tinyⒶllotment

Growing as much food on as little land for as little money as possible


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So, what do you think?

Just a very short entry to say that with the help of some good friends Max and Malcolm and my beautiful wife Jules we managed to build the Geodesic Dome Greenhouse in just over two hours.

I still have to build thee door but we are just about there.

I need a drink

Paul

Geodesic Dome Greenhouse

I will do a proper write up but I am just too knackered at the moment.


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Today could be the day….

….that we build our dome!

It has been a mammoth task but all the triangle have been made, covered in plastic and assembled into hexagon and pentagon panels. The base is level and round and the weather looks like it will hold until tea time.

Hopefully the next time I write in this blog I will have a fully built dome on my allotment.

This is how it looks now

Ground Zero

Ignore all the upright stakes these are just to hold the base in place until I put the steel anchors in this morning.

Wish me luck.

paul


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Triangles, Triangles and more Triangles

The dome is progressing nicely now although it is still slow going because I have to fit it in around work and  the weather. One of the problems has been that I have nowhere I can permanently set up my table saw and my chop saws so I have to get them out in the yard, set them up, them clean up and put them away every time I want to cut something. On the next dome I will cut all of the timber to do a whole dome to length on one day, mill the angles on one day and then put the angles on the one end of the struts in one day so I get all the machining out of the way early on. It is then easy to make up triangles whenever you have a spare moment or just devote a day to triangle making.

I now only have 34 more triangles to make and once I am set up I can make a triangle in about two and a half minutes so it doesn’t take long once you get going.

All of the timber for the remaining triangles has been cut and milled ready to go so I will get all the triangles finished this week

Wood cut and milled for the remaining triangles

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They are in two piles as there are two different angles in each triangle so you end up with two stuts with one angle and one strut with another angle per triangle. It is not a problem unless you mix the two piles up.

Here is the triangles I have constructed so far. There are basically two types of triangle in the dome. One type makes hexagons and the other pentagons. All the pentagon triangles are made so just a few more hexagon triangles and that will be it.

Triangles so far

I will be ordering the plastic today so hopefully we will begin covering the panels next week but it all depends on the weather.

More soon

paul


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Geodesic Dome build. Pentagon template, triangles and panel.

As you have seen in the previous post I have completed the first of the Hexagon panels so the next step was to complete a Pentagon panel so I could be sure they would go together before forging on and making the rest of the triangles.

There are only 6 Pentagon panels to make and now I know they work and everything fits together and my two chop saws are set to the Pentagon angles I will press on over the next week or so and make all of the pent triangles.

Here is a picture of the two jigs needed for building this dome. The tall one is for Hex triangles, the other is for Pent triangles.


Hex and Pent Templates

Making the triangles is simple once you have the templates built and checked for accuracy. You start by cutting the correct angles on one end of each of the struts. then you clamp the struts to the template and screw the struts to each other and saw the projecting ends off.

I will add a photo of this later.

As I am finishing each triangle and before I take it off the template I mark the apex of the triangle as this makes it fool proof when assembling the panels.

Here is a picture of the finished Hex and Pent panels before putting them together to test their fit.


Hex and Pent Panes

You wouldn’t normally make the panels up like this before covering in plastic but as this is the first dome I have built I wanted to make sure everything lined up and the two panels fitted together.

Here is a picture of the Hex and Pent panels fitted together.


Hex and Pent Panels fitted together with Jules providing some scale.

To give you an idea of the hight of the finished dome there is another Hex panel to go below the Hex panel in the above picture. The picture above does illustrate the curvature nicely.

So now I have to get stuck in to making all the rest of the triangles and covering them with plastic.

Ultimately there will be a detailed step by step article on the Geodesic Dome Page of this Blog

More soon

paul


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April 2015 Update

Things are starting to happen on the tiny allotment. The barrel garden I built last year is starting to look really good with early onions, garlic, strawberries, and salad all springing to life.

Barrel garden April 2015

The bucket below the barrel catches water that leaches from the barrel. This nutrient rich water would normally be lost but we catch it and return it to the top of the barrel so nothing is wasted.

Nutrient rich water from the barrel garden

The pond is also coming to life with lots of water plants, snails and other invertebrates inhabiting the depths. We also have plenty of tadpoles swimming about so hopefully we should end up with a healthy population of slug eating frogs later in the year.
The gunera  on the island in the pond is starting to come back to life after it’s winter’s hibernation. This will help shade the pond from the summer heat and the comfrey root I planted in a pot last year is growing and is in flower. i will have to decide where I am going to plant this as I need a lot of comfrey for making liquid feed and as a medicinal herb.

