Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | November 24, 2011

Village Park: We are the management!

We are delighted to announce that Ealing Transition has taken over the management of the Village Park allotment site.

For the last four years, Village Park has not had a regular manager, which meant that the waiting list was not being maintained, and abandoned plots were not being re-let. After quite a bit of discussion between us, much research and after a thorough grilling of Ealing Council’s Allotments Manager, we agreed to take on the management role.

Why we wanted to do this

Becoming the managers of Village Park furthers our goal of building a thriving food growing community in Ealing, allowing us to offer plots to local people, and support them in their growing efforts.

One of our first initiatives was to divide some of the vacant full plots into half plots, something increasingly common on other allotment sites in Ealing and elsewhere. This allows us to offer more people a growing space, and helps people with no experience of allotment gardening to get started, without being overwhelmed from the offset by having to manage a large area of land (and a large number of weeds!).

The resulting plots have been offered to people on the existing waiting list, some of whom had given up hope of ever getting an allotment. For many, 2012 will be their first growing season ever, so we, and the other plot holders will be there to help them scale the learning curve, and to share their successes and, since this is gardening, ease the pain of their failures too!

Work Day

A ‘work day’ in mid-October allowed us to meet most of the new plot-holders for the first time, and to do a bit of collective tidying and rubbish clearance, assisted by Ealing Council’s workforce and Steve Cole, the Allotments Manager. We also constructed a windrow from cleared brash around an area we intend to leave to nature, and celebrated the event with tea and cakes!

The transformation of the site, which was over 50% vacant and becoming more overgrown every month, has been staggering: the whole site has a different feel now, and you can sense the new activity and enthusiasm of the plot-holders, even the existing ones! All of our new plot-holders live within walking distance, so over the last few weeks we’ve seen quite a bit of digging, a number of composters have been constructed, and beds have been edged with reclaimed timber.

All in all, we’re  looking forward to a greatly enhanced community spirit in 2012, and hope our new plot holders become as addicted to growing as we’ve become!

For more information about Village Park, our community gardening days, and to join the waiting list, please contact Ealing Transition by dropping an email to ealingcommunitygarden@gmail.com

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | September 15, 2011

Reskilling day (1st Oct), orchard work day (17th Sept) and more…

Saturday 1st October, Re-skilling from 2-6pm, then Music, Entertainment, Food and
Conversation from 6-10pm.

Venue: Polygon, St Mary’s Church, South Ealing Road, W5.

We hope you, your friends and family will be able to come for part – if not all – of the day. The day is principally a celebration, but also a chance to share expertise, to learn or re-learn skills, to get to know new people in the community, and to have some fun!

PLEASE PRE-BOOK IF YOU CAN. It would be helpful to let us know in advance of the day if you and others are coming. There is a designated email and phone number for this: you can call 0208 123 2821 and leave us a message, or email reskillingday@gmail.com. This helps us to plan numbers but, of course, you are welcome to simply turn up.

The day starts at 2pm, and includes courses in how to knit, hands-on health, bee keeping, two introductions to foraging (talk and walk, jam making), plug in and switch off, make do and mend, and pizza baking / bread making.

When you arrive you will be asked to sign up to a session or a talk or you can just browse around. Please bring some clothes for our clothes swap if you can.

Most of the sessions are suitable for children, if accompanied by an adult, and we want to involve children in some of the food preparation as well. We will be firing pizzas in our newly-built pizza oven and there will be refreshments in the afternoon and food and drink in the evening from around 5.30.

We hope you will be able to stay to eat, drink, and enjoy the music and singing and meeting new people.

The day is free but we do ask for a contribution, if you are able to make one, to help us cover our costs.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 1st October.

Saturday 17th September: Lammas Community Orchard Working Party 10.30-12.30am

If you fancy some fresh air and a little exercise, we are meeting the rangers at 10.30am at the Lammas Community Orchard in the Lammas enclosure, next to the blue tennis courts. Our tasks will include cutting back tree growth and managing the brambles, weeding and mulching the fruit trees and more. Children will be very welcome to help us weave a compost bin and tend the vegetables in the edible garden. No need to pre-book, just turn up. Bring gloves and tools if you have them.

Clay Pizza Oven Building: Saturday 17th September 2.30pm / Saturday 24th September 10.30am

On Saturday 17th Sept 2.30pm, oven builders are going to meet up at the Polygon to assess materials, allocate who is going to forage what, and discuss the basic approach.

