We were up and at the plot before 9 in the morning. Two more wheelbarrows of mulch for the top level. The pile of wood chip was still steaming and hot – it’s scary. It might actually be a fire hazard all heaped up like that.
More shed progress – despite technical difficulties: broken and bent drill bits, and over-leaning tree branches, another wall support was put in – albeit needing future strengthening. The over-leaning branches in the end did have to be cut out, so we did it, and then did all the subsequent cutting, trimming, tidying-up. Done!
Doesn’t it just blow your mind that all the fruit you eat – including tomatoes & aubergines & pumpkins & onions & cherries and everything in between… it all starts with a flower. A simple little flower. That turns into the things that we eat. Amazing!
(Ok – well that, flowers, and some fresh rain water and some gentle heat from the sun.)
And then, as my mind digests these simple facts, with dirt under my nails and twigs in my hair, I’m completely blown away by this idea magnified by things like global wine production, the infinite value of good olive oil, fresh fragrant tomatoes, and beautiful lettuce. All the effort it takes to produce the things that we need for survival.
Sure. People laugh at lettuce. The ‘salad years’ and so on. What rubbish! How dare they. Perfect salad and season greens is a magnificent cosmic gift – so singular, so aromatic!
I propose we calibrate our rating of civilisations and cultures on salad. Let’s get real about what really counts. Good food, well-grown. Slow economies. A re-evaluation of values. What counts? And why? And what, more importantly, should count?
I say: salad! So tonight we had garden grown spinach with our dinner. Yum!
There was a pile of steaming mulch at the entrance – so we did what is the custom, and helped ourselves.
What a difference a little mulch can make! Especially the bottom path near the verbena – much safer now that it’s not a steep bank of slippy clay.
Sadly some of the veg we planted out aren’t doing that great – like the mini-cukes, the summer squash and the red kale. But maybe it’s just too cold.
The snap peas planted at the top of ‘Alberta’ are doing ok – though in a cold-weather suspended-animation kind of way.
Below them is the bed of red onion, planted in autumn.
Our time-lapsed shed…
Sunday was a bit chillier. Despite wanting a bit of a chilled out weekend the big dude woke up and wanted nothing other than to carry on with the shed.
It now has all upper frame connections. Amazingly level but still a little wobbly – will firm up as the walls come to shape.
I puttered about and carried on removing bindweed from the boundary near the water pond. Trimmed the dead branches from the unknown shrub to the side of the damask rose. Not our side but we abut it directly and it’s nice to have the boundaries tidied up.
Also dug out the last of the yellow iris from the raspberry bed.
This morning was warm and sunny. We opened all the windows in the flat before we left to visit the allotment.
The big guy was keen to make a start at framing the walls on the shack. He got four beams upwards and two walls semi-framed in. It’s starting to look like a real shed!
I finally started the wicker basket with radish seeds – two rows and a central row of leafy coriander. Must build a small wood and wire frame to put onto the top to keep the birds off the seed beds.
Planted the red curly kale – into last year’s tomato and pepper bed. It is side neighbours with the purple sprouting broccoli which I planted in last Saturday. I put three red curly kale into the tiny little new bed I created by blocking off the end of one of the pathways (too much path and not enough growing space!!).
We woke up to a very sunny Sunday morning. And headed out to the plot after a breakfast smoothie. The great gardening Malink wanted to lay down a few of the new paving stones and carry on preparations for the shed.
Wood for shed frame with 2nd coat of preserver. Showing the 3rd paving stone in the path across the top level which will join to the other set of stairs going down.
Before we jumped on our bicycles we paused to dig up two small patches of sweet woodruff and some wild violet from the side back patch/woods to transplant into the side flower beds at the allotment. I absolutely adore sweet woodruff; my only regret is that it spreads so slowly. In late spring it comes into flower with tiny little star-shaped flowers twinkling low and lightly over a bottom carpet of delicate foliage. So lovely!)
When we got up to the allotment it was soon too warm to work without peeling some layers. First I peeled the big oversized fleece. Then I peeled the black cotton sweater. Down to my tank top/underwear! So put on my down gilet over the tank top – bare armed and quite warm… Wow!
We went with Mick to Homebase and picked up four more paving stones and stud lumber for building the walls of the eventual shed. (Infinite thanks to Mick for all his help! The parking arrangements were down to the last few minutes and we made his heart race – which will be recorded on his heart monitor. Yikes.)
