, and chard. The front right bed and the back left bed are meant for lettuce, but in this picture are empty.

Here are the same beds in the first week of July. Please excuse the tree's shadow. I repeatedly asked the tree to stop, but the tree was in a stubborn mood and did not comply. If the tree keeps up these shenanigans, I may threaten to chop the tree down in hopes of coaxing better behavior out of it.

The promising patch did not deliver. Most of the visible green that has appeared in these beds since March is weeds and peas. Perhaps the reason I pay less attention to the secondary garden is because its obvious lack of production angers me greatly. I wanted to use these beds to try my hand at planting winter crops. But as I look at the differences between the photos and notice the unimpressive plant growth, I'm beginning to have doubts about winter crops. Instead, I'm favoring the idea of a nitrogen-fixing cover crop to add some fertility to the beds.

I'm beginning to think the area I built this garden over was once an indian burial ground, because everything I plant in these beds grows at a stupidly slow rate and most of the seeds don't germinate. Some of the plants just sit in limbo, not growing, seeding, or dying. A curse would explain the piss poor, and strange, performance of the crops in this garden - there's no possible way this is a soil issue. Nope. It must be a curse.

The plants in this bed have had the opportunity to grow for over 3 months. At the rate these spinach, chard, and beets are growing, I'll harvest sometime after the next decade.

 

Those little nests formed in the mulch are where the leek seedlings are. These leeks are intended for winter consumption. The leeks are, like everything else, growing really slowly. But according to the information I've seen leeks just take a long time to grow. So carry on, little leeks. You have escaped my ire, for now...

 

I've planted nothing in this bed. I wanted to plant a whole bunch of lettuce here, but after the Lettuce Holocaust I had second thoughts and left the bed empty. Some potatoes have sprouted here from scraps in the compost. Sure, I'll allow it. I'm fine with potatoes instead of nothing.

 

This is the site of the Lettuce Holocaust, easily the most tragic of the beds. Those lettuce seedlings didn't deserve it! Why were they taken so soon?! The only thing in this bed are some peas, many of which didn't germinate, a thyme plant, and a marjoram seedling. Again, like the other beds, everything is growing unbearably slow.

 

Surprise, surprise, it's the same story as the other beds, no growth. There is two particular cauliflower seedlings I transplanted into this bed 2 months ago, and they have not grown nor have they shown signs of dying. Only about half the pea seeds germinated. None of the carrots seeds germinated. None of the radishes formed a large root-bulb-thing, all of them going for giant ass stalks and flowering. Definitely starting to see a possibility in this garden being cursed.

 

The one bed in this garden that offers some redemption for the others and a case against my indian curse theory. Those are broccoli growing strong along the center. The peas are thick and vining like crazy. I've got more peas than I know what to do with simply from this one bed. There were radishes growing here as well, but they've all been eaten. This bed also contains the only carrot seed, of all the others planted in the secondary garden, to sprout. Truly a wonderful bed.

Something should be noted; there was a major difference in preparation between this bed and the others. It wasn't tilled. In all the other beds, I dug them up and dispersed organic major all throughout the soil. I meant to dig this bed up too, but after digging up every other bed I was in a very "fuck it" mood. So I threw a thick layer of compost directly on top of the soil and left the bed otherwise undisturbed. Figures it would produce the best of all the other beds in the secondary garden. Thanks to this bed's inspiring display, I probably won't be digging up anything next season.

 

And last but not even close to least, here's me wee blueberry bush. A young little bush that has about 15 little blueberries forming as I post this. I look forward to eating a dozen, backyard grown blueberries.


And that concludes the tour! Huzzah!

Bhutan Pledges To Be The First 100% Organic Country

Famed for stating that gross domestic happiness should be the measure for a country's success instead of gross domestic product, Bhutan is a country known for doing things a little differently. Now they're catching international attention again by pledging to be the first country to turn its agriculture industry 100% organic.

