Sunday, 24 June 2018

First Harvest 2018

Although I have been picking small quantities of fruit and veg, the first true harvest is the shallots.  They are in the greenhouse to dry out now. I've not done these in years, and they look good so I'm looking forward to eating them.

The unusually dry summer is having a positive effect in some veg, no slug holes in these leaves!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Making a New Flower Bed

This is a flower on an old bush rose which I inherited with a small parcel of land across from my house.  It was in a poor state, but I pruned it and it picked up a bit.  It was overshadowed by a lot of trees but all that changed a few years ago when the trees were removed to put a temporary bridge in place while the old bridge was rebuilt.

Here is the bridge, the rose is just out of shot to the left.

One year ago the temporary bridge was removed, trees are not possible here now due to the concrete foundations left behind which you can see here.  They cleaned it up, rebuilt the river wall and filled it with soil.

So I set about replanting, replacing plants which I had moved out into pots during the work, supplemented by bulbs and some donations from neighbours.  The surprise was how well the rose did once the trees were removed.  It got rather overgrown by weeds during the works and I did very little other than remove dead stems.  But this year it has quadrupled in size, surprisingly, and is covered in flower buds.

This is a shot of the replanted bed.  Along with the rose, other plants I moved in here have done surprisingly well.  The bed gets a lot of sun in the summer and most plants seem to love it.

However, the soil is not great.  It was builders soil and so had no worms or life in it.  I have introduced worms with the relocated plants so I hope they will work hard this year.  During the winter the soil got very wet, but now it has baked hard and there has also been some settling in the hole.  So I intend to bring in more soil over the summer.  I will post updates on progress this year.

Spring at High Speed

After a long, very cold and very wet winter, spring came late but now, a month later, we are in summer!  High temperatures and low rainfall are now creating their own challenges.  The rhubarb this spring is enormous.  I manured and mulched the bed in December, it was the last thing I did before the cold and it has paid off.

The broad beans took a long time to get going but germination has been 100%, they's growing on well now.

The onions and garlic (beyond the rhubarb here) are enjoying the weather.  But with so little rain (1 day in last fortnight) we are now watering them occasionally.

The greenhouse has been doing well, with a great crop of chillies so far.

The tomatoes are growing on strongly now.  I have planted out most of the seedlings remaining in the greenhouse, so have now removed the staging and staked the plants to bring them on.  As it is the first year of growing tomatoes in here, I have bought 6 different varieties to see what does best.  I also have some radish, spring onion, lettuce, parsley, cucumber and small sweet peppers in here.  It's a small space but with no need for a path down the middle, every inch is usable.

When I rebuilt the greenhouse after the storm, I removed the roof window to improve stability.  But as it still needs ventilation, I cut the side polycarbonate in half on both sides so I can remove them in warm weather (this photo is taken through one side and shows the other).  The prevailing wind then blows straight through so no damage, but I can leave the front doors shut to maintain a good temperature.  It gets the sun all morning and then again late afternoon.  Without ventilation parts of the greenhouse get to 35 degrees C, but with it, it seems to maintain a fairly constant daytime temp of 20 degrees plus.  So far, so good.

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!