Sunday, 22 March 2009

Grand Greenhouse Opening!

Hooray! It's finished!

Well OK it's not quite 100% finished, more like 99.9% finished. It still needs a few more nuts and bolts to make it really secure and it needs bolting to the base (A ran out of screws). In the meantime there are a couple of surplus bags of sand holding it down.
I have dismantled my mini greenhouse and split it into two to make the staging, but I do need some a bit bigger to make better use of the space. There will be a small raised bed down the left hand side to grow tomatoes, peppers and melons in. We have a couple more slabs to put in as well to make a walkway down the middle.
I have to say it's been a pig to put together - I'm glad we didn't pay full price for it. But it will serve it's purpose for now.
What a great Mother's Day present!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Strange Egg Season

I love this time of year for egg collecting - it seems to be the time when egg production peaks and we often get the biggest eggs, and often double yolkers. But we had this strange little offering from Little Bo yesterday.
This is it next to her offering from the day before - a hefty 75g compared to the miniscule 7g. I wouldn't mind but the poor girl laid another 70g egg later the same day! Bless her, she had a day off today.
I've never had one of these eggs before, but they are not uncommon. Known as wind, fart or witches eggs, they often only contain egg white. I haven't cracked this one yet, so contents unknown!
Greenhouse news - the roof is on! The doors are half built, we had to finish as tea time was calling. Looks like my Mothers Day present tomorrow will be the grand greenhouse opening! Watch this space!

Monday, 16 March 2009

I make no apology!

I make no apology for yet another post rejoicing in the arrival of spring!
But first let me show you what I did today, when the sun tempted me to outside jobs:

Last year we had to have the porch rebuilt, and we laid a new slate tile floor. There were only two tiles left over, and being the good recycler that I am, I managed to find a use for them. They have been on the front of the porch for a while now, but I couldn't think what to put on them. I knew I wanted our house number, but not what style, or what to put on the other tile. Then I spotted LilyMosaics at a craft fair. She makes beautiful mosaics, a lot of it from this pretty sea pottery - shards of old china washed up on the beach. Well I do love the sea, and miss it, being so far inland! So this house number was perfect - then I had a brainwave and asked her if she would make me a chicken to match! And she did! They finally got glued to the slate tiles today, and I love them. I am not so keen on the state of our porch windows and front door however, I might just get my paint brush out tomorrow.

Anyway, another glorious sunny day to tempt me outdoors! Small boy was fast asleep after a busy morning at the swimming pool so I managed to get some seeds sown, then decided to have my lunch al fresco! The cover came off the table and chairs and I happily sat in the sun eating my cheese and pickle sandwich and drinking tea.
The chickens were very curious, even the normally shy Sugar was tempted by a bit of brown bread crust.
Nutmeg kept her distance, being lowest in the pecking order, but still managed to get some to nibble.
Bella has no qualms about standing at my feet shouting until I cave in and throw her some crust! I was a bit worried that she might jump onto my knee at one point! (not that I'd mind, but I was enjoying my sandwich)
So after dining, I reclined the chair and with my eyes shut, I could feel the sun beating down and hear the trickle of water into the pond and the chortling of the chickens. Bliss! For a short while I could forget the surplus, no longer played with and homeless toys that I really must sort out and get on freecycle, as they are blocking access to the shed (along with various bits of netting, bags of compost and bamboo canes that need putting away)
I could forget the tatty lawn, vainly trying to recover from the attentions of 14 chickens and two young boys.
I could forget the half finished greenhouse.
OK, so my garden is as messy as my house - I make no apology! We will sort it all out - one day, when there is nothing better to do!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Another gorgeous day!

Spring is well and truly here! A and I were out first thing this morning to recommence work on the greenhouse. The frame is built but it needs cladding. The neighbours must think we are barking, starting work in the garden at 8am on a Sunday! It started off quite chilly, but as the sun spilled it's beams into our corner of the garden, the temperature rocketed. I actually had bare arms at one point!

