Futute engineers and scientists

I had a very enjoyable day yesterday as a part of the judging team for the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society schools competition.

There were 65 teams from schools across the region with an incredible range of projects from a wide range of age groups.

It was one of those evens where you wanted to make sure that every child received an award of some sort for simply putting in the effort to work on a science or engineering project.

Congratulations to CSES for the work put in to run such a successful event and to everyone on the school teams.

CSES schools competition 1 CSES schools competition



Garlic a plenty

This year’s garlic has suffered the worst rust we have seen for years.

So, it was with low expectations that I pulled the first patch this afternoon, where the stems were drooping and clearly adding nothing more to the bulbs.

I was pleasantly surprised with the results:



Time for blacksmithing

Well, I have finished the forge and today is the day to try it all out, more later, hopefully with pictures too, and not of a cold forge.

I will try to add them to twitter as I go along, link at the top of the page.

I will also be saying hello to Cathy from my old team at e2v. I may be a little sooty 😉

Polytunnel screening

polytunnel 1 I spent last weekend in St Ives, Cornwall, with some great friends I first met nearly 14 years ago at a holistic holiday in Greece. Whilst sitting in the garden, a question arose about the effective screening of a greenhouse.

Away from the obvious walls/trellis/bamboo screen, I offered to share what I do for the polytunnel. It is a marvellous thing but no-one would say that it is attractive to look at.

So, for the summer months, I grow vegetables of various types in front of the polytunnel, the most important being runner beans. This fulfils my criteria for the screen being functional and edible.

polytunnel 2The first picture (top) shows the view of the polytunnel from the house. Broad beans are already providing some cover at a low level, with Jerusalem artichokes to the right. You can also see the overhanging square framework for the runner beans in place and showing in its outline how it will completely obscure the polytunnel.

The second picture shows a side view of the growing beans, with the third picture (below) pulling out a little so that you can see the new path to the polytunnel door, running behind the beans and taking up the minimum space possible, so that I don’t lose growing space.



polytunnel 3In between the rows of beans you might be able to spot ground cover in the form of radishes for a quick crop, and vegetable squashes which will grow with the beans up the poles, adding to the screening and giving us squashes for the winter months.

The simple ‘year 1’ version of this is of course just a frame and runner beans. Whilst it is too late to grow them from seed, most garden centres are still selling small bean plants and these can be planted direct, remembering to give them plenty of compost as they are very hungry plants.

So that’s it, my simple guide to edible screening.