Saturday, 8 November 2014

Garden rejuvenation

It's looking very bland outside now and I'm loving it. It may sound strange for a gardener to admit that but I love, love, love this time of year, not only do I get to prune, chop and tidy everything up ready for next year but I get a better idea of what is right and what is wrong with the garden.
Already I can see that I need more evergreen interest and structure in the garden so this is something I'm going to be getting ready for spring planting - so exciting!
The time has also arrived whereby I can begin to clear and plan the second half of my garden that I was supposed to do this year.
I'm not sure of the actual size of this part of the garden as I'm too lazy to measure it (so you can well imagine how good/reliable my plans are going to be), suffice to say it's pretty big.

Unfortunately I have to carry the theme on from the rest of the garden which is already pretty much finished. I say 'unfortunately' because I made the biggest mistake of designing what was easiest NOT what I wanted, I ended up with straight edges finished with sleepers whereas I love curvy beds where you cannot see what is coming next.

As it stands right now it may not look too daunting but the very far end and side is full of plants and weeds and it's going to take a whole heap of hard work for me to sort it, not least because I first have to remove a ton of gravel and polythene that was laid years ago to supposedly suppress weeds - who knew weeds germinate in gravel.

It's going to take wuite some time to work out what is salvageable in that lot and what isn't.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

DIY concrete planter

I seem to spend an awful lot of time scouring 'Pinterest' at the moment, there is something so very addictive about pinning images of things I want to create or of gardens I think are amazing and at the moment pinning images for Christmas.
I'm sure most people are aware of Pinterest and what it's all about and no matter how many times I go on I still get a thrill each time I see one of my own images pinned by another viewer. 99% of the time there is a backlink to the blog post that the pinner found my image on and I guess I should be more upset and pro active the times where the link  - or any mention of me - are absent but I just can't bring myself to follow it all through, I guess I'm happy to accept that as soon as I put an image out there in the netherspace that it pretty much becomes open to the cyberworld to be used as people will. I know we all have rights etc etc and many people protect and police their images  methodically and I guess I would too if my livelihood depended it, alas..........
Anyway I digress, I was supposed to be mentioning an image I found on Pinterest, and has been all over FB too, of someone who made garden pots out of old towels and cement/hypertufa.  Of course I kept promising myself that I would give it a go at some point but tbh I can be a lazy gardener so often have a list of 'things to make' that should actually read 'things I'm too lazy to make'. Anyway one day a few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and give it a go, here's the image that captured my eye

and here's the link to website (because I'm polite like that) Thehypertufagardener

My main problem is that like I stated before I can be a lazy gardener and I'm likely to lose interest in something if I have to keep rumaging around looking for things - I get distracted very easily, so i had to make sure I had all the equipment on hand to do this job. As it turned out I didn't read it properly anyway and so didn't realise that I shouldn't be using just cement - but oh well!

First I have to state the obvious, this is one messy job! Yes, I kind of did realise it would be but from the Youtube videos I watched of a lady swooshing the cement around and everything being neatly in place I thought the mess would be minimal - not so!

I mixed the cement up in a wheelbarrow to the consistency stated on Youtube (pancake batter basically) and excitedly dumped that towel in the mix (donning the marigolds of course). This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be - the towel didn't 'soak' the mix up like I thought it would and actually it just kept sliding off when I picked the towel up, also despite having a barrow full of cement it was barely enough for this bath sheet of a towel I was using.
I thinned the mixture a little and finally got to the point where I could chuck the cement towel over an upturned bucket which in turn was sitting on a table.
This is where my lack of attention to detail showed again - I did put a plastic sheet on the bucket so that the towel wouldn't stick to the bucket when it dried but a) the plastic was way too small and b) the towel just stuck to the plastic instead. If I do this again I would position the towel over an upturned plastic plant pot that could then stay inside.
Once the towel was over the bucket it was simply a case of messing with the flaps and folds to make it look nice and layering on more cement mix - this took more time than you would think.

See the mess!
I left this to dry for days and days, basically because I realised I should have used hypertufa so figured the thing wouldn't be right anyway.
When I did venture back to look at it I realised it had actually set - yay! BUT, it had stuck to that blue bucket as well which wasn't covered in plastic so I heard alot of crunching and cracking as I broke it away.
The finished product looks pretty naff it has to be said and for several reasons 1) I used too big a towel.  2) I didn't use the right polythene.  3) I didn't use enough polythene.  4) I used cement rather than hypertufa.  5) I didn't cover the folds evenly with cement so it still has that towelling look in many places. 6) because it's cement on a towel it has a flexibility to it.

