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Tool-using mammal
diy
nmg

This has been a pretty good weekend, all things considered. After losing last weekend (and my chance of getting to Eastercon) to an utterly futile assignment for the HE teaching pgcert (I have not the words to explain my complete disdain for the common-sense-dressed-up-with-needless-jargon school of pedagogical theory that seems to be the fashion), I've managed to be quite productive.

Saturday was a massed invasion by marklesuk et famille, plus andre_powell, ruthj and hywel_w. Managed to nip out to B&Q beforehand for timber, about which more below. The garklet had a whale of a time romping with Lottie and Thea, and it was great to catch up with Ruth and Hywel, who we hadn't seen in a while.

To bed, and with one lousy night's sleep (thanks mostly to the garklet, it was time to get on with the DIY.

ias is currently partway through a major programme of work on the garden. Since we demolished the second old shed last summer, she's uprooted the sapling by the herb bed. The end goal is to dig over the space where the shed used to be, cut the herb bed down by half, and use the resulting mega-bed (18' by 6') for vegetables. We've a surfeit of soil, so these will be raised beds (twenty-one 2' by 2' square beds). To do this, we need to move the current compost bin. This has served us marginally well so far; being one of the plastic cones it's actually pretty awkward to turn the compost, so it's not cooking as it should, and we've a bit of an issue with it being too wet. We've a small annex at the end of the megabed, roughly 4' by 3', which used to be the bean patch, and which before that was home to the Palm of Doom. ias had been looking at wooden twin compost bins (for ease of turning), but most of the ones she'd found struck me as a) expensive and b) flimsy. I reckoned that I could custom-build something better, so after a bit of Googling for ideas and some head scratching, I came up with something that I reckoned would suffice.

The cost has been a bit more than I'd originally estimated, coming in at around £120 (still cheaper than the ones ias had been looking at), but this has been mainly due to creeping featurism. We've now got a twin-bin built from 1"x6" timber on 2"x3" posts, with a removable slatted front and a two-part hinged lid. The lid isn't quite finished yet - I need to felt the ply and fix the hinges - but the rest is complete. The big problem is that I built it on the patio (because it's flat), and it's now too heavy to move. I certainly can't move it by myself, and I doubt that ias and I can manage it between us.

It probably would have been cheaper to scrounge pallets, but I would have spent a lot longer faffing around with those than this has taken (besides, where does one scrounge pallets?). What has helped greatly is sideshow_al's mitre saw, which has more than halved the build time. I owe him much beer.

Didn't have time to take photos at the time, so will try and do that tomorrow. If there's any interest, I'll draw up the plans and post them.

Next up, raised beds.

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RAised beds have pros and cons. The ones on our allotment are partly raised, but we're now removing most of the planking and settling for a gentle curve on the surface rather than a right angle edge.

This is partly because the wood is rotted that held up the edges and it would be too expensive to replace, and partly because the planks make a great hiding place for slugs.

We use a plank to spread weight when walking over the surface of the beds.

We're using nematodes to keep down the slugs, so hopefully that won't be so much of a problem.

Where will you be sourcing your predatory nematodes?
Kavey

I can't remember who ias has been buying it from, but the brand is Nemaslug.

Try adding compost bin moving into your next batch of coursework, or students will do anything for beer.

Alas, my modules this semester are for the third and fourth years, and the courseworks for those go to the external examiner.

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