Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Plants are going in and walls are going up

Here's a glimpse of the back of the van loaded with plants
(you can't even see the instruments and ducks!!). In true cat fashion, Elvie did a disappearing act when it was nearing time to go - so the cats didn't come down on this trip).

There's plants on the seats and under the seats - all did just fine, despite the hot day.

Here's a close up of some of the seedlings - ready to go.

When I got down to site, I found that Sam hadn't been idle whilst he'd been down. His creative brain had overcome the lack of grill - meet the new toaster (aka the gas fire). Thats a classic.

Another ingenious idea was born from my brain - and I suggested assembling the old polytunnel doors as a temporary cold frame / cloche - to protect the plants we'd brought down which were used to being under glass. I'm glad to say that its working really well ( and the weather is lovely and warm anyway).

Here's the vegetable garden as I found it on my return. Before I could plant anything out I had to put up some canes and re-mark my beds .. as it was all getting a bit 'organic' in shape. If I had put in wooden edges to the beds I wouldn't have had this problem, although I like having the beds just shaped out of earth, it means I can change them if I feel like it (and that I don't have to get hold of a load of timber for edging), so I'll stick with mounded beds for this year.

I marked the beds out with coloured string .. and tripped over the string a lot too - I'll get some pegs so the string is at ground level and not such a hazard. Sam was great - helping with weeding and marking out, so I could get on with the planting.
First in where the two batches of broad beans.

Here's a marked out bed - with some self seeding corn salad .. and some unwanted companions - but even the weeds look easier to deal with then its one square at a time!

Here's some peas, onions and garlic all happily out of pots and in the ground - at last.

Some beds were still mulched with straw and are being uncovered as the plants go in. I think I'll re-mulch them with a thinner layer of straw - in between big plants. It should save on weeding .. and it seems that the slugs prefer a thick layer of straw - we shall see.

I've covered the path between the two long beds in membrame, as the grass was coming through the old membrane! The bed to the right of the picture is fine, the one to the left needs a lot of work, as its very grassy. It will be a flower bed this year.

While I was out in the garden, Sam was working away inside the house.

Here he's set out the stud walls for the upstairs bathroom.

Here are the stud walls for the study / guest room (they'll open into each other so I can use it as one big study when I want to).

Here's the guest room side.

Here's the study side. If you peer out the window to the south you see the vegetable beds .. I have a feeling that could be quite a distraction for me and I'll spend as much time musing about my plants as I will doing useful work.

Soon we'll plasterboard the walls and set out the electrics. Then it'll be time to paint the walls ... I still have to source my paint .. but first there are still a few plants to plant out .. and some wayward cats to re-locate (and some - hopefully- better speed broadband to try out .. so I can blog more often). There's also the sunny weather to enjoy.
I intend to make the most of it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Cats come first

Those of a severely energy efficient bent - please look away now Actually, they'd probably best avoid this post altogether, as for some, what I'm showing is a terrible crime.
It is - a cat flap. Not too awful, some would think, but in a highly energy efficient home it is considered to be a big compromise - but one I wholeheartedly endorse - because I LOVE my cats and I like to be able to go away overnight, or even for a weekend, knowing that they can come and go as they please.

Here is the controversial cat flap in all its glory. (There are actually two flaps - an outer and an inner flap .. I just hope the cats figure it out easily).

I guess its very clear that animals rule the roost. Thats ok by me. They give me a lot of pleasure.

Sam has been busy getting ready for the animals to come back down - this means we can work on the house more often - as we're not popping back up north all the time to tend to the cats and ducks.

Here is the new and improved poultry pen - pretty swish .. and ALMOST finished. It will have electric fencing and an automatic pop hole (just like the original), meaning that we can easily go away overnight and know that the girls are ok.

Now we're animal friendly, I get to come down to site again - AT LAST.

I daren't take pictures of all the plants waiting to come with me - there are a lot.

Thankfully, we've just got our beloved Bongo van up and running again - this will be her first big run - complete with dog, cats, ducks and plants.

I'm very excited to be getting back to the build - and our land - and our garden. Sam's done a great job down there on his own over the past few weeks, now I can give him a hand .. and get some plants in the ground.

We certainly have the weather for it right now.

Lovely and sunny Leitrim - here I come :-)

(not sure we'll fit the laptop into the van with all else - so it might be a quiet week on the blog while we're down)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bon voyage alliums

At last, some of the plants that I've started this year have travelled down to Leitrim :-)

Today, Sam took the garlic, onion sets and leeks down with him in the car.
I still won't be down until next week - but they are hardy enough to manage until then.

Sam was down last week, working on the vents for the heat recovery system and setting up for the plumbing. He didn't take any pictures. Mind you, pictures of tubing / piping might not seem to exciting - but I'll remind him to take pics this week.

Here's what the car looked like before he went down.

Garlic and onions in the boot.

More garlic (including 2 elephant garlic) on the back seat.

Some leeks .. and some more garlic (with more unseen in the footwell) on the front passenger seat.

That should keep any vampires away for a while. I didn't mean to plant THAT much, but every time our shop bought garlic started sprouting, I just had to plant it, especially the scrawny ones that are hardly worth peeling. So, garlic is in good supply.I might add some of the tiny ones to the flower bed and keep the 'proper' ones (2 cloves of Flavor) for the vegetable bed.

There are still a lot more seedlings to be moved down. This picture is just SOME of them. I fancy sticking to my planting plan, even though I'll have more ssedlings to bring down next week. I've also purchased some more flower seeds (tagetes, poached egg plant, nigella) to sow in situ soon - to divide patches of bed and make the place colourful.

Here are some of the broad beans waiting to go down.

All we need now is to get the Bongo van cheered up and running again. Otherwise it'll be a few trips in the car, especially with ducks and cats, which could be quite a juggling act.

I'm sending the Bongo Van good energy and trusting that Sam can get it sorted when he comes back at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I'm busy trying to source paint - and we need a LOT of paint that is benign to us and nature and also affordable - and source other materials, while I have good internet access.

I reckon we can have the phone line in soon - a good neighbor came today (impromptu) and helped Sam feel the telephone cable down the piping . Luckily it was sorted easily (he put some flexible water pipe down it and ran the cable through with it - then removed the water pipe).

We'll need to remember the rope when we lay the piping for the electric - the ESB won't touch it if you don't.

I'm really looking forward to getting the phone in, as the mobile signal is very weak and I fancy conversations that last until the end without breaking up or dropping. It will make ordering things a bit easier when we're down.

And the electricity - well - it'll be party time when we have that in - and can run the well properly and easily run gadgets, lights and things other than tools (which naturally get priority with the generator).

My fingers are crossed that the good weather will remain (or at least return by next week), so I can go re-aquatint myself with the garden whilst basking in cheery sunlight. The sunshine lately just makes everything look lovely and lush and gorgeous. Long may it continue.