Thursday 28th June 2012 – seeds, earthing up potatoes and … a newt!

The day started as usual, bit of sun… bit of rain…

We began earthing up the potatoes. This means literally what it sounds like – we add earth around the base and cover up to two thirds of the plant’s leaves which then begin to grow out again. We do this to ensure there are no tubers – or potatoes – growing above the soil.

Next we planted some seeds out in our raised beds –

To do this, we used a board which is the same width as the raised bed and used it to guide the side of a trowel along to create a small trench in which to sow the seeds…

Before sowing, we added some compost to the bottom of the trench and a little bit of water to give them a good start.

Then the seeds were sown and gently covered, hopefully they will begin to pop out in a couple of weeks…

Lastly, for this week, we discovered a little visitor to the project – a newt!

It looks like, from basic identification by a less than qualified newt practitioner to be a palmate newt – however – these are easy to mix up with smooth (or common) newts – either way, a welcome visitor to the plot!

Thursday 21st June 2012 – growing in the shed…

Hi –

Mostly weeding this week, some other bits and bobs going on including finishing off the raised beds fully and cutting some of the grass which has taken over the plot and the paths!

Here’s a photograph of what it looks like inside the shed…

We have put a tray of tomato plants in the Rathbone office in the hope of selling them to staff on donation basis… lets see how it goes!

Inside the converted shed…

Thursday 14th June 2012 – Raised beds! (and digging…) and planting!!

Well, the digging is almost over… this is one of the last beds to get a good dig before planting from some of the members of the project…

Here we are taking the couch grass and the weeds out, knocking the soil off and putting them in bags ready to be composted over the summer. Any big chunks of grass are simply turned over in the space they came from to kill the green part, and expose the roots to the dry air and the sun to kill them.

Measure twice… cut once


Its taken a long time to get going, but today we moved forth, and all leant a hand in building, moving, digging, and finally filling the new raised beds on the allotment…

Each one contains around 20 bags of topsoil, moved by hand and van from Queens Road Peckham to our allotment…

Preparing the raised beds

And after a fine combing for stones, a good composting, and a good raking ready for planting…

Finally! We have reached the point of planting some of the seeds which have been loitering around in their propagation trays for weeks… some of the group had to go home early, others were able to plant their pea’s, broad beans and marrows out in their shared raised beds.

It was good to eventually plant some of the plants outside, they were as relieved as us I think…

Thursday 7th June 2012 – Digging, digging… TOPSOIL!

Well, like the title say’s, today involved a lot of digging… loads actually, but in good humour and with a smile…

We are getting there…

We also had a help from a couple of friends who helped us to shift almost 70 bags of topsoil from the gate to our plot in preparation for the raised beds: thanks Gemma! – and also Ed who helped me with bags from the van.

We are marking our boundaries and tidying up the edges of the site to make it more of a defined area, so we know where the paths are, and where other peoples allotments start and end also.

May put other people off their lunches but not us! This find under a bag of topsoil was made by one of the guys on the project;

Visiting slug…

Our efforts were beaten back by the rain, but a quick picture before we left the site;

It’s taken a long time to get to this point, with a lot of effort from everyone involved but the site is ready for a good sowing and planting in a couple of weeks, and will benefit from the rain that chased us from the allotment early and into Steves Cafe…

Thursday 31st May 2012 – Seedlings, potatoes, more clearing

Less sun than last week, but just as warm.

The morning consisted of checking out the seedlings again, which are getting ready to be planted out in a couple of weeks…

Seedlings, getting ever bigger…

Then clearing more of the plot. I’s almost done now, as everyone (especially the clearer’s) will be happy to know…

After the clearing, we dug some trenches for some potatoes we brought, it was very difficult to dig the soil as it was hard clay.

Trenches with compost at the base

Using an old tool to measure the distance between the potatoes

Planting the spuds!

Then finally, covering the planted potatoes…

And that was it! The soil is very heavy with clay, so we will not be guaranteed potatoes this year, but fingers crossed we’ll get a few…

The potato variety we planted – Wilja

We then took a break and observed the allotment before heading home.

Thursday 24th May 2012 – Seedlings, raised bed making, sun and a frog…

Again, late update, but here it is!

The morning was spent checking out our lovely new trays of… seedlings! The seeds took their time but are now growing up to become seedlings, the heat of the sun and the glass roof on the shed have helped their progress…

Some seedlings…

…some more…
and some more!      

Then, onto work! Some cleared the inside of the raised beds…

Raised beds getting in place…

Others turned the grass in chunks, on top of itself as to stop the green top part getting to the sun, and exposing the roots to dry in the sun, killing the plant and turning it to good compost!

Digging under the roots…
…and turned upside down into the hole.

We then had turns knocking nails into the raised beds to make them solid…

Oh! and a couple of us (including a very helpful visiting member of Rathbone) fixed the felt to the second half of the shed roof…

Measuring the length of felt to be cut…

…fixing it up with roofing nails.  

