Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | March 7, 2010

Visioning day

Before the digging could begin on our community garden, we met for a (hard-fought) morning of visualisation. It seemed as though it might be important to walk the plots and measure them out, decide our design, bicker over compost bin placement, squint at a fox skeleton, before rolling up with forks. It took a little bit for us to get going, as a group of ten, but eventually someone whipped out a tape measure, stakes and string, and we set about mapping the site after some dense, delicious chocolate cake from the West Ealing Farmer’s Market.

A shed was donated to our cause from an allotment in Haslemere. People are pulling it apart and lugging it to our site this weekend. It’s about five by six feet, I think, and sitting eight feet away from a four by six foot compost bin. We’ve set up a deal with the Transition composting group to establish a neighborhood compost scheme for the local community. We’ll go door to door, do a bit of flyering, and let people know that they can turn up on our dig days with their food waste.

We arranged some litter to designate the shed on our site, perhaps the most urban gardening thing we’ve done so far. We’re making the compost bin out of pallets being thrown out by local supermarkets. This seems to be par for the course on your average allotment site, and an idea that we are happily swiping! Please note the string being used to mark out the dimensions of our bin. (“It was a phone cable in a previous life.”)

One of our plots has the vestiges of old growth still visible, so we’ve measured the beds in place in hopes of using them as soon as possible for potatoes, particularly, which Glendra is already chitting for us at home.

It’s clear that some of the beds have ornamental features, including a circle in the very centre of one plot. Carrie, who organises our group into oblivion but admits to not knowing too too much about garden design, let a group of us run design-wild so long as we allowed her to have that circle as her special rhubarb patch.

I managed to foist some seeds off on other people so that they might start seedlings off as well on their window ledges. I wound up with an absurd number of seed packets from a particularly fruitful cache on Freecycle — pots, a propagator, and more seeds than I honestly know what to do with. At the moment, a good three quarters of my window ledge space is devoted to raising seedlings for this garden. I was getting a little bit nervous that nothing would sprout, but, this morning I discovered at least three radish seedlings in my propagator. Thank god. Agh. (Do I even like radishes? Unclear.)

By this point, I had kind of lost feeling in my toes. We retired back to Mari’s house for Japanese tea and a good two hours around the dining room table with seed packets and charts. It was pretty illuminating to be planning our garden with a landscape designer and a garden historian. We’re doing much better than traditional rectangular raised beds, let me just say that. And beyond a rhubarb circle, Mari is going to focus particularly on two areas of oriental greens. Katharine will have her beans. And I’ll just sort of skip dreamily through tons of veg. And some dangling raspberries.

I’ll post the scans of our plans here later this week when they turn up on-line. No doubt they’ll change as we encounter the realities of our plots and budget, but it was exciting to design beds with an eye for cultivation methods and crop rotation. With any luck, we’ll keep some beds in continual cultivation throughout the seasons, replacing early crops with later crops and then winter crops to be harvested before we put in next year’s earlies…

We’re meeting again next Sunday to dig and probably eat more farmer’s market cake. Hopefully I will be able to force even more seeds on other innocent group members…



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