On Saturday 24th Sept at 10.30am the build commences, and we will make some adobe bricks. If we need to, there will be more time on Sunday 25th Sept to complete the construction.

We look forward to seeing you!

Ealing Transition Steering Group

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | August 6, 2011

Blackberry foraging with WEN – Sunday 7th August – Hanwell

Fancy picking some blackberries with West Ealing Neighbours this weekend? Their Abundance group turns local produce (apples, pears, berries and more) into delicious jams and chutneys, saving all that fruit rotting on the ground. See the following note from West Ealing Neighbours with the details of where and when to meet:
There are plenty of early blackberries about it seems and it looks as though we should be able to have an inaugural pick on Sun August 7 at 7pm. We’ll meet at Mayfield School, High Lane, Hanwell, W7 3RT and set off about 7.15.
We will almost certainly pick again – but we’ll decide on the exact date after this Sunday. We’ll bring some tupperware to collect the blackberry donations for WEN, but bring your own, too, so you can take some home.
We will work out freezer space during the pick.
Let’s hope the weather stays fine!
Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | July 23, 2011

The summer garden

The garden is starting to take shape now, all our hard work is paying off. Over the last few months, we’ve spent time building edges to our beds, which fulfil several functions – they clearly define the beds, which is useful when lots of different people are working on the garden, they keep the grass out, and over time they will allow us to build up the beds slightly as we add compost and manure.

The wood for all of the edging has come from floorboards that my neighbour was going to put in the skip. It now has a new lease of life in our garden.

When we designed our garden layout we used lots of triangles in our second half-plot, which aren’t necessarily the most practical shapes, but do provide a very striking and attractive design.

The potatoes are coming on well…

As are the onions…

Last year Katherine’s builder built us a pergola out of scrap wood and wooden pallets and Katherine planted a couple of young grape vines. These have been doing great this year and working their way up the pergola, and even have lots of young grapes over them. We should probably thin some of the grapes off so the plant doesn’t put too much energy into the fruit and keeps growing strongly over the pergola – this will make the plant bigger and stronger in the long run.

We experimented this year with growing carrots in a grow bag. Last year we didn’t have a lot of luck with carrots. To start with we sowed them quite early into soil that had only just been dug for the first time since we took on the plot. The weeds grew faster than the carrots. We tried some more later in the year, but by that time it was probably a bit too late.

This year we tried them in a grow bag. We used garden soil, but sieved it first. It’s been a great success, and the carrots are doing well. Probably our main mistake was that they were planted quite densely, and we didn’t thin them early enough.

If you thin carrots out early, you can plant out the thinnings and they will grow into decent carrots also. By thinning, you leave more space for the rest of the carrots to grow.

It was a bit too late when I thinned them this year. I planted the thinnings up, but they have been struggling a bit.

Carrots in a grow bag

Carrots in a grow bag

Below is a picture of Ellis’s brilliant greenhouse watering system. It’s mark II. Mark I was in his back garden, and I think he’s employed some lessons learnt to make an even better version in our community garden. Basically it’s a bucket with a hose connection at the bottom, connected to drip irrigators in the greenhouse. There’s a timer which is configured to open and close intermittently, thereby gradually allowing water out.

One of the keys to success is to get the bucket up high enough so that there is enough pressure to push the water through the drop irrigators. This means the bucket is on a pulley system so we can lower it down to fill it.

By topping the bucket up every week or so, we know that our plants in the greenhouse will stay watered while we aren’t there. So far it’s worked a treat! This year we are growing cucumbers in the greenhouse, perhaps next year we’ll do some chilli peppers and other things as well.

We’ve had a great number of ladybirds this year – helping to keep the blackfly and other nasties under control. They’re having a great time on the artichokes. The long one is a ladybird nymph – the larval form of ladybirds.

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | June 1, 2011

Elderflower forage at Gunnersbury – Sun 5 June

Carrie will be leading us in foraging elderflower, followed by a session making elderflower cordial at her house in Acton this Sunday, the 5th of June.

Meet us at 11am near the cafe by the pond in Gunnersbury Park (access from Pope’s Lane).

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | May 25, 2011

Walpole Park Kitchen Garden

You may not know, but hidden away within the walled garden adjacent to Pitzhanger Manor there is a community kitchen garden.

