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.
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.
An interesting little experiment is afoot. Well little might be an understatement but you’ve got to try these things now and again.
We’ve had a lot of cardboard tubes delivered from a local carpet recycling business, more than we actually have ideas to use them up. So plan B comes into effect.
One of the first things I’ve thought of is to chop them up, a travesty I’m sure, and soak them back down into pulp. Once we have that we can make them into fuel logs and briquettes to help provide heat for the buildings over the winter.
But in the interest of generating a revenue from what others through away there’s nothing to stop us inoculating that pulp with mushroom spawn and stuffing it into some of the tubes turning them into little mycelium powerhouses.
Cardboard is essentially finely chopped up trees in the form of cellulose and if there’s one thing mycelium (the actual root network that fruits the mushrooms we all know so well) does well is break down and consume the molecule lignin that makes up cellulose.
It does this by breaking the long chain carbohydrate into shorter chain carbohydrate. Or sugar as we call it.
I’ll go into more detail about soil ecology in a later post but to suffice to say, we will have a source of heat, a soil building activity and mushrooms with both health and culinary use.
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 !!
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.
Well, It’s a new year and a new you. So hello to you !!
After much ado this year that has kept us pretty busy we are officially launching the DUG network in the salutation inn on January the 24th at 7PM
I’m sure your asking what the hell all this is about, so sit down put on your slippers and get comfy because I’m about to tell you !
DUG was created to help folks like yourselves take that first tentative step into the wonderful and exhilarating world of home grown food. Maybe the ever rising costs, especially fresh local produce, brought you to our door. Maybe it’s a concern about industrial practice or just a desire for a simpler better way of life. Whatever the reasons we welcome you with open arms to our friendly fraternity…
DUG is here to fill that gap between allotments and their associations and farmers and their experience. Here you will find like minded people, all with a story, a hint or a tip to help you get started, fight of those bugs and get the best out of your plot no matter how big or small. You don’t need an acre of garden or an allotment to grow loads of fresh high quality ingredients. In fact we think you’ll be surprised just how much you can cram into even a terrace garden with a bit of know-how.
Our vision, our aim here at DUG HQ is to see Doncaster turned into a food lovers paradise, a garden of plenty with little urban farms dotted through out or great borough.