A View From The (Partially Dismantled) Greenhouse; That’s Different….Innit?

300 Square Feet Of (Almost) Virgin “Grund”
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Life (and concomitant jobs) continue apace, the proposed outside growing area is almost cleared up, with any amount of farmyard detritus either taken to the tip or simply moved to another area, where it will probably reside, undisturbed, until someone decides to move it again, or get the fabled skip in. What’s been exposed is 300 square feet (or so) of a once productive market garden, which has lain fallow for fifteen years or more. Early thoughts, for this season at least, is some potatoes and a relocation of peas, broad beans, leeks, onions and beetroot from under glass in the hope that the growing season, even if it starts a little later, will be more productive, for longer. We may also try growing some root veg in troughs. Apart from the spuds, nothing which requires to grow downwards seems to have much success in the soil available to us, at least not under glass. The possibility of changing the composition of it, at least in the short term, isn’t currently in the programme, although we have heard of the availability of some decent horse manure (watch this space).

Some Nifty Trowel Action
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The weather has been (mostly) kind, allowing Dave to complete the repair to the block foundations along the west side of the house. If we (that’s the Royal interpretation) repair two bays a year, as we have done this time around, then the whole base will have been replaced by Spring 2029. I aspire to see these works completed. In this demonstration picture our model shows a deft touch with a pointing trowel and some strong mortar. Not in the picture, although maybe they should be, are the rain deflector shields, yawked up from some 4mm poly-carbonate, which we ran along the external top of the blocks. They worked, to an extent, although I don’t think the mortar work would have been started on this particular day, if we’d bothered to take notice of the forecast. There’s always another day, although sometimes I don’t think Dave believes there is. There was a little bit of “slump” but it was soon remedied and the finished job will, I’m sure, stand the test of time.

It Had To Be Done, Sooner Or Later
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Having lovingly overseen the creation of my compost heap I intimated in my last missive that I was actually loath to start using it. Seeing how much the rob dogs wanted for decent quality potting compost, never mind the price of bog standard (with peat) stuff, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own for planting the first lot of seeds. To be fair, it wasn’t that difficult a task; decant said compost into a bucket, sieve it into a bag and repeat, until such time as there was plenty for the job at hand, or the back gave out. I’m only guessing here, but I think I’ve got myself around 4 stone of (what I hope is) high quality, nutrient rich (vaguely organic) starter material. But, as they say, the proof of the planting will always be in the germinating.

Another Cumbrian Yawk Up!
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

During the clear up of the old greenhouse, Dave came across an old feed bag containing more than several lengths of fairly flexible black plastic pipe. The (fairly) educated guess is they were once used as stakes of some kind, one or both ends having been cut at an angle. Having lots of nice new potting material, I decided to create a cloche which would allow me, hopefully, to take advantage of the reasonably mild weather (thank you Klimate Katastrophe)  to get a head start with my pepper and chilli plants. I got them in late last year, and although they cropped reasonably well, I don’t think the achieved full potential. Any road up, I lined the base of this old tray (its original use lost in the mists of time) with a couple of compost bags, before cable tie-ing four of the pipes into position and using the same method to fix a cane along the top for stability. There’s been a roll of clear plastic in the old “bait cabin” for as long as I can remember and, although the top half, which has been exposed to the sun for some years, had become brittle (what a mess that made when I tried to unroll it) I manage to get enough off to create a cover. Simple enough and repeatable. 30 mixed variety peppers and 24 mixed variety chilli. I’ll let you know how proud I am of my little “invention” if and when it works.

Keeping T’Cold Out
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

As a further hedge against the next “frost bomb”, “snow bomb”, “freeze bomb”, “beast from the east” or the like, I’ve insulated (for evening and night only) with a double layer of plant fleece. Now all we have to do is wait and see. Who knows, I might create another one and get the beans in early.