We managed to get the sides onto the greenhouse - what a pain it was! Very fiddly - it has clear polycarbonate glazing that fits into all these little channels, but as soon as you get one in, the one next to it pops out. We could've done with 8 pairs of hands never mind two! But it's done - next stage is to get the roof on. But A is back at work tomorrow, so a few more days before we can start again. No pictures today - the greenhouse looks exactly the same as it did, even with the glazing added!

Tea was a scrumptious leg of lamb in moroccan spices, done in the slow cooker and served with cous cous. Deeeelicious!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Chickens on the Allotment!

What a difference a couple of months makes! Our site is really beginning to look like allotments now, rather than just a field!
This is Plot no. 10 - we have raised beds!
Looking from No 10 back to the car park. You can see 2 large mounds of wood chips - our second job today has been to barrow those chippings around the site to cover the paths. The first job was to add some rabbit proof fencing - we nailed chicken wire all around the site, pushed it down into a ready dug ditch, and backfilled all the earth. Allotmenteers 1, rabbits 0!

Looking from the car park across the whole site - and the view across the fields. No 10 may be a small plot, but it has a lovely view! You can just see my plot - the one with the green dalek composter.

I finally plucked up courage to take Florrie and Pom with me today. They were very well behaved. I chose them because they are the only two who do not run away when I try to catch them! (and they are very efficient and enthusiastic diggers!) They had lots of admirers! It was lovely digging and listening to their contented little cluckings beside me. They were doing a very good job as well, until Matthew got too close to the fence with his ham sandwich and they mugged him through the wire!

Finally managed to get things planted as well! The bed in the foreground has been 'lasagned' - dug over and as much of the couch roots removed as possible; 3 layers of newspaper; a layer of compostible material (from the bottom of the chicken run and veg peelings); topped with a layer of topsoil. I've planted onions and shallots and broad beans. I've heard that birds like to pull up onion sets, hence the old net curtains over the bed to protect them.

I can't believe how much I am enjoying this - it's been a lovely day!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Greenhouse Progress!

Hurray! The greenhouse is finally taking shape! There is still a lot of work to be done - it has to be glazed, the slabs inside need cutting to size, a raised bed building down the left hand side and some staging putting in. Then we need to clear that plot in front of it that the chickens and children have been digging in! It will be lovely to have somewhere sheltered to do my sowing (and it will be nice to have the garden tidy again!)

Monday, 2 March 2009

Dig dig dig ....

What a blessing of a day! No work for me or A and lots of sunshine! Apart from the start of a stinking cold for me, the day couldn't have been better for our planned garden modifications!

The plan went something like this: 1. Clear raised beds, 2. Transport all the soil from beds to allotment, 3. Move wooden beds from garden to allotment, 4. Erect greenhouse in place of raised beds.

Very good! Except that the chickens wanted to help. They were not content with their fenced off corner of the garden. Some of the more intrepid ones squeezed through the fence and came to help. They did a very good job, but I ended up spending more time watching their antics than actually clearing beds. But they did have a lovely time.
First Nutmeg came to help. As fast as A filled the buckets with soil, she jumped in and scratched it out again.
Then the others spotted the fun and came to join in. They are fascinating when they do their left foot scratch, right foot scratch, step back and peer at the soil carefully to see what's been uncovered.
Florrie is an old hand and an expert slug destroyer. Scratch, scratch, step ...
That looks like a tasty morsel!
Bella is the talkative one and chats away to whoever will listen while she rummages around.
Scratch, scratch, step ...
Is that a worm I spy?
A couple of months ago I though Pom was at death's door. She was quiet and withdrawn, thin and suddenly went right down the pecking order. So it was lovely to see her back up to her old antics and looking fit and well again. Scratch scratch step ...

Anything interesting here? A woodlouse maybe?
Some synchronised scratching and soil flinging from Bella and Roley Mo. Kick those heels!
This is the chicken version of the barn dance. Scratch, scratch kick, eyes down, four steps forward ...
And round again, scratch scratch kick ... Mo you are not meant to overtake!
But eventually I did have to put the camera down and get on with the task in hand. Result, one cleared bed. One full bed down at the allotment (I promise to take my camera tomorrow).
I will have that greenhouse up by the end of this week!