The finished look

Can't say that I am in a rush to give this a go again - I'm too impatient.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Successful Cornus cuttings - finally!

Last time I blogged I posted about a fabulous website called Mikes Backyard Nursery so I thought it was time to follow up with one of the methods Mike suggested for taking cuttings.
I usually take Cornus cuttings in the dormant season and to be honest my past attempts at them have been pretty pathetic - I've taken heaps but only ever had one cutting successfully root and survive (though i suspect this is through my own impatience than anything else), so when I saw Mikes article on taking cuttings and rooting them in sand I figured I'd give it a go.

Mike uses 'flats' that he builds himself from off cuts of wood but I used a plastic tub with drainage holes drilled in the bottom instead.
The idea is to half fill the tub with sand, add the cuttings and then saturate the sand with water. Mike suggests cramming as many cuttings in as you like and this is how he manages to make hundreds or thousands of cuttings each season.
Once the cuttings are in and the sand saturated you simply insert the whole thing into a white plastic bag, supported in all 4 corners with pencils in my case, and then leave it somewhere to do its thing - mine stayed in the PT out of direct sunlight.

To be honest I was sceptical about this method, I honestly did not think it would work so I was a tad unconcerned about keeping an eye on it and by the time I gave it a second thought I figured the cuttings would have wilted and died.
So I was totally surprised when I took a peek and saw this.

A few of the Weigela cuttings may have died off but the majority of the cuttings were happy, healthy and surprisingly well rooted - even the Cornus, that plant that I have had such trouble propagating all these years.
In total I had about an 80% success rate which for me is nothing short of amazing and I believe that if I'f been more attentive to the plants then the success rate would have increased more.
Once my back has recovered I will be taking loads more cuttings using this method and next year I will be taking even more of the things I don't usually bother with because I've failed so many times in the past.
Thank you Mike McGroarty of Mikes Backyard Nursery and

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mike's Backyard Gardening

A serious lack of gardening lately has left me scouring the interweb for gardening websites and blogs that will see me through the winter months when it's too cold to be motivated outside.
Along with the the blogs I regularly read without fail (though I often forget to comment) that are listed on the right hand side I've managed to find a few new ones and one in particular has really had me hooked as it is full of brilliant information and tips.

It's called  Mike's Backyard Nursery and while many of you may already know of the website I'll explain what is interesting about Mike to those who aren't familiar with him.
Mike and his wife live in Ohio and have worked extremely hard, clawed their way out of bankruptcy and set up a successful business from their own home selling nursery plants. What amazes me about this guy having read his story in his own words is that he happily and enthusiastically shares his successes, his failures and his own methods with the general public despite residing in an area that is already rife with competition having at least 130 wholesale growers within a 10 mile radius of his property.
It's not often I read the 'about me' section of a website or blog because I feel I get a good idea of a persons character when reading their posts but something made me want to understand where Mike came from and what bought about this passion for sharing his business methods. His story is available here and it is well worth a read, in fact it wouldn't be out of place on the big screen.

Mike's Backyard Nursery is a website jam packed with useful information whether your passion is simply creating your own garden and propagating for it or if you're interested in using your own plant material and garden space and having a go at selling propagated plants from home. Mike's hints, tips and ideas will certainly have you saving money on plants whether it be from propagating, swapping or selling.

Mike also has some great ideas for building your own tools for the job and shows you how he makes these things work for him, such as these "propagation flats"

Mike also has hints and tips on all aspects of pruning, some of which may differ from what we think we already know such as "How to prune a Butterfly bush"

The information that Mike makes available to his followers doesn't end on his website, he has a Youtube channel you can subscribe to full of interesting videos he has made on various topics from topsoil to pruning to potting bench plans.
And he doesn't stop there either, Mike has created a FREE Ebook titled "The Gardener's secret handbook" which you can download FREE and is also available on Facebook

The points I have included in this post really are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mikes website, it is literally full of information as is his Youtube channel and the Ebook link where there is an information bar on the left packed with further reading.

