Veg Patch

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

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A very busy week in the garden!

Make your self comfortable, get a cup of tea and prepare to be reading this for a while. I debated lots of smaller posts but decided to go for the whole week in one go. 

Last post was devoted to the imminent arrival of all things Chicken, well that has continued all week, but still, at the moment we are chicken-less, but not through lack of trying, its seems its the wrong time of year to buy chickens. Oh well we are promised some next week so cross everything. 

Although we don't have the chickens they do have a rather swanky new home waiting for them.  www.chickencoopsdirect.com delivered as promised and once again we had a building in boxes. This time on a much smaller scale.


A quick inspection and glance at the very small instruction leaflet and we were off. The bits all needed wood preservative before being put together so painting was the first order of the day. 




My job was to mark out where the new house was to go so off to the end of the garden with a ball of string and tape measure. It didn't take long and the spot was marked. 




While I was at it I decided to mark out some of my raised beds and the borders of the paths.



Meanwhile the painting was going well and bits were starting to appear in the garden. 



Before long it was looking great. 



The final bit of construction was the double run, then to make it fox and vermin proof. 






Job Done. You will see from the mud we have had quite a bit of rain this week but that hasn't put us off, or the trades that have been here as well.

Electricity in the Garden and lights have been high on the list for a while and this week Mike the sparky has got a lot of it done. I had no Idea that armoured cable was so expensive. apparently its a favourite item for theft as it has so much metal in it! anyway we now have a lot of it running around the outside of our garden and the shed and summerhouse already have power, with the garden lights to follow next week. 


Meanwhile back in the garden, we need to put a border around the edge of the allotment to hold the gravel paths I am planning to install. So wood was required. Some time ago we acquired a load of pallets for nothing from Wickes at Christchurch. They have been stacked just waiting for there chance to get involved. Now was the time. 


Armed with a jemmy and club hammer I have spent the past two days breaking the pallets up and removing all the nails. my arms are knackered today, so much so that we are going to have a garden free day today and do something else! it took hours but I think I am going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by the time I have finished this particular job!

At some point, I can't remember when ( it may have been tuesday) we went out for a bit and I decided to go to the garden centre and buy some seed. So armed with my list we headed for Stewarts at Christchurch. I Spent a happy 45 minutes in the seed section sorting out what to grow. Jim got bored and wandered off but I emerged with an enormous pile of packets. If I manage to grow all this we will be feeding the whole street for most of the year! 


The Fence was still laying sadly in the stream, we were expecting the chaps from Ashley Tree Surgeons on Monday to fix it, but Friday morning a phone call brought good news, they had finished the previous job early, Could they start today? Well of course they could and so 30 minutes later another lorry was unloading outside. 


It didn't take them long to cut up the old fence using chainsaws and then we could finally see the stream properly. 





It looked really nice with the fence down and the stream running alongside the patio, sadly the neighbours on the other side don't have wooden fences and seem to have dumped all there garden waste over their boundaries. If only they had higher fences,I would have been tempted to tell the fencers not to bother putting one back up. So after a bit of discussion with Jim they started putting in the concrete posts. 


This time, instead of 8 foot wooden posts dug into a soggy river bank, we have 9 foot concrete posts that have been concreted in. Hopefully this one won't be coming down anytime soon. 

I mentioned marking out my raised beds earlier. We have decided after a lot of research to use scaffold boards to make the beds. They seem to be the material of choice for most vegetable gardeners so as I am one to try and follow fashion.. Scaffold boards for me too. 

Of course I had no idea how heavy they are, we found lots of places online that had them but all wanted more money than the boards cost to deliver them. Finally after much searching we located a reclamation yard reasonably locally who could assist. http://www.romseyreclamation.com/ will be delivering me 32 scaffold boards next week and we can get them set up pretty quickly. 

So thats about it for now, lots of other little bits and pieces done but a bit dull to put in here. today is a day off from the garden. Its inside jobs today, cleaning and cooking are high on the list. Monday morning brings the completion of the fence and hopefully lights in the allotment and greenhouse. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Another week another building.

Since the beginning of this project I had planned to have chickens in the garden. Now that most of the major work is done it was time to start considering what sort ,and where they would live. 

I want them to live in the allotment end of the garden, but obviously don't want them to roam around in there and eat all my shoots, so we decided that a run close to the fence and gate would be the idea solution. 

