8 Jan

It is now 3 weeks on from the Winter Solstice, and I have already noticed that the is sun climbing higher, and the are days lengthening, and with it my depression is at last abating, although I am just a little sick & tired of the almost constant North Easterly winds. Over the last week we have experienced sustained gusts of over 50 mph, constant 30-35 mph over one 36 hour period, and a continually variable from 5-18 mph, and these winds come in off the North Seas so they are invariably cold. I could really do with a break from these unremitting winds as these are the type that rob body heat quickly no matter how well dressed you are for the prevailing conditions. Even though I am wearing 3 layers under my heavy drill cotton overalls, a coat over those, gloves, a Buff as a neck scarf, and a lined Thinsulate beanie hat I am certainly feeling the cold more this winter than have any other. I have a spray painting job, and a fibreglass laminating job to do, and I could really do with an ambient temperature of 10ºC or more for at least 8 hours to complete these two jobs. Fortunately these are additional items for buffer stock, but the cold is not helping matters.

One of the benefits of the recent high winds has been a fence blowing over on some waste ground in the city, and when I get the chance I’ll be down there to collect as much usable timber as I can from this. Hopefully I will be able to salvage some decent lengths of either 3 X 3 or 4 X 4 post which is the only thing I am short of to finish erecting the walk-in-run for the chicken coop.

Lois & I have been reading up on both square foot gardening and companion growing, and it is turning out to be just a slightly complicated affair to marry the two together to suit our circumstances. Two of things that we will definitely be growing are Mushrooms and Tobacco; I’ve had a boxed mushroom kit unopened and sitting in a corner for almost two years now, and I really need to get around to using it, I also bought two varieties of tobacco seeds at the end of June last year, but it was a little too late to set them off growing. The two varieties of tobacco will occupy one planter which will be located at the bottom of the garden near to the chicken pen. After a very pleasant discussion regarding planting we have decided to grow a few more Dalmatian or Ying Yang bean plants this year, not only do they taste good but the dried beans also look good in a jar on the shelf. We have decided that the 3 tiered stepped vegetable planter that I built last year, and which cropped leaf and salad crops so heavily will mainly be used for root and onion crops at the begin of this year’s growing season. Primarily because the new planters will be heavily composted with 2 year old rotted Horse & Donkey manure; about 50% by volume.

Root crops do not fare well in freshly manured ground, resulting in deformed roots and plants that usually bolt straight to seed instead of cropping properly. However, if we get the planting and rotation correct the first two crops grown in these planters will take the edge off the manure ready for planting up with Carrots, Swede, Parsnip, Turnip and Beetroot which hopefully we will be able to harvest through the winter months. We shall be growing a few Potato plants of a couple of different varieties, but these will not really feature as part of the 9 sq/mtr project, and will probably be grown in a flower bed and a tiered set of trough planters that we are developing for 2013 gardening season and onwards. We will grow new potatoes in various 10 litre plastic food containers that I have, and this was a very successful method that I first employed 13 years ago. I grew potatoes all though the winter in 20 of these buckets, which had been sunken into a manure filled trench and basically hot bedded them; freshly picked home grown new potatoes picked on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve take some beating.

We are also considering building mini poly tunnels that can be utilised to cover each of the individual planters. These will be flat packed and stored away during the warmer months of summer, and then assembled in place to take us through the colder months. At the moment I have not decided what material I am going to use for the poly tunnel hoop frames, and although I am considering 30 mm diameter HPDE blue mains water pipe, it will probably be ¾ inch diameter mild steel tubing, basically because bending and welding steel tubing is what I do for a living; I know the strengths and weaknesses of this material, and it will be easier to adapt it to our requirements as I make the frames, or as needs dictate at a later date; I can cut things off and weld new bits on!.

 

 

 

Frugality; did you know that over 95% of attempts at frugality and cost cutting actually cost you more money!

Where ever possible buy one grade of quality above what you can afford. OMG; he is beginning to talk a right load of bollocks now…. Well actually I am not, because optimisation is the key word here. To start with quality materials and workmanship cost more, but these items last considerably longer, and will require fewer repairs over the long term. Garden tools are no exception to this rule, and there is no economy in buying cheap tools of any kind. Believe me I really do know from bitter experience gained over the years. Buy cheap, pay twice is an excellent rule of thumb, and so is take care of what you’ve got, and it will take care of you.

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