Now that I've filled you guys in I'm off back to Mike's to learn a bit more about how he does what he does.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Garden ressurection

This year gardening has taken a different turn for me. I've finally admitted after another year of wasted veggie growing that I really do want to take a break from it for a while - just the veggie growing though.
I begin every new year with the renewed interest and excitement about growing Sweetcorn and onions etc the same way every gardener does I guess but over the last couple of seasons I've noticed it has become a chore rather than an interest and all those lovely veggies I sow and tend to slowly but surely get neglected to the point where they're just left to their own devices - and seeing as they're in a polytunnel they soon succumb to thirst.
I thought maybe I was just trying to grow too much because I have the space so this year I grew just what I knew we liked to eat as a family - Sweetcorn, Cucumber, Strawberries, Beans, Courgette and onion - but even those have been left to rot away, in fact the strawberry runners have just about made their way out of the polytunnel door in search of water.
I haven't even kept on top of the Sweetpea this year and that is the one plant I love to grow every single year as a cut flower. It's usually still producing plenty of flowers this time of year however whereas the garden sweetpea is still in flower the ones in the PT are well into seed now.
So I have decided, next year I am NOT growing fruit and veg (oh yes the apples have all been left to drop and rot too). My polytunnel will get an overhaul, the beds will be renewed and maybe even a different layout installed, I'm not even going to do the cut flowers next year (least I don't think so).
2015 is going to be the year I concentrate on renovating the second half of my garden and it's going to be epic. I have so many ideas floating around - thanks to Pinterest - and I can't wait to begin tearing everything up, building and planting.
So I've been watching the garden more keenly this year to see what works and what doesn't, what plants are thriving and what is just limping along and I have plenty of cuttings taken and a load of new plants waiting for a home.

Here's a few pix of part of the mess I'll be tackling next year, it looks like a lot of green healthy growth and plants but it's really not, there's the odd few decent shrubs and perennials in there (mostly in the wrong place) but it's mainly weeds.

The next picture shows the Leycesteria that has self seeded everywhere. It's a lovely plant and I'm loathe to take any out especially as it tolerates the sever gales we get here but it's getting way too invasive and greedy now. The Hebe to the right is about 13 years old now and is huge, it flowers twice a year and takes a real battering in the winter.

The tall plant in the back centre of the next picture is a Rose bush, it flowers profusely every year and never suffers from blackspot like most of the others however it always (without fail) seems to flower in time for a downpour of rain and then the blooms rot immediately.

The grass in the above picture is so invasive it's ureal, I've been pulling that stuff out for years but you only have to miss one root and it pops up all over again. There are a couple of Rose bushes in there also but they never really did well even before all the rest of the stuff grew so I'll probably dispose of them - though I may plant them elsewhere just out of curiosity to see if they grow better.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Slug free Hosta

I think this is the longest break I have taken from posting on here, I've kind of been unsure what to blog about because although there's been alot going on in the garden and polytunnel there's not much worth blogging about - at least not much that I feel people would be interested in sitting and reading.
I cannot fault the weather over the past month or so though, it has been ruddy lovely here - full on sunshine with a lovely sea breeze and next to no rain.
The flower borders are rife with weeds because I've taken a step back from worrying about them everyday - sure I regret it now but I'm still not letting myself get all worked up about it, I'll get round to sorting it sooner or later.
I did take a wander round after mowing the lawns today though and I'm bemused by a particular Hosta (name unknown) that stands out from every other Hosta I own. Most of my Hostas whether they be in pots or the ground have pretty much been munched to skeletons

Well a few weeks ago I noticed that while the slugs are dining on most of my Hostas there is one Hosta which I have planted in various areas has not been touched at all - I do believe I have a Hosta that slugs do not like - how cool is that! This photo was taken yesterday along with the others and clearly show it's untouched - as are the others of the same variety.

The flower borders may be weed ridden but the perennial flowers are also blooming so at least the borders look full - best use for weeds lol

Friday, 11 July 2014

Ruddy ducks and gruesome gorse.

Remember those darned Gorse bushes I had to hack at in an attempt to rescue ducks that didn't rescueing last week? Well this is what those spear like thorns do to a person

This is why I hate those bloomin shrubs - the spears are bad enough when they intially jab you but these after effects go on for days and hurt reeeeeally bad - did I mention how much I hate hate hate Gorse bushes?

