Sunday, 28 February 2016

Spring is springing...

Now there's a touch more light about in the mornings and evenings, and the weather is trying to warm up a bit it's time for us to get sorted for this years plant based adventures, but because it's a bit cold for starting some things off outside we got some of the other jobs out of the way, like sorting out the bird boxes.

Two of our bird boxes -

Ready for new tenants.

I built a new and slightly larger shed last year and as a result the bird boxes we have in the large Sycamore at the bottom of the garden were a bit low, and in range of our cat, so whilst I was relocating them I took the time to give them a clean out and repair any damage.

Nest boxes should be cleaned out regularly due to fleas and other bugs that can affect baby birds and the adults, but you have to make sure the box isn't being used, so clean them out around autumn time or in winter, it's also advisable to wear gloves and a mask, we have two nest boxes on the house, but they haven't been used yet, but maybe this year.

House nest boxes (odd picture angle due to patio full of plants) - 

Landlords are nice, rent is cheap.

And if that wasn't enough I decided to use some old scrap bits of wood and have ago at making a round bird house on my new lathe, it came out quite well, I just need to find a spot for it, it may be on the small side, but you never know something might use it, perhaps a Wren ?

Round house - 

I've got a nice spot in the Sycamore for it.

The kids received their spuds for this year from the Potato council, they've been growing their own spuds for a few years now, they enjoy seeing how big and how many spuds they get, one year they only got a single spud from one lot of seed spuds, but it was huge ! 

If you haven't had a go you can find info here (opens in new window) on what you need to do, if you sign up they send you a box with everything you need to get started, they even supply large plastic bags in the kit so all you need is some compost, and of course we've also started chitting our allotment spuds as well.

The kids spuds chitting nicely - 

They'll be ready for when the weather warms up a bit more.

I finally got round to sorting out the greenhouse, which took a lot longer than it should, but at least it's done and I now know how many spare pots we have, which is good as we have a load of plants to re-pot, all sorts from Black currants to Wisteria, Honey Suckle, Passion Flower, basically our back garden looks like a garden centre, it seems as each year goes by the amount of plants we propagate increases greatly, whether it be from seeds or cuttings.

Nice and tidy(ish) greenhouse - 

It's got a few plants in it, in various states.

Plants -

Few here, mostly for the garden.

More plants -

Looks like there's more tidying to be done.

You get the idea - 

Loads more at the bottom of the garden, and by the shed.

And the other day I put some seeds in to soak, ready for planting after a day or two, there's Bay (the herb) Everlasting sweet pea, Laburnum, Crab apple, Thorn apple (bit of an experiment) and some others, basically seeds we've collected from last year, and this is small amount of what we'll end up growing this year, just for fun, and for food.

Seeds having a bath - 

They'll be started of indoors.

As if that wasn't enough we've also started collecting cacti, and we also have some cacti seeds in our heated propagator, which cost £5 from a charity shop, it'll be interesting to see what happens, cacti are something my wife's grandfather was an avid collector of and she has decided to follow in his foot steps.

Not that you can see very well, but stuff is happening in there - 

An update on what's growing in here soon.

I've also started working on the allotment, trying to get that into order, so an update on the plot will appear soon, but for now happy growing.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Kids stocking fillers part 2 - Skittles.

I figured I'd better get this post done before the start of allotment season, so on to the second thing I made for the kids Christmas stockings (yes I know it's a bit late)

The finished article (again I made two of them) - 

All done.

I made the skittle sets in much the same way as the noughts and crosses boards, I used squared paper to work out where everything was going to go.

Marking out complete - 

I tried a few layouts before this one.

As with the noughts and crosses boards I laid the paper over the wood and marked the points with a scribe, once that was done it was onto cutting and drilling out holes, I used a forstner bit just slightly bigger than the dowel I planned to use for pins.

Holes drilled - 

Spot the mistake.
I ended up having to make another board because I drilled the holes too deep, so deep in fact that I couldn't knock the pins over with the ball, so remember not to drill the holes too deep if you make one, although it does add an extra level of difficulty to the game.

You can use any layout you like, and you can also add more pins or use less pins, I wasn't going for a traditional layout, just one that worked.

I had to add an extra piece of wood for the post the ball swings from, it didn't sit well in the hole I drilled, with the extra bit of wood it was more stable.

Extra support for the post - 

I used wood glue to fix it down.

The post that the ball swings on it just a piece of dowel, again you could use any size you see fit, I then drilled a hole through the dowel and fixed a thinner bit into the hole.

Posts done - 

Simple enough.

I used dowel for the pins as well, I just cut them with a 45 degree angle at the top, I had thought about turning a load of pins, but didn't really have the time, and besides this way is easier and doesn't require a lathe, I used a stencil to mark the numbers and then burned them into the wood so they don't rub off.

Pins - 

Obviously I made nine for each board.

I used a small eye screwed into the smaller piece of dowel for the string and ball to swing from, these can be bought for about 50 pence a pack, they're normally used with curtain wire, but they do well for things like this.

Eye eye - 

It works well.

For the balls I roughly turned a bit of scrap wood into sort of a ball shape, but you could just drill a hole through a bit of dowel, or use a bit of clay on some string.

Wrecking balls ? -

You could also use a drill press to make some balls.

And that's about it, I gave everything a good sand and then a generous coating of Danish oil, but you could just as easily paint them in what ever colours you like, I made the two sets from scrap wood I had laying about, but you should be able to buy everything to make at least two sets for under £5.

These like the noughts and crosses are an easy make, easy enough for kids to do as a project, and they are cheap as well as fun to play with, I do have plans to make a giant set for the kids to use in the garden in summer.

Skittles again - 

Fun for kids and adults.

Thanks for reading.