Garden Construction, Apples are in Bloom

The garden is definitely getting going now. The pears and plums have more or less finished flowering, and now it’s the turn of the apples:

Fiesta apple in flower

And while the plants have been doing their thing, the humans have been doing theirs. We’ve finished a couple of garden construction projects over the last couple of weeks, in preparation for the spring.

Compost Bins

Until recently, I didn’t have a compost bin, I had a heap. And all was well… but four years of growth produced a heap 4m wide, 2m deep and 2m tall that was over-flowing the corner behind the garage where it was living. The solution was three 1m x 1.5m x 1m compost bins made of breeze blocks, which will hopefully last for a lifetime or two. My father generously built them, since he’s much handier with non-green things than I am, and I spent a day or two sorting the pile into woody, non-woody, and already composted, and spreading some of the compost-y centre over the rest of the garden. The next step is probably to burn the woody waste and mix the ash in with the rest.

The saddest part of the entire process was depriving lots of tiny creatures of a home. I found so many frogs, toads, spiders, centipedes, and wood lice that I lost count, and I also found a mouse nest with three baby mice in it. I tried to rehouse them in a small bucket filled with straw in case their mother returns, but I suspect they won’t make it. The whole thing made me feel a bit sad and guilty, but I’m not sure what else I could have done. Maybe I should have done it in the winter (but the mice might be hibernating in there then)? Their little nest was full of sunflower seed shells, proving that it wasn’t just the birds and the squirrels harvesting our sunflowers last autumn.

New compost bins


Cold Frame

Last year, we fitted an extra two roof vents to the greenhouse, which left us with two large panes of toughened glass in need of a home. I decided to use one of them as the lid of a cold frame. It took most of this afternoon for me to put it together using a mix of new and recycled materials – the walls are made of new decking boards, but the roof is entirely old timber, glass and fixings I had lying around. Despite the less than professional look it’s pretty solid and I’m quite pleased with it.

The only problem is the weight. It’s incredibly heavy and hard for me to move on my own. I just about dragged it to the spot I’d designed it to fit, only to stand back and decide that I didn’t like it there. The garden is very plant dominated, and a wall of brown right in sight of the house feels wrong to me somehow, so I’ve measured up and found somewhere else to put it. I’ll probably also reduce the height a little, since 80cm is a bit too much. I’ll have to wait until someone with big muscles visits though to help me shift it…

The new cold frame