Have to admit I am thoroughly fed up with these ducks now. To even catch a glimpse of them we have to sneak round to the pond as silent as a ninja, which is not easy considering there's gravel everywhere and we have to pass by a Great Horned Owl that hates people and makes a sudden racket if we dare to approach in clothes he doesn't recognise.
We usually get about a 3 second glimpse before the feckless ungrateful creatures head for the reeds and out of sight. Well I had a plan to help reduce that - remove half the reeds!

Sounded like a good plan until it dawned on me that I am the only one with the time to actually get in the pond and do it. It should be done every year really but last year we didn't do it at all because we were sulking after the Otter ate all our fish!
Here's the reeds that act as a hideout for Daphne (formally Jasmine - I got the name wrong), Donald and Daisy

It's worse than it looks because that only shows a bit of the pond.
So I bravely donned Mr TGs waders and slipped into that conga eel infested pond trying desperately not to think of all the creatures eyes that were on me just waiting for their moment to pounce.
Have to say I was very grateful for the lack of rain lately because it meant that the deeper areas of the pond were only chest height and there was no swimming required.
2 hours were enough in that pond for me in one hit. There is plenty more that needs pulling out because the far side reeds still cover half the pond but 2 large areas were trimmed right back (gotta leave some for the ruddy ducks)

I left the reeds over the decking areas to dry out and as a peace offering for all the eels and iguanas that may happen to have got caught up in them, but then I realised the decking is rotted and I could very well be going through it when I collect the reeds up - great!
So basically these ducks are boring - seriously boring! And I am still determined we need a Goose though I would settle for a Peacock!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Ducks - not my cup of tea

After writing my last post re The Handy multicutter I bought I contacted The Handy company via email detailing my issues with the machine and attached a link to my blog post. I didn't really expect to hear anything back so I was surprised to see an email from them a couple of days later.
They sent me a lovely link to an informative Youtube video that told me exactly how to start this tool up (yes, I say that in sarcastic tones) followed by a statement that there is an adjustment I can make to the brass screw below the chock lever and that this may help me start it, if not I can send the item back and they will check it out.
I will try adjusting the screw next time I use it but I don't hold out much hope of it working.

Anyway I'd like you to meet Jemima, Donald and Daisy

Apparantly Mr TG decided we should get ducks for eggs and it just so happened a guy up the road was giving some away. I'm not a duck person, they're about as high on my list of desireable animals as chickens, but Mr TG and my daughters went off and came back with this trio.
It would seem that the breeder of these ducks didn't socialise with them so they're about as tame and handable as a feral cat - great!
"What breed are they?" I ask
"Dunno. The guy mentioned Drakes,or at least his ad did"
I look dumbfounded at this "But Drakes are male ducks NOT the breed!"
"Oh yeah!" was the reply
"So have we got 3 feckin Drakes here then?"
"Dunno. Does it matter?"
"It ruddy well does if we want eggs form them doesn't it!!!!!" I was exasperated by this point.

It seems Ducks are not tameable once they reach a certain age either, they may be happy to chip away at food as you chuck it but you have no hope of petting them. Not that I'm bothered really but if they're all Drakes then what's the flippin point to them.
Of course I am left with building them a house - though Stacey has offered to help - and of course it can't be a bog standard house, oh no no no, it's going to be some floating Taj Mahal type construction!
So my daughter and Mr TG were also told that we need to teach them to swim - yup seriously! What the heck - surely Ducks just float? Comes naturally doesn't it? I aint falling for that codswallop!
But Stacey wanted to teach them just to be safe.
"You get in that pond and have at it then poppet but count me out" says I the ever supporting mother. I've seen what creatures slither in and out of that pond and there is no chance on this earth I'm getting in it. I've had enough fights with frogs, been chased by enough Iguanas (though Mr TG insists they're newts) and seen the quivalent of Conga Eels in there - nope, not even getting a toe in there. Plus it's deeper than I am tall.

Brave isn't she! Well, not so much as it turned out because she refused to go any further than a stone that was on the side because she couldn't feel the bottom.

So she gets in ready for swim instruction, attempts to place these rabid ducks in the water who then proceed to dive bomb in to get away from her, swim to the other side, get out and hide in the ruddy gorse bush. I am not feeling these ducks!

"See I told you they'd float" - that was my comforting input as Stacey flounced out the water.

