Community time

Our allotment association has had a community plot for a long time, before I arrived on the site. In the year I have been there nothing much has been done, other than an occasional mowing and it’s not been used.

This year we elected a few new people on to the committee and the decision was made to try and build the community on-site before doing any off-site events. It didn’t go down with some of the previous committee members but the numbers of people coming to the meetings has been reducing every meeting.

Our new chair-person came up with an idea to have a ‘community day’ once a month we come together to get the community plot up and running and build the social side. It started a month ago when a few of us turned up and made a plan of what the plot should be used for and the best way to accomplish this. We decided to create two different spaces in different places, the first would be an enclosed space, easy maintenance, grassed over with seating and a barbecue area. We can use this space for the allotment children to have a safe space to play and mix if they don’t want stay on their own plots, parents and grand parents will know they are safe too also it will be used for once a month afternoon tea’s and our yearly summer party.

This weekend we had our first ‘community working day’, six of us turned up, one I’ve never met before, and got stuck in. Two people started clearing rubbish from around the whole site, two clearing rubbish from the plot and two started clearing a space to create compost, wood-chip and soil bins.

I was one of the people working on the plot, after half an hour we had filled 8 rubbish bags and a bucket full of glass. The plot was very overgrown, mostly grass but also the previous owners crops, we started pulling these up, removing the weeds and digging over the beds. The idea is to level the plot, it’s very uneven and then cover with grass seed. Whilst working more people arrived and commented on the progress, unfortunately the weather started to turn but we took lots of photo’s and posted them to our allotment group to show the progress we made and it has encouraged more people to help, the people who can’t make it at weekend are going to do whatever they can, sometimes people need to see something happening before they get involved.

Progress is going slowly but steadily and I made a new allotment buddy. It was a win-win weekend.

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The growing season begins.

It’s hardly felt like winter. We’ve had a few cold, snowy days but other than that the weather has been unseasonably warm. It has meant that the weeds are growing and the fish are still happily swimming around the ponds.

Over the last few months I have changed a few of the larger beds into smaller, more manageable growing spaces. So I’ve been doing some planning, ready to get growing this year. I got a lovely book for Christmas last year, Companion planting by Bob Flowerdew. I’m going to try a few of his techniques to mix the crops to maximise the space.

I’ve started with one of the permanent beds, I originally had set it up as a fruit bed, but now I’ve moved the strawberries and have planted asparagus alongside the raspberries. I bought second year crowns so hopefully will get a crop next year.

I made a list of all the veggies we enjoyed last year and new ones to try this year and have planned out the beds. I’m growing a few different things this year, and looking forward to trying some new varieties of plants we grew last year. One thing we all agreed on last year was none of us like broad beans but loved French beans,. The joy of growing your own is finding your own favourites, and not just what the supermarket has in stock.

The potatoes are chitting nicely, and the seedling are starting to sprout, some look ready to pot on already !

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The allotment beds have been fed and turned ready for the upcoming planting to begin. The flowers are starting to appear also and it will be time to start our sunflowers again, last year Oscar planted Van Gogh, these are my favourite sunflowers, a smaller variety but multi-headed and they flowered until the end of October. Here’s hoping for another sunny, happy growing year ahead.

It’s an exciting time.

This year we will be growing :

  • Asparagus – Ariane, Mondeo, Pacific 2000, Purple pacific
  • Aubergine – Black beauty
  • Beetroot – Moulin Rouge, Burpees Golden, Cylindra
  • Cabbage – Golden acre, April
  • Calabrese – Ironman, Green Calabrese
  • Carrot – Flyaway F1, Paris Market 5, Harlequin
  • Celeriac – Monarch
  • Courgette – (to be confirmed)
  • French Beans – Isabel climbing beans, Cobra climbing beans, Hilton dwarf bean
  • Kale – Dwarf green curled
  • Leek – Musselburgh
  • Pak choi – Shanghai
  • Pea – Hurst green shaft
  • Pepper – California Wonder, Colour spectrum
  • Potato – Charlotte, Albert Bartlett Rooster
  • Radish – (to be confirmed)
  • Spring onion – Lisbon
  • Sweetcorn – Lark F1 hybrid
  • Tomato – Principr Borghese
  • Turnip – Snowball, Purple top

Also we are going to plant pumpkins again for Halloween carving, I saved the seed from last years pumpkin, fingers crossed.

What are you growing ? Any tips, ideas, suggestions or varieties you recommend.

A bit of plastic

A couple of weeks ago a small piece of plastic came into our lives and made quite a difference. What is this ?

 

A fidget cube, a small cube, 6 sides with something different on each side to fidget with. Very simple, but also effective. I fits neatly into the palm of your hand and even for a child its comfortable to hold. I bought it for Oscar, to try and stop his nail biting (he’s hardly got any left) and it’s working. Each side has a different action, some click whilst others are silent, each has a different feel.

It was originally designed as an anti-stress ‘toy’ for adults, however for children with anxiety or sensory issues it also has advantages.

After a quick chat with the teacher it was decided that he could have it in class, provided he didn’t ‘mess’ about with it or use the clicker too often. It has been successful. He says it makes him feel calmer and it helps him concentrate.

Unfortunately the small size also makes it easy to lose, as was the case a few days ago. We turned to house upside down but nothing. I ordered a couple of spares, and true to form the original one turned up on the day the spares arrived. I find myself quite often holding it and it is calming.