Building DIY Gardening

 

Robin in May garden looking for worms after digging

Robin in May garden looking for worms after digging

The weather has been very variable this year, from hot sun to snow!

Spring bulbs are dying back and flowers are appearing. This year there have been many heavy rain showers, so the ground is more wet than usual.
Butterflies brighten up your garden.

Your garden can start to look like a proper garden at last!

Vegetables

Sweetcorn courgettes, runner beans can be sown. So at regular intervals to ensure a constant supply later in the year.

Overgrown grass - time to cut

Overgrown grass – time to cut

Fruit

Remove any weak plants. Strawberries need netting to stop bird attacks.

Frosts might appear, although since we are now in climate change, this is rare in southern England. If frost, use fleece or protect buds etc.

Greenhouse

Make sure there is enough shading for young plants as they can overheat.
Water well, especially tomatoes and leafy plants.
Spray cucumbers with water.

Pinch out tomatoes to make them swell more.

Trees and Shrubs

Prune trees, shrubs, clematis. Cut out any green shoots or they will take over the plant.

Water newly planted tress and shrubs, in the evenings.

Grass

New grass should be watered in the morning if required.

Wildlife

Butterflies and bees appear.
Remove dead foliage from places, ponds, etc. Leave around for a day or two to let creatures escape, do not place straight into rubbish bags.

12 Apr, 2016

April gardening jobs – great tips & advice

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: garden|gardening|Spring

What to do in the garden in April

Veg in rows

Veg in rows

A lot of rain arrives – April showers – yesterday I cleared a small area for turf, and all night it rained, before the new turf has been laid.

Weeds are on the march in April. So get busy.

Mulching is a good idea, lay mulch between plants, after removing weeds and detritus. This will improve the soil structure and retain moisture, and keep the ground neat looking.

Vegetables

Sow fast growing seeds like broad beans, peas, radishes, etc in intervals to get useful crops.

Later developing plants such as cauliflower can be started off in seed beds for later planting out.

Do not plant too closely together. This saves thinning later.

Tip: plant carrots next to onions to deter carrot fly (a pest).

Fruit

Apples, plums, pears and cherries will either have flowered or be in flower. The plum in our garden starts flowering in January, and it gets earlier each year.

Rhubarb (also known as a vegetable as it derives from a Chinese veg variety): cut off any flowering stalks as they weaken the plant.

Greenhouse

Clean the glass and open windows on hot days, don’t forget to shut them in the evening – perhaps use a timer alarm on your phone or in the kitchen.

Tomatoes can be sown in the ground or grow-bags, if not done already.

Trees and shrubs

Prune shrubs to encourage new growth. Feed the plants with fertiliser (organic if possible) and water.

Mulch rose and shrub beds.

Wildlife

Bats are out of hibernation, why not set up a bat box on a south facing wall? The bats will eat insects on your garden.

Birds might still be after food, although more insects are now out and about. Avoid nuts as they can choke young birds.

Winter leaves - clear now

Winter leaves – clear now

Spring has more or less arrived, although still cold on some days. Buds and blooms are out and now is the time to get busy on the garden.

Sills needs repairs or repainting. Outdoor fittings should be checked, cleaned, oiled etc, and any work needed done now, before the start of the proper garden season.

Weed control
Now is the time to get rid of weeds, before they take over. You can remove old twings and wood and crate some new charcoal to use for drawing.

Burn old dry twigs - fertilize and makes charcoal

Burn old dry twigs – fertilize and makes charcoal

Charcoal made from burning old twigs, branches etc

Charcoal made from burning old twigs, branches etc

Seeds and planting
When the weeding is done, get planting for later in the year.

Fruit
You can add potash (mined and manufactured potassium salts for plant growth), water solubale, just follow the instructions on the packet or box.
This will help plump up your fruit. Use potash in addition to your normal fertilizer.

Since it is still cold, protect smaller fruit trees and bushes with fleece or material.

Vegetables
If the weather is warmer, plant seeds now. Southern England is obvioulsy warmer so just go by the temperature and forecasts.
Peas, carrots, parsnips, beetroots, leeks, for an early crop, protect with fleece is still cold.
Asparagus takes a couple of years to get going, so plant asparagus crowns if you plan for that.

Lawn

Laying a roll of turf against existing lawn and the edging

Laying a roll of turf against existing lawn and the edging

Time to lay any new grass, or re-seed.
Our lawn is in a mess as we left a table on it too long, so there is a dead area. This can be easily replaced or repaired with a roll of turf.
Don’t forget to water it a lot when first down, as the roots have to bond into the soil.