The next half hour or so was spent trying to entice them out of the gorse bush (and I have the spears in my skin to prove it) and back into the water. It seems Ducks can hide very well and be as silent as a mouse when trying to evade the help of well meaning humans.
So what do you do when Ducks won't come out of the gorse bush? You grab a saw and take the friking gorse bush down, that's what!
This resulted in 3 ducks back on the pond, back over the other side and hiding in the reeds. That's it, I've had enough, I ain't chasing them out of reeds cos I refuse point blank to get in the water.
Current state of play is that the Ducks are hiding in the reeds still which has peeved us off because not only was their swimming lesson unnecessary - go figure - but we didn't get tot teach them how to use the special ramp we had built for them to get in and out on.
After all that pallaver I realised that we hadn't clipped their wings either before we let them go and we now have no chance of catching them so we'll probably be waving bye bye to them in a couple of months anyway as they fly off.

I've now informed Mr TG that I'm getting Geese! At least they can defend themselves against the dog and it'll be fun to watch them chase people off the property. Ducks are so boring!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

'The Handy' multicutter tool

I've had my eye on a particular tool on a particular shopping channel for some time now but I decided to wait until the tool dropped in price before I tried it out.
The tool I speak of is this

I've watched many a presentation on 'The Handy multicutter' and have marvelled at how easy Derek Belcher makes it look to use. His claims of easy assembly, light weight and easy start have had me hooked for some time because I've been after each of those tools for some time now.
The price is usually around £300 but no way am I paying that so when I saw it recently on air for half that I jumped at the chance to own my own Handy tool.
This land needs alot of strimming on a regular basis and I've always had to rely on Mr TG and his industrial size bush cutter - I've never dared use it because it seemed so heavy and I had nightmares about taking the legs off my dogs with its sinister looking metal blade. I wanted a petrol line trimmer!
When the tool arrived I was kind of wary about using it - what if all Dereks claims were false, it would end up being the same waste of money as the 'Vitamix' was.
Mr TG set it all up for me, showed me how to mix the petrol and oil and then gave it a fire up - that is the point where I should have realised it needed to go back. Mr TG uses these things all the time but even he struggled to get this thing to fire, when he finally got it working and handed it to me that is when I really should have sent it back - not only was it hard to start but it is not lightweight... at all!
Mr TG was doing the usual "I told you it would be rubbish" speech and of course I was determined to prove this tool worthwhile so I assembled the ungainly strap and started strimming away (with the dreaded bush cutter attachment as Mr TG refuses to believe a line strimmer is of any use to anyone) and I had to admit it felt awkward and really uncomfortable.
I decided to give it a chance though and a couple of days later I reluctantly dragged it out to strim all round the greenhouse area

I donned all the protective headgear and chose to throw the ridiculous safety gloves that come with it - those humongous Orange things that fit no man on earth and wear my leather gloves instead. Incidentally I noted in the instructions that it advises to use well fitted leather type gloves! So why supply those dangerous orange things instead?
Here I am all dolled up ready to fire this sucker up

This is me after 20 minutes of trying to fire that fecker up (excuse the language but seriously I was fuming by this point)

Honestly by this point I was all for boxing the thing up and sending it back. I followed the instructions to the letter and still couldn't get it going, the only reason I decided to keep trying was the thought of having to tell Mr TG it was going back and the smug look that would have crossed his face.
Eventually I got it going but it was more by sheer luck and the hardest, nastiest yank on that string I could pull, only for the darned thing to cut out and refuse to go again - great! I hadn't turned the choke off within a millisecond so I had flooded the engine! I left it for 10 mins, went back - nothing! Tried again - nothing! There was nothing in the instructions to tell you what to do if it had flooded so I stood it up, refrained from kicking it and left it a further 10 mins. When I next fired it up I didn't bother with the choke and it flew into life!

Here's what I'm hoping to tackle with it

Although I found it awkward to hold and it creased my back up I have to admit it did a really good job. The line strimmer did a good job around the rocks and the dreaded bush cutter cut through the docks and head height weeds extremely easily.
I did struggle to hold the buttons down though - I get cramped hands very easily and I had to keep releasing and stretching them. You can push a small button in that keeps the cutter going until you release it but I noticed a drop in power when I did that.