How Did I Miss That Bit?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

It’s no secret that Dave (my Dave) is a bit camera shy (that’s why we bring in a model for the “action” shots). This new fellow that the agency supplied still needs to do some work on his “strike a natural pose” style, but we’re hopeful of an improvement before next time. The soil looks extremely good, I think. This is the first pass, the bigger tines being deployed here will be used for pass two, before being replaced with a thinner implement to break up the soil even further, at the same time we’ll apply a couple of bags of chicken manure and some bone meal (we think there might be a lack of calcium) before a final rake over, in preparation for planting. I’m still undecided as to whether or not to put down a membrane for a month or so, it seems to have discouraged the weeds in the strawberry beds. Food for thought!

I Get All The Good Jobs
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Some people seem to have the impression that all I do all day is stand about while Dave does all the work and I field all the glory; this patently isn’t the case. I’ve gone a bit “arse about face” here, with the washing down of the glass. It’s a job which I ignored for several years before realising it actually needs to be done (at least internally) every year. The mistake I made was not realising just how eager Dave was to get the rotovator out (this machine is the “Triggers Broom” of farm implements, the current engine was originally on a cement mixer, but I digress). A lesson learned and, in future, I’ll wash the glass before the rotovating starts, not least because I’ll not end up with half a stone of mud on each welly-boot.

Lone Worker Risk Assessments R’ Us
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The frame is now all that remains of half of the “first” greenhouse. The front’s now removed, as is all the remaining timber, leaving the galvanised steel frame and the non-galvanised angle irons which hold it all together. There are still a couple of jobs to do, including repositioning of the spare sheets of glass, but I’m guessing that by the next time I deliver another of my riveting missives from the greenhouse, this area may have had the rotovator treatment and will probably be just about ready for a stitch or two of potatoes. A somewhat historical event to look forward to, as I’ve never planted anything (that can be eaten) outside before. When this area’s prepped, we’ll have 900 square feet, or thereabouts, of growing area and the opportunity to experiment, just a little bit, with what can and can’t survive a Cumbrian Spring.

I’ve refrained from saying too much about the dreadful happenings in The Middle East. We’re all fully aware of the propensity some members of a certain quasi-political religion have for committing dreadful acts of terrorism on often the easiest of targets, almost always in the most brutal of fashions.  It’s hard (as nothing more than an interested observer with limited knowledge of the realities of this particular Geo-political situation) to believe that the scale of Israels’ likely response to the October 7th attack wasn’t factored in by Hamas. It would have known that the price to be paid would be an extremely heavy one. It isn’t as if Israel makes any secret of its commitment to its own security and it wasn’t going to take the killings and kidnappings without striking back with ruthless efficiency. Life clearly comes cheap to people who (allegedly) live lives of Foreign Aid sponsored luxury, safely isolated from the bombs and bullets, while they issue the fatwa’s which see so many of their people impoverished, radicalised and brutalised in equal measure.

Since Israel “invaded” Gaza the streets of our cities have been virtually taken over by a motley ensemble of “Socialist” layabouts, emigre second and third generation Muslims, historically illiterate students, Antifa “activists”, bored middle class Remainiac retirees looking for a new “cause” and not a small number of “left wing” politicians, who hide their  hatred of the Jewish diaspora behind their claims to be anti Netanyahus’ government, which they portray as a genocidal Zionist construct.

What do these people all have in common, apart from the kufiya (one wonders if they know it’s been a symbol of Arab/Palestinian nationalism since the 1930’s, rather than a recent natty fashion accessory for the modern activist around town)? These same people will chant “From The River To The Sea” all day long, not fully understanding its meaning, thinking they’re doing no more than laying claim to the right of Palestinians to have their own (ethno-state) homeland. At the very same time, they’ll call anyone who wants this countries borders to be properly managed, to the benefit of what remains of the indigenous population, far right “racists”, genocide supporters and more.  The irony of their position isn’t lost on me, but (clearly) it’s lost on them.

© Colin Cross 2024