Community Allotment

May 26th

I thought it time to give an update.

 

It has been a hard fought battle against a range of weather conditions, from severe frost to drought, which has been dispiriting at times. We can only hope that we are entering a calmer period.

 

Having said that, it is not all gloom and doom. The generosity of neighbours to provide plants and give their time has been heart warming. As a result the plot looks reasonably neat and tidy, a number of crops are coming along and the space within the rabbit-proofed enclosure is filling up rapidly. Some things are obviously doing better than others - the broad beans are quite good but the brassicas are challenging.

 

Amongst the contributors have been Angus and Joy Cottey (kale and sprout plants); Sara and Zare from Lower Kitcott (exchanging our surplus plants for much appreciated mini pop sweetcorn); Claire and Phil Lewis (tomatoes, French climbing beans, etc): John and Debbie Egan (weeding and ground clearance); Paul and Jackie Hornby (brush cutting and seeds); Diana and John from North Down (marrow seeds and straw for the hens); Andy Blakely (providing a photographic record); Alan and Wendy Rogers for looking after the hens two days a week; Heather Walton for supplying a number of large pots and for entertaining Skye whilst I was, rather boringly for him, working on the allotment and Deryn and Mal Childs (consistent watering and general maintenance). Also, thank you to Sally and Andrew for supplying the hens and selling surplus eggs.

 

The hens are in the 'lap of luxury' within their spacious living-quarters and run and are quite spoiled by Mal, who buys them corn, and by the other members of the hen rota. Some people even have favourites although the only named bird I know of is Deryn's "Oven Ready", so named because the poor thing is short of plumage.

 

The number of eggs laid is quite variable - not sure why, is it the weather? Perhaps Sally can tell us. Overall, the number of eggs laid each day is gradually declining but with older hens and such a drastic change of environment that is probably to be expected.

 

I have £30.05 from 'Cacklebury Hall' (the egg box on the garden wall), with a little more to come from Sally. That ensures that we can buy the next five sacks of mash when needed (there is a small discount on five sacks.) I paid for the last lot. Luckily, we still have several sacks in hand. I hope I haven't left anyone off - if so, I apologise.

 

I can tell you that the website has been visited from far afield by friends and families who are proud to tell the world what we've been doing in Meshaw during lock-down.

 

Now for a WANTED posting: can anyone spare a watertight bin or barrel (preferably with a lid) for brews of comfrey and nettles? We have an abundance of both plants which are excellent sources of liquid fertilisers but no containers in which to make the stinking potions.

 

I just hope that when, hopefully, we have vegetables ready for consumption there will be people who will accept them.

 

Celia

 

Cluck cluck

The hens are here and laying well. See Celia's "egg house" on her wall if you need some eggs.

4th May

Today work on the allotment has taken a surge forward. 

 
Paul Egan has made an impressive start to clearing the brambles.  The nut and other trees are now in their own stand-alone spaces.  You can actually see them!  Thank you Paul.
 
Mal Childs has cleverly used rustic materials to create perches for the hens and he and his wife Deryn have continued netting our seedlings.  We are experiencing some losses - to pheasants, perhaps - but we'll keep battling on.
 
We are now expecting ten hens to arrive this evening, with a further ten coming tomorrow.  The carrying crate holds ten birds, so two journeys are necessary.

2nd May

We've had some much appreciated help and generosity with both the allotment and the hens.

 

Claire Lewis put up a sturdy row of sticks for French climbing beans and has planted the seeds in sectional trays.

 

John Egan scraped weeds and stones from pathways and transplanted cardoon seedlings into larger pots. He also donated two sacks of straw.

 

The hens are coming on Tuesday evening, plus food. I had thought they'd come on Sunday but I'm glad of the extra time to get ready.

 

Mal and I have plodded away, planting and doing maintenance work.

 

'Cider' John turned up on his tractor with a bale of straw for the nesting boxes, having heard on the village grapevine that one was needed. Very welcome indeed.

 

Having been able to share my rhubarb, my supply has dwindled but Claire Lewis would like some to make a crumble. Does anyone have spare rhubarb, please?

 

The polytunnel

Created from "nothing", by Mal!

Message from Celia

I'm hoping to get some hens soon to provide a very local source for eggs. I have four volunteers to help with looking after the hens - Alan Rogers, Rod Galea, and Debbie and John Egan. Andy Blakely has also said he'll give occasional assistance.

