Saturday, 14 April 2012

Harvesting rain

We've done quite a bit of rain harvesting at the Tatnam organic patch, and I it try at home too. I have 5 water butts, connected to different roofs, and when a kind donor offered an IBC (1000 litres), I jumped at the chance.

And then it was delivered to a friend's and quietly forgotten until last weekend, when he was under orders to clear up the garden. My planned location involves moving 3 compost bins, a significant haircut for several bushes, and moving stone and existing waterbutts around, so instead I plonked it on the drive, next to one of the two linked water butts that seem to instantly fill whenever it rains, as the whole downpipe from a significant part of the roof empties into one of them, whilst a rainsaver tops up into the other.

It took a while and several attempts to get the syphon sorted (for this temporary location), but that done, the result was that two linked waterbutts were much depleted, with rain forecast.

And only today, when I happened to be home having dodged a shower, did I notice that much of the rain was pouring down the outside of the pipe due to a docking failure way up high, and also that the watersaver from the other roof was not doing its business.

One of the joys/hazards of collecting rainwater is that it is best tweaked when it is, er, raining, and so you get wet. The rainsaver was full of leaves, now why didn't I sort that on a dry sunny day ? And finding a short section of guttering (lying within reach of the problem) I soon sorted (or should I say bodged) the downpipe escape. All fixed, so inevitably it has now stopped raining. Ah well, the next shower I will catch. And a cautionary tale to clean it out if you haven't checked your rainsaver recently. They do tend to catch detritus perhaps more efficiently than rain !

As a sailor, I do find the website great, but it is also good for the garden, as it predicts the rain quite well. Plenty more rain is forecast for later in the week, before I know it, everything will be filled, and (I think) it will be touch and go on whether the IBC overflows before my downpipe.

The other job I got around to was to provide some shade for the IBC. This is to try and reduce green algae growth in the tank. Had I purchased, I'd have gone for a black tank to avoid this problem. I have some thin tongue and groove, secondhand, and varnished on one side. Since it was cluttering up the garden, a bit of sawing, and the top is roughly covered. Which reminds me, I left the saw outside. Better go and retrieve it.

Postscript: Gone back out tonight to take a picture, it is a bit messy, and it blocks my woodstore, but there's a great permaculture principle that Gary often quotes - get a harvest. And if there's a dry summer ahead, I have over 1000 litres already in store.

Transport blues

Every time I need to take a journey I do try and look at the alternatives, and one has to conclude that despite the rhetoric, the UK government are either impotent, complacent or complicit in making it very hard to be green, and making public transport options far too expensive.

Of course the green sages would say don't travel. Well maybe the world comes to them, but for work, I need to go and see how the hospital at St Helens and Knowsley are managing the transition from paper records to electronic practice. In their case, Electronic document management, ie scanning the paper and showing the result on screens as much as possible.

It's a trip organised by our local acute hospital, so we started with 'the project manager will be flying on this particular flight from Southampton to Manchester, who wants to share a taxi'. Well, for team building and being in the meeting at the right time, we all would. But for sustainability, internal UK flights really shouldn't feature.

So I looked at the train. From Poole, there used to be several direct services a day to Manchester, Edinburgh and other points north. To convenience the train operators, they were allowed to truncate services some years ago at Bournemouth, saving 5 minutes off the journey, (or even Southampton for some services) but meaning changing trains and wasting between 1/2 and an hour waiting. Targets and stupid privatisation of the railways.

The 05:00am train (crikey, I'm used to getting up early if I have to, but not that early) would, via London, get me to St Helens around 10:30am. No wait, that is £100 more expensive than the plane. Avoiding London is £2 cheaper than the plane, but gets me there at 11:30am.

So despite wishing to do the right thing, I am booked onto the flight. I'll take that same train from Poole to Eastleigh Airport at stupid o' clock, but should be at Manchester about 8am, and then a taxi.

And then I found that the meeting is due to be 09:30-2pm, so my train options would have made me very late. Or to get there on time, spend the overnight 5 hours on Birmingham New Street station (which I did after a Genesis concert years ago).

When you look at the options that are available, they are all rubbish. And our government seem set to make them less attractive. I am not a great fan of the idea of High Speed Train, (I prefer more frequent trains across the network) but time is an issue when working, and the logic is not green at all. :(