Greenhouse
Everything starts to grow fast now, so don’t forget to re-pot and tidy up anything that looks ready.
Also water a lot.
Tomatoes, peppers etc can be sown inside and will be ready for transplanting in a few weeks when leaves appear.
Seeds for cucumbers, courgettes and squashes can also be planted in pots.
A busy time. Also warmer than outside!

Trees and Shrubs
This is a good time to move any evergreen trees and shrubs to a new location, as the soil is better. Take as big a root ball as you can (don’t take risks with a small one), to minimise root damage and disturbance. It is easy to kill a shrub or tree this way (I now from experience) so be careful and maximise the root volume you move.

Wildlife
Ponds will be much more active now. Tidy it up, clear any old plants, weeds, rubbish etc.

A pile of logs or twigs make a great habitat for smaller creatures like insects, worms etc, so make sure you have one around the back of you garden. Don’t be too tidy in these areas, and do not disturb them if possible.

Time to get busy 8)

Bare trees waiting for spring

Bare trees waiting for spring

Weather in February can range from sunny warm days to ice and snow in large qualities. Rain also, wind too. Early sign of spring continue. With England getting warmer, these just continue from early buds in January. SOme don’t die back now, I have a buddleia in the garden which never died back at all, so never got trimmed – I’ll do that anyway before too much growth.

This is all very confusing for a gardener.

Vegetables

Prepare seedbeds. To warm them up a bit, protect from frost etc, you can cover them in polythene. Seedlings like peas, beans, etc can be sown in trays and placed inside the protection.

Fruit

Use tunnel cloches for strawberries, this will make them flwoer earlier. You can open the sides later in the year so insects can get in to pollinate.

Blueberries can be planted in containers or compost sunk in the ground (ericaceous). See our page on composting.

If it is not too cold and the soil is not too hard, you can plant fruit trees. If too cold, cut back dead or diseased wood.

Greenhouse
If it is a warm day, open the windows and ventilate. Try and keep the temperature even over day and night, if possible. Cold nights can be quite severe.

Make a start with seed planting.

Now is the time to clean mould and algae from steps and garden furniture

Now is the time to clean mould and algae from steps and garden furniture

Trees and Shrubs
Buddleia, hydrangea, lavatera etc. can be pruned, if not done already. These might be in a mess after the winter. This is the last time this can be done or they might not flower.

Plant roses now. Try and avoid the exact same places as diseases can stay in the soil.

Wildlife
Birds will be looking for nests, so if you can, get a nesting box up. There are too many cats in our area for this. Frogs will also be spawning if you have any water areas.

Keep bird food out and make sure there is water as it might be frozen.

Grass
Do not sow grass seed until late March.

This advice is for England and Europe, or anywhere there is a cold sometimes snowy winter.

Winter tree with clear sky rainbow

Winter tree with clear sky rainbow

Bad weather can keep you indoors, especially when ground is too wet or waterlogged, or frozen and too hard.
Remove any weeds, and get rid of mouldy or rotting vegetation such as old leaves, twigs etc.
This is not very good for any small creatures in your garden, so f possible, leave the pile of bits and pieces somewhere it can be removed later. Small creatures winter or lay eggs in garden detritus. Most of these are not pests so should be encouraged. Small insects etc. provide food for birds and other small animals.
Dig over any vegetable and flower plots if conditions are better.

Vegetables
Plant early varieties of seed potatoes. Also hardy peas, broad beans, radishes in sheltered spots (well drained soil).
Seeds
Plant indoors for transfer out in March. Don’t plant them out all at once, put them out regularly to get consecutive crops.

Fruit
Clear snow from branches. Check Ties and stakes for damage, especially after bad weather and high winds. Prune raspberry canes, to help them produce more later in the year.
Also prune apple, pear etc.
Remove old dead or diseased wood.

Winter scene at lake, swans, moorhens

Winter scene at lake, swans, moorhens

Your Greenhouse or cloches etc.
Remove any snow and keep the glass clear to let all light in. Remove moss, clean panes of glass. Remove mould and animals. Let in ventilation on warmer days.

Bushes, Shrubs and Trees
You can move deciduous trees in the winter if ground is not water logged or frozen. Plant new tress, use strong stakes for support. Winter prune some shrubs such as wisteria.

Wildlife
Help any wildlife you might have around. Put out food for birds, add fruit. Ensure bird baths and drinking ponds are not frozen over.
Log and twig piles are great places for wildlife to shelter through the cold weather.

28 May, 2015

New mobile site

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: Buildings|mobile|Smartphones|tablets

android phoneThere is a new mobile version of the site – this is of less interest if you use a desktop as it uses the same pages. I am editing pages for the new site, so they will be ready as and when converted. This is a rather slow method.

