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 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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