Monday, 5 September 2011

September already, how did that happen? I’m not desperately keen on sunshine and heat but it doesn’t feel like summer has happened yet. An unsettled and windy (hurrah) week to come is going to feel autumnal but we could still have a couple of summery weeks yet with a bit of luck. Anyway I’m not too worried now as we had our summer break last Sunday with a lovely day trip to the sunny Isle of Wight. Beer and sandwiches on the beach and slight sun scorch after rashly removing my socks from under my sandals. The beach cleared after a short shower just in time for a quick game of beach cricket where I took the ‘catch of the day’ before retiring hurt with a groin strain after doing the splits trying a bit too hard stretching for a wide ball. I missed our first hockey game yesterday because of that, claiming to have picked up the injury training in preparation for the new season. It’s a good job I only went for the day or I would be in a wheel chair by now.

We are just coming towards to the end of the potting for next spring’s crops, the last compost load comes in on Monday and we just have a few more tunnels to clear to make room for it all. We can then get stuck in to some nursery maintenance to get prepared for the winter. With a bit of luck it won’t be as dramatic as the last two, we are not very good with snow down here and we did loose quite a lot of the less hardy stock in the very cold snaps. With a bit more preparation we will hopefully avoid that level of loss and come into a nice sunny spring with even better stock than ever before. We have got to recover the despatch area, the mess room and the lab very soon as all are leaking badly and internal running water in the winter is no fun when it’s not in the pipes.

One thing that will be interesting to see is the performance of the house heating over an entire autumn and winter. Last year’s insulation efforts (roof, cavity walls and under-floor) and wood burner fitting were only completed in mid December and the reduction in oil consumption was dramatic even for part of the cold season. The oil savings made have already paid back the insulation costs and part of the burner fitting so a whole season’s savings should go even further. If you have not looked at insulating recently, take a look, the benefits to the environment and the annual financial rewards are impressive and in our case the comfort improvement on cold nights is luxurious.

Although we didn’t have a particularly breezy August the figures for the first month of turbine generating look ok. Not earth shattering but a reasonable start. We won’t really know how things look on the production front until we have been going a couple of years as the wind does vary so much. Overall we generated about 2/3rds of the average monthly output needed to reach our estimated annual generation, but our consumption reduced a bit too with a replacement air source heat pump with a more efficient model. If we not had the set up problem with the one turbine which put it out of action for several of the windiest days we would have come very close to a carbon neutral electric supply which had been one of our main targets for the project. The month ended on a whimper with our first nil generation day, but hopefully this week we might see what could be done in a breezier spell.

Nature notes

Swallows have all gone and a lot of the house martins too although there are at least three if not four nests of house martins still with a late second batch of youngsters in residence. Hopefully they haven’t left it too late and they get airborne soon before the cool and wet gets a grip.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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