This last summer, working in the garden has been so nice for growing things that we thought we'd do it again next year. However, although my weather control is pretty good for a couple of weeks, it might not be good enough to hold for six months. So I thought I'd better get a bit of backup. How about a poly-tunnel? Anyway I like building things, and bigger is better.
Wanting to repeat the summer's bumper crop was part of it, we also wanted to exclude the more adventurous kind of veg munching rabbit. Especially since it seemed likely that more of the former would attract the attentions of the latter.
Also, one of our neighbours suggested that Mount Vesuvius might go pop soon, for a, granted, unknown value of 'soon' and indeed a similar value of 'pop.'
Now you might think I've started meandering rather early in the monolog, but bear with me.
If it, the volcano, should lose all sense of decorum and start vomiting forth, or thereabouts in the foreseeable, then there could be a rather poor veggie crop for a couple of years. So the idea of a poly-tunnel germinated. If there was a genuine planetary famine it is unlikely to support us for very long, but if it just gets a bit iffy for a while, then this could prove useful.
Having said that, that the idea of a poly-tunnel was already in my head, and had been bobbling about for a few years when the various factors coincided, they were:-
In Scotland we could do with a longer growing season.
Only a physical barrier will stop the rampaging bunnies.
I really don't know what chemicals go on the veggies that we import and
I think there are more than enough on those we grow here.
Organic crops are expensive
I like making things.
And, although I'm not a doomsday worrier, it is true that we are dependent on the whole civilisation thing continuing to function.
So, don't worry, I'm not turning into one of those 'survivalists' that you hear about, building a nuclear bunker in his back yard. They only get into the news when somebody starts shooting somebody else in deepest redneck America, and we ain't havin' none of that around here, no siree!
The final clincher was a huge heap of free horse manure. A very useful by-product of what I (and I'm only speaking for myself here) think of as a waste of money. Here's the first load, just a taster you understand. Sorry.
Now I quite like horses, but I think of them as work-mates, not pets. So I wouldn't keep any unless they were working, and anyway they are herd animals that don't appreciate solitude, which means a minimum of two and possibly foals which, while cute, magnify veterinary bills.
I was brought up on a farm, where you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Well it's true for the other end too, so I'll just take the waste product thanks.
Actually a farm would do nicely, but it would be a bit expensive and complicated, not the kind of thing I'd want as a hobby. Dad was able to run one, but it was obviously a full time job, I should be able to run a poly-tunnel.
Strike that last expression, hubris beckons, and I've never tried it before, so I'll rephrase that as I want a poly-tunnel.
Actually I want to build one, Fiona seems to like the idea, so I'll do the ground clearing, levelling and construction. Then when I've got it all tidy she can grow things in it. That's gardening, I don't garden, I make things.
So that accounts for the frame in the top picture. When I went to check out the manure pile I saw this in a nearby garden. There was no cover on it and the thistles were thriving, so I guessed it wasn't being used. We had a word with the owner, and now it's ours.
Well, we own it, the next stage is to disassemble it and bring it home. It's feet are flat plates buried a foot or so down, and there are quite a lot of them. It measures about 10.5 metres by 4 and the plastic will need replacing. Convenient really, the new generation of polythene is longer lasting and quite a bit stronger.
The new site is, or will be, behind the rockery on the other side of the driveway, (or track to be more precise), which means I can get the trailer to it. That means a couple of trees had to come out to make way, now (not) seen on the right, and a few more because of their shadow. They will all do as firewood anyway, and I've not had to take out any of the Oak, of which I am fond.
In one of those coincidental things that seem to happen nine times out of ten, we were given a smaller tunnel by another Jim (who usually does my proof-reading) as he felt it was the wrong shape, or colour for him. This has done very nicely as an object lesson in controlling nature. There was a large Rowan tree next to it that would have shaded it, so that had to come out. You can see the stump next to the frame. (Right) It was almost dead anyway from old age, and will burn nicely later.
A three by two metre oblong takes quite a bit of digging, mainly because I had to extract a layer of carpet that was keeping the weeds down when the Ground Source Heat Pump digger driver buried it. I'm going to hire a mechanical digger for the bigger one. (Unless fate, or whatever would like to send me a free one. Tracked and with a roof if possible please.)
Well you never know.......
The smaller one stands on the near side of the track. It has a rather smart canopy to go over the frame, green tinted and with vents and zip doors. There are some high winds expected in a few days, so I'll leave it off until I know it will stay calm for 48 hours, giving me time to work out how best to tie it down.
More clearing and fewer trees again, but fortuitously they were doomed, as they were getting too big and were the wrong sort anyway. Here they are, mostly gone, and again reduced to logs. The strange little structure on the left is a place for hedge-hogs, pixies, frogs and the like, to hibernate in.
More tunnel stuff later...
Apologies to those who already know. I didn't, so there may be others.
Recently, especially when it's raining, I've been doing a bit of work on my internet connection. I discovered that my router was 5 years old, so it is well out of date, and while I hate throwing things away when they are still working, it has taken to dropping out recently. So I figured it was time for a new one, which I'm still fighting with. It isn't really made to work with an iMac as the software is written on a dinky little CD which is too small for my CD drive. Hopefully I'll get that working soon.
While I was looking for ways to improve my broadband I discovered a device which doubled my download speed. It won't work for everybody but I'l pass it on anyway.
The device is called an i-plate (or Iplate) It goes onto the box on the wall where your phone line comes out. This only works if you have one with a split through the middle and the BT or Telecom logo on it. They take a few minutes to fix and you'll only need a small screwdriver.
This is the BT site that tells you about it
You can get them from between £3.50 to £15, +P&P, I don't know that there is any difference but I paid £4.50 and got one from Amazon, I didn't go for the cheapest, in case there were any shoddy ones on the market. They all come from China anyway. If you google Iplate or iplate you'll find it, or you can go straight to Amazon. I did consider looking for one with the micro-filter, (or splitter) built in, that's the thing where a filter stops the phone and the ASDL computer link from confusing each other. I was told, however, that you should change your splitter every few years anyway because they become less efficient. I don't know if that's true or not, but it seemed easier to keep it simple.
Here's a nice little video by BT showing everything you need to know.
I have heard that if you are a BT customer they will fit one free, but I have no evidence on that.
The iplate increased my downloading speed from 1.4mbps to 2.94mbps, which is still rubbish, but it's twice the speed it was. Whether it will work in other countries than the UK I do not know, I think, if you have broadband and the socket looks the same it might be worth a try, as it is really just designed to reduce a problem caused by an extension, even if there isn't a phone plugged into it. Remember that if your socket has Openreach as a logo, then you already have the thing built in.
There are many speed testing sites, I've taken to using the BT wholesale speed test one. Don't forget to click the YES thing (bottom left of the red writing.)
Apologies again to all those who already know about the Iplate, but since nobody told me about it before, maybe they didn't tell you.
It's the 28th now and I've been fighting with this new TP-Link wi-fi modem for the better part of two days. I'm beginning to wonder if it might have been better to buy a more expensive one. Still, the old one still works most of the time. I'm sure that when I set it up some 5 years ago (I'm guessing here) I just plugged it in and off it went. Oh well, no point in grizzling, if I can't get it working by tomorrow I'll send it back. In the meantime perhaps a small Whisky will untangle the neurons, which is a valid word despite the spellchecking software.
Well, that's it gone back, Our phone company, Phone-Coop, are sending me a new one that is pre-configured. So I should be able to just plug it in and off it will go.......here's hoping.