Projects, Vegetable Garden

Make Windbreak Panels

protect broad beans from wind damage

The broad beans currently overwintering in the veg garden grew too tall for the tunnel cloches about a month ago, a combination of very fertile soil and a mild winter helped to speed up growth. I kept the open-end tunnel cloches in place to protect the bean plants from persistent heavy rainfall, while providing protection from strong winds which would severely damage them.

broad beans

I was a bit worried about the plants after removing the cloches, they still needed protection from battering winds and wood pigeons would strip them to nothing in a day, so I thought about what to do and came up with a simple yet effective windbreak made up of removable panels. Being a bit thrifty and honouring the allotment way of life, I used materials I already had to hand.

Materials

  • Off cuts of clear plastic corrugated roof sheets (some of which were slightly damaged but fine for my project) left over from building the chicken enclosures. Chose clear materials to allow the precious winter light to reach the plants.
  • 6ft bamboo canes (to allow plenty of cane left over to push into the soil to anchor the windbreak panels and excess at the top to attach garden netting to protect plants from pigeons).
  • Garden wire (or jute string would be fine).

How to make a windbreak panel

Punch small holes down the short (end) sides of a corrugated sheet, try to space them evenly each side (around 5 holes each side should do it). I used a small paper puncher to create the holes.

Attach a bamboo cane to each side using garden wire threaded through the punched holes, twist the wire tightly to secure the cane. Leave around 6 inches of cane visible at the bottom of each panel to push into the soil. Use empty plastic drinks bottles as toppers for the excess canes to protect eyes, the bottles rattle in the wind to deter pigeons.

make a windbreak

Carry on making panels until your broad bean plants are enclosed. The panels can easily be removed for weeding by grasping the top of the canes and pulling the panels free from the soil. Throw some netting over the top if pigeons are a real problem in your garden.

broad beans

The windbreak has worked wonders through the many storms we’ve had, storm Gertrude ripped through the garden last night and for most of today and the plants still remain upright and undamaged. The variety I use to overwinter are ‘Aquadulce Claudia’, a hardy variety perfect for the colder months but the plants tend to grow quite tall making them susceptible to wind damage. There’s still plenty of growing space before my broad beans reach the top, but well before that happens I need to thin some out and support the growing plants by placing a cane at each corner of a row and tying in with string.

Grow Your Own Guides, Projects

Make a Garlic Plait

I harvested all the garlic in July, since then it has been laid out on racks and dried to a perfect ‘rustle’ but there’s plenty left and it needs to be stored. I’ve decided to have a go at plaiting it. I think the bulbs look visually appealing hanging in a plait and it’s a useful way to have the bulbs to hand too – just pluck them as and when you need them. Here’s how I did it:

I started with three bulbs complete with long stem, plait the stems together tightly just as you would for hair styling, an inch or so will do.

Add another three bulbs to the plait, joining each of their stems to one of the other stems in the plait, continue this process until you’ve used up all of your bulbs. Plait any excess stems for a really lovely look and hang it up in a dry place, such as a shed or kitchen.

I’m sure there are fancy ways of plaiting garlic but I’m pretty chuffed with my attempt and it does the job. Have a go yourself!

Projects

Make Veg Frames for Raised Beds

I mainly use raised beds to grow fruit and vegetables in my garden, for the last 2 years I’ve been using what I call ‘veg frames’, to prevent my seeds, seedlings and onion sets being disturbed by cats, birds and rodents, giving them protection during the vulnerable early weeks of growing. The frames sit on top of my raised beds allowing essential light, water and air flow through but little else. Obviously, I remove the frames once my seedlings grow taller, by this point the crops are usually strong enough to handle what nature throws at them. I use 4 frames side by side along the length of a 10 ft x 4 ft raised bed, each frame can be removed or lifted with ease to allow for weeding etc.

To make a veg frame, simply nail, screw or glue together a simple rectangle or square wooden frame, (any wood will do) then staple chicken wire or aviary mesh to the frame. Using veg frames with raised beds is really handy to prevent cats from messing empty beds, I also use my frames to hold a covering of fleece securely over a raised bed if an overnight frost is forecast, particularly useful during blustery weather. The possibilities are endless, have a rummage around your shed or garage for materials (check out skips too) and see if you can rustle something up.

Chickens, Projects

Chicken Run DIY in Photos

Building the chicken run

One of our chicken runs got a DIY make over yesterday. The extension took less than no time with my brother and dad on hand to build the panels and fix them onto the back of the run to open it up further. This now makes it near enough as large as our other chicken run.

Putting the frames together….

Putting the frames together

Wire mesh goes on……

Wire mesh

Putting the roofing sheets on……

Roof sheets going on

Nearly done…..

Chicken run nearly finished

Ta Da!

Chicken Run