Friday, 10 August 2012

Allotment update ... ...

It's been a few weeks since I last visited the allotment, this time I dragged everyone else along as well.

On the face of it it looked terrible, but all is not what it appears, yes it did need a fair bit of weeding, but the majority of the weeding was done by digging up the potatoes, of which we got 20kg ! that's 10kg more than last year, although the reds (I forget what they were called) didn't grow at all, so it's all whites and with the 3kg we managed to grow in the gardens we nearly had 25kg, still hope to get more next year.

The view when we first got there -

We're going to need a bigger spade !

Not all that bad really, this is how it was once the spuds got dug up -

See that's better isn't it.

It took a bit of doing, but we got 2 bucket fulls of spuds -

Can't beat a home grown spud, especially with a load of butter.

I still haven't got round to building the poly-tunnel, all in good time, so I had to hack back a load of weeds at the top of the plot, and as usual we had to cut down the line of weeds that grow between our half of the plot and the other half.

We did wonder if spuds was all we were going to get, but as it turns out there's a fair bit of stuff that hasn't been eaten by the squadrons of slugs and snails we've had in our area.

Some other veg -

Corn is doing well, unlike the ones in our garden at home.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the corn hasn't been destroyed, there's about 20 plants there, not many I know, but they (like the spuds) are doing much better this year than they did last year, the spare tomato plants are also doing okay, perhaps a bit small.

Corn plants -

Hopefully we'll get to eat some before the kids do.

Tomatoes aren't in short supply this year, we've grown a load, most of which are currently turning my green house into a jungle, we normally have trouble with tomato plants getting blight and other such problems, so this year I have them all in tubs in the greenhouse and they are doing much better, the spare plants have been put anywhere we could find space, this includes the allotment, and it would appear that although the plants are small they might bare fruit as well.

They have flowers, we'll see if they turn into tomatoes -

Fingers crossed.

Here's my current view when I look in the green house - 

There are loads more in the under growth.

Last year we managed to grow all the pumpkins we used for Halloween, and this year we have at least one pumpkin, and we should get some more, as well as some winter dumplings (another type of squash) need to make sure they get as big as possible.

Our first (of many hopefully) pumpkin - 

Fingers crossed it gets big enough to carve a face on it.

Some of the other things we have are turnips and some broad beans, all of which are doing okay, we have lost a lot due to the hose pipe ban and pests, especially the pea crop which got stripped bare by birds, so I have plans to build a netted cage type area for the growing of peas and other legume type things, I'm kind of learning as I go along what pests and problems the plot has.

The strawberry plants we got from free-cycle last year are going mad, runners everywhere, so I might have to extend the strawberry bed, but that's a few bits of wood and a couple of screws.

All in all with what we have at home and the plot we should get a better crop of things than we did last year, and although it's not going to be huge amounts it's an improvement on last year, so if we can keep that trend up then next year should be even better, well that's the theory at least.

Here's what the plot looked like after we left - 

Still needs work, but it's not too bad.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Pin cushion box ... ...

For a while now I've been thinking about adding extra things to the wood I turn, things like metal inlays and perhaps down the line I might even experiment with stones and rocks, like Malachite as an example (still doing research) but for now I've gone with something a little easier, and as with most of the wood I turn I wanted this piece to be useful.

This is how it turned out -

Turned out good, well I think it did anyway.

I've written about how I made it below, well how I made the pin cushion part.

Here's the pin cushion box (without the cushion) -

There's a reason for the gap in the top.

The box itself is simple design wise, it's made from Pear wood, and I've left a little of the bark on for a more natural look and feel, I like leaving bark on the pieces I turn, it some how gives them a more pleasing look, and makes them more tactile when you touch them.

Here's the box with the lid off - 

I didn't worry about sanding and polishing the inside of the lid.

As you can see from the picture above I turned out a small recess to hold the actual pin cushion part, this I thought would give it a better look overall.

Now the pin cushion part was easy to make, well I say easy, I did have to ask my lovely wife for some help, I can sew as long as it involves a really basic stitch.

