Friday 30th April day 5 #Nationalgardeningweek
Gardens are immensely creative places choices are made not just about what plants to grow but hard landscaping too including art installations. Classical statues, contemporary sculptures and pots all say something about the garden spaces we make and how we use them even the colour of the fence says something.
At plot 33 we don't have much art yet but that's something we plan to change soon and today we made a start on it with the lovely Wonder Women group who came down to the plot to deliver letters we'd asked them to create to make a sign welcoming visitors. More letters will be delivered next week as we have to keep the groups small (covid) but it was lovely to sit, chat and sow some seeds (after the brief snow shower) before they left with some cans to paint and turn into planters
Thursday 29th April Day 4 #nationalgardeningweek
While I don't specifically garden for wildlife I love to watch it enjoying my garden at home and on plot 33 (In fact im sitting bird watching with my cats at home as i write this post ). Gardens and allotments are home to a host of animals. On our plot we have seen a wide variety of birds, small mammals, insects and frogs all living happily using the habitats we create. We've also been told their are foxes on the site named Bingo and Banjo and the robin we invariably see each visit has already nested and fledged a brood
We need wildlife especially insects they are integral to producing the food we eat not only pollenating plant but by eating pests too. I find it endlessly fascinating to watch the way nature balances itself .
if you do want to encourage wildlife the best bet is to add a water feature anything will do at home i have a deep tray (ok its a cat litter tray). I use it to give plants a good soak in before planting and one day i left it out after id finished the next morning I saw a blackbird having a lovely time splashing about and so its stayed ive added a couple of old roof tiles one in and out to make it more accessible and safer for all the animals that use it on a daily bases.
Wednesday 28th April day 3 #Nationalgardeningweek
one of the things i like best about gardening is growing plants from seeds and cuttings. everything from choosing seeds or taking cutting material to potting up or planting out a carefully nurtured plant fills me with a certain sense of satisfaction ( or smugness). I find the whole process of sowing seeds, waiting for the first signs of growth, watching the true leaves unfurl, pricking out individual seedlings into pots, and potting on till they reach their final resting place extremely satisfying
March and April are the main months to sow seeds but you can always find something to so each month in the next few weeks we will be sowing our beans and cubits (cucumbers & squashes) these are fast growing tender plants that will ready to out in mid /late May when the nights have warmed up and risk of frost has passed.
sowing and potting on tomatoes and our other seedling
Tuesday 27th April day 2 of #Nalionalgardeningweek
its a well known fact that gardening is good for your health not only physically but mentally too. Experts have researched and written papers on it, doctors can prescribe it on the NHS and i know it from first hand experience.
I am at best a socially awkward person i can do people in 1's and 2's but social groups i find hard unless i have a job to do then i'm fine. I over think things and replay conversations in my head wondering if i've said the right thing and what i could have said or done better . Gardening helps me combat this for me its my safe space a go to when i need to de-stress weeding, watering, planting even just looking at a garden help ground, me leaving me calmer and more able to cope with life's ups and downs. I use gardening as a way of connecting to people giving plants as gifts to let them know i was thinking about them even if we havnt spoken much lately.
so if your feeling a bit anxious or out of sorts try giving gardening a go. From a pot or hanging basket by the back door to an allotment like plot 33 it will lift your sprites and possibly make you smile
Monday 26th April
Its been a glorious start the week the sun is shining and the birds are singing here on plot 33. I started the week by watering everything (well almost everything) as we've not had much rain in a while. I go for the a really good drenching when I remember method on young plant in the ground rather than little and often. This helps the roots to develop and spread in search of water in turn creating stronger plants. So I set about watering in the greenhouse and the pots hardening off outside ready for planting out, then on to the Broad beans, onions, shallots garlic newly planted out in bed 4. The rhubarb and potatoes didn't get a drop they don't need it yet (and we are forecast rain this week) although on inspecting the potato bed first signs of life are beginning to appear
Weeding was just a quick hoe over the beds but i have discovered a bit of bind weed around the plot this beautiful flower is one of the biggest garden thugs ever as it will regrow from a tiny bit of root into a giant that smothers anything in its path. im a little surprised we have it as i'd not noticed any evidence when we took on the plot. vigilance is the best tool when trying to get rid dig every bit up as and when you see it don't leave it till next time you go to the plot as its a fast grower and any leaves will feed those fleshy white roots that are hard to kill.
last job for the day was prepping some of the wood from the shed removing nails and cutting to size ready to build into a compost bin
for more information about National Gardening Week go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/national-gardening-week/
well with a title like that i bet you can guess what we've been up to today. That right we've been down to plot 33 weeding, planting, watering feeling the sun on our backs and the soil beneath our fingers, watching nature do her thing plus our first proper harvest that we grew all by ourselves and a bit more rhubarb.
images: Anne planting some 2nd early potatoes, weakened cooch grass underneath the cardboard on the rhubarb bed, cardboard mulch to weaken weeds, Anne harvesting our first radishes, radish and rhubarb harvest, flowers on the currents and gooseberries, bud on the apple tree
Monday 12th April
What a day the shops and pubs are open, you can get a hair cut and there was snow on the ground this morning ! (well ive seen pictures of snow it was gone before i looked outside) So what is a girl to do on such an auspicious day? A bit of pottering around the plot of course. Anne wasn't able to join me today so i was left to my own devices. Having looked at the weather forecast i decided to go to the plot in the afternoon. The sun was shining by lunch time as i set about weeding the flower bed and around the no dig bed attracting the attention of the friendly robin.
a bucket of weeds, a couple of conversations with the neighbours, and a few seedlings potted on and 4 hours had passed time runs differently on the plot i'm sure and theres no better place to be
Ps i also eat one of the first crops we've grown from seed a beautiful crunchy radish ;)
With much appreciated help from James we demolished the shed! We then loaded Rachel's car with the obvious rubbish to dispose of. We now have to work out what we can salvage to use to make compost bins etc. and what is so rotten it will have to be ferried down to the dump ... that's a task for Wednesday.
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 started this adventure in January 2021 in the middle of a national lockdown. Gradually, as things begin to open up, close down and then open up again, Rachel and Anne abided by all the Covid-19 Government guidance, worked in a socially distanced way, to prepare and maintain Plot 33 so that they were eventually able to invite the community to work with them.
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