Wednesday, 11 November 2009

the transition city allotment was always going to be a bit of an experiment. would enough people want to help ? would we even be able to clear the plot of weeds ? would we keep motivated ? would we be able to grow anything ?
as we near the end of our second year of growing i'm realising that we've learned a thing or two this year, and recognised that everything we have done so far has been an experiment. i now feel pretty confident about what we'll grow next year and how we'll do it.

here's a few reflections:

1. if life gives you lemons...
if the allotment gives you floury potatoes... make mash.
potatoes this year, though reasonably plentiful, were unpopular on many fronts. most of them were purple, which some found unacceptable, and were exceedingly floury. crumbling after only a few minutes of boiling. i decided to go with it and make mash, adding rosemary and garlic also from the plot was especially good.

2. following last year's success with purple sprouting broccoli, though comprehensive fortification was essential, this year we decided that regular green broccoli is really not worth the bother, it was swamped with fly and seemed to go to flower before making anything usefully edible.
however, we do have a small row of 6 caulis further along the plot that were also covered in the same fly and are now thriving.
lesson learned, don't bother with brassicas other than caulis and maybe not plant them in big, pest attracting blocks.

3.chamomile is super easy to grow, self sows prolifically and when dried makes a far superior tea than any i have ever bought. will definitely do this again.

4. also regular Tea ( camellia sinesis ) may be raised from seed. who knew ! though a tricky germination process - i succeeded with 2 plants, one now remains and looks to be very healthy.

5. carrots can be grown successfully in tubes and in old wheelbarrows

6. a bundle of straw and lavender stalks will clear the pond of algae

7. phyacelia is a super, and beautiful green manure

8. mushrooms are hard to cultivate

9. sweetcorn needs to be at planted least 4 rows x 4 rows deep to ensure proper pollination. we had 2 small rows and ended up with strange gappy corn. though it did taste ok.

10. while we've seen some people move on to take up plots of their own or concentrate on their own gardens, recently i've had several enquiries from new people wanting to come and help. this is exactly how i hoped it would happen, long may it continue

11. and lastly, seed saving is fascinating, fun and very satisfying

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

strawberries for october

this, believe it or not is our exquisitely flowered green manure crop ( phacelia ) i think that the idea is that it shouldn't flower, therefore returning it's energy to the soil so we cut a few stems for a vase. i know we can't eat them but i've watched bees feed on them and i hope that they will noticeably improve the soil for us next spring

this is where we sowed it, where the potatoes were this year. you can see the 3 stages of growth as we cleared the spuds.

and the wheelbarrow carrots are doing nicely

we're very proud to be covered in the new Transition book,
Local Food: how to make it happen in your community
rob hopkins and tamzin pinkerton have done a wonderful job, basically if you are a person who relies on food to live then i think that this book is for you.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

our latest team member, he needs a name.
a very large and handsome frog has moved into our pond and looks to be very happy there

lots of other good things to eat

tim and i experimented with some mushroom growing last week, it seems that a constant temperature is important, between 10 and 20 degrees, if we get lucky with that then i'm quite hopeful for a good crop

Friday, 14 August 2009

seed saving part 2

saving sweet pea seeds.
i've collected pods from the garden and the allotment, when left to dry on their own they twist and pop open in a very pleasing way.

seed saving part 1

a new obsession: saving seed
these are the tiny seeds of the pink aquilegia that i bought from the bohemia market this year.

home grown chamomile tea

this is the chamomile that i harvested from the wheelbarrow, the flowers were picked in the morning and hung to dry for a week or so. they made a really lovely pot of tea. i think that this counts as an experiment that will be worth repeating.

i've also now noticed that the dainty yellow flowers are growing in many other places around the plot.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

first carrot

ashley and i decided to pull up our first transition carrot today

had a bit of a job getting it out of its tube ...

but it was long and straight

and delicious !

kohlrabi looking good too, i must find out what's good to do with them

last weekend we made a big fire

i had two trips to the plot the week before last, this is what i'm aiming for now, friday and sunday mornings.
on friday i managed to sneak in and out between some very dramatic looking skies whthout getting wet.
on saturday night ashley had organised a bonfire party, there were plenty of cleared weeds and brambles to burn, and onions, garlic and potatoes to roast in the fire.

it was lovely to be there at a different time of day and to see the plot in the evening light.

we had a few drinks and laughs, and loved watching fifi so enjoy eating some freshly dug horseradish.

i hope that we'll do it again before the end of the summer

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

the sweet peas finally took off, exploding in a riot of flowers

sweet peppers are forming in the greenhouse

some giant garlic was harvested

and there's plenty of beetroot, the roots are good raw and we've discovered that the leaves are delicious steamed, much like spinach.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

we had a nice hello from Po, a new zealander, letting us know about '' and also his blog it's all good interesting stuff, go and take a look.
the acronym is out of our own back yards.

so, i took stock of my own back yard this morning and photographed most of the edibles we are growing and enjoying at the moment.

the garden is small, perhaps 3m x 10m, there is a large, mature apple tree right in the middle, a decked area, a place for the dog to pee, a compost bin and a washing line. this is what i've managed to pack in !

in pots by the back door:
some chamomile from seed, with the intention of tea making, i now realise you'd need way more, but heck, it's pretty

also in a big tub, my trusty old blueberry bush,just beginning to ripen. this is the fourth year i've had homegrown blueberries

then there's a couple of brassicas, we tested these out at the allotment last year so i'm quite confident that i know what to do with these

and runner beans, two wigwams, 12 plants, starting to flower now. the easiest thing to grow ever.

some peas, bought as seedlings from the garden centre, first time i've tried to grow them, seems to be going well

and lovely sweet peas, grown from seed got at our seed swap. i will definitely be finding out how to save seed from these for next year

strawberries and raspberries, again first time crops for me, the birds seem to like the strawberries more than the raspberries but i don't mind them having a few.

more fruit, this is the crab apple tree, at the moment they are all going straight in the compost bin, does anyone know anything better to do with them ? they are exceedingly tart.

a couple of courgette plants are more than enough for any family and easy peasy to look after

then there's some herbs, mostly in tubs, this is the thyme flowering and there is also some mint, basil and rosemary, they all get used in dinner-making

moving indoors, strawberry and alpine strawberry seedlings

this is camellia sinesis which is the tea plant, it took 3 months to get to this point from a seed that looked like a malteaser and i'm very excited about it.

and this is a lovely dog rose that will provide us with hundreds of rosehips in the autumn and is just now home to a blackbird family who made their nest with straw from the strawberries :)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

voila, demonstrating the value of good homemade compost!

sweetpeas sown at the same time,
left: at the allotment - clayish, unloved for a while
right: my garden - rich in my first ever batch of homemade compost

and this i bought from a lovely flower stall at the bohemia market (where, incidentally we have an offer of a free stall if we can get our act together / anyone has any bright ideas, do let us know )yesterday, nice lady with lots of beautiful plants at very reasonable prices.

Monday, 8 June 2009

this is a kale called 'ragged jack' i got the seeds at our seed swap and think it's really pretty.

here's kim, planting, watering, covering more brassicas

the chamomile i planted in a wheelbarrow is thriving

some rhubarb had to be cleared so that we could plant the brassica seedlings, i've just eaten it for breakfast, it was very good.