Draping the Polytunnel Cover

Yesterday members of the Craven Arms Community Garden draped the polythene cover over the framework of the new polytunnel – another major milestone in the polytunnel construction.

The photograph below shows the cover at the first stage of fixing. It appears quite loose at this stage and the next step is to finalise the position of the cover and then tension and fix with wooden battens.

CACG Polytunnel Cover Draped 5th June 2015

CACG Polytunnel Cover Draped 5th June 2015

Once again our thanks to Ludlow Food Festival whose generosity has made all this possible.

Our gratitude also to the “polytunnel drapers” for their hard work yesterday in baking sunshine (we experienced the hottest day of the year so far):

  • Liz Wynn
  • Tony Mantle
  • John Wood

The photograph below shows the cover under tension during the fixing operation.

Tensioning and Fixing the CACG Polytunnel Cover

Tensioning and Fixing the CACG Polytunnel Cover

There are now just a few outstanding tasks before we have completed the polytunnel project:

  • some cosmetic trimming of the cover
  • re-positioning of an internal raised bed
  • fitting the irrigation system and linking to the rainwater storage tanks and solar pump
  • widening of the adjacent pathway

Soon our thoughts will be turning to a topping-out ceremony.

Polytunnel – First Hoop

Yesterday, Craven Arms Community Garden member John Wood and I installed the first hoop of the new polytunnel which has been obtained through the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival.

The photograph below taken from the South and looking North shows this first hoop in place at the northen end of the 25′ by 12′ polytunnel along with the internal raised beds in the foreground.

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

Whilst it might not seem like a big deal I would like to remind members of the Community Garden that a lot of hard work went into the preparation necessary to reach this major milestone.

So that’s one down, five to go – or should that be one up, five to go.

Solar-Powered Rainwater Pumping

Thanks to the generosity of Ludlow Food Festival the Craven Arms Community Garden are the proud owners of a Solar Powered Submersible Butt pump as described in a previous post.

Yesterday, the sunniest day of the year so far, CACG members John Wood and Sean Scannell commissioned the pump to transfer valuable rainwater from an existing IBC water storage container to the three new IBCs.

There were three objectives:

  • to commission the submersible water butt pump
  • to transfer water from a full water storage container to empty new containers
  • to learn how long a full battery charge will last

Historically water storage has been an issue at the Community Garden and so it is vital that we fill all the new IBC water storage containers with rainwater whilst we have rain and in advance of any potential summer drought.

The slightly Heath-Robinson set-up shown below was very effective in meeting the objectives we set and supporting the required learning.

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

The unit starts with a full charge from the mains and this is supplemented by the solar power trickle charge. We learned several important things:

  • the pump can successfully transfer water from this existing container to the new containers
  • a good flow rate can be achieved
  • the battery charge depletes in about an hour even in strong sunshine

There is an important monitoring task within this operation which is to ensure that the submersible pump is always submerged and the photograph below shows John Wood monitoring and adjusting the flow rate out of the IBC to feed the pump.

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

The photograph below shows more detail of the submersible pump in action.

The Submersible Pump in Action

The Submersible Pump in Action

We estimated that over the course of an hour we transferred about 200 litres of water which, crucially, meant that the tank we were pumping out of had capacity to collect further rainwater.

In the longer term the pump will be used to supply irrigation within the new polytunnel from the adjacent rainwater storage tanks. However, the facility to use the pump to transfer water from one set of storage containers to another is a valuable sustainability factor that enables us to maximise the collection of rainwater and to help ensure that the Community Garden does not suffer during any summer drought.

Solar Powered Water Pumping

An order has been placed for a Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump which will facilitate the automatic watering of plants within the soon to be installed poly-tunnel.

The photograph below is taken from the supplier’s brochure and illustrates the equipment that will be installed.

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

The solar panel will be located on the existing roof of the new IBC water storage area and the pump will be located downstream from the IBCs so that water feeds the poly-tunnel as required through an irrigation system.

Our grateful thanks to the Ludlow Food Festival for their generosity in funding this purchase within the project to install a new poly-tunnel to supplement the existing micro-allotment capacity of the Craven Arms Community Garden.

Grateful thanks also to Grow Cook Learn and the team at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre for their administrative support.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 3

Members took delivery of four IBC (intermediate bulk container) units on 21st April as part of the project to install additional rainwater catchment and water storage for the Craven Arms Community Garden.

IBC Delivery 21st April 2015

IBC Delivery 21st April 2015

Although these IBC are bulky – measuring 1m by 1m by 1m – they are relatively light when empty being made from food grade plastic and so were readily carried into place.

However, when an individual container is full of rainwater it will contain a cubic metre of water which is 1000 litres. One cubic metre of water weighs one metric tonne – hence the careful preparation of the base for these water storage tanks described in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series of posts.

Two IBCs Positioned for Rainwater Catchment

Two IBCs Positioned for Rainwater Catchment

So far two of the three IBCs for this area have been installed pending pipework for rainwater catchment and feeding to the poly-tunnel which will be installed close by.

Installed IBCs in Readiness for Rainwater Catchment

Installed IBCs in Readiness for Rainwater Catchment

The fourth IBC will be located on the South side of the Community Garden alongside an existing IBC.

This project to install additional rainwater catchment and water storage has been possible thanks to the generosity of Ludlow Food Festival who have provided funds for this and the purchase and installation of a poly-tunnel and secure shed.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 2

Early in April preparations started for the installation of additional rainwater catchment water storage tanks in readiness for the purchase of a poly-tunnel (size) thanks to funding from Ludlow Food Festival.

CACG member John Wood brought his logistics experience to the military precision of his planning for the series of dominoes required to fall in sequence to enable the very tight timetable to be met.

Members started by moving the existing dry compost into the South-West corner of the Community Garden so that the area under the existing roof could receive three new 1000 litre IBC (intermediate bulk containers). At the same time some new compost areas were created.

New Uncovered Compost Areas April 2015

New Uncovered Compost Areas April 2015

The majority of the wood from the former dry compost area has been reused to create these new compost areas that ought to provide better compost through being open to the elements. The paving slabs and blocks were then used to provide a level base for the three new water storage containers to be located under the existing roof so that rainwater can be collected.

Preparing the Base for Water Storage Containers 18th April 2015

Preparing the Base for the New Water Storage Containers

Supporting blocks have been doubled up in order to ensure an adequate head of water to feed a pump that will in turn irrigate the poly-tunnel.

Preparing the Base for New Water Storage Tanks 18th April 2015

Preparing the Base for New Water Storage Tanks

The poly-tunnel will be installed adjacent to the new water storage tanks and at the northern end – the right in this picture.

Further news on progress can be found in Part 3 of this series of posts.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 1

Thanks to the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival who have provided funding for additional rainwater catchment facilities, members have been busy during April taking delivery of materials and preparing a solid base for additional water storage containers.

Delivery of Blocks and Paving Slabs to Craven Arms Community Garden

Delivery of Blocks and Paving Slabs to Craven Arms Community Garden

Colin kindly gave permission for the delivery vehicle to gain access via the private road adjoining Newton so that paving slabs and blocks could be delivered onto the North perimeter of the Community Garden.

Blocks and Paving Slabs Delivered to Craven Arms Community Garden

Blocks and Paving Slabs Delivered to Craven Arms Community Garden

Once delivered, all that was required was to move the blocks and paving slabs close to their final position in the former dry compost area.

Slabs and Blocks for Base for Water Storage

Slabs and Blocks for Base for Water Storage

The next stage in the preparation for the installation of additional water storage containers was to position and level the paving slabs and install the support blocks – described in the next post: Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 2.