Get-Growing, micro-allotments available at our new community garden

Counciller, Cwm Harry CEO and Coleg Powys Principles formally open the Pen Dinas Community market garden site and organic horticulture training centre

Wednesday the 12th December… at Get-Growing, Pen Dinas, Coleg Powys, Newtown.

For all you wannabe gardeners out there we are offering micro allotment teaching plots at our new community growing base on the Coleg Powys campus. There is no charge but beds which are neglected will be reclaimed by the project. We can lend tools and have some compost and seeds to give away as well.. our aim is to make it as easy as possible for learner growers to get some experience, and some produce.

Salad bed, organic of course

The Get-Growing project is here to support more of the Newtown area residents to learn how to grow, and for anyone without a garden of their own, or any growing experience this should be an ideal opportunity.

Plots available on a first come first served basis, there are also regular volunteering opportunities every Monday and Wednesday for those that would rather work alongside the Get-Growing team.

If you cant make it on the 12th then drop us an email via this website to let us know you are interested.

Watch out for Ash die-back..

We are of course alarmed and concerned to hear for the arrival of thsi fungal disease of ash trees. So far it has only been spotted in isolated cases on the East coast of the UK, but it can spread and we are advised to look out for it.

It is entering the UK from mainland Europe and has already killed up to 90% of Ash trees in countries such as Denmark.Whether that 10& survival implies genetic resistance remains to be seen. We will sorely miss the Ash tree were it to go the way of the Elm.

More info here

Biochar experiment results are in

This spring we linked up with the Big Biochar experiment, where we planted up some test beds to make some comparisons with different soil treatments.

Anyone who doesn’t know about Biochar needs to look into it and find out some more. A good place to start is with this remarkable Horizon documentary which gives an historical and cultural context as to where the idea originates from, deep in the Amazon more than a 1000 years ago.

Evidence suggests there actually were vast civilizations living in the Amazon, pre 1531 which is when the Spanish first arrived. It is a remarkable chapter in history, almost completely frogotten and the only tangible evidence of this once great civilization is the quality topsoil they left behind, in an area notorious for its poor soils for farming.

Alternatively read Albert Bates’ excellent book, the Biochar Solution.. either way it so turns out that this could be the single most important discovery for centuries! It offers a clean source of energy as well as a potential response to combating climate change, soil depletion and food security. Maybe this is the way to sequestrate carbon from the atmosphere and put it back into the soil in a useful way. So if it is so potentially great as a growing medium then it certainly needs to be tested.

Oca plants harvested from our biochar trial beds

We set up 4 1.2m square test beds and in them grew salad, beetroot and oca. The four beds were treated in the following way:
Bed 1, 1KG of biochar was added as well as a wheel barrow of compost.
Bed 2, We added nothing but there had been compost added the previous year.
Bed 3, We added one wheel barrow of compost.
Bed 4, Had a mineral dust based soil improver added and one wheel barrow of compost.

the rock dust mineral soil improver used on Bed 4

The compost was Cwm Harry soil improver and is homogenised and pasteurised high nitrogen food waste compost produced from local sources.

Due to us having to move gardens and other distractions we didn’t measure the salad and beetroot yield, although visibly there seemed to be a clear improvement in beds 1 and 4.

The main crop we chose was Oca (Oca Oxalis Tuberosa) which we thought would make an ideal plant for comparison, in that it produces a tuber and is late to develop, giving it a long time to develop and is something easy to quantify and weigh. It also originates in latin America, so that also seemed appropriate for a biochar experiment. (Oca is Andean, not Amazonian, but its the right continent!)

The Results:
Bed 1: 1.84 KG of tubers… healthy plants but small tubers than bed 4.
Bed 2: 1.34 KG of tubers… these were the smallest tubers in size but there were lots of them.
Bed 3: 1.54 KG tubers… actually very similar to bed 2, plentiful but quite small tubers.
Bed 4: 1.52 KG of tubers… These were the best looking and largest individual tubers, but the total yield was less than bed 1.

So in terms of overall crop the Biochar bed won.. but it was interesting to note that the rock dust treatment bed, Bed 4 had produced bigger and better looking tubers.

Conclusion; I can’t wait to build long term beds using the compost, the rock dust AND the biochar. The results could be frightening!

Get-Growing volunteers setting up the trial beds back in March

Permaculture weekend at Glyn Ceiriog

View of the Garth Hillisde garden, Glynceiriog. Pic by Kirsty Morris

One of our favourite community gardens to visit is the one at Glynceiriog, its at 1000 feet above sea level and built on steeply sloping land.. it was constructed using permaculture design principles and proves that the principles can work anywhere. So I am delighted to invited to run a weekend course there at the start of September… places are open to anyone interested,, there is charge of £70 but it will be an information rich inspiring weekend for all invovled. There discounts available for people who are involved with the Garth community garden project.

Contact details in the advert above of contact Steve Jones via this website’s contact page