There was heavy rain today, evident by the pounding on our corrugated ‘skylight’ so we did not do as much gardening as we had hoped. We instead surveyed the beds to see what damage the recent snow and cold weather had caused. Everything seemed fine, the brassicas were ok.
Some jobs for us to do next week include pruning the dormant fruit trees and bushes.
In the studio, we took down the handmade Christmas decorations and made wall plaques from clay. The Heart Gardeners collected interesting plants and pressed them into clay – we will fire them in the kiln after leaving them to dry out slowly. Similar to the sample ceramics we made previously.
Friday 26th Nov
We continued to mulch the beds in the garden with farmyard manure and netted the rest of the brassicas against the pigeons.
We planted 3 rows of garlic (French, purple Germinador), split the head into cloves and planted 1″ deep 4″ apart – garlic is a hungry crop and needs fertile soil. Also, an extensive wild snap to make to head divide into cloves.
NB: never use garlic from the supermarket, it would introduce viruses into your soil and will be imported from China so won’t be suitable for our climate.
We dug up a huge harvest of Jerusalem artichokes – not to everyone’s taste! And replanted some tubers for next year.
We also finished off clearing the bed full of strawberries and have lots of spare plants going for free – just call into the studio and ask or they will be composted!
Another update from the Heart Gardeners!
Friday 19th Nov
We netted the brassicas (sprouting broccoli and kale) with bird proof netting because the pigeons get very hungry at this time of year.
We spread a thin layer of manure over the soil and we will leave that for the worms to decompose.
We try not to dig in our raised beds as they are full of compost, manure and organic matter, it is better not to dig. If we were gardening on clay straight into the ground we could dig.
We planted a wisteria Iko Yama Fuji which we will scramble up the front entrance of the studio and trail over our copper canopy.
We also planted tulips and violas in the same box. We have been planting indoors also. Hyacinths and daffodils for Xmas box. We have left them outside at the moment. We watered them and will water occasionally if there is no rain.
We also planted more daffodil bulbs in all the containers.
We planted up some strawberry runners from the parent plants outside and made a metal hairpin shape to secure them so that they root down and don’t rise up above the surface of the soil.
Friday 12th Nov
We harvested turnips and we cleared out 2 large concrete planters , planted some mixed Cornish daffodils (good nectar source for bees) and topped up with some home made compost.
We cut the hops down to dry to use the greenery for Xmas wreaths. They smell lovely.
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Every Friday we have our regular Heart Garden sessions. Originally set up by Art in the Park artists in partnership with Southwark General Practices and health professionals,patients with CHD and long term illnesses can be referred to the project which has an emphasis on friendly, social activities and holistic health. Artist Jane Higginbottom and artist/ gardener Rebecca Scott co-ordinate a range of activities for the Heart Gardeners, the main involving gardening.
We will be documenting the Heart Garden’s weekly sessions which will include expert gardening tips.
Friday 5th Nov
Two weeks ago, they planted crocus and tete a tete into indoor pots so that they could flower for the upcoming christmas. Volunteer Brian and Rebecca underplanted mixed tulips in the bike racks (in front of studio) and overplanted them with winter pansies and polyanthus.
They also planted three fruit trees; two plums (‘opal’ and ‘president’) which are self fertile and an apple (‘cox orange pippin’) into large pots. It was not neccesary to have pollinating partners for them as next door’s nursery 1st Place already has some fruit trees. The fruit trees we have bought are all already grafted onto dwarf rootstock, so they will grow well in the pots.
How to plant a fruit tree
1. Plant with the scion (top bit/ fruit variety) 3 inches above soil level so the rootstock (graft – determines size of tree) doesn’t shoot.
2. Soak roots first in a bucket of water (bare rooted plant).
3. Spread roots out by mixing loamy soil with multi purpose compost (can add fish/ blood/ bone or some other organic fertiliser), water well in.
4. Stake with a stout piece of wood (this can be used as a label). The stake prevent root rock when it is windy.
We have now grown our very first cauliflower! Our volunteer Cynthia works hard in the garden to grow lovely seasonal produce for our famous communal lunches. Along with the cauliflower are also some chillis and spanish borlotti peas.
Here at Art in the Park, we usually make lunches out of the available produce we get from the gardens. Very much like ready, steady, cook! Cauliflowers, chillis and peas? Hm…we could make a lovely spiced cauliflower, onion, potato and coriander curry, ideal for the coming winter days. Can you think of anything else we could do with these?