Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Sunday, 11 December 2011

All glazed over!

The Greenhouse build has been a long and complicated event but as the title implies, it now stands proudly in the allotment with all its glass in place. There are still finishing off things to do, and the inside to be kitted out, but I am delighted.

SInce my last posting, the weather has been against us. We got up the 2nd day of the build to discover the gable end we had left on the lawn was covered in ice! 

I know its December but it was a bit of a shock and very cold on the poor hands, anyway, we carried on but I was apparently not helping much, so was allocated the task of putting together the window frames whilst Jim worked on the very complicated gable ends.

Doors next. At this point I wished that I had gone for the simple one door option rather than the fancy double sliding door combo... Another few hours later and several cups of tea, and the doors were assembled. 

Finally the bits and pieces could move to their final resting place and be joined together.

Of course,  the ground wasn't level, various holes were dug and bits of dirt levelled out and after a day, final construction could go ahead. I of course hadn't helped matters much by putting together the two opening window frames back to front! Weather conditions were deteriorating but Jim laboured on and the greenhouse was whole...

Now it was the turn of the glass to go in but before that, I spent a worried evening wondering how much of the frame would be left after very high winds hit the Uk. Next morning it was still in place exactly where Jim  left it.. and the glass started to make its journey from the garage to the allotment. 

So the main work is done, Its up, Its very square and level and concreted into place and its watertight... now time to tart it up a bit. I ordered some fancy shelves and staging and also a rainwater collection kit to attach to my water butt, so if it ever stops raining, we shall get down to the end of the garden and finish off the work.  Thanks to my very patient husband for a great job.. On a final note, I shall be sending an email to whoever wrote the instruction booklet and ask him to do it again in English! 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Greenhouse build continues

Just a quick update.. The greenhouse is resisting all attempt to put it together. 3 Days in and its not even joined together yet. Jim has spent hours and it is getting there but nowhere near complete. Watch this space for more news.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Buildings popping up all over...

So finally after several weeks of waiting two phone calls in one day. The shed was to be delivered on the 30th and the Greenhouse the following day. Typical, so now its was going to be a rush to get the shed up before the arrival of the greenhouse.

Yesterday dawned (literally) bright and sunny and at just after 8am a rather cheerful chap from Northampton arrived with our shed in bits on the back of his van. How can someone talk that much when he has been up for hours driving a long way on motorways. Anyway within 10 minutes Jim knew his full life history including what the kids were getting for christmas and when his wife took down the Christmas decorations!

Several trips back and forward and the shed was deposited in the garden. Off went the happy chap to Weymouth to fit a ladies potting shed window. 

Now it was time for coffee and toast and a quick look at the instruction. First problem of the day, No instructions. Ever resourceful, while I made the coffee Jim found a leaflet on the manufacturers website and we were soon outside lining bits up. 

I found myself as general dogsbody and holder of bits of wood for a couple of hours whilst the building took shape.

When it had reached this point I had to go out for the afternoon, but left Jim working away, by the time I got home, it was too dark to see, but was informed that the shed only needed one more sheet of tar paper on the roof and the windows installing.

So today 1st december dawned (once again literally, don't these delivery men know we are retired) with a telephone call to inform us that the Greenhouse was on its way and would be with us in 30 minutes.. Oh dear, ( Well sort of) out of bed at speed and get dressed, only 10 minutes later, the doorbell rang, (which is quite a rare event, ask anyone who has tried ringing our bell) and there it was. Well there were numerous boxes and lots of glass. 

Lots more trips up and down the garden and the greenhouse was waiting to be assembled. Now I could also see what a great job Jim had made of the shed. We spent the next hour finishing it off. Very nice.

Greenhouse next. This time there were instructions, in fact so many instructions its like reading war and peace. Very Complicated. Jim went off for a bit to read them, and came back with a plan.. Follow the instructions ! 

With loads of boxes and numerous almost identical pieces if aluminium, this was not going to be easy, sorting out your horizontal glazing bar from your end support bracket was complicated and heated debate took place whilst we sorted the bits. 

Eventually we had the bits to start putting the side panels together as per the instructions. Reading them alone was akin to trying to understand Russian, but luckily there were pictures.

After a slow start we were off and it wasn't long before the side panels were assembled.

