Kristen's Project

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Kristen, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    There was a TV series here recently - Celebrity Old Age Pensions and Gadgets - with the likes of Dot Cotton (shes a 93-ish year old star on a Soap here ...). It made for entertaining viewing ... but your comment about Robotic Vacuum Cleaner reminds of when they tried one of those. They got it out of the box, put it on the floor, and it went about picking stuff up, as expected. Then they read the instructions ... "It will clean up wet mess as well" so they cracked some eggs on the kitchen floor and watched it smear them all over the place! Maybe there was a "Dog had an accident while I was out and vaccum was working" element to that episode too ...
     
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    • roders

      roders Total Gardener

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      Blimey Kristen I had no idea you would have even heard of Dot Cotton.:rofllol:
       
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      • NigelJ

        NigelJ Total Gardener

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        Unfortunately that happened to my brother's family with their old dog; in the kitchen.
         
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        • Kristen

          Kristen Under gardener

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          Fortune to be made if you have the footage of it happening, to put on YouTube.

          Me = BrightSide :)
           
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          • NigelJ

            NigelJ Total Gardener

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            No they were out at work, it also wrote off the robot (shorted battery).
             
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            • Kristen

              Kristen Under gardener

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              Interesting warranty claim ...

              Reminds me of recent Milton Jones gag:

              "My builder came round the other day, said he couldn't find his Hi Viz jacket. I said "You need to get your money back on that" :)
               
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              • Kristen

                Kristen Under gardener

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                Today's Episode ... Greenhouses are never big enough ...

                and the sub plot "Why should all my poor veg have to struggle to grow outside, let's build it a house"

                When we moved in here a decade and a half ago I wanted a greenhouse from the outset. As a teenager I had used my savings to buy a 8x10 Eden greenhouse (my parents must have surely been worried why I wasn't spending the money on Booze and Girls ... eh?!) and I had always regretted that I didn't have enough savings at the time for the 10x12

                Of course back when I was a teenager we didn't have eBay .. so fast forwards and I got an eBay-find of an Eden 10x12 ... probably the same age as my original!

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                and erected it:

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                Happy :)

                Except ...

                I left my "Eden Greenhouse" eBay search running and a month or two later this 10x30 Eden came up

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                So went down and stuck that in the back of my People Carrier too :)

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                So now I had a propagating house ...

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                ... and a cropping greenhouse

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                But ... :)

                Whilst I had plenty of room for conventional greenhouse crops I had some annoyances.

                Like holding a torch in my mouth in May whenever there was a late frost and I was trying to get Fleece over the Spuds ... or, worse, a heavy frost was forecast and I was trying to rake up lawn clippings by torch light to use to insulate the spuds.

                And things that I might grow outside overwinter, like French Shallots, would rot. And it would be nice to "force" some earlier harvests .. Strawberries for example. And keep the blinking Summer rain from wrecking my cut flowers. And not have to cope with Climbing Beans growing in pots and becoming a tangled mass waiting for the Beast from the East to stop and the weather to co-operate.

                Yes, Definitely #1 I needed the whole veg plot indoors and Definitely #2 a 1st world problem :) ... along with the fact that my veg plot is the size of two allotments. But ...

                What I needed was eBay :) and a commercial greenhouse nearby that was making way for a millionaire's row of houses and they basically wanted site-clearance. This one for example:

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                Its a lovely sunny photograph ... but it was February, bitterly cold, and a fortnight of converting it to Ikea:

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                All done :) Well ... have to put it back up of course ... as it turns out, and typical for me, I hadn't fully thought that through.

                Sort out the existing greenhouse good enough to flog (eBay again :) )

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                Luckily some sense prevailed and I decided to only cover half the patch .. so just "one allotment". So this bit:

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                I had decided to keep the "propagation house", for now at least.

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                Put the frame up ...

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                And then the glazing bars

                This was a race. Heavy machinery to get the frame up, and then a relatively heavy scissor platform to get the glass in. Running all over and compacting my beautiful, never-walked on, raised beds. Which had had all their Wooden Sides removed.

                So I needed the roof glass completed and the machinery out ...

                [​IMG]

                ... and do that and then renovate the beds enough to plant, before planting time ... so that I could use that ground for some crops and not waste a season. Of course in Spring there are loads of other gardening jobs screaming out for attention ... so "juggling act"

                Solution: no sides, no ends, all Summer.
                Bonus: didn't have to open the roof vents every day!


                [​IMG]

                Fast forward: as the Summer came to an end the next urgency was some side-protection to insulate and prolong the end-of-season crops - Toms and Beans etc.

                And then the next urgency after that was to make it totally winter-proof for overwintering plants.

                So here we are this March :)

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                Starting to get under way with the first full year's cropping.

                The wall on the right-side, which is North side, will be fruit trees (I'm actually going to build a block-wall for heat retention for the fruit trees ... I hope that isn't a daft idea? [well .. on a scale of One-to-Kristen daft :) ]

                Then the pathway / table / junk strip will be benches for potted stuff (another eBay purchase, made a couple of years before the greenhouse itself and "stacked round the back somewhere") - which will be flood-and-drain (I've gone RIGHT off capillary matting). And then crops on the left, South, side

                I paid a £grand for the greenhouse (glossing over the knock-down / put-upright time and some transport, and a few bags of cement). What could I get from Eden, new, for a £Grand? The Eden Blockley 8x10, same size as I had as a teenager, is £1,214 ... so Yah Boo Sucks to that then
                 
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                  Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
                • NigelJ

                  NigelJ Total Gardener

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                  Head torches are a great help with this type of thing.
                   
