Author Archives: 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

 

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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

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.