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Another quiet day of self isolation

Another quiet day of self isolation. Heard the CEO of Tesco on the news and that prompted me to look on their app to see if there were any free delivery slots. Blow me down there were loads of them. Before breakfast must be the right time of day. I booked a few items as a placeholder and will return before Friday to complete the order. The slot is 8 – 10am Friday May 1st.

Not much going on in the greenhouse. Bit of spur removal. Bit of weeding in the raised beds. Catching them young. Thinned out the lettuces a bit more yesterday as well as an early harvest of coriander. Past experience has shown that this is by far the best thing to do and hopefully the leaves will keep coming.

Starting to build up some nice data on the temperature monitoring. The shed has a panel heater set at a certain temperature which I occasionally vary. You can see when we have had the doors wide open resulting in a fair drop in temperature. Also I switched it off on the evening of the 26th and it is interesting to see how the good insulation of the shed results in only a very slow and steady decline in temperature until I switched it on again the next morning.

The greenhouse however has wide ranging temperature fluctuations depending on how sunny it is and the position of the sun as it moves around during the day. After an early morning blast of sunshine the sun disappears behind a tree before lunch for a while and then reappears mid afternoon. You could see how a control loop from a heater in the greenhouse might serve to maintain a higher, even temperature if you were that way inclined. Not bothered about spending the money on the heating bill meself although if there was some stored solar power that could be used it could be interesting. 

None of this gardening lark is particularly cost effective. The cost of the compost used in growing the tomatoes far outweighs the cost benefits of growing them. But this isn’t about money.

more plums

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Reassuringly cold and damp

This morning we have woken up to what may be termed normal British spring weather. Cold and damp. Quite reassuring really. Obvs I like nice weather but everything has its place. Hopefully we will be assured a good fruit crop as a result of the nice spell we have just come through. Certainly the plums are doing well. Too early to tell with the apples. The apple trees are still very much in full blossom.

It’s going to be a quiet week in the greenhouse. Must say I’m feeling very relaxed sat here in the shed doing stuff. Ritin’.

The rain last night, although it felt quite a downpour at the time, has not made much of a difference to the water level in the butt. I imagine that will also be the case in respect of groundwater levels although I don’t feel I will need to water the raised beds today. We are facing a wet week of it so hopefully the only watering I’ll have to do are the bedding plants and pots on the staging in the greenhouse.

Glad I tidied out the shed yesterday. Mostly just rearranging stuff. The greenhouse timelapse is starting to come together. The plants have a lot of growing left to do but it is quite fascinating watching the daily progress. Sorry I’m not putting anything up yet but might well post an interim vid in a couple of weeks.

Dad called me. Aunty Mair died this morning. Dad’s only sister. She was 90 years old I think and had been in decline for a few years. It leaves dad as the only member left out of his generation of both he and mam’s families. It feels a little bit like we are coming to the end of an era. A little like looking at the world pre WW1 where society totally changed afterwards. Our connections with a part of our past gradually disappearing.

I only occasionally spoke with Aunty Mair. Typically at Christmas time and once in a very blue moon during the year. However she was always there as dad’s sister. When I was at university I used sometimes pop to London to see them and go to the local pub with cousins David and Gareth. I have early photos of a day out with her in london feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square,wearing gloves. I also recall going up the Post Office Tower with her. Must have been shortly after it opened.

Dad is self isolating in his flat in Cardiff. He has my sister Sue down the road able to do supply runs and generally make sure everything is ok. At this point in time we don’t know what the plan is for the funeral but under the current coronavirus lockdown it is sadly difficult to see how any of us will be able to go. My thoughts are with cousins David and Gareth and dad. I’ll give them a bell later.

We are living through a disruptive period of history that I’m sure will feature in future text books. Not quite the same as WW2 say which Anti Mair and dad lived through but something that stands out for us as out of the ordinary in our modern cotton wool wrapped version of the world. What did you do during the corona virus outbreak daddy? I grew fat.

plums emerging
emerging plums looking promising
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Question to the BBC Lincolnshire Sunday Gardening Programme

“Sat in the greenhouse listening to the programme 🙂 Today appears to be our last dry day for a while. Is there anything we should be doing whilst we can in the garden and what can we be doing when the weather turns wet.”

Today, as you may have gathered, is notionally the last dry day for a while. It is a very relaxing Sunday morning and I am sat in the greenhouse. Breakfasted on Joe’s latest magnificent sourdough, toasted with poached egg, bacon and smoked salmon.

sunday breakfast

Anne just popped in to check up on her plants. There was a noticeable drop in temperature when she opened the door. Her Dahlias are looking a bit dry. They are in ceramic pots which evaporate water more quickly than plastic. The tomatoes in the water filled trays seem to be thriving. Remember I turned off the irrigation to these plants. I’m looking forward to the rain filling the water buts again – they are now half empty (half full)!?

Didn’t read my question out on the radio btw. No matter 🙂 The cathedral bells are chiming 10am. Clear as a bell so to speak. I don’t normally notice/hear them. Either everywhere is quiet around or the wind is in the right direction or both or something. We are only a short walk from the cathedral.

