Thursday, 30 April 2020

Outstanding and About


Thanks for popping in.

Let's have a look at the outstanding flower show in our local area this week.



Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Recycling Inventions


Thanks for visiting.

Mr CK has been busy in the garden and at the same time, he's been recycling.  Here's what he's been up to in his own words, take it away Mr CK!

A Yoghurt Pot Riddle

When you need very fine compost, you can create your own riddle to make it.

Ours is made from a 450g yoghurt pot with its base perforated by lots of closely spaced holes of about 4mm diameter (actually from 2 to 5mm its not precision engineering). The trick is to make as many holes as possible without them blending together. That ruinsthe riddle.

The initial attempt involved hand drilling the holes, but this was tricky due to the thin plastic of the yoghurt pot base flexing under the pressure and threatening to break. The holes produced were raggy with lots of whiskers of plastic which were not easy to remove, which would be likely to work free during use to contaminate our ‘natural’ compost with the dreaded non-bio plastic!

The holes were actually created by melting the plastic using an old soldering iron. It worked well, producing no whiskers but a helpful ring of bunched up melt around each hole, actually adding strength to the mesh. There were a few whiskers but very much fewer than the
drilled pot.

Using the soldering iron like a pencil, the holes were placed as neatly as possible. The depth of penetration of the soldering iron tip controlled the size of the hole it made and this allowed smaller holes to be added to any gaps around the rim or when gaps were made by poorly placed holes.

A few quick safety points might be helpful. Best to avoid breathing the fumes from the melting plastic, goodness knows what they contain!  Good ventilation is a must, the residual smell created is not pleasant 8-).  A modest power soldering iron is recommended, we used a 50Watt iron and that was fine, a lower power might even be better.  The melt would be more controlled and a smaller iron would be easier to use ‘pencil like’.

The yoghurt pot lid is a useful accessory.  The riddle works best when it is less than fully filled so that the contents can move and twirl as the riddle is shaken. This is when the lid comes into it own, it keeps the rough compost in the riddle!

Homemade Growbags

It has always seemed to be such a waste throwing away the plastic bags sliced bread comes in, especially when we accumulate so many. What about using them to make mini-growbags? Having sprouted lots (far too many) seedlings from a supermarket tomato, we now have the problem
potting them on.

This is a bit of an experiment here at ‘CK nurseries’ not just the growbags but the tomatoes as well. We have 28 seedlings of cherry tomato ‘piccolo’. We liked the taste so we sprouted the seeds from a spare beaten up fruit. This is a first for us having never before tried to sprout fresh seeds. Normally this year’s seed is saved at the end of the season and dried for next years crop.  The fresh seed germination was astounding, in compost, the plants were seen within about 7 days, a couple of water sprouting methods were not successful.

All plants are doing well and now need to move on. The variety is small so the thought that maybe two plants per growbag might be ok. Well we’ll see. Given the current epidemic acquiring proper growbags was a bit of a problem, so this experiment had to be done to a budget
(£0+labour). The pukka growbags being reserved for main crop not a mere sideline project.

Anything could happen, ‘piccolo’ is an F1 hybrid and as such can be problematic from seed. We don’t care as long as the fruit is edible (if not, its in the chutney). Given the small size of the growbags we’re going to ‘stop’ most the plants after two trusses. Maybe leave a couple
to grow on to see what happens. Watch this space, the results will be published.

A Homemade Stevenson Screen

Are you fed up with your outside temperature measurements always reading high due to the Sun heating the sensor and its enclosure? Well if yes, you need a Stevenson Screen.  These are usually expensive to buy, bulky and difficult to make (esp. if you go the trad ‘louvred box’
route). Here at CK Limited we can’t cope with: expensive, bulky or difficulty, so we got out the yoghurt pots (or was that the kefir pots?). The little ones 175g.

You can see our first attempted build of a cheapo Stevenson Screen made using yoghurt pots. The downside is, its a bit small (easier to heat up), but the upside is that its cheap. There are five pieces of hardboard inside to give strength (yoghurt pots are a bit wobbly) and the three inner most discs have a circular hole in them, the upper and lower discs don’t. These holes in the discs form a cylindrical space within the assembly which is actually open to the air via the gaps between the yog pots. The gaps are slanted much like proper louvres
and should prevent the wind blowing directly through the unit. We’ve seen this type of design on several websites, so ours is not an original.

We’re trying to achieve a calm temperate space within the unit which has the same temperature as the outside air were it calm. Will it work? Not sure yet. The best position for the sensor inside is currently being investigated and of course the whole thing will need a coat of white paint. Not just to look pretty but to reflect the sunlight. Maybe even a shiny foil coating the inside (even prettier)???

This again is ‘a work in progress’ and some investigation and testing is needed (but quickly before the summer heat goes) and then there is the winter.  Watch this space, all will be revealed.

Thank you Mr CK. 😊


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Wightwick Manor Gardens


Thanks for calling in.

With the coronavirus in full swing, we aren't able to visit the wonderful National Trust properties at the moment but here on the blog we're turning back the years to a visit to Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton and today we're viewing the gardens.

You wouldn't know you were surrounded by the suburbs when in the 17 acre garden.  We visited as the leaves were beginning to turn and the pumpkins were huge!

The restored kitchen garden.

These boulders were deposited in the area by a glacier in the last Ice Age and were laid out as a feature in 1957.

The bridge over the road at Wightwick Bank is based on the Mathematical Bridge at Queens' College, Cambridge.

Yew topiary on the Lower Lawn.
I bet the gardens are a picture in the Spring.


Monday, 27 April 2020

Wightwick Manor


Thanks for popping in.

I'm delving into the archives again to bring you the National Trust's Wightwick Manor not far from the centre Wolverhampton.  Designed by Edward Ould in the Old English style, it was built in 1887 for Theodore Mander, a paint and varnish manufacturer.  The east wing was added in 1893, a re-creation of a late medieval manor house which doubled the size of the house.

The house combines artistry with comfort having central heating and electricity from the beginning.  The wonders of William Morris, William de Morgan and W.A.S. Benson can still be seen as well as plaster work by Leonard Shuffrey and stained glass by Charles Kempe.  Not only that, there is also a large collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.

Let's have a look at the exterior of the house with all it's different buildings clad in half-timbering, stone, red brick and tiles.

The east wing has decorative chimneys in 16th century designs and decorated lead rainwater heads copied from those at Haddon Hall.  This section of the house is much grander and the east front first floor window is almost a direct copy of one at Little Moreton Hall.  There are many intricate carvings which can't always be seen from the ground.

Here's the entrance to the Manor where the inside is just as much a treat as the outside!

Sadly, I have no photos of the interior as it is still a family home but here's a photo from the guidebook of the Entrance Hall and one of the Great Parlour but Google has more to show if you use their search.

We'll have a look at the gardens next time.