Saturday, 30 March 2013

Allotment Week - Greenhouse - Part 3

Surely it must be nearly done by now? No it seems that putting the glazing in is a really time consuming job for one person.
You first have to add rubber beading to each position that the glass has to go in. You cannot have glass directly touching the metal otherwise thermal expansion would ensure you get a crack or three. The beading comes in one long coil of the stuff. You cannot let any grit or dirt get into it and the same goes for the frame so you have to keep it off the ground. Fortunately it fits around the top of the steps (pillaged from the equipment store again). you can just see the beading on the roof truss top left.

Once you have the beading in then you have to clip each pane of glass in with a spring like clip. Believe me this is not so easy. I got a couple of broken fingernails before I found a suitable tool for the job. Fortnately an old plastic spoork was found buried in the soil and provided an ample opportunity to earn it's keep.
Tools of the trade. Knife for cutting beading, spoork for clipping in the metal clasps (seen in the middle of the step), a piece of the beading, and the clips used to join two panes of glass together (next to spoork). All. artfully posed. NB. I don't leave to blade exposed during work. Safety first!

I soon managed to get things sorted and get the roof on.
I was on site at 9am this morning and by 5pm when I called it quits for the day, I had finally got three sides done.
Just the front and door to go. I feel like I could sleep until next week. Still more to do.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Allotment Week - Greenhouse - Part 2

Now I have sides in pieces all over the allotment. Time to turn it into a skeleton ready to accept the glazing.
 This was kind of difficult, mainly because it was just me again. (I can't tempt the wife out on a freezing cold day).
But I managed to get it upright (after raiding the equipment store for stepladders again). Once I got all the roof bracing in place I was thinking of the long term position of the greenhouse on the plot.

The original idea was to have the entrance facing next door's shed (as shown in the photo above) with the greenhouse positioned north/south. Now this would give me equal sun during the day on both sides. But when the plants and staging get put in then things may need a little tweaking. I took a wander around the site to see how other people had positioned theirs. It was about 50/50 between north/south and east/west. Since I have bought a single 8ft staging section I decided that it would be best situated on the sunny side. And for ease of access I think having the opening facing the shed would make things better. So I turned the whole thing through 90 degrees. This was done by the simple expedient of placing two long boards which will be used for the beds (one board is shown above) underneath the edges and lifting the whole thing up on my shoulders and turning it around.

Once it was placed in the new position I dug out holes and a trench for the base. The say the corners should be concreted in place, but I don't think that is necessary. It's not  that windy on the site being surrounded on all four sides by houses. So now we have the greenhouse in it's final resting place. All the loose nuts and bolts have been tightened up. Many are only finger tight, but the more important ones (corners, roof and base) and solidly done up with the supplied spanner.
The instructions also say that it should be absolutely level as well. It's not. There is a slight downward slope from the door entrance to the back. The back is where I will place the rain water butts and I'll put the piping in so that the gutters run into these. Better to have it captured there than just pooling everywhere. Tomorrow will be the final stage where I put the glazing in, and fix the door.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Allotment Week - Greenhouse - Part 1

It's another cold day down the allotment. Temperatures hovering around 3C. Not the best time for handling cold metal.

Delivery was at 9am(ish). The driver could not get his truck (a big 26 ton thing) down the allotment road so had to drop off the greenhouse makings by the entrance. By the time I had managed to get it all in I felt like I had done a days work. Moving that lot in this cold air did not do my asthma any favours. But I managed to get it all in - mainly by raiding the equipment store again for a sack truck. This battle promised to be a tricky one and it seemed like the greenhouse was off to a 1-nil lead.
First things first. The position of the greenhouse is currently occupied by a whole load of sieved topsoil. So this needs to be moved and the place levelled properly.
Once that was done, I proceeded to lay out all the bits. Working in the cold with fiddly nuts and bolts meant I couldn't wear any gloves. (Maybe I should invest in some fingerless gloves...) But the hardest part was figuring out the instructions. Fortunately I have a black belt in Ikeajitsu so it wasn't too bad. The battle seemed to be pretty even at this point. Probably a 1-all draw.
I started with the sides so I could get an idea of how the thing all fits together. It's not so bad. The system is simple and consistent. Just a lot of fiddly bits.
By this time I realised that the greenhouse has played a flanking manoeuvre. The base units were put in the wrong way round and I had to undo them, flip the base and re-do them. 2-1 to the greenhouse. Once both side were sorted, I made a start on the end gable.
And finally the door gable.
Having successfully dealt with all the main bits I guess the battle stands at 2-apiece. By this time my fingers were numb so I decided that in this battle, retreat is the better course of action. The war will progress further tomorrow. I'm going home to sit in a nice hot bath.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Allotment Week - I has a shed

Ta daa!
Whilst the rest of the UK is suffering 8ft Snow drifts, here in "sunny" London there are little whisps of snow drifting about and it's only about 0c.

