Archive | February, 2013

Here we go again!

25 Feb

It has been about 5 months since I last posted in my 9 sq/metres blog. All has not fared well with our efforts and we kind of, almost, but not quite gave up completely upon the 2012 season during a continually wet September. Having lost so many crops to the weather, pests and blight, our next stumbling block was a serious infestation of Spanish Super slugs, and these are the tough guys of the land molluscs. They will literally eat anything including plants normally considered slug proof because of bitter tasting parts, poisonous plants and carrion……………. they made short work of the leaves on our rhubarb, even eating the leaves of the Leylandii hedge clippings brash, and according to the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre scientists they will even eat carrion. Suffice to say that even the birds that regularly visit our garden will not eat them, so the buggers flourished through the wet but mild autumn we experienced. The only effective natural predator seemed to be the abundant numbers of common Toads that are either resident or visitors to our garden, but alas before bonfire night had arrived our most welcome and encouraged indigenous amphibian allies had already retired to their annual winter hibernation slumber.

The only crops that we continued to harvest through until January were Brussels Sprouts, Curly Kale and some odd Parsnips. The cold weather, snow on the ground and frosts (although not too many seriously harsh frosts) began in December and have continue through January and on to the end of February. During the first week of January I developed a bad cold and before the month was out I had suffered a dose of flu that although only lasted 72 hours or thereabouts, it incapacitated me for over a week and since recovering from that I have endured both ear and sinus infections, a bad chest infection and yet another cold along with bad cough. With the exception of the week spent recovering from the flu I have continued to work: I am a self employed one man band and if I don’t do it no-one else will. Fortunately I have been confined to my workshop with little if no direct interaction with the outside world, and though my workshop is unheated I found that 30 minutes of welding first thing in my work day was enough to bring the temperature of my workshop up to an acceptable level and if I continued to weld 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off throughout the day the radiant heat given off by the work pieces as they cooled down was sufficient to maintain reasonable working conditions.

At times during the last couple of months I have struggled to keep up with the orders for my products, and the Dual Head Pallet Dismantling Bars have exceeded the sales I made during this time last year by at least 125% and up to almost 135%. Alas, I still have an unheated painting area and have experienced some difficulty with paint drying and hardening; around 24 hours when the ambient temperature is above 5*C, but increasing to well over 72 hours drying and hardening time when the temperature is hovering at around zero or lower; as it has been for the last few weeks. This has created lulls in my day to day work load of several hours here and there as my paint drying racks have been filled to capacity even when my self-erecting scaffolding tower was pressed into service to provide temporary extra drying rack space. This semi down time has not been wasted, but it could have been better utilised undertaking maintenance and improvements within the workshop and business in general. Essential jobs have been completed, but others have been postponed until the warmer weather arrives. However, an elderly retired beekeeping friend has kept me on my toes and together we have recently made 8 national beehives from reclaimed pallet timbers. 2 of these hives will be for us, 2 will be for Keith and thus bring him up to 6 hives that he manages, and the remaining 4 national hives we have made will be offered for sale and thus hopefully financing and covering the running costs of both Keith’s and our hives…………… although at the moment he is not too happy with me securing the waste fondant produced by a small local independent bakery. Keith had already approached this bakery about disposing of the waste fondant and using it to feed his Bee colonies through the winter months, but he was turned down. However, I have a newly acquired EA waste licence (more of this to come in the following months), and by “flashing my ticket” I can now collect the waste fondant on a regular basis which will be stored in a freezer until needed, and when this time does arrive I will of course share it with Keith and some other newly made beekeeping friends.

Our 9 square metres project has stalled, but it has not died; it is not necessarily in need of resurrection, but a little resuscitation would not be amiss. Yet again I have turned our garden into an over winter mess that needs to be tidied. Most of this mess has been generated by reclaiming pallets for some really nice projects that I wish to complete during this coming springtime and summer, but I also started to lay a garden pathway in early December which then got abandoned due to both work commitments and the appalling weather we have endured, and commitments in our social life have also exacted a toll. Norwich AlleyCat has been rather unsuccessful during the winter months, and my illness has not helped in anyway, so AlleyCat has been shelved until after Easter (I have not even ridden a bicycle so far this year!), and if I am completely honest I am tempted to restrict the Allycats to only the warmer months of the year.

I have committed myself to producing a 12 track compilation CD in aid of replacing the aging and now unreliable sound system for the Norwich Music House, and work towards this goal is both on track and very satisfying: I should have all the music files in, fully produced and edited before the end of May, which will allow us the opportunity to release the (first) album for sale on the Autumn Equinox as planned. I have generated more than enough interest and enthusiasm throughout the Norwich live music scene to the point that I have the promise of material to produce 3 and maybe 4 CDs to support our cause. As yet and 2 months into this project we only have seven of the required twelve tracks for the first CD, but that is only because the additional five tracks needed are still in the rehearsal stages having been written especially for this album………… such is the enthusiasm from the local bands and musicians for this project of mine.

Regardless of my condition, or the prevailing weather on the 2nd and 3rd of March I will tidy the garden up, and present it ready as a canvas for both Lois and I to resuscitate back into life our 9 sq/metres project. Our current plans are drastic, and will included the removal of almost if not all the plants from the vegetable patch and relevant planters allowing us to begin again, and to build upon the knowledge gained and our mistakes made last year.