No dig diary, 11th May 2021

I managed to get some cabbages planted today before the rain set in with a vengeance, and to remove the last few radishes from my first batch sown in February where they’d got too big and gone soft, because we didn’t really have quite as many salads as I expected during April for some reason…

There’s still plenty waiting to go out in the greenhouse, but having been soaked once I wasn’t really in the mood, so I settled for planting out some basil in the new greenhouse to reduce the backlog just a little bit.

It’s half-tempting to set up a gazebo over the plot temporarily so I can work without getting wet. At least I didn’t need to water the cabbages in…

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Much composty hotness

I decide to have a casual check of the compost heap temperature today as we’ve been feeding a bit more volume into it now spring is finally dragging its sorry backside into gear.

That’s quite warm 🙂 Hopefully it means the stuff inside is breaking down nicely.

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Swimming, 11th May 2021

To my relief, today’s session was much closer to last Friday’s performance than yesterday’s, with my 50m reps coming in around 44/45s with the occasional 43, and the 25m reps mostly in the low 19s and I think just the one 18.

I really don’t know why yesterday was so poor, but hopefully I can put that behind me now. I’m going to swim this set for the rest of the week I think (20 x 50m on 85s, rest, then 25m reps until I run out of time) to make sure everything is stable before I drop another five seconds off the interval time for next week.

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No dig diary, 10th May 2021

Another day of weather that was generally too unpleasant to want to be outside in. Whilst it was at times beautifully sunny and warm, within ten minutes that could turn into horizontal rain, and often did 🙁

I restricted myself therefore to putting in the stakes to support the peas that need planting out, and effectively completing the conversion of the plot to “no dig” by spreading compost where the purple sprouting broccoli used to be until I harvested the last of it this weekend. I now need that space for sweet corn, which may wait a week or so to go out if I need it to, but I also have Uchiki Kuri squashes ready to go out around them and they really do need to be planted out very soon.

Unfortunately it looks as though the weather is going to be very similar tomorrow. I might try to get some of the brassicas and radishes planted out and covered by fleece just to keep the wind off them for a while. The peas really do need to go out, but they’re so tall now that the wind will be a real problem. I need calmer weather for that.

And speaking of radishes, I sowed another batch, four seeds to a cell of a 20-cell tray.

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Swimming, 10th May 2021

I really didn’t feel that great when I woke up this morning. I think I’d slept in an awkward position and as a result my shoulders and neck were stiff and I had a slight headache. I wasn’t therefore looking forward to the pool session today. I did go however, but I was well off the pace of last week and just couldn’t get things together so it became an exercise in just sticking at it and getting through.

Hopefully things will be better tomorrow.

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No dig diary, 9th May 2021

Today I sowed climbing beans (Cobra and Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco) and runner beans (Czar), the first to eat fresh and the latter two to pod and use over the winter.

I also emptied out three of the pots containing courgette seeds that hadn’t germinated and of the six seed in them, five showed no signs of life at all whilst the sixth felt as though it had rotted inside. Not a great success this year. Fortunately I think we’ll still have enough plants to provide us with courgettes for the summer.

I was hoping to get far more done than I did. Other than sowing beans, I planted out the rest of the loofah gourds, cucumbers and the aubergines, some in the polytunnel and some in the greenhouse. I also went on a bindweed hunt and removed three or four shoots that I found in the polytunnel. I did nothing significant outside though. That was mostly because this afternoon it has been quite windy and rainy and no fun being out in it at all. Instead I drew up a map of the plot so I can plan where to put everything — I’ve delayed so many plants for so long because of the weather that the situation is starting to become a little overwhelming and I need a clear idea of what I need to do, otherwise I stand in the greenhouse door, see the carpet of green covering the staging and my brain melts 🙁 I need to cut it all down into manageable pieces.

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The 3D printer is dead! Long live the 3D printer!

My first 3D printer, the Geeetech aluminium copy of the Prusa i3, died this week. I’ve been printing out some parts for my beehives and it began randomly stopping in the middle of prints, and then it wouldn’t heat the bed or print head properly. I suspect the controller board has failed. I can probably fix it, though I suspect what I’ll actually do is some serious upgrade work as the bed doesn’t maintain its level for very long, the bearings are a little ropey, it could do with a fan on the print head and so on.

So until I can do that I decided to buy a new printer, and in the end splashed the cash on an Ender 3 v2, which arrived yesterday.

First impressions are that it’s pretty well made, quite solid and well thought out, except for the assembly and setup instructions which are, well, below average. Fortunately there appear to be quite a few videos on the interwebs that cover all that stuff.

One thing I will change is the springs under the bed. The supplied ones don’t look particularly reliable. I’ve ordered some replacements that are rectangular in section with flat ends. I’ve also read that replacing the connectors at each end of the Bowden feed tube is a good idea so as I have suitable replacement parts lying around I might well do that at the same time.

Bed levelling was a bit of a slog to get right, but having used the scrap of paper between the bed and print head I switched to a test print with a single layer circle in each corner and the centre of the bed to allow me to judge when it was correct. That seemed to work much better. I’m now repeating the last print I did on the old printer so I can compare the finished articles.

The printer itself is very quiet compared with the old one in terms of motor noise, but the fan(s) make up for much of that — it’s still a long way from genuinely quiet. It’s sitting on my desk next to me at the moment and it certainly won’t be staying there.

As long as this first print turns out ok though, I will consider it a worthwhile upgrade.

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Swimming, 7th May 2021

It was Tattoo City, Arizona when I got in the pool today. I felt decidedly “under-inked” (ie not at all). Probably triathlon or IronMan competitors. I know what they’re like 😀

My set of 20 x 50m reps was the best yet. I started with a 43s rep, then put in plenty of 44s and the occasional 43, only dropping into the 45s twice, and one of those was when I had to swim behind someone for half a length. Very happy with that. I did struggle to make it into the 18s with the 25m reps afterwards though, and only managed a couple. My entire body had just run out of go by that point.

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I suspect a “brushing” scam

Someone I know (not me, honest) received this item in the post today. No return address or indication of the sender or vendor.

I suspect it might be connected with a “brushing” scam, in which case other than the usual checks of account hacks and suchlike there’s probably little we can do.

I am however intrigued as to what it actually is. The round end has a splined socket with a keyway and looks of a broadly similar size to a class 1 tractor PTO, so I might try it for fit tomorrow, though I’d not trust such a low quality piece of cast aluminium to drive anything off a PTO (a PTO-driven fan, perhaps?).

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There’s coriander, and then there’s coriander

The photo below is from the polytunnel, where I planted eight coriander plants from early sowings, four either side of some dill. All of these plants were sown in the same module tray and transplanted at the same time, but those on the left (seed for an unnamed variety from Dobies) seem to have a total disinterest in producing leaf and are heading straight to seed, whilst those on the right (a variety called “Cruiser”, from some random supplier on ebay, I think) are bushing out nicely. I think it’s obvious where I won’t be buying my coriander seed again…

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