Sunday, 19 February 2017

Extension Progress - Floor In

After wasting a weekend being ill last week I managed to have a good go on the extension this weekend. 
I'd ripped up the temporary flooring a couple of weekends ago (some ply I'd bought cheap) and the upstairs was ready for having the chipboard put down. An easy enough job - but not very kind on your knees! I glue all the joints and I glue the boards down to the joist as well as using screws to hold them down, I hate hearing squeaking floorboards so I go with a full belt and braces approach. 
I've still left the hatch in the floor, which will be filled in as the upstairs gets finished, this means that I can now build the walls and get the whole bathroom ready before we knock through into the old bathroom. 
I also pulled in the chimney liner with the help of a friend. This is a bit of a mess around as I need to insulate it before the scaffold comes down. Trouble is I don't want to build out the fireplace yet (as it'll wreck our dinning room) so I can't terminate the flue where it is to finish. Instead I've wedged non flammable/combustible around the flue where I've broken out the chimney higher up. Then when I come to make the bottom section of the fire place I'll be able to insulate the last bit from inside. 

The down side to this was I didn't have enough insulation to finish insulating the flue, I was gutted, it's hard to work out what you'll need anyway as the dark depths of a chimney are unknown in size, I was about a bag short which I'll pick up in the week, just annoying not to finish the job I started!

Because the two counties where we live/the wife works have had different half terms, my wife is off next week doing all my jobs (school run etc) and I'll be working on the extension as well as a few little jobs for customers. 
This means I have a huge list of jobs to get through including, nogging out the floor and ceiling joist, finish the flue, install loft hatch, plasterboard the ceiling up upstairs, stud walls up for the bathroom/wardrobes/cupboards and plasterboard them one side. 
Should be a busy week hopefully! 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Shoe Rack In The Porch

I've never really finished the porch. I built it, and we just started using it. One day last year I did the floor (which I might do another post on as I'm quite pleased with it) and then I put up a few hooks and we just started using it like a normal room. 
Loves being like daddy!
Shoes are always a nightmare in this house and I wanted more storage for them. So many pairs of feet and each one has multiple pairs of shoes, boots and wellies! I also wanted a shelf for the eggs to go on instead of having them placed in the dinning room all the time. 

I let her screw in the screws. She was quite rapid! 
 So one afternoon my middle child and I set about putting up some shelves. I machined the wood the night before (she's too small to manage the planner unfortunately) so all we had to do was mark it all out and, drill the holes and screw it all together. The wood was some I had saved from being burnt on a big job about 10 years ago!
Finished shelves - I really wish this was all the shoes!
She loved it! She's very much a girl that needs to be kept busy and doesn't like doing nothing, so a job like this was ideal. she laughed the whole time I let her use the drill, switched the hoover on and off for me, passed me everything I needed, hammered in rawl plugs, she was a great little helper really.

Little girl proud of her work! 
She was so proud to show everyone when they got home and I'm pleased to have more shoes up off the floor and organised!

Any tips for storing hundreds of shoes?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bout Of Man Flu

I wasn't feeling great on Thursday, not just because a crack in the car windscreen cost us £180, a lovely unforeseen cost. 
£180 crack
Luckily my mum had come over and helped me with the children but I certainly wasn't myself. On Friday I managed to get the eldest to school and the other two to playschool whilst I stood, watched them play and felt terrible, I then spent the rest of the day and night in bed. Saturday I was up for some of it but still felt terrible and yesterday I started to feel a little better but did nothing all day.

Luckily I'm feeling pretty good this morning, still full of cold but nothing that's going to stop me doing things. 

Good job as the children have got half term and I've got lots of play dates arranged to keep them (and me) entertained. 
I think the worst bit of being ill for me is the guilt of all that wasted time, I had big plans for this weekend just gone, I was going to put the proper floor down in the upstairs of the extension and sort out the chimney, but that didn't happen. 
Instead I watched films read some books and felt sorry for myself. 
Here's to a better week. I'm looking forward to doing some fun things with the kids (I normally work half term but my wife's school has a different one this year so I'll be work next week while she does the school run) and having a few productive evenings. 