So I was on site at about 8am this morning. They said that he shed would be delivered between 8am and 10am. So the first job of the day before they arrive is to start shovelling the mound of soil into a single linear "bed". It's going to take a while to get through the mound, so I have been advised that the best thing to do is pile it all up, stick some weed membrane over it and plant my courgettes in it. Seems like a sensible idea as the ground is way to damp for sieving it.

But no sooner has I started than a small flatbed truck turns up with a huge pile of wood. Fortunately it was not all for me as the driver had other deliveries to make, but I was first on the list. So a quick offload and I start with the basic ingredients.
Now the platform I built was a little larger than the footprint of the shed. Not a problem, but it does mean that I have to be careful how I position it. I decided that he best bet is to put the shed as far back as possible so that the grape vine can grow up and over. So the florr gets nailed down to the platform. I had to pre-drill the nail holes to prevent to wood splitting as I used the large size nails that I made the platform with.

Now the sides. A word to the wise. Never try and put up a shed on your own in a wind. It was no end of hassles. My fingers were going numb. As was the tip of my nose (the rest of my head was covered with a full face balaclava so I was nice and warm. But trying to get the first side and door gable up was a real nightmare. In the end I had to put some nails into the wood that I will be using for the beds and nail them to the sides to get them to stay. Whilst I started getting the huge coach bolts, which hold it all together, put in. Once I had the four sides then it was a lot more stable.
Ah the roof. Here is the downfall of my plan to put the shed on a platform. It's too high. Fortunately being a Committee member I have a key and access to the equipment storage area, so off I trot to the other side of the road (the Allotments are split in two by Martin Way - hence the name Martin Way Allotments) a grab a tall ladder from the store. But of course the ground is quite soft and it took a bit of balancing the get everything done. But I managed in the end.
The shed is not quite finished. According to the instructions, I am supposed to tack the roofing felt underneath the gables. Well it is just too damn cold and the felt is too stiff and seems to want to split if I do that. So I think that is going to have to wait until spring is finally here.

Waddya mean it is here? You could have fooled me. I want a warm room and a hot drink.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Allotment Week - Saturday

Wake up to snow. This is not off to a good start.

I have 4 days holiday left over from last year. So I decided that they would be best spent down the Allotment. Today sees the influx of the new allotment holders.

I have recently received all the tenant data from the Council. Now we're going fully self managed there is a lot of paperwork to sort out. Most important is the names and addresses of the tenants of the site. We have "sort of" had this data for a while. That is to say that we have a main list, but not a complete one. Nor do we have a full list of plots. So when I received the data in a spread sheet, the first thing I did was to put it into something a little more manageable. So I created a small database to handle the data. This immediately showed up some anomalies. Such as missing plots, and plots which were the wrong size. It also gave us a list of plots that were vacant. Those and the plots that have been handed back to us by tenants giving up their plots meant we have some vacancies to reduce our 2 year waiting list. New prospectives were contacted and offered a position.

So here are 7 more eager beavers joining the rest of us on a freezing cold morning on the allotments. Normally we would hold this in the marquee, but as winter still hasn't released it's grip on us, this has not yet been erected. We we offer tea and biscuits inside the shop where we are somewhat warmer and give the necessary talks to introduce them to the system.

I am drafted to help show some of the newbies around and show them their new plot. As it turns out, their new plot is right next to mine. So welcome on board James on plot 31.

This was one of the plots that was handed back to us by a very nice couple who have decided that as they are getting on a bit in life, the allotment is getting a bit much for them. But they have worked their plot really well and have beds nicely laid out. So the new tenant is really happy with his plot. I look forward to meeting him later in the week/year, when the weather is a little warmer.

Now I know this is supposed to be a week of working on the plot. But I'm afraid my fingers really don't work well in the freeze cold. So I head home to put my feet up in the warmth and plan the rest of the week. Tomorrow looks out as well. But Tuesday is when I have a shed being delivered and Thursday is the greenhouse delivery, so I really have to be out and about some time. But today I am calling in a tactical retreat.