Now it was time for the rear panel, far more complicated as it had a gable end as well, I could see this was building (Pardon the Pun) up to be at least a four argument construction. Finding the right pieces was bad enough then we had to work out which way round they went, even the pictures were no help here, after thinking we had finally got it right, I noticed section three, (bearing in mind we were now on about Section 8,) which said we had to put the glazing strips in. Oh well undo what we have done and start again.

At this point it began to rain, Not just a simple shower but very heavy and overcast, the instruction book began to dissolve, they may not be great but they were all we had, so it was time to declare game over for the day, rain stops play....

Watch this space for continued building stories tomorrow. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tree Trimming

Its early Thursday Morning, far too early for someone who is retired to be out of bed.. (Well its 8.30ish ) and the Tree surgeons have just arrived. The edge of the veg patch was lined with Leylandi by the last owner and they need some serious attention so hopefully in the next hour, I will have claimed back a couple of feet of garden.

Other news, there is a good chance the greenhouse will arrive at the weekend. Its apparently being delivered to our supplier today and he needs to check its all there before it comes out to me, so watch this space for construction photos next week. 

Finally off to the garden centre later for a wheelbarrow. Have set my heart on a rather fancy purple wheelbarrow that I saw last week. After looking on the internet, we can't find it anywhere cheaper so off to get it this afternoon.

Its a County Clipper and is very lightweight and easy to wheel, (Well it was in the shop) so I shall look forward to moving stuff in it soon.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Things are beginning to change

So its been a busy week in the garden but finally my plans are starting to come together. Last week was all about groundwork, and not in the veg patch, but in the main part of the garden.

As regular readers will have seen the lawn is beautiful and the beds either side also very pretty but it was all a bit featureless. we decided that as the garden was a sun trap pretty much all year round, a summerhouse would be the way ahead. Lots of research later the correct one was identified and ordered,

But now we needed a base. I always like to use local tradesmen so after a few calls one was lined up, sadly days before we were due to start he called to say he couldn't make it. Oh dear.... Luckily my brother a not so local builder was able to help out. Of course that meant I had also now become a boarding house proprietor for David and Pete.. 

Last Tuesday morning they arrived and began digging up our lovely lawn. to explain a little further, as we were having a base laid for a summer house, we decided it would be nice to have another patio laid alongside it and then while we were at it also lay a base for a shed next to the summerhouse. This should explain the rather odd shaped hole they are digging. 

Originally we had planned to use concrete paving slabs from a high street store, but once Dave became involved things changed. A couple of years ago he had worked on a building for a stone company near his home and he suggested that we go and look at their stuff.

Off we went and were very impressed, so the stone you see piled up at the side is actually Indian Sandstone and they is the same price as the concrete slabs. If you are ever in the market for pretty much anything made of stone have a look at; 

Work progressed quickly aided by numerous cups of tea and slices of cake!

By Thursday afternoon we had a beautiful patio and all that remained was for the concrete mixer lorry to arrive on Friday and it was done.

Now we just need the buildings to arrive and it will look great. Thanks Dave and Pete for a great job.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Getting ready for the groundwork

Its been a few days but things have been going on and I haven't had much to tell you about the garden. As we have recently moved here stuff in the house needs to get done as well.

The Greenhouse is still not here, maybe this week, I certain hope so. But the glorious weather has made working outdoors a pleasure. After much thought and working out we ordered a Summerhouse and a shed for the grassed end of the garden, we also decided to have a patio laid around the summerhouse in a great sunny spot. Local builders were called and estimates promised, but after 2 weeks one didn't bother and the other said he could no longer do the job in our timescale. Oh ****. Luckily for me, my brother also a builder but not local, found himself with nothing much on next week so the job was his.

Of course that means I have now made myself a B&B, for my brother and his mate for a week and so as well as having work going on in the garden, I have given myself more work inside too. I don't really mind as he is the best builder I know and Im not just saying that cause he's my bruvver! 

Typically there were some very nice plants in the beds right where I want the buildings to go, so this morning in weather more suited to summertime I was out digging stuff up and moving it around. I know I will pay the price later but after a couple of hours the plants were moved and its all ready now for the work to begin. 

Just a couple of pictures below of some very pretty flowers which have come out in the last few days. I know I should be worried about global warming but if it means blooms like these in November and eating my lunch outside in the sun in a T shirt, I say bring it on.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Rather a lot of leaves!

