Monday 29 February 2016

Grand Erections - Sheds that is!

Keith (my brother in law) and I both had today off to receive the delivery of the sheds and we were hoping for a dry day and that they would come early enough that we could erect them both.

It was one of the best days recently, sunny and not too cold. The lorry driver from Tiger sheds phoned to say he would be delivering in half an hour, which turned out to be more like and hour and a quarter as he got stuck in traffic that his sat nav had not anticipated .

Re the quality of the shed, the lock in Keiths only went over the timber upright by about 1mm, where as mine the lock and the timber was so hard up against the frame on the side and the top that we had to move the lock over and cut a small amount off the top and mid bars. We also had to undo the hinges and lower them because the door was too tight at the top. 

They really need to look at the design of the door when you want a shed lock as you can only get 3 screws in it because there is no enough timber. I wish I had bought my own lock added another horizontal timber at mid height and fixed it myself as I did with the Billy Ho _ that I bought for Plot 1A three years ago.

Being shiplap it is better constructed and likely to be more vandal resistant than the feather edge type but is was more than double the price. Having now an Apex and a Pent, it's a no brainer, the pent wins hands down for headroom and more storage space.  

The sheds on this allotment has been hit 3 -4 times in the last 6 month, so at the moment I'm not anticipating that I'm going to lock it. Those that do come to find the door ripped off or panels removed from the side if they are constructed in a Heath Robinson nature.

As with my other shed, I intend to put a wide shelf/ work bench half way up the door frame on the lock side which will strengthen and stiffen the door frame and make it less venerable to attack should I decide to start locking it. 

A visit to the local timber and hardware shop and I have an offcut of mdf for the worktop and a 280mm shelf to go above. I will install horizontal supports from the door to the front corner, along the side and the back then from the frame to the rear wall. The timber will be notched to miss the uprights and fit snugly and then it will be screwed down to the framework to give me a nice stiff plate to buttress the door frame.

Roofing batten offcuts courtesy of Sid my neighbour that have been keeping dry in the greenhouse on plot 1A are now sitting in the new shed ready for the framing of the bench and shelf. 

The tool hangers on the door were 5 for £1 at the pound shop. The timber bedside storage unit and the plastic units were what my daughter was throwing away when she redecorated her bedroom and they have been sitting on the plot under a plastic sheet waiting for the shed to arrive.

Now I just need some good weather and some time to get some beds in before the end of April.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Plot 1A - Clearing Bed 5

I have a Christening to go to today, so I only managed couple of hours down on plot 1A this morning between 8:00 - 10:30 and as it happened it started to rain as I came away, so that was kinda OK. The Valentines flowers bought for the wife and my daughters made it to the Daleks. I again have bored some holes and primed them with coffee grounds. All three Daleks were a little dry so I have watered them again.

I tilled the comfrey bed that currently has daffs and bluebells showing. Then turned my attention to removing the weeds around in the paths and in Bed 5 which up until now has been the strawberry bed. Beautiful my Robin made an appearance and was looking for food in the bed whilst I was digging it over, it's nice to see him again I thought I had lost him.

I gave the finished bed a sprinkle of coffee grounds and then put the chicken wire hoop frame back over to stop Basil Brush who has been walking around the allotment watching me all morning.

The leafs in the leaf bins are rotting down nicely and there was enough room to empty the six sacks of leafs

Tomorrow is a whole day on plot 23B and my brother-in-laws plot 22A erecting the sheds that are hopefully going to be delivered between 10-12

Saturday 27 February 2016

Seed & Cutting Compost

I picked up two 20 litre sacks of Westland Gro-Sure Fine Grade Seed & Cutting Compost from TESCO for a £5 as it took far to long to sieve the B&Q Verve last year.

Having daughter come with benefits as their Valentines flowers along with the wifes' are now all cut up and in a food bucket with lid ready to go to the allotment to feed the Dalek.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

A Compost Bin and 30 Litres of Coffee Grounds.

I was second in wanting a compost bin on freecycle and the first person never showed, so I scored another Dalek for Plot 23B which was picked up from Worcester Park and dropped off to the allotment this afternoon.

The local Pizza shop has been saving me 10 litre buckets with lids that originally had food stuff in them.

My sister Elaine managed to score me two more sacks of coffee grounds that filled three of the 10 litre bucket containers. So once the grounds have dried out they will come with me to plot 23B. I will use them to weigh down the tarp until they are needed and as fertiliser and compost dalek activator. The 4th bucket in the picture has my seedling compost in to keep slugs and snails out.

I've also been compressing paper shredding's into one of the bucket/containers with lids and that will go down to plot 23B for when I finally get the compost bins set up and compost production really starts. The plan is to have the material I need to fill it with alternating greens and browns, I hopefully will be able to gather cut grass from the top end of the allotment once the council do their first cut of the season.

The local greasy spoon also supplied me with 6 more mushroom trays and large cardboard egg trays for chitting my next lot of spuds. I love the recycle /repurposing element of owning an allotment.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Shaggy Weed Membrane and Plot 1A

Rain yesterday and today I needed to drop off my daughter to work mid morning so decided that a morning of welding up the edges of weed membrane on sheets that will get used on plot 23B. It's really quite cold and the soldering iron cutting of the membrane is not a quick as when it's being done when the temperatures are better plus everything needed to be weighed down to stop it flapping or blowing away.

