Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Here's the very first seedling of 2010, just shooting out from the compost. It's a melon, in case you're wondering. It was raised under a simple, inexpensive propagator top from Wilko's, placed on a window ledge in a warm room.
Starting early seeds off indoors is a great way to get a head start on the growing season, even when it's too cold and wet outside to think of sowing anything in the soil. Tender plants, such as melons, peppers, and tomatoes can be germinated (ie. started from seed) in trays of compost in the house, with a propagator top which acts like a tiny wee greenhouse. The propagator top is removed once the first shoots appear.
Once the plants are big enough they are usually 'potted on' - that is, transplanted into larger pots to give the roots more space to spread out. Then you can start 'hardening off' by putting them outdoors in spring for increasingly long periods each day until they're finally able to look after themselves out of doors once there's no more danger of a bad frost.
These melons will eventually go into our polytunnel, rather than outdoors. They need the extra warmth provided by the tunnel's protection even in spring and summer. By starting the melons off nice and early, they have plenty of time to grow. They need to be quite big and be producing fruit in good time for the summer, which is when there will be enough heat and sunlight to ripen the fruits. That way we can dare to grow sweet, juicy melons which are not normally associated with our British weather.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
- Physical exercise - A good session of digging is high on the list for burning calories and raising your heart rate. Or if you prefer to potter about, it's still a clear winner over the arm chair and the TV!
- Emotional well being - reducing stress levels, and producing natural endorphins.
- Social benefits - Meeting a diverse range of people from equally diverse backgrounds, all with a common interest.
- Intellectual- Learn something new about gardening, bee keeping, cooking, to mention just a few, or bring something new to the site yourself!
- General well being - Putting all of the above in to practice and following it through,seeing the results emerging in late spring, following on the harvest in the autumn, planning liaising and communicating on site and in the wider community is not only rewarding in terms of the abundance of produce and what we can do with it, but also in terms of what it produces for the soul, it has an overall 'healing' effect as so many aspects of our well being are being addressed, holistically, unwittingly?..........but certainly quite effortlessly!
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
OK, so this might be cheating, but the beautifully painted mural on our storage container-cum-tool shed comes into its own when the earth isn't producing much in the way of natural blooms. Those beds in the foreground are just a small part of what the Entry to Employment (E2E) team achieved last year. Great work from those lively young people to transform a patch of bare earth into well-made paths and beds which are just oozing potential. You can expect those beds to be bursting with colour and goodness once we're into the growing season.
Friday, 5 February 2010
So - anyway the outcome is that we now have 2 different rhubarbs to replace our current geriatric one, 1 blackcurrant and 1 Marjorie's Seedling plum ready to be planted next week, + a jostaberry and a yellow gooseberry which are heeled in, in the soft fruit area, because they came bare-rooted and I was wearing fancy boots that weren't up to a proper planting.
The weather was far too nice and sunny just to drop stuff off and run, so we pottered a bit. My son (Apple man!) got as much of the algae out of the pond as he could with a stick, and I re-wove the fedge and the little willow arbour seat by the ladybird city.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
- wood for labels (about 5" width and 1/2" section is ideal, but larger sizes can be adapted.)
- wood for pegs (about 1" width and 1/2" section is best, but larger sizes can be adapted)
- unwanted tins of outdoor or household paint
- unwanted tins of varnish
It would be good if we could use leftover materials, so check your loft, shed, garage, or wherever else you dump the stuff that you can't bear to throw away.
With little else to do, we retired for coffee, muffins (thanks Nicola), and chat. Discussion centred around a banner for our big events this year, and Nicola obliged with an excellent design. We also finished sorting our stock of seed into date order, ready to be sown at the right time of the forthcoming season.
Our stock of seed looks good, although there are still some that we need to obtain, if we are to grow everything we'd like to this year:
- borlotto bean
- cauliflower, Romanesco
- beetroot, Chioggia Pink
- tomato, a variety of different cultivars
- courgette, though not too many
- sweet peas, any favourites?
- shallot sets
- garlic bulbs
Anyone who is going to this month's Beeston Transition seed swap event can help by looking out for these.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
The first one was our Willow Obelisk Weaving Workshop (hard to say, but fun to do!).
Then we had a Scarecrow Festival, with Scarecrows made by Albany Junior School, the 5th Stapleford Cubs and a few by Dig In members. Here are a few of the best ones - you'll guess that the theme was "The Sea"...
Last, but definitely not least, we had our Pumpkin Festival. This took loads of work, but it was definitely worth it. We had help from the local Transition Group, as well as Dave - the Pumpkin Poet, and Francis - a pumpkin story-teller with many hats! We ran pumpkin carving workshops, pumpkin games, lots of food-tastings, a largest pumpkin competition, a best-carved pumpkin competition and even a pumpkin spa where pumpkin-cremes were used to give the clients younger-looking skin.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
2009 was a great year, with some excellent events and lots of activity sessions at the allotment.
As usual, the AAH Veg group that meets on Wednesday mornings at the allotment did a great job and managed to grow some very interesting and delicious crops, including almost completely filling the polytunnel with vines of a stupendously prolific squash. They've also brought their cooking to the allotment this year, so we had some feasts like this one.