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Welsh Borders

 

“May the tree of our life be firmly rooted in the soil of love, let good deeds be the leaves on that tree. May words of kindness form its flowers and may peace be its fruits.”           Amma

May 2014

Our first few weeks on the allotment started well, then we had a rainy spell and Easter and the digging came to a holt. However this was a good time to lay out black plastic to kill off some grass. As well as the odd jobs such as composting, path laying, nettle tea compost making and generally keeping on top of grass cutting and weed control.

In this time the planted garlic and  onions have thrived. Potatoes have shown signs of appearing. No signs of any of the flowers we put in growing. We uncovered masses of strawberry plants, fed them with chicken manure pellets and more compost and surrounded in straw they are all flowering nicely. We pulled our first rhubarb….from our neighbour, it was delicious served as pudding one evening served with Greek style yogurt.

We uncovered a bed of asparagus which we will eventually provide more nutrients and compost too. Lastly I bought home from a local plant sale, picked up cheap as they were closing, broccoli, purple sprouting, dahlias, and a couple of flowering shrubs for the bees/butterflies….oh and 4 squash.

Its a time of great learning, YouTube, our neighbours and books all provide inspiration. Discussing comfrey, as a composting food with my Pilates teacher she said she was a Biodynamic Gardner, inspired by Steiner (of Steiner school fame) planting was planned by the moon phases. I was immediately hooked and bought my own planting guide, and I  am following the simple instructions, transferring leafy vegetables when the planetary aspects are in correct alignment. Well as its all new to me, more to follow in a separate article later.

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Another insight I have had is the delicate ecosystem and maintaining this in an allotment environment. My neighbour is frustrated with the amount of plants he lost to slugs last year and is this year applying nematodes, (check out Wikipedia) which last for four months, kill off all the slugs, but thrive on slugs so they die off once their food source is gone. This system does work effectively and he informed me it would cost about £20 for his size allotment. I thought great! But then thought some more… hmmmm so ok you have no slugs so all the natural occurring slug predators go to another area, their is no eco system. So I’m new at this but this is my way (at the moment at least). I use a lot of deterrents on the ground, coffee granules, egg shells, plastic bottles cut up to protect the new plants. On the rest of the site slugs can do what they like, live , die, provide food for hungry beattles ect , I even provide a juicy snack bar for them, centre of the site, with lettuce and cabbage to attract them away from my seedlings. When caught I will add them to my compost areas. Does this work? It worked fairly effectively in my garden, I also added twilight slug patrol to catch the night workers and they were swiftly removed. I am just realistic, as soon as I would destroy the slugs hundreds more would holiday in from the opposite fields…so this is my plan.. I will let you know how it goes….

I have written about recycling on the allotment and how we Recycle, Reuse and Revive follow this link to read http://www.greenfriends.org.uk/recycling-on-allotment/

Surya Kalkwarf- Herefordshire GreenFriends Representative

April 2014

Hi, thanks to our Sheffield GreenFriends Kaivalya and Richard’s monthly allotment updates over the last few years, other GreenFriends are inspired to post their allotment stories. I am Surya from Herefordshire and will be keeping you up to date with our allotment at Pandy, Abergavenny in the Welsh Borders. Inspired by Amma to grow our own vegetables and cut flowers, we have taken on a full size allotment. Having regular contact with the natural world keeps us connected to our mother Earth. Surrounded by the mountains, neighbouring horses and many local friendly chatty allotment holders, we are already very at home. My husband Geoff has never gardened and is proving to be my biggest supporter of our new project, here is where we will keep you all updated.

Surya and Geoff Kalkwarf

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Our first day at the allotment on a beautiful sunny Sunday, at the end of March, we started digging, and more digging. Six hours later amongst the weeds and grass we had a small patch for potatoes, red and white onions and garlic. We harvested purple sprouting from the previous owners leftovers and uncovered a host of plants including strawberries, gooseberries, rhubarb and raspberries.
It was a small dent on the 100m x 250m wartime size allotment, but we felt happy and fulfilled. Geoff my husband had never gardened before and it was my first on such a large plot, but we have plans to grow our own organic vegetables, fruit and flowers. We planted a small hazel in the top right hand corner of the allotment to mark this momentous occasion. Bright orange polyanthus were planted on the front bed ready to border our sign in honour of my beloved Amma, “No. 4 Ma’s Patch”. Faith is my devotion and Amma you are the reason I sing” , indeed you are the reason, so here we were fully content, closer than we had ever been to each other, nature, our neighbours the ponies and enjoying helpful titbits of information from chatty allotment holders.
Everything was an adventure, including our shopping trip to Wilkinsons for forks, fortunately I had a store of seeds, planning on buying some more unusual varieties, and gifts of plants are coming our way, which is great as we started with a low budget, a lot of enthusiasm and not so much knowledge. Looking forward in sharing this journey with you all, log on to see our latest goings on in the Welsh borders.