Bhutan is a small, Buddhist country nestled in the Himalayan mountains between the international, heavyweights of China and India. They believe the environment and the self are one, apart of the same inseparable entity. The country is heavily forested, only 3% of its land is used for crop production. Wanting to protect biodiversity, 60% of Bhutan's forested areas have been preserved.

The population of Bhutan is approximately 700,000, about two-thirds of which are farmers. Many of the farmers have been growing organically for centuries, using rotting organic matter to keep their plots fertile. By international standards, synthetic chemical use within the country was already very low when the government started plans in 2007 to make the country 100% organic.

Their hope to become the first fully, organic country of the modern world isn't actually a huge leap. Most of the farms are organic by default, synthetic chemicals never having been very available to Bhutanese farmers.

There are those who protest. Facing a booming population, young people leaving farms, and increasingly unpredictable weather conditions, some farmers argue the country must give in to the international standard of chemically supported agriculture. There is even some resistance from government agriculture officials who have trained abroad in conventional agricultural methods.

The Bhutanese Ministry of Agriculture says the program isn't about the environment alone, "its about helping the country grow more food and moving it towards self-sufficiency." At the moment, Bhutan is a net importer, importing rice from India. Though not actually certified organic, Bhutan could create a reputation of producing high-quality organic produce and meet the rising demands for organic produce in India and China.

Though there is no set time to complete their goal, The Ministry is aiming for 2015 for Bhutan to become 100% organic. They'll have remain consistent though, as the small, southern pacific, self governing, island nation of Niue is looking to claim the prize of the worlds first 100% organic country by 2020.

Not Bad For An Amateur - Tour Time!

I just realized I've been doing all this posting and I have yet to take the time to show everybody my garden. How callous of me. Well, let's get to it then.

C'MON!!

This is an overall shot of my main garden at the end of June, 2013. I'm ridiculously proud of it, especially when compared to my abysmal, embarrassing, 2 previous garden seasons. This really is the first season where my garden looks like it might actually produce a respectable amount of food. I'm so excited! Yes, yes, I know. It doesn't look very overly organized and I actually planned it that way. I didn't want to all the same plants in the same area, because it seems like that's a good thing for confusing pests; I don't know if it actually makes a difference pest wise, it simply makes sense to me. There's lots of, probably too much, square gardening spacing and companion planting going on.

Here we have half of my container area. The far one is leeks for the winter, then strawberries, then romaine lettuce, romaine lettuce, and romaine lettuce - yay romaine lettuce! It really is the best lettuce.

And here is my main container area. On the left is 4 sunflowers. 2 of the sunflowers have cucumbers growing in container with them. Why? Because that's how you find out whether or not something works. It's called an experiment. I read sunflowers and cucumbers work well together. I'm a little skeptical that they'll have enough room, but I'll definitely find out when one of the two plants strangles the other. Those 3 along the back right are tomatoes. The bigger tomato bins also have carrots and some garlic. Along the front from left to right I've got mint, lemon balm, carrots, lavender, amaranth, some flower seedlings I've forgotten the name of, another type of mint, and a nasturtium.

Nothing particularly special about this area, just a cabbage, a kale, some cucumbers, a sunflower, nasturtium, corn, beans, and some wild flowers. I rather the variety in the photo though.

So much lettuce! There were a lot of radishes growing inbetween the lettuce, but they've all been picked. Depressing peppers in the back. Also some basil which you can't really see at this angle. The basil is there though, I promise!

I like to call this one the Brassica Bed because it's mostly cabbage and kale. In the front there's dill, garlic, nasturtium, marjoram, thyme, random wildflowers, cilantro, and sunflowers. In the back part is a row of lettuce, spinach, chard, parsley, and a 4 foot long mound that was intended for several melons. The melons planted in the mound have been doing horribly, so there's that, which is soul-crushingly disappointing... Looks like my melon mound is just going to grow some carrots and radishes... fine... I guess.

Corn and green beans! YEAH! I like corn and I like green beans. I planted lots of corn and green beans because I like corn and green beans. Oh and there's some kale, cabbage, and spinach in the back.