Not much been going on in the garden the last few days, The trouble with having a house attached to it means that sometimes, I have to spend a bit of time doing inside things. 

Stuff is moving on, even though there is no evidence of it outside, after calling an electrician last week, to get a quote for power to the greenhouse and lights in the gardens, (so I can spend time out there even in the dark) it dropped through the door. It was perfectly OK so we accepted and now we wait for the arrival of the greenhouse before work can begin. By my calculation it should come the week after next but I am not holding my breath. 

The other end of the garden often needs attention as well, and thats where the title comes in. The garden is surrounded on two side by trees and at least 3 very large Oak Trees.

Luckily none of them are ours but they do not respect boundaries and so all of them have been dumping their unwanted leaves all over the lawn. Luckily in anticipation of this Jim bought a rather fancy garden leaf vacuum so I think this morning a bit of lawn hoovering is in order!

As soon as something a bit more interesting happens, I will let you know.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Its all about compost

So the last few days have been dominated by compost. How to make it , where to get it, how to store it, what to make the storage from, and so on.

After a bit of thought Jim said that pallets would be the best sort of wood to use to make a bin of some sort, in which to store compost. An appeal was duly launched on Freecycle for unwanted pallets. A very helpful lady said that Travis Perkins gave theirs away so I made a quick phone call to the local branch. They were very helpful and said normally they would be very happy to give away pallets but had given there entire stock to the local Round Table for a bonfire. I was not surprised as we had attended the rather good bonfire and firework display last Saturday and the number of pallets on the fire had been cause for discussion. 
Another member said that they had 5 pallets that we were welcome to take, and so arrangements were made. The new trailer was off for its first outing, we did a bit of multi-tasking and went to the local tip on the way to deposit some garden waste ( Not suitable for the current project) and then onwards for the pallets. They were perfect for the job so after a bit of heaving, they were loaded and strapped and on the way home. 
Yesterday Jim got out his tools and started the job, I was inside but could here all sorts of banging and sawing going on. I wandered out to offer Coffee and saw he had done a great job. It was only part done as we needed to carry it the length of the garden and put it in place before he finished it.  

Now we had the component parts for a bin, we needed some manure. Freecyle again and in about 10  minutes we had more offers of horse manure than we knew what to do with. Living in the New Forest, poo is not in short supply, its just a matter of collecting it. Again an arrangement was made and this morning the trailer was hitched up and off we went. A short drive away we met Steve  and his Shetland pony Ellie and her companion a beautiful 1 year old Arabian horse whose name we never got. 15 minutes with the shovels and the trailer was loaded with some very well rotted manure. Homeward bound.

So this afternoon, the trailer was hauled through the garage into the back garden and the part built bin carried to the end. I decided to put it in the same place I had originally put my plastic composting bin. 
Tools were located and the banging and hammering resumed. As I was not required at this stage of construction, I had other things to keep myself occupied. Earlier this week as predicted another white van arrived outside with the missing plastic compost bin. I cleared a space next to the original and set up the new one. I must admit, I was less careful this time, I decided a spirit level is not really required to garden! It was soon in place alongside the other one.

Meanwhile across the garden the pallet masterpiece was finished. 

All I had to do no was move the extremely heavy manure from one end of the garden to the other, I managed two bags on my own but after much huffing and puffing, Jim joined in and we quickly relocated the other three bags. Another 10 minutes with the shovel and the manure was relocated to its new home, that's it until next year when it gets dug into the garden. All that effort and it was only about a foot deep.

Oh well another visit to see Ellie and her friend is on the cards for later in the week!. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The bin gets fed!

The trailer was the next new toy to arrive. Jim went off after breakfast yesterday to meet a chap in the next town who was selling his small trailer, I only just had time to get myself dressed and he was back with his newest toy. 

A photo shot was duly organised and I felt it was time to get the new Wellies on. 

