Build your own greenhouse – Part 2

Build your own greenhouse – Part 2

Phase Two is complete!

Today I completed the second phase of my little DIY project of building my own greenhouse (view phase one here) .

After the success I had last week (with the help of my family) I wanted to get this part done now, so it doesn’t delay me in the actual building of the greenhouse (I’m on a spring deadline!!)

The most important part of this stage was about not only making sure the slabs were level, but that they were level with each other as well. The timber frame will be sitting directly on these slabs (acting as a stone barrier between the frame and the ground) so if they arn’t level the frame won’t be! This can take longer than you may think as well, especially working on your own and if you have nearly no experience in this sort of thing – like me! I used some sand that had been left in the garden, which is a lot easier to deal with then the soil alone. Little by little I got them all level.

The next stage of the build is the most most exciting bit – to actually build the frame! I have a fair bit of reclaimed wood which I have been collecting in preparation of this project, so I will be building as much of it from that as I can, this is mainly to save as much money as possible, but I think I am going to end up buying some supplies to finish it.

In other news..

I managed to go to the local garden center and picked a couple of things this morning, including a 6.6 ft perma-tunnel ready for some early sowing, plenty of compost and a little ‘mushrooms growing kit’ which I mentioned in an earlier post. My other half doesn’t eat them, so this small kit should provide me with mushrooms for a while – the instructions say you can expect to get 3 harvests from this one kit which will be plenty. If they grow faster than I eat them I will put them in my dehydrator and store them for later use!

I also managed to finally do my seed order – something I have been meaning to do for some time now. I’ve only bought what seeds I need for the next few months, with the idea of spreading the cost by buying the rest nearer the time that they are needed.

I have de-weeded, turned over the soil and constructed the tunnel today as well, it always feels nice to start clearing space ready for the new years growth. I am hoping to sow seeds under the tunnel until the greenhouse is fully set up, as well as using the trough I have nearer the house (which will be used for my carrots and parsnips this year).

All in all, I’ve had a really productive weekend in the garden. This week is due to drop in temperature and there is a good chance of snow, so I’m not sure if I will be able to do much next weekend! If I can’t I will set up my mushrooms and start prepping the first lot of seeds ready to sow.

I would love to hear what you have been working on over the last few weeks in preparation for spring. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Advise is always welcome!

 

5 Most common myths of growing your own fruit and vegetables

5 Most common myths of growing your own fruit and vegetables

There is something truly rewarding about cooking with vegetables grown from your own garden. The produce is better in flavour than the shop alternatives and it can (in most cases) end up being a lot more cost effective, but most people still prefer to go to their local supermarket and buy off the shelf. Gardening is often seen as a hobby and some of this I believe is down to a number of long-standing myths.

Below are just the 5 most common reasons give to why they don’t get involved with growing their own.

1 . “I don’t have the time”

It is a common misconception that to have a successful vegetable garden you need to have hours available everyday to tend it. There are vegetables out there they don’t require loads of time and effort. These include Beans, Courgettes, Cucumbers and members of the Squash family.

All of these simply require good soil, sunshine and plenty of water and you will have more than enough to keep you, your family and your neighbours well stocked for the whole season. They are all pretty prolific growers and when stored in the correct way for each can easily see you through the later months too.

2 . “I don’t have the space”

People assume that to have a productive vegetable patch you need a massive garden, but this is just completely untrue! As long as you have a bit of creativity you can make any outside space work for you, a lot of people are making good use of ‘vertical gardening’. That may sound like a new age fad but its popularity is rising and it is easy to see why.

Vertical gardens can take up a lot less space, are easy to maintain and can be used to grow a number of vegetables you may not have thought possible. This sort of gardening is providing people with even the smallest amount of space the opportunity to grow their own produce.

3 . “I can’t grow anything”

No one is born knowing how to have a successful and productive garden. So the key for any beginner is to pick a couple of easy to grow varieties to start, such as courgettes, garlic and onions which only ask for sunshine, good soil and water.

If your not sure about growing something from seed, most garden centres sell starters(or plug) plants which is where they have grown them from a seed for you, so you buy the plants when they are still young usually by the trayfull. You then take those and plant them straight into your garden. This if you dont have the resources to grow from seed.

4 . “I rent / live in a flat so i can’t”

Not everyone has the ability to dig up their gardens to make vegetable patches, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own fruit and vegetables. There are so many varieties of plant that grow really well in containers – and you can use anything, from large plant pots to old barrels. Any outdoor space can be used for your container garden, as long as it has access to sunshine and you remember to water it. There are a large number of plants that thrive in the container environment; tomatoes, peppers and potatoes to name a few!

For those rented properties that don’t have access to any outdoor space, there are still ways you can grow some of the smaller varieties. You can grow fruit trees such as lemon and a wide variety of salads right there on your windowsill.

5 . “I don’t get enough sun in my garden”

Just because you garden doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, does not mean that nothing will grow! You just need to be a bit more selective with the choices you make! For example, if you are hoping to grow veg such as sweetcorn or peppers which are heavily dependant on the sunshine, you may need to re think your garden goals. However, there are plenty of plants that are forgiving in the sunshine department (this still means the path needs at least 3-6 hours of direct sunlight).Broccoli and Radishes are good examples of this, they don’t mind a bit more shade and will produce good quality produce, even if they are a tad smaller then their sun soaking counterparts.

Although gardeners tend to praise the fact their gardens get plenty of sunshine, there are some advantages to having a slightly shadier plot. For one thing, places that get high temperatures may struggle with their plants being scolded, and having full sun often means that the ground becomes dry quicker meaning more watering.

