It’s been a busy week on the plot as shed work continues. I’ve painted the inside walls to protect the pallet wood. We’ve used four 5 litre cans of Cuprinol wood stain so far (in shade Silver Copse).
Rob helped paint the ceiling as finishing it meant he could start laying the floor.
I’ll need to paint the floor when he’s done, but in the meantime I’ve been attaching chicken wire to the outside base of the shed to prevent rabbits, should they gain access to the plot, from hiding and burrowing underneath. We’ve hit top level rabbit paranoia already this year.
We’ve left the natural gap in the pallet planks of the shed to allow air to flow freely through. The plot gets very hot in summer and we’re hoping that, with masses of ventilation, the shed will provide a welcome cool space. We also like the idea that birds can come and go as they please. A wren has raised a family in L’s shed before, and we’ve a robin nesting box ready to go up when the shed is finished.
We plan multiple uses for the shed, so we’ve yet to design and build internal benches and shelves. I’d like plenty of storage and a potting space, whilst Rob wants a workbench and a brewing area.
In other news, we were granted permission to cut the willows in the abandoned area next door. The willows caused our plot to be shaded by late afternoon in the height of summer and I don’t think the sun has even seen the bottom of our plot! Cutting them down has made a massive difference to light levels already.
The wood will not go to waste. Rob has planted willow staves along the west facing perimeter to build a living fence that we can keep to a manageable height. One thing we’ve learned in our first year on the plot is that our site is extremely wet so hopefully the willow will help to draw excess moisture from the soil.
The fencing is far from pretty at the moment, but we hope to weave the willow through the chicken wire as it grows. This should also provide a little cover for some of the smaller hedgerow birds.
L has had a clearout on her plot and we’ve inherited a water butt, some oregano, parsley, feverfew, marjoram, lovage and a couple of sedum stems. I’ve added the smaller herbs to the abandoned herb bed (that a rabbit kindly dug over for us). The sedum now lives beside the hazel at the front of the plot, and the lovage has found a spot beside the woodshed that was too wet for the hollyhocks I planted last year.
I’ve also emptied our leaky bath. Last year I planned to use it as a raised bed to grow strawberries and scented stock, but there wasn’t adequate drainage and everything, aside from the weeds, rotted. In total I removed six wheelbarrow loads of heavy, sticky clayey soil. There’s two abandoned wells outside our plot that are considered death traps by everyone nearby so we used this soil, as well as last year’s tomato soil, to fill them in and make the area safer.
With the bath out of the way, Rob was able to start work building a cold frame. He used leftover pallets from the shed build, and a polycarbonate sheet blown out of the greenhouse during the last storm.
The cold frame is not quite finished. The weed suppressant fabric needs cutting to size and tucking into place, and a few more screws need adding to the frame to secure it. The polycarbonate sheet is prevented from slipping off the front by screws protruding from the top of the base panel. I’ve been desperate to sow sweet peas after reading Richard’s post on his Sharpen Your Spades blog, and I reckon I might just get a January sowing in!
We had other storm damage this week. Our plastic greenhouse finally collapsed. It was already on its last legs. Many of the poles were bent and the cover rained little plastic scales like dandruff even in the slightest breeze. It lasted, in total, less than a year, but it did get off to an unfortunate start so we probably should shoulder some of the blame.
The greenhouse was earmarked for demolition to make room for an asparagus bed so we weren’t overly saddened by its early demise. Although, Rob did make an unexpected discovery whilst clearing the old potato and beetroot sacks from that area:
We had missed a sack of Anya and some rainbow beetroot. Look at the size of the beetroot. We reckon it’ll be a bit woody! The potatoes were tasty, though.