Archive for the 'In the garden' Category

Sayonara Salix babylonica

Posted by on February 2nd 2017 in In the garden, My vids, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)
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It was a sad day when we had to have the old willow taken out.

We would have liked to have kept it but it was becoming unruly and dangerous, the remains of the middle trunk which we'd had reduced during pollarding back in 2009 had rotted all the way down to ground level and were no longer binding the other three trunks, so the whole tree had to go with dignity instead of being trashed by a storm.

It was much older than anyone thought - before felling it, all opinions were that it was just a bit older than the house, so about 60 years old. When the trunks had been taken down I went to see the stump before they ground it out, even at 2ft high it was 4ft across. I tried to count the growth-rings but lost count at about 80, we now think it was into its 9th or maybe even its 10th decade.

We've saved a few wands to plant elsewhere in the garden, so it stands a chance of regenerating from those, but when the ground has settled we'll be planting a large native Birch in its place.

And the wood wasn't all wasted - we've propped up a couple of huge chunks of cut trunk and have hung bird-feeders on them, and we've used a couple of cut rounds to make a hefty Flintstones-style bird-table. Pics soon!

Anyway, here's a rough & ready time-lapse of its last few hours:

Willow from BG! on Vimeo.

Tree fellers at work

Posted by on January 19th 2017 in In the garden
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Actually there were five of them.

You can't beat a time-worn old-fashioned Irish joke.

 

More to follow.

Mild

Posted by on October 15th 2016 in In the garden

It's mid-October and the outdoor strawberry troughs are still producing good fruits, plenty of new flowers and sufficient runners for even more plants next year.

At the first warning of frost I'll transfer them into the greenhouse, so we may still be cropping them in November:

 

 

The greenhouse-based chillies are doing well too, only a handful is yet to turn red:

 

Affordable green housing

Posted by on October 4th 2016 in In the garden, Making stuff
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Take a few offcuts, a few screws and a bit of eco fence-paint.

Add a few hours of sawing, clattering and pulling splinters from fingers.

Result? Hedgehog house:

 

 

 

Needs an IR camera. And a hedgehog.

The kids made me do it

Posted by on August 31st 2014 in In the garden, Shiny new kit
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After seeing Avatar they've acquired a liking for digital camo:

Instead of shelling out about £40 for a set of branded pre-cut vinyls I saved myself 90% by taking the cheaper option from eBay.

I doubt that the Woodpigeons and Grey Squirrels can see any improvement.

Pop gun

Posted by on June 27th 2014 in In the garden, Shiny new kit
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When I was a kid I was never allowed anywhere near anything like this:

Now I'm 40 years older and getting into this "growing old disgracefully" malarkey, so I thought that I might as well give it a pop.

It's a tad more interesting than reading all of that Saga Holiday junkmail 🙂

Here's the business-end:

Shooting with the fibre-optic irons is OK but I'm hoping that a suitable scope will be forthcoming on my birthday. After all, I've dropped enough subtle hints.

FWIW

Some like it hot

Posted by on June 26th 2014 in In the garden, Making stuff
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During the spring of 2013 we erected our "see if we get on with it" cheap polytunnel and we had a reasonable crop from it.

The only worry was durability - the frame was solid enough but the cover's stitch-work left a lot to be desired, and one of the window-flap's zips had gone a knacker within a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, it didn't survive to see this spring. One windy day in December totalled the thing within an hour:

We needed something better. We considered traditional framed jobbies but rejected them on the grounds of vulnerability - I didn't fancy the prospect of having to replace glass or plastic panes after they'd been speared by twigs and branches from the nearby Salix babylonica. Proper polytunnels were considered but the site is unsuitable for trenching-in the edges of the single polythene sheet covering.

In the end, after much "back-of-a-fag-packet" doodling, we settled on a hybrid design of five separate timber-frame panels covered with polytunnel-grade sheeting. Any one of the five panels can be removed for repair, and we can slip in simple extension panels if SWMBO decides that 3m x 2m isn't enough - the roof panel is oversize so we could go up to 3.5m x 2m if instructed. FWIW, I'm not planning to extend the height - IMO 2.2m at the lowest point is quite enough.

