Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dig that!

Great day today, son's rugby went well.

Showed Simon the bit of plot 1 that will become vacant soon, he wants it, so I need to drop a note through Peter's door so they can get in touch and arrange takeover.

Started digging on plot 18 and got through about 20 sq yd.
Had to clean the spade every five uses, I have a "cheapie" dutch hoe head (handle went years ago) and that is perfect for spade cleaning as it is thin pressed sheetmetal.

Gaynor & OH appeared while I was digging, so was able to explain the soil heaps and show where I am heading with the fence, they said they would clear the odds & sods blocking the next section when they are next down on site.

Moved on to cut down all the dead stuff on my herb patch, while I was doing that "D" appeared, I had offered him my blackcurrant bushes as I want to get rid of them. I have a row across the plot which are in the way of rotovating etc, so I want them out. Anyway "D" dug up three and barrowed them off ot his plot, he may come back for the rest. Now that is a result, someone else does the hard work for a change! Cleared all the dead stuff and piled it up.

It has dried out alot since I last posted, I no longer have seepage running across my plots, but it is still pure grease just by my shed door.

Yesterday I made major progress on getting all the bits needed to be able to use my Howard rotovator as a plough, now I just need the one bit I'll probably never find.
The wheel axle extension that allows the wheels to straddle the plugh cut and earth roll.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Free plot - taken plot.

Had a phone call from the landlord during the week.
Diane was giving up plot 12a as they had never managed to get to grips with it and they had a prospective tenant already off the waiting list.
Phoned him yesterday, he pottered down in sensible hobby-nobby boots within half an hour of being rung, showed him round and he took it.
100% occupancy again.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Earth moving posting.

After Thursday's transportation debacle it was my good fortune to have previously booked Friday off, so I have had a nice day.

It took five minutes to walk home from the allotment site.

Dog and I took darling daughter to school, then dog and I walked to the bakers where I got some fresh ginger danish, macaroons and a freshly baked loaf, while the dog had a dump en-route. We went home where I had a cup of tea and a ginger danish, while the dog drooled a bit and then had a lump off the end of my danish. Then we both went gardening.

The soil on my plots is as axle grease, this is due to their location. Not to put too fine a point on it my two plots are a disgrace, as each has a stream running through it, To the south a primary school lies at the top of the hill, then its playing field slopes down to a wooded bank, where a public footpath lies between the school fence and allotment site fence. Inside the site fence a bank drop roughly two to three foot to the top of my plots.All the rain, runoff and soak-in comes down the slope and into my plots. On plot eighteen it is oozing out of the bank and down through the herbs into the cultivated area. On plot seventeen it oozes out behind the shed, runs under and leaves it standing in a pool. The shed is up on bricks so is ok, but the water then trickles through the fruit terrace and on ito the cultivated area.

So not really up to doing much beyond a quick inspection, plants transplanted from mothers garden are OK, bluebells up, primroses flowering. Bought in daffodils are up, leaves are anyway.

So continued my fencing, over on the other side of the site, plot 1, which is next to the old main gate. Where as it is under the hedge next to the ditch, it was quite dry, - for a given value of dry at least.

To be able to remove the old fence, (not yet, but ready to) and to insert my day's target of three new posts, I had to clear 30' x 2' x 10" of lovely crumbly moistly dry soil, this was the result of the previous plot tenants weed and rubbish disposal policy, "pile it against the fence". I guestimate I moved somewhere between two and three tons, in half barrow loads nicely balanced for my back.

The weather was a complete contrast to the stormy winds of Thursday, bright sunshine, light breeze, in fact so warm I was able to work in boots, trousers and T-shirt.

Once the target was reached I packed up and as the dog had behaved so well we went for a walk . I lay out an large old plastic compost sack and a piece of "pan scourer" carpet underlay doubled over on top of that, dog sits or lies on it depending on what is going on around us. Today she resisted the lure of looking for squirrels and did not come and stick her nose in the way of the spade.

To tell how wet it is generally round here, the noise of her running in the public green spaces we walk in was akin to someone playing the bongos with an inch of thickset custard on them. Much to her disgust she got bathed when we got home.

Finished the day by doing the weekly shop, then went to an allotment society committee meeting, but that is a whole different story.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stuck in trains, rather than gardening, a rant.

Thursday was "interesting" as in I wish it had not been so.
Started around late morning when the cafe facia opposite work exploded out of its frame, leaving the flourescent tubes undamaged, the plastic sheet shattered as it went across the pavement and some of the largest bits whacked into the rear quarter of a passing doubledecker bus. How the passing pedestrians and bu passengers avoided injury amazes me. The plastic whilst translucent was quite thick and sturdy, must have been fairly rigid as it snapped rather than bent.
We were all advised around four to leave work early if we used trains, sadly that advice came too late for me. Went at five, via the usual two tube lines to Tottenham to find the One station shut with no relief buses and no prospect of trains running again that day. Bit hard to fix overhead power cables while the wind that brought them down is still blowing. So I took a cooks tour of the underground, extended by Liverpool Street being shut due to a fire alert, to Monument where I walked to Bank and then took two Central Line trains to Debden and finally to Epping. At Epping eventually got a one-man-operated singledecker bus, poor chap took nigh on twenty minutes to process some of the queue into a stuffed to the gills bus and off our bus groaned to Harlow, where a deserted and windy bus station awaited us. After a longer wait a bus heading for the general vicinity of Stortford. Got dropped off half a mile from home, on my normal route to walk down to the station, so walked home.

What takes somewhere between an hour on a good day and an hour and a half normally, took four hours.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A dry day at last.

Rhino had a rugby match this morning, a hard fought and honourable 5 - 5 draw against Harpenden.
Light wind, compared to yesterday, no rain, even reasonable light 1/10th cloud with nice sunlight.
When I came home decided to set out for the allotment site to fence, as my plots are both still too greasy to permit any useful work.

Just took the tools in the trolley to start with as I was unsure how greasy the ground might be. Decided the best thing to do would be the next braced, or straining, post. This turned out to be the worst post of the whole fence, could not do it inside the old fence as Cath & Colin have a raised mound in front of the old fence, so had to work outside the old fence, which was tricky as I had no flat ground to start with. What I had to work with was a six to seven foot deep ditch, with a foot wide ledge just outside the fence, which until I got to work with the spade was a slope down into the side of the ditch. Not as bad as it sounds because there were some field maple and blackthorn up to 2" diameter to give me some footholds.

Once I'd made a platform to work on progress was rapid, barring the ditch negotiation each time I needed to fetch stuff or get back to work. I had the upright's hole done within half an hour, went and got the upright on my shoulder and it slotted in just right. The brace holes preparation was done within another half hour, then back home with the empty trolley to get the braces and three bags of ready-mix concrete. As per usual the brace holes needed more taking out to fit and as per usual the old posts reinforcing concrete intruded, meaning I should really have been a foot further to the left, but it was managable.

Once all that lot was bolted together and concreted in I still has enough daylight left to finish off the fifteen foot length. Planted two dog-roses in the gap between the new fence and the deliberately left length of old fence, then sewed both fences together at each end of the old length. All the gale force wind of recent weeks had taken the bramble and pushed it over, so what I'd trimmed to vertical was leaning away into the ditch at fortyfive degrees.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoons exercise with some concrete results.
Now there is the small matter of the eleven upright posts needed to fill in between the two bits of work described above.