Saturday, 25 August 2012

One small step...

Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong. One of those who have inspired the scientist in me to look with eyes of curiosity and wonder. The sky will probably be my limit, though it wasn't yours.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Corner Arbour part 1 (the cornerpiece)

  Gonna grumble slightly here: I got my GCSE Maths results yesterday.  I put in an A's worth of work and should've gotten an A, but because of all this malarchy I got a B.  If you take something that's mine, with neither my permission nor the reasonably justifiable use of some granted authority, is that not theft?  I wonder if I can shop Edexcel to the polis for theft of an A.  Certainly it can be said that tweaking everyone's grades just to avoid the annual Daily (Hate) Mail grumble about how "exams are getting easier [and this covers for how the youth are actually thick]" (I paraphrase) is not a reasonably justifiable way for an examining body to behave.

Ah well.  I've started planting the lawn today.  Drought-resistant grass for the edges and for beneath the tree.

  Grumble over, we'll start with the most important piece of a corner arbour: the cornerpiece.  The arbour gets much of its balance from the cornerpiece and this particular upright bears more weight than any other single upright in the structure.  For this reason, I've made the cornerpiece twice as thick and sturdy as any other upright.

  Bill here reckons my carpentry's pretty tasty, look:

  The wood is 2"x4" sawn softwood from Wickes.  £5 for 2.4m.  It's been sawn in a mitre to lengths of 1.8m and 0.6m respectively and stained.  A mitre box is cheap as chips and you really do need one for a job like this.  The triangular section was some £4-odd for 2.4m and I've done the same again.  The whole thing is screwed together with 3" timber screws and stained again.  

Next week I'm fitting the sides in place.  

In other news; George is interested in grass seeding and is happy to trot along after the box.  Bill, however, does not like the noise one bit!

Until next time xx

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Strawbrary!


  I've finished putting those last touches on my strawbrary, gotten it nicely pet-proofed, and now it's painted and planted.  I've put in a couple hundred litres of organic, peat-free compost.  I can't stress enough the importance of peat-free compost.  Compost is dead organic matter which has rotted in a composter.  Peat is, for lack of a better term, "wild compost".  It's broadly similar, but has formed naturally in bogs over a very long time.  Peat makes cheap filler for compost because it's easier (and thus cheaper) to dig peat out of the ground than it is to make all your compost in a composter.  Unique habitats and species exist around the peat bogs and are being endangered by the gardening business.  Peat-free is definitely the greener option.  

Turns out Squires do their organic composts at £5.99 for 50L, peated or unpeated.  3 for 2 on the unpeated, £13 for 3 on the peated, so it was a quid cheaper for 150L of peat-free.  Result!  I can't count on that deal forever, however, so I'm gonna keep a close eye on Homebase as well, even though Homebase is almost three times as far from my house as Squires.  

  I've put in 11 plants so far: 4 Pegasus, 4 Cambridge Favourite, and 3 Rhapsody.  I've got room in there for another dozen strawberry plants, plus a niche in the front corner for planting marigolds (to keep pests away).  I may set some Clematis climbing the uprights, as the blue flowers might make this classic example of my antiaesthetic carpentry actually look pretty.  Who knows.  Any of my readership of five had any trouble with Clematis, please let me know.  

Here, have some more photos.

Next week I'll be building a corner arbour.  Until then xx :)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

On the virtues of palletwood.

It's handy stuff, and there's no sniffing at free wood.  Now, there's quite a spread with palletwood in terms of quality, but if you catch it fresh enough then it's alright.  Now, I wouldn't use the stuff for any great structural applications and I sure as hell wouldn't sit on it, but it makes decent side panels for planters and such.

I needed a new tray for the herb nursery, so here's what I've built:
Not fantastic, but the seals are decent and you need to half-fill it with water before it starts leaking.  The stain is Wickes bog-standard woodstain and the white paint was nicked from our Emily's school supplies.  

