It’s April and yet again the ‘to do’ list at Top Barn is much longer than it should be. The number of jobs we have listed far exceeds the time we have available to complete them. Spring is a time when everything should be ready in the vegetable garden for sowing and planting, but for several years we have fallen behind with essential maintenance over the winter months. Then there are the other outdoor jobs, especially landscaping in the garden, that need completing while the weather is fine. In the last few weeks we were pleased to start two projects that have been high on the list of priorities.
We had a burglary at Top Barn in 2011. The ride on mower and various power tools for the garden were stolen early one morning. The police advice at the time was to protect this type of machinery in a secure shipping container. Shortly afterwards we acquired a container and sited it in our field near to the garage block. The container may offer improved security but it is an ugly thing, which I would dearly love to site in a different location, shielded by trees and hedging in the corner of our field. Problem is, without specialist machinery, how does one move a twenty-foot shipping container weighing four tonnes?
My first thought was to prepare a suitable base area which could be surrounded by some suitable fencing. This is not work that could realistically be completed by hand with a shovel. I needed help from Chris, a local farmer with a mini digger who had assisted me to prepare the ground work when we extended Top Barn in 2011. After a few hours with his digger the site was cleared and we then laid and compacted a base of crushed concrete. The plan was to cut some logs for use as rollers, lift an end of the container using the mini digger and drag it along on the logs the 50 metres or so the corner of the field. Fortunately, we had a ready supply of large logs following the recent storm Doris. Unfortunately, the weight of the container was too much for the digger to lift. At least the base was laid, but the container remains in situ until I can get some suitable heavy duty jacking equipment.
Storm Doris had also taken out much of the glass in my greenhouse. Before replacing the glass, I wanted to lay a new floor to replace the shingle I had put down as a temporary measure about five years ago. The green house is 14 x 8 feet, so that’s 32, 2’x2’ slabs. As each slab weighs 33 kilos, that’s well, over a tonne to shift by hand. I intended to simply lay the slabs on sharp sand. The greenhouse already stands on a base of bricks, so I simply needed to infill with slabs, using a lean mix of sand and cement around the edges and between the joints. Tools needed for a job like this include a wheelbarrow, shovel, mallet, brush, rake, sturdy gloves and the all-important spirit level. A mixer is not essential for the relatively small mix needed but as I have one….
This is not a difficult job, just hard work moving the materials and quite time consuming setting out the sand and levelling the base. With a new floor now in place and replacement glass on order, I can clean the greenhouse thoroughly and reinstate the staging. Hopefully, I will soon I will be sowing seeds. That’s far later than normal but life here at Top Barn is hectic, always more to do than time allows. It’s worth the effort as hopefully our summer guests will now be able to enjoy the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other greenhouse fruits that we grow here.
So, two projects earmarked for February, were started in March and finished in April – better late than never. We will include other blogs about the garden throughout the year. Finally, if anyone has any tips or advice about moving the container we would love to hear from you. Happy gardening.