29 Jan Meeting at Cainscross Allotment

Nick writes…

The idea behind having use of this plot on the Cainscross Allotment site is to have a base. Somewhere to observe, somewhere to learn from, perhaps design planting ideas. There’s a greenhouse to use, some tools and a compost bin.

Among those that came along on Sunday we had a couple of tours of the plot looking for plants emerging and thriving, e.g. herbs like rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, mint, parsley and sorrel. Seb and I found some decent garlic emerging and a suggestion was that sometime during the year we could create a meal out of what was growing on the plot. There are fruit plants including summer and autumn raspberries, rhubarb, two small apple trees,  grape vine and strawberries. Thanks to the girls for cutting back the raspberries. The plot is also covered with flower plants, including some green manures like phacelia, lots of chard, hollyhock, poached egg (Limnanthes Douglassii), Jerusalem artichoke, artichoke, heliopsis helianthoides, sweet Sicily and comfrey. Also some Lacinato and giant walking stick cabbage.

Many thanks to all those who came along and so sorry if you missed us. By about 1.30 it was getting too cold, especially for the children so we toured the allotment site a little looking briefly at  my plot at the top. We then migrated to my kitchen for tea, and some food that people had made.

This was a worthwhile event. We also broached the subject of undertaking Permaculture courses. There seem to be emerging plans on this. Ideas came out about using the plot for design experiments, and it might feature in the up and coming Spring Gardening Event for Sunday 15th April.

I plan to map the plot and keep a diary of what emerges. This is the January 2012 entry.  – Nick

View over the proposed Stroud Permaculture Group allotment project

Oppose Hinkley C proposed new nuclear power station

We have several nuclear power stations near us on the Severn, and evil EDF is trying to build a new one, Hinkley C.  I plan to join a 24 hour blockade protest there in March on the anniversary of the Fukoshima disaster. Usually I base my objection to nuclear power on the terrifying danger of nuclear accidents, but let’s not forget the ludicrous financial cost of nuclear. If I told you that 55% of the department of Energy’s entire budget this year is going on decommisioning and cleaning up old nuclear power stations, you’d think I was making it up, but sadly no. Next year, it will be two thirds of the department of energy’s budget. Private companies develop nuclear power, and the govt is left with the bill for cleaning up. And some people try to tell us that renewable energy is uneconomic because green energy is currently helped by a small levy on brown energy. The link below is to Hansard where Chris Hughne gives the figures above.

Find out more about the blockade of Hinkley nuclear power station on 10/11 March here: http://stopnewnuclear.org.uk/pledges

(Sorry this post isn’t about nice cuddly plants and gardening… but remember the Permaculture motto: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares!  Most of my posts will be about nice stuff, I promise)   – Peter

Perming up my garden

At long last I’m putting what I learned on my PDC course to use and have mapped both front and back gardens. I’ll post progress here as the plans come together and hopefully then to fruition. Some major negotiation likely with kids and Karen, but all part of the process!

I’ll be opening my garden for Edible Open Gardens in July organised by Transition Stroud, so have an incentive to at least get some of the way. At the moment the garden is a muddy mess.

Recent jobs have been:

  • making a mulch bed
  • hacking back overgrown honeysuckle and bramble
  • planting olive and calamondin (miniature orange) following Peter’s tip-off about fruit trees in Wilkinsons!
  • pollarding willow (keeping whips to try a bit of basket weaving later!)
  • making a bamboo cane frame for growing against greenhouse (doubling as shade)

When I get round to it I’ll post a few photos as I do stuff. If anyone wants to come and look and/or join in let me know!  – Seb.

Home grown olives and mushrooms – hopefully.

Having sort of finished a stressful project yesterday I was in an indulgent mood.  My ramblings, as they often do, took me into Wilkinsons (the shop in the Merrywalks centre).  They have lots of exciting and cheap plants in.  I KNOW that cheap plants, like everything else, usually means that the environment or even human rights are being trashed somewhere, and in this case I guess the source will be polluting heated dutch greenhouses.  Caveat emptor.
However, they have lots of fruit bushes in little boxes for about £2, and TREES in little boxes for about £4.  As they have only recently arrived in the shop the new season bushes and trees (and onion sets, shallots, potatoes, asparagus roots etc) are in OK condition and not yet dead, which does tend to happen to plants in such shops.
So I bought myself an olive tree (I’d yearned for one for ages) and a lemon tree.
I also bought a packet of mushroom spore from the seed department – I don’t recall having seen that for sale before in a shop, and had been meaning for years to have a go at mushroom cultivation.

Just thought I’d share this in case anyone else is a sucker for bushes and trees in little boxes (it sort of feels like ‘saving’ them when you give them a home).  Incidentally, my fruit bushes normally come from my own cuttings, and if anyone has patience I’m glad to take some for you in the autumn.

Does anyone have any experience with growing olive trees or lemon trees?  Obviously I’m planning to pot them up and keep them in a sheltered place, but I would SO love one day to be able to pick some home grown olives or lemons.  And any hints or experience with mushroom cultivation?


getting the year off to a good start

So, on January 1st 2012, I

  • pruned my soft fruit bushes
  • weeded my nine-month-old asparagus bed (only 15 months to go until first harvest!)
  • transplanted lovely self-sown borage plants – it looks like I’ll have lots of huge borage plants for the bees again this summer
  • harvested a tiny cauliflower
  • …then back at home I learned to use a sewing machine, and set up a Stroud Permaculture Group website

Not a bad day’s work 🙂

– Peter  (maybe members would like to blog on this site about their permaculture activities?  If so, just contact me and I’ll set you up with a username for the site).