Plot 1A - the over wintering onions in the greenhouse were extremely dry as I have not been down there for a few weeks so they had a good watering. Some sand from the milk bottles had dried enough to re -fill some younger plastic bottles

The daffs & bluebells in the comfrey bed are doing well

The Parsnips I left to go to seed and covered with a cloche are doing extremely well

The over wintered cabbage is not doing bad

Over wintered onions holding there own at the moment.

At home I have been clearing out the space saver greenhouse and gradually getting it ready for spring sowings.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Free Capillary Matting

last year I bought some Moisture/Capillary Matting Watering/Greenhouse off ebay and paid through the nose for it.

This year I deconstructed an old single mattress that needed to be taken to the dump and found that the same rag cloth is used on top of the springs once you take the mattress cover off. 

I've ended up with 8 double gravel tray mats and 14 seed tray mats with enough over for all the half, quarter trays and propagator trays  

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Kerb Stones & Shed Waiting

I picked up a dozen 600 x 150 x 50mm kerbstones off freecycle, I had hoped that they would be idea for the re-paving of the back garden, but they turned out not to be the bull nosed but half rounded tops, so they got dropped off down to plot 23B

These will go at the back of the plot and will edge the footpath and the comfrey bed

The recent winds had taken two of the Daleks for a trip around the allotment so next time I visit I need to mark the daleks encase they decide to go walkies again on the next windy day.

The sheds are being manufactured and my brother-in-law and I are hoping for a delivery this Friday as we are both off for the day. 

Sunday 7 February 2016

It's Half About The Base

8:00 - 10:00 First visit Plot 1A Mill Green to see what damage the high winds yesterday have done!  A couple of the hoop nets are leaning a little and the wind has got into the large sprout hoop  enclosure and lifted the netting and the weights have rolled off, so they were reinstated as we have another high wind warning for Monday.

The Bluebells and daffs that I planted in the comfrey bed are up and I'm hoping for a show before the comfrey takes over the bed. I weeded out the nettles after taking this picture.

The over wintering cabbages are doing well, next visit I may have to freshen up the snail and slug pellets in the pop bottle slug traps. I took some kitchen waste with me and was please to see that the worms and insects have been busy in daleks 3&4 and the levels had dropped considerably. So I added a layer of shredded paper, the kitchen waste and a good sprinkle of coffee grounds.

A core hole was then made in the middle and charged with coffee grounds and liquid gold and water from the water butts added so that the daleks warm up again.

Next job was making milk bottle soft bricks, then cutting timber batten to make stakes for the decking down on 23B.  

10:00 - 10:30 B&Q to pick up slabs and crushed glass bedding material

10:30 - 13:00 Spencer Road Plot 23B

So with 10 slabs a sack of crushed glass and stuff from Mill Green me thinks I hope no one else has decided to take the car in as I'm right down the bottom of the narrow car width access road.

What I was not expecting was some numpty parking over the gates!!. Luckily he was only half over and I managed to reverse into the access road, otherwise I would have been snookered.

Keith and Pauline were on their plot beavering away cutting up pallets to make fencing and I set to work levelling up the ground using stones and bits of paving slabs and then a layer of sand or crushed glass and managed to get all the slabs laid by 13:00 which was leaving time to get home for Sunday roast dinner. It was fortunate that Keith had a couple of bags of crushed glass over from putting his base in otherwise it would not have happened today

State of play just before I cleared up and came home.

Note to self take old broom down to the plot for sweeping the paved paths. The decking board is destined for the back of the plot, but it has been useful in helping get the slabs base flat, I'm not saying it's level, but it is at least flat.

The path into the plot is to the right of the gravel board and for the moment it will be woodchip when I get that far. Keith has ordered the sheds this afternoon and we are just awaiting an agreed delivery day. I work for myself, and Keith works funny shifts so we have a couple of dates agreed when we can both be there to take receipt of the sheds and hopefully get them erected the same day depending on what time they turn up.

Next on the agenda for plot 23B is 6 number 2.4m gravel boards for the first two beds. I need to cut some corner timbers next time I'm at Mill Lane. Work starts on the site behind on the 10th March so access is going to be a little difficult from then on. That means that I'm going to grow things that don't need a lot of tender loving care, Potatoes. Marrows, Squash (Yes Squash Queen you have converted me), sweet corn etc. but it also means that the greenhouse may not be as productive or as useful this year.

Consideration of how to get the Greenhouse moved to Spencer Road in one lump is festering in my mind as its aluminium and plastic sheeting and not really heavy, it just needs an open back truck that can fit a 4 x 6 foot greenhouse in it, and a few bodies to help with the getting it on and off again. 

The alternative is to buy another greenhouse for spencer road if I intend to keep both plots on?  In the short term I have two blow-away growhouses that will be tied back to the shed with bungee cord, that I will use for growing seedlings and then tomatoes in. I also plan to make a coldframe using the glass door panel in the photograph above.