Author Archives: Duncan

Sat 10th Novem ’18 Notice no Berrhh in November ;-)

A bonus warm and bright day just perfect for late season pottering and preparing the plot for the winter weather, which must be arriving at some stage?

Fiona and I arrived on the plot and were greeted with the burst of autumnal colour  and begun with a bit of mooching to got a feel for what the plot seemed to need.

We decided to hold off on the grape vine pruning until the leaves had fully dropped.

Fiona set about cutting back the lavender bushes which sit at the start of the raised beds and really need transplanting so they can grow free.  Fiona took the opportunity to attempt to bring some cuttings on.  Lavender hedges are not only fragrantly beautiful but useful too.  Meanwhile I set about connecting the sheds guttering up to our mega butt.

Meanwhile regular volunteers Susan and linda immersed themselves in some titivating of the raised beds while chit chatting and soaking up the rays.

After a satisfying mornings session we were more than ready for one of Fiona’s nutritious bean stews, mopped up with french loafs donated by the Co-op’s surplus food programme.

We will leave you with a few more photos and look forward to welcoming you to join us for next community allotment installment where you could learn how to prune a grape vine correctly for great yields, talk compost or just enjoy a cup of tea in the fresh air.  Next plot day  Sunday 25th Nov 10-2pm.

Thanks for your interest Duncan and the team.:-)

 

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Sunshine after a rainy day Sat 11th Aug ’18

After the recent rain the plants were looking happier but so were the weeds.  August is quiet for visitors on the plot it was just the two of us.

The recent acquisition of our orchard area means there are lots of exciting plans and jobs afoot.  This was helped greatly by last Thursday’s Natwest team building work party who 14 strong set about, despite persistent rain, clearing the orchard overgrowth, dissembling  surplus raised beds and building a large gravity compost sifter.

So today we were blessed with the opportunity to potter,  tying up and cutting back superfluous leaf growth on tomato vines allowing them to concentrate their energy on ripening the fruit.   We took great pleasure in harvesting rhubarb for refreshing rhubarb and ginger wine,  picking blackberries from the wild areas at the edge of the allotment site, ready for jams and pies and more wine, well you have to catch and store energy don’t you? Other jobs include pruning blueberries, weeding out the chard beds, feeding the fish and making a start on creating a dojo or lowdown chill area for meditation or napping.

It’s so great at this time of the year, harvesting the fruits of ours and natures labors, the grapes are just starting to ripen on the vine and it looks like we are blessed with an amazing crop in only it’s third year, a remarkable plant.

If you want a nature fix and a chance to wonder at her abundance, diversity and resilience, take some fresh organic produce home and help grow the project please join us for the next taster day and meanwhile spread the word.

Next official plot taster day is Sunday 26th August 10am-2pm but look out for impromptu days as and when we get the chance.

Thanks for your interest Happy Summer from Duncan and Sarah

Summer Solstice Hot Plot Sunday 24th June ’18

With the Summer Solstice celebrations still resonating in our ears and consciousness from Thursday we felt the Community allotment heartily welcoming us at this poignant time of the year.  What bounty greeted us in the hot shade hunting day.

With the help of the NatWest team building corporate day work party who, during the week, cleared the weeds and scrub from around the young fruit trees in the new orchard we were able to focus our attention on adding material, brought in from our homes to the super composter, and carrying out some urgent repairs and maintenance of the shed and tool storage cupboards

We have received a lot of new equipment and plants recently what with Kamil transferring all his allotment infrastructure, having given up his own plot on Eastern avenue, to allow more time to focus on the Community plot.  I was assigned the exciting task of installing a reedbed water garden to the little pond with fish, this does a wonderful natural cleansing and has the added bonus of growing wonderful highly nutritious watercress.  The reedbed is currently fed by hand but will shortly be fed with a solar powered water pump.

We harvested Rhubarb, Rasberries, the last of strawberries, broad beans, some lavender and our copious grape vine provided some vine leaves, yum!

We are missing our good comrade Fiona who is not yet mobile enough to come to the plot after her recent foot surgery however it was nice to welcome two new families this session and a tasty pot luck lunch of rice salad, tasty breads, and VGFWFSF (Vegan Gluten free Wheat free Sugar free ) bannana pancakes all welcomed by the hungry plotters.

Kamil’s battery drill whisked fresh strawberry smoothies were a taste of paradise.

With the current drought we are experiencing having had no rainfall for the last month, and our waterbutts depleted, it was necessary to have the standpipe hoses on for watering the parched plot plants  We had to be mindful that water is a precious commodity and hose pipe bans are threatened.   By station watering only on the plants and veg this not only gets the water where it’s needed but prevents watering weeds.

Hope you can join us for the next amazing community growing day on Saturday 9th July

Stay loving stay hopeful Your writers for this installment Sarah & Duncan

 

Muddy March Plot day

Down on the community allotment, after the recent snow, signs of life are bursting forth abundantly.  The resilience of nature never fails to astound.  Look what’s this?  new fruit trees appeared on the new orchard area, has a certain Polish friend been grafting in the midnight hour?

A friend who is sadly giving up her allotment, due to a house move out of the area, kindly wanted to donate her tools and other allotment bits to us.  Katherine passed a stream of wonderment’s from her shed, cloches, poly-tunnels, automatic watering kits and raised bed kits.  We were helped back to our plot by her super helpful son Danny who seemed sad to be leaving their plot but inspired with the prospect of getting involved with our project.  His enthusiasm and kindness restored in us a optimism for future generations.  While Sarah was digging in trees, she saw a couple of baby slow worms which Danny got acquainted with.

