A true day of multi-tasking! The barrow loads of compost to be collected from the pile and sieved for the new bed of amaranth makes for a warm start to the day. The sieving helps to make the compost a good fine medium into which we plant the seedlings. I also help Ru to prune and then train the grape vines up the wall on the wild side of the site. There’s been a lot of growth from these vines and we need to make sure that we train them well so that next year they’ll be strong and hopefully we’ll get some fruit.
The new shoots are tied to the wire on the wall to help give the vine support.
After all the exercise involved in preparing the compost, I get some rest by sorting out the site’s cloches. Those of you who understand gardening speak will know what cloches are, the rest of you might have wondered what all the cut up plastic bottles are doing scattered round the site. They’re there to protect the new plants from the nasty slugs. And though it sometimes feels like a bit of a hassle, especially with so many new plants to protect each week, when you come back to the site and find a large proportion of last week’s planting chomped by the slimey little fellows, you realise just how vitally important those half bottles can be. We mostly use recycled 2 litre water bottles, cut in half for the job. In the cooler months it’s ok to leave the top of the bottle on, as they act as mini greenhouses for the new plants, however in the summer, when the sun’s shining and hot, you need to cut the tops and the bottoms off the bottle so it acts as a sleeve and prevents moisture from building up too much. We also tie a piece of copper wire around them which acts as a double deterrant – shocks the slug away from its mission to eat the tender leaves. It’s not a totally fail proof system but the number of plants that we save from the slugs makes it worth the effort.
Volunteer Ann-Marie helps make the cloches
Today, even with collecting all the cloches from the plants from round the site that have outgrown them and making up a batch of new ones, we run out. So we make do with another method of slug-protection. This is a mixture of sand and lime which we dribble in a circle around each plant. We add a little bit of seaweed powder which enriches the soil for the new growth at the same time. The only problem with this method is that if it rains, which no doubt it will, the circle gets washed away and you have to reapply it. Sometimes, maybe, you just have to pray to keep the slugs away…
Two methods of protecting the new plants
The harvest goes particularly well this week. Despite being rained on as I cycled to work, there is a good turnout of volunteers who plough through the day’s tasks…mowing the pathways, netting up some of the fruit trees, planting and harvesting. Ru’s promised Nat at Growing Communities HQ a bumper crop of 21kg and we easily hit our target plus we bag up some extra salad to be sold at the stall. With all the help we get away by 7. I’m worn out but it’s that wonderful tiredness that comes after a productive day.
Grower: 1 | Apprentices: 2 | Volunteers: 6 | Ex-volunteers volunteering: 2 | Friends & Visitors: 4 | Support workers: 2 | Dog: 2 | Fox: 0
Harvested from the site…
Salad greens & edible flowers: 21kg | Extra bags: 12 x 100g | 1 punnet summer fruits: 300g | 1 punnet red currants: 250g | Basil: 60g | Thai basil: 30g | Figs: 225g | Plums: 200g