Monday, 18 August 2008


This one was a bit of a puzzle. We planted some "pumpkin" seeds that a friend and Allotment Guru kindly gave us, small plants grew and we planted them into the allotment. We were a bit surprised then to find what looks like a giant zuccini, or small marrow, it doesn't look like a pumpkin at all.....It does look very nice's just that we don't know when to pick it!

Beans means.....success!

We've been able to pick and eat green and french beans over the past couple of weeks! We've got loads of radishes too!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Other approaches to building compost bins

Such is the egalitarian nature of the web, and the downright obsessiveness of some of its users, that I'm sure there are whole sites devoted to the art of the compost bin. If I could be bothered to do any research at all before throwing my thoughts up here, I could find out in an instant. However, on Friday one of my RSS feeds lit up with the following article on how to build a compost bin, and I found the synchronicity compelling enough to post it here:

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Netley Bin Raising #3

Step 3: You're done. Irritatingly, Amanda seems to have been completely correct - the bin is so large and heavy that it's pretty solid.

Perhaps I'll sneak up some evening and bang in some spikes while she's not looking.

Netley Bin Raising #2

Step 2: one of us holds some of the pallets upright, the other bangs in some nails.

Netley Bin Raising #1

Having built the shed last Saturday, on the Sunday we carried on the construction theme and built a compost bin. A really big one. We'd managed to scrounge a couple of pallets from some people down the road who were having some work done, and I got some more from my mate Dave the builder. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Dave, have you got any spare pallets?
Dave: Sure, how many dozen would you like?

We got four (actually four, not four dozen) in the end. I reckoned we should be driving big metal stakes into the ground to hold the pallets upright, as most of the onsite gurus seem to do. Amanda reckoned we should just bang some nails in and it would be alright. I decided to humour her on this one, and so we took a hammer and a healthy supply of nails up to the allotment.

Step 1: taking the ends off some of the braces so that the pallets will fit flat against each other.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Netley Shed Raising #7

Step 7: lessons learned (yes, I'm an engineer, and firmly believe there's a lot of wisdom in holding project post-mortems).

1: Cordless drills are fab. I borrowed one for this job because there's no power at the allotment, but they are just a lot easier to use because you're not continually getting tangled in a 20 foot extension cord.

2. There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Actually, Billy Connelly said that, not me, but he's absolutely correct. Today started off dark and dreary, soon descended into a constant drizzle, and got really quite damp later in the afternoon. However, we just cracked on and did it, on a day when it would have been very easy to sit inside and do nothing, and had a very productive day as a result.

3. Total construction time was about 5 hours, including clearing and levelling the land. It could have been quite a bit less if we'd avoided the faffing about with the felt, and a couple of trips back to the house to get things we'd forgotten, but I reckon this wasn't bad.

4. Making stuff is fun.

5. The bottle of wine at the end of the day tastes much better when you've actually achieved something :)

Netley Shed Raising #6

Step 6: Fit barge boards and edging strips. Fit the rubbish supplied hasp (soon to be removed and replaced with a decent one).

Last but not least: admire your lovely new shed, and look extremely smug.

Netley Shed Raising #5

Step 5: Add the two halves of the roof. Add the roofing felt.

This is where we had our only real problem. Being me, I meticulously followed the supplied instructions, not realising that I'd missed an extra instruction sheet supplied with the shed, that said NOT to follow the instructions for this step, but instead to do something different. If I'd realised this, there would have been no problem.

Instead, we ended up essentially trashing the supplied felt. Fortunately, when we moved into our house we'd inherited some leftover roofing felt. This is much thicker than the felt supplied with the shed, and is a bit old and knackered, but will do the job.

It greatly amuses Amanda that this problem arose because I was following the instructions.

Netley Shed Raising #4

Step 4: Screw the walls together on the floor, and then screw them to the floor.

Netley Shed Raising #3

Step 3: lay the plastic foundation stuff, add bracers to the supplied floor, and put the floor on the foundation.

Netley Shed Raising #2

Step 2: attempt to make the area approximately level.

Netley Shed Raising #1

So, today we finally got round to it and converted our shed from flat-pack 2D anonymity to 3D grandeur, thereby manifesting the splendour which was always inherent.

NB: my preferred title for this series of posts has been censored, despite the fact that it really really made me laugh. I had another word for 'raising'.

Step 1: pick the least-rough area of ground in the allotment, and remove the 3-4 feet of overgrowth.

Friday, 8 August 2008


The morning after leaving a punnet of blackcurrants for an allotment neighbour we were delighted to find a bag of freshly dug potatoes in our front porch (complete with instructions about which variety was best for what)!

Black currant harevest 2008

In total, we harvested 23lbs of black currants from the bushes on our allotment this year. Many of these are in our freezer, I made one batch of jam (will probably make one or two more), a friend is making a couple of batches of wine with more, some made some very nice black currant cordial, we won't be attempting anymore black currant pies (just too sharp) and will only use them sparingly in apple pies etc., some went into some Summer Puddings and some went to friends.