Thursday, 15 March 2012

The polytunnel gets a revamp

Back in June last year (I can hardy believe it was THAT long ago) we relocated the poly tunnel, giving it a new cover and using cardboard and mushroom compost to cover the ground.

Then we got on with the house and the tunnel went on the back burner.

Here was the tunnel in autumn / winter last year. It was pretty dry in there back then .. and the rushes, grass and buttercup were already trying to get through!

Now, the winter was very wet here and it became very messy in the tunnel - more of a mudpit than anything else. The wheelbarrow would get stuck and it was getting very silly in there.

Water even started collecting by the door.

We persevered and laid out the top beds. We also added MORE compost to try to soak up the wet.

However, things weren't smooth sailing and I knew some things would have to change. We'd trenched the tunnel and the plastic covering had become slack and flappy - not good for the life of the cover .. or for the sanity of those inside.

Also, progress was really slow - and I wondered if it would get done this year at all. Luckily, after a while, I had the sense (with a little help from my friends) to realize that we needed help as well as a re-think.

So, we decided to put in base rails to anchor the cover to - in order to better re-tension it. So, on Monday, with the help of super neighbour Tommy, we bravely went forth.

First, we put a rail inside and clamped it to the bottom of the hoops.

Then we put a second rail outside and wrapped the plastic around it.

When we dug up the plastic the ground was really wet at the south end - but that would get sorted later.

Here's the plastic all untrenched. Outside view.

Inside view.

With the base rails in, the tunnel looked better already - the cover was nice and tight again.

So, on Wednesday we moved onto phase 2 - drainage and beds. We couldn't have done it without the wonderful help of Andy and Bridget - thank you guys, you were FANTASTIC. We did in a day what would have taken me weeks to do alone.

Here's Bridget clearing the pathway for the bottom beds.

We also cleaned out the tunnel trench and put in some land drain - so that the water falling on the cover would be tempted downhill rather than lingering around!

Our ground is clay - no need to line the bottom of the trench.

Then we back-filled with gravel.

Here are the lads - Andy and Dam - men in action.

and Bridget - wouldn't stop until that bed was DONE!!

So, today I went out to keep up the good work and momentum - lining the beds with plastic to preserve the life of the timber and adding compost to the top middle bed.

We were going to have three big beds down the bottom too - but I decided to try a different way - two big - HUGE - beds that I'll divide up and just use planks to access. We'll see how I get on with that. That design was just so easy to start with and means I can change the shapes and sizes of the beds easily.

There's still more to do - filling the rest of the beds mainly (with the big heap of rotting mushroom compost that's under the big back tarpaulin just outside the tunnel in previous picture)

Of course, no tunnel is complete without the gardeners seat! Musing and pondering are essential to my gardening success.

So, I have a blank canvas again ... and some lessons learnt about cover tension and drainage and most importantly appreciation of the value of friends - I couldn't have done it with out ye :-)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The kitchen

I bought this teapot in January 2010 .. and its been waiting to get into our new kitchen ever since, patiently stored up at my aunts. I'm pleased to say that now its in daily use in our fabulous new bright and shiny kitchen.

Now I haven't posted for a while, but I have been taking photos, so here's the short but sweet photo story of 'the kitchen'

I think I'd posted up to this point, where the cabinets were going in - that must have been back in November. We still had the faithful wood pile in the middle of the dining area and had great fun moving it, before being able to use some of it for the flooring.

Here's the bright and shiny worktops.

Here's the start of the floor being laid.

Sam and worktop ready for action.

Now we're getting close to finishing - the cooker is in, the sink is in and Sam is finishing off the doors to the cabinets.

Here was the cardboard floor phase - when the had the wooden floor down, but not yet oiled.

Our first dinner cooked in the new kitchen - a moment I'd been imagining and looking forward to for a very long time.

So, here's the finished item - kitchen diner - all new and lovely .. and maybe a bit sparse - but just wait until we get all our stuff down!

Here's a close up of the kitchen.

Our fabulous double Belfast sink - great for when there are dishes and vegetables that need washing.

The dining area - with a great view down the field. We get loads of sun through the windows in the daytime in winter .. when the sun is kind enough to shine!

Here's the other end, with the stove and sofa. When the door is open like that the illusion of being in a finished space is shattered - it felt like being on a film set at first, but now, I hardly notice.

Here's the other opening to the hall (we aren't putting a door here) and to the reminder of what is left to do.

As we finished the kitchen just before Christmas, we celebrated by putting up a wee tree and some decorations. We were in just before Christmas eve .. and spent the rest of the holidays in recovery from all our exertions - but it was well worth it. Christmas dinner, in our own home, made in our lovely kitchen with a lovely fire and a comfy sofa to sit on - pure bliss.

I wonder what the space will look like THIS christmas, once we're really settled and have all our belongings here?

Saturday, 24 December 2011

In by Christmas?

Happy holidays everyone :-)

I was hoping to be writing this saying that we're 100% in by Christmas - but that would be rather untrue. However, our kitchen is now 95% done, so our home now has a beating heart. It is amazing the difference that makes.

It is odd though, feels like being on a film set -you open a door and look out onto the chaos of the remaining woodpile and 'the build'. I promise that I'll post pics over the holidays. I've just been so busy DOING the build, I haven't found the time to post about it. I have lots of pics though, so they will get uploaded.

Right now though, I'm putting my feet up. It's time for a few days R & R before we get back to finishing off the downstairs.

We'll be having Christmas dinner in our wonderful new kitchen tomorrow :-)

Be well everyone XX

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A day in the garden

After what feels like a very long absence, I finally got a day in the garden today - what bliss.

We've been (nicely) distracted from the build by music and guests for the last couple of weeks, and before that the house building had me distracted from the garden, so things are quite 'natural' (weedy) in the garden right now.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so it was a pleasure to start sorting things out.

First, I tidied the potato patches - removing the last of the potatoes (I even still had some earlies in .. and they were fine!) and then mulching the beds.

The 'eariles' potato bed is just seen in the right of this picture.

There were still a few nice spuds hidden away - bambino variety.

There is still some colour in the garden, with a few nasturtiums and marigolds hanging on. I even saw a butterfly.

I love chard for colour this time of year.

However, frost has already started to affect some of the nasturtiums.

I still had some nice second earlies too, (hmm, must remember what variety they were!)

The beds where the second early and maincrop potatoes were planted has been partially invaded by renegade mint - that has spread wildly during the past couple of years of semi neglect. So, I patiently dug up all that had spread to the beds today.

Here are the sneaky white roots that I spent some time removing!

Last, but not least, the few remaining maincrop Cara were dug up.

I then quickly covered the two beds (seen in the last pic) with some weed suppressing membrane, as a temporary mulch. I may use a different mulch, I haven't decided yet.

I was really pleased with how dry the beds were - and the good condition of the potatoes, considering the unusually high levels of rainfall recently. I'm sure the fact that the beds are slightly raised (and aren't just clay) helps a great deal.

I still have a lot of work to do tidying up and deciding how to manage the paths (I may mulch them rather than having them as grass or bare soil) they're very messy and weedy.

As well as the garden to tidy up, I still have to finishing preparing the polytunnel, so I missed out on overwintering crops in there for this year. Never mind, next year I'll make good use of it.

Here's me, catching a minute in the garden on another sunny day, earlier this week. I'm glad I don't mind things being messy for a while - it's still beautiful to me, even if it is a bit wild these days.

Next week, we get back to the build :-)