I cut out a circle of red velvet, which was left over from the excellent Christmas sacks my wife made for the kids (which you can find here - opens in new window) the circle of velvet needed to be a bit larger than the hole I was putting it in.

The velvet ready for sewing - 

I drew round a small bowl for the size.

Making it into a cushion wasn't as hard as I thought, I used some fuzzy stuff from an old cushion to pad the felt out, so basically all I did was to sew round the circle of velvet and then pull it together.

The fuzzy padding stuff - 

Don't know the technical term for this, padding I guess ?

The velvet ready for stuffing - 

Very neat isn't it ?

The cushion already to be fixed to the lid - 

Perfect for pins.

Then all that needed to be done was to glue the cushion into the lid, I used hot glue for this, and that was about it really, pretty simple for a first attempt at using different materials together to make something useful.

It works ! - 

Holds pins, jobs a goodun.

The pot part will hold plenty of pins, and as it's quite heavy it shouldn't move about too much, I made the lid a tight fit, you don't want pins spilling out all over the place.

Plenty of pin storage - 

Loads a pins.

Here's the finished item, I'm quite pleased with it - 

I think the red velvet goes well with the darkness of the wood.

And there you have it, a nice (well I think so) functional piece, simple but effective.

Thanks for reading.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Monday, 6 August 2012

Free-cycled storage boxes ... ...

There's a lot to be said for free-cycling, and indeed buying from charity shops, especially at the moment, seems the whole planet is skint, so we were pleased to be offered a load of wooden storage boxes.

Now it has to be said they weren't perfect,but they are a good size, they had been drawn on with felt tip pens, and other assorted pen types, but apart from that they were in good order, so how to get a load of pen marks of wood.

Here's one of the boxes before I attacked it -

Lots of pen to deal with.

Apart from the pen and the colour of the panels all 6 (yes there are six of them) were in good shape, just in need of some sprucing up.

From another angle - 

We've changed the coloured panels as well.

There was some pen on the sides of the boxes as well, but after a sand with a belt sander, the lids (which had the bulk of the pen on) looked as good as new.

After a good sanding - 

Lid looks as good as new now.

The next thing to do after sanding the lids was to take the boxes apart, well it was more a case of round all the parts up, as there are six I had to take them apart to get them into to my bike trailer, and it would appear I should have been a little more careful when riding home as I lost two bits, but luckily after retracing my steps I found both missing bits, and after sanding those parts as well it was on to varnishing and painting.

Some of the parts already sanded and varnished, just drying in the sun - 

I just used a clear varnish for the wooden parts.

Now onto the panels, the kids weren't keen on the red and yellow, so we painted each panel a colour that matched their rooms, we used emulsion on each side and then gave each panel a coat of pva on each side as well, this will make the panels washable, which is good as mucky hand prints can get everywhere.

Painting in progress - 

A small gloss roller works well for this type of job, and gives a nice finish.

I had to give each panel two coats of paint on each side to cover up the original colours, I very nearly got sick of painting, and after the paint was dried I just applied a thin coat f pva glue with a brush, you can buy a 5 litre tub of pva from B&Q for about ten quid, and you can use it for loads of other stuff as well, kids crafts, gluing wood together and just about anything else you can think of in terms of uses for glue.

And that as they say is that, for the price of, well nothing as we had the paint and the glue, just cost a bike ride or two, we now have 6 pretty sturdy storage boxes for the kids to put some of their endless supply of toys in.

The finished boxes - 

Three pink for my daughter.

And the other three for my sons room - 

Just need to decorate his room to match the boxes now.

I'm not sure how much these boxes would have cost brand new, but I'm betting it wouldn't have been as cheap as we got them for.

So if you get felt tip on wood you may not have to throw it away, try giving it a sand first, I wouldn't recommend trying to clean it off with anything that might make the wood wet as the pen will just soak in more, and if it won't sand out try painting it, saves having to throw it out and it'll save money.

Thanks for reading.

Me and My Shadow