Archive | April, 2012
30 Apr

Yet another wet week that has been bordering on cold; it is wet, is miserable, the ambient temperature is 6-7*C below the seasonal average, and I am totally fed up with this weather. I just cannot get on and do any of the physical side of this 9 sq/mtr project.
Oz has discovered that mud bathing in the garden is fun, and that he receives some extra attention when we towel him down. It has almost become a battle of wits between us and OZ to keep him clean enough to come into the house without the need to clean and towel him down…..  Funnily enough although he will play in the puddles of mud in the garden, he has a complete and utter disdain of rainwater puddles out in the streets and fields when I walk him, and will avoid them to the full extent of his lead; and God forbid that I should ever run a bath and then casually look in his direction.
Absolutely nothing has been done to the project, and I am losing time; serious amounts of required growing time. The seedlings in the conservatory and on the bedroom window sills are really coming along strongly. We have taken to opening the top windows in the conservatory in a vain attempt to harden off some of these plants and slow down their growth a little in anticipation of some decent warm weather in two weeks time…………….. the long range weather forecast is completely wet and miserable right up until the 10th of May, and with that in mind we have decided to postpone my 50th birthday party on the 12th of May, and push it back to sometime in July.
The April Norwich AlleyCat had to be postponed at the last minute: a handful of cyclists turned out, but what can only be described as a monsoon deluge complete with thunder and lightning began just 5 minutes before the advertised start time, and it continued like this for the full the duration of the estimated 90 minutes that I had predicted for an average Norwich cyclist to complete the course; I thought it unfair and unsporting of me to send them out exploring the city and completing the tasks I had set in this heavy rain, so we retired to a local bar for a bit of a social……. if only I had finished making the pedal powered scalextic set; we could have all enjoyed an exciting and fun filled evening of friendly competitive racing and laughs in the bar.
Cargo Cycles has had a record month of pallet bar sales, which is helping to off-set the balance of some outstanding contract work invoices that are well over due. It is about time that the Gov’t got around to passing a law where invoices have to be settled on the due date. It is only the larger companies that are taking the piss in this manner, and I believe that this situation is causing serious problems to the economy in general. It is holding other businesses and me back; I want to make another equipment investment in my business of only £1300 that will make certain operations more efficient, and allow a greater degree of flexibility within the business in general, but I am being held back. I would also like to drop another couple of hundred pounds into one of my medium term research and development projects, and this wet weather is the ideal time to be doing this kind of odds and sods work, along with a few minor redesigns to one particular project; but I need some hard cash to do this.
My cold cut circular chop saw has broken down this week, and this along with the Mig welder and air compressor is one of the essential workshop tools that are key to my production output at the moment. It is a 9” diameter slow rpm saw that cuts almost every piece of steel passing through my workshop; bar, box section, angle, channel, pipe and tube. These days I cut very little by hand with a hacksaw, a cut off disc, or my plasma cutter, and I am almost solely reliant upon my chop saw. It is a make and model at the lower end of the industrial scale and cost me £500 second hand 2 years ago, but up until this week it has
been wholly reliable. Two weeks ago it received its quarterly deep clean with me taking the saw completely off the coolant tray, cleaning it down completely and also accessing all those hard to reach nooks and crannies, which manage to accumulate all those loose and inconvenient saw chips. I also took the opportunity to make a couple of much-needed modifications to the saw’s body. A square/Zero degree physical stop was made and installed, along with a couple of modifications to the cut length stop.
The saw was reassembled and new coolant added, and for one week the saw worked perfectly. Then the pump stopped delivering coolant, which is very important when sawing solid bar sections of steel. A quick telephone call to the maker: Sealey indicated that a replacement diaphragm or service kit was not available, and that a new coolant pump would be around £230+VAT + P&P even though it was only the diaphragm that had failed, but I wasn’t having any of that because the pump looked to be no more than a standard mechanical fuel lift pump fitted to older agricultural tractors. I was in luck as a quick Internet search indicated that either a Sparex or Vapormatic lift pump would be a direct replacement and would cost me less than £40 +VAT.