This runs a serious risk of turning into a carpentry blog.  Are we in favour of the odd how-to-make-X posting?  For damn sure it's more interesting than digging.  

I'll put up a better picture when the light's okay.  Goodnight :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Well that's one way to rake the lawn...

Rather than get a stone in my back every time I lay down on the lawn, I decided it might be an idea to rake out the stones.  Now, picking out every stone is more trouble than I can honestly be bothered with, so I built a sieve from three pallets and a sheet of 6mm chickenwire.

What happened next was a beautiful thing.  Out the bottom of the sieve fell soft, dark, loamy, humus-rich, grade A topsoil!  I have a funny feeling that this lawn is going to be pretty sweet.

Finally, I realise that thus far this blog has had a dearth of two things: finished projects and cuteness.  With that in mind, here's George modelling a bench I built last week.

Goodnight :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Results Day

Went back to college as a mature student and now I've learned that I've passed all my A-Levels.  There'll be no digging today.  I'm in my comfiest clothes, sat with a pepperoni pizza from Angelo's up on the Heath Road, listening to old rock and contemplating university.  Natural sciences is a certainty, but beyond that it's all just so much "what if..."  Do I take Biology?  Anatomy and Physiology?  Geology?  Palaeontology?  I have time yet to weigh this decision.

In the meantime, I leave you with Queen:

And tomorrow, I DIG!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I'd like to introduce you to Mike, my new Laurus nobilis.  He's a very young tree, only 10" tall when I got him a fortnight ago and already he's grown 5".  Admittedly, putting him in a larger pot with half a cup of bonemeal and some decent compost may have helped, as his roots weren't in a great state when I got him.

He's staying on the windowsill for now, until he moves up to a garden-sized pot.  I'm not gonna plant him in the ground because Mediterranean species don't do well in the Winters at this latitude, but he can enjoy the other three seasons outdoors when he's old enough.  Meanwhile, he sits amidst the herb nursery that is the landing windowsill and occasionally makes me think of stews or spag bol.  

In other news: the site of the new lawn has had yet more stones raked out and now some bonemeal raked in, then been heavily watered with a high-nitrogen fertiliser.  When I put down seed in September it should hopefully shoot up like many little green rockets.

Monday, 13 August 2012

In Pictures: The Dig-Over

In Pictures is something I'll do now and then; often with few or no words.  Generally when either A) I'm knackered, or B) the pictures say more than words might.  Tonight it's chiefly A with a good dollop of B.  

On the left here, you can see George's social hole.  I haven't the heart to repair that bit of fence.  

Sunday, 12 August 2012

New blog


  We moved here some dozen years ago, and the garden was a heap.  An insurmountable jungle of weeds and trees.  The path had been rafted over by wind and humus.  There was a rotted old shed full of broken glass and rusted iron.  A shitehole, in short.  We never bothered with it.

More trees sprang up.  One of the two big trees - who knows what species - had two of it's four trunks killed by the ivy plant belonging to the Scumbags-Over-The-Back-Left, (so dubbed because of Mrs. Scumbag's habit of screaming "YOU FUCKING CUNT" whenever she sees me).

So a year ago I thought "sod it, I might as well do something with that garden".  I've since given over the ground on the left side of the path to a lawny-type space, and the ground to the right of the path to arable purposes.  So far I've:

  • dug the lawn side, 
  • taken out all the baby trees, 
  • demolished the shed and thrown out the junk, 
  • cut the ivy right back,
  • dug out the stinging nettles,
  • repaired the fence (except for the little hole where George, the dog, enjoys nasal meetings with next door's dogs),  
  • stained the fence a browny-orangey-red (so that it reflects the corresponding wavelengths of light at my plants),
  • built a Strawbrary,
  • and chopped down the dead and diseased parts of the tree in the back left:

Today, and for the next fortnight, I'll be forking and weeding the lawn.  I'll have to replant the whole damn thing in September, but it'll be worth it next Summer.  This blog will be updated as and when I do stuff of note in the garden.