After a quick demonstration of how it tipped up I headed of to my garden. It was once again a beautiful day, 31st October and no coat! It was time to set up the composter. I had previously chosen what I thought was the most appropriate spot so armed with a spirit level and a spade I started to level the ground. 
About 20 minutes later the job was done. I had picked the spot because it was in a corner and out of the way. I suppose it would have helped if I had read the leaflet that came with it before I did this. My spot is deep in the shadows of a Leylandi tree and it doesn't get an awful lot of sun.
Sentence one of the leaflet "Make sure your composter is located in a sunny and warm area, this ensures the contents of the bin warm nicely and make good compost"  Oh Dear ( Well thats not what I really said but I don't know who is reading this). Time for  a cup of tea and a rethink. 
Suitably refreshed I started again, this time on the other side of the garden in another corner, but this time a sunny warm one. Luckily it wasn't quite so uneven on this side so 10 minutes later the bin was done again and starting to receive content. 
This time I had a quick look at the list of possible compostable items. Weeds was top of the list and as the plot has a fair few at the moment it was time to dig a some up. I had planned on hiring a rotivator once the hard work began, but full of enthusiasm I found my fork and off I went. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. The soil was nice and dry with small stones in it and each forkful was easily turned and shaken off the fork. Compared to digging in my old garden which was London Clay, it was a dream, no sticky gloppy mess to scrap of the fork each time. Before I knew it I had turned over a very large square and had a nice selection of weeds for the bin. 
Garden interlude over, I headed indoors and contemplated what to do next.
I decided to write this blog as a way of recording the Genesis of my new Garden. I hope that if you have taken the time to read it you will enjoy my story. I also hope that if any of you are gardeners and have experience at what I am trying to do you will share that with me. I look forward to your comments and suggestion as time passes and the bare earth starts to look a bit more like a proper vegetable patch. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Waste, Water and Wellies

So now I am twiddling my thumbs, I want to mark out the beds in the allotment but have decided not to until the greenhouse is up. I have also decided to have pea shingle paths around all of the beds so you get that satisfying crunching sound as you walk around. While I am waiting to do that I needed something else to get on with. 
I have been throwing away all of my kitchen waste since we moved here as the local authority don’t do green waste. Such a shame as my last was very good at that sort of thing. Compost is definitely the way ahead , so a last week it was internet research time again. I needed something to make compost in and a very large water butt. 
Jim found an excellent website which seemed to do the job
So after a bit of debate 2 Blackwall 330 litre compost converter kits and a 190 litre rain-saver water butt kit were duly ordered. 
Now the wait for delivery. Our house has become a bit of a white van magnet since we moved here. We have embraced the use of internet ordering and not much that arrives here, has not arrived via a wifi link. The neighbors must be wondering what we are doing, we bought so much stuff from our last house that didn't fit here, so it all arrived on a removal lorry and over the last few week its been leaving again via Ebay and Freecyle. 
Slightly off topic but I must include a quick plug for Freecyle.

If you don't know what it is have a look at . Its basically a place to give away and get stuff for free, and its not rubbish! we have recently acquired a rather nice petrol lawnmower and we gave away all of the packing materials that we used to move here.  Our local group is going to be very useful as there is always the offer of a steaming pile of horse manure. In fact so useful that Jim has bought a small trailer to collect it in. He is off to collect the trailer in an hour or so after he has had his toast. 
Right, back on topic. A few days ago the expected white van arrived outside. The company made a bit of a mistake and only sent one composter so a quick phone call and a promise of another white van sometime this week was made. 
The Composter and Water butt now stand expectantly next to the bamboo stake  greenhouse waiting to receive their contents. Typically, as I planned to set up the compost bin yesterday, it poured with rain, the first real rain since we moved here and of course the water butt was not able to collect water.

Those observant readers will have noticed that this blog is called Waste, Water and Wellies. So what about the Wellies. I didn't have any, and as I think they are an essential piece of allotment kit, a sunday afternoon trip out to get some was in order. 

Off we went yesterday afternoon to SCATS countrystore. The array of wellies was quite impressive. I have never been much of a designer girl, (except for my handbag collection) but I fell for the rather smart Barbour Green Wellies straight away. I convinced myself that I didn't need fancy wellies, a nice cheap practical pair would do, so the Barbour's went back and I wandered round looking for another pair. None were as comfortable, so 20 minutes later we left with the Barbour Wellies. They now sit sparkling by the back door waiting for their first trip down the garden later today  when once again I hope to set up the compost bin.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

So, what size should it be?

