The Daily Slog…

Taking the tender plants to and from the greenhouse daily is starting to become a bit of pain in the bum. A couple of nights ago, I remembered I’d left them in the greenhouse. Grabbing a torch, I headed down to the greenhouse in my pyjamas and slippers, hoping the neighbours wouldn’t see me going to rescue my babies! Luckily I’ve not yet forgotten to bring them in.

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Last year I made the mistake of leaving Tomatoes in the greenhouse far too early. The leaves on the plants started to turn a purple colour, this is due to the fluctuation in temperature and them being exposed to the cold too early. Needless to say it didn’t damage the tomatoes. This year I’ll just stick to harden them off in the greenhouse and taking them in at night until the cold nights have passed.

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I’m growing several varieties of Tomatoes. We can comfortably fit 10 tomato plants inside the greenhouse (although I could fit more if I didnt have the staging for the other plants). I had great success last year growing a Winter Butter Squash vertically up a piece of old metal wire. This week I cheated and bought a red pepper plant. Last things to be growing in the greenhouse will be the melons, which I’ve also grown vertically in the past, although they didn’t seem to ripen. I don’t seem to be having much luck this year either as I’ve planted several but they don’t appear to be germinating.

Strawberry cage…

We love home grown strawberries, we’ve been growing them for the past 3 years. Our local Lidl store was selling six plants for £2.99, so whist I was at work my husband went and bought five packs! We already have 18 runners which I planted up towards the end of last year, in addition to the plants they were grown from.

As much as we love strawberries, the amount we had posed a bit of problem as we didn’t  know where to put them all. I didn’t fancy having them taking up so much room in the greenhouse. We thought about planting them in the galvanized trough, but it was bought with the intention of using it for cut flowers. I then remembered Lavender & Leeks had made two wooden strawberry cages. I showed the picture to my husband and the following evening we were buying timber!

Any DIY project we start, my Father in Law normally helps us (we have him to thank for doing most of the work renevating our house) so this time we wanted to see if we could do it ourselves. Putting all our DIY lessons into pratice, we made the main body of the cage by screwing together lengths of 1800mm x 47mm x 22mm timber, cutting them in two for the width and into three for the vertical pieces. We then made the lid in two halves and added the hinges to attach them on.

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The next job was to attach some chicken wire to the inside of the wooden frame… Nearly 500 staples later and we had it finished!

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We’re over the moon with the finished cage, it’s turned out even better than we imagined (all those DIY lessons surely did come in use). My husband was thinking about making a second frame after the success of making the first one, although attaching the wire was very time consuming.

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The cage measures approximately 6ft x 3ft x 1.5ft. The timber is pressure treated but we gave it another coat of preservative just in case and to coat the edges that we had sawn to size.

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Hopefully the chicken wire will prevent the squirrel from stealing the strawberries this year!

The Royal Arch…

After seeing Lavender & Leeks’ Willow arch, I wanted one! I searched locally for a Willow farm but couldn’t find any in the area. I was a little concerned how long a willow arch would last and I wanted something, which got me looking for alternative. I found another gardener in America who had made an arch from cattle panels. I wasn’t able to find any in the UK, so I started looking for heavy duty wire mesh and found a local company selling just what I was looking for!

The roll was 12.5 metres, meaning we could make two arches. We used 4 x 7FT wooden posts to attach the mesh to. We purchased a Post Hole Digger to make light work of making the holes in the soil. The posts were concreted into the ground on Good Friday and left to set for two days. The posts were pressure treated, but we gave them another coat of preservative as we could only get hold of 8ft posts and had to had to cut them down.

Arch first stage.

Attaching the mesh wasn’t so straight forward. The centre of arch didn’t quite have enough rigidity to maintain a perfect arch, so we bought two 3m lengths of aluminium to attach to the front and back of the wire to give it the much needed support.

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The arch looks fantastic, it’s better than I was ever hoping! It measures 4ft wide, 6ft across and is around 7.5ft tall.

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I can’t wait to start growing flowers and vegetables. I’m planning on growing Sweet Peas, Munchkin Pumpkins, Runner Beans and possibly Melons and Butternut Squash if they will grow vertically. I’ve also sown four sunflower seeds, as a fellow instagrammer suggested they would look fantastic at the front of the arch.

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I now declare the Royal Arch Open!

I was thinking about having charity garden coffee morning in the summer if we get the garden looking in a decent shape.