How to Grow Vegetables in Containers: Become an Urban Growing expert!

Nothing beats the fresh flavor of home grown vegetables and herbs. You can learn to grow your food in containers today. Growing vegetables in containers is an amazing experience that will guarantee that you get a ready supply of fresh vegetables throughout the year. These tips come courtesy of the organic gardening team at The Herb Store.

Did you know: Almost all types of vegetables grow really well in containers? All you have to do is to pick the right plants that will suit your preference.

• Tips on how to pick the right spot to grow your garden plants…

an array of herb plantsMost vegetables require at least six hours of direct sunlight and plenty of fresh air every day. Be sure to pick a site that meets these two conditions. If, for instance, you plan to grow peppers and tomatoes, you can save them from blight by having them in an open space with a lot of fresh air.

During extreme cold season, you can save your plants by placing the containers near the sunnier part of your home.

During summer, you should avoid placing the pots directly on a cemented terrace. Cement heats up quite fast which might not work well with your plants. Excessive heat can hinder growth.

You can place larger pots on carts to make it possible for you to move them around depending on the conditions at the time.

• Tips on what containers to choose…

Any container can do just fine. However, you can still consider the following two factors:

• Size: The containers should be big and spacious enough to hold the plants and allow enough breathing space. Get containers that are at least 10 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Such sizes hold moisture for longer. In fact, the bigger the container, the better for your plants. Herbs will usually grow is slightly smaller containers than vegetables.

• Drainage holes: Whatever container you go for, make sure it has enough pores to drain off excess water. If the pot doesn’t have enough holes, drill some using a ¼ inch drill. Remember to line the bottom of the pot with a cloth to prevent the soil from spilling off to the floor. The pores should not be too big to let out all the water though. Your plants need that water.

cherry tomatoes in a potDifferent vegetables require different pot sizes. For instance, tomatoes and cucumbers thrive well in containers that are 20 inches wide. These two vegetables produce vines, so you can erect a wire cage into the container to support the vines. Larger pots make this possible.

• Tips on what materials the containers should be…

Your plants won’t mind which material you choose to house them really. However, if you choose to house the plants in clay pots, you’ll have to water them more often than the other types of pots. Clay pots are more porous than pots made of other materials.

The color of your pot also matters. Darker colors are known to absorb excess heat. They may eventually heat up the soil. Extreme heat is not good for your plants, so avoid such containers.

Also, avoid vegetable containers made of treated wood or any other chemical compounds. The chemicals may affect your vegetables.

• Tips on the types of soil you should use…

You need to impress your plants with just the right soil. They can be choosy sometimes.

For optimum results, make sure you mix in equal measure potting soil, peat moss, and vermiculite.

You can now fill the pots to two inches of the rim.

• Tips on how to plant your herbs and vegetables in Pots…

There are two options. Either you can plant seeds directly in the garden containers or you can choose to transplant the seedlings. You may purchase the transplants any garden center.

Consider this hint!

Plant any of the following directly into the garden container: carrots, radishes, spinach, beans, and corn. Remember to water the pot before planting. Allow it a few hours to drain excess water then plant seeds according to the package instructions. We recommend that you plant more than one seed in the pot to save guard against those seeds that will not germinate. After germination, you can thin the excess seedlings.

After you’ve planted, you can now water the container gently and evenly. Just remember to keep the soil moist always.

Look out for weeds and pests as you watch your garden plant flourish.

Getting The Best Solar Panels For Your Home

Having solar panels for your home is often seen as a good form of investment. This is especially true in several countries, notably Australia, where the use of solar energy can involve possible rebates, and not to mention electricity prices! Generally, such policies differ from one Australian state to the next so be sure to check with your government or council.

The idea of installing solar PV Systems can also prove to be financially advantageous when viewed from a selling perspective. In many cases, when it comes to the prospects of selling a given Australian home, those that carry functional solar panels have better chances of being sold at significantly higher market prices. However not all solar panels and systems are the same. If you’re unsure how to compare them check out this handy guide which tells you how to choose a quality solar PV System.