Bit of diy going on next door by the sound of it. Heard some sawing earlier and now it sounds like drilling or an electric screwdriver.

More as it happens…

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Waffles and the French Cafe Lounge

A perfect Saturday morning in April. No sun as yet and we are indeed expecting rain over the next few days but right now everything is as it is supposed to be. We have birdsong. The birds sound content. Perched on the edge of their nests chatting to neighbours. I am content. Had a good fryup for breakfast and now sat in the shed contemplating life and the day ahead in splendid isolation.

I can hear life in next door’s garden. Have spoken to them through the beech hedge but not seen them. They are like us. A houseful keeping to themselves.

I set the sprinkler on the lawn last night. Very conscious that we haven’t had much rain. Only did ⅔ of it as we were sat around the kadai fire bowl near the house. There is plenty of fuel since I set to chopping all the woodpile we had at the bottom of the garden and stacking it tidily (ish) in the wood store. Anne now wants me to tidy out the shed in the corner. It is used as a dumping ground. This is a different shed to the one I’m sat in and is the one that has the temperature monitoring.  For the record it is just over 10℃ in the garden right now 14.7℃ in the greenhouse and 17℃ in the shed. The doors of the shed are wide open to the garden.

Today’s jobs involve shifting the last of the compost and filling some of the large pots in anticipation of the plants going outside in May.

In our kitchen there is a late breakfast ongoing as the gang staggers their arrival downstairs. Waffles I understand. A relaxing start to the day. There is no hurry for anything to happen. Just like being on holiday. It was always the case on family holidays that you couldn’t plan anything for mornings as by the time everyone was ready to head out it was nearly lunchtime.

I’m playing the French Cafe Lounge playlist on Spotify. Feels as if all that is missing is a cafe au lait. That is something I can sort 🙂

At 11.41 the sun has just poked its nose out which is good. The featured image is of something found on the kitchen windowsill this morning. We had a good time last night!

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Moved some bags of horse manure compost innit

Not much to report today. Moved some bags of horse manure compost from the front to the back. A much overdue job. Don’t want to do all these jobs at one innit. Also weeded the raised beds and the small onion patch next to them. Just staying on top of things innit. This is not like me yanow.

May starts next weekend. I think the time will have come tomorrow to begin the process of moving the chillies, peppers and remaining tomatoes into bigger pots. Some of the chillies and peppers will stay inside the greenhouse and the rest go out against the wall below the kitchen window which is south facing ish. The toms can all go out. I have enough of them in the greenhouse already. 

One other thing. Walked to the Bailgate with Tom this lunchtime to procure certain supplies. Queued outside the back of the greengrocer waiting my turn to go in on my own. Only one person at a time allowed into the shop. When I got to the front, after maybe 15 or 20 minutes, the woman immediately behind me in the queue implored me to let her go in first as she only wanted 3 onions and this waiting was killing her. I of course complied – it is something that will be noted for pearly gate purposes 🙂

When I got  inside myself I filled a basket with lots of fresh fruit and vegetable goodness – bunches of carrots, first beetroot of the season, green beans etc. Tom and I walked home with a rucksack full of bread, bacon and fruit and veg. We will have to wait for our own beetroot particularly as I haven’t planted them yet 🙂

That’s all for today. The sun is over the yardarm and my new delivery of Beavertown Neck Oil beckons. All greenhouse and horse manure compost and no beer makes Tref a dull boy.

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Video for BBC Gardener’s World

I created this video for BBC Gardener’s World to show off the tech used. Hope Monty and the crew use it 🙂 It’s also on the Facebook page together with a load of other stuff.

I’d quite like to do more vids especially for Gardener’s World but let’s wait and see if this one gets any traction first. They do take some time to film and edit. The discerning amongst you will notice I’ve had a change of tops from one clip to another. This is because filming took place over more than one day:) It matters not 🙂

You will be happy to know that the site seems to have totally recovered from the Raspberry Pi incident yesterday. Hopefully we won’t see anything else happen like that for the forseeable future.

temperature sensors back to normal working

If they do use this one btw I will almost certainly make another video for BBC Gardener’s World. We can but dream 🙂

Ciao fellow greenhouse geeks.

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sensors down for a brief period

Slight issue with the greenhouse monitoring today. The case for the raspberry pie arrived.  I unhitched the cables, screwed the case to the side of the shelving unit and inserted the pi in the case. Unfortunately the end of the micro SD card broke rendering said pi unserviceable. Fortunately I had a spare SD card so spent the afternoon sorting it out with the team. Vid is back onstream and temperature should be in a bit. Phew. Terry, who works for Raspberry Pi says the SD card thing is a known issue. Uhuh.

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Bird scaring made easy

Today’s news concerns the raised beds not the greenhouse. I’ve gone and implemented a patent bird scaring mechanism otherwise known as some CDs dangling from string stretched across between the parsnips and carrots. The pesky avian varmints keep digging around in the raised beds and the plant life takes the collateral damage hit. They aren’t eating the vegetation although there are one or two broken leaves on the onions which might suggest something has had a go at them.

