Monday 5th July Anne and i had a tidying up day today gathering up our once neat and now scattered pile of topsoil and moving it into old compost bags ready to take to a greening workshop in 2 weeks time and the rest into a dumpy bag. then working around the compost area chopping down the long grass and removing the flowers off the dock plants that have sprung up at the top of the plot to stop them spreading any more
Tuesday 6th not an allotment day but eagle eyed Anne saw some lovely doors in a skip so we went and asked if we could have them to use in the shed build. The answer was yes so 3 trips up Hartshill bank and back down carrying our prizes
wednesday 7th rain doesn't stop play for the wonder women! we all meet up at plot 33 and had a lovely creative afternoon designing a banner for a local event then the rain let off so we were able to have a meal made from produce from the plot including a delicious Rhubarb cordial to drink
Friday 9th bit of a funny day today not much time spent on plot 33 but lots of greening related work going on we had a trip to the tip to get rid of some bits of wood that are just too far gone to use, turning compost, and watering as well. but most of the day was spent at a local church St Marks Stelton and at our studio getting ready for a greening Stoke workshop on Saturday 17th July
me and Lisa painting boarding ready to brighten up and green St Marks
Monday 28th June
Rachel and me digging, planting and harvesting today and what a harvest!
Potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, rhubarb and Spring onions. And not forgetting a handful of wild strawberries and a few red currents that hadn't been eaten by the birds.... shame, as they are tasty.
Wednesday 30th July
Wow! there were 10 of us ( Wonder Women) on site.....the weather was good and we were a hive of activity. Clearing paths, digging out the nasty roots, removing staples from reclaimed wood, fence painting and illustrating the wildlife on the compost bin blackboard.
The reward made with our produce: Rachel's spinach and feta pastry bites, new potatoes and of course, a lovely salad mix.
Banjo the fox paid us a visit admiring her portrait by lisa
Monday 21st June
Bit of an Up and Down this week the poppies and sweet peas have started to flower and the broad beans are ready to harvest. We tidied the greenhouse and put the cucumbers, loofah and aubergines in their final places. Standing back its hard to think we only started this part of our journey in January
But we had noticed some of our onions leaves had grown curly and i didn't think much about it, but after seeing an article online about allium leaf miner i had my suspicions about them and after digging the worst one up found some pupas confirming the worst. if we want to grow any alliums now we'll have to net them with enviromesh as the flies are tiny (for more info on leaf miners go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=643) but the space created by the taking out some of the onions meant we could plant out the celerica so thats all good.
Wednesday 23rd June
four legged friends. I could tell you all about the creative things we did (painting the fence) or the Gardening (planting out more pumpkins and some other bits and pieces) or the food we had (broad bean dip) but the whole session was stolen by a visit from Dino the dog and at the end by our resident fox after she tried to steal my gloves Dino didn't notice he was flaked out after a busy time sniffing everything and having a lot of fuss off everyone
Friday 25th June it rained and we eat lunch and chatted with Marg (who had come for a visit) in the allotment hut we didnt take a photo so here's one of the flower boarder instead
Monday came and after we had been on a bit of a jolly to order soil and compost from the lovely guys at Acres Green in Caverswall(Its arriving on Friday!) we installed a bit more fencing, kindly donated by our next door neighbour, Mike. We built the 4th side of the compost heap so it is removable to enable us easily to move the compost from one stall to another. We transferred the rotting compost from stall one to stall two and the aim is to move it and therefore turn it over every two weeks which should speed up the rotting process. We need lots of compost! Bit more weeding (always) and of course watering.
Another beautiful Wednesday for Wonder Women at Plot 33. Lots of weeding in the flower bed. An old water tank has sat, full of weeds and other delights, challenging us to do something with it. We finally bit the bullet and cleared it out. It will make a great planter for a pumpkin and maybe some herbs. We harvested a lovely salad of leaves, herbs and a sprinkle of marigold petals (lemony tasting) to go with the delicious crustless quiche Rachel had made.
,A half ton bag of topsoil and a half ton bag of compost were delivered on Friday to the allotment gates. We had to move it all the hundred metres from the gates onto the allotment straightaway. Firstly because it was blocking the gates but also if left, it could become a free for all! So armed with 2 wheelbarrows and 2 spades we set to work. It took some effort but it was very satisfying and it's great to know when we need it, it's there. We immediately filled the water tank (after filling partially with some rotting wood), and added some more soil/compost mix to the no dig bed. Then we sat and recovered with well earned cuppas.
