ELL: January to March 2011

MARCH 2011
photo: Deanna Harrison-Kingphoto: Deanna Harrison-King
23 – 03 – 11 TO DO

  • Watering
  • Mulch – wet leaves in bags by fence

Thinking about new ideas of rainwater harvesting – Wire mesh over water container, find guttering

24 – 03 – 11 Lydia, Jo Jane, Mahmud, Deana, Kiraz
To do (most of them has been done as well)

  • Water Glasshouse plants
  • Collect litter around site
  • Finish repairing glasshouse
  • Graft onto hawthorn & crab aple
  • Take tea bags to compost heap
  • Choose compost site – old walled off area

We have been so very busy! The showcase perennial bed is all planted out; we have grafted most of our trees (thanks Transition Belsize for the additional crabapple rootstocks); we have planted seeds of our favourite edibles (seeds mostly from Gemma); we've started creating signage to go outside the site (Jane is on that, Deanna doing images); we have nailed a design for our general info leaflets (thanks to Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust for consent to use text from his book in some of the flyers); we have been fixing up the greenhouse so that it doesn't leak and also to capture the rain (ingenious solutions from Jane and Lynne on that); we are in conversation with City and Islington College about being able to support adults with learning disabilities here; and we have a nice core of volunteers coming on Wednesday and Thursday. We had to say goodbye to the lovely Heather who started full time work - she made a delicious vegan chocolate cake, which was some consolation.

cuttings bedcuttings bed
We have been using Venetian blind slats and broken orange crate boxes to label our plants (very important to label!) and are keeping a record of where cuttings/scions came from and when they were taken. We are storing the scions in Heather's spade handle bed ready for grafting in March. The cuttings are in rows with a newspaper mulch to try and prevent weeds. We've mixed the North London Waste compost with compost from the site.

The hedge next to the demonstration perennial bed has been removed to let in more light and the earth has been topped up with compost. We're all set to place the plants we want to show off.

Our leaf bins are now brimming thanks to the students from Brussels. See more on their visit here. And thanks to the lovely Mike we now only have one bed to build.

potted uppotted upscions for graftingscions for grafting
potspotscomposted perennial bedcomposted perennial bed

preparing perennial bedpreparing perennial bed

So we have filled quite a few of the boxes with compost and Heather built a lovely ad hoc cuttings bed in the shade of the yew tree. We used some broken spade handles as the supports for the scaffold plank walls. We've also planted Siberian pea plant, 'Kwanso' day lillies and Sea Buckthorn into the showcase flowerbed and it's all beginning to feel like a proper plant nursery.

Phil barrowing compostPhil barrowing compost

We're now planning exactly where to plant the plants we've ordered and taking cuttings for grafting and growing. We've got a rough map of where plants will go in our showcase perennial garden near the entrance. This is a lovely sunny patch bounded by old railway sleepers. It already has some established rosemary, lavender and lemon balm - we'll be planting around them using a forest garden approach. JoJoTall plants such as Loquat and Persimmon will go at the northern edge and then we'll keep some Sea Buckthorn, Autumn Olive and Small Leaved Lime growing short as the next height. Then there will be smaller plants such as Day Lilies, Sweet Cicely, Red mint and Nasturtiums. Trailing up the taller plants will be climbers such as hops, Caucasian Spinach or Grape vines.

We've decided to have two work sessions each week - Wednesday afternoons (12.30-3.30) and Thursday mornings (10.00-1.00). Anyone can turn up and help out.cuttingscuttings It's a great way to learn more about perennial gardening and have fun. As you can see from the pictures, we turn up whatever the weather is doing!

Here's some willow and apples cuttings we took from the Plot 21 site at the Alexandra Palace allotments.

We had a meeting at the start of January where we reviewed where we're up to before talking about how to meeting notesmeeting notesgraft and take cuttings. Gemma did a short presentation and we have decided to collect together some online resources and put them on the website - here's the new section. Then we arranged a visit for the following weekend, to Plot 21 and the Naturewise Permaculture Garden to take cuttings.