Author Archives: Duncan

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.


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

Kids dig potatoes

Another much anticipated plot day and the weather smiled upon us and the lovely spuds Little Nella worked so diligently to unearth overseen by Sarah.  Just perfect to cure of the lovely potatoes before storing in clamps or potato sacks to see through winter.

With a quiet turn out, nucleus SIT members were not short of choice of jobs to keep us entertained.  Fiona harvested lots of pectin rich crab apples for jam making.  Duncan Kamil and Sarah took to green keeping duties with push mowers and hand sheers and a cheery song ” Mow Mow Mow your lawn, gently on your back, if you see a tough old weed don’t forget to hack”.  Kamil continued battling back bramble bushes on the adjacent plot, which we have adopted and hope to create a heritage orchard, using weed suppressing membrane,  Sarah helped harvested some pumpkin, blackberries and vine leaves, the latter to make stuffed vine leaves.  So resourceful.

The dinner bell couldn’t come soon enough and when we got there we discovered that Duncans sun dried tomato and onion Focaccia had already been half devoured by hungry munchkins.  Alicja the queen of fermented foods brought along some superbly healthy and tasty dishes that she’d prepared for us, we all got to ask questions about how to make her fabulous beetroot relish

Next plot day is planned for Saturday 26th August so we shall see how our hugelkultur beds have rotted down and hopefully get planting some perennial herbs ready for next year, we also have an 5ft rescue umbrella willow to plant on the children’s plot (willow weaving experts please come forward). Its all very exciting at the plot as we develop into the place that the original members envisioned. Our guests are increasing in numbers and becoming inspired to return and become involved with all our community activities. As we start to see new sustainable food culture developing in Southend we feel grateful to be part of the movement.

Sunday 11th June 2017 Hot plot day



Another much anticipated of our fortnightly SitComma plot gatherings. The plot welcomed us in fine fettle after some delightful wet and warm weather and keen grass keeping from our summer grass mowing evening rota volunteers.  This meant grass cutting on the plot sessions was a breeze and allowed us to get on with some more creative tasks.

Tasks undertaken were, weeding, tying up grapevine (Sarah hopes to train it from the greenhouse to the potting shed and beyond, now that she has discovered a love of winemaking!), fitting re-claimed perspex into the Wendy house window-frames, building a new raised bed in the childrens plot (this one is for pumpkins…watch out everyone for future updates on progress), harvesting strawberries by the eager little ones, watering the greenhouse plants, harvesting some lavender, strimming, harvesting approx 8kgs of broad beans.

A highlight of the day was showing a journalist and her photographer from Sea and Bay Magazine around the plot. The magazine are doing a feature about allotment life and were enthusiastically welcomed by our team who wanted to share the story of our journey.  They were lovely ladies and seemed to engage with the energy on the plot, we will look forward to reading their article and if copywrite allows we will share on our blog.

As always the community element was as strong as the work party effort, and friendly advice and (and consolation after the election week!) was on hand. the day was topped off by the best fresh vegetarian food much of which was grown in our gardens and the plot, all enjoyed alfresco with happy friendly conversation and gratitude.


We look forward to anyone interested in joining us for watching the bees, listening to the birds and observing the clouds, (and a bit of gardening, eating and jawing) on Sunday the 25th June 10-14.00.

Before signing off we would like to say a big thank you to Fiona for the excellent talk she did at the Southend Food Plan consultation think tank at the Focal Point Gallery on Saturday. Hopefully moving forward the take up of SitComma initiatives and local food growing will mulitply, we are certainly seeing a groundswell of interest as we all evolve our awareness of the need for local resilience.

Peace Out Bug Hunters

Sunday 14th May Spring work day.

Last Saturday’s plot day began with rain showers but this gave way to a glorious spring day.  The plot seemed to have been on overtime since the last work session a fortnight ago, Broad beans ready to harvest, Gooseberries ripening nicely already.  Of course the unplanned plants and grass growing abundantly also, giving us some jobs and eventually nice compost.

The composting seemed to have taken off over the last month now the ambient temperature is rising, most of our fleet of bins yielding good quantities of this fantastic dark food for the plants and veggies.

This week we had a bonus of a substantial quantity of shredded organic matter from a tree pruning job, this amazingly had already partially decomposed in just 2 days and the aroma was delightfully intoxicating.  We mulched much of this directly onto veggie beds, to help retain moisture, blank out weeds and rot down, feeding them, the remainder giving some new material into the compost bins.
The asparagus ferns, donated to us by Seeorg a couple of seasons back, have been struggling due to being overcrowded by our explosive grape vine so we decided to finally create a dedicated Asparagus bed.  We dug down two spits and lined with twigs and small branches then a good layer of compost before laying the asparagus crowns over mounds before backfilling and watering well.  See you in a year for an update on that.

