Author Archives: Duncan

End of year celebration get together Jan 5th 2020

Our friends at Trust links kindly loaned us their wonderful hall and gardens again this year for our annual celebration of the old year and welcoming of the new year.

With around 25 people it was a lucky Fi brought her nifty new usb fan powered bbq to grill some lovely veggies to complement the other great dishes people brought.  They were awesome btw.  Sorry for lack off photos of the food, we were too engrossed in the eating!

A great and useful activity on the day was mulching Christmas trees for ericaceous compost and a novel idea Eleanor wanted to try, making whisks from the tops which looked so therapeutic to make alone.  It was all a nice excuse to get outside in the fresh air, oh and the pine aroma!

How to put your dreams and aspirations into a crafty collage to keep us inspired and focused through the year.  Vision boards Ago!

After great events like this all you want to do is have social gatherings like this every week, one for my vision board!  What more do we need than friends old and new, food and nature.
Look forward to seeing you on the ever growing Transition community allotment this year. If you want to find out more about repairing house hold items, whilst getting together with community minded people over tea and cake you may like to get involved in Southmenders next repair cafe 1st Feb

Thanks again to Matt at Trustlinks for hosting this event in the wonderful Growing together Westcliff site.


As the plot prepares for slumber 17th Nov ’19

I sadly missed our community allotment annual bonfire party this  year so I was glad to get to visit on a still early winter day, as the trees and plants shed their leaves to feed back into the circle of life.  Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.


The next big job for the plot is to prune the two huge trees we inherited, at around 8m tall far exceed the allotment site rules and are actually competing with water, nutrients etc.  We plan to reduce them by one third once all the leaves have dropped which indicates the sap is down.

Check our facebook page for future taster days

From this visits volunteers Duncan, Fiona and Steve, Happy gardening

Summer days on the plot Sat 8th June

A great day on the plot as can be expected.  Alex finished the closing raised bed construction while Kerry diligently saw to the direct station watering.  Lea got right in there on her first full plot experience and took charge of transforming the new ‘in orchard veg bed’.  Fi and Tilly over saw the greenhouse general tidying and pottering, while I tidied the paths and mowed the lawn including the new orchard lawn which is more weeds than grass currently but with continued mowing, as with our other lawns have proved,  will be nice grass eventually.

A delicious shared potluck healthy lunch, and a toast to friends absent, Kamil and Alitja and Nella enjoying a well earned few weeks holiday in a scorching Poland.

Please enjoy the photos and you may notice a marked quality improvement with an expert photographer and graphics designer on the team, thanks Lea.


Thanks for your interest.  Please find our Southend in Transition community allotment FB page for details on upcoming events.

Southmenders repair Cafe–  Shoebury Hub Saturday 29th of June

Supporting Southend Extinction Rebellion

We are getting there every day in every little way!


The Sun is back in town! 17th Feb ’19

It’s warmer, the cut grass aroma overwhelms the senses and the increase in activity on the allotment site all culminate in the clarion call ‘Spring is here!’

My agenda today was to build the shed we were donated late last summer.  Shed number 4 (shhh don’t tell Charlie, he already believes we are trying to build an eco-village!)

Fiona had a mission to prepare seed bomb materials for The South Essex Seed potato day next Saturday,  a double whammy as our seed stores have been getting out of hand.  Fi’s deft hands brought order to the seeds and potted up dozens of Strawberry plants for the stall to boot.

Volunteer Mark helped me with clearing new shed site of tuffty grass before laying slabs on leveled and compacted soil ready for the super 7 feet by 10 feet shed.  This is going to be a wildlife museum, where you can learn about all the creatures that frequent the plot.

It was good to been joined by Kathy who keen as mustard worked her way through the weeds in the raised beds with forensic accuracy.

With the warm sun, little in the way of wind and just the sounds of the birds and the insects for company, time seemed to drift away and lunch was well overdue by the time we sat down to lentil soup, bread rolls and some naughty sticky flapjack.  Great food, nice conversation and fresh air, absolutely lovely.

Looking forward to the growing season ahead, we will be getting some broad beans, onions, on the go and peppers and cabbage underglass.



Thanks for your interest and hope to see you down on the community allotment for the next taster day Saturday 4th March.

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.:-)


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.


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.


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