April has felt like a strange month this year in part due to the long cold wet spring but the weather held fine for our event last weekend
We love this event, seeing lots of plants going off to new home, the opportunity to try something new and most of all seeing what other people have brought along. This year we've had everything from house plants to pond plants. we've gained some beautiful flowers for plot 33 and some extra broad bean plants which is really good as ours had failed to germinate
Big THANK YOU to everyone who came along and made it such a great day. We had a fab time chatting, swapping things, so good in fact we forgot to take many/any pictures till the end so if you have any you'd like to share please send them to us.
photos top left 2 of our fabulous Wonder Women chatting, top right what was left of the cake and biscuits (hope you enjoyed them) bottom left a different selection of plant than when we started bottom right one of our volunteers packing up the bunting
Once again thank you all for coming along and sharing we couldn't have done it without you
This week a lots been happening on Plot33! Starting with the big move of some planters and saved soil and compost stored at plot 33 to St Mark's Church Shelton, thanks to James who helped us and drove the van and Urban Wilderness who donated the planters. freeing up lots of space at the top of the plot.
Wednesday saw the Wonder Women enjoying the sunshine and continuing to tidy the plot weeding, hoeing, sweeping, planting and harvesting the last of the leeks
Thursday and Friday we started a new project Greening St Marks as part of Under One Roof funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to install the planters in the church yard at St Mark's with help from friends of Hanley Park and the greening Friday group
The New Year doesn’t seem quite so new now that we are at the end of February already, but we’ve still had jobs to do on Plot 33 – an allotment never sleeps!
The new patio was christened at the Richmond Street Allotment Produce Show in September, the Wonder Women took 1st Prize in the ‘Best Basket of Produce’ category and a few second prizes too. It was a fantastic day, the sun shone and people gathered together for the first time in a couple of years. Solar panels and an off-grid solar inverter have been delivered, paid for by the CIF (Community Investment Fund).
At the top of the plot we have moved the fruit bushes to create an area for some raised flat beds to be built and had a jolly good clean out of the greenhouse.
The half term holidays saw us helping local children to plant bulbs around Stoke Minster , and continued the flowery theme into this week painting plaques with marigolds.
Last winter we spent some time with the allotment committee dreaming of how we could make the allotments more accessible to everyone and after much consulting with other plot holders it was decided that work to improve the communal hut was the way forward. Better steps and hand rails and a toilet were top of the wish list.
We set about applying for a Community Investment Fund (CIF) grant from Stoke on Trent Council. Our lovely Marg wrote eloquently about how the work would benefit the community while the committee gathered quotes to find out how much it would all cost. The bid was submitted and the wait to find out if we were successful began. And I’m happy to say we got the Grant!!!
On Friday the work started. Clearing a path to the back of the hut for a mini digger to start digging out the grassy area and landscaping the orchard. Unfortunately, this meant our blackberry (full of just beginning to ripen fruit), a branch of the apple tree had to go along with our fence to allow the digger to pass.
A week later after the landscaping activity, the materials to install the retaining walls, patio, additional steps and paths arrived. A team of plot holders set too to move them down to the hut where they will be put to good use!
Over the last few weeks we have started to harvest some produce from Plot 33. Whether it be a few beautifully sweet garden peas or tomatoes, lettuce galore, bountiful pickings of gooseberries and raspberries or a clutch of garlic...... we love it!
Our groups have been enjoying the lunches prepared from the produce as well as taking bits home to cook with.
After an unintentional break we're back! Well we didn't actually leave plot 33 but we have been super busy juggling other projects in different places and the ball we dropped was the blog. Sorry.
Lots has happened since our last post.
We had our Plant and Share plant swap event as part of food for life get togethers, which exceeded all our expectations. A big thank you to all the people who helped make the day happen and all who came along making it such a great day. Food for Life get Togethers came along to film the event and heres a link to the film trailer the film will be out shortly!
Artist Richard Redwin who was tasked with building our shed and wee only compost toilet has finished! we'll do another post soon (haha promise) all about the shed
And a big step for us Anne has broken ground behind the greenhouse! When we first got the plot last year we made the decision to concentrate on the 5 existing beds in front of the greenhouse clearing and cultivating half the plot and essentially leaving the other half fallowish only keeping the weeds cut down as they went to seed. Now after much digging of couch grass, bindweed and other such lovelyness. We now have a bed of potatoes almost ready to harvest and a bed of sweetcorn, courgettes. Beans will go in the space leftover. Imagine the 3 sisters planting theory if the sisters had had a argument and weren't speaking. Plus some beautiful produce harvested and eaten on the plot
There's been a whirlwind of activity up on plot 33 in the last few weeks, getting beds ready for planting out, general tidying up, weeding, planting seedlings, watering and best of all seed sowing! there is so much potential an almost endless list of what could be, wrapped up in the act of sowing seeds. Not to mention the therapeutic mindfulness of the actual process of sprinkling seeds onto fresh compost. Will these seeds become part of a salad, a stew, some soup, or a pudding !!!
Here is some of the best advice i was given when sowing seeds hope it helps
1, label, always write down what it is and the date you sowed it. It really helps when you feel they are taking to long to germinate to have the sowing date at hand and lots of seedlings look the same th can be hard to tell apart
2, for spacing think salt and pepper on your dinner too much will spoil the experience (or make pricking out the seedlings much harder to do) unless you want micro greens like cress then you want to be more like icing sugar on a cake!
3, only sow what you enjoy not what you think you should there's no point in setting turnips if your just left wondering what to do with them
4, sow little and often that way you can avoid gluts and have fresh produce for a longer period.
ignore number 4 if your having a plant swap and you need lots of plants to give away
hope to see you there.
Sometimes we do a bit of 'this', sometimes we do a bit of 'that' and sometimes we argue (not too seriously) over what's going in the soup!!
Over the winter months Wonder Women have continued to meet up at Plot 33 whatever the weather ...helped enormously by having the use of the allotment holders community hut. We have been making , experimenting, plotting and planning with the occasional foray outside on brighter drier days to clear and weed the beds and paths ready for planting in the spring.
The activities we have engaged in have included :
Over the last few weeks, with the days getting longer and the weather (theoretically) getting warmer, our Wonder Women group have been starting to think about what to grow and when to sow! We've started by tomatoes, peppers, aubergines which like a longer season to grow in. Looking over our vast array of seeds we decided to see if anyone would like to share our bounty and set up a seed swapping event
We set about making signs for the different family groups / category of seeds we have, flowers, herbs, tomatoes and peppers etc. As well as making some beautiful stamps to print seed packets with on the day
We had lots of people come on the day of the swap, from other plot holders, too members of the public. It was great to see so many new faces and people using the community hut, taking part in seed packet printing, eating cake (Anne delicious courgette cake) drinking tea and coffee and of course rummaging through lots of lovely seeds deciding what to take home and plant.
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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