Saturday, 25 July 2015

Allotment update (belated)

A some what belated update on the comings and goings of our allotment plot, time flies when you're having fun.

It's been a productive year so far, the plot has been doing okay, we've had some very dry weather here and as such we've had to water a lot more than usual, but all in all things are doing okay, if not a little behind compared to last year.

So to May, our forced Rhubarb experiment worked okay, the large black bins we used, whilst not ideal seemed to do the job, and there is a difference in the Rhubarb, it's more tender and slightly sweeter.

Rhubarb -

Might have left it a bit too long.

We now have an Asparagus bed, the plants are small, and won't be ready for harvesting for a while, we've grown all the plants from seed, hence the extra time before we can harvest it.

Asparagus - 

Seems to be doing well.

The Strawberries have settled into their new location, they've already had fruit on (the picture is from a while ago) and as usual the kids have eaten most of them, same goes for the ones in the back garden.

Strawberries - 

Fresh picked Strawberries are great.

And that was May, not a lot went on to be honest, the plants we started off in the green house seemed to take an age to do anything, and as a result not much went into the ground before the beginning of June once the weather had perked up a bit, the broad beans and the spuds we put in early were doing okay, as where some of the other things, like the beetroot’s.

The plot as of May - 

Bit of weeding still to be done.

June was a bit busier, the spuds and beans were all doing well, and that little bit of weeding we left in May turned into a lot for June.

The plot at the start of June - 

Lots of weeds for the compost heap.

It didn't take long to get things a bit tidier, and on the same day we put in our sweetcorn and the first lot of squash plants, along with a few celeriac plants, and some peas.

We decided to put a second broad bean crop in, in May and the plants were starting to get bigger.

Squashes in - 

More plants in the ground.

We paid two visits to the plot in June, on the second visit we finished the rest of the weeding and also put in a load of cheap seed spuds, they cost 75p and I got two bags, so with the early spuds we put and the ones that went in a bit later we should get three lots of spuds, hopefully the last lot to go in will do for later on in the year.

And that was June, bit of planting and a load of weeding, but at least the plot was looking a bit tidier.

The plot as of June - 

Coming along nicely.

This time of year is always very hectic for us, we have fathers day, a wedding anniversary, and four birthdays in the space of about six weeks, but because of the work we put in at the start of June the plot wasn't in bad shape come the middle of July.

The corn is doing well - 

We're growing more this year than we did last year.

Some of the first lot of squashes have fruits on them - 

Small at the moment, but they grow up quickly.

The second crop of broad beans although small have some good pods on them, we've already harvested the first crop of broad beans and after shelling we had about 3.5kg of beans, some of which have been blanched and frozen for winter, the rest we're eating as we go, luckily our beans were not affected by blackfly as badly as some people, who lost entire crops.

Broad bean plants - 

Small but with a good amount of pods.

The cheap seed spuds are showing signs of life - 

We shall see how many spuds we end up with.

Second lot of squash plants in - 

We may only get small squashes from these.

And that's about it, as I sit and type this the sun is just trying to come out, it's been raining for 24 hours non stop, so at least everything has had a good water, once it dries out a bit I shall go and dig up our first lot of spuds.

The plot as of July - 

The front section has loads of spuds in it ready for digging up.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Six years...

It has been six years since my wife and I got married, and whilst last years anniversary make was quite easy being wood and something I'm pretty good with, this years has been a little harder.

This was last years gift, I found a piece of cherry root that had a natural heart shape in it, then all I did was build a small display case for it, again out of wood.

It was a lucky find.

The traditional sixth year anniversary gift is iron, as in the stuff that gets mined, and seeing as I didn't have access to to a mine, I used a bit of out of the box thinking (or as my son put it 'you cheated!') I used old cut clasp nails, like the sort you'd find holding old wooden floor boards down, we do have some, but I figured my wife might start asking why I was pulling nails out of the floor.

Technically the nails are made from steel, but steel is basically an alloy of iron and carbon, so I was still using iron, all be it in a round about way.

After a root about in my vast collection of random nails and bolts and such like I found some nails that would do the job, I had all ready settled on making a wind chime, and figured I'd try and make the nails a little more interesting, so using a vice to grip the nails and a blow torch to heat them up I was able to shape them.

I've hung twelve nails in all, six I put a bit of a twist into, and the other six I bent into, well little sixes.

The bent nails -

The colouring is from heating them up.

The nails were the hard part, the rest took a few minutes on my lathe, I made two wooden rings, one slightly larger than the other, the larger ring has the nails suspended from it, the smaller ring is for hanging the chime up, the nails are held onto the ring with fine fishing line, which I threaded through holes I drilled into it, on reflection however had I threaded the fishing line differently you wouldn't see so much of it, I may yet change it.

The wooden rings -

The wooden rings and rigging.

 The finished wind chime -

Simple, but it works.

And that is about it, I did discover that the nails actually make quite a nice noise when they bang together, this is in part down to the heating of the metal, I've put a video at the end of this post so you can listen to the sound of twelve nails smacking into each other, it's actually quite subtle.

Thanks for reading.