Spot the train! (March 2019) Photo by G.
At Homebase we also picked up a narrow garden fork to replace the one whose handle snapped in half — the new one has a metal handle — and some plants for the flat balcony window boxes (white aubrieta and red dianthus), as well as a summer squash, two small fruiting cucumber, a tray of peas, two cherry tomato plants, and two trays of brassica – a purple sprouting broccoli and a purple kale – for the allotment.
Saturday 23 March 2019. Showing the two brave leaves of the summer squash in the round planter (planted today) – with new strawberry patch to the side and pots of tulip & cyclamen above.
It was laborious (again) getting it all back to the allotment, and super-G cut his leg on some metal pole sticking out in the path. I had to apply a band-aid to a bleeding leg…
We joked about tetanus shots, but…. Ho-hum. Fingers crossed.
(Must remember to bring some gauze & medical tape — and also look into a more water-proof container for the first aid kit.)
While the wounded super-G painted the wood in preparation of installation, I planted the peas up behind the onion bed — near the top of the bed that marks the upper shed level. Put up some bamboo poles and pea netting. This is the top end of the bed that super-G calls Alberta. The peas, if they grow, will help finish our ‘privacy barrier’.
The big dude got up this morning went to the allotment plot to slap another quick coat of preserver onto the wood shed platform. It’s all coming together.
This is the side view, taken from the top terrace level.
All the lattice was free, and found on the side of the street. We had to buy the support posts (£10 each) and also the paving slabs that comprise the steps to the set of stairs up to the upper level. (This was a second set of stairs, as there are paving slab stairs at the far end of the bed).
I’m hoping to level-out underneath the shed on the side (facing down the paving slab stairs) and put a few more paving stones to have some tidy hidden-away storage: we can add some lattice on hinges to the side to provide cover and easy access.. Entry to the shed will be from the front side as shown facing, above.
This next picture is taken from the bottom corner of our plot, looking upwards. All levels are shown – the bottom raised bed level, edged at the side with the black metal rose arbour.
In front of the rose is a small patch of garlic chives – they get the prettiest white flowers! You can also see the oriental greens growing in front of the rose arbour on the bottom level. Then there’s a path and then the brick-edged raspberry patch. There are a few kale plants that overwintered in that bed (which turned into sprouting broccoli plants by late March! No wonder they were kind of feeble kale plants, but even so we had a few meals of the leaves…. Go figure! )
Then there’s another path edged by sloped beds and stairs to the upper level, edged with terra cotta pots. Our two white folding chairs are just visible behind the veil of blackberry canes that will create a privacy shield for the top level.
It’s relatively awful outside these days – high winds, chilly, with leaden grey skies and the constant threat of rain. Despite it all we set out en bicyclette and paid the rose cuttings a visit. They’re doing fine so far as we can tell.
Shed sub-frame and platform painted Saturday 16 March 2019
Despite the yucky weather and almost-rain with beads of water in the air, we decided to stay on. The Mr painted the green wood stain preserver onto the under-frame and then the boards of the eventual shed. The wood is already showing signs of wet. We’ll just keep slapping it on and try to get a roof up as soon as we can. We’ve decided on a wood frame of 2×4 beams. We think that’s easiest to fill in and finally frame and cover.
And he tied back the woven barrier that we’d strung at the back to keep the back neighbour’s dogs calm, which had come loose on one corner as a result of the heavy winds lately. (As for the barrier, it seems to have worked more or less, and even when the dogs do bark I somehow feel safer – illusory though that may be.)
Work on the shack continues apace. On Saturday afternoon (9 March 2019) Mick helped us by driving to B&Q to buy the plywood. We had it cut in the store, which is a fantastic service, but otherwise the shop was a big disappointment. No paving slabs, not a great selection of plants, pretty poor selection of tools…. We need a new narrow-tined garden fork, but the ones at B&Q were huge, heavy and just too big in all respects. But I did find some square cut garden timber posts with pointed ends – so we picked up 6 of those.
Super-G built the sub-frame (supported below by the re-claimed scaffold piping & fittings). And now we have the plywood to cover it and create the floor of our shack. It was hell bringing the board to the actual plot as the allotment path is too narrow for the trolley to bring them up. All carried in by hand – laboriously! Moral of the story? No more plywood! Planks only – easier to handle. It was getting dark by the time we headed home, so decided to indulge in buying Chinese food for dinner. We were exhausted and it was definitely a great idea!