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    Found a small publication on cob wall maintenance which could be useful.

    http://devonearthbuilding.com/leafle...of_devon_2.pdf
    The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

    Originally posted by the plastic paddy
    Gwan the Welsh

    Comment


      Has earth building taken over from straw houses as the environmental build of choice? Know a few people who have built using straw.

      Comment


        Regarding the polytunnel project ... in case anyone thinks they'd like one for themselves, here's a breakdown of costs and materials etc. This is a one-man job as far as possible.

        I wanted to try and build a 5m x 3m polytunnel for substantially less than a conventional kit would cost. I tend to accumulate various things like lengths of timber etc (built several vegetable growing planters out of reclaimed fence boards) and so thought I would try to minimise what I had to actually buy.

        First off I have a bit of ground which was fairly steeply sloped. Away over a year ago (nearly two by now) I got a digger in to level a couple of sections of this and pile & level the dig-out so that I would end up with three level sections that are terraced (cost for all digger work £200, but as that was a much bigger area I don't think there's any point in including that in the costs for this particular project). I'm putting the polytunnel on the middle one. The terracing work means that this section of ground is scraped down to the bare clay, but that actually suits me fine as I'll be growing stuff on trestles/tables/shelves rather than in the ground.
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        This was how I tried to get an idea of the size I wanted ...
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        A mate who works in the building trade got me several 2m lengths of steel rebar. I painted these with hammerite and then got a farmer friend to bring his pile driver over and drive them into the clay as far as they would go, leaving about 1.2-1.5 metres above the surface (I could have dug and concreted these in place myself, but this way was quicker and used no concrete). Some of the ground was so hard/stony that they wouldn't all go in as deep as I'd hoped, but I used a metal cutting disc on the angle grinder to trim them all to the same height. Cost so far - £0 (well, I suppose the disc cost me 50p or whatever when I bought the pack, but I haven't worn it out!). Steel such as old scaffolding is very cheap at scrap merchants though, so even if I'd had to buy this I wouldn't have paid much more than £25 or so.

        I decided that plastic water pipe should be robust enough to use for the hoops, but the size I had in mind is bigger than the rebar. However the next size of pipe down is an almost perfect fit for sleeving the rebar and also fitting into the hoops. I decided to make sure there was no risk of the cut edge of the steel wearing a hole through the hoop, so the sleeve covers the entire length of the rebar.

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        Total cost to date - 50m roll of 32mm water pipe, plus 10m of 25mm water pipe, £72 total from local builder's merchant. I still have over 20m of the 32mm pipe left over, so could always build a second smaller one ...

        The hoops were next, and there were a couple of false starts. First of all I had tried using a silicon-type adhesive to secure the sleeves to the rebar, but this turned out to be ineffective - time and materials all wasted. Also, in terms of dimensions I initially assumed that the front view of the thing would essentially look like a 3m diameter semi-circle on top of straight sections of 1.2m, so worked out I would be cutting sections of about 7.2m for the hoops - however this left it all too tall and unwieldy, so after the first one I reduced this to 6.5m - obviously the width is still 3m.

        The measuring, cutting and fitting of the hoops turned out to be fairly time-consuming initially, as the pipe comes in a roll and doesn't want to stay straight for easy measuring. I'm doing this job on my own so I don't have mrs chips to be a gofer and to hold that bit there steady ffs! After a bit of faffing with the first section I hit on the idea of using a tailor's measuring tape rather than the usual metallic sort, marking the hoops every half metre to make sure all sections were cut equally. The inner sleeve is also an extremely tight fit inside the hoops, which is good for when the thing is finished but is a fair bit of struggle to fit when building on your own. I eventually took the vice out of the garage to clamp below the bottom edge of the inner sleeve so that my forcing the hoop down over it didn't simply drive the inner section into the clay.

        So today I finished fitting the hoops. As the ground isn't completely level, I'll need to adjust them a little to make sure they're all at exactly the same height and don't distort the plastic covering, but at least they're in. I used jubilee clips at ground level to make sure they're nice & snug on the steel - those cost under a tenner so total outlay to date is £80.
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        Next stage will be to brace between the hoops - hopefully incorporating an irrigation system - and build door frames for each end (for ventilation as well as access). I'll probably have to buy some timber but I'll see what I have lying about the place first, and also whether there are any bits I can scrounge. Then I'll have to buy the right sort of plastic for the covering which I've priced at around £50, as well as heat-proofing tape (I think it's maybe £15 for the roll). So the total cost might be as little as £150, which I'd be delighted with - in fact anything under £200 would be better than expected.

        I'll be doing this in my spare time over several weeks so don't expect any more updates for quite some time!
        Tis but a scratch.