Now, the common social disease of sloth seems to be endemic in East Anglia, and with only one or two exceptions I am always disappointed with the level of service that I receive whether it is purchasing a cup of tea in a cafe, right through to trying to purchase a car; and the local engineering suppliers are not much different. I was born and raised in the East Midlands in an Agricultural and engineering community where the customer was always King, with staff trying their utmost, and no effort was ever spared to get things right the first time. Here in East Anglia I feel that I am just an inconvenience that just might go away if I am ignored for long enough: and that included the spares depts. of two of the local high profile agricultural dealerships.
Fortunately I found an independent Agricultural spares outlet a few miles down the road that were more than willing to help me and get my saw back up and running in the minimum amount of time possible, and although my saw was down and nothing was produced for one whole day, it is now back in full working condition. Now that I have the vapormatic pump fitted and working, I can get replacement service kits for it for about £8+VAT, although I have ordered from ebay an in line ¼ BSP brass Y mesh filter, and a large in line 30 micron mesh (cleanable) fuel filter which will be fitted to the suction side the saw’s coolant system when they arrive; hopefully these will extend the service life of both the new pump and its diaphragm.
With the postponement of my birthday party it will take a little of the preparation pressure of both Lois & I, and will allow us a greater opportunity to whip the garden into shape and really get this project of ours going. I am really frustrated at the moment with this very wet weather; I have so much to do, and diminishing time to do it in.

22 Apr

Since the enforcement of the hose pipe ban, on the 1st of April it has rained almost all day every day. The Anglian Water imposed hose pipe ban has been considerably more effective than any rain dance or new age ceremony could ever have been. By my reckoning, and the water level in one of the buckets I have scattered around the garden we have received close on to 9 inches of rain in 21 days.
The ground is waterlogged, and we have several standing puddles on the lawn and what was the path. To make matters worse all of the new grass that I carefully re-seeded last autumn, and protected from Oz with the temporary plastic mesh fence has been churned into muddy mire by him running up and down the garden.
The two areas that I dug over and levelled ready for installing the planters have been reduced over the course of two days into what can only be described mud baths by Oz; he has a fascination for freshly tilled earth, and these two areas have provided him with several hours of enjoyment. Suffice to say he has been banished to the spare dog bed in the conservatory. Not because he is being punished, but to prevent my ears from becoming permanently noise damaged by Lois verbally abusing me as Oz leaves muddy paw prints all over the rest of the house.
This rain is really holding back the 9 sq/mtr project; I just cannot get on and do anything outside in the garden because it is far too wet. It’s not much better in the workshop with the rain rattling down on the roof and drowning out the sound of the radio as I am busily working away. Since I bought my little DAB radio a couple of months ago I have rekindled my love affair with the radio, and it has been great listening to the superior sound of digital radio as whilst I’ve been sawing, jigging up, welding and grinding. Planet Rock is my current station of choice, and this very close to 50 year old can often be seen to put down the welding torch and head banging away (albeit without the hair) to one or more of the heavy metal classics, much to the dogs amazement and puzzlement.
We have endured a spate of vandalism in the area that we live. A fence panel between us and next door was torn down so that the barstewards could access Clive’s work-in-progress Ford 2.8 ltr V6 engine powered trike, and really go to town vandalising that. Fortunately, with the exception of 3 slashed tyres the rest of the damage was superficial. Apart from putting Clive’s plans back bit and the cost of the new tyres, vandalism is still a crime and the perpetrators need to be dealt with in the appropriate manner.
Clive was kind enough to give a me 4 mtr length of thick walled steel box section,  so that I could make a new post to replace the damaged (and part rotten) wooden fence post. So I spent a couple of hours in the workshop capping off the open ends, cutting, drilling and welding on some brackets to match it up to the fence panels. After a couple of licks of undercoat and 2 coats of Chocolate Brown gloss enamel, this new steel post is ready to go in; I just need another decent  break in the wet weather so I can dig the post hole and then concrete it in place.
