Our taster sessions have been fun. Along with herbal remedy workshops with Amanda Rew, we’ve enjoyed a plant dyeing workshop with Diane Sullock of Brockwell Greenhouses, and a swift introduction to permaculture with Kevin Mascarenhas of Natural Flow.
It’s been really enjoyable, and a great way to learn more about plants in the garden and how we can use them.
We still have a jam / chutney making workshop to come and more tbc.
Introducing the plants and their dyes.
Weld – green / woad -blue, & mix together to make lincoln green for merry men? Purple hollyhocks – deep blue /purple, onion skins -yellow, madder -deep pink, indigo – blue. We also had logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum – a tropical hardwood) that made a deep, deep purple
Madder (Rubia tinctorum)
Trial sticks ready to be cooked. Soaking in the mordant.
Weld (Reseda luteola)
Cotton bags dyed.
Was the permaculture session inspirational? But yes, it was a bit wet.
Managed to find a large umbrella so we could stand around the compost bins.
Luckily a good lunch was had by all.
Considered to be redundant and past their prime, ten pretty hens were transported from their factory farm to our garden on 26th July. A few days later, bossy Sarah arrived, from a good home in Brixton.
In spite of their unhappy past, the rescue hens soon worked out what was food, what was drink and where was a good place to lay eggs. Sarah (banished from Brixton) tried to bully her way to the top, but… things can only get better: read on.
By the Wednesday, the hens were pulling up plants, making nests in the hay, laying eggs (yes!) and proving themselves to be a valuable addition to the garden: they love snails.
Enemy No. 1 is the fox who lives under the mounds, but a combination of a concrete floor and a metal-framed coop means that means he can only stare longingly at them. He stares, the chickens squawk. But they’re still laying, and, though many are missing feathers from their chest or tail, they look far shinier than they did.
Alastair’s daily visits have been paying off. Now they noisily gather round the feet of anyone who comes in (and try to hot-foot it out the door).
Last Sunday they had a ball: plenty of visitors to their coop. Our rescue hens are surprisingly open and friendly, pecking at bare legs and toes, not arguing when moved and – bar Sarah – allowing themselves be stroked. No longer is Sarah the sole one pecking at the rest: there’s another boss pot in the nest.
One of our younger volunteers, Zainab, discovered that at the top of the hens’ favourite things list are ripe blackberries and people’s shoes, while Bronwyn found out that a head of lettuce swinging at hen-height is the best game ever. But our 11 chickens are not here just to have fun: they are earning their keep. They’re laying six to eight eggs daily between them, and we’re selling the eggs to pay for their food: 20p a piece.
Fancy popping in to say hello, and donating the odd empty egg box? We’re here every Sunday 1-4!
Interested in joining the chicken group, to help manage and develop? Email Simon at email@example.com
Photos and captions courtesy of Melissa
On Sunday the Glengall beekeepers helped us don suits while the brave put their hands in their pockets and their hoods up, and we watched and listened to the Story of Bees. Then Florence brewed tea, the rest ate cakes, and artist Sophie Herxheimer created her live stream of marvellous visual poems.
Here’s what we learned about BEES.
* The average worker bee produces half a teaspoon of honey in her (6-week) lifetime. Yes, they’re females.
* Bees are hard-wired to do certain jobs: Pollen Collector, Security Inspector, Builder, Larvae Feeder, Scout. Amazing.
* The drones’ sole function in life is to mate – with the queen.
* The queen is a reproduction machine. When her time is up, a year or so down the line, a small number of larvae are selected and fed on royal jelly. A few days later, they pupate, then fight it out, with shocking Killer Stings, to win the crown.
* Bees hibernate in winter and, left to their own devices, feed on the honey they’ve collected and sealed, while ‘factory-farmed’ bees are fobbed off with sugar substitutes. Which is one of the reasons that 21st-century bees are in serious decline.
Other reasons for the demise of bees include:
* The march of climate change; diminished habitat (when did you last see an old hollow tree?); farmed fields like rape being treated with pesticides; hybrid flowers being sterile, wild flowers diminishing, and, in the countryside, a lack of diversity. This is why urban bees, with their access to gardens, are, unexpectedly, flourishing.
Want to know more? Then join the natural beekeepers at Glengall Wharf Garden!
Photos (and honey cake): Claire Wright
We hosted our first magical midsummer night feast, a night of fantastic food, mead, music, merrymaking, flowers and fun.
It was a chance to get the garden looking more gorgeous than ever, spruced, swept, rinsed and readied for our biggest crowd yet.
The cosy centre space was warmed by the midsummer fire, and surrounded by flowers, the hum of quiet conversation, sweet violin and thumping double base echoed around as we munched on wild herbs, greens, slow cooked lamb and finished with the lightest of meringues and garden berries.
We were treated to a gentle, settled a swarm of bees, soon re-hived by our beekeepers, and as the light sank low, the fire roared and we retreated from the city around us.
Herb Tuesdays is going from strength to strength now the growing season has really got going.
With new people coming each week, we have a core of regulars who are busy getting lots done.
From weeding and planting in the forest garden, to sowing more medicinal and edible herbs, earlier work is paying off and the garden herbs are looking great.
We are watering the garden like crazy to keep things going through this dry spell, and planting out valerian, heartsease, dill, red veined sorrel and more -filling in the gaps on the hugel mounds and eating a lot of strawberries!
A successful day out on the Unwin and Friary Estate for the Big Lunch. 100’s of mini kitchen veg gardens disappeared off the potting bench before lunch even got going.
Although hardly anyone on the estate has a garden – a balcony if lucky, people were super keen to get growing healthy greens, coriander, mizuna and lovely lettuces to perch on a kitchen windowsill.
Hopefully we’ll get many more people down at the garden to our summer events.
Worries about the weather disappeared almost as soon as we came on site – the afternoon was fresh and glorious. A great turn out of people, lured by the promise of learning more about soil and how to manage it meant we got lots done and ate well.
Lasagna gardening, method
Cardboard was laid thickly and wetted. It needs a good overlap of about 15cm.
Time out was taken to look and listen for frogs.
A layer of lovely leafmould, also wetted, followed by a thick layer of woodchip should do the trick. We’ll wait a few months and check the soil. We are feeding earthworms by providing lots of organic matter that they will quickly digest, excreting rich worm casts which will build soil.
As May the 1st traditionally celebrates beltane, a fire was started to mark the beginning of summer. A bough of may was brought to the garden and placed with the bees. A mark of good luck for the year.
Frog exploration in earnest.
Happy seed sowers with very straight seed drills. Leeks and kale I believe.
The beltane fire was a hot one……
Some serious cooling off was then needed!
Pretty good pizzas!
The first community feast at the garden today, glorious sunshine, a fresh breeze, white and blue borage humming with bees and an abundance of salads, spring leaves and edible flowers. The feast brought the Maintaining Health Partners Copleston Together group en masse to the garden, to eat and then work….weeding, watering, harvesting, sweeping, many first time gardeners got a taste for the joys of pulling up abundant goosegrass, and hopefully we’ll see a few of them back soon on a tuesday or sunday.
Our lady of the lettuces
The feasting begins!
A lovely warm spring day of gardening – lots to do, everything getting dry quickly after months of wet weather but looking forward to a great years gardening.
Lovely lowly worms
Peas and pea sticks
Pak choi in abundance
9 star perennial broccoli underplanted with nepalese raspberry
Proud of our parsnips
Seed packaging for seed swap on 22nd march
Farewell Josephine, and thanks! Good luck in Uganda – now our projects are twinned we are looking forward to exchange visits – thanks for being our wonderful chairperson and dedicated committee person and gardener. XXX