Monday, May 29, 2006

IT and plant pots.

Tidied our "study" today, now we are on BT broadband everyone except the dog seems to want to use the PC all day, so that was my chance to get it all set up correctly and tidy up. Had to upgrade the memory though, BT Yahoo stuff all wanted a minimum of 256Mb, so gave it 512Mb.
Finished off the greenhouse staging today. When I assembled the frame I managed to get the supports for the staging upside down. The whole staging frame is aluminum "angle-iron" and while the perimiter is "stick your thumb out to make a right angle and put your hand in the air" the supports should be "point your hand at the ground". Of course I had done the whole lot "point up", reasonably easy to sort, undo them one at a time, slide the brace up the greenhouse frame, rotate the support ninety degreess, slide it down below the staging, do the additional ninety degrees, slide back up and re-attach all bolts.
Populated the staging with the contents of all the cold frames and propogators littering the terrace and even did some potting up of geranium cuttings/plants evicted from the study.
Very satisfying.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Glaziers boy

Up, out and at the greenhouse today.
Fitted two louvre units on the west side, did not bother with the east side as that has the staging and outside the hedge a foot or two away.
Fitted all four roof vents, two currently have no means of holding open once lifted. Two are fitted with "Jempvents" from Kays Horticultural, these are diagonally placed on the house. Kept the OH amused for an hour or two, not adoringly watching her beloved as I thought, but watching the greenhouse roof open and close by itself!
The door gave a bit of trouble, as I had to use a step ladder to slot it into its hinge and not being a light lad the ladder sank a bit in the wet soil!
Set to the glazing after that and it went quite smoothly, once I got the knack of using the pre-beaded mastic, shame it comes five beads across the sheet on the roll as that tends to lead to beads sticking to each other at the slightest provocation.
Broke for tea with the perimiter fully glazed and completed the roof at about nine thirty as the light was fading fast.

A footnote on vandals.
Overheard sticks being broken and went to look, caught two little darlings, each carrying a bundle of canes, "found in them bushes mate" by little oik, other darling known to me legged it a quite a rate. So got some of David's canes back for him, somewhat shorter than before, but principal holds good as able to point out "I'll have that stolen property back thank you.".

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Structural engineering.

Today has been a biggie, in the rain.
Got up late, dry but cloudy. Went out with the dog and saw Albert on site with his brother. Went and had a chat to explain where his nettles had gone, seemed a bit vague, more worried about the rainwater on the adjacent path than vandals. Still able to give him the shed key he had left in the door. While we talked the heavens opened.
Went back home and in a lull covered the greenhouse frame with plastic sheeting and an old gazebo cover, this kept the inside "dry" and I was able to set to work attaching the frame to the sleeper base. First up I measured, cut and screwed to the sleepers the 2"x1" treated timber to take the lip on the frame base.
Fortunately the extension, that I have not used, had two bits of 3/16" x 1&1/4" flat aluminium bar that lay over the joint between the frames. I have used one of these to manfufacture angle brackets attached to the frame using, the bolt slot in the bars and the correct aluminum bolts, and brass screws into the sleepers. Six of those and a number of strategically placed brass screws straight through the base bar into the sleepers.
Only got wet once, when a plastic sheet grew a puddle inside the frame, then slipped in through the frame to decant the puddle on my lap as I sat beneath.

Friday, May 26, 2006

More Holes

Went on "fence patrol" with the dog this evening.
Another hole cut, over the top of my last major repair.
Attempte to build some sort of hide just inside between Albert's shed and compost bin.
Dismantled the hide, re-patched the fence, trimmed the nettles on Albert's compost bin and some of the blackthorn branches. Now the attacked area is open to view of people walking along the main path, so here's hoping.
Although drier the ground is too wet for any useful gardening today.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Went out with the dog for a stroll past the site tonight.
Found more stuff that should have been on people's plots outside the site. Went in to talk to some of the plotholders and ask them to report anything to Plod, two of them pointed out a group of kids trying very obviously to be inconspicuous and sneak along the footpath behind the bushes and said they had been in when they arrived and had been hanging around outside waiting for them to leave.
Recognised two of them, they have nice responsible decent parents who have had words with them and told me to ring them directly if they are seen again. Just need to track down some of the others now.

