No dig diary, 30th July 2021

It is said that all actions have quinsequonces…

I went out to the greenhouse this evening to collect my kale plants with the intention of planting them out, to discover that having quite successfully netted all of my brassicas and kept the pests off, butterflies have repeatedly raided the greenhouse in retaliation and the eight kale plants were smothered in caterpillars ranging in size from perhaps as much as 40mm down to barely visible 🙁 I picked off as many as I could find — about seventy of the little blighters — and planted them out anyway, but I’ve sown another batch just in case as they’re a pig to find, being almost the perfect colour match for the kale leaves.

I also planted out another batch of spring onions amongst the lettuces that are almost ready. We actually have a few left of the ones I sowed last August and over-wintered, but they’re now “proper” onions. Once they got too fat for normal spring onions I thought I might as well let them grow on and we’ll use them with the rest.

The main veggie plot is looking a little wind-swept in the aftermath of Storm Pervert (or whatever this one is called). Fortunately the beans are still vertical, but a couple of the sweetcorn have fallen over and will need staking upright tomorrow I think. We had a self-seeded sunflower next to the greenhouse as tall as me that my daughter had adopted, but sadly it has snapped at the base and will now have to be sacrificed to the great compost god.

It’s not all bad news though. In the polytunnel I found these hiding away at the bottom of one of the aubergine plants:

And in the no dig greenhouse there are fruit on both varieties of melon at last. Hopefully they’ll ripen fully.

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Swimming, 30th July 2021

Final session of the week! No improvement in the water temperature, but the manager was at the reception desk when I came in so I discussed it with him. It turns out that some work has been done on the heating system and as a result it is more efficient, but that’s meant the water temperature is now too high (no kidding). They’re apparently getting someone in at the weekend to look at it, so perhaps it will be better next week.

Times for today were:

(50m) 43.05, 44.28, 44.36, 45.36, 45.23, 45.45, 45.69, 45.12, 4568, 44.27, 45.80, 44.95, 45.36, 44.82, skip, 43.56, 43.65, 44.42

(25m) 18.80, 19.52, 19.62, 19.51, 19.11, 19.49, 19.11, 18.65, 18.55, 18.85

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Swimming, 29th July 2021

Another warm one 🙁

There was a bit of a strange group in the fast lane today, too. A couple of girls who weren’t even in their teens, another girl who might have been late teens, and someone I took to be her dad. The two younger girls weren’t slow, but did randomly change strokes which was awkward at times. The older girl wasn’t quick though, and her dad was even slower, and did breaststroke every other length.

Surprisingly my times for the session look much better than they have been since the pool got so warm. It was still insanely hard work though.

(50m) 42.12, 43.38, 43.39, 44.75, 43.49, 44.24, 44.18, 43.79, skip, 42.18, 42.43, 43.81, 43.40, 45.31, skip, 44.02, 45.12, skip, 42.68, 43.68

(25m) 18.79, 19.47, 19.12, 19.43, 19.13, 19.13, 19.15, no time

I know I should have stopped after the third skipped 50m rep, but given that I’m so far off where I should be anyhow I didn’t think there was much point. I’m really just trying to get through this until the pool is a reasonable temperature again.

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No dig diary, 28th July 2021

It’s a veggie day today and we’re eating loads from the garden for dinner this evening, including the very last of the peas.

Also on the menu this evening is broccoli (calabrese). This is a vegetable that I need to get my head around a bit better. It very much seems to be “all or nothing”. I’ve made a few successional sowings, but I reckon the plants near each other must be communicating somehow 🙂 A quick count up last weekend gave us fourteen heads ready to eat and obviously they don’t hang around very long. I can’t complain as I’ve never grown so much good-looking broccoli before, but next year I think I’ll have to go a bit mad with the successional thing, perhaps sowing and planting out two or three plants every couple of weeks and even then investigating ways to use it so it won’t go to waste. I’ve just seen a recipe for broccoli and stilton soup that sounds quite appealing, so I might have to try that later this week.

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Swimming, 28th July 2021

Same story at the pool today, but I was a little faster at least. There’s probably not much else to say.