Apart from the financial benefits, the more important role of Australian solar panels has to do with helping local households become active participants in ongoing efforts to save the environment. The sun is known to produce tremendous amounts of energy which is completely clean. By opting to settle for this alternative energy source, people will eventually become less dependent on gas and oil, efficient sources of power but can carry various contaminants that tend to harm the planet.

In addition, solar panels eliminate the need for huge machinery and equipment as in the case with oil energy. The process of transporting oil to different stations for the needed conversion can involve unnecessary destruction of roads. This does not include the costs involved during transportation which can easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With solar panels, these problems will cease to exist. Transportation issues, for example, will hardly be an issue, especially since energy generated by the sun will go directly to the installed panels. Consequently, the accompanying inverter will work on converting the captured solar energy into the desired AC electricity, the traditional energy type used in many home settings.

Having solar PV panels also goes a long way in reducing carbon emissions. Since solar energy is pure, it carries no pollutants that can contaminate the air. The general estimate is that when at least 1MWh of solar energy is generated, approximately a tonne of carbon dioxide is prevented from being produced.

In the area of noise pollution, solar panels also have very few movable parts and will hardly make any significant noise as they go about their work. This means that they can never be expected to annoy next-door neighbours or even disrupt their peace of mind.

An interesting aspect about solar panels in Australia has to do with the government target of having at least 20 percent of national electricity requirements being provided by a renewable energy source in the next five years. Obviously, this is one national program that seeks to raise the level of awareness among Australians on the many benefits set to be gained from using natural energy. The Labor government in Queensland recently published their solar targets including “one million solar rooftops in Queensland by 2020.”

In this case, the sun is the most qualified candidate in terms of generating renewable energy. This means that, as part of existing environmental policies in Australia, solar power is expected to play a major role in future energy needs all across the region. Given this, installing solar power systems is a concept that should eventually catch hold among many Australian households.

Designing an Energy Efficient Home

With electricity prices soaring and a much higher emphasis on saving the planet, it is important to implement different strategies, during the design stage, to make your home more energy efficient and sustainable. Using a number of techniques it is now possible for you to live in an environmentally friendly home without having to sacrifice aesthetics. In other words it is possible to build a home that looks fantastic and is great for the planet. Builders are able to use a blend of the latest lightweight materials to create environmentally friendly homes that offer energy efficiency, superior insulation, high quality finish, thermal protection, acoustic solutions, low maintenance, long term durability, reduced building costs and environmental sustainability.

eco-friendly wooden home

Timber’s low embodied energy make it the perfect choice for the frame of your house. The manufacture of timber requires 70%-90% less energy than steel and up to 94% less energy than aluminium. Unlike those other products construction timber releases very minimal amounts of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere during its manufacture.

Allowing as much natural light into your home as possible will reduce your reliance upon electricity. A generous amount of glass windows and doors will help allow maximum natural light into your home. Installing LED lighting throughout your home will then greatly decrease the amount of power used when the natural light just isn’t enough.

Hebel is an extremely flexible building material. It has very good acoustic properties, blocking and absorbing sound from outside while providing excellent acoustics inside. Hebel is also fire and white ant resistant which is quite important. It is also superb for our climate conditions as it is designed to outperform traditional brick veneer in regards to thermal properties. Rendered Hebel also looks great and uses less than a 1/4 of the resources and raw material of other masonry, saving on building costs while helping to save the planet we live on.

Using lightweight, thermally efficient roofing materials will reflect more of the sun’s heat, which will help to improve the energy efficiency and lower power bills of your home. Doing this will keep the roofspace cooler and provide greater thermal comfort indoors. Installing a solar roof vent in your home will also help to suck the hot air out of your roof and can reduce the living area temperature of your home by up to 60c during the Summer. Also putting large eaves around your house will help shade the exterior walls of your home and can greatly reduce your reliance upon air conditioning.

Also keep in mind the positioning of your home on its block of land. Those looking to add solar power and solar hot water are advised to have as large a roof space as possible facing as close to North as possible. With the ever increasing popularity of eco-friendly prefab housing options in the Australian market, it has become even easier to reach energy efficient goals. Recently, one Australian company has gone as far as to create the nation’s first carbon positive prefab home, for a very modest $260,000 + GST.

carbon positive solar powered dwelling
Image: Inhabitat

 

By implementing some of the recommendations stated above you can be well on your way to having a fantastic looking and incredibly energy efficient home, which can benefit your wallet as well as help save the planet we live on.