Anyone else got anything fun planned for half term?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

More Veg Beds

While the boy sleeps I try to get some jobs done. A little two hour window sometimes exists, and i make sure I hit the ground running. 
Lately the main job has been to convert what was my young tree nursery back into veg garden.
This has been quite an undertaking. The perennial weeds certainly took hold around my trees, growing organically it wasn't a concern for the trees but it's taken some time to get the roots out for veg production again. Nettle have a fair root system on them when they get going! 

I think I've pulled out most of them though, I put some straw on each bed, divide them up with paving slabs and then put plastic on the top to stop nutrients washing away and anything growing until I want it to! Before i plant them properly I'll add some well rotted manure and other amendments depending on the crop.

I've still got a few beds to lay extra paths around and alter the size of further up the garden, but I feel that I'm getting there now. Not having the jungle of young trees at the bottom of the garden is already making it look tidier and hopefully I'll be able to start tackling the soft fruit garden as the weeds start growing again. 

With these at the bottom of the garden it should give me thirty 10ft by 30" beds. enough to do some serious growing, increase our self sufficiency and hopefully sell some surplus.

Who else has let an area go too far with weeds then regretted it as you try to get it back into production again?

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Guild Of Oca Breeders

If you read this blog then you'll know that I love experimenting with new crops. Every year I grow something new or different to try. 

For a few years now I've been growing Oca or New Zealand Yam and I've fallen in love with them a little bit. They taste great, don't suffer from disease, but have unpredictable yields. 

I think the best way I can sum up why I love them is their potential as a future food crop. 

I'm a sucker for carbohydrates and largely live on potatoes and wheat (bread, pasta), oats (breakfast) with a bit of rice thrown in! But in my quest for self sufficiency/reliance I'm always looking for new sources of carbohydrates that I could grow. 
Some yams sprouting ready to plant (this picture is from 2016)
One of the keys to self sufficiency is to grow a wide range of crops that could support you. Having a wide range of crops gives you a safety net, if one crop fails you have many more to feed you. 

As it stands the Oca isn't it, if you were banking on these tubers producing then there is a lot of years you'd end up going hungry. 

This is because they only start to produce tubers when the day length reaches 12 hours or less, and in the UK that means that the weather can have serious implications to yields and early killing frost, like we had this year, means the difference between two builders buckets full (2015 harvest) compared to just a handful (2016 harvest).

After my disappointing harvest last year I got looking on the internet to see what could be done to increase my yields, when I stumbled upon the Guild of Oca Breeders. This is a plant breeding club that is trying to develop a crop that isn't so day length sensitive and will perform much better in the northern hemisphere.

They are doing this by a process called recurrent mass selection, growing thousands of genetically diverse seedlings where the best are then selected and regrown for further testing. 

The exciting thing about this is that the potato was also adapted in a similar way. 

Another great thing is that all the genetic material is kept in the public domain under the Open Source Seed Initiative (something very important to me).

There are different levels of membership,  I've signed up as an "experimenter" So I'm setting aside a few garden beds to grow this crop and I'll be expected to perform certain tests (destructive harvests where the same named varieties are dug up at different times to compare yields). There are other levels of membership where you can sign up as a supporter and receive a selection of named varieties to grow in your garden or levels for more experienced gardeners involving cross pollination or raising seedlings. 

I'm excited about trying to developed a crop in my garden that could one day have an impact on what we eat. I'm also excited about using the collective knowledge of the guild to improve my growing, I love using opportunities like this to further my skills as a gardener.

If you're interested then click here to see what The Guild Of Oca Breeders is all about.

Who else grows Oca? 

And who else has had really variable yields?

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