        Comment


          I'll read that later
          The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

          Originally posted by the plastic paddy
          Gwan the Welsh

          Comment


            Originally posted by the plastic paddy View Post
            Has earth building taken over from straw houses as the environmental build of choice? Know a few people who have built using straw.
            Both being used. Rammed earth as you'd imagine is stronger and has a better load bearing capacity.
            Straw bales are usually rendered similar with either stucco type or lime render if exposed
            The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

            Originally posted by the plastic paddy
            Gwan the Welsh

            Comment


              Originally posted by Huwie View Post
              I'll read that later
              I read it, I feel tired. Well done Mr. Chips!
              Excellence is hard to keep quite - Sherrie Coale

              Comment


                Thought I would bring this up to date a bit. After drawing up a proper plan for the polytunnel frame so I could work out exactly what lengths of timber I would need, I was able to check how much suitable stuff I already had lying around the place. (it was also a very rare opportunity since leaving school to put the Pythagoras theorem to practical use ...)
                Ordered various lengths of timber about a fortnight ago, mostly the very long (4.8/5m) sections I didn't already have, for a total cost of £85. That's more than I originally intended to spend but I could have gotten it a fair bit cheaper had I not decided to go for treated stuff - even though it's all going to be inside the plastic covering, I'd rather limit any possible issues concerning durability as much as possible. A couple of long sections still haven't arrived thanks to the July holidays up here, so I've gotten more or less as far as I can for now.

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                I've had to cut quite a few of the joining angles by hand - this has been a bit time-consuming but even if I say so myself, every one of those has been a perfect fit in every plane and the thing feels solid as a rock already. The tarp is a handy shelter from the elements but also provided an early test of the structural integrity when before I'd tied it properly, the top of it filled up with water during a rainstorm & had about a bath's worth sagging in towards the middle - not one bit of buckling or straining in the timber frame though!
                Tis but a scratch.

                Comment


                  Anybody out there ever try to grow strawberries in a pyramid or trained upwards on a trellis? They can also be grown in a basket and allowed to hang down. I've seen a variety called Mount Everest in some websites.Looks like something that would save a lot of space but can't find any available on Irish websites some of the UK ones I've looked at don't ship here.
                  The early bird catches the worm but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

                  Comment


                    Originally posted by Arthur Guinness View Post
                    Anybody out there ever try to grow strawberries in a pyramid or trained upwards on a trellis? They can also be grown in a basket and allowed to hang down. I've seen a variety called Mount Everest in some websites.Looks like something that would save a lot of space but can't find any available on Irish websites some of the UK ones I've looked at don't ship here.
                    I've grown them hanging down alright with mixed results.

                    Have you tried parcel motel for the shipping?
                    "If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards - checkmate!" Zapp Brannigan

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by masterchief View Post
                      I've grown them hanging down alright with mixed results.

                      Have you tried parcel motel for the shipping?
                      Thanks MC. Yes the Parcel Motel is always an option if I can't get them or similiar here.

                      Incidentally,last year I put down far too much parsley. However,rather than dump it I found that it makes very fine pesto and also very tasty soup. I've put down even more this year of both curly and flat leaf varieties for this reason. . Some recipes call specifically for the flatleaf so I'll be comparing them. I find the curly stuff very difficult to grow from seed. The flat leaf is a little better.m
                      Last edited by Arthur Guinness; 31-July-2014, 08:57.
                      The early bird catches the worm but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

                      Comment


                        Was at a friend's place in south Co. Derry yesterday and there are two greenhouses full of grapes there. That's definitely on my list for next year ...
                        Tis but a scratch.

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by mr chips View Post
                          Was at a friend's place in south Co. Derry yesterday and there are two greenhouses full of grapes there. That's definitely on my list for next year ...
                          Had he the roots outside?
                          The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

                          Originally posted by the plastic paddy
                          Gwan the Welsh

                          Comment


                            No, in beds inside. One was a proper greenhouse, the other was just lengths of clear corrugated plastic attached to the back wall of a shed. Between the size of the tomato vines and the grapevines, you could barely walk through the latter one - in fact she admitted the tomatoes had been slightly neglected over the last few weeks and were overgrowing in terms of the amount of foliage on them.
                            Tis but a scratch.

                            Comment


                              Originally posted by mr chips View Post
                              No, in beds inside. One was a proper greenhouse, the other was just lengths of clear corrugated plastic attached to the back wall of a shed. Between the size of the tomato vines and the grapevines, you could barely walk through the latter one - in fact she admitted the tomatoes had been slightly neglected over the last few weeks and were overgrowing in terms of the amount of foliage on them.

                              food for thought.
                              some or all grapes like a bit of frost apparently, and this way also gives the roots a chance to spread out. And less watering too id imagine.
                              but if you are growing them in a lightweight structure like your polytunnel, im sure planting them at the edges would be sufficient for them to spread out.

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                              Last edited by Huwie; 31-July-2014, 13:59.
                              The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

                              Originally posted by the plastic paddy
                              Gwan the Welsh

                              Comment


                                Been weeding the gravel behind the back of the house this morning, in preparation for laying a brick patio. Lifted a piece of kerbing I'd left lying in the corner ages ago, and discovered a colony of black ants on the stones below. I know these can go for soft fruit but anything I have growing there is in boxes on top of a 2 foot retaining wall, and is all herbs/veg - the stuff in the vicinity is carrots, kale, onions, leeks, garlic, beetroot & peas, plus mint, rosemary, thyme etc. I don't think the produce is at risk, but the nest is only about 12-15 feet from the house itself and I don't know whether this could be problematic in terms of invading. Should I take steps to eradicate it, or leave them be?
                                Tis but a scratch.

                                Comment

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