Monday, May 22, 2006


So annoyed and wet, David rang me, his bean canes were missing, had anything happened over the weekend. I was not aware of anything, but being one of lifes realists, some would say a pessemist, I took the dog out between showers and had a look.

Some little sod(s) had really been at the boundary fence. Down at Paul's plot someone had unknitted the chainlink and scrambled through, could not see any damage, down by David's some absolute arse, had cut out a two foot by three foot chunk of chain link, even cut the straining wires.

Took the dog home, changed and went back with pliers, gloves, wirecutters, wire and annoyance on my mind. Re-knitted Pauls bit fairly easily, the other bit ended up with pigwire, chicken wire and two angle iron posts and I ended up soaked through after nearly two hours in the pouring rain.

Why do kids in an affluent area like this indulge in this sort of damage? Is it some juvenile power kick, look I can annoy someone. It's a real shame that there is so little one can do about it, legally and practically I have probably done all that can be done already.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Catch up posting

Been a bit busy, so this is a catch up posting since the 14th.
My good friend Robert made me up the two "missing" brackets from a bit of aluminium sheet. Fitted first time, a very accurate workman is Robert.
Potted up all my Squash seedlings and sowed two more lots and some ridge cuccumbers in the heated propogator.
Have now sort of finished the sleeper base for the greenhouse. The last three foot section on the top layer, turned out to be one inch too deep at one end and then the rain arrived. Grrrrr.
Not quite sure how to deal with this hump, mulling it over while the rain continues.
Also the widthways internal sleeper to edge the end bed has to be dug in, it is cut to length. All much too slippery / sticky for digging or glass handling.
Had to buy a new tape measure as my old one, after nearly twenty years finally snapped in two.
Also bought a bundle of 2" x 1" timber to sit between the sleepers and the aluminium base frame. Imagine one of these [ brackets cut in half and turned clockwise ninety degrees, that is the profile of the metal, so these battens will allow the lip to droop.
Replacement mastic and automatic vent openers arrived from Kays quite promptly.

Something, slugs I think, had been at my peas on plot 17, added yet more slug pellets when I put up a cunning frame of reinforcing mesh for them to scramble on. Seems to have worked as they now have leaves again

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I've been framed.

The ten sleepers for the greenhouse bas arrived on friday morning, delivered to the front lawn. I had a brainwave during the afternoon at work and we managed to move them all to the back garden in under an hour without really lifting them at all. What was the brainwave, an old skateboard we found in the bushes a few years ago, it has done sterling work as a "dolly" for moving sleepers.
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The greenhouse frame is now complete and the base is three quarters complete, with just one side to do. Then there are the two internal bed edges to do, a path across from the garden path to the door, internal paving for the non-bed areas, glazing, then maybe time to grow something in it.
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The blue thing in the foreground is the redoubtable skateboard. Must get something planted rear left of this shot, just to screen the house from the footpath over the fence.
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Allotment things, I have weeded the overwintering onions, all the strawberries and the other soft fruit. The latest lot of squash seeds have just started to emerge and I really should do some potting up of older seedling sweetcorn and squash. The climbing french beans sown outside in the coldframe have also just started to emerge. My son's peas have germinated, all three of them, heaven knows what got the rest, no signs of soil disturbance, ah well, we'll just have to sow some more.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Guess what.

After careful investigation, of all "spare" parts, original site, all moved parts, all locations in-between and the assembled frame, there are no more brackets and there never were! I'll have to get a bit of sheet aluminum and make my own as I want the maximum strength.

Hoed between my ten eighteen foot potato rows and hoed my sunny strawberry patch.
Noticed alot of weed germination on the bit of my fruit terrace that had had a bonfire on it last year as I put the hoe away, it could be from the perenniel herb stalks that were stacked there until lighting.

Sleepers due tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Greenhouse frame is now complete, bar two reinforcing / linking braces, which needless to say are firmly attached to the bits I thought I would not need and left in the garage at the original location. Will retrieve them later.

