This summer the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says, after such good spring rains, the dial has moved on the climate tracker for Australia to neutral or inactive.
Neutral means this summer is not likely to be very wet nor super-hot but possibly hotter than previously thought.
The latest video from BOM gives a good overview of what we may expect to see this summer.
The Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean continue to influence our Australian climate as they have for the last several hundred thousand years.
More people are trying out stones to protect their gardens from the sun beating down on the soil around their favourite garden plants. This is happening particularly where the sun is hottest in the garden. A stone layer (the "new black" in mulching) of 50 mm as a minimum thickness helps stop our soils from 'drying out' and can be more effective than dark wood chip or compost mulches.
Many residents are using white stones to reflect heat away from the soil around their plants in all or just the sunniest parts of their gardens. Standard wood chip mulch can add nutrients to the soil but often the soil can still be baked hard by the sun as the mulch is too thin a layer.
Many standard mulches need to be at least 100 mm thick or more in sunny parts of the garden. The thicker the mulch the more heat is absorbed but no heat reflection occurs using standard mulch.
Some standard mulches can add viruses and parasites to the soils that particular plants may be vulnerable to. Some plants therefore can be trying to manage two events (heat and viral attacks) at the same time.
Standard mulching lasts a while but strategic placement of stones can:
- last a lifetime
- look very attractive as part of the whole setting
- better control heat absorption of the soil
- reduce virus and parasites risks.
Stones placement, being so effective, can also add some efficiency to the great job of gardening by allowing more time to be spent in other parts of the garden.
Solar Product Sales Continue to Rise in Australia
New records were established in the residential market in 2016 - over 1.5 million installations Australia-wide. The photo shows a twin panel, USA-made titanium product 51% more efficient than the standard panels.
This means a significant saving on roof space occupied by panels than with previous designs. The two panels generate more power than three of the older panels (which are still on the market) yet they take up less space on the roof. In 2017 this panel will be made in Victoria.
The 325 litre water tank, located at ground level in this residential setting on the central coast NSW in 2016, can be heated to optimum temperature in 1.5 hours by the twin panels. The system comes with controls to monitor heat temperature. The latest pump technology uses only 20 watts/day average energy cost.
This residential installation attracted $1,406 rebate from the Australian Government to the owner at $37/ REC. There were 36 REC's generated by the purchase. Net cost $4,150 and 25 year warranty.