Revival of ancient barley variety thrills fans of old beer styles

Excellentr summary

Zythophile

Chevallier b arley Chevallier barley, revived after seven decades

In a move that has thrilled beer style revivalists, a beer has been brewed from what was Victorian Britain’s most popular barley variety for the first time in at least 70 years.

What is most interesting for historians of brewing is the way the revived malt acts when used to make beer, putting a new slant on the interpretation of old beer recipes, suggesting they produced beers using the ingredients available at the time that were both fuller in the mouth and less bitter than the same recipes using modern malts, and also beers that needed longer to mature than those made using modern malts do.

The new-old beer, a nut-brown bitter ale made using Chevallier barley, which once went into the vast majority of pints sold in Britain, will be on sale at the Duke of Wellington pub on Waterloo Road, Norwich this…

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Algae to Diesel

…Algae growing in large tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs have been trying for years to get something valuable out of algae.

It has not been easy, and not just because algae are an unsightly nuisance (and sometimes dangerous, as is the Lake Erie bloom that has endangered drinking water this month).

Although algae grow prodigiously and contain potentially useful molecules — especially lipids, which can be turned into high-energy fuel and other products — extracting those molecules has proved complicated and expensive. So far, virtually the only marketable products based on algae have been high-end skin creams.

But a Nevada company, Algae Systems, has a pilot plant in Alabama that, it says, can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously performing three other tasks: making clean water from municipal sewage (which it uses to fertilize the algae), using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels.

If it works, the company says, the process will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is added when the fuel is burned.

Photo

At the pilot plant, Algae Systems converts the waste and algae into clean water and biocrude oil.CreditTad Denson

“We think it is a really elegant solution,” said Matt Atwood, the chief executive. At its heart is a “hydrothermal liquefaction” system that heats the algae and other solids in the sewage to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, turning out a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well.

The company sent the liquid to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen (a common step in oil refining) to produce diesel fuel. An independent laboratory, Intertek, confirmed that the diesel fuel met industry specifications. The thermal processing has caught the attention of independent scientists. The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems’ hydrothermal processing system.

Engineers hope the system could dispose of a variety of unwanted or hazardous materials. It also destroys pathogens in sewage.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Halil Berberoglu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who is conducting research in the area and is not affiliated with Algae Systems, said the process had the potential to eliminate a key bottleneck in working with algae.

Earlier processes for extracting lipids have been “very energy-intensive,” he said, adding, “You have to dewater the algae, poke holes in cell walls and do all kinds of separation technologies.”

But with high-temperature processing, he said, a factory could get useful products out of not only the lipids but also the proteins and the carbohydrates.

“It is a great way to break those molecules up,” he said, and the presence of extra water in the reactor helps reassemble the elements into long-chain hydrocarbons, which are basically crude oil.

Challenges remain, because such crude oil sometimes incorporates heavy metals, nitrogen and sulfur. But “it is by far the most promising approach,” Dr. Berberoglu said.

And it has attracted a wide variety of employees. John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group, is a vice president; he was in charge of finding a site for the pilot plant — in Daphne, Ala., on Mobile Bay — and is looking for a spot for the commercial plant that the company hopes will follow.

The general manager of the Daphne municipal water and sewage utility, Rob McElroy, announced this month that he had been so impressed with the pilot plant that he was quitting his job to work for Algae Systems.

Company executives say their pilot plant consumes pollutants like phosphorus and nitrogen, which are blamed for the algae bloom in Lake Erie and the “dead zone” near the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico.

The installation in Mobile Bay takes clever advantage of natural characteristics. It uses giant plastic bags made by Nike that are filled with sewage and algae. The bags float on the water, moored at each end like a sailboat. The bay water keeps the algae at the right temperature, and the waves stir the mix.

Some companies have tried gene-altered algae, but Algae Systems uses naturally occurring forms drawn from the bay. Whichever strain flourishes in the bags is what the company uses. “We call it the Hunger Games,” Mr. Atwood said.

The early results were promising enough for IHI, a Japanese conglomerate, to invest $15 million.