It took me and Chris (our helpful over-the-road neighbour) about a week to cut and creosote the timber and fabricate the frames, and another week to cover, staple and tape them. After that, the final assembly was a doddle.

It's been up and running for a couple of weeks now, the only thing still on the to do list is the guttering/downpipe/water-butt system. We've already got a list of possible future improvements (decking, trickle-watering, polycarb roofing) but that lot can wait until after the running-in period has exposed any unforeseen flaws.

It won't win any prizes for elegance but functionally it's excellent and maintenance should be a breeze.

You'll be wanting some pics, I suppose?

Now I suppose I'll have to sort out the rest of the garden 🙁

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about costs...

  • 3x2 timber for frames ~£100
  • Misc. timber for windows etc. ~£20
  • Decking screws ~£10
  • Polythene sheeting ~£50 (enough in reserve for a full panel re-cover)
  • Mesh for windows ~£10
  • Tape for edges  ~£15 (plenty in reserve for minor repairs)
  • Misc. fittings ~£20
  • Auto-vent gadget ~£20
  • Guttering, staples, screws, door-bolt and a neat wooden monogram plaque - donated by Chris
  • Help from Chris - free and invaluable, I can't thank him enough

Ah… no problem, monkey-socks

Posted by on March 27th 2013 in Bargains, In the garden, Pics, Testing for review

As this is the 1000th post, I thought a few random recent pics would be appropriate.

I like random. Specific can be a tad boring.

After nearly 40 years of not making pies, it seems that I still have the knack.

This critter often visits but rarely stops. I think it's a Sparrowhawk, what say you?

Icicles on the observatory.

Soft-shell jacket in for review, courtesy of Berghaus.

Nearly-new used bargain: EQ3-2 mount complete with polar-scope and dual-axis tracking motor kit.
New price ~£300, acquired for a shade over £50.

What the WP dashboard widget is telling me.

My legs are grey, my ears are gnarled, my eyes are old and bent.

Apologies for the lack of regular posts. I fear that I'm becoming a virtual hiker...

 

Outdoorsy stuff

For me it's all on hold after the latest consultation. The expert reckons that I might have to wait another six months for my insides to heal fully, only then will they consider a further procedure to remove the tags and piles that were caused by the original op. Any exertion aggravates said tags, leading to inflammation, infection and blockage, this means that I only get limited exercise which in turn has led to significant muscle-loss and a reduction of core body strength. I'm now so unfit that wielding the vacuum-cleaner for only 10 minutes on Wednesday resulted in me straining my back and now I'm confined to quarters and popping the Ibuprofens. Looks like our week in Skye later this month will be a sightseeing tour rather than an opportunity to assault some classic ridges and peaks.

 

Olympics

Well, I have plenty of time to watch the events on the box as I'm pretty much a captive audience. Anna's down The Smoke right now on a school-trip, she was in the basketball arena this evening watching Team GB v France and Team USA v The Czech Republic, where the Beeb's camera caught her and her friends doing their bit of a magnificent Mexican Wave. After overnighting at Eton College she'll be spending the morning in Greenwich Park watching the equestrian events.

 

Astronomy

I have plenty of time for this too, but the weather's been naff at night. On the odd occasions when it's been cloudless the jetstream has been playing havoc with the seeing - the last time I imaged the Moon it looked like someone was pouring water over it:

 

 

 

Hailstorm damage

The Loss Adjuster's been around and we have agreed terms. We've already been paid out for damage to the outbuildings, primarily because I'd done the pricing-up myself, but we're still waiting for builders to provide quotes for the repairs to the house roof and the windows. There's so much property damage around here that we're on a long waiting-list for repair-work, we're looking at mid- to late-September at the earliest.

 

Ah well, never mind, things could be worse.

Ice-storm #3 – pics

Posted by on June 29th 2012 in In the garden, Weather
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Pics as promised... here's a before-and-after pair, click either of them to see more pics of the storm-damage at our property.

I'm fairly sure that the car will be a write-off  😥

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