Ordered two MASTIC200’ from N A Kays at for re-glazing and two automatic vent openers from the same place.

Ordered ten grade A used railway sleepers for my base, due Friday morning. Plan is to use three on the first layer at the bottom of the slope and five on the second layer, with two dividing the inside into, a paved five by eight area inside the door and left side with staging above along the left side and two beds; one two foot deep along the right side and one about three to four foot deep across the whole end.

Must remember I have an allotment and it needs weed seedlings to be hoed and things to be planted out and sowed.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Slight progress

Greenhouse now has three, of five, pairs of roof bars installed, two pairs to go.
Sowed eleven Baby Bear Pumpkin seeds and nine Delicata (Cornell Strain) Squash in the heated propagator.
Keep revising my proposed layout for the greenhouse.
Am trying to source some more glazing clips and replacement "beading" mastic for bedding the glass on, Kays seem to be the best bet so far.

Visited the allotment between showers, everything has started to grow, amazing what a bit of rain can cause.

Forgetful me.

Last week I sowed some squash, Crown Prince (6 seeds) and Butternut Waltham Sprinter (11 seeds). With my excitement about the greenhouse I forgot about them till about midnight last night, so ended up checking them when letting the dog out for her bedtime widdle.

Crown Prince, six seedlings.

Butternut Sprinter, eleven seedlings.

Excellent, must remember to sow some more tonight.

Originally when I started growing squash I had low germination rates, but once I started to use a heated propagator things improved greatly. Sown in trays, given one good watering, allowed to drain and in the propagator with the lid on and once clear of the compost the seedlings go into a lighter environment.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

An interesting weekends work.

Gardenwise I have had an interesting weekend.

Re-sprayed the couch and bindweed on plot 18 on Friday night. Also mowed all the between the plots paths on site. Since then I have not been on site.

What started out as a brief Saturday expedition with a friend to see how difficult a sixteen by eight greenhouse would be to dismantle, turned into an all day job as it came apart beautifully. So we totally dismantled it, packed most of it in my trailer, took it home just as the rain started, had a meal, unloaded putting all the glass safely in the now empty potato storage shed. Then we went back, packed nearly all the rest in the trailer, the lengthways bits being too long, took that lot back home, and off loaded.
By then it was pitch dark and the rain was hosing down, so I took my friend back to his home at about 9:15, on the way back from his house, sans trailer, I collected the lengthways bits in the car via the ski hatch with an LED cyclist clip-on light on the end.

Today I started to assemble the frame at home. The sixteen foot run is made up of a twelve foot house with a four foot extension inserted, I am discarding the extension as it won't fit in the only practical location within my garden. I did quite well before it got too dark, after a late start due to offspring's sporting commitments. All four walls are up and connected and the ridge is in, as is the built-in staging down one side. Just the roof rails to add now and the frame will be complete. Will order some sleepers to make the base during the week.

But the best bit is, we did not break even one piece of glass.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hot compost.

Took the rotary mower with pickup bucket up the allotment.
Mowed the carpark and main path, could not mow as low as I wanted too because the uncollected mowings from two previous cuts had hung around. Still, I got five barrow loads of quite dry cuttings to add heat to my compost bins. Must get a wider mower some time, wouldn't take so long.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Squash start

Sowed Butternut "Waltham Sprinter" F1 and Crown Prince F1 in heated propagator.
First block of sweetcorn from house to coldframe.
Lid off tray on dining table while indoors, it goes on the lawn during the day.

First potato leaves just emerging on plot, pea's writhing out of the ground.
Various patches around and about showing lots of seed-leaves, probably weeds, ho-hum.

Monday, May 01, 2006


My scepticism was mis-founded, I found some fantastic watering cans at "The Range".
An eleven litre plastic "Promo Watering Can" 176732 @ £3.49p with a four inch diameter black plastic rose and replacement rose's with a rubber body and brass perforated plate 256413 @ £0.99p

Only went to the plot to fit the new roses, test the new cans and pick some Purple Sprouting for supper.

The new cans are brilliant. water faster than a mains hose, but gently enough for the seedbed.