April 2007

Grand ambitions at the start of the month have faded a bit as the realisation has dawned about what I’ve taken on … dawned being the operative word, since for more than half the mornings in April I’ve been up on my plot as early as 06:45. It seems for all of that time I’ve been slaving away building my new green house to replace the wobbly shed, progress so far shown here (double click to enlarge). But looking back in my diary I only actually started making the foundation holes on Sun 22nd … the rest of the time I’ve been moving the compost bins, sorting out the wood I’ve scrounged & treating the wood as I’ve been going along.

It took me three hours to screw together the first three bits of wood … going back & forth to a derelict construction (on reflection not the best example to use perhaps!) to see the types of joints used in the frame.

I’ve moved the compost bins over to the right of the back fence as shown below, got the greenhouse frame in place and got the sub frame done for the front. Still a long way to go!

My family has inspected progress, but not much comment has been forthcoming. In particular my son in law Chris, a carpenter by trade no less, went up to view. I can imagine such phrases as ‘structural integrity’, ‘what about the anisotropic properties’ & ‘it’ll be on the other side of town with the first breeze’ may have passed through his mind as he tried to establish which way was up. Frankly, I’ve only been able to attempt the work in the safe knowledge that Chris is there as a safety blanket if I get in a mess (that is, mess by my definition … Chris probably realises I’m already in it).

But I’ve seen what some of my Italian neighbours can achieve with ramshackled constructions of glass & wood. One gave me a lettuce from his greenhouse the other week … fully-grown and fresh in April! They’ve also got their tomatoes out, protected against the frost by scaffold netting. That’s almost a month ahead of mine! So I’ve got a vision of the greenhouse making my plot much more productive. And the greenhouse I’ve got at home, too small for my needs, I’ll turn into a conservatory to sit in, with more exotic & colourful plants.

But at the moment, with lots of wood lying around the plot as shown here (too afraid to throw anything away in case I need it), grass & weeds growing where it’s hard for me now to get at them, & knowing after the greenhouse I’ve got loads of scrounged bricks & paving slabs to lay down, I can’t see much else but a good few weeks more slaving away.

Still, my grandchildren are getting the hang of the whole purpose of things. Sammy insisted on going up to ‘the field’ as soon as he got back from holiday, & Connor was desperate to climb the new greenhouse, sleep in the new greenhouse & and anything else but plant things in it. They’re also getting the hang of the reason I’ve laid some of the paths out in a figure of eight … a great racetrack for them.

What about the plants? I’m getting some great fresh lettuce & spinach leaves picked just about every time I go up now. Beetroot & radishes are coming on. Plum & fig trees are starting to sprout, as are the Jerusalem Artichokes. I’ve also planted more unusual things such as Good King Henry & St John’s Wort, Salsify & Russian Giant, but some of the seeds are really slow to germinate. We’ve had less than 20% of the normal April rainfall so I suspect my watering every other day hasn’t been enough.

My rhubarb from Woollies (£1.99 for 2) has been disappointing as well. A couple are coming through, but the other eight seem to have pegged it.

I’m getting there gradually. This isn’t a short term thing, so the way I reason it is the effort I’m putting in to build things & get the paths sorted out is all investment for future years … when hopefully I can cycle up, wander around tidying here & there, but more often sitting back & enjoying the view, sunshine, wildlife & grandchildren (if there’s any difference between the last two!).

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's 'photos (double click to enlarge)
Jerusalem Artichokes starting to burst forth
Various salad vegetables which seem slow to germinate & flourish
Early Rocket potatoes are going well though
In early April, when the various bits of conservatory had been deposited where there was a space ... in this case propped up against the compost bins
Scrounged planks awaiting treatment, but by the end of the month providing a haven for weeds
Bricks awaiting laying as paths (sometime next year if I'm lucky!)
View from the greenhouse
And finally, the view on entering the plot


  1. I am a big fan now of the raised beds. I have been digging in the same spot since 1981 and the soil levels have risen about 2ft since then! Be careful with your Jerusalem artichokes. They really are thugs! don't let them escape.

  2. Come on... I'm wanting a Shed update! :)


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