The pond island April 2015

The purple sprouting broccoli is still producing well and the more the pigeons eat it the more it sprouts.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The Rhubarb Malcolm gave me earlier in the year has suddenly started to grow like crazy. It started out like a small green brain

Rhubarb

and within a couple of days looked like this

We also had a big delivery of manure so I managed to fill all my new beds ready for the season.

New beds for 2015

I used home made compost as a top dressing and this bed has now been planted with strawberries as a cover crop. The hope is that over the next couple of years the strawberries will spread out to cover most of the soil surface protecting the soil from wind, rain and sun and suppressing weeds and we will interplant with other crops.

I also had enough compost to top dress the bed in the tunnel where we will grow tomatoes and cucumber etc

Homemade compost

Bed for tomatoes and cucumbers

The other big thing happening is we have started building our geodesic dome greenhouse.

We have installed the base and this weekend we are going to get it perfectly level and round and paint it with wood preserver.

Geodesic Dome Base

And work has started on making the 103 triangles needed to build the dome.

Hexagon panel for geodesic dome

I will be doing a complete write up on thee construction of the dome on it’s own page here when the dome is complete.

Seeds are starting to germinate in the tunnel. This picture was taken this morning.

Chard, beetroot, pumpkin and walking stick kale to name but a few

I love this time of year. this change so quickly so i will be posting more often again.

More soon

Paul


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Know Thy Enemy. Weeds. Dock

We all know that we must eradicate Docks from our plots right. Well maybe not.

Nature hates bare soil. Apart from earthquakes and landslides you hardly ever see bare earth in nature. Nature deals with bare earth in the same way your body deals with a wound and tries to cover it up as soon as possible. Docks and other pioneer plants are natures scab protecting the soil from damage from the sun, wind and rain. When it comes to bare soil, if you don’t put something there to cover it, nature will try to do it for you. This is why you have ‘weeds’. In some ways you are fighting a loosing battle. The more you try to clear the soil the more nature will try to cover it up so really you are just making more work for yourself.

I know you have always tried to eradicate things such as Docks from your allotments but do you know why you are going to all this trouble or is it just the way it has always been done.

Docks do have some benefits. They will grow in very poor soil and they are an indicator of poor overworked soil. This is why you see them in farmers fields. They have deep tap roots so do not compete with your shallow rooted annual vegetables as much as you think and because of their deep roots they bring up minerals from the subsoil. They are what’s known as a Dynamic Accumulator. They also benefit compacted soil aiding soil structure and drainage.

The best way to deal with Docks is to snip them off before they go to seed and either let them rot on the surface as a mulch or put them into your compost heap as Docks make great compost activators.

I tend to just snap off the dock leaves as and when I see them and let them break down on the surface thus releasing all their goodness back into the soil. If you do this as and when you see the leaves in your beds you will not give the docks a chance to thrive and they will eventually give up and die.

Another way to reduce the amount of docks is to not dig your beds each year. Docks thrive in poor soil and so breaking up the soil each year gives them the perfect breeding ground. If you refrain from digging the number of Docks will decrease as your soil improves.  Keeping the soil covered with other plants will also discourage weeds of all sorts.

If you try to dig them up you will end up spreading them about and you will end up with a bigger problem than you had before, another great reason for not digging the soil.

Dock are edible -Although I have never tried them- and are related to sorrel. They are rich in vitamin C and have many medicinal uses. They also have antihistamine properties and conveniently grow near nettles.

So, before you reach for the fork or even worse the Roundup just think why you are trying to kill that weed and could it actually be a benefit to you and your garden.


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Patrick Whitefield 1949 – 2015

It is with great sadness that I tell you that Patrick Whitefield the father of Permaculture in the UK passed away today. He was an inspiration to a generation of permaculture followers both here in the UK and beyond. When I first became interested in Permaculture it was his books I turned to. Permaculture in a nutshell was my introduction to the subject and later I started borrowing The Earth Care Manual from the library until I could afford to buy a copy of my own. My Wife gave me a copy this Christmas and it will be one of those books that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I started studying with Patrick and his associates late last year but I never got to meet the great man himself. Despite that I still feel a great loss and I am very sad that I will never get to meet him.

My thought go out to his family at this time.