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                  • Kristen

                    Kristen Under gardener

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                    I wish you'd told me that before I built the greenhouse :thud:

                    :biggrin:
                     
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                    • pete

                      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                      How about a rechargeable floodlight, I bought one at screw fix.
                      Really good for over my allotment after dark
                       
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                      • Kristen

                        Kristen Under gardener

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                        Et tu, Brute?

                        :biggrin:
                         
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                        • Kristen

                          Kristen Under gardener

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                          Spent far too long trying to find photos of the Staging Benches when I posted the original ... and then of course I have now stumbled over them by accident ...

                          I liked the simplicity of the design

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                          Tubes for "legs" anchored into the ground, and then an upside-down "U" shaped tube on top, with clamps to allow adjusting of height / fall.


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                          On top of those supports there are long scaffolding poles running lengthwise, and then on top of that a lightweight aluminium ladder-frame ...


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                          ... and then on top of that polystyrene sheets, capillary matting, and then ... Plants :)

                          The longitudinal scaffolding poles allow the bench to slide backwards/forwards and as such they can be pushed apart when a gangway is needed, and the rest of the time provide maximum bench area and no paths.

                          I am now planning to use Flood and Drain instead. I have had capillary matting in my Propagating greenhouse for years and I don't think it is the answer. Everything gets the same amount of water all the time ... and typically that is too much for most thing. And in Winter its difficult to run things "fairly dry". And at the back, furthest from the water source, the matting can have areas which don't "capillary" very well ... I tended to water all the plants from the top, and then have the capillary matting provide "buffer" and to even out the watering (if I missed a plant, or one got soaked), whereas I think it would be much better if the compost surface never got watered (indeed, with zero top watering I could put cardboard "lids" on to stop weeds and so on)

                          My new plan is to have "trays" on the benches which I can fill with water for, say, 5 minutes and then drain. They will be arranged at cascading heights so I can fill the highest section at the far end, give that a few minutes, and then allow that to drain into the next tray, set at a slightly lower height.

                          Anything which needs less water (e.g. recently potted on) I will put in the tray at the top end, and maybe only flood that every other day, whereas anything thirsty - e.g. desperate to BE potted on :), can be in the bottom tray and it will get flooded every time I water, and maybe even twice a day

                          maybe I will put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the trays to retain some moisture after draining, and provide humidity.
                           
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                          • Kristen

                            Kristen Under gardener

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                            The Square Garden ... which is now Round

                            Back at the end of the Naughties we decided that the "bit down the end", which we had only ever had the intention of being rough grass and some woodland/tree walk thingie, should become "rooms"

                            So we planted hedges to create some rectangular and square rooms.

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                            The Square, to become Round, garden in the foreground. And a rectangular, purpose not yet decided, room in the background.

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                            At that time I thought it would be a straight-through walk. So I mowed a path. All the stuff we have chucked in there, for "somewhere to put it" when we hoiked it out of elsewhere, was in a neat row right where I wanted the path :frown:

                            ... so I hoiked it out again, except for a rose that was quite nice

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                            Mrs K said "Its too straight".

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                            By the time a couple of years had passed the hedge was coming up, I had a narrow entrance that I thought would have an arch or something like that, and the bed left-and-right was far too deep to be workable, so I tried mowing a Left and Right half-circle to see how that would look

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                            I was quite pleased with that, so dug up the middle path to only have the outer circle path.

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                            Huge improvement !!

                            Then I thought I could extend the Hornbeam hedge into a circular covered walkway with something in the middle. Like Paleis Het Loo - how hard can it be?

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                            I figured "a lot harder than it looks". How do they trim that thing, for example?

                            So I planted a circular hedge around it - which mostly was creative clipping of the existing hedge, and 4 new curvy bits of hedge in each corner.

                            [​IMG]

                            You can see in the following photo what a difference that made :yes:

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                            But the perimeter hedge is coming on OK. I hesitate to say that we "planted" the beds, but:

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                            sufficient that we decided on a White theme. Probably following a visit to Sisinghurst like so many people with no imagination of their own before us.

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                            White Lavender (no it isn't, its a light blue, lying cheating Grrrrrr ....)

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                            A first attempt with white annuals. Cosmos, Nicotiana, some Lillies and Gladioli.

                            By this time we had started to let the entrance grow over, its still there in the middle at the far end (above), and it turns out that Mrs K was right and even I had gone off the "straight through" effect because it lacked any "What's around the next corner" surprise.

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                            So now there is a hidden entrance that comes in on one corner of the Round Garden.

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                            but what of the middle?

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                            Original thoughts of an Arbour with a white Rosa mulliganii, à la Sissinghurst again, have gone.

                            The central area is too big and with annuals up to 4' in the front it would need to be really tall to be visible, and there is nowhere to "stand back" to in order to be able to admire it.

                            [​IMG]

                            So lets have an Inner Bit instead. Still thinking a "hidden garden" of some sort. Cannibalised a Yew hedge from around the vegetable path in order to get some flying-start plants. The Yews had not been expecting to move home, so were not happy ...

                            [​IMG]

                            Rabbits got in and wanted to eat my Annuals, so I put chicken wire round (sorry, not got a photo after I took it off when everything looked very smart), but this is rough idea of how we see it. White Annuals all Summer long with a backdrop of Yew Hedge and a hidden garden in the middle.

                            At this point the perimeter hedge, at least, was looking smart :)
                             
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                            • shiney

                              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                              Looking good. :blue thumb:

                              Have you thought of using Exochorda in the white garden? It flowers through April.

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                              And white Heather that flowers from December to June
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                              I know somewhere where you can get lots of cuttings :whistle:
                               
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                              • noisette47

                                noisette47 Total Gardener

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                                Hi Kristen...fascinating thread! Just to go back to the glasshouse for a moment....when you say 'fruit trees', which fruit are you thinking of? Some, e.g. apples and pears, need a minimum cold spell to trigger flowering.
                                 
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