Monday, 29 June 2009

mini roof garden

We're keen Gardeners' World viewers and particularly like the "30 Minute Make" section of the show. This idea for a mini roof garden on our tool shed is courtesy of Gardeners' World.

The make is really simple although took somewhat longer than 30 mins - mainly because everything had to be done from scratch, e.g. cutting up correct lengths of wood, trimming the plastic lining, etc. Cloddigger also had to reinforce the shed as the weight of the planting medium started to cause the roof to bulge slightly.

All the materials used to make our version of the mini roof garden have been recycled. The timber came from a couple of sources; pine from an old cupboard door (look carefully at the picture and you can see the door handle still attached!) and an old teak fire surround. The interesting thing about the teak is that there was a smallish off cut left over so it was donated to Woodwose Carving. Click here to see the post about "Gilgamesh"

The mini garden has been planted up with a mixture of different varieties of sedum - some from plants already in our garden which were split into smaller plants, the remainder from the bargain plant shelf at a local nursery - interspersed with marigolds and other plug plants and even a couple of Tumbling Tom tomato plants. The hope is that the sedum will eventually carpet the whole of the mini garden.

the mini roof garden runs the whole width of the tool shed (approx, 6') and goes back 2'6"

the only change made recently is the addition of a layer of grit surrounding the plants to discourage snails from chomping the marigolds. The picture below shows a close up of the plants pre-grit

Sunday, 28 June 2009

plants in glass houses

Some time ago I wrote about being given a greenhouse, well I thought I should create a post about its installation.

The greenhouse was originally 8' x 6' but this was just a little too big for where we wanted to site it (a small courtyard area to the rear of our property adjacent to an outhouse), so it was decided to reduce it to 6' x 6'.

frame went up quite quickly and easily; My Folks (who you may remember dismantled it) had labelled up each section of the frame to aid putting it back together again

so keen was he to get the thing up (and to stop me nagging about plants in the conservatory!), Cloddigger even worked for hours in the rain to fit the panes

greenhouse even came with a potting bench. Racking at the end was a mini-greenhouse of ours which provides welcome additional shelving

cucumber and tomatoes growing well. Cucumber is supported by eucalyptus branches lopped off said tree in our garden

The greenhouse is a welcome addition to our garden as it will mean we can bring on many more different varieties of plants for later transplanting to the allotment. Many, many thanks to the Lowes (they know who they are!) you've made a big difference :D

Saturday, 27 June 2009

site 2 clearance update

Clearing the ground at Site 2 is going extremely well. My Folks have been working exceptionally hard and have gained another 5 feet of ground to the right of the shed which means we should have enough space to set up a greenhouse (at some point in the future).

Dad has erected a fence from pallets to the rear of the plot. Behind it is rough ground which requires clearance (at a later date) but this will, eventually, become an area for soft fruit and be converted into a fruit cage. However, plenty of other tasks to do before then! I think the fencing really neatens the appearance of the plot and will make it easier to define where paths and beds will go.

The next stage is for rotovation which can take place any time from now as all the grass and weeds have died back.

One slight hitch was the discovery of metres and metres of black plastic under the soil running pretty much the length of the wire fencing dividing our plot from the neighbouring one. Cloddigger got to do what he does best and was deployed to help dig it out - a hard but necessary task as leaving the plastic in would not have been the best of ideas!

I'm really hoping that my next post about Site 2 will be to report the completion of the ground prep and moves on to show plans for beds etc. Can't wait !!!

photo shows new back fence and you can just glimpse the extra ground gained to the right of the shed

Sunday, 21 June 2009

spud u like?

Cloddigger harvested the first of the homegrown potatoes this weekend. These have been grown in bags on our sheltered decking at home. They were planted up in March and are Maris Piper (we think - Cloddigger "lost" the plant marker!!!) Anyway, regardless of the variety, I'm looking forward to having these with dinner tonight served simply, steaming hot with a knob of butter melting over the top; yum, yum!

Meanwhile, at Site 1 the potatoes in the long barrow are doing really well. I think we will leave them for another couple of weeks before we dig up the first batch - there are still 3 bags growing at home so we are in no rush to disturb these beauties.

Final note on potatoes - the photo below shows our short barrow of salad potatoes planted up about 3 weeks ago. These were excess seed potatoes from my sister-in-law; cheers Lindsey, we're very much looking forward to eating them when they're ready.

starting them young

My oldest son's junior school has, over the last year or so, developed a lovely courtyard garden at the school which is tended by pupils through the School Gardening Club.

Last year they created an Edible Garden for the Malvern Autumn Show, where their efforts were awarded with the presentation of a bronze medal. This has spurred the staff and pupils on and this year they have created a mini-allotment on the school grounds and have been very successful in growing all sorts of vegetables which will be used in the school. There was even a potato growing competition with every class carefully nurturing a bucket of potatoes.

The gardening initiative is led by Shane Gue, one of the teachers at the school and he has created a blog recording the work of the pupils. Check it out for yourself and you will get a flavour of the obvious enthusiasm the pupils have for gardening. Click here to access the School Gardening Cluster blog.

Friday, 19 June 2009

slow steady clearance

We popped along to Site 2 last weekend to see how the ground clearance was progressing. My Folks have done loads to clear out the rubble that was scattered all over the site. The weeds and grass have been strimmed down and treated. The old compost bins (originally located to the left of the shed) have been dismantled - to be honest they fell apart - and the compost moved.

The site is starting to look bigger already. Hopefully the last of the weeds are just about dying off and we can then arrange for the site to rotovated. Yes, we should probably just get on with digging by hand but the site is so uneven that we figured rotovating will make it easier for levelling off. It has felt like it's taking quite a while for us to get this site ready, but we all agreed from the outset that we won't rush things and just take our time with the prep work.

We're all really looking forward to getting the beds planned and marked up. I've already started to think about what we can plant up for winter harvesting. Have bought another really excellent allotment book called "Allotment Specialist". It is well set out and easy to follow and has a useful section on crop rotation, a year round calendar and month-by-month quick reference guide to sowing as well as loads of other practical advice. We picked this up at the local garden centre and I've also seen it in Waterstones.

ground now cleared of tall grass and weeds and old compost bin removed

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I am a mole and I live in a hole

We arrived at Site 1 yesterday afternoon to find a strange mound cutting diagonally across the main bed. We had been visited by a mole. On closer examination it didn't look as if it had surfaced anywhere so we can only assume it had been passing through.

Luckily it's path mostly went across an area where nothing has yet been planted although a couple of young cauliflower were damaged and one of the jerusalem artichoke was dislodged. We've taken the artichoke back home to nurse it hopefully back to full health in the greenhouse.
In the picture below you can clearly see the mole's route from bottom left, where it just bypassed the broccoli, up towards the artichoke.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

blooming lovely!

It's been quite a while since my last post but, as you can see from the picture below, we've been rather busy at Site 1. After a rather shaky start, the lettuce are now well established and growing well. Potatoes are going mad, as are the onions. The beans and peas are finally starting to spread outwards and upwards. We've also planted up some cauliflower and jerusalem artichoke - which is new one for us so it will be interesting to see how they turn out.

click image for full size