A well earned lunch with a variety of tasty dishes, spicy cous cous, egg fried rice, fresh salads, chia seed dessert.  A turmeric milk made by our own Ayurvedic sage Sarah, really heals and restores those flaking bodies.  We also enjoyed Water Kafir, which contains probiotics, great for restoring the healthy bacteria and is so tasty and refreshing yet simple to prepare.
Just as we sat down to eat, what perfect timing, we were joined by Emily from SAVS who came to learn about our project so as to formulate a way to incorporate the work SAVS does with Sitcomma.  Watch this space.

Once restored we took some time to share some poetry, and some healing mantra songs. s Sarah and I shared one of our favourite classic poems called Desirate, by an author unknown.  Fiona shared a gorgeous, wonderfully subtle gardening poem based around the (unplanned plants not weeds theme).  Susan shared a poem she wrote some time ago about a poor, blind thief fending for his mother, which had us imagining it was a snowy Christmas in victorian london, surreal considering the pleasantly warm day, the poem was very clever, entertaining and emotional we were in awe.

Refueled and and full of enthusiasm we finished the afternoon with some pressing jobs, Susan and I weeded the potato beds, Mark and Tilly weeded the raised beds, strawberry /  rasberry beds.  Kamil kept up the watering of  the plants and the compost while young  Nella and Mia played gayly around the plot.
We sharedsome vine cuttings which had struck over the winter, with our neighbour Jacky who very kindly, donated to us, some lovey iris ryzones.  We  try logging all our endeavors, lists are rarely completed but one tick for all who attended this work session, i’m sure was the ‘experiencing the joys of community’   Hope to see you on the plot soon,  second Saturday fourth Sunday of each month.

Easter Egg Hunt Produces a Good Yield.

The cooler start to the Saturday plot day and Easter Egg Hunt gave us worries that most people would take a rain check on visiting the plot but the weather gave way to a warm sunny afternoon and there where many “eggs” to be hunted for those that made it to the plot.


Work continued on the family plot with Kamil planting potatoes and Sarah painting the base colour on the Wendy house.  Meanwhile on the main plot, Alitja and Nella watered the seedlings in the greenhouse.  Duncan and Mark tended to the first, well needed grass cut of the season, Steve and his little one weeded the veg beds.

The lure of eggs bought along some of our neighbours with children who shared in lunch and the Easter egg hunt. Our new intrepid plot keeping neighbour, Peter and his daughter Amelia paid us a visit bringing some sweet Greek red wine no less! We like to socialise on the plot, well all work and no play and all that…

Just after a delicious lunch of sweet potato and butternut squash stew with traditional polish potato salad and lentil soup there was a little time left to pot up some of the pumpkin seeds we had saved from last year. Duly labelled and watered we can watch these grow in the greenhouse before planting out into the children’s plot.  In an attempt to have cooking facilities on the plot, we are experimenting with building our own rocket stove from recycled bricks.  I the want of fire bricks we are practising with plain house bricks using designs researched by Kamil on YouTube.



Family plot begins to take shape

Work day on the new family plot.  Jobs: till over area to be grass seeded, we were kindly donated a 2 stroke micro-rotovator by SEE Green party. The plot had begun to cover herself with greenery (some might say Weeds) we had to act fast before, Jim who single-handidly dug the entire plot over, the end of last year, might see. The little machine happily scrambled over the whole plot in double time and used only a couple of cups of petrol.

Whilst the plot was being prepared, Freya on her first visit to the plot worked on the layout, among some fruit trees and raised veg beds she envisioned a sensory garden including, stepping-stones, wind chimes, bunting, aromatic herbs and plants.  Watch out grand designs.

A promising discovery of several happy slow worm specimens cruising around the soon to be grass seeded area, we were more vigilant with the machinery after the first meeting with these handsome friendly guys.  This particularly gregarious boy or girl slow worm gave us a Celtic cross.

It’s ok Daddy I’ll keep shop Says Nella as Daddy wonders how he is going to repair his trusty bike trailor wheel, which at least waited until it got to the plot before deciding to shear itself away from the rest of the trailor.  This trailor has moved gear you wouldn’t believe possible.

After a tasty pan-world lunch of vegetable Massala made by Alitja and hard boiled eggs from my good trio of hen’s,  washed down with Sarah’s super healthy water Kafir drink.  Sorry no pictures  of the lunch this time, we must have been too consumed in both meanings of the word. The last jobs to round of a useful session was to fix up a Wendy house, some concrete garage sections made for a quick, solid and dry base, to help try and give this little children’s haven a third lease of life, yes This belonged to Freya before being donated to the neighbours who now donated back!.  Needs some new perspex for windows and a lick of paint, time for an art attack!  Leaving the plot I’m sure I speak for all when I recall the strong sense of achievement and comradary among not only our team but our lovely plot neighbours who are endlessly keen to share a kind word and often some useful tips, all part of the great allotment spirit.  Big Thanks to Kamil who returned the next day by himself to sew grass seed and a deploy netting system.