Big day last Friday as the main growing section of the polytunnel got fitted out!
Thanks to the kind loaning of a 7.5 tonne truck the racking was picked up from storage and delivered on site.
After carefully measuring and levelling the foot pads the upright frame went up with literally an inch to spare!!
The idea is to build a platform on the beams at the base, on that we will put grow bags to start us off whilst the last section will be the hydroponic test area. This gives us the opportunity to learn about running such a system and then roll it out over the whole polytunnel as we gain confidence.
The tomato’s, cucumber and other vining plants will be trained up guide wires so eventually all you will see is a wall of green.
The main greenhouse had a gas fired water heating system that had been condemned. So after much toing and froing and the application of a reciprocating saw it has been pulled out.
Gas is something we just can’t afford to use at this time and we can’t generate enough of our own on site (more details to come) so we hit open the idea of using a rocket stove based water heater.
For those that have never heard of them, rocket stoves are essentially hyper efficient and well insulated burn chambers that convert the fuel into useable heat leaving nothing but ash. The whole process is called pyrolysis and occurs in a j shaped tube that allows air to mix freely with the site of combustion. We will be building a kitchen version into the outdoor cooking space.
Originally we were going to use the output to heat water but after reviewing the pluming arrangements we have decided to go with a rocket mass heater system. In this type of design the output heat is run through a large thermal mass which absorbs the heat and releases it back slowly.
I’m still amazed at how well built the greenhouse is. Whoever designed it was obviously inspired by the fourth bridge or the Graff Zeppelins of old. I swear I’m half tempted to fill some old bulk hard core bags with helium, undo the mounting brackets and float of on some perilous adventure like a modern day Phelias Fogg…
But a closer inspection of the airworthiness of my vessels revels some slight structural weakness in the rib construction. In the years this site was abandoned some of the aluminium bolts have corroded and the expansion and contraction of the frame has acted to shear some of them of.
76 in total. Which has also allowed some of the ribs to fall away from the spars. Remedial work needs to be undertaken before I set my self-adrift on a flight of whimsy.
It can get expensive buying that many bolts and nuts. The simplest solution is to buy some sections of threaded rod, 160 nuts of the right size and cut the bolts down to size as we fix the old girl up.
And whilst I’m doing that might as well look at resealing the glass when I’m up there.
And that’s about as far as I got with that particular tongue twister !!
But it did remind me of last Saturday in the sauna. Well less of a posh spa day and more like an episode of attack the weeds in the polytunnel. After being abandoned for four years the place was thick with thistles almost head high and im 6ft 4 !!
Any way the kids from the National Citizens Service did a wonderful job in the late summer heat, beating them down and generally taking out their teenage angst on the overgrowth of triffids. A job I certainly don’t begrudge them.
But like all fairy tale monsters they can never be truly killed. Dead doesn’t always mean DEAD..
And so Johnny’s back !!
This time though they are manageable so I’m getting in early and knocking them back before they get too big. Hopefully a combination of carbohydrate death (denying the plant the chance to store more energy than it expends in growing) and the fact that most of the polytunnel will be Deep Water Culture hydroponic tanks the day of the triffids will be postponed !
You may also notice the old post and wire system has been taken down…. making way for who knows what wonders !!
On Saturday the 1st of October we will be converting all those scrumdiddly umcious apples into a variety of pleasing drinks. Maybe an adult beverage or three.
This Saturday we will build a fruit press or two, sort through the good the bad and the beautiful and get pressing that apple juice.
We will also cover the cider making process, give some hints and tips on really basic, simple but effective brewing vessels to get you started without forking out a load of cash, how to preserve unfermented fruit juices and generally get soaked whilst laughing at each other.
click or tap the link for more details
The cost is £10 to cover running costs, hardware, our usual run to the chippy and the ever present need to put cash in the coffer to pay the bills.
It’s been four weeks since we were handed the keys to this place and its mysteries are slowly being revealed. Strange fences emerging from the sea of thistle, a sign post that doesn’t point anywhere and the jobs board with echoes … Continue reading →
Come and join us next Thursday (May 23rd) anytime from 6pm onwards as we begin to plant an Apothecary (food, herbs and medicinal plant garden) at Church View (just behind the Minster opposite Tesco car park) and find out how growing your own can make you healthier while saving you a shed load of money.
Please note the change of date on the following event…
PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will now be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on ‘Growing in a Small Space‘ at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 14th May (rather than the 7th as previously stated). We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.
PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on ‘Growing in a Small Space‘ at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 7th May. We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.