Tuesday, 19 May 2009

At long last - the polytunnel is up.

Yes, at long last - the polytunnel is up and I'm pictured here having a very well earned rest inside it, surrounded by my lovely plants (beans, peas, nasturtiums, marigold, swede, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, onions, spinach, celery, oca, quinoa,  parsley, lettuce, cucumber, melon, squash, peanuts and many others) all waiting patiently for me to make some raised beds for them.

It was a lot of work and it did take a while but it was well worth it. An unstable combination of stubborness and Scorpio determination (yes, we're both Scorpio) meant that just myself and Sam put the whole thing up - including plastic cover. The tunnel is 21ft x 32ft so we reckon it was quite an achievement .. mabye of stupidity winning out over sense.

Don't try it at home with just two people - it is tricky - and would be much easier with four people. We knew this, of course, but spurred on by a calm and sometimes sunny day in the face of grim weather forecasts for this week we decided to just go for it.

We found that finding a calm, sunny day - it must be calm or you'll end up flying a very expensive kite and if it is sunny the plastic stretches, thus allowing for a tighter fit - is a rare thing in Leitrim. A calm sunny day in which two helpers are available is nigh on impossible - hence the decision to be a two man erection crew.

Luckily I've no pictures of us up ladders flinging plastic covers around (as I was too busy to take pictures) but there are some pics of the process.

We started by laying the ridge pole out and using that as  a measure for where the foundation tubes will go.

Then we knocked in the foundation tubes (it sounds SO easy, doesn't it - I just prayed that the sledgehammer wouldn't ruin my future musical mayhem creation abilities as I held the tubes) before getting to the 'interesting' bit where we had to get the hoops up and attached to the ridge pole.

Lots of climbing ladders, running about and shouting occured. Here's Sam in mid flow. By now the front hoops are safely in the foundation tubes and we're setting up the back hoops.

Now the back hoops are in and we're ready to get cracking on the middle ones. We did really well. Sam only fell off the ladder ONCE!

The frame is  up. Here we see it against the mini cloche (which is perfectly sane and safe for just two people to erect).

Now we have the stabilizer bars between the first and second hoops and the ridge poles up.

Here I am after digging trenches .. just a tad muddy.

Now the polythene cover is over and the corners are held down (mainly with mud). Sam has put the doorposts in.

Now, a few days later we have the finished tunnel, complete with doors and all trenches filled in.  Now all I have to do is get all those plants in.

Monday, 11 May 2009

tunnels, compost and insulation

Where does the time go? (Snoozing if you ask Sally and Elvie - caught taking a little nap .... they do a lot of that actually) 

Been a while since I posted - sorry.

So what's been going on?

We have managed to build the compost heap (from spare pallets) which is great - but I need a path down to it is it is now severely muddy after last week's rain.

There is also work going on inside the house. We're putting up the 'passive upgrade' i.e. insulation in the inside off the walls - rockwool bats. Leo the cat approves of rockwool and has taken to sitting on it at every given opportunity ( when not napping elsewhere or torturing local rodents).

Our mushroom compost has arrived and I've been rotivating it into the ground in the polytunnel area (well I was until the rains came and made everything too soggy to even walk on). Hopefully things will dry up a bit again.

Here is the polytunnel area rotivated pre rains.

It has been fiercely windy last week (rocking us gently in the caravan!) Luckily, Elvie seems blissfully unaware of this.

Fingers crossed the tunnel might get up this week. Sam has been great (and is now feeling better) and made me a mini tunnel for now and within two days the seedlings are looking happier and straighter.

I've also been experimenting with mini mounds for growing -  more on this next time along with exciting pictures of insulation going in!