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Splitting time

This week: Splitting time; A bit more roofing; Getting into a rhythm;

Warm autumn sunshine
After the rain – Warm autumn sunshine

The rain last weekend finally totalled 112 mm, which is more than 4½ inches in Imperial measurements. However this was just the right kind of rain.

Although there were some heavy pulses, mostly it was a fine, steady rain. The rain has all has soaked into the ground rather than run off.

At least this means that the need for irrigation has ended and planting my new trees before the rain came has been a bonus.

The week has been sunny again, and it is really warm in the sun. However there is not the strength there of even a couple of weeks ago.

The fine weather all this week has meant that I have been able to spend the days working outside. Sunny days has meant I have made steady progress on my various projects.

I was able to completely finish the rain water recovery pipe and check that it is working.

Laying the final pipework
Laying the final pipework

My neighbours round about have started to light their wood stoves. It isn’t cold enough yet for me to need my wood stove. However I do need to get things ready for when I require the central heating on again.

We had a full moon on Tuesday, and I was up in the Maquis at dusk it photograph the moon as it rose.

Moonrise over DOl
Moonrise over Dol

Tuesday’s full moon was a total lunar eclipse which was visible from the western USA and as far east as Australia. The next will be in April 2025.

Lunar eclipse time lapse
Lunar eclipse time lapse – Photo by Andrew McCarthy

I ordered an LPG thermostatic heater for the polytunnel from Germany, and it was delivered this week.

Bearing in mind that I have mango, banana, avocado and guava trees in there already and some other tender plants which I would like inside too, I thought it would be prudent to order well ahead of everyone else.

It is only five weeks to the shortest day of the year and in ten weeks time, the days will be getting longer.

In between we do have the coldest two weeks of the year, either side of New Year, but I always look forward to the long spring which we enjoy here on the island.

Splitting time

With the new trees planted in the citrus orchard, I have been doing more work in the different orchards, dividing my time between the polytunnel and the citrus orchard.

I laid the rainwater recovery pipe on hardcore and then fine sand, so that the water will easily drain away.

Hardcore under the pipe
Hardcore under the pipe

In addition to the slits all along the length of the pipe, I also drilled holes in the end stop and dug a soak away, so that during very heavy rain, the water has somewhere to go.

The I backfilled everywhere.


My truck load of thick plant residue is slowly going down, as I spread the mulch onto the soil of the orchard.

Spreading mulch
Spreading mulch

The clock is ticking quickly towards when I need to have the wind protection up on the citrus trees.

Usually I install the netting in November, ready for whatever the winter may throw towards Dol. The long range forecast suggests that December may be colder than usual, but once January comes around, it may be warmer than average.

So the bottom line is, we really just don’t know. I reset some of the all-weather paving slabs which I had to move when I dug the trench for the rainfall pipe.

When I moved the flag stones, I had to dig up some Crocus bulbs and I was surprised to see that they are already starting to grow, with their shoots 2.5 to 3 cm long. I need to get these replanted ASAP!

Crocus bulbs
Crocus bulbs

So often I find that in completing one task, I create two more for my list of jobs to do.

There is only so much that I can do in a day, especially as it is now sunset at 16:35 and really fully dark by just after 17:00. The sun now disappears behind the hill to the south just after 14:00.

2pm and the sun has gone
2pm and the sun has gone

A bit more roofing

I have started mounting the roof panels for the polytunnel this week.

Mounting the roof panels
Mounting the roof panels

You may recall that I have had difficulty in getting the 2 x 1 metre sheets to slot into the joint strips. I have been searching for something to help the panels slide in.

I get that they should be a tight fit, but I believed I was missing something because they are just so difficult.

At the suggestion of another local DiYer, I bought some aerosol silicone grease from BEPO in Jelsa on Monday. On Tuesday I started to put some of the 12 panels together.

My idea to use a large flat area and a wall in my neighbours pool area worked. I sprayed the grooves of the joint strip with the silicone grease and then tried to assemble them.

It was not too difficult to then slide the strip onto a panel, and join three panels together. So far so good.

However as soon as I tried to move the panels, they started to separate. Their size made it just too hard for me to move on my own.

On Thursday I enlisted some help to lift the first three panels onto the frame.

Some panels in place
Some panels in place

With two people, the job was easily achieved. The next job was to secure the panels in place.

By the end of the day I had the three panels bolted to the steel frame and screwed to the roof joists.

Getting into a rhythm

Once the roof is finished, it will be essentially self supporting, with each section locking the next into place. This is sometimes called a reciprocal frame.

Starting on Friday morning, I began to add more panels, however I realised that because the panels are very flexible, combined with their size, it took the whole day to install and fix just two panels.

After more days work, I have seven panel out of the twelve fixed in place. On Saturday I took special notice of how long it took to do each one.

The answer was four hours per panel, from start to finish. There is a lot of moving steps and ladders, and running up and down with various tools.

Visible progress
Visible progress on Saturday afternoon

I had hoped to be able to fit four panels in our short daylight day, however I realised the more haste was less speed and I needed to get into a rhythm.

Even having a good system, because of the time involved, the most I will be able to fix is two.

I’ve raided the tool boxes several times, bringing out vacuum suction cups, strips of aluminium and broad blade screwdrivers which have all played their part in getting the panels into place and securely fixed.

Next week looks like it will be an unsettled week, however once the roof is in place on the polytunnel, I can quickly fit the end walls and then do some jobs inside. NCG

2 Responses

  1. John Bailey

    Keep up the good work Norman. Poly Tunnel must be testing your patience. Looks like a difficult job nearly completed.

  2. Tony Griggs

    By the looks of the size of those rafters in the poly tunnel I figure you don’t get wild winds there Norman! It’s still raining & wet here in the Southern Hemisphere with only 6 weeks to Christmas today! Trust you are making sure you have enough time at each days end to enjoy a local wine & relax?