Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Last allotment update of the year...

So that's it for another year, well a few months anyway, the weather is getting colder, certainly windier where we are, not much is growing now.

It's been a mixed year for us veg wise, we haven't had as much from the plot this year, but some of that was due to rodents and other things like the weather, we lost all our sweet corn, it got eaten, it was there one day and pretty much gone the next, the little buggers had the strawberries as well.

Exhibit 'A' your honour -

At least some one enjoyed it...

On the plus side our Asparagus seems to be doing well, it's been cut back now, but it has grown a fair bit and we'll maybe get some to eat next year, it's taken a while raising the plants from seed, but so far it's going well.

Asparagus - 

The picture was taken at the end of summer.
Spuds did well this year, we've had around 40 kg of spuds, double the amount we had last year, we also did well for beetroot which my wife was happy about (I can't stand the stuff) we got a fair amount of squash type veg, not as big as last year, but enough to keep us going for a while.

Some beetroot, spuds and beans - 

A small selection of what we ended up with.

We put two broad bean crops in, the idea being one we'd eat and the second we'd half eat and then save the rest for the seeds, the rodents got them too, they have been an ever present menace this year affecting some on the site worse than others.

Some of the squashes we got, some of which have been eaten or turned into things ready to be eaten, this year we grew some round courgettes, we only planted a few and they don't seem to put out as much as a normal courgette plant but they were very tasty.

Courgettes and other squashes - 

Round courgette to the left of the picture, lighter green than normal courgettes.

The round courgettes are good for stuffing, just open them up, like you would a pumpkin and scoop out the insides then fill with whatever takes your fancy and roast for a bit, very tasty, stuff you've grown yourself always seems to taste better.

Dinner - 

A great use for a round courgette.

My wife did the cooking, she used sausage meat, onions and garlic and some other things and the topped it with cheese and roasted it, tasted great and they are a nice size for one person as well.

And of course we still have a pile of squashes for eating through winter, some have been turned into relish and some have been turned into purée (pumpkin) for pies and soups.

Future meals - 

You don't have to keep your squashes in a cat bed.

And that as they say is that, another year done, I have some concerns about the soil on the plot, so over winter and into spring I'll be trying to improve it a bit, maybe invest in some manure and such like and no doubt there will be loads of small jobs to get done before growing starts next year, we still have some things in the ground, like leeks and swedes, but for the most part the plot is being left alone for a few months, I'll cut back any weeds and let them rot down, this may also help the soil a bit.

So for now we'll say bye to the plot and see you in the spring - 

Soon be time to start again.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

All hail the sin bin...

Most diy type stores have an area or a crate where they put damaged things, or random bits of wood, I (for reasons I'm not entirely sure off) refer to them as the sin bins, probably has something to do with what goes into them looking like mistakes made when cutting things for customers and such like.

I always look in them, sometime the bits of wood are free, some times they might cost 50 pence or maybe as much as a pound, they are handy if you're looking for a small bit of wood for a project, although sometimes you do find things like garden chairs in them, so it's well worth a look.

Most recently I came across a piece of Oak, which I rescued, most of the time these shops will just skip anything that's been lying around for too long at least this way there's one less bit of wood going to landfill or on a bonfire.

Here's the bit of Oak -

Any ideas what to do with it ?
Not much to say about it really, it's a random bit of Oak, about two feet long, I thought at first it was a bit of flooring, but it has no grooves or tongues and typically doesn't have any of the signs of it being a bit of flooring, so I have no idea what it was, or where it came from as the shop in question doesn't appear to sell anything like this.

What to do with it ? well there are numerous things you could do with it, make some book ends, coasters, a nice shelf for some plants maybe ? I however went for the easiest thing, cut it in half and make a couple of chopping boards.

All I did was measured it and marked the centre, then rather than cut straight through I made a kind of curved design and used my scroll saw to cut it out, bit more interesting than a plain old rectangle.

Centre and curves marked - 

Now for cutting.

Once I'd cut the boards I gave them both a good sanding and made a hole in each one so they can be hung up easily.

Cut and sanded - 

The shape reminds me of a bird.
Now for some oil, as these are meant for chopping and will come into contact with food I've used pure Tung oil, it brings out the colour and grain of the wood, it's highly water resistant (more so than other oils) which is great for use in the kitchen, it's much less likely to go mouldy like Linseed oil can, and it's safe for food use.

Although you do have to be careful as not all Tung oils are the same, some have had things added to them, like solvents so read the labels carefully, it's also used to make Danish oil, one other thing to remember with Tung oil is that it takes a while to dry, even after a couple of days I was still getting traces of oil on my hands after touching the boards.

Tung oil - 

You can buy it online or in your local diy type shops.

One board coated in oil, looks much nicer than the bare wood one - 

Almost done.

And after about a week of waiting for the oil to fully dry I had two nice very usable chopping boards, Oak is very hard wearing and using the Tung oil means these boards will last a long time, not bad for a bit of wood that may have ended up on a bonfire or on a land fill site going to waste, all it took was some cutting and sanding to give it a new use, so 'All hail the sin bin'

The finished boards - 

Added a bit of leather cord for hanging.

Thanks for reading.