So as you can see, as long as you put your mind to it, there really isn’t anything stopping you growing your own little spot of heaven.

I would be interested to know if anyone has overcome any of the situations mentioned above and gone on to grow some truly delicious veg! Leave me a comment below!

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10 Gardening jobs for January

10 Gardening jobs for January

Now that January is well and truly upon us, it is time to start looking at the years plans for your garden. Even though it’s still too cold to start planting, there is still plenty to do! Keep scrolling to go through 10 things you should have on your list.

1 . Draw up you plan for the year

The first thing anyone with a vegetable/flower garden should do this time of year is to draw up what you want your garden to look like throughout the coming months. This keeps you focused, organised and means that you will never be left with bare patches or too many plants. It also helps you get sorted on what seeds you need to purchase and what tools you will need and when!
It is always good to know ahead of time where everything will go, as not all vegetables enjoy being neighbours.

2 . Take stock of your seed collection

Once you know exactly whats on your list for things to grow, the next obvious step is to take stock of what you already have – whether its dried poppy pods from previous flowers or spare seeds that never quite made it to the potting shed. You want to get them all sorted and labelled so if there are anything that you don’t have stored away, well….

3 . Order any seeds you need

Now is the time to get your favourite gardening site and get ordering!! The place i go at the moment is D T Brown but everyone has their own favourites. It you have an allotment, you often get access to offers that you can’t get any where else which can help when bulk buying. But if you don’t have access to those, you can usually buy seeds from local garden centres, supermarkets etc.

4 . Clean your pots / tools ready for spring

If you are anything like me, you often leave pots half filled and dotted around in little piles. When there is a break in the bad weather, head out and round them all up! This month is great for getting everything cleaned and organised so they are there and ready to use when you need them!
You can clean your tools with a bit of warm water and a brush and make them as good as new! Alternatively, now is the ideal time to replace anything that has seen better days, if you look at the right time there is usually a good deal on gardening equipment to be picked up before spring comes along. Something I like doing so going to a local antiques centre where there are often companies that have numerous collections of old but really strong garden tools, their often really good prices and are often stronger than anything new (if you shop right).

5 . Prune any fruit trees/bushes

Another important job to tick off before spring begins is to prune any of your fruit trees and bushes. Its important to do it now, before the plant start putting energy into branches that are weak, or wont bear fruit. You want to remove the oldest branches or canes, as well as any broken or diseased wood. Any branches that cross over and would cause rubbing can be tied back or removed to reduce chances of damage. To make sure your pruning in the correct way it is always best to seek out advise for the specific plant your cutting.

6 . Composting

This is something I have recently got into myself. Your compost pile may freeze solid during the colder season but there is no reason to stop composting. In fact, the thawing process can help break down the materials that you add over this time , so they decompose even faster in spring.

Some people insulate their compost pile, either with a dark tarp or a generous layer of straw, newspaper or leaves. This reduces the drop in temperature which in turn keeps the bacteria that breaks down the material warm enough to not go dorment.

7 . General Tidy

If like me, you have reclaimed a patch of land that was previously a waste of weeds and brambles, you can use this time to also keep the ground weed free. Although the weeds don’t actively grow when the temperatures are low, they are still busy. Their roots and seeds are patiently waiting for the warmer weather. If my patch is veg free I try and turn over the soil a couple of times, to help bring any deep roots to the top and keep ontop of the weeds that are being a bit tougher to get rid of. This year i have some left over broccoli, brussels and some garlic, so using a smaller hand spade or folk I move around them being careful not to disturb the plants.
It is also an ideal time to tidy any fallen leaves or debris that has found their way into the garden. These can be moved into a pile to break down a bit before adding to your compost pile or disposed of.

8 . Grow your own Mushrooms

You could try growing your own mushrooms using a mushroom kit, you can kind these kits in any of you local garden centres or online, they are a great little project and are great to add to a lot of meals. It is so much simpler than it looks and you can grow loads of different varieties including white cap, oyster and shiitake. The kits are reasonable prices and comes with everything you need. Once site that gives great step by step instructions, and plenty of details for each sort is Thompson & Morgan .

9 . Early Potatoes

Now is the time that you want to start preparing your potatoes (if you want to grow them). Chitting is when you start the sprouting process and is done by collecting up the potatoes you are going to use and putting them with the majority of the eyes facing upright in a light, cool and frost free location. Greenhouses are perfect for this, but you can also use a porch or unheated conservatory. Light is important for the chitting process, so don’t put them in a cupboard or under the stairs.

You can stand them up using egg boxes, or if your using a large number of potatoes you can use an open box. You are looking for 1inch short green shoots from each eye of the tuber. Thin white shoots that potatoes grow when left in a cupboard to long is just the same, although may still produce potatoes if planted. For the best results you need the best possible shoots!

If you have done all your January jobs, but still want something to do, here is a little something that will keep your green fingers busy:

10 . DIY Bird Feeder

Everybody loves a little DIY project to brighten up these dark days. This is one that gets your hands busy, is great to do with the kids and helps the wildlife out all in once package! Its easy to forget that this time of year is one of the hardest for the wildlife, especially birds. Food is hard to come by, often buried under frozen soil and snow so one thing I think is great to do is to make some nice homemade bird feed ornaments.

There are loads of tutorials out there, but one of the easiest (and least messy) I have found is this one by a lovely lady called Shae! Her tutorial includes 4 ingredients plus kitchen twine or string, makes 5 ornaments  and takes no time at all!

Keep an eye out for next months list of garden jobs, I’m off to make some tasty treats for the birds!

and you’re welcome along for the ride!