The after effects

So is 'The Handy' worth it? Will I be keeping it? The answer to both is yes but in my opinion it is only worth it at the price I paid for it not the original asking price. I will keep it because it means I can do everything myself now and not have to keep bugging Mr TG to do certain things for me and although I haven't used the chainsaw part of it yet it's going to save me alot of sawing of trees in the spring.
Have to say I was a little bit miffed to see Derek Belcher presenting another Multi cutter with a Mccullochs engine after I bought this one, especially as the sales pitch was exactly the same! I got this one because Derek put his name behind it as he owns the company and I find it a little conflict of interests that he's promoting another similar product.
Would I recommend this to a friend? No. To an enemy? Most definitely!
The reason I couldn't in all good conscience recommend it is for several reasons
  1. It is NOT easy to start....ever!
  2. It is not as light as the presenters make you believe.
  3. It is awkward to use and the handles really aren't thought out properly.
  4. The harness does its job but isn't as good as it could be.
  5. It has to be used on your right hand side or you'll get burned.
  6. The length is strange. I'm not tall but even I have to bend over to get the cutter to the floor.
  7. The line strimmer does a good job but when it loses line you have to physically open it to pull more out (Mr TG claims older versions of line trimmers simply had to be pressed to the floor to release more line?)
  8. I dread using it.
Having said that it does have some redeeming qualities
  1. The attachments are very easy to change over.
OK so it has one redeeming feature however I will perservere with the tool and I'm sure we will become great buddies. OK basically I cannot be bothered with the hassle of sending back - not after the 'Vitamix' fiasco.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Land clearance - end in sight!

I learned a very sneaky way this week to make encourage Mr TG to come to the conclusion that I need a new workshop and that the greenhouse really has become redundant for the job - I made him believe that I am seriously considering taking over part of his own workshop / shed. It's not like he would miss the space, it's about 60ft long and I took time to explain my plans for adding windows for more light and a private door all of my own - I even explained that I would be happy to use his pool table as a workshop table until he had managed to re-site it (aren't I nice) and of course I would protect it fully from the rigours of my power tools.
I've honestly never seen such a rapid descent into panic and alarm from Mr TG and I have to say I did have a bit of fun with it. The upshot of it is though that the very next morning he had been out to the greenhouse looking at what it would take to either extend it or knock it down and completely re-build it - it would seem I now have options.
Must admit I did feel a tad guilty though when I realised he'd already been round there planning by the time I had risen in the morning and seeing as I rise at 6am daily he must have been round there at some ungodly hour - wonder if the panic of sharing his domain kept him up at night.

I've been looking at so many productive gardens on the tinterweb while I've been absent from here and yet again I'm left with that feeling that we all get from time to time. You know the one - my garden never looks as good as everybody elses, THAT feeling!
I decided to take stock over the last couple of days and see where the real problem areas are - let's just say it would be quicker to state the areas that aren't a problem or overgrown.

This is currently what I am wading through to get from the greenhouse to the polytunnel. It may not look too bad but there's ruddy thorns made from spears in that lot and it's impossible to avoid them

And who knew that Gunneras freaking hurt ......alot!
But no fear all these (except the Gunnera and tree of course) will soon be hacked back into surrender when I use my new manly girly tool - I will introduce you later on.

Another Gunnera but look at the size of those Docks in the background - they're as tall as me! In fact pretty much everything there is a weed and I'd usually have them weedkilled by now but weather hasn't permitted of late. It's now desperate!

These next two images show exactly why I shouldn't be attempting to grow salad crops and is the reason I will grow nothing more than Lettuce until I have a cold frame near the house - these plants suffer because I forget about them being so far away from the house.

This is the current state of one of the raised veg beds at the polytunnel. The Horsetail has won as far as I'm concerned! The beds are being removed and the sleeper edges will go to the garden to make the new Koi pond. The Leeks have flowered because I didn't harvest them and it really is a waste of time growing them. Next year I am growing only in the polytunnel and only crops we love to eat. These two large raised beds will be demolished and the following year I may use the smaller beds at the greenhouse but only if I think I will tend them.

