Browsing Posts published in April, 2012

Slash and Burn!

Well maybe not slash and burn per se, but certainly felt that way.

Yesterday, we’d said that if the wind was in the right direction, then we’d have a controlled fire in an oil drum whose bottom I knocked out the other day up at LEAF with a cold chisel and lump hammer.Hedge with a haircut!

And today, the wind was in the right direction.  But that was for this afternoon.  This morning, I carried on ‘slashing’ the left hand most hedge.  (…Well, as much as you can with Diane’s telescoping lopping shears…)

To the right here is the hedge from a kids-eye view about lunchtime.  If you click back to the last image of this hedge from a similar angle, you’ll see I’ve made pretty good progress so far.

While I was happily lopping away, Ian was working his magic on the area around the smaller greenhouse.  A few days ago, I’d dug up to the front of it, but it still needed finishing off, and this is what Ian masterfully did today.

If you click on the image to the left, you can see where he’s been working because the soil has that ‘freshly dug-over’ look.Digging around the small greenhouse.

He’s also moved a few paving slabs that were stood on their ends right in front of the greenhouse.  This was because they could have been excellent slug ‘dens’, but also because tomorrow he plans to re-use these slabs along the edging towards the path running down the right hand side.  I’ll get some photos tomorrow to show what I’m on about.

For lunch Ian had brought some ‘chuck steak’, bread cakes and French mustard.  And a frying pan!

And delicious it was too!  For me, there’s nothing to beat home-made food cooked over an open fire, washed down with Area 34 Tea, all sat out in the open air looking over what we’d done.  Marvellous!

All too soon it was back to work, so while I cut down yet more hedge, Ian prepared an area for a ‘proper’ Big Boys’ Fire.A 'Proper' Big Boys' Fire!

Once he’d got it going, I quickly downed tools and went to help him keep it burning.

We’ve found that these ‘oil drum’ fires a great for a ‘controlled burn’ in that you don’t spread the fire over a large area, so there’s very little mess and crud spread over a large area.

The only downside is that once you’ve got a small fire in the middle of a ring of bricks and you put the oil drum on, you have to really keep feeding it.  Fast burn?  Not half!  We were both constantly feeding it some pretty hefty branches -as you can see by the photo, and yet we could have put even more on.

And the heat was massive!

Within just a few minutes, we were down to T-shirts, sweat pouring off us, and Ian had to get the fresh water bottle so we could keep hydrated.  Thirsty work!

After a burn lasting well over an hour, we figured that the neighbours had probably had enough smoke for one day, so we let it die down and go out.  On looking round, we figure we’ll need at least one more burn, maybe two -especially as Jim next door asked us to burn some stuff for him too!

By four thirty, we decided that we’d ‘played’ enough for one day -after all, it’s not a race, so wearily packed up the tools and said a ‘Goodnight!’ to the plot.By the time we left this evening.

This shot shows my progress, and tomorrow I hope to get much further.

Today during a break, we discussed our pear tree and how it sways alarmingly in the wind -in all directions.

Luckily, today Ian found a long, thick metal ‘spike’ amongst the detritus.  Tomorrow, we plan to drive this spike good and deep right next to the pear tree (…crossing our fingers to avoid roots…), with only eighteen inches or so showing above ground.

We’ll then carefully ‘bind’ the tree trunk to this stake to prevent it moving around so wildly in only the slightest breeze.

We figure that it hasn’t been planted deep enough, so the next best thing will be providing a firm ‘all-direction’ anchor.

Obviously, the tree trunk will expand as it grows, but we’ll keep an eye on it and re-bind it as necessary.

More pictures and words tomorrow, then Monday: Rain!

As our next door neighbour Jim was saying, in the latest weather forecast, it was difficult to see where Yorkshire ended and the North Sea began.

Still, we’re not complaining.  We certainly do need as much rain as possible, and anyway, we’ve got a dry greenhouse and shed to shelter in!

More soon.

And on our Plots… 05/04/12

…Spring has most definitely sprung!The orchard nearly in full blossom.

Here is a quick shot of our orchard this morning in the sunshine, and as you can see, most of the fruit trees are in blossom.

Last year, I remember we had a bad storm almost as soon as our trees came into bloom like this, and we lost quite a lot of it in the wind and rain.  Well, checking with the weather reports this morning showed that (…crossing fingers here…) there should be no high winds or stormy weather for a good few days.  Let’s hope that this year we can keep the blossom on the trees long enough for them to be pollinated.

And talking of pollination and bees, Charles our new head bee-keeper popped in unannounced today to give us an update on our bees.Re-vamped bee area.

They were due to arrive tomorrow, but with the weather being so awful yesterday, The Man from DEFRA who needs to inspect them before they’re moved couldn’t get to see them.  This has been slightly put back to the middle of next week, so by Thursday, they should be safely on-site and settling in.

And we can’t wait!

I know it sounds silly to say, but without the hives, there’s definitely something ‘missing’ from LEAF.

Anyway, Diane and the lads have pulled out all the stops before the arrival of the new hives, and up to the left here you can see the re-worked bee area.  The screens to the top right have been mostly repaired or replaced, but the main thing is the new stumps running in a much longer line.  This clearly marks the limit as to how near we can get to the hives without needing bee suits on.

Charles will be making a couple more trips early next week to sort out the arrangement for just what the hives will stand on.  Current thinking is traditional bee-stands sat on breeze blocks.  Of course, I’ll get some photos when they’re in position.

In other news, it appears that Ian has once and for all sorted out what the ‘peappleum’ on my plot is.  Down on Area 34, we’d lost just a couple of blooms, so today Ian brought one of them up to compare close-up with the LEAF fruit trees.