(50m) 43.24, 44.63, 43.71, 44.18, 45.17, 43.58, 44.19, 44.39, 44.21, 46.83, 44.82, 44.64, 45.29, 45.07, skip, 43.08, 44.26, skip, no time, 43.15

(25m) 19.08, 19.37, 18.96, 19.32, 19.38, 19.32, 19.16, 19.49

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Swimming, 26th July 2021

Still no progress with the pool. It’s as warm as it was last week 🙁

Times are predictably poor, and I really felt as though I was slogging my guts out to go that fast. Even after I finished swimming, I stood outside the building running with sweat. That doesn’t normally happen, and is quite unpleasant 🙁

My times were:

(50m) 45.40, 46.12, 47.06, 45.84, 46.28, 46.57, skip, 44.62, 45.05, 45.49, 45.12, 44.75, 45.49, 45.40, skip, 44.13, 45.78, 46.51, 46.51, 45.90

(25m) 20.24, 19.67, 19.52, 20.41, 20.05, 19.19, 19.35, 19.15, 19.69. 18.96, 19.15, 18.93

I have an unplanned break tomorrow. In fact this entire week is a bit messed up. There was supposed to be a lifeguard training course running this week, but it was cancelled. However, most of the afternoon lane-swimming sessions remain unavailable and there’s nothing on a Tuesday after 7:30am which is far too early for me, so I shall be doing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday instead. Perhaps the pool will be cooler by then. Hah!

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Testing out the Crytec chipper

I couldn’t leave it sitting around for long, so today I hooked up the chipper to the towing hitch on the tractor, locking the stand in the “up” position to stop it dragging on the ground, and towed it up to the compost heap. I also fetched the trailer and went around the property collecting up recently-trimmed branches that were too small to waste time on chopping up for logs. We had a fair size pile by the time it came to fire up the chipper (which started very easily again) and leave it to warm up for a few minutes.

I wore my chainsaw helmet rather than separate goggles and ear defenders. Whilst having a cooler head might have been nice, the mesh mask is much more comfortable to work in, and obviously protects the entire face rather than just the area around the eyes.

In terms of performance, the machine did everything asked of it, sometimes in quite a scary fashion. A light touch is definitely required on the material going in, as it will often just grab the end and pull it into the machine. On larger, harder wood the engine did slow a little, though I didn’t have it on full throttle anyhow. Allowing it to feed through at its own rate worked fine though. It’s fast enough that there’s no reason to try to force things along.

The drum did block up once, necessitating the removal of both chutes to clear the chips out. I suspect that might have been the result of over-zealous feeding of the beast. I think it can be kept under control though by checking that the feed chute is clearing properly every so often, and if not then using a bit of the feed material just to disturb any build-up of chips enough to have them scooped through the machine when no new material is being fed through. That worked for me and there were no further problems.

The output chute seems to work far better when it’s pointing directly away from the machine. By the time it’s at right angles, there’s far less control over where the chips end up. Unfortunately when it’s pointing directly away the tow bar can be in the way. It is possible to remove the tow bar though there’s no quick release mechanism, so next time I’ll try with just a slight angle on the outlet. As I won’t be towing the machine on the road (I don’t believe it’s legal to tow on public roads) I might fit some sort of quick release to make it easier to remove the bar if I wish to.

First impressions though leave me very pleased. What seemed like a fairly large pile of trimmings from trees turned into a relatively small pile of woodchips and broken leaves in not very much time at all. It certainly should make life much easier and mean there’ll be no waste wood when trees are felled or cut back because it can all be used on the garden or put in the compost. In fact, I used some of the chipped wood immediately to mix in with a batch of grass clippings from the mower as they were put into one of the compost bins.

Oh, by the way… IT’S LOUD 😀

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No dig diary, 24th July 2021

Looking last night at the forecast for today it was heavy rain all day with thunderstorms this afternoon. I didn’t therefore feel compelled to drag myself out of bed particularly early, but when I did so found that it wasn’t raining and in fact it has not done so all day. They’ve even been playing a match at the cricket club next to us and my wife is now taking in the last of the day’s sun in the garden.