On the upside we've been busy getting this land cleared and have finally been able to begin mowing it. The whole lot was covered in 7ft Gorse and couldn't be used or accessed. After months of clearing stones (mainly Mr TG I have to say) levelling, clearing, levelling again, clearing again and then chucking seed down and hoping for the best we finally have green stuff growing and land flat enough to be mowed - though I am under strict supervision with the ride on mowers now because I filled the oil container with petrol (honest mistake), black smoke ensued and a rather stern telling off from Mr TG followed. Have to say I don't get fazed by such things (just need to drain it right?) and was kind of grinning the whole time he ranted but the smile was soon wiped off my face when Mr TG confessed that I'd just screwed (sorry, nicest word I could think of for what he said) the engine of a £1500 machine. You see up until that point I had believed the mower was £500 (which is still alot but not lynch worthy) but it would seem Mr TG thought I'd go berserk if I knew he'd paid just under £3000 for two mowers - mine being the more expensive because it's hydrostatic or some such thing so chose to tell a big fat lie about the price tag - such a girl! So I explained that it was his fault I broke the mower then because I would have followed step by step handbook instructions if I'd known the machine was so ruddy expensive, to which he replied that if the oil symbol hadn't registered in my brain at the time of filling then the fact that I checked for levels with the dipstick should have done, after all what car has a dipstick in the petrol tank!
"Oopsie" says me.
Anyway I digress, here's the beginnings of green showing on the land. Yes we know the majority of it is weed because every Pigeon in the counties of Caithness and Sutherland suddenly rocked up when Mr TG scattered the seed but we don't care! It's green and it will do!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Horsetail is a nightmare!

This is why I should never bother even attempting to grow salad crops

Not a pretty sight is it! The Pak Choi is bolted - not that I've even figured out what to actually do with Pak Choi anyways - and the rest is simply over growing or going woody or else the slugs are dining on it.
Then we go outside to the newish raised beds and look what we find

That not so pretty sight is bolted Leeks mixed in with that ruddy horsetail weed!
I refuse to fight a losing battle with Horsetail so I'm removing these beds, it's absolutely beyond my tenacity to keep fighting that damn stuff.

On the upside all this sun is making the flowers grow at the same rate as the weeds

The Rhodi's are flowering better than ever this year - may have something to do with my lack of pruning

I can smell the Hawthorn flowers as soon as I round the corner of the greenhouse and it's heaven - I love this smell

Mr TG has finally gotten round to erecting the fencing to keep the raptors in (I refer here to our Great Dane). There's about 150metres of it that needed erecting along the bottom edge of the land because Huntly kept escaping into the neighbours fields but we had to make it 6ft tall to ensure he couldn't whizz over it.
Unfortunately this has meant that we have fenced off the burn and the lovely wild area that sits beyond the new fence. We'll put a gate in so that we still have access and I also have plans to somehow make a lovely walk down there - much to Mr TG's despair.

Bless him!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

DIY pallet wood decking

I finally got round to building the new deck on the back garden - with the help of Mr TG of course. I'm guessing it would have been less hassle to simply buy in some decent timbers and regular decking boards but I didn't want to spend a penny on this decking so despite Mr TGs reservations I insisted we use pallets and pallet wood.
I have to admit that there were several points in the first few hours of trying to lay pallets level and square when I wondered what on earth I was doing and seriously doubted my ability to see it through.
Levelling the initial layer of pallets was tedious, annoying and .....well....blinkin boring but I managed to get a base layer we could work from

Ideally I would have liked it much much bigger but I guess that's what happens when these things aren't planned within the original garden design - the rest of the patio shape and beds meant I couldn't really do one much bigger.
Once the pallets were layed we then had to create steps to the french doors and then start laying pallet wood over the top of everything to create a nice look.

I did like the weathered look of the boards and because I hate buying materials I would happily have left the boards just like that but Mr TG felt they needed some decking stain so that was our one and only expense on the decking. I used Ronseals decking stain as they were on a buy one get one half price offer and I figured I'd need the two tubs as they were only 2.5 litres each. As it turned out I used about 2 3rds of one tub only.

I know alot of people would prefer to buy the proper materials but I honestly love this decking. I was so chuffed last year when I managed to make a temporary deck from sleepers and scaffold boards but it was only big enough for one plastic chair, this one is plenty roomy enough for the two wooden chairs I made, the electric reel table I made, the chiminea and plenty of flower pots plus our bargain £5 parasol.
Here's the previous deck compared to the new one and the best bit is that the whole thing can be easily moved when Mr TG harls the house walls this year.

Now I get to relax out there and enjoy the view