Author Archives: Richard Pitt

Permaculture Southampton 2018-05-19

In February and March we visited Liz Batten and had a really good time sharing our permaculture ideas and doing some practical work in her back garden.

This was a simple but effective way of exploring permaculture together and we are keen to try it in another context. Do you have a project we can visit and follow the same kind of pattern? We think it is good to meet twice, to give time to think about the project and then do what we can the following visit.

In the mean time, on Saturday May 19 we are meeting to swap excess plants (and maybe also seeds). It often happens that gardeners have a few spare plants that they have grown and would be willing to swap with others for something different.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any plants – come and join the conversation over lunch, when we will share our interests and expand our knowledge around permaculture. Bring your questions, ideas, inquiries, projects and problems that can be explored by the group using permaculture ethics and principles.

The plan is to arrive at 11am for the swap and we will talk permaculture over a shared lunch. There will also be some plants and perennials on sale from the farm.

Permaculture Southampton 2018-04-14

In February and March we visited Liz Batten and had a really good time sharing our permaculture ideas and doing some practical work in her back garden.

This has been a simple but effective activity and we are keen to try it in another context. Do you have a project we can visit and follow the same kind of pattern? We think it is good to meet twice, to give time to think about the project and then do what we can the following visit.

Meanwhile, for the April and May sessions of Permaculture Southampton we will return to the farm.

Our next dates are Saturday April 14 and Saturday May 19 and we will gather to share our interests and expand our knowledge around permaculture. Bring your questions, ideas, inquiries, projects and problems that can be explored by the group using permaculture ethics and principles.

The plan is to arrive at 10am for some practical activity. We will talk permaculture over lunch.

Permaculture Southampton 2018-03-17

In February and March we visited Liz Batten and had a really good time sharing our permaculture ideas and doing some practical work in her back garden.

This is the background to the work we did with Liz:

At the first meeting of the Permaculture group at Aldermoor Community Farm last year, my theme for myself emerged as “coming home”. My life is spent mostly looking outwards, running campaigns, and not much time spent with “me”. I wanted to remedy this imbalance by using Permaculture principles. So, I battled with my reluctance to ask for something for me, and asked if members of the group could meet at my house, to help me think about the design of my garden and (I later realised) help me get unstuck, help me “come home” to my garden, which is laid out as a fruit orchard.
[Read more about the February session at Liz’s here]

Here is the final installment from Liz:

Thank you so much for braving the weather and helping clear the old wood out of my garden last Saturday. We accomplished a lot in a short time and now I feel ready to greet the Spring.

During the time between the two sessions I was observing what the bees were enjoying and have identified two plants which will fill the “hungry gap” for the bees. These are hellebores (Lenten Rose) and pulmonaria (common lungwort). Bees love them. I am also going to add Daphne Bohlua (very fragrant).

Finally, as I now have a ready-made seating area, exposed by removing the wood pile, I have decided to make it more private by planting a screen of runner beans. So I have, with the help of the group, achieved what I wanted for my garden.

Thank you very much, and I hope to get an opportunity to help with someone else’s garden.

Warmest wishes,
Liz Batten

February sun

The following words are from Milo Maguire, on Wednesday 7 Feb 2018.

Milo and Simon finish the brick edging

A beautiful day at the farm. Young February sun dazzling in a winter sky.

Geoffroy was collecting wheelbarrows full of bricks from everywhere and arranging them to form the border of a new garlic bed.

Looking closely I noticed that some of the found bricks were engraved with a letter ‘P’.

Richard mentioned that the ‘P’ bricks are all very old- dating from the 1800s in fact. The reason someone engraved them so is now forgotten.

There are other bricks too, all collected together and all from different times, different phases in the farm’s history. Perhaps some from a pig sty long since demolished.

Now all rearranged together to find a new purpose – beautiful and practical.

We had lunch in the open air. The meal included radishes that have popped up of their own accord and rocket from the polytunnel. Hot and nutty.

