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Alternative Technology and Renewable Energy can be great fun and very rewarding, especially if done at home. On this blog I share my ideas and tips for mainly simple and inexpensive alternative technology projects.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pollarding My Hybrid Willow Trees

I trimmed back my Dasyclados hybrid willows in January after a year of fast growth. My garden is very wet and suits the willows well. They put on 2 metres of growth since I planted them a year ago.

I read that in order to stimulate further strong growth it was necessary to cut them right back to the original stem, so that new growth would form at that point. Sure enough, after a month or so there are signs of new buds forming and opening. I am very relieved because it broke my heart to cut away all the new growth. I did use the shoots that I removed for planting, in the hope that I can get more trees for my money!

I planted the off-cuts quite deep in the ground and sure enough there are buds forming on most of them. I'm not sure if they will replicate the same Dasyclados fast growing hybrid, but it seems worth a try, as they are free and would otherwise be bonfire fodder.

The whole point of planting the willows was to see if I could grow my own fuel for the woodstove. I will have to wait 3-4 years now for the stronger growth before I can harvest it for fuel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Soladin 600 Grid Tie Inverter

Last year I bought a Mastervolt Soladin 600 Grid Tie Inverter to feed the power that my four solar panels collect, into the mains supply of the house. The Soladin is a very well made and reliable unit and I have been very impressed with its operation.

I have four Unisolar 64 watt panels which together produce about 250 watts of power. On most days, we easily use this power in the house, but if we don't it gets exported into the National Grid for others to use. At some stage I will arrange an export agreement with my electricity supplier, so that I can be paid for the surplus power I produce. We won't get rich, of course, but it helps in a very tiny way to offset all that polluting power.

Since I put the details of the inverter on my main website, I have had many enquiries from people who wish to install similar systems to me. I am pleased to say that I have got agreement with Mastervolt to sell these UK certified units from my website at an incredibly attractive price.

Naughty Blogger!

I have been very remiss updating this blog lately and apologise profusely to all. Family matters had to take precedence with my daughter and son both buying new houses and lots of work required.

I am lucky that they have both chosen to be within 3 miles of our home in Suffolk........maybe we did something right! My daughter's house is reasonably modern and apart from some decorating and updating there wasn't too much for me to do. We did have a pretty overgrown garden to cope with though. The house had been owned by an elderly couple who were keen gardeners, but after a year or so of neglect a lot of clearing was required. The chainsaw came in handy and provided some more fuel for our woodstove.

My son's house is rather older and the decorations hadn't been touched in about 40 years. There were no difficult decisions to make........everything had to go! It had oil central heating which was well past the sell by date, but luckily we discovered that the mains gas supply was just down the road. It was a no-brainer to have it connected for £550. Cheaper than a new oil tank. British Gas quoted over £4,000 to install a new boiler, bless them. We got a local plumber in the village to do it for almost half that, with a two year warranty too.

I have lots of Alternative Technology news to pass on in future blog entries. Thanks for visiting.