Water proofs have been donned this week and major inroads into the general clear up have begun. All of the old wardrobe and bedroom panels that previously made up the flooring in the loft that I had ripped out ready for the new insulation have been taken to the local council dump. Now, I am unsure if Norwich City tip is typical of other council run tips around the country, but I can tell you that it is run by a petty,” jobs worth” bureaucrat with perceived powers way above his lowly station. I have found that the best way to deal with these people is not to argue with them, but to play by the letter of the rule. ….. they usually become tired of having to adhere to the rule book because it means that they actually have to do some work that is within the realm of the job roll.
Granted I had 2/3rds of the rear of my estate car filled with these old unit panels, and that the citizens of Norwich are only permitted to dump 80 litres volume or 50 kg by weight per week if arriving at the council dump by car. There is a charge of £20 and upwards for loads larger than this, and the council has number plate recognition cameras installed so that they may enforce these rules: However, there are no such limitations for pedestrians.
There was a long queue of cars waiting to enter the tipping area, and I had decided to park in the lay-by on the opposite side of the road, and walk the rubbish in, rather than wait for the estimated 30 minutes for turn to arrive. After 4 hand carried loads to the drop I was accosted by said petty official wanting to know where my car was so the load could be estimated for the possibility of additional charges. So I told him I had travelled on foot and had carried the rubbish to the tip. He then tried to enforce the 80 litres volume or 50 kg weight per car rule. So I reminded him that I had arrived on foot (albeit 30 odd metres).
“Pedestrians are not allowed on site sir.” “I have used the clearly marked pedestrian pathway.” “But that is for those arriving by car sir” “So why does it start from the footpath alongside, and allow access from the public highway?” “Well I’d better check the volume sir; it looks considerably more than 80 litres.” “The council have officially trained you how to measure and calculate volumes?” “No, but I have a rule I can use to carry out the measuring.” “OK.” Out came a standard stationary clear plastic 12 inch rule of the type found in offices and schools across the country. So I asked him if it was a rule manufactured and certified to the relevant British Standard: All of my Stainless steel rules I use in the workshop are, and carry the correct BS number, so as far as am concerned that it was a valid request on my part. The answer I received was “No” so I told him that I would not accept his calculation. He then informed me that he was going to weigh it, so I asked to see the current annual calibration or approved trading standards certificate. ….  which he could not produce.
By then the traffic queue was backing up on to the road, and frustrated drivers were beginning to sound their horns, so for once in his working life this petty enforcer of the red tape backed down and let me get on with it.
It has been another wet and miserable weekend. The garden is literally a waterlogged swamp with many standing puddles dotted about, which is saying something because it normally drains so freely. I can’t even get the lawnmower or strimmer out and give the grass its first trim of the year. The two new planters are still on the trestles under the gazebo, but we did get the decking area clear of all the various pieces of reclaimed pallet timber. What I have wanted to keep and use for projects has been stacked up on the racking, and the rest has been claimed by Mikki for both her open fire place and wood burner.

15 Apr

We had a very wet Easter weekend, and I am almost ashamed that due to the rain very little was done either on the project or in the garden in general. However, one or two of those other niggling small jobs put aside for another time were completed. 22 pins were cut from several odd bits of 12mm steel rebar, these pins are for holding the 11 of 4 inch diameter X 5 ft long posts that I reclaimed from a vandalised wooden climbing frame that I had acquired from the city council 14 months ago. These posts will be laid flat and provide a hard edging to a couple of the flower beds in the lawn. For the last 12 months these post have just laid there on the ground unsecured, and Oz has recently discovered that they are fun to roll around the garden.  Although it may be great fun and provide a great deal of entertainment for Oz as he shunts these poles about, it is proving to be very inconvenient for Lois and I, and several nice plants and flowers in one border have been damaged.
At around 3pm on Easter Sunday afternoon there was a short break in the weather, and so we ventured into the garden to at least try and complete one of the required jobs. We decided to drop the recently made low reclaimed pallet wood retainer into the ground which will provide the new (and final) position for the fibre glass Brox box. It was then that we found that the wheel barrow tyre and inner tube had perished over winter and would not retain any air. Our four wheel tipping cart was pressed into service and had its first real work out transporting riddled out gravel and stone from the heap at the far end of the garden. We were both very pleased with the performance of this garden cart as we hauled approximately 500 kg of gravel during three trips to fill the area for the Brox box to sit on.