A buzzard circled overhead surveying the scene.

Bulbs – 2018

New for 2018 – we are selling potted bulbs. You can enjoy them in the pot and then plant them in your garden.

We have chosen varieties that are hardy – they will survive in your garden or in pots and most will ‘naturalise’ – they will multiply and get better each year.

Plant in moist but well-drained and fertile soil. After flowering. allow foliage to die back naturally as this will help to feed the bulbs for the following year. It is important that the ground is not too wet when they are dormant otherwise they will rot and not grow again. After a few years, overcrowded clumps can be lifted and divided in the season when the bulbs are dormant.

The following information is from our supplier’s website: jparkers.co.uk

Name Flowering details Price
Crocus: Blue Pearl
(pot of 4)
February. Pastel soft, pearly blue; orange stigmata
h 10cm
£2.00
Crocus: Ard Schenk
(pot of 4)
February. Pure white, free flowering, long lasting.
h 10cm
 £2.00
Crocus: Ruby Giant
(pot of 4)
February. Striking ruby purple. Showy and outstanding
h 10cm
 £2.00
Crocus: Fuscotinctus
(pot of 4)
February. Deep yellow, striped purple.
h 10cm
 £2.00
Grape Hyacinth
(pot of 3)
Mid Feb to mid May. Bright blue.
h 15cm
 £2.50
Anemone: Blanda Mixed
(pot of 3)
Early March. Fine mixture of blue, pink and white shades.
h 10-15cm
 £3.00
Anemone: de Caen
(pot of 3)
April- May. Single long-stemmed poppy flowered. Great variety of colours.
h 10-15cm.
 £3.00
Tulip: Kaufmanniana Mixed
(pot of 3)
March-April. Mix of white, yellow, red
h 25cm
 £3.00
Daffodil: Tete a Tete
(pot of 1)
March, April. Yellow. 2-3 flowers / stem.
h 20cm
 £1.50
Dutch Iris
(pot of 3)
Mid April to mid June. Shades of purple, lilac, white and yellow.
h 50cm
 £3.00
Drumsticks /
Alium sphaerocephalon
(pot of 5)
May, June. Crowded heads of purple drumsticks. The flowers open green, then start to turn purple from the top, creating unusual two-tone flower heads.
h 60cm
 £3.00
Ranunculus Mixed
(pot of 3)
May, June, July
Mixed colours.
Compact Peony-shaped flowers.
h 20-25cm
 £3.00
Peruvian Lily / Alstroemeria
(pot of 1)
June to August.
Shades of pink, coral and orange.
h 45cm
 £1.50
Dwarf Gladioli: Mixed (Dwarf)
(pot of 3)
June, July, August.
Many different colours.
h 50cm
 £3.00
Ixia Mixed
(pot of 3)
June, July.
Showy six-petalled starlike flowers on tall wiry stems, sword-shaped leaves.
Various bright colours.
h 45cm
 £2.50

Permaculture Southampton 2018-02-17

This month we went on a field trip!

For our February meet up, Liz Batten invited us to visit her garden which she is keen to develop for more fruit and food.

Liz Batten - after our permaculture meet up

This is Liz and her garden after our work

Working with Richard Parker and Suzanne Baker, Liz provided some facilitation to help assess the site, looking at things like orientation of the plot, prevailing wind, watershed/water sources. Then we let our imaginations run free with how to build on what’s already there, to enhance the fruit production and biodiversity.

In return for all this thinking, Liz made a splendid lunch and we managed quite a transformation.

This is what happened in Liz’s own words:

At the first meeting of the Permaculture group at Aldermoor Community Farm last year, my theme for myself emerged as “coming home”. My life is spent mostly looking outwards, running campaigns, and not much time spent with “me”. I wanted to remedy this imbalance by using Permaculture principles. So, I battled with my reluctance to ask for something for me, and asked if members of the group could meet at my house, to help me think about the design of my garden and (I later realised) help me get unstuck, help me “come home” to my garden, which is laid out as a fruit orchard.