The garden was created ‘overnight’ (almost) last year, in some of the old rose beds, as part of consultation that Ealing Council was carrying out as part of their application for Heritage Lottery Funding for significant work to Walpole Park and the historic Pitzhanger Manor. Slightly raised beds were built and plants were planted in their pots (a la Chelsea) so that they could be removed again. The garden was installed to help gauge interest within the community and park users about the presence of a kitchen garden within the park (the walled garden used to be a kitchen garden as part of the original manor – the roses are much more modern).

The council didn’t have a definite plan at the beginning about what would happen to the garden – options included dismantling the garden and giving away the plants or selling them. However at the end of the month-long consultation, the garden was looking so good and people were generally very positive about it. So we offered to help keep it going and members of Ealing Transition Community Garden kept it maintained and weeded in the late summer 2010.

Since then, Florence, the outreach officer at the council (a position funded by the lottery application) has been co-ordinating local groups, including adults with learning difficulties and young offenders, to keep the garden going. We’ve been helping out by providing planting plans for winter and summer and holding occasional dig days when the work is needed.

Now, in the busiest time of year in the garden, Florence is holding drop in dig days on Thursdays, 10am-12noon (except tomorrow, which is 2-4) for anyone who wants to come along. We’ve added these into our calendar (under ‘Upcoming Events’). You don’t need to bring any tools, although bring gloves if you like to use them (there are a few stinging nettles that need to be weeded out!).

The garden is still looking great (although young plants are suffering a bit from the extremely dry weather), and attracts a lot of interest and pleasure from people passing through the garden. In fact, last night we held our steering group in the garden and while we were doing some watering we got chatting to a couple of different people passing through who were keen to be involved.

The outcome of the Heritage Lottery Funding application for the park should be known in June, although any physical works are associated with it are unlikely to take place until 2012.

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | May 8, 2011

The sun came out for our open day!

After such a warm dry April, we have been extremely thankful for some decent rain in the last couple of weeks. The ground has gone from hard and dry to nice and damp, and our water butt is filling nicely. However, as much as we were thankful for the rain, our fingers were crossed for a sunny Sunday and fortunately, despite some heavy overnight rain, we were lucky enough to get a lovely sunny day for our Open Day.

The warmth and recent rain mean that everything is growing strongly. Although there is still a lot to do, the garden is starting to take shape for the season.

Our compost is still ‘composting’, but thanks to Ealing Council’s compost giveaway at Walpole Park on Friday, we’ve been able to add some compost to our heavy clay soil before planting. At the end of the winter, we also dug in well rotted manure from the stables on Hangar Lane.

As well as doing a bit of digging and planting, we enjoyed some great home baking and gave away seedlings and strawberry plants.

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | May 6, 2011

Reminder: Community Garden Open Day!

Don’t forget it’s our Open Day this Sunday! Come along and see how we’re doing so far this season, swap plants and join us for a bit of chat and home-made food and drink. Everyone welcome!

Sunday 8th May, 11am – 2pm.

Plots 3 & 4, Village Park Allotments, entrance beside 14 Rose Gardens, South Ealing, W5 4NT.

Here’s a Map showing where we are.

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | April 17, 2011

Budding beekeepers get up close with the bees in Perivale

Well it was a great weekend last weekend, a beautiful warm, sunny day – great conditions for us and great conditions for the bees. Around 12 of us had a great time learning about bees and hives, and then got a chance to get up close and personal with Andy’s bees in Perivale.

We started with a discussion about the hive and bees, using a training hive, showing us some of the things we expected to see when we looked at the real thing.

Then it was time to suit up.

We started by observing the entrance of the hives, which are housed within a shed. We spotted a few bees carrying pollen into the hive on their legs – pollen is their source of protein.

Andy then showed us the frames of the brood nest – where the queen lays her eggs – and we got to see the queen.

The bees were very calm, and happy to be handled – that is except the one that Andy squished! We then got a chance to handle the frames ourselves, and find the eggs, larvae, sealed brood and honey stores.

All in all a fascinating afternoon, and I think we all went away in awe of the bee. Thanks to Andy who shared with us his enthusiasm for these amazing creatures.

Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | April 16, 2011

Community Garden Open Day – Sunday 8 May, 11-2

Haven’t got around to coming down to the garden yet? Join us for our open day, and check out what we’ve been up to and what we are planning for the year, share some food and swap some plants.

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