Although the two new vegetable planters are made and currently in a flat pack condition ready for assembly, they both need one more coat of bitumen paint, and a couple of coats of wood preservative before they are put in place. The rain during the previous week has prevented me from doing this, and so it was decided to erect my cheap and nasty garden gazebo. This was originally purchased to provide me with cover from rain when painting, and now the planter panels are safely residing under it for a couple of days in Norfolk’s almost constant North easterly wind to ensure that the timbers are dry enough to take the coat of bitumen and preservative.
One of my downfalls so far in this project is the need to get all of the basic work done. Procrastination, depression, the requirement to work longer hours to cover an exceptional increase in the Cargo Cycles order book, the weather and yes, even a couple of bouts of “I can’t be bothered” have all taken their toll. My mistake has been to see the only the big picture, and forgetting that it is composed of individual brush strokes. To that end I have now taken a couple of steps back, and will approach and tackle each of the individual jobs, rather than trying to get all done in one push and then failing.
Easter Bank holiday Monday is upon us, and it is miserable: I really wanted to get on achieve something, but I think all that will get done is a bit of nail pulling from reclaimed timbers, and maybe move other stuff around the garden as a pre-emptive strike at a general tidy up. The rain has abated from a constant shower to a cold, light drizzle and I am now contemplating donning some water proofs and braving the elements to move some stuff about.
Alas, cowardice concerning the rain overcame me and I spent a couple of hours in the dry in the workshop prepping work ready for this week: at least I’ll hit the ground running this week, as it will be yet another busy one. I have also got a few pieces of steel work to do for the house as well. Our asbestos drain covers got stepped on and broken a few weeks ago, and I have a couple of nice and heavy pieces of 8 mm thick steel plate to replace them, but I am also going to weld some fence type kick guards to them to help prevent the plastic drain 2” pipes from the kitchen and bathroom becoming accidentally damaged in the future. I have got some David Brown (Tractors) Chocolate brown gloss enamel paint that I purchased from a few weeks ago.
Now the paints supplied by Regal Paints are decent quality cellulose based, hard wearing Agricultural enamel paints, that are really very reasonably priced, but the colours are limited and a bit hit and miss. Over the last two years I have purchase grey zinc primer, red-oxide, buff primer,  the new Caterpillar sand coloured Yellow gloss from them, along with JCB Yellow, David Brown chocolate Brown and Ford tractor Blue from them , but when I have ordered  additional  tins of gloss to replace paint I’ve consumed, the colours have been a shade or two off. In fact I originally ordered the Ford tractor Blue, when I was having difficulty sourcing cheap Leyland tractor dark Blue: one of my favourite colours, and what I wanted to paint my welding  bench, circular chop saw, and pillar drill stands with. I was pleasantly surprised to open my tin of Ford Blue to find that it was actually Leyland Dark Blue.  But now I am getting towards the bottom of the can, and would like some more to repaint the workshop shelves and various other bits and pieces I have, including the wheel discs for my Polo bicycle, and I am dreading the paint they currently have available possibly being the much lighter Ford Blue.
It has been another manic week in the workshop, and yet again my buffer stock has been reduced with over 85% of sales, and 100% of my output destined for export to the USA this week. Obviously it is good for my business, and it is helping to mend the British Economy in a tiny way, but filling out the customs paperwork is very time consuming. Especially as each item is being exported to a different state; which all have their own slightly different rules, regulations and required declarations. Not forgetting the purchase order from the US Navy which arrived with about 11 pages of small printed terms and conditions.
To make matters worse, Americans are hard work to deal with; an average of 11 email emails are being exchanged to get them to fill out the simplest of requirements on a custom’s form, such as: Full name, full postal address, full Zip Code, and contact telephone number. ……… and the US Navy procurement department were no better than the average US civilian at filling out these forms!
