The recent storm Brendan really tested things here. The Eden greenhouse did well behind its windbreaks but the Vitavia nearly went. A pane of glass shattered at the front, opening it up to the wind.
My neighbour came down and gave me a hand to fit a new sheet of glass in place. We had a right job getting it in – the frame itself had twisted. The wind and rain didn’t help, either.
It turned out the serious problem was the back of the greenhouse. Two of the upright bars had disconnected and three of the four glass panels were loose. Amazing thing was they hadn’t fallen out and shattered. My son-in-law spotted the problem and fixed things before going over the house and tightening all the bolts. He’s helping me out as my back is still bothering me.
Sciatica Still a Pain
This back problem, sciatica, is really beginning to depress me. Just going outside for half an hour in the cold is enough to set it off and even indoors I can’t spend too long sitting at the desk. I’m sure it will get better but the question is when. I don’t know what to plan for this season, it all depends on what I’m able to do.
Low Maintenance Decorative Bed
One bed isn’t going to be much work. The decorative bed on the terrace below the chicken run. The entire bed was covered in brown cardboard and then a layer of bark peelings. Val selected a range of decorative bushes and shrubs which were planted through the mulch.
It’s not totally weed-free. There’s a few weeds growing on the edge by the retaining wall and the odd immortal dandelion pops up. They’re not a problem, hoe them off and throw into the chicken run. They rather like dandelion salad.
Most of the plants are doing well, the odd failure of course, but generally they seem happy. If one does fail, then just plant something different in the hole. It looks quite sparse at the moment but in a few years it will have filled up nicely. Both with decorative plants and crops planting too closely is a common mistake. One I’ve often been guilty of.
The soil underneath the mulch is dark and rich with a lot of worms – always a good sign of soil health. You can pay for detailed tests and get exact figures for all the various nutrients in the soil but at the end of the day you can tell a lot by looking at the soil. Squeeze it in your hands and get a feel for the consistency and organic matter. Most importantly, do the plants like it? If they grow well, all is well.
Growing Chicken Feed
Over in the potting shed, I’ve got the Geopod working. I’m just growing some supplements for the chickens. The left hand seed tray had an entire old packet of cabbage seed. The other two are sprouting wheat for them.
At this time of year the chickens are often stuck in the shelter of the enclosed run. We may not have snow, but we’ve a lot of heavy rain which isn’t the best for them. Providing some greens helps keep them healthy. It also gives them something more interesting than scratching over the same bit of run endlessly.
The wheat is quite miraculous, all the seeds get is clean water, warmth and light. In a matter of days they’ve grown green shoots 4 to 6 ins. high. When trays are ready , they’re replaced with a new one. I’ve found half a tray is ideal for a day. I’m not buying anything special, the wheat is just a sack of poultry feed wheat from the farm shop.