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.


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