Biofuel plants, like hope, spring eternal but have mostly ended in grief. KiOR, which spent more than $200 million to produce a synthetic fuel from wood, recently shut down; Ineos Bio, the offspring of a major Swiss chemical company, produced commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste a year ago, but now says it has “unexpected start-up problems.” In many high-tech start-ups, the problem is to get from the pilot stage to the commercial stage, but even some biofuel companies that have lined up the financing to build a commercial-scale factory have been unable to make the process work.

Algae Systems says it hopes it can make a profit by producing potable water as well as fuel, and by charging fees to municipalities for treating their wastewater.

Another potential source of income is the generous renewable fuel credits that the Environmental Protection Agency offers for companies producing “advanced” biofuel, those with small carbon footprints. The credits are purchased by oil companies that are obligated by law to blend in renewable fuels — or, more practically, to complete a paper transaction showing that they have supported such fuels.

Still, Algae Systems estimates that it will cost $80 million to $100 million to move from the pilot plant to commercial-scale production. So far it has not made that leap.

Living Willow Fences

Takes a lot of energy to make a roll of fence wire.Living Willow Hedges

Here’s a better way. Posts do not have to be too skookum.  Basically, you are planting a lot of trees.

Or ‘fedges’ = fence + hedge. Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix (Latin for willow), which consist of around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Willow are native to moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings. Young, thin willow cuttings are known as withies, longer willow rods are known as whips.

willow hedge

Living willow fence at Vevey Garden, Switzerland. Willow rods are pushed into the ground at an angle. The tops are tied to a horizontal, weaved in withy to give stability along the top. Willows have high levels of auxins, hormones that promote rooting success. The hormone is so prevalent that “willow water” brewed from willow stems, will encourage the rooting of many other plant cuttings as well. Image by Barbara, OvertheMoon www.flickr.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
The angled rods tend to sprout along their entire length, while the uprights oft times sprout from the top only. Botanical Gardens of Wales. Photo by Libby, www.flickr.com

fedge
living willow hedge
Simply make a hole in the ground with a metal bar, then insert the willow cutting. Weed control is important when starting a willow fedge and the cuttings should be planted into a weed barrier that allows water penetration, otherwise the weeds might suck away a bit of vitality from the young willows. As a general rule, shorter cuttings establish and grow best without competition from weeds, whereas longer cuttings have more stored energy and can handle a bit of competition. Willows prefer full sun, but will accept part shade. Willows are also very adaptable as per water conditions once they are established and will also survive in poor quality soils. Image: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Use Salix Viminalis and rub off the new shoots on the lower portions of the rods to achieve this open look. Image: livingwithtwistedwillow.blogspot.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
‘During the summer any side-shoots are rubbed off to keep the lattice work of the fence clear of growth, but the top three or four buds are allowed to grow out. These shoots are trimmed back to the top of the fence in the winter.’ From Living with Twisted Willow. livingwithtwistedwillow.blogspot.com

willow fence

Living willow fence at
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Yorkshire.
rchsblog.wordpress.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Three willow stems woven into a diamond pattern. The tops are tied to a horizontal withy to give some stability to the top. Photo: Peter D’Aprix:www.vegetablegardener.com.

living willow hedge

Salix ‘Americana’ planted in Canada. Ties are used to secure the structure while it becomes established. salix-willows.blogspot.com

willow fedge
living willow hedge
Same hedge as photo above, yet one year later. The fence was trimmed back once in the early fall. Fence and photo by Lene Rasmussen. salix-willows.blogspot.com

living willow hedge

Living willow fence. Photo by Barbara, OvertheMoon, www.flickr.com

living willow hedge

The living fedge structure will require periodic pruning and weaving of new growth. By Green Barrier Fence, Europe and Canada. www.lesecransverts.ca

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge surrounding a vegetable garden in France. Design: Judy and David Drew. Photo by Nicola Browne. www.gapphotos.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Lush new growth on the willow arbour at Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire.www.whichfordpottery.com

living willow hedge

Willow arch at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. permaculturecottage.wordpress.com

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. See resources below for willow arch kits. Photo by Daniel via: www.flickr.com