I’ve had another Oz sourced accident this week. I had just taken several tool hanger hooks I had made for a local food factory down from the paint drying rack, and was walking back towards the workshop ready to pack them for taking up there next week and installing them. The far end of our garden backs on to Lionwood on one half, and the other half backs on to Pilling Park. It has been Easter school holiday this week, meaning the kids were out between the rain showers and playing football. Oz is a very ball oriented dog, and hearing a football bouncing about just has to be investigated from his vantage point on top of the compost heap looking out across the playing field. He flew down the garden at maximum velocity, and just as I turned the corner from the paint area he ran into me at full pelt, knocking me over and spreading the tray full of recently painted bright yellow hooks. They hit the ground with a heavy rattle and the paint was chipped on most of them, which meant that I had to spend an additional 3 hours rubbing them down and then re-spraying them.     Between Showers, both Lois and I managed a couple of hours out in the garden today. Lois pottering about moving this, re-potting that, and extending one of the flower borders by adding few extra inches, bringing it out to the newly pinned in place logs. All I managed to do was to dig over and level the two plots ready for installing and filling the new vegetable planters when both the rain stops and I get a window of a few hours in my current work schedule.

7 Apr

My bruised rib has turned into something a little more serious, and I have been advised that I have damaged the cartilage attached to my diaphragm, and it may take up to 12 months for my body to repair the damage. Nothing can be done about it apart from take pain killers and let it mend itself, and as I usually have a bad reaction to modern chemical medicines, I’ve been reading up on essential oils so that I can make a soothing balm to rub into the painful area: I gained an aromatherapy NVQ3 about 4 years ago when my friend Margaret-Mary introduced me essential oils, so it will be nice to actually put some of my previously gained knowledge into practice.
This injury is now more painful than the original bruising, and I am almost constantly grumbling about it. Nights are uncomfortable, and I am not sleeping properly because of it.
It has slowed me down, and just at the point in the project when I need to pick the pace up a little. It has not stopped me working….. if it did I would have no option but to at least temporarily suspend the business, but that is not going to happen if I can help it; it’s taken me two years of slogging to get the business into profit, and I have done all this by doing without, and not running in to debt; that’s right, no loans, no overdrafts, and no borrowed money, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to back pedal now.
The work on the 9sq/mtr project has slowed down, but ironically not because of my injury, but because of the current change in the weather. It has been pissing down for several days now, and the garden has become close to waterlogged. Most of my timber has become wet and will be unworkable until it has dried, and this has coincided with an increase in orders for Cargo Cycles products …… so I am far from idle.
Fortunately the day before the rain came, I acquired 2 more 250 ltr and 2 more 60 ltr barrels and had decided to pump some water around the tanks, butts and barrels we have in the garden. I moved a little over 400 ltr from the IBCs into the barrels that are not connected to any of the guttering. This little exercise provided extra capacity in the IBCs just as the rain began and with them all full now, I have about 4.8 cu/mtr of water available to irrigate the garden just as Anglian Water imposed the hose pipe ban. If the rain abates and the dry spell returns, it will be around about the 2nd week in May before we begin pumping used bath water into the IBC closest to the house.
Although I have been unable to get out into the garden due to the wet conditions, I have continued reclaiming timber from the stack of pallets and plywood, and  I’ve got some old plywood panels reclaimed that will become the floor boards for the loft, and I reclaimed a couple of close boarded  2 way pallets. The reclaimed timber from one of these pallets will then became a grow-bag, boundary partition. Let me explain;  I have seen several photos on a couple of different gardening related Internet forums, where a grow-bag is placed on its side to grow the usual plants, whilst taking up less room than placed flat as one would usually do with a grow bag. I have decided to take this one step further by making a proper  framework to support the now sideways grow bag, and use several of them latched together to provide our ground level vegetable patch with some protection on three sides: North, East & West. It is hoped that these partitions will provide the plants with some protection from the prevailing winds, but will also provide both a visual and physical deterrent to Oz. Although I am going to assume that to begin with these grow bag boundary partitions will just become another obstacle to be enjoyed by Oz as fast as possible, in much the same way as the original 3 tiered vegetable planter was last year.
The first attempt at making one of these was a semi-success. I made it using all the correct dimensions but had not considered one thing; water absorption expansion. The water soaked into the compost, which then expanded and popped a couple of the planks off. So I’ve got to get on and make a Mark II version. However, these were always to be part of the 9 sq/mtr project so it’s another job that has backed up on me.