I set about replacing the remaining missing perspex window panes in the childrens play house, just after all the snow and rain of course!  A standard cross cut saw cut just about made a reasonable job with the perspex supported between two boards.  The chips were hidden within the window frame hurrah!  Just a fresh set of curtains to be run up now and the refurbishment will be complete.

Fiona and Sarah transplanted two gooseberry bushes and two blueberries from the triangle raised beds into the new orchard area and one into the children’s plot so they can pluck blueberries like sweeties while they play.

When Katherine came over she offered us some youngish blue berries and red gooseberry bushes, which we swiftly transferred to join their new happy fruitbush family.  Thank you mother nature for a perfectly scheduled drop of rain to settle in our new fruity friends.

In true Sitcomma fashion we managed to celebrate our days efforts with a sumptuous pot luck lunch of veggie curry, warmed on the rocket stove and some great simple to make veggie sausage rolls,  sorry for the lack of food pics.

We can hardly wait for when spring really gets underway and all the display of the new orchard blossoms and then the yields of delicious fruits for years and generations to come.

Thank you for your interest and please check out our facebook page and the Transition web page  for updates and future plot days.

Next Transition event is Repair Cafe Sunday 25th March.

Duncan, Sarah and the team

 

Willow tunnel a go! Sat Jan 27th. 2018 season gets underway.

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Our early bird volunteer, Bill was waiting for us when we arrived at the plot, he was keen to get started on some gardening.  We asked Bill if he would like to weed around the Parsley in the new Hugel Culture raised beds that surround the children’s plot.  Because there were so many weeds, Bill came up with a great idea to remove all the plants and dig over and weed the bed then replacing the desired plants.

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With spring time on her way, we set about weeding the raised beds in preparation for planting out our spring crops like broad beans onion sets and garlic.IMG_5912

With potato day around the corner Fiona and Sarah organised the cuttings and plants which they had overwintered and brought on, in the greenhouse.  They found they had a particularly bumper Mizuna crop which they thought could be potted up for sale, for window sill salads.  There will also be strawberry plants for sale.

Our recently acquired extra plot destined to be a heritage orchard with compost facility gave us an opportunity to do some willow sculpture planting in the form of a nice willow tunnel.  Kamil had harvested around 100 willow cuttings from his own allotment which Duncan and he planted in two straight rows which once growing tall will be woven over thus creating a nice tunnel feature and a screen for the compost area.  We are hopeful these cuttings will take as our soil is just right now what with the recent rains and not too cold.

The planting process is nice and easy, just open up a slot or furrow with the spade and push the cutting as deep in as possible, heel soil around and water to help the soil settle and wait.

After a sunny morning the weather decided to turn just in time for lunch, but like true Brits the wind and spitting didn’t phase us too much.  We were joined for lunch by a few friends bearing food stuffs to share, which added to the jollity of the occasion.  All proving that being around good people, food food in a natural environment can make one almost forget about the inclement weather.

A big thank you to everybody who helped make our return to the plot an inspiring, happy plot day with some good jobs accomplished.

Next Transition event is our Southmenders repair Cafe.  Saturday 3rd Feb provisional date, please check the page for updates.

 

 

5/11/17 Bonny Bonfire party on the plot

The nights are drawing in and the gardens slow down into hibernation.  A time for cutting back and cleaning away the old growth to make way for winter greens and spring cabbages.  What better excuse to burn off the odd bits of timber too small to be useful and have a brilliant campfire party in the process?

The visitors came steadily through the day giving a real buzz and fanning the flames of communal spirit Erhmm.  Enjoying great food with great company a combination which produced one of the best tasting meals I can recall.

A picture paints a thousand words, as some wise sage once said, so please excuse an in depth blog this time we have a lot more clearing to do!  Hope you enjoy the photos in the random order.  Please see Southend in Transition webpage for updates on the next event.  Seasons greetings Duncan

 

Sunny Sunday plot gathering

A late summers day brought out all the faithful attendees to the plot plus a few newbies to join in the fun.  We were greeted with the beginnings of autumn tinging the leaves of our still producing glorious grapevine.

We quickly realised there were still plenty of fruits on our crab apple tree after the first pickings last time, so Fiona, Sarah and Helen got to work harvesting the higher up crabs for more home made vitamin c packed jams and jellies.

Meanwhile Duncan and Kamil unloaded a load of donated top soil into to our Hugelkulture raised beds in the children’s plot ready for planting up next time with lots of perennial herbs, all over-seen by chief fore-man Nella.

No words are available for the lunch only pictures could get close to describing our lovely pot luck delights.  So feast your eyes on this lot:

We have wonderful neighbours at the allotment and one of them Steve came bearing carrots which we readily and thankfully received.

We have potted up a great number of strawberry plants which we are nurturing on in the greenhouse which will be on sale at St laurence orchard Apple day on the 7th October.

The warmer weather after the rain brought out our friends the Slow worms, which delighted the children no end.  We were pleased to have been joined by Claire of Conscious kitchen  Southend who we were excited to talk with about Southend food network, Ayurvedic cooking classes with Sarah, and diet as medicine with Dr Helen.

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We will be at the aforementioned Apple Day at st Lawrence’s Orchard on the next open day so please come and visit us there and sample the yummies we have prepared. The next plot day is Sat the 14th October all welcome, no matter the weather.

Peace and Love