Wednesday, 18 February 2015

First of the year (allotment update)

It's the time of year where I stand looking at our allotment plot and wondering where to start, and thinking about the yearly battle with weeds and the elements and everything else.


Kind of like this - 

Only difference is this bloke looks younger than me.

I've started early this year, mainly because I wanted to sort out a new gate and a path, and try and get the divide between the plots sorted out, so this post is basically the result of 4 days work spread over a few weeks, we are now pretty much ready for the years crops, I've started a load of seeds off in the green house and I've also planted some stuff at the plot.


This is the plot at the end of January -

Where to start?

First things first, the new gate, I did put a gate in when we first got the plot, but it seems this may have caused some confusion as from the front it looked like one plot, when in fact it's two, so that was the first job.


Gate almost done - 

New gate on the left, the old gate I put in on the right.
I used a salvaged fence post for the main gate post, the gate is made from a piece of 4x4 I cut down, once the post was in and secure I hung the new gate on one side of it, and the old gate on the other side, so now there are two defined entrances, one for each plot, and I also increased the height of the divider between the two plots by about a foot.

I covered the gate in old laps from some salvaged fence panels, it's not the best looking gate in the world, but it'll do.


Gate done - 


I did say it wasn't the best looking gate in the world.

I also straightened out the front of the plot, which is basically a large sheet of metal, it had sort of flopped down and bowed out a bit as well, mainly due to it also making up part of the compost bin, I had to dig out a fair amount of the compost to get at the metal sheet, once I had I hammered in a load of large stakes and then fixed the metal to them, the front looked a lot better once done.


Front looking a bit more respectable - 


Not perfect, but better than it was.

And then a Shrew - 


Not a great picture.

Even though it looks like nothing is going on at this time of year, there's still a lot of wildlife about, this little chap ran up to me while I was doing the gate, and no matter what time of year it is as soon as your spade hits the soil robins appear.

And that was that for the first trip, on the next visit I finished sorting out the compost bin, and got the path done.


The plot on the next visit - 

Nice gate, shame about the rest.


It wasn't the best day for working outside, but I got the compost bin sorted, and I got the path done as well, along with a bit of digging, I also used laps from old fence panels to make an edge for the path.


Path done, and some clearing - 


The path isn't as wide as it looks.


So far so good, on the third visit the aim of the game was to move the strawberries, I had already made a raised bed for our asparagus plants, and on the day I got the path done I also managed to build a raised bed at the top of the plot for the strawberries.

I had some help on this visit, the kids did a load of digging all over the place, I'm sure it'll help in the long run (once i fill in the holes) and my wife helped move the strawberries.

After a load of digging and moving and planting we now have a strawberry bed where you can actually see the strawberries, they are now next to the raspberry plants and where the asparagus plants will go, the idea being that these plants won't be moved again, which leaves the rest of the plot for veg.

The rest of the strawberry plants have gone into the pyramid we have in our garden, and a load of tubs as well, in all we have close to two hundred plants now, we started with a lot less when we first got the plot.


New strawberry bed - 


Quite a few plants in here.


The plot when we left - 


Almost ready.

On the last visit it was just a case of digging and a bit of planting, I put in two rows of spuds, I'm trying a few different varieties this year, I also put in a load of onions, not sure they'll do much, must admit I've not had much luck with onions and I also put in a few rows of broad beans, I also had to dig through where the strawberries used to be to get out as many weed roots as possible.


The plot when I arrived - 


Not much left to do, to get it ready for spring.

And after a bit of digging and planting here's where we're at - 



Looking pretty good, just needs some more plants in it.

About a quarter of this is planted up, a bit early perhaps? -


Looks neater if nothing else.


And that as they say was that, I've started off a load of stuff in the greenhouse at home, ready for planting out in a few weeks, we're trying to grow as much as is possible in the space we have, which means cramming in a fair bit more than perhaps is recommended, but so far we've managed to get good crops, and it should show that we are committed to getting the best out of the plot, which seeing as our council has changed the rules a fair bit should go some way to keeping them happy.


Thanks for ready and here's to a good year for growing.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Kids flower presses...

Just a quick post, I meant to get this done a while ago but time seems to have run away with me.

So every year we try and make the kids a few things for their Christmas stockings (yes I know Christmas was a while ago) and this last year I decided to use my wood threading kit to make them some flower presses.

I've made simple flower presses before, which you can read about here (opens in new window) but thought I'd make a slightly more kid friendly press this time, the one in the other post is a bit basic, more functional than anything else.


Here they are -


No they're not upturned tables.

At first glance they do kind of look like little upturned tables, which is what the kids thought they were at first, which made me chuckle I have to say.

The wood for these cost nothing, the plates are made from an old book shelf, and the four screws are made from an old hardwood spindle, obviously a press like these would require a thread cutting kit, either a shop bought one or home made for cutting the threads, I also had to turn the spindle down a bit on my lathe, but you can always try out the how to in the link I posted above for a simpler version which works just as well.

To make these I cut four squares of wood (two for each press) then I drilled four holes in each square of wood, the holes in one half need to be slightly bigger to allow the screw to pass through, but not so big that the plate can slide off it, the holes in the other half need to be the right size for your threading kit.


Here's a picture of one of the screws - 


The screws are quite chunky.

And that's about it really, it's basically a wooden clamp, all that's left to do is cut some squares of cardboard and find something to press, I made these so the kids can press flowers or leaves for use in their various crafting pursuits, I'm also planning on making a much larger press, but for pressing apples and such like.


 With card to pack things out - 


Just needs something to press.


I did also make them some small mushroom ornaments, I've made a few to sell and the kids seemed to like them, so I made some in brighter colours, there's only two in the picture, but I did also make some red ones with white spots for my older daughters who also seem to really like them.

Mushroom ornaments - 


Colour schemes chosen by the kids.


Thanks for reading.


Allotment update (part 2)

Welcome back, this is part two of my current allotment adventures, I had to break it into two posts as it seems I've done quite bit. ...