 

The hens should arrive Sunday. I am looking for some straw (for nesting boxes), wood chippings or some such for the floor and food and water feeders (I have a small food feeder but would like a larger one) and, of course, a bag of mash. If anyone can help it would be much appreciated.

 

Also, urgently needed - horticultural fleece. I ordered some 10 days ago but it hasn't arrived and Mal says we are likely to have a few very cold nights this week! Has anyone got some to spare?

April 28th

At last, some rain! No need to water tonight …

 

John and Debbie from Rose Cottage have joined the team, which is excellent.

 

The runner beans and peas are not showing yet and I'm getting impatient! But Mal says the night-time temperature is forecast to drop over the next few days, so am keeping my fingers crossed that there won't be any frost damage.  Perhaps the runners and peas are being sensible.

 

Heather's bringing some large pots for the tomatoes and has said she'll help with the weeding.

 

I've heard from Jacky and her husband Paul offering plants, seeds and weeding services – fantastic.

 

The plot is getting filled up although I shall manage to squeeze in a few more things.

 

Mal, as usual, is a stalwart, doing all sorts of clever things with nets and water butts and so on.

 

Claire is putting up sticks for climbing French beans.

 

I've managed to share a few small items with neighbours - parsley, rhubarb, radish, chives, etc - which is pleasing. Most of it, of course, won't be ready for ages yet. Please let me know what you need and if I've got it you can have it. Up till now I've put the stuff on the wall by the egg box for collection but there may be other distribution methods.

 

I want to find homes for excess 'salad leaves' plants (which can be grown on to become mature lettuces, etc). and kohl rabi plants. Any takers?

 

Celia

 

April 26th

Would you like vegetables?

We would like to hear from people in (and on the edge of) the Parish who would be happy to accept our vegetables, as and when they are ready. Obviously, with our limited resources we cannot produce commercial-scale quantities and we don't want to inflict vegetables on those who either don't need or don't want them.

 

When we have crops ready to harvest we will advertise them on the website and it will be a case of 'first come, first served'. However, please inform me about anyone you know who might not use the internet and whom you think would appreciate fresh veg.

 

We do not intend charging. It is our pleasure to do a little to help the community but if recipients prefer to make a donation we'll put the money towards a good cause, as yet unselected.

 

Meanwhile, we'd be delighted to have extra help and will soon need people prepared to tackle weeding. (With careful planning we can manage the 'social distancing'.) We would also welcome asap any large pots suitable for tomato plants, etc.

 

Contact details:

email: celiaofglenrosa@gmail.com

telephone: 01769 550666 or 01392 580883(Skype) Messages can be left on either number but as I am hard of hearing my preference is to be emailed.

April 24th

We are still planting!  Very grateful tonight to Andy for doing the watering.  Mal and I have both experienced something of a burn out over the last couple of days although, despite that, we've managed to keep going.  Today I planted brassicas and will continue tomorrow, weather permitting.

April 22nd

Today at the allotment Claire and Mal planted spuds and I transplanted broad bean and red cabbage plants.  In addition I put in seeds for spring onion and another short row of swedes.  Claire and Phil kindly donated tomato plants, which were added to those grown by Mal and Angus and will provide variety.  Mal very carefully nets everything and because it has been so dry we have started watering which is rather a slow procedure.

April 21st

Today we took delivery of brassicas and leek plants brought on by Jenny Cole. They are still rather small and need to be hardened off, so they won't be planted out just yet. Mal continued to net our precious seedbeds and I began the work of tidying the pathways, clearing weeds and stones. Although there wasn't much visible change to the plot, work was still going on.

April 19th

I'm taking a break from planting until the spuds and brassicas are in. There was an increasing danger that as I raced down the strip I would swallow up all the space and not leave any for the aforementioned spuddy and cabbagy things. The spuds - a limited amount - should go in during the week but the brassicas will be delivered by Jenny on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

 

I would like to thank Briony Wild for letting us have some horticultural fleece.

 

When I know what space is left, I hope to double up on some of the more useful items such as carrots, beans and peas.

 

Celia.

April 18th

The pea sticks are up, using hazel cut from the hedge long before all this madness started. I also transplanted some broad bean plants - I had been asked to grow them for a friend but there's no way of getting them to her at present, so I thought I must just as well use them in the allotment even thought I've already got one row of broad beans planted. Mal has carefully covered the seeded areas to protect them from frost and predators.