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. A 4′ x 7’6″ x 2′ arch installed for 130 pounds in Suffolk, England. www.naturalfencing.com

living willow hedge

A living willow arch. As photo above, but in winter. www.naturalfencing.com



living willow hedge

Fedge in the winter at Ryton Organic Gardens. www.thewillowbank.com

willow hedge

Living willow privacy screen in urban settings. englishbasketrywillows.com

living willow hedge

In 1998, natural artist and architect Marcel Kalberer created the Auerworld Palace, a pavilion made of living willow trees. It is also known as the “mother of all willowpalaces”. It has become a tourist attraction for the region between Weimar and Naumburg, Germany. www.arcprospect.org

living willow hedge

Willow is often used for streambank stabilisation (bioengineering), slope stabilisation and soil erosion control. Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots protect the bank against the action of the water. Their roots are often much larger than the stem that grows from them.  See how to plant willow cuttings to prevent erosion at a streambank: www.ksre.ksu.edu

living willow hedge

Living willow fence by Wassledine, Bedfordshire, UK. Additional cuttings can be added to secure the base. As they grow the lower shoots can also be woven in to thicken the fence. www.wassledine.co.uk

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge panels by Green Barrier of Scotland. Living hedge sections come in pre-constructed 1m widths and in heights from 1.2 to 2.5m. They are planted directly into topsoil to a depth of 60cm (2 feet), to provide support while the roots grow. www.esi.info

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
A wood frame with tall, straight willow branches stuck vertically into the soil and intertwined into the frame. Caution, willow roots are aggressive in seeking out moisture; for this reason, they can become problematic when planted near cesspools or drainage areas. They should also not be planted close to a building due to their roots aggressive and large size. modmissy.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Heavy pruning at the top encourages growth at the bottom.

willow hedge

A rose in front of Hakuro Nishiki or Dappled willow. This is just a shrub not a fedge, added here because this willow variety is striking. The slender leaves emerge as glossy bright pink, then mature into a white, green and pink variegation.  Regular pruning encourages the best color. Stems are red in the winter. Prefers moist soils. Image via:davesgarden.com

living willow arbor

Living willow dining arbor to protect you from the sun. Kit for sale here:www.thewillowbank.com

Resources:

Seventeen willow varieties for fencing: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk
Willow for living structures:  www.bluestem.ca
Which willow where:  www.bluestem.ca
Varieties: www.willowsvermont.com
Read about the different Willow Species for Hedging: www.hedging.co.uk

Popular willow species for living fences:

Rods available in 1.5, 2.0m, 2.5m, 3.0m and 3.5m lengths.

Salix Viminalis (produces long, straight rods without many side shoots),
Salix Tortuous (Corkscrew or Curly Willow),
Salix Alba Vitellina (Golden Willow),
Salix Alba Chermesina (Scarlet Willow),
Salix Purpurea (Chou Blue),
Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka)
Salix Triandra (Black Maul) grows fast.

Willow cuttings for sale:

Washington State: www.dunbargardens.com
New York – kits: www.englishbasketrywillows.com
Vermont: www.willowsvermont.com
Oregon: www.forestfarm.com enter willow in search.
Iowa: www.willowglennursery.com
BC, Canada:  www.bluestem.ca
Fedge Kits and more, England: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk
Kits and cuttings: Gloucestershire, UK. www.thewillowbank.com
Kits:: Suffolk, UK: www.naturalfencing.com
Kits, Northampton, UK: www.willowworks.co.uk
Check on ebay.

Willow Water:
Root azaleas, lilacs and roses by soaking two large handfulls of pencil-thin willow branches cut into 3 inch lengths in two quarts of boiling water and steep overnight. Refrigerate unused water.

Willow and Deer:
Young cuttings should be protected from deer and rabbits. Deer will eat willow when there is nothing else to eat. But if you desire your fedge trimmed periodically this might not be a bad thing. Willow rebounds quickly. Salix purpureas is the most bitter and therefore least eaten willow. 

Here’s a better way,

Farewell Concrete

Here are some great ideas for getting free of our reliance on concrete-an industrial process which creates a great deal of CO2 pollution. Fly ash from gassification is one of these ideas.