Monday 7th June
After much umming and ahhing and consulting with some No-Dig experts via the interweb, we made the hard decision that if we wanted to grow anything other than weeds in bed 3 we were going to have to do a bit of digging. so monday we set about with rakes and trowels, rescuing the not quite dead Kale and pulling out grass roots by the bucket full (it was very satisfying)
Wednesday 9th June the wonder women came to plot 33 and we had a lovely relaxed day sowing seeds, pricking out seedlings and potting on plants as well as scoffing some delicious lemon balm oat cookies made by Anne, with our own lemon balm. Todays difficult decision was to have one cookie or two and what type of salad to pick!
friday 11th June i made a list of jobs i thought we should at least attempt and we did pretty well with it thanks to some help from Annes sister who came for a visit. we planted the courgettes, and 2 pumpkins in bed 3, weeded beds 2 (rhubarb) and 4 (onions and carrots) and a bit of work on the compost bins. The plot looks a lot tidier and you can see the carrots hopefully the companion planting of parsley, marigolds and onions will work and hide the sent from the dreaded carrot fly!
Along to Plot 33 in the midday sun... glorious. The Greenhouse was so hot ...the tomatoes are doing really well and enjoyed a good soaking and a bit more 'pinching out' (hark at me with my gardening terms!). The smaller plants were beginning to suffer with the heat so we moved outside and watered thoroughly, in hope they will all survive.
We started to tackle making a fence panel from part of the demolished shed, to denote our boundary with the community orchard. Lots of weilding a saw, a sledge hammer and a drill and eventually we have the first panel.... not perfect by a long shot...but it's standing quite sturdily. We also installed a trellis for the pumpkin to grow up. After all that effort in the heat of the day we need to sit and enjoy our plot and thoroughly water ourselves followed by everything growing ..... the water buts are now empty!
Wednesday, Wonder Women Day. Another hot day .. bit of a contrast to last Wednesday when we were all wrapping our hands around cups of tea to keep warm. We set ourselves up on the grass so we didn't have to move too much and slow painted the bench, another wheelbarrow to plant up, the pumpkin trellis and the base boards for our Greening Festival Stoke and Plot 33 signs. Now we need to install them. There was some slow hoeing between rows of potatoes, carrots, onions etc and slow watering before retreating to find shade. Rachel made up gorgeous bags of salad leaves, small but perfect carrots, spring onions and herbs to take home. Lovely day together "we'll remember this as one of those special days....."
Friday. We have been out and about doing other things today so only short time on the allotment planting peas with wigwam's to grow up followed by watering, watering and more watering.
the weather was a bit wild on Monday so instead of going down to Plot 33 i played hooky while Anne was off visiting relatives. So what does a plant mad girl do on an illicit day off go and help her uncle on his plot of course :). Yes that's right i went to another allotment site this one the Ashfield allotments in Liverpool.
Wednesday was a bit chilly but the Wonder Women braved the weather and worked away on the plot making signs so everyone can tell what plants are in the ground. Katy and Anne worked at clearing rubbish and weeds from behind the greenhouse while i had a look at the no-dig bed.
The no-dig bed experiment is not working too well at the moment and is the site of our first big fail (fails happen in gardening you just have to accept it) the kale we planted out and covered over to protect from pigeons and butterflies had gone munched away by slugs hiding under the cardboard mulch and as the weather warms up we are getting more and more grass and bind weed popping up. We decided to give no-dig a year to see if its works but at time i'm finding it hard not to get the big fork out .
Friday was a housekeeping type of day, weeding beds and paths, watering, and generally tidying up in the morning. After lunch we snuck back to the allotment (we had planned to be looking at another project) as the weather was so nice and had a look at the composting. We positioned the new bin and started to empty one of the daleks into it. We've been getting waste fruit and veg from bread in common and it looks like we've not got the green (nitrogen) brown (carbon) mix quite right. (for more info on composting go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=444 ) resulting in the compost being a little to wet and a little wiffy. fingers crossed that mixing in some of the shaving based manure and turning the heap will have sorted the problem and note to self add more brown materials (paper, card, woody stems etc.) We ended the day on a fun note potting on the squashes and harvesting our first carrots, they were so tasty!!
When we first started working on Plot 33 we had a vision that was about groups from different communities being able to come up to the allotment - muck in, bring their ideas, shape what we are doing, the sun would be shining, there would be activity, chat, cups of tea, and more plans would be made.