April 17th

A little drop of welcome rain overnight, but we need a lot more! Some peas, supplied by Joy and Angus, were planted today.

April 16th

The allotment is coming on well.  With Mal and Claire's help we have set seed (planted) runner and broad beans, mixed lettuces,  beetroot, onions, carrots, turnips and swedes.  The next crops to be tackled will be peas and a small quantity of potatoes.
 
The picture shows the setting out of netting and humming tape to deter birds from eating the seeds or from damaging the seedlings when they appear. Social distancing was carefully maintained.

Another update

Canes have been put up for the runner beans, and broad beans have been planted.

Update from Celia :

 

Mal Childs, with moral support from Deryn, has done a fantastic job of building a small poly-tunnel situated alongside the rabbit-proofed patch. The tights donated by at least four Meshaw ladies were used to wrap the frame so that it didn't puncture the plastic covering. Mal is a prolific grower of cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce so I know he'll make really good use of the tunnel. Apart from that, it will greatly extend the growing season.

 

Hannah Broggio and Claire Lewis have been sorting and tying canes ready for the beans. Hannah went to the field alone to sort the canes and Claire tied them in pairs the following day (we are adhering strictly to Government rules).

 

There have been offers of seeds and plants to add to those that Mal and I have been growing. More would be welcome!

 

Andy Blakely has been taking pictures of the work. This image of the empty patch was taken yesterday. This was how it looked after Peter Chudley had done the first ploughing.

The second picture was taken today. The shot is from the rear of the little poly-tunnel Mal Childs so cleverly created from bits and pieces. Mal is seen working inside the tunnel setting up cucumber and tomato plants. Andy's dog, Izzy, is in the foreground.

At the moment we are waiting for Peter to return and break the clods down further. I think he left it for a while because when the earth becomes drier it is more friable. Cider John very generously had a go at breaking down the clods first thing this morning and I want to thank him for the effort he made. However, Peter has a more suitable machine so he's going over it again tomorrow. After that we should be able to start planting in earnest, weather permitting.

 

Has anyone any metal tent pegs for pinning down weed-suppressant membrane or twiggy pea sticks they can spare?

 

We shall need a rota of people willing to wheelbarrow muck, prepare seed beds, etc. We need to get ahead as fast as possible or we shall run out of time!

 

Celia

 

A Community Allotment

 

With the help of Mal Childs I would like to offer part of my field as a community allotment. A shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables is predicted for the summer and it would be very useful to have our own to fall back on.

 

Mal has done a fantastic job using old tent poles to create a poly-tunnel. I have been sourcing polythene and expect it to be delivered within the week. Peter Chudleigh will plough the rabbit-proofed section as soon as he can.

 

We will grow what we can and share the produce, free of charge, to anyone in Meshaw parish who can use it.

 

Here's the plan:

 

Firstly, has anyone got spare seeds or, later on, spare plants? Perhaps they could let me know by emailing me (not good on 'phone, bad ears) at celiaofglenrosa@gmail.com or by contacting Mal and Deryn on 01769 551705. Mal and I have already sown a number of varieties.

 

Some crops will need the protection of the rabbit-proof fence but rabbits don't like potatoes, so they could be grown outside the fence. Personally, I don't intend spending money on seed potatoes because slugs and blight are constant enemies - others might disagree - but if anyone has some leftover spuds that are beginning to sprout I think they would be worth a try and we wouldn't lose anything and might possibly gain.

 

Second, although care has to be taken to maintain social distancing I am willing to sit in my ivory tower (I especially need to self-isolate) and coordinate a rota of volunteers.

 

There will be all sorts of jobs to be undertaken, such as erecting bean & pea sticks, brush cutting around the fruit trees, watering, weeding, transplanting, etc, etc. And, of course, harvesting! For information, in the field there are apple, cherry, plum and pear trees and soft fruit.

 

Please come and help if you can! In time it could continue as a Meshaw Together project. Contact me in the first instance.

 

 

Celia Drummond

 

P.S. Has anybody got any old tights we can wrap around the poly-tunnel's metal frame to prevent the plastic covering rubbing too much? If so, please deliver to the egg-box on my wall at Glen Rosa.

 

P.P.S. The first ploughing has been done!

 

 

 

 

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