After much ‘umm-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’, it was decided that the tree we have on Area 34 is…

…A PEAR tree!The LEAF pot-pear.

Ian only discovered this by accident!  After several of us going round the various trees, comparing branches, leaves and blossom, Ian noticed a sad pear tree sat in a little pot quite close to the new bee area.  This terrible shot to the right shows it, and the leaves and blossom are an exact match.  Sorted.

On leaving the orchard to go towards the kitchen area, you pass one of the stands of LEAF rhubarb.

And it’s looking pretty good right now!One of the stands of LEAF rhubarb.

I remember last year we have a massive hail storm with hailstones so big they punched many holes right through the leaves.  It looked like we’d had an attack of huge slugs!

Luckily, none of that this year, and already I can’t help thinking of Matt and his incredible rhubarb & ‘x’ pies.

This is where: ‘x’=’anything’!

I’m thinking of ‘emergency’ runs up to the local ‘Tescos’ for double cream…

And of course, I’m thinking of Plot Tea!

Even though it’s Good Friday tomorrow, I guess there’ll be quite a bit happening down on the allotments.  If not up at LEAF, then certainly down on Area 34.

More then.

Argh! Rain and snow!

Yesterday was a complete write-off.

Rain, high winds, snow…  Miserable!

Still, we certainly needed the water -especially at this time of year- and it meant I could carry on here at Wardian Towers with some programming stuff that would bore a wooden hat stand.

Most of that is now out of the way, and as the sun is now shining, we look set for a full day of Plotting.

The temperature is nowhere near as high as last week, but it will prevent us just sitting around.  We’ll have to work to keep warm!

More news and hopefully some pictures this evening.

Its all coming up!

Unfortunately, this last week I’ve been unavoidably busy doing other, much less interesting stuff, so haven’t been able to get down to Plot 34.

So today was my first visit in exactly a week, and my how stuff had shot up out of the ground in my absence!'Peapple' Blossom

To the right here you can see the peapple tree in full blossom.  Never heard of a ‘peapple’?  Its when you don’t know quite what the tree is.  A pear, or an apple?  In a couple of months, we’ll find out!  ‘Til then, it’ll be both.

Then again, looking at the blossom in LEAF’s fruit orchard in comparison, it could even be a plum?

Okay.  A ‘peapplum’ it is then.

Nearby, all the onions we’ve planted are starting to show their heads.An onion, jumping for the sky.  As I recall, there are one variety of red that I planted with two varieties of white that Ian whacked in.

When I first officially signed my name up for this Plot, Diane bought me a ‘welcome!’ present of loads of different stuff, amongst it all some gladioli bulbs.  Within a few days of starting, I’d whacked the majority of them in, and today for the first time, I saw some of them coming through.Gladioli.

Here is one to the right.

I’d already put canes in the ground all around them so I didn’t inadvertently tread on them, and today I was proved right!

In the greenhouse itself where other signs of ‘awakening for spring’.  Ian had planted a tray of a few white cabbages a couple of weeks ago, and today I saw them for the first time.

White cabbage seedlings.In a couple of weeks time, we’ll plant another batch in the same manner.  Then a few weeks more, and do the same again.  This will mean that we have a regular supply of cabbages rather than a ‘glut’ where we eat nothing but cabbage for a month or two.  Still, I’m sure it would do wonders for our digestion and lower bowels, but probably not much if we wanted, say, close friends…

I also checked out the ‘Mixed Runner Beans’ that I’d got from the seed swap a few weeks ago from ‘Top Chef Matt’ of LEAF.One of Matt's 'mixed runner beans' starting off.

Ian had planted these a couple of weeks ago, and to the right you can see the first one making a showing.

We don’t know exactly which variety these beans will be (…hence the ‘mixed’ label…), but it’ll be great fun finding out!

And so, after my tour around, I started work.  And my task for today?  Yep, you guessed it.  More hedge cutting!

Today I was working on the opposite side to last week -the side nearest the gate.More hedge cutting!

I remember when I first borrowed the loppers from Diane all those weeks ago.  I immediately cut around the gate so it would actually open properly.

Well, here you can just see the edge of the gate about half way through today, and As you can see, I’d managed about six feet of it by lunchtime.

“Aaargh!  Don’t mess about!  Use Diane’s petrol hedge cutters on it!” Someone shouts.

I’d love to use her super-duper petrol cutters on this, but as some of the branches are a couple of inches in diameter, I think even they would baulk at cutting them.  Anyway, I’ve only just repaired them, thank you.  (…This was after the alleged ‘professional’ repair guys said they were beyond repair…)The view from the gate as I left today.

No, it was all by hand using Diane’s big loppers or the hedge cutters that Ian brought down.

To the right here is the view from the gate as I left tonight.  Note that there’s a massive tree in someone’s garden beyond this hedge, so its not quite as high as it may seem.  Still high enough, though.

Ian meanwhile has been taking my hedge cuttings and trimming them all down using an axe to make pea sticks to grow our peas up in just a few weeks time.  We should have absolutely loads spare, so of course the surplus will be offered to the rest of the site.

Last week's hedge on the other side.Just as we left for the afternoon, I turned my camera in the other direction to the hedge I’d finished last week.

And left with a smile on my face!

At the start of a couple of weeks ago, you couldn’t have seen anything beyond all the foliage; now you can see other plots, and back in the distance, houses.

Tomorrow, I have a little business to attend to, but it shouldn’t stop me coming down for about 10.00 to carry on.  Ian, meanwhile, has said he’s hoping for some rain tomorrow.  This will prevent locals from hanging their washing out, so he can light a fire and burn some of the cuttings and trimmings that are very quickly threatening to overwhelm us.

Anyway, we’re boys.  We should be allowed to light fires.  It’s in our genes.

 


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