It is Monday 18 th Feb. The weather is in a bit of a tussle at the moment hovering between nice and warm and cold and windy. Despite that we are told to expect a warmer week. As far as I can make out the worst of the weather is behind us as we approach Spring. Well all I can say is wait and see. I am more concerned about any frost we may still get and by that I mean a hard frost lasting days. Why is that I hear you ask? Well after lunch today it became rather warm and sunny so I made the decision to remove the frost protection I had provided for the more susceptible plants we have in the garden namely the Phoenix Canariensis (palms). Last year they took a battering from the easterly winds which brought about a severe frost. We seem to have been fortunate this year and the weather has even been unduly warm. So off I went into the garden and guess what happened? The sun went in and the wind picked up and it became much cooler. No matter it was just cool and not freezing! After I had returned indoors say half an hour later the sun re-emerged the sky went blue and everywhere warmed up again. Just typical of my ‘good’ fortune. One of the bags in which the pebbles had been delivered came in very useful for storing the pieces of bubble-wrap I had used to protect the plants. They can be used again though I did purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap which would last for years.
Hopefully there will be no hard frost in the remaining weeks of Winter. This morning I had taken a longer walk than I had done for months and walked southward to Ainsdale taking the coastal road. I wasn’t that warm even though there was a south to south-westerly breeze. I walked down to the beach there, lovely at any time of year. The tide was just turning as I arrived and was beginning to recede but was still high upon the beach. I didn’t stop there too long because of the wind exposure and turned toward the dunes to make my way back home. It was the first time this year I had taken that route. There was far more shelter from the wind in the dunes though the line of trees and undergrowth on my left afforded the most protection. To my right were the main part of the dunes the other side of which lies the coastal road. By this time the sun had appeared and was warming by back from the right. I met a couple of people walking their dogs and one or two others out jogging. Finally I was back home and having an early lunch as I had skipped breakfast but feeling well and invigorated.
Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..
The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!
Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about purchasing a plastic-covered tunnel with which to use to protect a couple of the Phoenix Canariensis plants we have in the rear garden. The other three could be more easily protected but these two had proved difficult to protect over the last couple of years. Last year if you remember we had a severely cold snap which damaged some of the plants, these two especially. However, they started to recuperate during the summer months and I didn’t want them to suffer again this winter so I purchased the tunnel. A week or so ago E and I erected the steel frame an d we were going to leave it that way for a few more weeks but on Sunday (11 th) I decided not to wait and I placed the plastic cover over it. Surprisingly it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it might be.
I needed a step ladder of course and I had wanted to use the larger of the two I had in the garage but it had been stored temporarily behind the scaffolding tower and the smaller ladder was also trapped in the same way. I moved the scaffolding pieces to free the ladders but then decided the smaller of the two would suffice. Whilst doing that I noticed a small patch of water on the floor near to the door. The roof had sprung a leak. Now it had only been a matter of a few days since I asked E to call her nephew to sort out the problem as he had done the alteration work on the roof in the first place. At the time he had used this ‘special’ paint (all singing and all dancing apparently) but weeks later there was an enormous leak and he had the work redone. Well a few days ago he returned to carry out repairs to another but smaller leak. Now he has to return yet again to repair this one! So much for the ‘special’ paint! I think he should have stuck with the bitumen and felt covering.
There’s a popular (?) tv program in the UK called ‘You’ve been framed’ whereby viewers can send in clips of mishaps they or others have had the misfortune to endure and it is broadcast for all to see. Each clip broadcast rewards the sender with £250. I was ‘framed’ if you like when I erected this with lots of help from E….
….and if it had been recorded it might have made the program! I began the work by myself but after fifteen frustrating minutes I had to enlist the help of E. As with most self-assembled units the instructions are not all that easy to follow and by me especially. I seem to have the knack of getting it wrong and then getting angry because I experience problems which if truth be known don’t actually exist! E came outside after my insistence that she wear warm clothing for it was a cold October day even though the sun was shining. In a matter of minutes she had things sorted. What I had failed to do was to recognise the numbered parts and indeed the large components were all numbered. I just hadn’t noticed and had been trying to identify them from the drawing. The drawings never seem to look like the things they are supposed to be representing do they? Perhaps a photograph would be more useful. We began the assembly, though it was only myself doing the assembling whilst E held the parts which needed supporting. Finally we ended up with the structure you see and we lifted it up to sit on the patio walls. I had to add some supports to the frame where it overhangs the patio deck by using two lengths of plastic pipe secured using ‘Jubilee clips’. When it is time we shall be putting the plastic covering over it to protect the plants in the raised bed from severe wind and frost during the colder months.
Before the cover goes on I shall be fitting some eye bolts on the walls to secure it using the tie ropes supplied. Its actual purpose is a growing tunnel but it will be equally as good in the use we make of it.
Do you find yourself discovering a way to do something but later on find out there might have been a better way to do it? During my experiences in the electrical industry that was often the case for me. I have to say though after years of working in the industry the better way to do things came naturally, well for most of the time. Last winter we had some really nasty weather for a couple of weeks and some of the garden plants suffered as a result. I was therefore determined to find a better solution or an easier way of implementing the precautions I had taken at that time. The plants which suffered were those where the protection I had provided had come adrift. During the year I have been giving much consideration in regards to finding that easier solution. I had fixed some anchoring points by which to secure the protection around the two small beds on the patio but they were the easy ones to protect. One is shown below and the plant at risk from frost damage is the fan palm.
The longer of the three beds shown below is the one most difficult to protect as wrapping the two fan palms isn’t as easy at it sounds especially if the older leaves are to be protected from wind damage too.
I had purchased some bubble wrap and bamboo canes earlier this year and was going to use them to construct a makeshift frame to cover the whole bed but having given that idea much thought since then I think I have come up with a better idea, I decided to purchase a walk-in ‘tunnel’ to place over the top of the bed. Designed for use as an alternative to a greenhouse for growing certain plants under cover the tunnel would be the ideal solution and probably much sturdier. As the one I have purchased is two metres in width it will overhang the bed on the inside and make access to the bed possible if required. Of course it will need support beneath the overhang and some fixing points with which to tie it down.
As far as the bubble wrap and canes are concerned they will still be used in the bed adjacent to the patio as planned.