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It’s a surprisingly good idea

<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Had enough of concrete blocks? The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. <strong><a href='http://petertrimble.co.uk/microbial-manufacture' target='_blank'>Dupe</a></strong> is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble's system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders...

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. Dupe is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble’s system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders…

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower -- the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles' tallest building -- <a href='http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140217005645/en/Headwaters-Fly-Ash-Record-Setting-Los-Angeles#.UyhZevl_uDl' target='_blank'>substituted a quarter of the cement </a>with
Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower — the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles’ tallest building — substituted a quarter of the cement with “Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Japanese firm TIS & Partners have created a new building material called “CO2 Structure,” dreamed-up in the aftermath of the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami as an emergency rebuilding material than can be put in place quicker than slow-drying concrete. By injecting carbon dioxide into a silica (sand and quartz), they managed to developed a carbon-negative building material with twice the tensile strength of brick.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while <strong><a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html' target='_blank'>Hempcrete</a></strong> (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

<strong><a href='http://www.ecovativedesign.com/' target='_blank'>Ecovative</a></strong><strong> </strong>already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom

Ecovative is already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom “mycelium” — and their next project is building materials. Founder Eben Bayer describes mycelium as “essentially the ‘roots’ of mushrooms” and says it is very good at binding together organic materials, which could one day make building blocks.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America's
Straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America’s “Nebraska Method” homes, straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Traditional building materials such as mud and <strong><a href='http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513154/Farmer-builds-house-just-150-using-materials-skips--current-tenant-pays-rent-MILK.html' target='_blank'>cob</a></strong> -- a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth -- have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One <a href='http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenerliving/10478442/Michael-Bucks-cob-house-Does-the-answer-to-the-housing-crisis-lie-within-a-150-cottage.html' target='_blank'>man from Oxford</a>, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Traditional building materials such as mud and cob — a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth — have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One man from Oxford, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks. <strong><a href='http://www.aggregate.com/products-and-services/blocks/enviroblock/' target='_blank'>Enviroblocks</a></strong> are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while <strong><a href='http://www.durisol.net/pdfs/Durisol%20Flyer.pdf' target='_blank'>Durisol</a></strong> units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks.Enviroblocks are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while Durisol units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Clay blocks with

Clay blocks with “honeycomb” structured cross-sections — often known asZiegel Blocks — have been common in some parts of Europe for decades, but are now spreading far beyond. Manufacturing blocks from clay rather than concrete means less CO2 emissions from production, while the blocks insulating characteristics can cut a building’s energy costs.

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled <strong><a href='http://www.gizmag.com/infiniski-shipping-container-architecture/22365/' target='_blank'>shipping containers</a></strong> has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled shipping containers has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

— Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on “Dupe,” a living alternative to concrete.

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world’s most abundant resources – sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete.

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.

“Once you have the basic framework it should be transferable. Imagine a Tsunami-hit farm in Indonesia that is not getting supplies. You could use sand and bacteria on site, practically free, and have shelter housing that is far more permanent.”

Trimble is working with NGOs to apply Dupe to Aboriginal settlements and insecure regions of Morocco. But while the applications are new and experimental, the concept of growing the material for our built environment is increasingly regarded as not merely interesting, but essential.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the construction industry accounts for 40% of the world’s C02 emissions, 40% of U.S. landfill and has been uniquely resistant to change. Concrete, bricks and cement have remained the dominant materials since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, and as pressure mounts on resources and climate, scientists and architects are looking to the natural world for solutions.

Buildingbacteria

Bacteria have been at the center of alternative methods. North Carolina start-upBiomason is growing bricks on an industrial scale, cultivated from sand by microorganisms. The company has won major prizes and funding for the bricks, which will be used in a structure for the first time this year in a pedestrian walkway, ahead of building projects across the world.

Similar processes are being developed to build in the most challenging environments. British architects see an opportunity to cultivate new life in deserts, while NASA believe bacteria could allow the construction of bases on other planets without the headache of ferrying the material there.

While bacterial processes save heavily on carbon, there are concerns that by-products could be poisonous. But another living brick — made from mushrooms — has no such problems.

