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