That tomato on the left is growing like a weed. I swear, every time I come out to the garden it's doubled in size - true story. There's a little direct seeded tomato plant on the right; I wonder if it will even produce fruit. There's some chives tucked into the left corner and carrots fill up the rest of the bed.

This is the most perplexing and, probably, my favorite bed in the garden. I didn't plant a single thing in this bed. Everything you see sprouted from seeds and trimmings in the compost. I used partially decomposed compost, because all the finished stuff had already been applied to the other beds. My plan for the bed when I was designing the garden this year was to fill it to the brim with potatoes. But a week or 2 before I meant to plant my seed potatoes, I came across potato seedlings poking their way through the straw. That saved me a lot of trouble. Thanks, not fully decomposed, chunky compost. And as if this bed wasn't awesome enough, 2 really healthy melons have sprouted out of the compost, reigniting my hopes of growing some melons this year after that mound so heartlessly crushed my melon-hopes.

Options for Generating Your Own Renewable Energy for the Home

With energy bills rising and competition between providers still fierce, it doesn’t seem like homeowners will get a break anytime soon. But if you’re struggling to cope with extortionate energy bills, there might be a way you can get off the grid and save yourself a fortune.

We’ve all heard of renewable energy, and those lucky folk that live near a wind farm being able to get off the grid. But everyone from inner city folk to country bumpkins can harvest their own energy, easily and effectively.

Here, we’re going to look at a number of options for generating your own renewable energy. Each will help you get your home off the grid, and can slash your electricity and energy bills; you’ll wonder why you never thought about generating your own energy before:

1. Solar energy
One of the biggest misconceptions about green energy is that the sun has to be shining for you to benefit from solar energy. Of course, this is a huge myth; if you’re looking to generate your own energy or electricity, solar power is a great option.
There are two kinds of roof panel: solar thermal (heating) or solar photovoltaic (electricity). Whichever you choose, you’re able to harness the sun’s rays in a productive way and utilise the panels as an additional layer of roof insulation.

2. Hydroelectric power
If you have rivers or streams on your property, you should consider harnessing hydroelectric power. You can install hydroelectric turbines to convert water power into energy; a great and often under used renewable source.
Make sure to install the turbines at the point on the river that experiences the fastest water flow, such as bends. This will give you maximum power, and energy usage. Speak to your local council first though, to ensure you have planning permission.

3. Wind power
Depending on the size and location of your property, you could consider generating your own renewable energy with wind turbines. While you can’t always power your whole home with a single, roof-mounted wind turbine, you should be able to notice considerable benefits over time.
Before you being installing your own wind farm, do your research. There might be one nearby that you can harness the power of. In the long run, this will be much more beneficial for your bank balance and energy bills.

4. Biomass boilers
Biomass boilers are a great way to generate renewable heat for your home, whilst driving down the cost of your bills. Rather than boiling water to heat your home, biomass boilers burn wood pellets. You can purchase stand-alone systems that heat one room, or a boiler to heat the whole property.
This example of renewable energy is growing in popularity, becoming one of the best ways to generate your own heat energy. You can find out more about biomass boilers and how they work over on the Eco Friendly Energy blog.

5. Get together with neighbours
While these options can be great for generating renewable energy for your home, they don’t always come cheap. In fact, they can cost thousands. But by working as a neighbourhood, you can split the costs of some options over a number of houses.

For example, you could club together to install a mini wind farm on your estate or link all of your homes to a hydroelectric turbine. Becoming energy independent is a communal idea, and working together in this way can help you generate your own energy for years to come
Generating your own renewable energy isn’t easy, and won’t come cheap in the beginning. But it is certainly worth the effort and is a great way to save money in the long run. Research your options, find out what is available to you, and get generating today.

Written by Emily Bradbury

Powertricity is a leading commercial electricians in Redditch, UK, committed to ensuring all homes and businesses are adhering to legal, electrical safety guidelines. To find out more about their services, visit the website today.