Plot 1 is the initial Plot of land taken on by Rutland Bonsai Therapy, work first started on 07 May 2015.
It is approximately 250 Square Meters and had been untended for around 3 years.
As you can see, it needed a lot of work as weeds had run riot and the land had not been worked for years. It would take many hours of backbreaking work with a fork to turn the soil, and then hunt through the soil to remove as much weed as possible to make it ready for further cultivation and then planting.
The main aim of Plot 1 is to establish growing beds for Bonsai Trees, Flowers and some Vegetables.
Plot 1 Gallery.
Gallery of images of the initial work done on Plot 1 in 2015.
May was all hard physical work, lot’s of running around in the car picking up items that had been generously donated, a lot of bending down and picking out weed roots and hours spent with garden fork in hand in some lovely sunny weather and lots of sweaty therapeutic digging.
Mid June brought some hot sunny weather after a week of colder wet weather, so a keen eye was kept for new weeds springing up while still cracking on with getting the Shed base sorted as it was becoming vital the Shed got put up so Items could be stored on Plot 1 and also some shelter was on offer from the sun and rain during breaks. The idea for having facilities to make a Coffee by now were also going from a “Wouldn’t it be nice” notion to a “It’s becoming a necessity!”
Now the Shed had been treated and enough paving for the base had been donated, the area picked for the Shed to go was cleared and roughly levelled and some sand bought to start laying the foundation. Then came the fun part of playing Jigsaw with the slabs to get the area required covered without wasting any of the precious paving and the very therapeutic joy of stomping the slabs into place to help level them!
During all this fun, some Lettuce & Onion seeds were sown in rows, the Sweet Corn seeds growing off site got their first potting on after 10 days from being sown, another week or so and they should be ready to bring onto Plot 1 to go in the 2 rows already dug out for them! All that needs to happen then is lots of Hot Sunny weeks for them to mature and give a nice bumper crop of stunning Sweet Corn!
Also happening off site, various Flower and Tree seeds have been sown into Seed trays and pots.
While these are propagating the rest of the hard work on Plot 1 will continue till the Seeds reach Seedling stage and have had their first potting on. Hopefully the timing will work out well and as soon as they are ready to go in the ground they will be ready and hardened off so will thrive.
To allow Rutland Bonsai Therapy to get a head start or prolong the growing season, or even care for plants that are not doing well, the use of a Grow Tent is helpful. Allowing the control of Temperature, Humidity and regulate Light. This can make for an ideal start for seeds and young Seedlings.
Now the seeds trays off site were starting to sprout and new seed had been ordered it was time to start pushing the trays out to Plot 1.. This meant the Shed needed to get put up and fast…
Enough Paving slabs and Flags had been donated by this point to form a base for the Shed, a bag of cement and some sand was purchased and then when I had a few days where the weather was going to be warm and dry the cement was mixed up and the Flags levelled (Well, sort of… More about this in a moment.)
I had to wait a few days for perfect weather to erect the Shed on Plot 1.
It’s very exposed and while the wind hasn’t been much over 12 mph or so, it’s a bit much when trying to sling it up on my own.
Then a night came along and the forecast was perfect, 4mph, bit hot and humid but sweating is good for you.
Grabbed my toolbox, cordless drill & even grabbed the spare battery even though I’d hardly used the one on the drill much recently since it’s last charge; in fact only to undo the Shed when we took it down. also grabbed the anchoring bolts and Masonry drill bits to bolt the Shed onto the freshly laid and concreted together Paving and headed off down the Plot with a load of Sweet Corn to be planted also.
Bunged the Sweet Corn in no worries, sweating buckets by the time I had mind you as the humidity was really kicking up, due a storm I think, or I hope anyway. Rutland has a large body of water that creates it’s own microclimate so the weather here can be odd to say the least.
Then for the fun part, got my drill out, grabbed the Masonry bits then started looking for the wood bits, ooops, not in my little tool box…
Hey-ho, the Masonry bit will go through the wood. Not as effectively as the Wood bit would do mind you but in for a Penny.
Sprayed the bit with some GT85 and set about drilling guide holes through the wood and marking the Paving slabs, then drilled through with the 10mm bit to get the hole large enough to accept the bolts and raw plugs.
Shifted the base a little to get to the marked drill sites, Hammer action on, first hole into the slabs with hardly any effort, move onto the second hole and the first battery does dead on me, ah well, no issue, I got the spare right?
Yeah, probably guessed it, dead as a Dodo.
Glad all the other plots were empty as some of the swear words were choice and would of been enough to make a Marine blush.
23rd of June.
No guts, no glory?
I made sure all batteries for all the tools got a full charge this time and made sure I grabbed the Wood Drill Bit I had forgotten last time I attempted to put up the Shed.
Hey, I never said it would be easy, but it was sure a lot of fun!
Finally got The Shed up! 🙂
I had to pick a day where the wind was low and of course it’s always nice to work outside under warm sunny Blue skies.
Today was pretty much ideal, so after a few false starts, I eventually manhandled the Shed onto the base and the JCB drill made short work of putting the Back, Front, Sides and Roof on.
The most problematic part of the build was oddly enough putting the rubber roof cover on and the trim to secure it into place. Getting the rubber material onto a wooden roof suuuuuuuuucked, but I managed it eventually.