The greenhouse of course. Having alway had a tiny garden I was thinking 6 x 4 would do it so on a recent sunny afternoon we headed to the end of the garden with a ball of string and four bamboo canes to mark it out. 
I had spent the previous week watching the way the sun moved around across the day to work out the best position for the said building to be erected. 
I headed to the chosen spot and started to mark out where the greenhouse would go. 6 x 4 was obviously not big enough. After several enlargements I decided that a 10 x 8 would be the perfect size for me. So next step pick a greenhouse.
Internet research was helpful but it doesn't beat seeing it for real, completely by accident we stumbled upon an excellent outdoor building company, only a few miles from home. They had a great selection of greenhouses and I set my heart on a rather fancy green number. A trip to the sales office revealed that a coat of green enamel would mean a 6 - 8 week wait and an extra £400 on the total cost, so the plain aluminum it is then. The order was placed and now we wait for it to be delivered, sometime soon I hope. I have such big plans, a nice comfy chair, a radio and a kettle feature, alongside the plants I hope to grow. 
So that you can start to imagine what it will look like with me, below are a picture of the green house I have bought and the plot with the position of the greenhouse marked out. 

and this is where its going

The Beginning

My Dad grew vegetables, in fact so many vegetables especially runner beans that I hated them, we ate them every day for weeks on end because if we didn't they got thrown away. So who would have thought that as the years passed by I would develop a love of all veggies and started to want to grow them myself. 
We lived in the overcrowded South East of England and although I did have a garden it was very small and I was only able to grow a few things each year in tubs and flower beds. But those few successes gave me the taste for bigger things. Enquiries with the local council came to nothing. All the local allotment sites had waiting lists which were years long.
Impending retirement gave me the opportunity to finally get my veg patch. We decided to move house and I was determined that this time I would get the garden of my dreams. The current financial crisis did its best to de-rail our plans but after a long and frustrating 18 months we finally go an offer on the house.
So now the search was on, we had long wanted to move to the Lake District but for various reasons at the beginning of this year realised that for us, that was only a place to visit and enjoy not live in. So we changed our search area and concentrated our efforts on the Hampshire - Dorset borders. After many visits we decided on the specific places we would happily live and now with the offer on our house the pressure was on. A frantic day of internet research gave us a list of 10 houses to view and after leaving home very early on the morning of 20th July 2011 we turned up at our first viewing. We both loved the place straight away and went inside, we couldn’t have been happier, all the hard work was done and it was just a case of decorating to our taste, then I stepped out of the back door.

It was perfect.

That was it for me, I wanted the house or should I say garden, it got even better, a gate visible from the house lead to even greater things.

Finally, somewhere for me to have my own bit of the “Good Life.”
We still had 9 houses to view so off we went, but for both of us nothing matched up to the first house, I forgot to mention it was also only a 5 minute walk to the sea with a perfect view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles. Mid afternoon we called the agent and asked for another look at the first house. Back we went and it was just as good, in fact better than we remembered. The decision was made. A long drive home followed and over a chinese takeaway we discussed our tactics. The following morning after a few phone calls and one rejected offer the house was ours. Or should I say, I got my dream garden. 
Things progressed quickly and suddenly moving day was upon us. The moving men were very efficient and by the end of the 29th September our world was in the back of a lorry. One last dinner with our friends and then home to sleep in an empty house. 
Friday 30th September dawned bright, sunny and hot. What is going on with the weather? A quick bacon sandwich, a last push round of the hoover and we were off. By 1130 I emerged from a rather dead mobile phone spot in the New Forest and my phone sprang into life. It was the solicitor, the sale had gone through, the money was paid and the garden was ours. I couldn't believe how efficient they had been, in fact so efficient that when we got to the new place the old occupiers were still loading there stuff. Never mind, it was a lovely day so a short wait by the sea and we were in. 
The Lorry was unloaded by three and the grateful movers were back off home. That left just the two of us with loads of boxes and an amazing sunny afternoon. The house was quickly locked up and off we went for a long walk on the beach. 
The weekend was beautiful, hot and sunny. I spent as much time sitting outside in the garden as I could, but there was lots to unpack. All I could think about every time I looked out the window was what to do first. I had my list of priorities and the top of that was a greenhouse, Not the tiny 6x6 I had many years ago but a big one with lots of space to grow everything in.
Next on the list a Summerhouse and also a shed, but I knew that there would be lots of time to plan and make sure it was right. 
The unpacking was done in 4 days and the house looked pretty good. It felt like we had always lived here, a great atmosphere, as my husband said, “its like being on holiday, but with all your own stuff.” 
So now to start planning the garden.