On Wednesday that happened. 6 Wonder Women drifted onto the site, for some it was an effort to get there and they felt unsure of what to expect. So we mucked in and between us all, amongst many conversations, we painted a filing cabinet, a wheelbarrow of lettuces, a slatted bench and some big bean can planters. We also weeded pathways and the flower bed then randomly planted sweet peas, cornflowers, spinach and beetroot in the flower bed. We had interactions with other allotment holders.
We paused for cups of tea and coffee and sat around the picnic benches soaking up the sun, while we dreamt of what we want for Plot 33 and we planned our next session. Just brilliant. We all felt better than when we had arrived. We used to have soup at our pre covid indoor sessions ....we're looking at reintroducing it gradually hopefully beginning to use produce from our plot and maybe we can cook it on site????
We were busy doing an application for funding (fingers crossed) on Friday, and the weather was pretty horrendous so Friday was a wash out. We had arranged to meet a couple of visitors on Saturday but they couldn't make it so we got on with outdoor activity between showers and started sorting the Greenhouse which is becoming a bit of a dumping ground. We are going to hold a regular open session every 3rd Saturday of the month 11am - 2pm ... anyone who would like to come along just email Anne on: firstname.lastname@example.org Next one Saturday 19th June.
We started to build a double compost bin from the remains of the old shed and we hammered in a fence post in order to support and straighten our existing fence (with a little help from our neighbour, Mick). in the greenhouse we sorted, weeded, sorted, repurposed, sorted and repotted and pinched out tomatoes ...see Rachel pinching out below! It involves gently pinching off any suckers that are growing in the bend between a branch and the main stem.
Don't you just love it when something you thought would be difficult turns out really easy. well that's the feeling today when Anne and I move the filing cabinet part of the original Greening Stoke installation up to plot 33. Anne continued with some weeding tasks while i started to fix the planting pockets and cladding that hold the draws in place.
Wednesday 12th things feel like they are changing/developing at plot 33 the cabinet adds a splash of colour even though it needs a lick of paint and with the help of Lisa from the wonder women group we got some crops in the ground too Spinach donated by an allotment neighbour.
Friday 14th Finished fixing up and planting up the cabinet and a wheelbarrow a relaxed day at plot 33. we found some bread in the food waste we get from Bread in commons compost delivery this week which we cant use so we decide to leave it out for the birds, not long after we had a visit from one of the foxes (we think the vixen) who came and took the whole loaf away piece by piece to her family.
Monday was a bit of a miserable day, and we both hoped the other would cancel... but we ended up being there. Stalled by hiding in the green house with a nice cup of tea, then did half an hour of weeding round the spuds ready for earthing them up in the drizzly coldness. We then gave up. At least we'd done something ...
Wednesday we had a lovely visit from a small group of Wonder Women bearing the letters they have created towards our allotment sign. Watch this space for our beautiful sign that will be attached to our fence.... oh yes, we need to make the fence. There is a task.
Sitting in the Allotments orchard we had a great discussion about all the creative art possibilities of Plot 33. Including building a quirky, arty bespoke shed, building compost bins with chalk boards on them, building a wind turbine, creating 3 vertical 'walls' along the back of the allotment on which we will conduct temporary experimental growing projects?? All very exciting.
On Friday we welcomed our friends Hilary Hughes and Alan Barret to have a nosey! Lovely to see them both. I had to pop off for a bit. Rachel got on with all sorts of tasks including earthing up the potatoes, keeping on top of the weeding, planting out the kale and covering with fleece to keep it warm in the May coldness ( what is that about?) etc. When I returned we continued to dig, weed, water and sort and suddenly it was 5pm. Thanks to the Artisan Tap in Hartshill we have beer dregs to pour into yoghurt pots to act as slug traps . Our final visitor of the day was the resident vixen .... beautiful. Our lovely neighbour Heather gave us some spinach and beetroot plants and not forgetting pak choi to take home...delicious.
Greening Stoke is a project run in partnership between Festival Stoke and Letting in the Light. We are based in Stoke-on-Trent.
We are starting this adventure in January 2021 in the middle of a national Lockdown. Until things change and begin to open up we are abiding by all the Covid-19 Government guidance and for the foreseeable future only Rachel and Anne will be working, in a socially distanced way, to prepare and maintain Plot 33 for when we can invite the community to work with us.
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