Saturday, 12 May 2018

Spring 2018

Spring this year has been late and cold. The plum flowered on 28th April, over 2 weeks later than normal.
But there is a lot of blossom and though the wind is chilly at times, we have had no late frosts.

And now the apples are in blossom. Lots to do as we are weeks behind, but all going well so far.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Building a Greenhouse Part 2 - on my way to insanity

So the worst winter storm most of us have ever seen did this to my new greenhouse!  Maddening. I checked out the pile of pieces and it was all there, apart from a couple of bits of poly carbonate.  I wanted to cry but I was just too angry. I was determined to rebuild it.

This turned out to be the only piece damaged beyond use, it is the hinge for the roof vent. But I realised that this vent was the start of the damage so I decided not to replace the vent at all. It looks like this vent was the weak point and went first, allowing the wind to get underneath the roof. From bending on other pieces it seems the structure hung on for a while before finally collapsing.

So I set about rebuilding. Not everything went back the way it was, some pieces were bent, but most was OK. I made some creative fixes, but what became clear was that the sides, with a single diagonal spar you can see here, were another problem. The spar allows too much movement.

So I repurposed a couple of pieces from the roof vent. In the foreground you can see the (bent) diagonal, in front of it is a piece fitted crosswise to provide stability. In the background you is another piece fitted diagonally to provide strength to a weak corner. 

I refitted the doors, replaced the poly carbonate and ta-da! Of course one side of the roof is trapezoid instead of rectangular but who cares. As I have no roof vent now I have cut the side poly carbonates in half so I can remove the top halves to create ventilation. Still some joints to seal but it is warm and dry inside.
After a very long, cold and wet winter, it is good to see things actually growing. In this case, garlic and shallots. Roll on spring!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

You Have to be Mad to Build a Greenouse

They make it sound so easy, telling you that you can build a greenhouse (even as small as this one) with the "full instructions" supplied.  Don't believe them. Pay someone to do it for you!  This tiny greenhouse took 3 days to completely erect, plus multiple hours afterwards to deal with finishing and securing issues.  Still, it is up while there was an issue with one of the storms we had recently, it's looking ok.  I have fixed up two water butts to the sides whose fittings were actually the easiest part of greenhouse building!

So I have put some good soil and compost in here so that we can grow tomatoes, peppers and chilli plants directly in the ground later in the season.  For now it will grow seeds and young plants.  This wooden bench is foldable so can be removed later, and I have another green shelf fixed to the greenhouse frame higher up for storage and other use.  The plan is for this to allow us to grow tender plants indoors given the dreadful summers we seem to be doomed to endure now.

The weather since Christmas has been truly appalling with snow and rain galore, this was the view from my window a week ago:

The soil has been pummelled and quite literally squelches when you step on it.  So several weeks ago I put three cloches on a bed to keep some soil dryer and warmer than the rest.  Today it was time to plant it up with garlic, elephant garlic and shallots.

I have never grown elephant garlic before so have no idea how it will do, I have also switched to a hardneck garlic after some poor harvests and have not done shallots in a while either.  This is an experiment but this soil is the dryest and lightest on the plot and with the cloches left in situ they should do ok.

Here they are laid out for planting, elephant garlic in the foreground (each clove is huge), ordinary garlic on the left and shallots on the right.  The cloches are back on as more cold weather is forecast, so they will be kept out of the wind and snow/hail/rain.  We will see...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Before Storm Ophelia

Asters (Michaelmas daisies) before the wind gets to them! 

These chrysanthemums got flattened by the last storm, so now in a vase for safety 

Took the last of the apples off before the wind does it for me! These are Spartan, with 2 Blenheim Orange.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Pond Building Part 2

After a little bit of tinkering and adjusting, we have now planted up the pond, here is a list of the plants, anti-clockwise from bottom right of the picture . 
  1. Trollius - globe flower
  2. Nymphaea candida - water lily
  3. Mental aquatica - water mint
  4. Veronica beccabunga - Brooklime
  5. Pontederia cordata-pickerel plant
  6. Unl
  7. Mares tail oxygenator (no label)