Good Friday arrived, and while I was busy in the workshop welding up components for a contract job, I also decided to utilise a few off cuts of steel tubing and flat bar stock from the box beneath my chop sawing station for one albeit minor aspect of the 9 sq/mtr project.
Meanwhile Lois had a productive time in the garden along with tending to the seedlings and plants in the house. A few short rows of King Edward potatoes were planted, a wigwam for the beans was made from canes was made, a section of the veg patch that had been covered in a layer of donkey manure a couple of weeks ago was turned over and readied for the next stage of her planting regime. Lois also did some book research regarding some of the vegetables that we would like to grow, and discovered a few interesting facts about Salsify. Which is good plant to grow with mustard and to be are planted near to carrots as it discourages carrot root fly. A very good pest discouraging spray can be made from dried Chili peppers and sweet Peppers.
Lois also took a few Sage cuttings for growing in amongst the Broccoli as the smell of the Sage can confuse a lot of insect and invertebrate pests. Basil will also be used amongst the Sweet peppers and Tomatoes again to discourage pests.
A couple of weeks ago Lois re-potted our very pale blue Hydrangea , and placed a 20mm long off-cut of copper water pipe under the roots in the fresh compost. So I will close this post with a picture of our now stunning blue Hydrangea:

Time is Marching on.

5 Apr

I have suffered from one of those spring head colds all week, and being a smoker, and having sustained a badly bruised rib last weekend, it has not been too pleasant a week for me. Every time that I have either coughed or sneezed, my bruised rib has hurt, me, and I have been in some discomfort whilst working or relaxing every day.
The new 250 amp capacity Euro 25 Mig welding torch arrived last Tuesday, just before I was going to begin welding up yet another batch of Pallet Dismantling Bars. Well, I just had to fit the new torch assembly on to my welder and give it a go on one or two pieces of scrap. It was an absolute joy to use, after using a 180 amp capacity Euro 15 torch for the last two years. I had really forgotten how easy a well designed, well balanced (albeit slightly heavier) good quality Mig torch is to use. Gone was me subconsciously and constantly adapting to the inefficiency of a torch working at its maximum capacity. I was able to turn up the wire speed a little, and reduce the Argon/carbon dioxide gas consumption by approximately 30% whilst producing slightly deeper penetration welds with a smoother, tidier surface finish using the same welding wire diameter. My welding speed has also increased a little which has meant a faster turnaround of bars from initial tack up to finished fabrication ready for painting preparation.
I did encounter one minor little problem, but that was all my fault caused by my normal general untidiness, and nothing to do with the equipment and tools that I use. I had just finished fully welding up a bar, when I put it down on a 1 kg plastic tub full of petroleum jelly. The very hot head of the bar melted straight through the plastic tub and instantly turned the petroleum jelly to a liquid, which flowed across a significant area of my welding bench before it cooled and hardened. The bar required 3 extremely thoroughly good wash downs with very hot water and washing up liquid before I could prep it for spray painting. Cleaning the petroleum jelly from the bench was also a time consuming affair, but looking on the bright side, part of the welding bench and some of my tools will never rust now!
I am rather proud of my achievement with the Pallet Dismantling Bars over the last 10 months: designed from scratch, each one has been individually manufactured by me, including painting, packaging and dispatch. They are used in 12 countries now, and with negotiations currently in progress to have them licence built on three continents. 85% of the UKs not-for-profit wood recycling groups and organisations are now using at least one and in many case 2, 3 or 4. At their recent conference, apparently my Bars were the hot talking point, and it was estimated that each one of the bars is reclaiming on average the timber from 50 pallets per day, 5 days per week, and that the bars in the hands of the community wood recycling groups are directly responsible for recycling over 25,000 per week, or 10% of the 250,000 wooden pallets that are recycled in the United Kingdom each week; add to that the pallet yards, waste transfer stations, commercial recycling yards, transport yards, farmers, smallholder, allotment associations, and the and domestic users who have also purchased bars from me, and I reckon that I can lay claim to about another 2-3%.