Functional fungus

New York firm Ecovative are producing materials that combine agricultural waste products such as corn stock with mushroom mycelium — the roots of the vegetable. Over five days the mycelium binds the waste to create a block with a stronger compressive strength than concrete, with none of the heat or energy required by regular bricks.

The product is in commercial use for packaging, producing thousands of units a month, and the company is expanding into construction. Ecovative believe that in addition to being renewable and decomposable, natural properties give them a performance advantage.

“It has great insulation properties”, says Sam Harrington, Ecovative Director of Sustainability. “A key benefit is flame resistance — without adding any chemicals we were able to achieve a Class A fire rating”.

There is scope for development. Mycelium effectively dies once its growth is complete, but Harrington is looking ahead to material that does not. “We are exploring ideas of living materials, perhaps that are self-healing or respond to leaks with indicators.”

Ecovative are in dialogue with major construction companies, and the material will soon be tested on a historic scale. A collaboration with architects The Living won the prestigious MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS-1 competition, and their creation will be installed in the museum courtyard this summer.

Growing for gold

“Hy-Fi” will be the largest ever grown structure, and first large building to claim zero carbon emissions. It will be formed of three 40-foot spiral towers constructed from the mushroom material, with varying properties of brick to maximise light and ventilation.

The material’s versatility offers unique design opportunities, says David Benjamin, lead architect of the project.

“You can dial in almost any performance you want. You can mix and match a variety of properties such as water resistance or UV resistance, lightness or durability. You can grow the bricks in almost any shape”

Benjamin says the bio-bricks could be made to last as long as traditional materials, but believes architecture must embrace temporary structures.

“It’s essential to recognize that not all materials should last for centuries. A lot of the steel in our buildings will last longer than we need. Our idea is a building that be made locally and quickly, and then have a plan for when the life of the building is over.”

Future applications would include pop-up stores, festival “tents” and emergency shelters, says Benjamin, but there are greater hopes for the material within the industry.

Stronger than concrete

“I could imagine every structure you would built out of bricks”, says Dirk Hebel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. “No high-rises, but smaller scale structures and houses. The material is stronger than concrete, with better insulation capacities”.

The challenge will come in commercializing the products, Hebel feels. “There is huge demand for alternative materials. The question is how easy it is to penetrate the existing market. This needs time and a couple of buildings to show the possibilities”.

Stealing from nature

Another, more radical approach takes the material from nature but also allows it to build the structure. Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architecture, is a leading figure in biomimicry, having previously applied natural processes to create man-made forests in England and the Sahara Desert. His latest project to grow a “small venue for spoken word performances” from undersea biorock was recently unveiled at the Architecture Foundation in London.

“In biology, complex structures achieve resource efficiency by putting things in exactly the right place, which is very difficult with made materials”, says Pawlyn. “Our ways should deliver significant resource savings.”

Drawing on the natural accumulation of coral reefs, his team would install a steel frame in the deep ocean and leave it to attract material. Growth would be focused on specific areas of need using an electrical current.

“We’re interested in looking at its structural growth patterns. We have stress gauges on the structure to measure force in particular areas. If one is highly stressed, we can input more current so the rate of deposition matches the force.”

Pawlyn believes the structure could be built within two years, for consideration at scale. As with Ecovative, a key challenge ahead is to integrate still-living material to allow intelligent biosensors that respond to the building occupants.

Innovators in this space acknowledge the ongoing barriers presented in an industry that has resisted modernization. But from rock to fungus, sand to space dust, the use of materials and processes designed by nature herself offer both a solution to the sustainability crisis, and a glimpse of our new built environment: clean, efficient, and alive.

Dahlias–Wintering Over

http://www.turning-earth.co.uk/dahlia_llandaff.htm

 

HOW TO OVER WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS

With milder winters becoming ever more common, there are now two schools of thought when it comes to over-wintering Dahlia tubers. The traditional method is to lift them and then store in a cool dry, frost free position, while the second and slightly more risky way is to leave them where they are but with the addition of extra insulation.

