Life on a Canal Boat: what’s working and what’s coming up next…

Life on a Canal Boat: what’s working and what’s coming up next…

On Friday, I had a lovely package in the post: the new shiny edition of the Summer 2013 Permaculture Magazine. And why? Because there, on page 23, is my ‘Diary of a Solar Panel Builder’. I’m really pleased with how it has come out, and the photos look great. You can find out more about Permaculture here. And here’s a photo of the magazine:

permaculture

The solar panel that I made for the article is doing well, topping up my batteries whilst I’m away and making a start towards saving on my diesel bill. Yesterday, I made a second one, which is sitting on the bedroom floor waiting for the silicone to set so that I can wire it in with the other one up on the roof and get more sun-power into the battery bank. The solar process is detailed in the ‘Living on Antioch’ section of the site: go and have a look. Have a go!

I’ve also been featured as a case study on the excellent canal living website Living on a Narrowboat. The site is full of information about living on a boat: highly recommended if this is something that you’re thinking about, or if you’ve already started planning but have important decisions still to make.

Talking of important decisions, I should mention how the compost toilet is going. And the answer is, extremely well. I was holding my breath (no, not literally!) as the warmer weather arrived, to see if we were going to have any smell issues as a result, but it’s all ok so far. Visitors have coped very well with the challenge, including 3 year old Grace, who was absolutely fascinated, and kept going back for another go 🙂 And here is a photo of my newly created floor covering in the bathroom:

It’s made from old carpet tiles, sourced from my local scrapstore. The individual pieces aren’t all stuck down yet, but they’re staying in place and are lovely and warm underfoot, something to appreciate first thing in the morning even now that summer is here.

The compost bin is now (after more than six months) about half full. I had a little dig around in it for aerating purposes and was unfeasibly excited to see that the very bottom layer has started to turn into proper compost, all black and crumbly.

And whilst we’re talking about compost, here is a picture of my garden-on-the-roof:

The blueberry bush is in its fourth year now, and doing very well, although I think it might need a bigger pot next year. Also there are Soil Association flower seeds growing (for the bees), sweet peas (because I love them), regular peas, spinach, rocket, Brussels sprouts and broad beans. Under the back deck cover, the chili, pea and tomato plant seedlings (from a free Heinz offer) are putting in an appearance, and I also have a couple of bigger plants in a mini greenhouse on the front deck.

On the canal bank, we also have raspberry canes and potatoes growing in a bag. These last were from the Potato Council: when the time came to plant them out (they’d been ‘chitting’ on the windowsill before) Gabe was reluctant to join in. This was odd, because he’d been enthusiastic in previous years. Turned out when I said ‘compost’ he thought we were planting the potatoes in the compost BIN…

And what’s next? In the Permaculture magazine, there’s an interesting feature about making self-watering plant tubs, which could be a good project. And I’m very keen to explore solar water heating. So far, I’ve worked out that it will need a pump, and I’m thinking about a double system: one for water and one for the radiators. I’ll keep you in touch with how I’m getting on. And if anyone has any good thoughts or experiences to share about this, please drop me an email.

SPECIAL BANK HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY!! I’ve been sent a couple of copies of Permaculture magazine by the lovely editorial team, so I thought I’d give one of them away. Leave a comment saying why I should give it to you 🙂 I’m posting this across Facebook and Twitter as well, so make your reason a good one! Look forward to hearing from you.

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