What actually happened on the day felt quite magical to me – a group of like-minded people discussed Permaculture and its meaning for us, ate a hearty lunch together, discussed my garden and its attributes (and problems) and then went outside and worked together – on my garden! This was a personal challenge which transformed into a wonderful sense of relief – the places where my garden needed attention were worked on, we planted an apple tree and a pear tree, we took down a broken fence and used it to finish off a compost bin, a small bed was cleared for some newly-arrived strawberry plants, copious quantities of manure were spread over the fruit beds. To top it off, I was able to have a conversation with my neighbour about how the broken fence might be replaced, and we arrived at a friendly solution together.

Now, the garden feels like it flows again – it feels great to be in it now. The following day, I spent some time scattering seeds that I had been given by neighbours, pruning and just admiring how a group of caring people have – in one afternoon – helped me take my first steps on my path to coming home.

Grateful thanks to those who came and to Richard and Suzanne for co-hosting.

Liz Batten

 

News – January 2018

A happy new year to all our friends! 2018 is looking both exciting and a little daunting for us as a community…

Staffing
…Yes daunting because our dear Adam Brown has got a new job, working as head gardener at the amazing Minstead Study Centre. He will be responsible for growing all the food needed to feed the hungry children staying at the centre. He started at the beginning of January and HE WILL BE GREATLY MISSED! We are planning a farewell party at the start of February (details to follow). We’re hiring a room, cooking some food and probably playing some games!

The shop and volunteering
We are now only open on Wednesday and Saturday, due to the loss of Adam. But we hope to be open on Fridays again in the early summer. We have a plentiful supply of chicken eggs. We also have spring and summer bulbs in pots – the crocus are looking very cheery already!
More about the shop…
More about volunteering…

Our ‘vegetable year’
We learned a great deal last year about growing vegetables and we are looking to put it into practice as the need to become financially self-sustaining increases. Our aim is to have vegetables for sale in every month of the year, from March 2018 through to March 2019 and beyond. We are also very excited to be growing a considerable amount of vegetables to supply our friends at Bitterne Box Company throughout the year.

Activity on the farm
The main activity in January is planning. The major work here is planning for our ‘year of vegetables‘, but we are also planning the construction of our sawdust toilets and the associated composting system. We are applying for funding towards getting mains electricity to the barn so we can put in proper lighting and have power for running tools and maybe a bit of heating under my desk!!

We are working hard to finish top dressing all our beds with our home-made compost, and the chickens are helping by going over the beds, having a good scratch around to eat up remaining plants and weed seeds and eat all the slug eggs they can find.

Over the last year we have received £2150 in donations and sadly we had to pay £430 tax on this. Seems a bit daft, so we are also beginning to investigate the possibility of setting up a charity alongside the co-operative to support the farm and to receive donations.

Looking back on December
There is a report on what we achieved in December here.

Report – December 2017

It was a month of extremes. It was -4°C on the 12th and yet 12°C on the 30th. And we had over 15mm of rain on the 10th, 26th and 29th.

We worked a total of 217 hours in December – 35 hours by staff and 182 hours by volunteers.

These are the things we achieved, with some of the people who achieved them:

