Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pallets and plums

I've been bringing home pallets from work again. They're incredibly useful if you're trying to redevelop a garden and can be used for all sorts of projects such as raised beds (although I did buy mine in kit form), hen houses and even garden table and chairs.  Check out this great inspirational book called 'Build It.....with Pallets' if you're looking for ideas for your own garden or have some spare pallets you want to use for something other than firewood. Another great place to find ideas for projects in the garden is the Gardeners World website. I built my first compost bin using instructions from there; now it's time to build a second. The idea is to create one heap whilst having another that is ready for use.  In theory I should always have plenty of good compost ready for the garden. So, if you ever spot any pallets lying around in building sites, factory yards or garden centres it's worth asking if they're going spare.

On a serious note, I stress the importance of asking very strongly!  Some pallets belong to delivery companies who'll want them back so don't just take pallets if you see them lying around - always ask first!

Once the compost bin is done then I'll turn my attention to constructing a log store behind the shed. I've never done that before either but it can't be much harder than constructing the compost bin.  I bought logs from a local supplier this winter - good logs too, a mixture of soft and hard wood fully seasoned.  But with the winter we've had he was in short supply so I'm thinking about starting to collect wood earlier this year and storing it so that it can finish seasoning through the year ready for this winter.  Plus any additional pallets I get can be broken down and used as kindling instead of buying it in bags.  Hopefully I'll save money on heating next winter that way and if I can find a local gardener or tree surgeon whose looking to get rid of excess wood, then even better!

In the midst of all this pallet procurement, I've planted my first leek and cauliflower seeds in trays and they're growing on the windowsill in the spare bedroom at the moment.  I went to check on them the other day and the cauliflowers are just beginning to show tiny shoots above the compost.  Ok, so this probably isn't the most exciting news for people who've been growing veg for years but as it's my first attempt I'm full of anticipation to see if I can grow them successfully.  

fingers crossed! 

First things first though - the rabbit proof fence.  Not the brilliantly made Australian movie but the one that's got to secure the raised beds from rabbits and other such pests in the garden.  I need to crack on with this sooner rather than later and planting the seeds has given me the incentive I needed.  So this weekend I've put the posts in to mark the area, using the back edge of the raised beds as one boundary and leaving enough space so that once the wire is up I can still get in with a wheelbarrow.  Having measured it all out it looks like I'm going to need around 18.5m of wire mesh around the beds!  Think I'll do some research on costs on the internet this week!

I'll be putting a seed cloche/mini greenhouse  in this area too.  I bought one last year and it's been sitting in my shed ever since.  It's about time it came out of its box and was made use of!

posts marking position for wire mesh fencing

I'm going to use a thick wire mesh fence rather than chicken wire; I learnt a valuable lesson when I used wire mesh around my young apple trees to protect them against the rabbits.  I used normal sized wire mesh and something (maybe not a rabbit?) still had a go at biting through the wire, so I added a second layer which seems to have kept pests at bay so far.  This time I'll be buying thicker wire mesh.

Clearing back the hedgerow has also begun with the cutting back of an overgrown Box shrub. I'll cut it right back to just a few inches above the ground and hopefully it will come back without any problem so that I can re-shape it and maintain its growth. I won't do much more to the hedges in the garden at the moment, not with Spring just around the corner but I have future plans to add some flowering shrubs where there are large gaps in the hedge on the right side of the garden and lay the ash and hazel hedge on the left side. I've asked my neighbours if they mind me managing their boundary hedge and (funnily enough) there's no objection.

A new wine is on the go as well.  Last year I made my very first home made wine - elderberry. I don't usually blow my own trumpet but it was a lovely wine to drink - very light and fruity. I was very proud of it and it was lovely to give to family and friends as a Christmas present. I was given the recipe by a friend of mine who makes wine in gallons.  Then my 'Secret Santa' present  this Christmas was a wine book with 130 wine-making recipes which should keep me busy for years. So I decided to have a go at making plum wine; just a gallon in case it turns out to be undrinkable and more useful as a drain cleaner!  The instructions are quite different from my friend's so I'll see if the one in the book produces as good a wine.  I should have a verdict in about 3 months.

Oops! this post has been up for about 3 days before I realised that a whole paragraph had gone missing at the end.  Otherwise these final photos don't make any sense!  They're images taken of the garden redevelopment which is part of the dementia project I'm involved with at work.  I mentioned a short while ago that the contractor was starting the garden and after 3 weeks we're beginning to see the new layout take shape. It's really caught the attention of the staff and residents at the home.  With the transference of top soil from the front garden to this courtyard garden it's beginning to catch the eye of the public as they pass too.......the first time in almost 2 years that I've seen anyone look at the building!  So here are just a few images to show what's been going on so far.

First the conservatory came down to make room for a canopy

Then the overcrowding shrubs came out to open up the views

Next, the slabbed pavement was removed
In goes hardcore and top soil for new paths, lawn and borders's been a busy time both at work and at home. That's all folks!(for now)


Claire said...

Looking forward to seeing the development of the dementia project garden! One of my friends has a really large garden and extensive vegetable growing area and has to battle rabbits and deer too. Such a pain (although I love wildlife, but it's horrible when all your hard work gets eaten!). Lovely to see your seedlings coming through - it's always so exciting isn't it? x

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Claire,

Should have an update on the dementia project soon. Have taken lots of photos recently and am up at the care home nearly every day at the moment, keeping an eye on the work in the garden. It's going to be great when it's done and the residents will have easier access and lots more to do outside!

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