Importance of a Good Roof Design

The Roof. It is arguably one of the most over worked and under appreciated part of any house. It would probably come as a surprise to some that roofs still have to be maintained. “Maintenance” goes beyond sealing up holes or giving it a fresh coat of paint. The process of maintaining your roof starts by knowing what kind of roof has been installed.

There are different kinds of roof systems used on both homes and commercial buildings.  The most common type of roof is the traditional tiles. Countries like England and the Mid-Atlantic use natural slate. Each kind of roof type has its own set of characteristics which affect their durability and longevity. If you are looking for a roof that is durable and would last a long time, then opt for metal type roofing. Metal Roofs have a very long life expectancy and have been used for centuries.

metal roof architecture design

In order to know what kind of maintenance should be done on the metal roof, it is important to first identify what kind of metal roof it is. There are two kinds of metal roofs: Architectural and Structural. Architectural roofs are those that provide waterproofing layers and are aesthetically appealing. Structural metal roofs are those that can act as roof decks and provide a waterproofing layer similar to the wall cladding on modular homes. This type of roofing is the one that can commonly be seen in commercial buildings. Both these types of roofing are eco-friendly, with the ability to be recycled by simply melting down the metal,as we touched on in this post.

After identifying what type or form is installed, the next step is to identify what type of metal was used. The most common type of metal used for roofs are: steel, aluminum, copper and tin. Some roofs are also made of zinc and lead coated copper but this is rare in Australia as there is legislation in place which forbids certain materials to be used on anything that may collect drinking water.

To wash a metal roof, simply use a water hose or power washer to remove the dirt and grime. If there are still some dirt left, a brush with some detergent or trisodium phosphate can get the job done. Avoid using sharp cleaning tools like wire brushes or steel wool as they may damage the protective coating of the metal roof. Metal roofs that have polymer coatings like Kynar would require maintenance once the coating fades. The coating hardly ever fades and would usually last a lifetime. Roofing made of  steel, zinc or copper have a very long lifespan as well and would only require maintenance if there was a problem with the design or installation.

A house isn’t much of a house if it doesn’t have a roof. Taking care of your roof, or investing in a good one, is a major part of house maintenance.

 

The Benefits Of Metal Roofing To The Environment

 

In Australia, metal roofing is one of the more popular roofing systems. The reason for this involves both financial and aesthetic considerations. From a design aspect, modern day metal roofs have been crafted in a wide variety of styles. Metal roofing contractors are able to create stunning and sophisticated settings for even the simplest Australian homes.metal roofers in Sydney

On the financial front, metal roofing has long been noted for its durable features. When installed in either commercial or residential establishments, metal roofs can be offered with a lifetime warranty. Obviously, this does away with the prospects of doing minor or major roof repairs in the immediate future, and allows many Australians to save on other possible expenses.

In recent years, the option of settling for roofing materials made from metal has acquired a new and more pressing significance. Given the present state of the environment, the need to make use of more eco-friendly materials has become urgent. In this regard, metal roof manufacturers have been able to provide the needed solution.
Presently, these manufacturers are known to make extensive use of the recycling concept, reducing the number of waste materials that are needlessly dumped in various landfills. This is especially true for roofing materials fashioned from steel. See this post about modular homes utilising aluminum

Metal Roofing Eco DesignWhen recycled steel materials are used as a second roofing layer, there is often extra insulation benefits that come with it. Eventually, this should result in significant savings for both cooling and heating expenses. Additionally, opting for metal roofs carrying the so-called cool colors are said to help decrease electricity consumption by half during the hot summer months in Australia.

Noise pollution is another common enemy of the environment. It’s interesting to note that metal roofing can help fight off this so-called enemy. When used to cover shingled roofs, metal roofs can provide an extra barrier that should keep external and annoying sounds effectively at bay.

Another good thing about metal roofs is that they are not exactly ideal places for the growth of certain types of fungi. Some of these organisms can accidentally fall into many residential water systems especially during strong rains.
Consequently, these can contaminate the existing water systems and expose people to a variety of risks, including serious ailments. Fortunately, this need not happen with roofs crafted from metals where organisms like mildew and algae are not able to grow and flourish.

