Just because Gardeners' World has wended its way off our television screens doesn't mean that we drag the garden out back with a shotgun as little Timmy wails by the last of the falling leaves. There are no dull gunshots and the sound of collapsing sods of earth. The garden continues and garden jobs carry on. Over the coming weeks we're going to be taking you through #autumngardening work from the structural jobs before winter sets in and the horticultural, those jobs you'll need wheelbarrows, secateurs and warm drinks for. So we start with one of those structural jobs we all seem to ignore and that is battening down the hatches or in our case the shed. Sheds are often the last thing you think about when the gardening year winds down (it never winds down, it just goes into a lower gear). A shed for many gardeners' is somewhere to sling the lawnmower, dump the tools and toss the garden furniture in to nestle it all down before opening it all back up spring to find the mice have gotten in and that expensive wicker furniture you brought is now a patchwork of noughts and crosses. Many sheds come with windows - we know, who'd have thought! - however, many sheds come with crap windows. Or as we like to call them, wobbly windows made of plastic that blow out come the first sign of a fart in a colander. We had this problem back in 2012 when one window blew out and the wind picked this shed up (it's 8 x 12 feet). So after we'd winched it back on to its concrete plinth, made a new window, we reached for a little make do and mend, and built are own winter shutters.
They do two jobs, they stop the shed from taking off but also mean that the shed becomes an effective fruit store over the winter months because when you add the shutters we get a cool and dark space. Great for storing apples regardless of how many mice nibble them. This means a shed has an extended season of use. However, like any wooden structure this is the time of year to get some maintenance done before the heavens open. To give you an idea of how fast the weather can change, within twenty-four hours of taking this photo we had rain and gales. So sometimes doing it tomorrow means putting off the inevitable, and in this case that is stopping the shed from becoming a kite. It is also time to make some minor repairs. You will notice in the original Pig For Victory image below (from our Wartime Garden years) that the top rail isn't there. It was literally make do and mend and this tiny little oversight has meant that these 'top blocks' have been under a lot of strain when the wind has hit them, then the rain and then the sun, and this summer they split.
We also neglected to stain them. It's so easy to put off when spring arrives and they come down but we have put our foot down added a new top rail and stained the shutters. The whole shed is going black in spring or even sooner if we get the weather.
This simple act of battening down the hatches for winter means we can assess what little jobs need doing to keep the shed going. We have a utility shed further down the hill that still needs a new roof, we started the project but then Andrew's new job came rolling in and we went from a quarter acre to seventy acres, and some things have been put on the back burner. However, some jobs can't be and these shutters are one of them. You could do the same to your shed. Our shutters are made out of old decking and roofing laths for the rails, they are simply secured with wooden turning pegs; we could opt for metal ones but again we are using what we have and metal ones have a tendency to loosen off over time. They have worked for three winters so far with minimal maintenance until this year. They're not light and take two people to fit but that also means they won't easily blow away - touch wood - and the weight of them give an extra structural boost to the weakest side of any shed, the side with windows on. When we come to finish the utility shed we will fit that with shutters too, to winter proof it and give it an added bit of security though the mice still get in and steal the apples.