Lair aka Grow House Completed

The Lair (Grow House) has now been officially finished, populated and named.

It is a lot posher than originally anticipated – almost regal. Accordingly, the Lair has been named (over a bottle of Prosecco), ‘Air Hair’ !

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What’s Growing Well

I find this topic fascinating myself, so I thought I’d add my bit of information on what is growing well around Guildford, UK, now (end of April).

Ground Elder 

In my last posts, I detailed Ground Elder which is in full swing and, I believe, best eaten as young shoots and leaves and raw.

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Oregano

Then there is naturalised Oregano i.e. it’s done the plant equivalent of going feral – we have tons of the stuff so I’m going to try and make some pesto with it:

http://www.cook-italian.com/weblog/2009/03/italian-recipes-basil-and-oregano-pesto-with-walnuts.html

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Lemon Balm

And we also have some Lemon Balm that’s just kicking off and will be carpeting the place within a few weeks.

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There will be so much of this stiff growing here that I will have to use it for multiple things. The good bit is, it smells wonderful just cut, bunched up and hung around the place. It helps keep mossies at bay. Also good to add to bar-b-ques, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for those!

http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/lemon-balm-mosquito-repellent-zmaz07aszsto.aspx

 

Ground Elder – Tasting Notes

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Ground elder does seem to be a popular leaf, so I thought this update would be useful. After my last post, we steamed the leaves with some butter (like you would spinach) and ate them with some pasta. The shoots were firm and the taste was good. The leaves were also very tasty with a surprising aromatic aniseed/ fennel overtone. My son and wife liked it overall, but held at one portion each, so I ate most of the dish.

I went out and picked some of the fresh leaves to sample again today, and I must say they are much better raw – with a very nice rich parsley taste and a hint of aniseed. So, we’ll be having them raw in salads from now on – until they flower of course!

Grow House – Glazing is In

I have now panelled the inside of the the grow-house, put in some shelving and added the glazing. The glazing is amazing stuff: light, crystal clear, not too wobbly (4mm thick) and cheaper than glass. I’m using clear polycarbonate and fitting it with silicon and some recycled beading. The beading was a tad fiddly, but the end effect has been superb, and since it’s all been re-purposed – for free.

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Ground Elder – Goats Foot – Roman Spinach

Apparently the Romans loved this stuff so much they brought it with them to the UK. It spreads like wild-fire here. I have eaten it in the past and it tasted ok, with a fairly strong aniseed after taste. Have read up on it recently: the young shoots are the best tasting. I can confirm that they are delicious – even when eaten raw – like a tasty parsley. The younger shoots are markedly brighter green. I even have a variegated variety though it’s not quite as rampant as they rest. A word of warning: the taste gets stronger as the plants grow as does its its laxative effect after it has flowered!

Will be steamed for a couple of minutes and then a knob of butter added just before eating!

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Hay Bale Growing

I had a look around at some of the best ways of growing vegetables in a smallish area and came across hay bale growing.

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First – locate a good hay bale (not straw) cheap supplier. I found a great one in the Farnham, Surrey area – each bale priced at around £6 each, delivered. The hay smelt wonderful in the sun – reminded me of when I was a kid playing around on a farm!

Then soak them regularly with nitrate rich fertiliser.

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Let them compost internally for a few weeks.  In the first few weeks loads of small flies seemed to love them, but these have now disappeared – thankfully.

The pictures below are after 5 weeks composting and they are ready for planting.

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You can use natural liquid fertiliser (yes – that – suitably diluted!). Or make one from rich compost and water mixed together.

We have a garden pond which I skim with a net every week or so. When I added the pond skimmings to some of the hay bales the effect was very noticeable. The bales with the skimmings added to them have noticeably more creepy crawlies than the other hay bales – interesting!

Next up – planting.

Grow House – Lining

The Grow House is coming along nicely now. Using loads of salvaged material – this time old insulation re-cut. Not quite as messy as I had imagined, but needs a strong sharp knife instead of a saw if you want to keep the number of flying bits down.

Next steps:

  • add plywood lining to cover insulation;
  • add glass/ plastic to frames;
  • fit parliament door hinges – so that door can hinge backwards properly;
  • sort out area around shed (levelling/ trimming);
  • plug the gaps – to stop the mice and slugs; and
  • make it look pretty (on wife’s orders!).

VW California Mud-flaps

These mud-flaps are a great addition to my Vdub California Bus from  Veedub Transporters (www.veedubtransporters.co.uk ). Stops the rear door and any bikes I’m carrying getting so messy. Instructional video very useful and dead easy to fit – 3 screws per side.

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Does her rear look good in these? Yes I think so!

Grow House – Developing Nicely

The grow house is coming along nicely. I had to chop the re-purposed patio doors down to size. My rotary saw failed, the blade on an old one was too small, so we had to wheel out the big boy. It took two of us to slide the doors through the saw. Not too much cursing and relatively straight cuts!

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We tried the first door for size – perfect!

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Six doors later, came the front fitting:

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Then with a little help from #2 son we peeled off the west facing wall with a reciprocating saw – it worked like magic.

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This is where I put two more of the doors, one hinged to provide some very useful garden access to the grow-house.

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Now, just need to fill in the gaps, order some polycarbonate glass and polish it off. Should be ready for its first plant inhabitants in the next couple of days.

 

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Build A Grow-house

One of my objectives this year is to grow more vegetables – much more. To this end I have kicked off two projects: a hay bale growing bank and a grow-house.

The grow-house is an old shed I am converting into a glass fronted semi-greenhouse. The front of it usefully faces SSE.

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I had to evict the current tenants. I think I was a lot more scared of them than they were of me!

These spiders were not small – around around 4- 4.5 cms long! I had the distinct feeling that they were eyeing me up for dinner.

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Then off came the front of the shed with a little help from an oscillating multi-tool saw – magic!

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The opening windows off the old shed front proved to be just what I needed for some side vents.

With a little help from my Lidl cordless jigsaw they were fairly easily relocated.

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It’s beginning to take shape.

Next step: I have six old wooden patio doors that I will cut down to size and need to fit with Perspex.

Four of them will fit nicely across the front and the other two will go on to the west facing side (opposite new vents).

Then I just have to get to get rid of the old Jeep wheels and a dozen bags of old clothes – and move in!