I was somewhat amazed that we still had some CDs in the house. I don’t think I have anything that can play them. There is an external DVD drive somewhere in the house. I just use Spotify nowadays…

The raised beds are starting to see some weed growth action. Only small seedlings at the moment and because of this not the easiest to extract. I’ll wait a few days and give them a once over. The weather has been nice and bright albeit cold. 

Moved a pot of coriander around inside the greenhouse as it wasn’t showing up in the live stream. Might as well have a bit of variety on that stream. I was chatting to a pal of son Tom’s via video yesterday who was most complimentary about the video stream. He was particularly transfixed by the ticking away of the seconds on the time displayed in the top left hand corner of the video window.

It feels a little as if we are waiting right now. There is still the coronavirus lockdown so nobody is leaving the house other than exercise/walks and me going to source victuals. Also I’m waiting for May to arrive before planting more tomatoes, peppers and jalapenos in pots under the kitchen window. I’ve done most of what needs doing in the greenhouse. Irrigation set up, temperature monitoring, video stream etc (all critical to cultivation obvs). Now the plants need to grow 🙂 

No rush. The British summer is short enough as it is. We are all looking forward to the end of the lockdown though, for life to get back to normal.

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Time based temperature variations

Not a greenhouse related thing but I did Tesco run this morning. Still no flour though. I’m trying to order a big bag online. Joe has shown some high talent on the break making front and given enough raw material we won’t go without. He has made a sourdough starter.

This morning it feels quite cold despite being sunny. Bit of a wind probs. It’s a Monday and everyone has their head down doing the work from home bit. The shed, which is a bit more than just a garden shed, serves as my office and I have been joined by two grown up kids for the duration of the lock-down. A strange feeling really when you have been used to having the space to yourself.

Not much to report on the greenhouse front. It does get very warm in the morning when the sun shines directly into it. This morning I opened the door to let some of the heat out. Then as the sun moved around the greenhouse cooled down and I closed the door again. Interesting to see the direct effect of these actions on the graphs. Obvious I know but still interesting.

The cold has slowed the emergence of the apple blossom which is looking as if it will be a somewhat fetching pink on the cooking apple and whitish on the eaters. We did have a pear tree but it’s leaves were blighted with brown spots every year. Couldn’t get rid of the spots and the tree yielded no pears. Even when it was fruiting the pears would never ripen. So I cut off it’s branches leaving only the trunk and it is now used to hold bird feeders.

Still not shifted the horse manure compost.

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Hi tech greenhouse

The birds really are in full voice this morning. It is 32℃ inside the greenhouse and a beautiful sunny day out there. No wonder they are being chatty. “Whose turn is it to go and get a worm?”

Inside the greenhouse all is well. I’ve opened the side vents and the door to let some of the heat out. I noticed after last week’s nice weather some of the seedlings had burnt tips to their leaves which I assume is heat related. Gave the seedlings on the shelf a drizzle. The tomatoes on the floor are taken care of.

One thing I learnt this morning was something I heard on the BBC Lincolnshire Sunday Morning Gardening Programme and that relates to when to put out your tomato plants. I had planned to do it today but apparently you have to wait until May. This lets me off the hook this weekend. Still need to move the compost around the back though. Same applies to the peppers and jalapenos I’d guess.

I noticed yesterday that there was a fair bit of irrigation water accumulating in the black plastic trays under the tomato plants. This hasn’t happened to the same extent in previous years so I checked the setting on the pump and indeed it was on #2 whereas in the past it’s always been on #1, the lowest setting (fwiw). I changed that.

I asked a question meself on the radio prog via their new Facebook page and that was all about our grapevine that never yields any grapes. It’s all in the pruning apaz. I noted the advice and will look at that when the growth comes to the relevant stage, ie after the first flowers have finished.

Interesting to see some interaction with this site and Facebook. People can’t talk to me through the camera but they can hear me, just about, so if someone asks a question on Facebook then I am able to answer by video. As far as I am concerned the audio stream is really all about being able to hear birdsong.

One thing I should particularly note is that we have for now finished the temperature sensor feeds from the garden to this site. Pretty impressive I’m sure you will agree. I have to thank Terry Mackown (Raspberry Pi), Tom Bird (Portfast)  and Wayne Mills-Kidals (Fuse2) for their help here. It’s handy that my day job is in the technology industry and I know people… Wayne has especially put in a lot of work and not only hosts this site but the server that is used to process the video stream and the grafana graphical outputs. What you see here is tech used by the internet industry applied to a greenhouse. Cool eh?

It is going to be interesting to see the temperature trends. You not only get far more granularity than sites such as the Met Office or BBC but it shows detailed historical temperatures. V useful I’m sure.

Hi tech greenhouse this 🙂

Little footnote – I was out watering the raised beds this evening. There is currently a plastic robin in them. It’s a solar powered light that I’m not sure has ever worked. Tonight I found a real robin standing in front of it. Couldn’t get my camera out quickly enough as I was hauling the hosepipe.