LIFTING AND STORING DAHLIA TUBERS

The practice of removing Dahlia tubers from the ground for over-wintering goes back to at least a couple of hundred years so you know that it is definitely going to work. The time to do this is always going to be dependent on theweather so come the autumn you will need to keep a close eye on your plants.

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As soon as the first good frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia will blacken and the plant will naturally begin to move into its dormancy stage. However you will want to leave it a week or so before furtherpreparation commences so that the plant can adjust to the seasonal change and absorb nutrients and carbohydrates from the stems back into the tubers.
Cut the stems to about 6 inches from the ground and then using a fork carefully lift the dahlia so that when removed from the soil the tubers remains intact. You will probably need to circle the root system with the fork first to help loosen the soil before lifting. About 1ft from the stem should be suffice.
Once lifted, gently place the tuber clump onto the ground, then carefully remove as much soil as you can without breaking or cracking the ‘necks’ of the individual tubers. Unfortunately, a tuber with a cracked or broken neck will tend to rot and will not produce new growth next season.
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Remove any diseased or damaged tubers and trim off any fibrous roots to reduce the incidence of fungal infections, then wash the rest of the soil off with water and allow to dry – upside down – for a couple of days in a cool, frost-free environment.
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Prepare a container such as a seed tray or shallow box with a covering of horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite at the bottom. Now place the tubers into the containers and cover them with slightly moistened horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite. The container can now be placed into storage in a frost-free position such as a garage or basement or anywhere that has an even winter temperature of around that 4 – 7 Degrees Celsius.
During this storage time you should be examining the tubers at least once a month, throwing away any which are showing signs of rotting. If the tubers appear to be drying out, then sprinkle the covering medium with a small amount of water. If they to be appear too wet then remove them from their container and allow to dry off on some old newspaper for a couple of days before placing back into storage.
Come the following spring – and just before the growing season – divide the tuberous roots into sections using a sharp blade making sure that each section has at least one prominent bud. Dust each cut section with a fungicidal powder and allow them to dry for a couple of days. That way the cut surfaces have a chance to callous over before planting.
These new root sections can be potted on in John Innes No.1 but unlike most other plants it is important NOT towater them in. Label them and place them back into a frost-free area moving them into a bright position. Do not move into direct sunlight until the foliage has a chance to harden off.

OVER-WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS IN THE GROUND

Recent trials have shown that it isn’t always necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers so long as the ground is suitably prepared before planting. However, wet and freezing winters may still kill Dahlia tubers when they left in the ground, so it can still be worth lifting a few plants for storage – just to be on the safe side.

The key to successfully over-winter Dahlia tubers in the ground is to make sure that they were planted into a free draining soil in the first place as this will reduce the tubers becoming waterlogged during this risky part of the year. Also, it is advisable to plant them deeper in the soil than would normally be the practice – about 8 inches or so deep is fine.
The tubers will require additional protection to avoid them from being damaged by hard ground frosts. This can be achieved by employing by simple mulch such as straw, peat or even more soil. However using a traditional ‘Clamp’ will be the most effective.
HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL CLAMP
I know that these are not Dahlia tubers but it is a traditional clamp

Take some straw and cover over where the Dahlia tubers are under ground. Now position more straw – in a vertical fashion – so that it forms a raised mound above the tubers. When looking at it, the lengths of straw should now be sloping away from the top of the mound to the bottom of it so that it draws any water away from the centre of the mound.

Next the straw mound is ‘earthed –up’ which is a bit like making a sand castleon the beach. You dig a moat around the outside and you throw the excavated soil on top of the straw mound. When you get to the top of the mound you will need to leave a little straw chimney. This allows the mound to ‘breath’ which helps to stop fungal rots from progressing inside. The lastthing to do is to smooth over the soil sides so that if it does rain the waterwill run off down the sides rather than enter into the mound itself.
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The ‘clamp’ can be removed once the threat of frost is over.
A WORD OF WARNING
Slugs are very partial to the taste of fresh Dahlia growth and so it is important to remember to put down something to keep them well away. If you forget, all of your hard work would have been wasted and all you will have to show is a healthy batch of new slugs ready to damage other susceptible plants as they grow through.