9 hours of hard graft.

Got up early this morning, had a leisurely breakfast, then headed down to the plot about 9. We have a strip of land at the end of plot rows, about 10 feet deep, which is being kept clear to allow car parking. The one at the end of my strip has had the odd bit of junk dumped on it, which really needs tidying up a bit and some hardcore dumped in its place to stop it getting muddy.

I had the shed and polytunnel in the back of the Land Rover, so decided to reverse onto the parking strip so it was easier to offload. As I reversed up, I heard a crash and assumed I'd run over a glass bottle. Rolled forward a few feet and parked, then got out to check out the damage. Half expecting a slashed tyre I instead found a broken china ornament of a small child. Quite how it got to be there I have no idea. I picked the remains of it up and tossed it further up the plot - immediately feeling a slashing cut to my thumb. In a state of panic, I pressed the cut closed and held it for a while. When I eventually dared to take the pressure off, the blood was dripping steadily from it. I always carry a first aid kit in the other car, but don't have one in the Land Rover at the moment, so I scrabbled around desperately for something to stop the blood flow. Eventually, I found a strip of cloth and improvised a bandage, choosing to battle on rather than doing the sensible thing and going home to get a plaster.

First trip down to the plot involved lugging the polytunnel on my back. Fortunately, it had banding around the box, which made a handy handle I could use to hold it over my shoulder. Back to the car, then second trip down to the plot with the shed. It was at this point I realised that lugging 40 kilos the 60m or so to the plot was going to be hard work single handed.

As I picked it up for the first time, holding it behind my back, I managed to get it half way up my back and nicely stable. Staggering 20 metres or so I then stopped for a rest before picking it up again. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the same position as before, so I dragged, lifted and struggled the remaining way before collapsing in a heap at the corner of my plot.

3rd tip back to the car for tools, then I was all set to start the build up.

First thing to tackle was the shed. I'd bought a 6x4 metal shed, which I've heard a lot of negative comments about, but it was cheap and will do the job until I can afford a better one. I'd also heard they were a nightmare to build and come in a million pieces but, to be honest, I found it a pretty simple task even on my own. The main walls went together fine, with just one minor issue - one of the wall reinforcement bars was missing. Not a major issue though, as I can improvise something stronger out of pallet wood anyway.

I actually thought the whole thing was quite nicely designed and engineered - until I came to put the roof on, only to find that the fixings were a bit poor, with odd holes drilled though the sheets in places where there are no screws. I'm going to go back tomorrow armed with drill bits to add a few extra fixings to firm the whole thing up a bit. I've also got some self adhesive soundproofing sheets, which I think I'll probably use to damp the wall panels and doors.

By lunchtime, I had the shed completed as one of the old boys on the plot came over for a chat. Turns out he used to be the tenant on my plot, but gave it up and moved to another so he could give one of the older tenants some space and a helping hand. He was a great old boy, with tales of how the village used to be when the railway still passed through. I'd have loved to have spent longer chatting to him, but was constantly thinking about how I needed to get on, so slightly relieved when he wandered off. It was great to meet someone who knew the plots going back decades, but there's plenty of time to learn all their wisdom another day!

A few bites to eat and a coffee then I set to building the polytunnel. Again, it was dirt cheap and probably won't last long, but will do for now. It went up pretty quickly, but was a bit of a hassle to get the cover on and I ended up with one corner where the cover doesn't fit too well. I bent the legs in as far as possible to try and compensate, so it's a bit wonky now, but looks reasonable enough.

With the tunnel up, I then dug a trench and earthed the cover in, then carried on digging, starting bed preparation inside the tunnel. Half of me wants to drop a rope or cable from the centre tube and to secure it down to a slab in the middle to ensure the tunnel stays put, but it would be a bit of pain to manoeuvre around once I start planting, so I guess I'll just take my chances. Might do it before winter though in case we get strong winds.

Shed and polytunnel up, I dug a pit and had my first bonfire, burning the bits of packaging which I didn't want to put on the compost heap. Then dug the compost heap walls in to stabilise them and created a bed beside the polytunnel. Knocked the bottom out of a bucket and sunk it into the newly created bed for my Horseradish, which is starting to grow nicely on the kitchen windowsill.

With the polytunnel in place, I could finalise the position for the shed, so I shifted it around, levelled it as much as possible then staked it down. Finally, I earthed up the sides in the hope of keeping any local wildlife out.

As I finished the shed, I spotted what I'm sure is a Strawberry plant just starting to shoot up from the path, so I unearthed it and moved it into the polytunnel. It looks a bit scrawny and may well die, but I love decent home grown Strawberries so it was worth a shot anyway. They're so much better than the force grown ones you buy from supermarkets these days. I bought some a couple of times last year - generally outside the UK growing season, and threw most of them away.

Stopped to take a few pictures before leaving and realised how dark it was getting. By the time I got back to the car, it was just short of 6.30pm. Came home exhausted but happy and, as I locked the gate to the plots and got back into my car, a few spots of rain were beginning to fall. A nice overnight downpour would be good so I can work the soil more easily over the next few days. Might also help my ill fated peas to germinate.

As I write this, it's beginning to blow a light gale outside. I just hope I earthed the polytunnel and staked the shed well enough. Really don't want to go back and find I need to do it all over again!

Shopping day tomorrow. Need to go to Tesco first thing to buy food, then I'm stopping off to pick up a couple of recycled 220 litre barrels to use for water butts. Found them on eBay and they look ideal. Nice terracotta colour and complete with screw on lids.

Once I've done that, I need to dash home, drop the food off, then head to Homebase for water butt plumbing, guttering for the shed, some compost and a wheel barrow. Assuming I can walk come tomorrow morning - I spent ages in the shower upon arriving home, but still ache like crazy!

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March 18, 2010 В· admin В· No Comments
Tags: ,  В· Posted in: Construction, Polytunnel, Shed

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