Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sawhorse Sorted!

Completed Sawhorse
(Chainsaw and log not included)
Well, it had to happen eventually! Even according to the law of averages, that one-in-a-million chance has to come up at some point. It was inevitable. “What’s happened?” you may be asking yourself. Well, we did something that we said we were going to. We actually did it! For once, no excuses are required. We said we were going to use some of our spare timber to make a sawhorse, and we have. We’ve even used it (although that was, to some extent, so it looked better in the photo), but we’ve actually used it!

Of course, it’s not “actually” finished – it does need a coat of some preservative or varnish or something so that it lasts (well, we did make it out of half-rotten wood), but if we’d done that it wouldn’t have looked so damn real and home-made in the picture, and you’d all have looked at it and assumed we bought it or got someone else to make it. And just to prove we didn’t, we even have a picture of it half built, with all the tricky chiselling bits immortalised for all to see. The cross-timbers are each four-foot long, and the length of it is also four foot. Needless to say we’re well chuffed, and could probably now rest on our laurels for the rest of the year – I doubt it’ll get better than this.

The building process
(...that neat chiseling is a real skill...honest...)
Pruned fruit trees
(with beautifully butchered gooseberry in foreground...)
Elsewhere in the garden things are progressing nicely. Of note, we’ve been busy sorting out some of the soft fruit bushes, giving them a general prune and tidy-up. This is of note due to the level of neglect these have suffered in the last couple of years. The Redcurrant and Blackcurrant have been treated okay, but our long-suffering Gooseberry hasn’t had such an easy ride due, in part, to general laziness, but specifically thanks to a bramble that decided to grow through one side of it (the other side had been pruned - honest!). As luck would have it, the non-pruned side had decided to thrive in spite of us, and a couple of branches had layered themselves. These provided some excellent rooted cuttings which, along with the Redcurrant prunings (if they decide to root), we’ll plant as cordons. We also tidied up the Raspberry hedge, removing all the suckered canes. We got so many of these that we’re now putting in a second “Raspberry Hedge” – well, it seems a pity to waste them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Does my butt look big in this?

Bloody hell – I’ve just noticed we’ve not updated anything since November! I know we’ve been kind of lazy, but I thought we’d have got a bit more done than this. Anyway, rather than go over everything we’ve done (which, to be honest, I probably couldn’t remember very well anyway), we may as well get up to date as quickly as possible.

Garlic and Onion sets (happy in the cold)
Beans and Peas (less happy in the cold)

We’ve stayed our hand with much sowing due to the seriously cold weather here – we even had a covering of snow (THIS IS IRELAND!!!). We have sown a few early Onions (“Ailsa Craig”, “Bedfordshire Champion”, “Globo” and “Sturon”), Shallot Zebrunne” and LeeksMusselburgh” and “Autumn Mammoth”, and planted out the “Radar Onion sets, along with most of the Peas and Broad Beans that we sowed in the autumn. Some of these have been doing rather better than others – bizarrely, Broad Bean “Aquedulce Claudia” has done the worst, whilst “Jubilee Hysor” and“Red Epicure” have done very well. Mangetout “Winterkefe” and Pea Meteor” has also performed superbly unlike Pea Douce Provence” which has been an almost total disaster. We’ve also done a few other bits and pieces that needed doing around the place.

Big-ass Water Butt
(and bigger-ass shed!)
When we arrived here we were already blessed with a small pond, fed (we think) by rainwater off the shed roof. We were particularly blessed to discover that the local frogs also knew it was here and use it. However (and this is the bit that you might feel, us being in Ireland and all, where we are straying into fiction) every year it dries out in the spring or early summer. This worries us because there is always frogspawn or tadpoles in the pond at this time (I suspect it worries the frogs and/or tadpoles even more, but I digress). As a result, every year, we end up running a hose into the pond from the outside tap to top it up, which is a bit of a pain (mostly for us; I think our amphibious friends find it is the opposite). Even more of a pain for us, we cunningly located the veg. plot some distance form the house and, as a result, even further from the nearest tap: so far in fact that the hose doesn’t reach the veg. plot, so we have to carry watering cans down in these dry spells to keep things going. When we could be bothered. Which probably wasn’t often enough. 

To ameliorate things a bit, a couple of years ago we installed a water butt at the end of one of the sheds (the bit closest to the veg, plot) to reduce the distance to carry water, and also provide an emergency supply of water for the pond. However, a regulation water butt (at 210 litres) barely fills the pond, and leaves nothing for watering the garden. We were going to try and link up three such water butts until we rather fortunately acquired a lovely big tank in the Autumn (it is actually the rain water tank from our old house which was no longer being used). At 300 gallons (that’s 1,360 litres), we think we might have literally killed two birds with one stone (well, not “literally” killed, more metaphorically speaking really). It will certainly fill the pond many times over and, given the size, it’s probably now worth running a hose all the way down to the veg. plot – hopefully there should be enough head in the butt to generate a decent enough jet and keep everyone happy, lazy or both.