I had no idea what an enormous amount of chicken related items were available and have spent the weekend trailing through the amazing array of henhouses and eco lodges available for them to live in. 

I originally planned on having 6 or so but quickly realised that all that would do is keep the whole street in eggs and cost me a fortune, so we have downsized and now plan on getting three. Two pretty normal ones and one fancy one. 

The breeds are numerous so at the moment we haven't decided which to get, but I have chosen the house. http://www.chickencoopsdirect.com had the perfect house that fits right into the space we have allocated so an order was duly placed . The delivery man arrives on Tuesday so hopefully by the end of the week the chickens will be in residence. The house I picked is called the Devon with a Double run. 

The pictures are from the Chicken Coop direct website.








Rather pretty I think you will agree. Now the next challenge is to think of names! Suggestions great fully received.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Finished! well sort of

I left you last with news of an almost finished summerhouse and Greenhouse. Its been another busy week, with lists of inside jobs being done, as well as continuing with the stuff outside. 

The summerhouse as you know has a problem, the wrong side panels. After spending the weekend with the building, I decided that there is more than enough light with the existing windows, so I made a call to the company that sent us the wrong ones in the first place. We are currently negotiating a compensation package in liue of having the new panels made and fitted, so watch this space, but the summerhouse is going to stay as it is. With this in mind Jim got on and fitted all the pretty bits to finish it off. It looks lovely.




The electrician came on Monday but only did the inside work, so at the moment it is still waiting for power, but he is coming back next week and it should be finally finished. 

The Greenhouse meanwhile only needed a level floor. I had intended just to have a soil floor but it was obvious this was not going to work, so Jim came up with a new plan that involved slabs and pea shingle. A couple of early morning trips to B & Q and he had the slabs and sand and on Tuesday morning the local quarry delivered a ton of pea shingle in a large bag on the front drive. It was my job to move it to the back  (more later). A few hours hard work and the floor was level and looking good.



Once the floor was in the final metal staging was put together and apart from power the greenhouse is now ready and waiting for it first plants .



Now the shingle. As I said, it was delivered on the front drive in a very large plastic bag, we need it in the back so I spent hours walking back and forward with my wheelbarrow moving the stuff. We wanted to keep it all together so devised a plan which meant moving it into our garden waste sacks, but we obviously need these so, when the bag at the front was nearly empty I moved that to the back and shovelled all of the shingle back into it from the waste sacks. 


I now have aches in places I didn't know I had muscles, but I was really pleased I did it, even if it did take me about 6 hours.






The weather is not so good now, so no more outdoor jobs this week, but plenty to do inside. The power should be done by this time next week so I am going to spend the weekend planning my beds and deciding what to plant and when. Maybe next week there may actually be something growing out there!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The buildings keep appearing..

The winter sun holiday is now a memory, the summer clothes have been put away and its time to get back to work outside. 

As I mentioned in my last post, we came home to a bit of wind damage to our fences, before we went we realised that quite a few of the posts on the stream side of the garden were rotten and would need some work, but we were hopeful that we could do it at our own pace when we returned. Some particularly bad winds a week before our return, put paid to this idea. When we docked at Southampton I turned on my phone to find a text from our neighbour, warning us that we had a bit of damage. 




We had originally planned to do the work ourselves, but closer inspection revealed it was far too much work for us, so its being replaced in 2 weeks time, until then it sags sadly at the side of the garden.

So thats the damaged, now on to the new. The summerhouse was arriving on Thursday. The day dawned bright and sunny and we were up early to accept the delivery. Two men arrived, from somewhere in the West Midlands about 9am with our next new building. It took about half an hour to unload and then they were off leaving us with another building puzzle. The instructions this time were on sheet of A4 paper printed on one side!



As I looked at the bits, I had a very brief feeling that something wasn't quite right, but couldn't make out what it was so dismissed it, so off we went putting it together, Of course it was not going to be easy, the building is 10ft by 8ft with a huge roof and there were just the two of us to build it but that didn't deter us.




The double doors went in next, this is where we started to have issues. The first time we put them in, when all the screws were done up, you couldn't open the doors as they were pulled out of shape. So out they came, and this time after lots of adjustments of various screws and nails, they went in almost perfectly. 

