Dr. Mark Gardener
Dr. Christine Gardener

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Our allotment garden has come a long way since we first moved in. It was completely un-used and kept simply as a green space. So far I have created a compost area, created some raised beds and built a shed. See below..


Cold frame

Cold frames are useful items. They can be used like mini greenhouses and also places to put out larger plants before final transplantation. I had an old pallet (the sand for my raised beds project - to lay the brick paths - came on it) so had a go at constructing a cold frame from the wood.

First of all the pallet needed pulling apart - not always an easy job but persistence paid off. Next I cut the bits of wood into two sized lengths 100cm and 50cm for the sides. I wanted the back to be 4 plank-widths tall and the front to be 3. The pallet also contained some thicker pieces and I cut some chunks to help join the planks together.

The basic frame made up

I then nailed the bits together to form a simple box. One 50cm plank was cut in two diagonally and this formed the top of the two short sides.

Next I bought a piece of perspex from a local DIY store. I could have used old glass or whatever but couldn't find any. I cut the perspex to size and screwed on a couple of bits of wood to stop it sliding off.

The lid is on and the tub inside already sown

The double skinned perspex I used is probably best as it will give better insulation than the single layer stuff. In addition I found that I could stuff a bit of bamboo cane in the holes and use them to hold the lid down. I added a bit of bent wire (old coat hanger) to make a hook. The cold frame has already survived a few really stiff gales so I am happy. The perspex was large enough for two so I am on the lookout for another pallet.

The cold frame in place. The tent cloche was made from offcuts


Shed project

Obviously I wanted a shed. I wanted a place to store some tools, especially since the area is not right next to the house. I also wanted a place to store pots and to generally get out of the weather.

The ground is not level so the first task was to make a level base. I chose a 10' x 6' shed and ordered a base for it. The base was a wooden frame affair and my first job was to assemble that.

I then placed the frame in its final resting place and propped it up with bricks until pretty well level. I then marked out the position of the six posts that would secure it to the ground.

I then dug holes to accommodate the posts. Each hole was around 30cm deep.

Post holes dug
The holes then had a few cm of gravel added. I used sculpins, rough stuff that is commonly used for path foundations as it packs down nicely (and is cheap). The gravel would form a firm base for the posts to rest on.

gravel at the base of each hole

Each post is bolted home
Each post was laid in place and measured for size. I then cut the post to size and drilled through the frame. The posts were secured with substantial coach bolts (three for each post, 2 on one side and 1 the other). As each new post was prepared the frame was checked for its' level.

The base is now level and all posts in place
Once all six legs were in place the post holes were packed with more sculpins to hold them firmly in place.

Gravel secures the post

The base is complete and only needs the shed to go on top

Once all 6 posts were secured I added a few more bolts here and there (since I had a few spare) and now all was ready for the shed.


The shed in place on its' new base

April 2008

There is no water supply in the garden and with a new shed I naturally wanted to add a water butt or two.

Water butts collect rain from the new shed roof

I managed to get some small-size guttering stuff from a local DIY store and it was easy enough to fix in place. The roof felt needed some tweaking to get the water to run into the gutter. Water follows the contour of the felt and was dripping from the felt edge. I lifted the felt and inserted a strip underneath, fitting it into the gutter at the bottom edge. Now the water runs directly into the gutters.

With the ground not being level I had to chop the ground a bit before putting down a base (brick paving blocks). Now they are more or less level (I can tweak things a little by adding wooden shims between butt and stand.


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