Fortunately I had a few things in mind to do that meant I didn’t have to think too hard about changing my plans for the day. First I sowed some seeds that may become the first of our winter salads (are we really at that time of year again so soon?!) assuming they don’t grow too fast over the next few weeks. I also sowed some more radishes, and whilst I was in the greenhouse I thinned some of the other plants I’ve sown recently that will be going outside in the first couple of weeks of August. I had a bit of tidying up to do outside the lesser-used end of the polytunnel where brambles have grown out of the hedge, and fed those along with some other prunings from my father-in-law into the baby shredder (no, I don’t really shred babies — I prefer them thickly sliced and flame-grilled until rare 😀

After that I harvested all our remaining broad beans as the plants have pretty much reached the end of their lives and are starting to shed leaves, though I did notice that one or two have started growing new stems from the base. some even with flowers despite being only a few inches tall. I filled an entire five-gallon (ish) trug with the pods which I then shelled with my daughter and on the way back from taking all the empty pods to the compost we stopped off to lift all of the Charlotte potatoes. These haven’t done particularly well this year. The plants have been quite stunted compared with the other potato varieties either side of them. I guess we’ve got about 15kg though, which should be enough to see us through into autumn.

Back in the house I weighed the shelled broad beans. Given the ones we’ve already eaten I reckon we’ve probably totalled just over 3.5kg which hardly makes them a waste of time, but isn’t that much to show from twenty very healthy plants either. Because the bean skins can taste bitter when they get older I blanched them all, removed the skins and they’re now all in the freezer. I might try an autumn sowing for next year, with a backup option of a further sowing in January in case they don’t survive the winter. A bee-keeping acquaintance just down the road harvested 3kg of beans from half the number of autumn-sown plants, so I reckon it’s worth a try.

My final act of the day was to visit the no dig greenhouse to check over the melons. We appear to have a few that are fattening up, though they’re still no bigger than my thumb. I also harvested this, about which I should probably make no further comment 🙂

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Swimming, 23rd July 2021

It could be time to take the rubber ducks and bubble bath to the pool 🙂

Another warm day, another slog through the set, though mostly it wasn’t quite as bad as yesterday speed-wise, though I had to skip a 50m rep and then messed up timing the next one. I’m going to need a way to manage that better I think.

Anyhow, the times were:

45.12, 44.86, 43.18, 44.50, 44.37, 44.24, 44.81, 44.15, 43.64, 44.24, 4.13, 44.35, 44.73, 45.53, 44.83, 44.36, 46.07, skip, not timed, 47.10

I clearly was getting very tired towards the end. The 25m reps were also an improvement on yesterday:

19.81, 19.52, 19.51, 19.58, 19.50, 19.61, 19.69, 18.49

At least there was nothing over 20 seconds today 🙂 Hardly impressive though. Perhaps they can get the pool sorted by next week. I think there must be something wrong with the heating. One of the life guards told me that at one point it was 50°C on poolside earlier in the week 🙁

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Swimming, 22nd July 2021

No improvement in the pool temperature yet, and another slog through the session just trying to do the reps somehow. It wasn’t pleasant, and my pace was well off what I was swimming only a few days ago.

Now, of course, I have the records of the actual times, so my 50m reps were:

44.18, 45.42, 45.23, 44.05, 45.24, 45.01, 45.03, 45.81, 45.52, 45.18, 45.58, 45.61, 45.83, 45.87, 45.61, 46.30, 46.39, 45.81, 45.96, 44.57

And for 25m:

18.90, 19.66, 19.80, 30.31, 19.88, 20.24, 18.83, 20.25, 19.41, 19.56

at which point I ran out of time. I just couldn’t go any faster though, and I was completely exhausted by the end of the session 🙁 It’s shocking how much difference it makes when the water is just two or three degrees warmer than usual.

The new timer is taking a while to get the hang of, just remembering to press the button at the right time, and remembering that I have pressed the button the right number of times. The sequence goes: press once to start, once to stop (the watch shows the rep time then), once to see the rest interval time, once to zero the stopwatch when the rest interval is over, and back to the beginning. I think it might actually be easier to do the last press a few seconds before the end of the rest interval so it’s possible to check that it has reset to zero before starting the next rep. I’ll give that a try next time.

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