And finally, in other happenings, we had a visit from a frog – as seen here;

Lost frog

We returned him onto a plot with a pond where hopefully he’ll be happier than out in the sun on our plot…

And then time for home. Lots to do next week…

Thursday 17th May 2012 – Seeds, sun, sheds, strawberries, and mud

Hi! Been a while – been away and neglected to update the blog last week – apologies…

So! Down the allotment this week we all undertook some manual labour after navigating up the hill through some sticky mud – not ideal conditions, so we started by planting the remainder of our seeds…

Seed trays almost completed…

After lunch (and spotting this little fella here…)

Unknown caterpillar – maybe a moth or a butterfly…

We continued the biggest part of the project – clearing and digging the site…

Everyone getting stuck in…

We also transplanted some strawberries which were in the way of the clearance and needed to be moved to the strawberry patch…

 
Transplanting the strawberries

After a hard days grafting, we were all happy to get going home.

Oh, and the shed now has a glass roof giving the seeds a bit more heat!

New shed roof!

Thursday 10th May – Seed planting, shelter, saws and mud…

Up at the plot today, straight away as there was no rain! Just grey skies…

Firstly, we bumped into the new community building at Rosendale Road Allotments which is in the process of being built:

The new community building in the process of being built

Then upward, up to the allotment; today was the first day for 4 weeks that we felt comfortable to venture straight to the plot and work without the fear we would have to stop re: rain – as our new shelter (an old gazebo from Rathbone) would keep us dry if it did rain at all.

The new shelter in case of rain…

We continued with our planting from the previous week (in which we only planted a few tomatoes) and planted in propagators – we had brought the seeds the week before, and managed to almost fill the propagators ready for planting out in a few weeks…

Searching and choosing the seeds to plant in the propagators

We planted pea’s, broad beans, sweetcorn, watermelon, okra, cucumber, marrow,  some salad and mustard!

While some of us planted seeds, some of us laid some wood down for a temporary working surface under the shelter…

… and others found metal on the site to clear which is being collected for recycling later next week…

… and others helped to clear some more grass from the plot!

Quite a busy day, with a new staff member joining us and a couple of new people joining the group, but at least we managed to stay up at the plot for the whole session

Thursday 3rd May 2012 – Choosing seeds, clearing part of the plot

The third week down at the Rathbone Gardening Project saw light rain with a few dry spots – a nice change from the constant rain of the previous weeks.

We started this week by talking about what vegetables and plants we like, and then deciding what plants we would like to grow. A couple of members of the group have purchased their own seeds for their plots already.

We then walked down to Croxted Road Garden Centre and browsed through the seeds they had on display to find the right variety of plant, and read the information on the back of the seed packet to make sure we could plant it this year.

Then, after a cup of tea and a toilet break at the local cafe, we made our way to the plot at the top of the hill. There was no shelter from the light rain so we began to clear a space for the shelter to go.

The site of the temporary shelter being cleared
Parsnips rescued from the clearing

It took a good hour to clear the plot – we found some old carrots and some parsnips which must have been planted by the previous community group who had used the plot.


    

We then settled for a spot of lunch before returning to the work and eventually finishing the clearing! It looked like this when it was finished:

Finished the clearing – ready for the shelter

We then put up the shelter and sat down to plant some seeds – unfortunately, we only had time to plant a couple of tomato seeds today, hopefully next week we’ll get a chance to get all the seeds we need to plant into trays to begin germination…

The project continues on the 10th May!

Thursday 26th April – Trip to Thrive Gardens in Battersea Park

Unfortunately rain stopped our plans up at the allotment this Thursday – we had hoped to continue our planting of bare rooted strawberry plants and various seeds, but the constant showers put our original plans back a week as we still have no shelter up at the plot yet.

Instead, the idea to pop to Battersea Park to see the Thrive gardens was suggested, and we agreed that rather than sit in a shed, we could go and see what was growing at Thrive.

Arriving at Thrive Herb Garden in Battersea – umbrella’s  prepared for the next downpour…

Thrive are a small national charity who work with people with various disabilities and impairments and provide support to help them experience and learn about gardening. The link to their website is here: Thrive

We took the train from Herne Hill station to Battersea Park and walked to the Thrive garden – it was being re-developed, so there wasn’t a lot there, the man in charge explaining that there is a herb garden run by Thrive in another part of the park. After sheltering from a particularly heavy rain shower we made it to the Thrive herb garden and the sun came out!

We had a look around, and learnt what some of the plants look like from the top (potato plants have green leafs above the soil – the potatoes grow below it – see picture below)

Potato plant – the green leaves grow above the soil – the potatoes below it – from http://muffintop.wordpress.com/category/shopping/

We also looked in the greenhouse at some of the plants which had just started to grow (or germinate) from seeds and are known as seedlings – they all look very similar at first, but on closer look, some were quite different, like the cucumber seedling.

Seedlings in the greenhouse at Thrive

We then explored the gardens some more, taking some photographs to record what we saw as you can see below;


Some onions

The centre of the Herb Garden, Thrive in Battersea
Broad Beans

Netting protecting Pea Plants from pests like birds and slugs
The tops of the Potato Plant!

Chard – it comes with various coloured stalks like above, red and orange
About to leave the Thrive Herb Garden and travel back home

All in all a trip in which we got to see how another project works, the kind of plants we may grow, and hopefully we will be inspired with some idea’s for our own project!