Thursday, 31 December 2009

Composting Toilet - funding approved!

How about this for some New Year Good News! After a very long haul funding for the composting toilet on our allotment site has finally been approved! This means we'll be able to hold more events on site and stand a better chance of getting match-funding!

Will post again with more details...

See also previous posts Campaign for a composting Toilet

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Installing a water butt

Festive wishes to readers out there, I hope you're having a peaceful time of it. I'm cracking on with jobs that will make our lives easier in the coming growing season. I'd been wanting to install guttering on our allotment shed for some time now. It's a long walk to the the water butt and when times are busy and lots of people are on site you can't use it anyway as it doesn't refill very quickly.

I don't mind admitting that do-it-yourself jobs are not one of my talents. Frankly, the prospect of having to do these things is often quite terrifying!

This information might be useful to someone though, so I'm going to share my progress so far. As a first step, I checked out the 'how to' guides for some major stores. B and Q being one of them. I didn't find much about how to install guttering but I did find a step-by-step guide to installing a water butt. Here's the link:

Then I visited a large store and bought the necessary items. Three lengths of guttering, plus brackets. Water butt and stand I'd bought a while back. Down pipe and down pipe connector. So far so good. Cost around £40.

Of course when I visited our plot yesterday allotment reality started to kick in. I put the brackets on the shed - I thought they were sloping and tested the system out with water from a watering can. However, then I realised the shed was sloping too, so had to take the brackets off and put them on again in a different place. Sigh. By the time I'd tried again night was falling and it was freezing cold, so I guess Installing a Water Butt (Episode II) will have to wait a wee while. Never mind, at least I've started the project.

And the snow drops I planted are coming up.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Home Made Christmas Decorations

Not usually very keen on Christmas Decorations but we received this lovely Christmas Garland from Babes' Granny yesterday. I wanted to share this photograph with QGT readers.

Other Half said Granny and Babes had used materials from Granny's garden to make it.

Isn't it beautiful? I think it is much nicer than a tinsel crown and just right for us. Thank you very much Granny.

Greetings to all readers and hope your preparations are going well. Don't get too stressed out - and plan some time in to check your garden or allotment plot on sunny days...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Organic Gardening and Climate Change

I'm a creature of habit, and work routines help me to keep going. This week must be the first week of the year when I haven't been down to the allotment. Little and often is my motto. I've missed it but I've got a good excuse. This week I've been on the Climate Change 'The Wave' march in London.

In the interests of joined up thinking I'm pointing QGT readers towards coverage of Climate Change and Copenhagen over at my newsblog.

I took over a hundred photographs - this is not one of the best but the brave chap on the right of the picture spoke to me. Unfortunately he moved away before I could take a snap of what he was trying to say. His placard said: Domicile Allotments. Solution to Climate Change. I wish I'd had a chance to talk to him about it. I'll be back in the 'garden' next week...

Update: I've just Googled 'domicile allotments'. Our brave protestor pops up again see this link.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Communication, organic gardening and more photographs from the Woodbrooke Kitchen Garden

I've still got some important photographs to share from the Woodbrooke Kitchen Garden. Gardeners (and bloggers) need patience and learning. For those readers who have just started gardening - please know - I haven't been doing this all my life. I only started seriously four years ago when my daughter was born. Since then I've been on a very fast learning curve in all sorts of ways. A very practical learning curve too - very much food-related.

When I started blogging - (fourteen months ago) I admit - I didn't have definite goals in mind. But I did want to communicate - and do something useful. Organic gardeners I had talked to said that there is a skills gap in Britain today as far as fruit and vegetable growing was concerned. I hoped that by learning more about blogging as a medium I could do several things: consolidate my own knowledge about organic gardening, and communicate something of what I was learning to others.

Blogging is quite a fast medium. Blog posts can be slotted in at any time of day. With the increasing risks associated with Climate Change and Peak Oil I felt I needed to act fast.

I wanted to focus on time-saving techniques. How often have I heard people say that they don't have the time to grow their own. Well, as a busy mum - I often feel I don't have the time for ANYTHING - lots of us are familiar with that feeling of needing to find time from somewhere. I definitely don't have the time (energy or inclination) to dig over our allotment-plot-and-a-half each autumn.

But then it is through writing this blog that I've learned more about no-dig techniques and hopefully been able to pass on some of them. There's a lot to be said for television. But too many gardening programmes seem to give the impression that you can do an instant makeover in your backyard which lasts a weekend and you'll be set up with fruit and veg for the rest of your life. Of course life (and gardening) is not like that.

Along with the plants on our allotment plot - the communication element has grown too. I started out a year ago with this one blog Questioner's Garden Time (which is still my favourite blog). Blog number two appeared a little later (that's the one called: Profit from Your Blog). In April 2009 my news blog 'Behind the Lines' fruited as blog number three. And finally blog number four "A Parent's Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage" popped up. This last blog has been the focus of much attention recently. In the interests of joined up thinking - if you have, know or are concerned about the future of children under five, please visit this weighty site and consider signing the parliamentary petition I have launched.

Tending four blogs is a lot like gardening. It has been hard work at times. Little and often is the way to go. Whilst the subjects these blogs are concerned with may seem unrelated, to me they are all parts of a whole. Climate Change is linked to education - which is linked to war and peace - which is linked to communication - which is linked to how we use new media - and so on...

At times the work seems endless. And it is. You do the work and don't always see the results, but then one day you turn around and see how much the soil has improved. In year four our allotment soil is gaining that crumbly texture that is so different from the heavy clay we started out with. As far as communication is concerned - since April - reader traffic on all of my four blogs combined has increased EIGHT HUNDRED PER CENT. So it seems I'm a little closer to those communication goals that I've been striving towards.

Back to the main focus of this blog. Edible, do-able organic food. The last few photographs from the Woodbrooke Kitchen Garden are functional. First up: red cabbage. I remember eating this inthe Woodbrooke servery. It tasted wonderful and I'm determined not to miss the window to plant some of this on our allotment next year. Next in line chard.

You may think these particular specimens look a little tatty but they're perfect examples of the cut-and-come-again technique which helps us save time and energy. These little stumps should grow again in the spring. The gardener therefore avoids the work of re-sowing and they should be off to an early start too.

And finally, leeks. This is an interesting photo for me as they're covered in horticultural fleece. I was quite surprised about this as I don't bother with it myself. I would have thought because the Kitchen Garden has a wall around it, it wouldn't have been needed as it is a sheltered spot. But perhaps this particular variety is a little more fragile than the very hardy varieties I choose for our own plot. Must remember to ask the Woodbrooke gardener what the reason is for the fleece. Is it for frost protection? Any ideas anyone?