I had to take some gentle well mannered ribbing from friends and other plot holders due to the fact the Shed was slightly on an angle, but given the plots are all sloping somewhat I wasn’t that upset.
I set too the day after the Shed was put up and got busy. As mentioned above, I had seed trays with seeds sprouting off site that needed to get brought down to Plot 1 urgently, so for that to happen I needed to make some Staging to put the seed trays on. The seedlings were starting to get desperate for more sunlight as the place I germinated them is fine for the early stages of propagation, but once the seeds start to sprout there is not enough sunlight for them to continue growing in a strong and healthy manner.
3 Pallets, some spare timber, a handful of Decking screws and of course my trusty JCB drill; 30 minutes later I had staging built and screwed into the front of the Shed. While I had all these bits out I made use of them again and rebuilt the Ladder Garden that had been donated. It isn’t in the best of condition; but a few screws, a couple of smacks with a hammer and it was screwed into the Shed side wall. I plan to use the Ladder Garden as a template and build my own once I get some decent timber and some Decking for now though it will do for some of the Flower seedlings once they are ready to pot on and I hope it will bring a touch of colour to Plot 1 once they start to mature. It still looks a little barren around the plot, so some colour would be nice.
A few Paving slabs and some leftover Bricks to make getting in and out of the Shed easier added as an after touch, once they have settled in I may use some of the remaining cement to hold them in place.
Once the fun stuff was over with, it was time to get a serious sweat on, again…
The back of the digging over Plot 1 had been broken, it didn’t mean the task was done with yet though. So fork in hand another couple of rows of soil turning and weeding out roots, some of the weed roots were insanely long and well dug in. Didn’t take long before the wheelbarrow was full, and this created another task…
The first Compost Dalek placed on site was used for storing bits and bobs till the Shed was built, now the Shed was up I transferred all the items in the Dalek into the Shed. This now left the Dalek empty and it needed to be placed. I had decided to have 2 composting zones, one at the bottom end of the plot and the Second further up towards the top and behind the Shed. So no matter which zone of the plot was being worked; there would be a Compost bin within easy reach.
So I prepared the area, placed the compost Dalek and then emptied the wheelbarrow of dead or dying weeds into it. Then raked some of the long grass and old hay mulch from the very top of the plot and along with that added some paper from compost bin 1, watered it, covered it and then dug some soil to place around the perimeter of the Dalek to hold it in place and keep the light out.
With it firmly in the front of my mind, I needed another 2 rows digging out in the next week to put the last tray of Sweet Corn into the ground, I eyed the area I had just dug over and with a rough mental eyeballing figured I had enough room and some to spare I called it a day. Giving the top end of the plot one last look and figuring out how much more forking over and weeding needed to be done. The plan was to spread Green Manure seed (I chose Alfalfa) over the top end of the plot, as it had been worked last by the previous plot owner, and having come across Parsnips and Potatoes still buried in amongst the weeds I figured a lot of the nutrients in this section would have been sapped. Also, the top end of the plot is rife with Asparagus which had actually resisted at least 2 sprayings with Weed Killer and was fighting back or even thriving. Either way it will be going within the next week or Two and as I said, replaced with the Alfalfa Green Manure.
Once the final section is cleared, the seed will be sown and I can forget about that area pretty much till Autumn or even next spring as the Alfalfa should cover the area quickly and suppress any weeds that survived being zapped with Weed Killer. Any roots I missed while turning the soil over will struggle to get light as the Green Manure should take off like a rocket and give me a nice thick Green patch to look at while I work on the back of the Shed area. Which incidentally is earmarked for the Apiary area, I think I can fit Two or Three Beehives against the back wall of the Shed. Giving the Hives shelter from the winds usual direction, keeping the Sun off them till later afternoon and some rain protection. This is a project for much later, but consideration for it and forward planning is key to ensure the area stays assigned to the Bees.
July and the heatwave…
The heat certainly kicked up at the start of the month, pushing beyond 30 Degrees some days. The work continued though, although even I had to cower in the shade on the hottest day of the year.
More because I spent 6 hours out under full Blue skies and late 20 Degree heat the day before treating reclaimed pallets and wood; so I was a little precooked.
I hit the area where Asparagus has been grown for a few years by the previous owner, I initially thought it was going to be easy going turning the soil over; oh was I mistaken…
The root mass is thick and well dug in, the soil fairly compacted because of that and it’s very much a fork breaking risk laying hard into it. So I had to resort to turning over what I could and gently breaking the roots of the Asparagus when I could. This will take a few passes and attempts no doubt!
Also, as I started turning over the very top end of the plot the really good soil seems to have vanished in pretty much a straight line across the plot Nine Tenths of the way up. The level of soil decreasing dramatically as the quality diminished. I may resort to using raised beds right across the full width here or even cheat and place a Polytunnel or Two across the plot. It’s either that or bring in soil, manure and other organic matter to rebuild the depth and quality…
September, after a naff Mid-Late Summer.
Early Summer was lovely, but it was short lived and all to soon became wet and miserable.
Great for weeds, slugs and snails, not so great for crops, flowers and my trees.
However, bit by bit things got done, planted or sown and forward progress was made.