Girl, if you were a chicken you’d be impeccable.

The whole point of getting an allotment was to make something to eat. But at this stage of the game, that’s a long way off.

So if I cant grow anything, and I can’t sow anything, then maybe Mother Nature can help.


Now yet again, MrT was working. So I was going it alone. I had a very vague plan and a very big dream, with not much in the way of strength or money.

I figured that I would make a temporary run and coop, and gradually update it as and when I had more of a plan and had done a little bit more research into the best ideas. Since I couldn’t find much info on how best to keep chickens at an allotment, I just adapted what I could from all of those posh folks who have big enough houses to keep them at home (not jealous at all!!).

So my plan was to put the chickens by the front gates, in the hope that then my pigeon keeper neighbour would be able to look in on them while I was working.


The chicken ‘area’

So this is where they are going to go. That pallet block up a space in the hedging which goes through to the abandoned waste ground next door. This plot is impossible for the council to clear so they have left it as a ‘Wildlife Area’ – also known as a dumping ground. It does mean though that the tree overhanging that corner cant be accessed from anywhere but on my plot, and what is that tree? An Elderflower! Champers here we come!

Not yet though, before drinking comes building. So onto the internet I hopped in the hope of finding a potential ‘chicken house’.


Look what I found!

And thus, the temporary chicken hut was found. I took out the window panels and put in some chicken wire for ventilation and put up an old wooden ladder cut in half as a roost. I built a nesting box out of some scrap ply and hoped they would like it!

So next up was building my little chickys a run. This would be the ‘interesting’ part. I powered up the cordless drill and gathered up my supplies early Saturday morning in the hope of getting everything done in a day.

I began by journeying to the local DIY shop to buy myself some treated wooden posts, and soon realised that I needed to edit the size of the run so that i could fit it in my car. Not a great start.

Having managed to haul it all home, I spread out my ‘posts’ and began to build a cube. As the daughter of an engineer dad and a mother who asked for a compound mitre saw for her birthday, I knew reasonably well how to work a drill.

Having built my giant cube, I then added two beams the same height to one side to act as a door frame. I didn’t cut this down to sit flush with the walls, as I wanted to make sure that I could attach a hasp and lock to it so that I can keep it closed when I’m inside the run with them. It also means that it can only open outwards, not inwards. I thought this would be easier to stop the girls from escaping when I am going in and out. If you wanted to make it open both ways, just shorten the beams so that they sit flush with the cube sides, and shorten the gate to fit later on in the steps. If you’d like me to send you over the rough drawn napkin plans I made for both scenarios, just leave me a comment with your email.

Next up was to cover my  cube in aviary wire. We found a roll of this at the allotment during the Mass Mow and I got some more by scouring online freebie sites, but I still didn’t have enough to do the whole thing. I used the thicker aviary wire around the bottom of the run as foxes can chew through normal chicken wire! This was stapled on with a heavy duty stapler I already had at home and some galvanised staples, in the hope that they wouldn’t rust away. I didn’t cover the gate opening for obvious reasons! I made sure to leave a ‘L’ shaped overhang at the bottom of the run to stop critters from digging under the fence too.

Next step was to finish off enclosing the sides with chicken wire. I also used so scaffolding net to cover the top of the run, as I didn’t want to have to clip my hens’ wings.

Then I had a well earned brew and admired my handiwork.


Break time.

While the kettle was boiling, I quickly made up a rectangle the same height and width as the door frame. At this point, make sure that you leave half a cm either side so that the door can swing open and closed easily, even when cold and wet and the wood has swollen. I put a brace across the middle to keep it square. Usually this would be diagonal, but I really didn’t have the brain power this late in the game to work out the angles, so this would do for now. It also aids as an extra place to add my handle/bolt.

Time for another brew.

Next up, cover the gate in the same mix of aviary wire/chicken wire as the rest of the run. This was so easy, but make sure that you wear gloves when cutting the aviary wire. It is blinking sharp and hurts when it catches you!

Now it all comes together. I used two hinges top and bottom, and a bolt to keep my girlies safe. This was where I made a boo-boo. Make sure that you lift the gate off the floor slightly with a bit of wood or a slab, as otherwise your gate will catch when you open it!


Almost ready!

My final step was to add a nice handle either side and make sure that everything was tight and secure, then add my chickens!!

We decided to buy 6 young hens from a local breeder. They came vaccinated, well socialised and a week or two away from laying.


Arent they adorable!

So they are now moved in and happy, but I am already planning their permanent home…just to source the parts now.

I will keep you updated when I begin the next stage!

If a Blue Man Lives In a Blue House…

Who remembers how the greenhouse started? If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at my post detailing how it all began here. Take special note of how horrendous our greenhouse was.