Undoubtedly, there is more to metal roofing than just durability and affordability. Its adaptability to meeting the present needs of the environment has also made this type of roofing the ideal choice for those who want to participate in ongoing efforts to save Mother Nature and reduce those ever increasing Australian energy prices.

FOR SALE – 4Room Executive Modular Accommodation Building

Urban Collective - 4Room Executive Modular Accommodation_For Sale

FOR SALE – 4Room Executive Modular Accommodation Building. Drastically reduced to make way for new display building. Offering contemporary modular building of the highest standard. Features aluminium cladding, double glazed windows and doors, solid bamboo flooring, leather feature walls, timber veneer features, fully tiled marble slab bathrooms, frameless glass, contemporary fixtures and LED lighting. Our modular homes are also available complete with solar PV panels and water tanks enabling off-grid compatibility. There is also the option to switch out the LED lighting fixtures to solar lighting equivalents. Our supplier has a huge range of indoor and outdoor solar lights that work perfectly with modular home applications.  Enquire now!

UrbanCollective Modular Building Design Challenge 2012- ending soon

UrbanCollective -roofline & logo

We have received fantastic interest in the UrbanCollective Modular Building Design Challenge 2012 with impressive house designs already submitted.  Just a reminder to all potential entrants that submissions are closing soon.

Entries for the Design Challenge close on 20 April 2012. The Challenge is open to all architects, engineers, designers and students around the world – individually or in groups.   Our Design Challenge is intended to find a winning contemporary and affordable modular house design, and help combat housing affordability in Australia.

Full details of the modular building requirements are available at http://urbancollective.com.au/design-challenge/

We will select the 3 finalists, from which the submission with the most ‘like’ on our Facebook page will be announced the winner on 30 April 2012 and awarded $2,000USD.

Any enquiries please email – contact@urbancollective.com.au

Urban Collective delivers…

With delivery of hotel room equivalent accommodation buildings to the mining and resource sectors, Urban Collective is able to differentiate their modular building offering by providing high quality, contemporary accommodation.

Urban Collective can readily exceed the requirements of resource accommodation or mining camps, hotel/motel rooms, multi-level developments (low to medium high rise), holiday parks and affordable housing.

 

preFAB

Urban Abode

Prefabricated housing, by definition, refers to a dwelling that consists of several factory-built components or units that are assembled on-site to complete the unit.

By way of background, the first major development in the history of the prefabricated house appears to have been the Manning Portable Cottage, designed in England in the 1830′s, to assist with housing in the colony of Australia.  Continuing to grow in popularity and usage throughout the early 1900′s, prefab’s image seemingly became somewhat tarnished during and after World War II on account of the need for quick and cheap mass produced designs to house military personnel and replace war-damaged homes.

When many people think ‘prefab’ they might have connotations of substandard, boring, or temporary housing that is lacking in style. But these days prefab has gone through a resurgence and is anything but…!!

Prefab is now representative of architecturally designed, contemporary, flexible and functional dwellings, which challenge any negative preconceptions. Prefabrication can offer many advantages over conventional building methods, most particularly:

· Shortened construction time

· Structurally superior (it is built to withstand lifting by a crane and road transportation)

· Increased quality control (given it is factory controlled manufacture with reduced error)

· Cost savings

· Greater green credentials (more environmentally friendly as reduced waste of up to 75% on standard construction methods, reduced site disturbance, and an opportunity to feature sustainable products)

· Improved access (particularly in remote locations where construction is restricted)

For our worker accommodation clients, on which the above advantages are paramount, URBANCOLLECTIVE offer reliable capacity and a revolutionary alternative to traditional workers accommodation by utilising the benefits of modular design and prefabrication to create contemporary, functional and sustainable living spaces for workers. URBANCOLLECTIVE offer full mining camp solutions by providing innovative modular office facilities, kitchen, laundry, toilet amenities, gymnasium, recreational and cold room options. Our “UrbanHabitat” workers accommodation range (currently comprising 1man, 2man, 3man and 4man designs) can be tailored and modified to suit your specifications, desired finish and budget.