If you point your mobile at the site, you should get the new site – it detects smaller devices.

If you fancy a quick look it is ay www.BuildingDIY.com/m/index.htm – opens in a new window.

Solar panels on clay tiles  can't fit on slate tiles

Solar panels on clay tiles (you can’t fit on slate tiles)

There is a summary article about the Green Deal flagship Conservative policy here:

Green deal will fail (new window) >

The Green Deal is supposed to help regenerate old building stock, by giving loans for work such as insulation, etc. Unfortunately there are financial strictures based around a return of 6.9% which means works have to save that percentage over their lifetime use; few do.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change in June 2013 conducted 38,256 assessments. But only 245 Green Deal finance plans were made, and only four (4) were signed bu the customer.

The debate is that with these sort of rules, no one can ever get the money, or would want it, as cheaper sources are available.

It is also a system that is not well-known, and involves too much bureaucracy.

At the same time, money from the local Councils is reduced for improvements to housing stock, and any free insulation for cavity walls and loft spaces is the responsibility of energy companies, which is erratic and subject to means testing.

This reminds me of the system of loans and incentives for solar power installations over the last ten years or so, which were farcical. Due to the unpredictability of funding, led to major problems in the solar supplier market with many companies stopping supplying.

So as usual a lack of overall planning and integration leads to a failed green energy policy.

30 May, 2013

New blog for Summer 2013

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: News

SUPPORT
I have just changed the blog database, so if anyone gets any errors, please email me via the contact page or using info at buildingdiy dot com

This should be invisible to any people looking but you never know.

Plastic people DIY BuildingNEWS
More section going on May – December 2013, I have not been adding much recently due to other commitments.

Thanks
Geoff

Ecobuild 2013

Ecobuild 2013

Ecobuild the future at ExCeL, London
Tue 5 to Thur 7 March 2013.

This a great show and worth the effort of getting to Excel in London Docklands. It is an interesting venue.

This is the best exhibition for sustainable design, construction and the built environment.
There are many attractions including:

  • Practical Installer
  • Future Materials Gallery
  • Lighting Village
  • Many new products to try out
  • Conference – with many famous speakers including Government ministers, RIBA president, Chief Scientific Advisor on Energy, many others
  • 140 free seminars on green energy, sustainability, construction and DIY, materials, insulation, water and energy saving

You can get a free ticket by registering at Ecobuild tickets >

See our big section with advice on Green building >

Just did a quick bit of planing of a sticking door. I had the toolbox out to get some screws and there was the plane, moved by my wife. What a lovely thing. So I did a quick bit of planing, and now the downstairs toilet door shuts properly (which was embarrassing for all concerned). Carpentry is an easy skill with practise, and the damage is not too great if you do small jobs first.

Planing – keep the plane level with the door (parallel obviously) so you do not take chunks out of it. A smooth action is required. Plenty of oomph in the forward stroke.

I used to work in the Stanley Tools plane shop on Pitsmoor Road, Sheffield, UK, back when I was a student doing some labouring work between courses. This was a huge factory. Me and a guy Bill had to drag pallets of planes in wooden boxes all around this place, so you had to be pretty strong I suppose. Good exercise when young. Each box had about ten planes in, and the boxes were piled up high. Almost immovable weight. The story was that the management had ordered some little fork lift trucks to move these incredibly heavy pallets around, but when they arrived, they were too wide to get through the doors. That seemed typical of British industry at the time – why use machines when people can heave and haul all day (bit like China now perhaps).

Here are the pics:

Plane in its natural environment

Plane in its natural environment

Planed door

Planed door

The door was sticking slightly at the top. Cannot use sandpaper for this sort of thing. A plane is not a common tool but is useful in the home as doors are often getting stuck.

Door shutting better. Bit of repainting, job done

Door shutting better. Bit of repainting, job done

Wood shavings everywhere but at least they are clean!

Wood shavings everywhere but at least they are clean!

The end result of most DIY work – since I did this on impulse I forgot to put down any floor protection, newspapers etc. Oh well!

See our section on wood and buildings >

Main site & Blog cats

HOME & NEWS

Home improvement and DIY

House building advice & process

Building materials & wood

Steel buildings

Metal building materials

World's Tallest Buildings

Craft & traditional building

Starting a building job

 

Construction finance & legislation


Gardening & landscaping


Green building advice

Solar energy

Green roofs

Green lifestyle

 

Cameras & photographing architecture & buildings

 

Educational toys - Lego & more

Vans, trucks, transport

Building a website - beginners


Contact & About us

Terms & conditions & Privacy

Sitemap & quick links


 

BLOG CATEGORIES

About

Please comment on these blogs. The Flickr feed is now random, but soon to be our own photos.