  • Soup!! One cold Saturday Leesa made an amazing soup 100% from the land soup using Jerusalem artichoke, beetroot, spinach, onions and herbs – all freshly harvested that day!
  • Potted a range of spring and summer bulbs for sale in the shop. Claudia and Celeste made an ingenious set of labels with cheerful symbols so we don’t get our crocuses confused with our anemones.
  • Made Christmas decorations from our range of logs and poles cleared from the land (Nathan, Peter, Adele)
  • Sawed logs (Dan) donated to us into wood-burner length and then splitting them (Peter).
  • Pruned the hedges running along the pavement on Aldermoor Road (our shop window!) and keeping the paths clear around our pond (Gordon).
  • Chicken news:
    • We had to deal with the aftermath of a fox getting amongst the chickens in our polytunnel. Only 3 were killed – our rooster did a valiant job defending the flock. He took nearly a week to recover, spending most of the time standing with his head resting on the ground in front of him. A few of the hens would lie down under him at night to give him support. “Our hero!”. We now have an electric fence close up to the polytunnel all the way around.
    • We made a large new rain shelter for flock of chickens working over the vegetable beds. The four new chickens donated to us in November are now merged with the vegetable bed flock, with a rooster keeping them all in line.
    • Our polytunnel chickens had a lake form outside their front door with all the heavy rain – we’ve had to dig a ditch right through from front to back to drain it.
  • BioCycle continued to deliver compostables from students – totalling 575kg since October!!
  • Picked the last of our peppery salad mix from the polytunnel and our kale, spinach and chard from the veg beds (Adele, Leesa)
  • Hosted Permaculture Southampton for a morning’s activity on the farm – this is what we did:
    • Pruned back our sea spinach (a perennial variety) and picked over 3kg of good leaves from it (Max, Susan, Geoffroy).
    • Built a palisade from sticks and branches cleared from our chicken meadow to make a new woodchip path down a previously slippery muddy slope to the goose house (Max, Susan, Geoffroy, Helen)
  • Pruned the black currants and were encouraged at how much 1 year old growth there is ready to produced currants this year.
  • Built a Rumford outdoor fireplace – see Winter Warmer below (Leesa, Chelsea, Tim and Ellie).
  • A roe deer jumped over our top fence from higher ground at the top of the hill. We had to break down part of the fence lower down the hill to let it out again. We’ve now adapted the fence so we can un-hook it if that happens again, and we’ve raised the height of the fence at the top of the hill. AND we’ve mended all the chicken fences that the deer turned to matchsticks as it raced around all a-panicked.

Winter warmer
We started the month with some creative heavy lifting – using old breeze blocks and bricks already on the site we made an outdoor fireplace modelled on a Rumford fireplace.

It was very popular on our open day at the beginning of December and much used for our new farm tradition – cooking pizza on a stick.

Saturday 2nd December was our first ever Christmas open day. Full report and videos here.

The fire also gave a very cheery glow to our evening of Christmas songs on the last Friday before Christmas, led by Living Lordswood Community Choir.

Planning
We met with West Solent Solar Co-operative to discuss possible grant assistance to help us get mains electricity to the barn (at last!).

We had an exciting meeting with the energetic Robin from Bitterne Box Co where we planned all the veg we are going to grow next year for his doorstep box delivery scheme.

We had a very helpful directors meeting where we discussed how we will cope without Adam in 2018, and how to plan effectively. The main outcomes are in our January news.

In the shop
Our shop was busy throughout December selling the last of our winter salads and greens, and also a new range of decorations and tea light holders made from wood.

Christmas Open Day

Saturday 2nd December 2017 – 10am to 4pm

Our first Christmas open day was a great success. During the day we had 106 people visit. About 15 were new friends, the rest had been to a summer open day before. We even had two people keen to join in our volunteer sessions on Fridays and Saturdays.

Thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed themselves!

The main attractions were:

  • making wreaths from holly, ivy and other greenery from around the farm
  • sitting by our outdoor fire place, making pizza on a stick and toasting marshmallows
  • drinking hot mulled apple juice and other hot drinks
  • eating the lovely cakes provided by volunteers, including a marvellous Christmas cake
  • buying our range of wooden decorations and candle holders
  • walking round the farm and feeding chickens (and it wasn’t just children who kept coming back for ‘just one more’ cup of seeds).
  • buying our plum jams and chutneys and spiced green tomato chutneys.

Here are some snippets of action from the day: