Which renewable energy is best for your home

Sоlаr thermal
solarkraft  раnеl thаt hеаtѕ the hоt water, wоrkіng alongside your existing system.

Pros: Hоt wаtеr for frее when the sun ѕhіnеѕ. £400 іn grants available.

Cоnѕ: Suffеrѕ frоm the dоublе-glаzіng fасtоr: іnсrеаѕіng reports оf dооrѕtерреrѕ оffеrіng tо іnѕtаll thе ѕуѕtеm but at іnflаtеd prices.

What you ѕhоuld knоw: Exресt to pay £4,000-рluѕ. You mіght nееd tо get a nеw water tаnk, which wіll аdd £400 оr ѕо to thе соѕt. You’ll also nееd a roof facing wіthіn 90 dеgrееѕ of ѕоuth. Furthеr information: Sоlаr Trаdе Aѕѕосіаtіоn (01908 442290; ѕоlаr-trаdе.оrg.uk).

Anоthеr ѕоlаr раnеl, this tіmе оnе thаt uѕеѕ sunlight tо gеnеrаtе еlесtrісіtу. Alѕо соmеѕ аѕ ѕресіаl tіlеѕ, ѕо hаndу if you’re рlаnnіng tо replace thе roof.


Prоѕ: Yеѕtеrdау’ѕ renewable еnеrgу ѕtrаtеgу floated thе іdеа of a fееd-іn tаrіff, ѕіmіlаr to thаt currently bеіng uѕеd in Gеrmаnу. This would mеаn householders being paid a premium аmоunt for thе еxсеѕѕ еlесtrісіtу thеу рrоduсе аnd wоuld, hореfullу, еnѕurе mоrе реорlе take uр the technology.

Cоnѕ: It’ll cost you – соuld bе £20,000-рluѕ.

What уоu ѕhоuld know: Grants available up to £2,500. Agаіn, уоu nееd a rооf facing wіthіn 90 dеgrееѕ оf ѕоuth. Furthеr іnfоrmаtіоn: Renewable Energy Association (r-p-a.org.uk).

Wіnd turbіnеѕ
Crіtісѕ ѕау they won’t роwеr a hairdryer. Proponents ѕау they’re mіѕundеrѕtооd. Wе say: thеу’rе соntrоvеrѕіаl.

Prоѕ: If іt works, іt іѕ thе ultimate іn ѕtаtеmеnt technology. Aѕ rеnеwаblеѕ gо, they’re cheap – prices ѕtаrt at £2,000 for a 1kw turbine (thе еlесtrісіtу needs for аn average house аrе 2.5kw, аѕѕumіng a steady wіndѕрееd оf five mеtrеѕ реr ѕесоnd).

Cоnѕ: Thеrе аrе nоіѕе issues аnd mаnу еxреrtѕ ѕау turbіnеѕ should nоt bе mоuntеd on a hоuѕе. Read the ѕmаll рrіnt carefully – ѕоmе manufacturers ԛuоtе реrfоrmаnсе bаѕеd оn a wіnd ѕрееd of 12 metres реr ѕесоnd, the ѕоrt оf velocity you find on rеmоtе Sсоttіѕh islands wіth lіttlе іn thе way of humаn habitation.


If you are nоt ѕurе оn what еnеrgу ѕоurсе tо uѕе аt hоmе, we ѕuggеѕt соntасtіng thе Gexa Energy Cоmраnу, thеу wіll help уоu mаkе thе rіght dесіѕіоn.

Here Comes The Sun(flowers)…

Spring is swiftly approaching, and let me tell you, I can’t wait for sun—and for sunflowers! Sunflowers will brighten up your garden and bring a smile to your face. Southern Exposure loves them so much that a blooming sunflower graces our logo! To us, sunflowers symbolize the unity of beauty and utility, and serve as a reminder of the boundless source of life’s energy and creation.  Maybe, that’s why we carry fifteen varieties of sunflowers.

Autumn Beauty sunflower

Beauty and Utility United

If you are going to be growing sunflowers in the hopes of harvesting sunflower seeds, you should stick with Black Mammoth. This variety is the traditional tall, single-headed sunflower—stalks can grow to be eight to ten feet tall! Black Mammoth is a confectionery variety of sunflower, which means that its big seeds will be great for munching.

If there are children frequenting your garden, you should consider planting our adorable Short Stuff or Sunspot varieties. Kids love these dwarf sunflowers as they only grow to be about three or four feet tall. They are also perfect for borders & container gardens and for growing seed to feed birds in the wintertime.

Are you into D.I.Y. (“Do It Yourself”) projects? If so, why not experiment with dying fabric the old-fashioned way? Hopi Indians crushed the purple-black seeds of the gorgeous Hopi Dye variety and used the pulp as a natural dye for coloring woven baskets. If you want to try growing these sunflowers for seed, plan to mature the seeds in the driest part of the growing season.

The Many Faces—er—Heads of Sunflowers

Some people may not realize that not all sunflowers are stalks topped with single heads. Sunflower plants can have many branches with many heads! Poly-headed varieties usually grow to be about five to seven feet tall. Although their seeds are too small to harvest for human consumption, poly-headed sunflowers are valuable additions to a garden as they are visually striking—a single plant can yield flowers of many different colors.

Plus, birds love the tiny seeds of poly-headed sunflowers. Take, for instance, our ornamental Cucumber-Leaf variety, which you may want to plant just for your neighborhood birds. When the heads of the sunflowers mature and dry out, your feathery friends will flock to them! They tend to prefer this variety to other kinds of sunflowers. (However, all types of sunflowers attract birds, which is bad news for saving seed…so, use bird netting on poly-headed sunflowers while they’re drying down and tie paper bags over the large heads of single-headed sunflowers. Seeds will continue to mature inside the bag).

One benefit of poly-headed sunflowers is that they are less likely to fall over because of heavy heads. Black Mammoth sunflowers, on the other hand, may fall over due to strong winds or loose soil if left untrellised. Another great thing about poly-headed varieties is that you will get a longer bloom out of them. Black Mammoths might have two weeks with their heads at maturity before they wither up, but the many flowers on a poly-headed plant will give you about a month and a half of blooming action!

Sunflower Facts

Lastly, here are some general things you may want to know about our favorite flower:

  1. As most plants orient themselves towards the south to get the most light possible during the day, sunflowers tend to lean south. In fact, the French word for “sunflower” is “tournesol,” which literally means, “turn with the sun.” So, if you happen to have a fence in your yard that runs east to west, a smart idea would be to plant your sunflowers on the north side of the fence so that the sunflowers can lean against it! Talk about trellising made easy…
  2. Don’t fertilize your sunflowers with manure or anything else that is high in nitrogen. Too much nitrogen leads to sunflowers that are too tall and thus more likely to fall over. Also, a surplus of nitrogen can mean more leaves and less flowers.
  3. Frost kills! When planting sunflowers, either start them in a greenhouse/indoors and transplant them or directly seed them in the ground after the danger of frost has passed.
  4. If you’re wondering when to plant sunflowers, we’d recommend planting them a couple of times over the course of the spring/summer since they flower for a limited time. For instance, if you plant your first batch in April or May, plant some more in June to maximize the time you get to spend admiring these lovely flowers.
  5. Sunflowers are beautiful, easy to grow, great for kids, and have few bug problems. What more could you ask for?

Tomato Varieties: Finding the Right Heirloom Tomato Seeds

A tomato rainbow- cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, brandywine tomatoes, paste tomatoes.

Tomatoes are a great place to start when it comes to planning your garden.  Since there are so many great varieties of tomatoes it can be hard to figure out where to start.  You might be tempted to plant tomato seeds for each of them!  But, if you are limited by garden space, time, and tummies for them all to go, then it is probably a good idea to think about what you want to use them for and which flavors suit you best.

Heirloom tomatoes have gained some popularity in the past few years.  It seems like: once you go heirloom you never go back.  For the most part this is true – most varieties developed before 1940 were bred for great flavor.  Some heirloom tomatoes were also developed for growing conditions – such as short summers or resistance to plant diseases like the dreaded late blight.  So, it is important to note, that just because a tomato variety is an heirloom doesn’t guarantee that it will be delicious (although it’s a good indication).

Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato- sometimes called a black tomato

Cherokee Purple is a beefsteak, heirloom tomato variety.  These tomatoes hold a rare distinction of actually having a purple color.  Most ‘purple’ tomatoes are more pink than purple.  The Cherokee Purple tomato also has a distinctive interior.  The flesh has a rich dark color while the  locule (the cavity where the tomatoes’ seeds are contained) filling has a deep  green color.  The tomato’s flavor is rich and juicy.

Heirloom -Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes

The Yellow Brandywine tomato has all the delicious flavor of a traditional Red Brandywine tomato.  The fruits are a rich yellow orange color,and have a smooth texture.  Yellow Brandywine fruits often have some ribbing and generally weigh 1-2lbs, definitely a beefsteak tomato. If the tomato plants experiences drastic shifts in temperature fruit shapes can become irregular.

Eva Purple Ball Heirloom Tomato

The Eva Purple Ball heirloom tomato plants take about 78 days before harvest.  Fruits are great all around tomatoes they can be sliced and  for sandwiches, cooked down into tomato sauce, and even dehydrated.  Eva Purple Balls produce uniform sized fruits that are resistant to cracking and rarely have blemishes.

Green Zebra - tomato

The Green Zebra tomato retains its green color after it ripens. It has a good earthy flavor and is popular with tomato aficionados.  Although this tomato was developed in 1985, it can certainly hold its own in a garden with heirloom tomatoes.

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato

This cherry tomato wins taste test after taste test with its sweet flavor.  The tomato plants produce high yields of tiny currant sized fruits.  If you are going to plant this tomato in your garden you will certainly need to either place a cage around it or steak it.  Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato plant tends to sprawl.

Roma VFN Paste Tomato

The Roma VFN tomato is a great example  of a tomato that has not only been selected for flavor but for disease resistance as well. While no plant can ever be 100% safe in the garden the growing tomatoes should not suffer from Veritcillium Wilt, Alternaria stem cranker, or Fusarium wilt- race 1.  This open pollinated tomato variety is widely adapted to grow in a wide range of climates and growing conditions.

Saving the Past for the Future