The arrival of my seeds and the compost plus reading some other bloggers’ lists of jobs to do at this time of year set me thinking. I have 5 greenhouse – yes, I know, greedy! 3 are end to end on the veg patch and replaced a polytunnel, one is the lean-to on the South wall of the house built primarily to give solar gain and protection without the expense of a conservatory, and the 5th is near the West end of the house beyond the conservatory and is where I raise seedlings which then get planted out elsewhere. It has staging which includes a big trough filled with sand and heated by a soil warming cable. With surrounds of twin wall plastic and bubble wrap this acts as a big propagator. But I have never got the storage of plant pots right and the workbench is too small. Time for a rethink.
Some years ago I wanted to make a secure area for poultry behind the house so built a small shed for pots outside the greenhouse with a tall gate hung on it. Because it was constructed from bits I had lying around the gate opens the wrong way and makes access difficult. The walls are not solid and there are trees on the bank above so water and dead leaves get in and make the clean pots dirty and slimy – something I had not thought about before I built it. I could rebuild or modify the walls and rehang the gate but as I no longer keep poultry this whole assembly could go if I could find another home for the pots.
Before I built the shed some were stored in the shed on the veg patch which was where we originally did sowing and some were under the staging, but I got fed up of having to traipse up the hill to fetch ones from the shed or bend down and scrabble underneath the propagator to find ones there. However that space under the staging was wasted – could I find a better way to store pots there? My first idea was to buy some of those plastic boxes on wheels. They proved expensive and did I actually need the lids? If they were hinged they would mean I had to pull the box right out to open them and if loose they would end up knocking around somewhere being a nuisance. Hmmm. Creativity required!
A good rummage in my sheds (I have a lot of those too which panders to my hoarding instincts!) revealed a rectangular plastic washing basket discarded because of a cracked base but OK for holding light things, 2 plastic boxes from when Safeway experimented with self check-out but discontinued it (They sold out to Morrisons years ago so goodness knows how old those boxes are), a stack of bakers trays bought as a job lot at auction donkeys years ago and used to store potatoes or apples, and some 10 litre canisters (bought with contents and saved when empty) which are actually too heavy to move easily when filled with liquid but could be cut down and given a makeshift handle. A bit of sorting and almost all the things in the shed are now under the staging in containers that should be easy to pull out when I need something.
What struck me was how much of my equipment is recycled. I buy refurbished tools from the Eco-shop in Cardigan or ones made for Tools for Self Reliance. Instead of plug trays I use a collection of cut down probiotic drink pots and old waste pipe inside mushroom punnets. Those pots and pipe have been in use for at least 10 years and whilst a few get lost or broken every year the majority soldier on. The pipe was taken out when we refurbished the house. Because we were doing the work ourselves, and living in the house whilst it all went on, we had to install the new kitchen and bathroom before the old ones were taken out so got left with lots of odd lengths of used pipe. Beans and peas are sown in newspaper pots in mushroom trays from C&M organics who cannot return them. Small pots are cream or yoghurt cartons or gifts or ones which came with plants in. Only some of the larger ones were actually bought!
That leaves the workspace problem but in my excavations (yes it did feel like an archeological dig!) in the sheds I found a small drop-leaf table which could go at the end of the central bed and give me extra space – one bench for filling pots and another for sowing and labelling. Moving the table will have to wait until I can use both hands but there is no rush. Only time will tell if I have now solved the problems but I am optimistic!