We are delighted to announce that our water catchment system has now been installed! This was made possible due to generous funding from Richmond Parish Lands Charity. Recent years have seen increasingly extreme weather, with very heavy downpours followed by long periods of drought. These conditions have been challenging for all growers, and the need to be ‘water wise’ has become ever more salient. A significant amount of energy and treatment is put into providing clean tap water, so using rainwater also helps to lower our carbon emissions.
The water catchment system will markedly increase our capacity to capture and use rainfall. Three large tanks have been installed and connected to a guttering system, to collect run-off from the polytunnel. A portable solar powered pump will be connected to a hose so that the whole growing area can be watered easily.
Our July training event focused on water-wise growing. Attendees looked at the watering needs of plants throughout their lifecycle, as well as techniques for water retention and water capture and storage. It was great to see so many people there getting involved and thinking about actions they can implement in their own gardens.
We are currently looking for extra volunteers to help support with watering during the warm weather, particularly on a Thursday and Friday during the last week of July and all of August. If you have any time to spare, please contact [email protected].
Food Bank Deliveries
In early June, volunteers harvested fresh produce from the growing project, and made the first delivery of the year to the Castlenau foodbank. This has continued on a weekly basis. Last year, 10 boxes of produce were delivered, and the aim is to increase this in 2023. We’re already on course to do this; the first box arrived at the foodbank a month earlier than 2022’s first delivery, and we hope to continue to deliver later into the growing season. Thanks are due to Rashadee, for harvesting on Thursday evenings, and Philippa, for dropping the produce off on Friday mornings. The photo below shows some of the delicious produce from our most recent harvest.
In early July, PhD student Kam Rehal hosted a collaborative art workshop in the growing space as part of his PhD research. Participants made marks into a plaster of paris board whilst discussing their experiences of being part of a growing community. The resulting discussion was thought-provoking, covering topics such as when people first became involved in growing, and what being part of a growing community means to them. Kam will be speaking to growing communities around the country, and we’re really happy he was able to visit Vine Road as part of this. We hope to welcome Kam back to the growing space in early September for another workshop, so keep your eyes on the Barnes Common Eventbrite page!
Top tips for July
The past month has seen fantastic progress in the growing space, with many of the seedlings that were sown early this year being planted out into the polytunnel and raised beds outdoors. Harvests so far have included spring onions, garlic, basil, parsley, potatoes, beetroot, peas and courgettes. July is always a busy month in any garden, so here’s some ‘top tips’ for this month…
- Ensure plants are well-watered, as they dry out quickly in the hot, sunny weather.
- Sow carrots now to avoid carrot fly.
- Protect heavily-laden branches of fruit trees or bushes by staking them, to prevent them from snapping.
- Start considering what to sow for a winter harvest – kale and winter cabbage can both be sown now.
- Keep an eye on weeds, pests and diseases which can thrive in the summer months!
The next growers’ training session will take place on 19th August, and will focus on dealing with crop pests naturally. The session is free to attend and open to all. You can book your place at the link below:
Our regular volunteer sessions continue to run on Saturday mornings (10am to 12) and Monday and Wednesday mornings (9.30am to 11.30am). The sessions are open to people of all ages and abilities, and you will have the opportunity to get involved in a wide variety of activities. Guidance will be provided by a lead volunteer or the growing project coordinator. We hope to see you there soon!