Wednesday night was Norwich Alleycat night, and alas for the first time since I have been organising them no one turned up. Well that is not entirely true, as a young lady; a master’s student from the UEA turned up to enter the Alleycat, but she didn’t have a bicycle. I suppose it was all divine retribution for me organising this one from the sofa, and not getting out there on my bicycle to do the exploring and clue seeking properly.
Lois’ seedlings are doing extremely well on the window sill in the spare bedroom, and the fold out shelves (that I made for her last spring) in the conservatory. The Sweet peppers have emerged, the basil is well, the yellow tomatoes and micro, the variegated purple chilli peppers are all doing exceptionally well, the first lettuces and spicy green leaves  have poked through as have the sweet peas French Climbing beans, and Dalmatian beans. Planted this week were Beetroot, Hyssop, Nasturtiums, and purple sprouting broccoli. The sunflowers are at the two leaf stage,  and a second  tray of Dalmatian beans were sown, and last but by no means least the sweet potato tubers are beginning to sprout slips.
Out in the garden the Globe artichokes, Onions, Garlic, Garlic Chives, Marjoram and most of the other herbs are doing well, and that includes the leeks that were sown 12 months ago and survived the winter as plants the size of spring Onions which have now eventually taken off properly. The plum-tree has come into bud. Several Parsnips have self seeded from last year’s crops, the strawberries are doing nicely as is the rhubarb.  Tay berries and gooseberry bushes have come into bud, but the Blueberries are struggling: all of the fruit bushes are in their second year; however we do not expect them to crop heavily this season even though all have all been heavily mulched with well rotted Donkey & Horse manure mixed 50/50 with some homemade compost from the Darlek compost bin.
All of the pots of flowers and various other plants are doing exceptional well, and everything in the garden has had a dose of diluted urine; 1 part urine to 9 parts rain water, and after only 3 days everything was greener, and showing another bout of growth.
The one we are currently proudest of is our beautiful little Christmas tree in its pot. It has been heavily mulched with the well rotted equine manure, and had a dose of dilute urine and at the moment it is looking absolutely stunning.
The week has again passed quickly, and I have still yet to catch up completely; in fact I may slipped a little further behind, so this weekend I will be hopefully putting in about 18-20 hours of work in the garden. Although I just may have one of the world’s greatest excuses for not cutting the lawn: Due to the proposed tanker strike and the general public panic buying, I haven’t any petrol for the lawnmower and strimmer.
Saturday morning arrived, and my springtime cold has all but abated. Last night we attended the Norwich Music house as we usually do on a Friday evening, and finishing late and getting home even later is my excuse for not getting around to doing anything on the project. We were both still a bit tired when we got up this morning, and neither of us had any get up and go. An ambient day time temperature of 8*C and a steady 18 mph North Easterly wind did nothing towards encouraging us. I did go out into the garden and the paint black bitumen paint on to the inside section of the 2 new vegetable planters, and then looking for an active but not too strenuous job to be getting on with I chose to pull nails from the many planks I have recently stripped from old pallets.
However, the local weather report for Norwich on Sunday the 1st o f April is very promising: 12*C, 10 mph westerly winds, bright with little cloud and a  less than a 10% chance of rain, I am really looking forward to achieve a great deal.
A slightly late start on Sunday: Noon to be exact and the first job was to get the black bitumen painted on to the insides of the two new planters. Alas, I did not think the job out properly and painted them in the wrong order, but never mind it is done now, and I’ll just have to make up the time later. The second job was to give other timbers that are part of this project a lick of medium Oak wood preservative. After I had completed about 4 hours work with the paint brush, it was time to move the Brox box so that I could begin the ground work to provide the gravel standing for the box, and the area for the vegetable planter that will be placed adjacent to it.
After moving the Brox box this newly cleared area was dug over and levelled. This was done to accommodate the planter that will sit permanently on the spot. I will not be using any stones for drainage in these planters, and will be sitting them directly on the earth. By digging over this area it is hoped that any vegetable roots will be able to penetrate a little deeper than the 6 inches/15 cm depth of the planters bottom tiers. I am also hoping for a slower rate of drainage than the original planter that has been half filled with stones and gravel, and a better biological interaction due there not being a barrier between ground level soil and the growing medium in the planter.