Now the roof. As you can see from the pictures, the summer house only has about a foot of space between its side wall and the shed. So how were we going to get that roof panel up? Jim came up with a plan that involved putting the other side up first and then sliding the second panel up over the first and then tipping it like a see saw over the apex, onto the other side. Its sounds complicated but it worked rather well. The most difficult bit for me was getting the panel up to the roof height in the first place, being only 5ft 4in it was a struggle, but it didn't take long and only a few scrapped knuckles to show for it. 

At this point we decided a quick trip to the garden centre was in order to make sure we connected the roof properly, with all the wind we have been having lately we didn't want to see it sailing off towards the Isle of Wight. As we walked towards the display at the garden Centre, I realised my earlier feeling that something wasn't right, were correct. Can you spot the difference?


The Summer house we saw originally had two full length glass windows on the side panels, ours only had one! Whilst Jim looked at the roof fixing I went in to see the salesman , he was a mystified as me, as far as he was concerned, our summerhouse should have two side windows. A phone call to the manufacturers revealed that since our order was placed in October, they had changed the design and not told anyone. I was a bit miffed as was the salesman, as their display model is now out of date. 

The upshot of it all was, as our order was placed when the model had two windows, the company are manufacturing two new side panels with two windows. I did explain that the summerhouse was built and had no intention of taking it down and waiting another 10 weeks. So when the panels are made they are sending a couple of chaps (Probably the same two) to swap out the side panels. 

Back home, the roof fix went well and things were looking good. 



Now the roof needed to be protected with tar paper. and it didn't take me long to realise that as the roof would only support a small amount of weight, a lot of the hammering, high up would be down to me. I have never been a great fan of heights but we started slowly by me standing on a long ladder and reaching over and eventually I had to climb right on and crawl up to the top, as Jim was helping me, there are no pictures of this bit, but suffice to say it took a while, as I didn't feel very safe.

So thats it for now with the summer house, Friday was spent doing lots of the finishing off bits, and its now ready for Monday when the electrician arrives to put the power in, we will have to have everything attached to the back wall for now as at some point the sides will be changing. 

The sun is out now and it looks like another great day, so a quick trip to the shower and then out we go again, the greenhouse floor still needs work and there is a huge pile of earth and grass to be moved so we can start putting in the raised beds. More news soon. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Back from the sea and into the Garden..

2012 is here and the first full year in the garden is beginning. 


There have been no updates for a while as we were lucky enough to have a rather long holiday to some very sunny paces and only got back yesterday. So now its time to carry on the story of my Vegetable Patch.


The last week we were in the UK, before Christmas, began on a rather windy note. We were battling to finish the greenhouse construction before we left the Uk on the 17th December, but the weather was against us. We went to bed on the 12th and listened to gales blowing all around us.


Next morning a quick inspection revealed some sorry sights. The fence along one side was broken in several places and a small eucalyptus tree had given up and laid down on the lawn! 



We knew this tree had rooting issues because the previous owner of the house had tied the tree to the fence, we had released it a few weeks previously, but if only we had known then that the reclining tree was the least of our problems. 

The fence post behind the tree was broken, it backs onto a stream, and is very difficult to get to unless you wade up to it. As we were shortly off on holiday time was against us , jim did his best to prop up the fence, planning to repair it when we got back. ( More Later)

The roots were not too damaged so we decided to try and stand it back up and see what happens. The tree was top heavy so a drastic prune was required and then some way of propping it up needed. 


In previous entries you will have seen that Jim was rather good at making bits and pieces out of old pallets, so after a bit of thought he came up with some rather nifty wedges which were duly placed around the limp Eucalyptus.  

A few more bits of pallet came in handy to prop a couple of broken posts on the other side, we then had to leave them for a bit of post holiday repair.

The greenhouse was almost complete at this point, and after the staging was installed (and then taken down again, after I discovered I had not taken into account the floor was not level, so the height was wrong ) and then installed again, by a rather cross husband, the first plant was able to take its place on the shelf. 


So whats left to do in the greenhouse - Level the floor properly, build some more staging install some power and lighting and then get growing..  The floor should be done this week and the electrician arrives Monday to install power all over the garden with some nice lights. 


Also happening this week, finally after a long wait the Summerhouse arrives on Thursday, we have though discovered that we will have to dismantle our side porch to get it into the garden, Oh well as if we didn't have enough to do already. 

Things should start moving on rapidly now, I really can't wait to finally grow something.. Just to finish off for today, some pictures we I took in Ponta Degardo in The Azores.




Happy New Year