I haven’t visited the permaculture blog for a long time, so its time for me to have ramble on and look back over the season to review how we did at the allotment. I hope there are still people about visiting the site to find out about permaculture on the Isle of Wight. At the moment we don’t seem to have any set meetings but a few of us meet up in the cafe in Albert St Ventnor on Saturday mornings where we still sell our produce. There is usually; vegetables from Ken, jam and honey from James, herbs and tasty tarts from Rowan and home made soap and hand-cream from me and Nick ( lip balm coming soon). There’s recently been the launch of a community cafe recipe book compiled by Jill and Penny with photographs by local artists. Only £2.99 its a great local product.
Me and Nick recently hosted an apple pressing day and the press is available for members to borrow, although we agreed that some kind of mincer would be useful prior to pressing the apples. I know there are some members keen to hold a meeting on their land so if you want to be involved make sure you are on the email list by replying to this post. The idea is that people do some work in return for hospitality.
Well to get to the allotment, We started off alright with a good crop of broad beans but as the season progressed and we didn’t get any rain we found our onions and potatoes rather small. We didn’t expect them to need watering and so they got overlooked. We were pleased with the vines. Its their first year in the ground and they did very well. So did the raspberries, well I think everyone did well for fruit this year. Last year I had left the spinach, beetroot and chard to flower and seed, and in the autumn, when it finally rained, they came up, and so did the land cress, so we’re eating that now.
Next years plan is more of the same. More onions and more potatoes and more beans. The plots not especially sunny and we’re still working on creating shelter so I’m giving up on the more delicate crops and concentrating on what grows well and what we eat. I always like to try something different though, and this year I grew a couple of cardoons. Just when I was thinking of blanching one, in October, it produce some flower buds. You’re supposed to blanch the whole plant by tying cardboard round it. I think I’ll wrap up the other small one for a taster.
I’m happy with the bog garden that we made near the allotment tap, it got filled with clover, and I had some lovely white violas in there and some pretty pink mallow at the edge. It was such a dry year year that it was the only place that I could safely strike cuttings. I managed to get some rugosa roses going and look after some of the willow cuttings from Richard Bolwell’s workshop this summer. When I get some of the grass out I’m going to sow a packet of meadow flower seed from Jill and Penny’s meadow at Alverstone.
There are tasks to finish before that, I think we’ve put in enough onion sets now, extra to make up for last years poor show, and I’m still putting in broad beans and peas. Today I tasted my first pea shoot, in a pea shoot and nasturtium sandwich. Is that permaculture enough for you? Other tasks are putting in the garlic, but I’ve read that you sow that on the shortest day, and making cloches. For this we cut lengths of bendy hazel for the frame and put plastic or fleece over the top. We still have some corrugated plastic and that is great for the job. I also have some calibrese plants to put in, hopefully the bugs won’t notice them amongst the mustard. Last year I left out brassica altogether because of the clouds of whitefly. This year we had none, and now they’ve just returned, in the peas amongst other places. Its a challenge growing organically on allotments where you are surrounded by people with a different ethos to you. Whilst you are busy building up the wildlife, they don’t always show appreciation. I said to one couple at the back, Its a great season for insects! And well, they looked at me rather strange. Last year we, and the neighbour, had thrips in our leeks. I’ve never had that before. He sprayed his with something but I decided to grow our leeks in a spare patch that a woman I work for offered me in her garden. They’re doing well.
Its a good time now to burn up all the old wood thats around to get some ash to help with fruit and flowering and to sow some green manure. This year I’ve sown mustard, I got the seed from easy weigh if you can’t find them in a garden shop. You can also buy seed from ebay but watch out with beans because mine arrived with pink powdery stuff on. Ugh! And I’d already sent feedback.
Thats it for the time being, please send in your tips or tales of disaster. We hope to see you in the cafe or at the meetings, yet to be arranged.