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With window of good weather presenting itself we decided that this is the week to get the polytunnel moved. We have already been planning this so we started by pulling back the material we had covering the spot where we want to move the tunnel to.
We then had to disassemble the polytunnel and chip away the concrete from the metal sections that held it into the ground. Once this was done we could dig the new holes which were carefully measured out. We used postcrete and a leveller to make sure we had everything just right as this part of the job will determine how sound the structure is. After the base poles were set we could fit the 3 arches and the beam that joined them all. The days are getting shorter and as we were losing light we decided that we should stop for the day.
Day two involved laying mypex around the base of the polytunnel, adding a base frame which will hold down the plastic, building the frames to hold the doors and adding 3 beams at the top which we will use to hold up the strawberry gutters (watch this space) and they will also make it easier for us to create supports for vine plants. Amazingly we thought all of this would only take the morning but yet again the sun was setting so we packed up for the night.
Day three and we were ready to skin the polytunnel. Thankfully we had some help since Hannah and Gavin were up and Jane came out to give us a hand too. Once we had most of the plastic in place Hannah and I ran off to make kimchi using a huge cabbage from the bed that used to be in the polytunnel while the other guys finished tightening the plastic.
Day four and James and I built the doors, stretched them with plastic and got them hung. With the tunnel tight and doors closed we put the min max thermometer in and went off to work on getting the main path back in good shape in preparation for the party coming up.
The week started off with a plan to finish moving the dirt from the area next to the garage where the chicken hut will go. Once this was done we started to repair the path which had be come a mess from the work we had been doing and from the large farm vehicles that had come to bail the hay from the meadows. Just as I was nearing the finish of this job the digger stopped moving. A pipe had burst so work stopped while investigated the situation.
Turns out that this pipe had obviously been an issue for sometime but it had been resolved by stuffing the box containing the pipe work with sand. This meant the leak was not longer obvious but as time passed the sand has just corroded the pipes and metal protecting the pipes. I have learned already from previous pipes breaking that you have to take the broken pipe into the hydraulic company so that you can get the appropriate replacement.
Cat and I decided we would complete the movement of the mud by hand. For Cat this actually meant by hand because the mud was so heavy and it was raining while we were working so she actually found it more effective to pick up lumps and throw them onto the pile then to shovel them. We each worked away and actually moved about 10 tons of mud! This is a classic example of how all your plans for the week can be greatly altered, this had already set us back a day and now we had to go to Inverness.
We set off very early on Thursday morning to Inverness and got the pipe sorted, did some shopping and got home in time to do a few jobs around the place.
On Friday we got a call and went to pick up some willow cuttings which we broke down and planted on 3 sides of the veg garden. The plan is to grow a willow hedge which we will weave into itself to create a wind breaker. Continued strimming the meadow edges and preparing area around outdoor toilets for the upcoming Halloween party.
Saturday we got up early and hit the lower meadow together, managed to strim all the edges and parts of Jimmy and Ian’s walk.
Step one – Find a good spot to build a raised bed approximately 6 inches high, fill it with a seaweed base (if you have access to that)
Step two- fill with soil
Step three- use a board on top of the soil, stand on it and stamp it to evenly press down the soil
Step four- cover with mypex, we use two long layers because of the size of our bed
Step five- Staple and pin your mypex down accordingly, our veg garden has strong winds from different directions so we wanted to make sure that our mypex top was super secure.
THIS IS THE BEST BIT
Step six- Get a kitchen blowtorch and burn holes in the mypex surface to create a space to plant each onion in. Use a trowel to pat the top of the mypex after the hole burns through to make sure the burning has stopped.
Step Seven- Plant your onions by pressing them into the soil so about half is sticking up. Put garlic in the first row of each end to discourage slugs, snails and other pests.
Can’t believe it is October already! Last week we had Sue come and visit the property and as we showed her around she gave us some tips and ideas. She worked at Inverewe Gardens for many years as their head propagator and now takes tourist on garden tours around the highlands. It was wonderful to hear her insights to the property and it gave us a lot of ideas to work with.
This week we have a big list of things to achieve and there are some epic rains and winds so we will have to work hard to get it all done.
First on the agenda is to weed the gravel path all the way around the house and the patio at the back need not only weeding but a general sort out and spray down with the high pressure hose so that the tiles are not slippery. We have decided to take the raised salad bed on the back patio down because it does not get enough sun and everything just goes to seed. There is nowhere else in the back that it can go either so we have decided to take it apart and use the wood elsewhere.
Later that same day…. As always one job leads to another and sometimes you know that new job you have spotted just has to wait and others times, like today, you realise that attention is needed. We have known that the whole guttering system around the house needs attention but while working outside in the pouring rain we begin to identify what some of the issues are and see where some attempted mends have made things worse.
While Cat continued with the weeding, I began to see what I could do about the gutters.
Next day back at it trying to finish of the job of weeding all the way around the house and creating a new flower bed for granny’s view out of the kitchen window.
It was a mixed day of sun and rain and midges but we have nearly finished the job.
Ended the day with the first fire of autumn in the the living room which was a nice way to wind down.
This evening a wonderful 4 days of amazing weather has come to an end but I think we have made the most of it. There has been a lot happening everyday and today the goal posts kept changing, being able to adjust your plans throughout the day is one of the very important skills to have here. This week I continued to remove dirt from the overgrown area next to the garage but as I was working I realised that now was the time to make a big change that I had been thinking about, which was to move the drain that runs from the upper field and veg garden to the centre of the gravel drive. By doing this I am able to cover the ditch to the side of the drive and give the water a more direct route to the drain on the other side.
As soon as I started this project the water started to flow naturally in this direction and all of the movement of dirt has revealed a ton of rock which will be useful in many areas.
We were not the only ones with our eye on the weather, the local farmer showed up this week to cut the fields and bail the hay to be taken away. People often ask about what we do to maintain such amazing meadows here and the secret is to leave them well alone until the autumn so that all of the seed heads can mature and drop before they are removed. The cutting and removing of all of the long dead shoots also helps the meadow to continue on more beautifully year after year.
Got the fire pile lit but it didn’t burn as well as I would have liked so I will need to pull it apart and cut it down before I light it again.
We received more rubble for the waterfall project and some top quality soil that will be great for the veg garden. We have started filling the onion bed with some of this soil as that was ready and the onions should be arriving soon.
Got a wood delivery for the pollytunnel today. We have been measuring and planning for movement of the tunnel and planning out how the beds in the polly tunnel will work and what we want to grown in them this year.
Cleared back all of the tomato plants from inside the greenhouse and started to clean it down.