Inside the Greenhouse


Back in its heyday, this Victorian Greenhouse would have been stunning. It is HUGE and has several opening windows with vents in the far end.

It also has a large conservatory-like building attached to the front doors, which is double glazed and will be perfect for a tea room one day! This currently has a large hole in the roof from a removed log burner and several cracked panes of glass.

There seems to be some of the old metal remaining from the log burner so one day i will upload photos of these and see if anybody has any ideas of what we can do with it!

In the meantime, I cleared out as much of the bindweed, nettles and brambles which had forced their way though the many panes of shattered glass. It went well… at first!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I uncovered a solid concrete path and edging stones! What I had thought would be a big job had suddenly become so much easier. My faith in the gardening gods had been restored!

That was until a large roof pane of glass which had been dislodged by the growing stems and subsequent ripping down of said stems fell from the sky.

If you are going to clear a greenhouse, make sure you wear gloves! – Hindsight!

This missed where my head had been just moments before, so that was one narrow escape but it did scupper my plans slightly since the resulting bloody hand and crying resulted in MrT not allowing me to finish off until he had checked all of the remaining glass panes were sound or removed.

Greenhouse pane collapse

Not too serious, I think I’ll live

So, all work stopped for a week until MrT could go and do man-stuff. When I finally got permission to go and do some more work in there, I was practically buzzing to get started.

I arrived early one Saturday morning planning to block up any gaps in my windows, only to meet a lovely allotment gent who owns a big fluffy dog called Molly. She is adorable and they had been looking for me. And he had bought me gifts…!

Molly’s Dad had seen all of the work I had put in to make the greenhouse plantable and knew that I had no time to sow seeds, so had bought me several different types of Tomatoes to plant up. He took me through to his own greenhouse and showed me how to plant them up and how to care for them, promising to come back in a few weeks and help me keep the trusses healthy. You see, I can use words like ‘truss’ now and roughly know what they mean. I am a proper Plot Holder and I am proud.

So I carefully carried my gorgeous new plants up to the greenhouse and set about planting them up. Here’s how I did it;

  • Dig a hole.
  • Upturn the pots and very carefully tease the roots out of the pots.
  • At this point, I should have put some sort of support in for my fully grown plants, but I didn’t because I didn’t realise they’d need it! Oops!
  • I then covered the roots in “Mycorrhizal Fungi”, a white powder which helps roots grow beautifully and resulting in a stronger plant.
  • Put the plant in the hole, right up to the first set of leaves. Toms produce roots from all of those fluffy bits on the stems, so you’ll get a much better root system this way.
  • Firm the soil carefully around the plant, making sure that you don’t leave a hollow around the stem where water can collect and cause rot.
  • I ran my fingers around the plant in a circle, leaving a shallow moat-like dip around the outside of where the root ball would be. This will help water drain here where the plant needs it most.
  • Remove any offshoots between the main stem and offshoots. The plants often like to make secondary trusses and these draw much needed goodness away from the main plant and truss, and can make your crops smaller. It also helps to reduce the changes of blight if air can circulate well around your plants. I’ll try and show you this a bit more when they have grown a little.
  • Water the plants in well, especially on a hot day, but not with freezing cold water. Only water around the base, not on leaves. This causes spots!

BonnieDog came to help me do some digging, but was far to precious to get herself muddy so just sat and watched.

So look at how gorgeous my greenhouse now looks! While I was in here planting up, Mr AcrossTheLane came over and bought me some beautiful chillies, so you can see these are also planted up in the bottom left corner. These are simple, just dig and plant, but make sure everything gets watered in well and fertilised when flowers appear.



My next step was to shutter in the two long beds with some sort of barrier to stop the soil from spilling on to my path. For this I used some old kerb sets which I found during my mass nettle cull by the gates a few weeks prior. Keep everything, you never know what is useful!


Weedguard going down, just in case

I then decided that the concrete path, although intact, was very chipped and broken and I would end up breaking a leg should I fall into one of the potholes in a rush to pick the fruits of my labour. Luckily for us, Mr AcrossTheLane is a tree surgeon as well as a great source of inspiration. He managed to dump us a load of wood chippings so that I could finish the path, and oh goodness did it smell gorgeous!

The typically summer-y smell of Tomatoes and pine chippings now fills the greenhouse on a summers day, and when you step through the doors and it is the perfect welcome after a tough day behind a computer screen.

As you can see, the left hand side is still very much blocked by the weeds and brambles which encased the greenhouse. This blocks out an awful lot of light, which didn’t matter so much in high summer but that will be a job now high on the list to sort…

Something might actually come of 2017 after all!