Chilly winter weather

After having had a busy autumn tidying and preparing all the gardens for winter most the staff and volunteers took a lovely long break for the Christmas festive period. Now we are back winter has properly set in, a bit of snow and plenty of frost have put the gardens to rest.

Llanidloes community food garden is all tidy and quiet with not many visitors now, so our Monday morning volunteer session has moved to the community wildlife garden next door. We are busy tidying the garden and this allows us to take cuttings and divide plants which are given to Seri on our nursery in Newtown to propagate and make us many more plants. In a couple of weeks we will be moving on to work on the back of Great Oak community shop where we have a plant sales area. We are going to give this yard a bit of a face lift so that we can expand the range of plants that we are able to hold at the shop.

archNewtown garden is looking good with crops still being harvested for the veg boxes and Tuesday market. Our winter project is to transform the front garden in to a sensory herb garden, with a selection of herbs for the kitchen and teas. We had a lovely frosty snowy time last week, too frozen to do anything in the soil, so regular volunteer Sasha and I set about weaving a willow arch to give an entrance to the new paving stepping stones leading to the front door. Regular volunteer day continues each week on Tuesdays 10- 4pm, with lunch at 1pm cooked by our chefs Chris and Alistair.

Seri has been busy on the Nursery potting on hardwood cuttings from last year, using all the compost as fast as we can make it. We stock a wide range of plants now, all grown on site. We are specialising in edible plants, alongside ornamentals for bio-diversity and native windflowers. The plant for the season has to be the dwarf daffodils and irises which are just coming up and will be in flower soon, Seri has arranged some in baskets with a bit of ivy which will make a lovely gift.

The food hub still has plenty of locally harvested food available, with veg boxes being topped up with organic produce from the wholesalers. The on-line shop is now up and running for ‘click and collect’, a wide range of staples are available to go with your veg and fruit order. If you haven’t tried it yet just click here it is very easy to use.

The lottery funded ‘Get Growing’ project that we have been working on for nearly three years is coming to an end. We have worked with many schools, we have established three community market gardens, helped with many others and linked people with local food. It is sad to see the end of the project, but out of this project has grown Cultivate co-op. The site at Newtown will remain our main hub and the other community gardens will come under the management of local volunteers and the community that use them. The Get Growing team want to thank all supporters, volunteers and customers by having a Get Growing celebration on Tuesday 3rd February. 3 – 6pm. Hope you can come.
3 – 4.30pm Feedback and Brainstorming about the future (please come if you can)
4.30 – 6pm PARTY

DSCN3106With the end of one project new opportunities arise. Cultivate is expanding and last week we went to visit Cultivate’s new site in North Wales ‘Moelyci’ . We are developing an eight acre market garden, shop and cafe as part of the 350 acre Moelyci Farm that Cwm Harry are taking on as an environmental, education,enterprise centre. The site already has two large multi span polytunnels and a veg packing shed/ shop. We will be expanding this to field scale crops and a one stop shop/ cafe with regular opening times. We came back with some lovely Welsh grown kiwi’s from a neighbouring farm, they are delicious and just ready to eat.

This Get Growing web site is now coming to an end, future blog update will be on our new Cultivate web site. You can also follow us on Facebook and twitter.

Happy New year to you all………..

Join us to Celebrate Get Growing and new beginnings.

Get Growing celebration on Tuesday 3rd February. 3 – 6pm.

Newtown open day

tourWe held our Autumn harvest open day at Newtown community garden last Saturday. The rain held off most the day allowing people to have a long tour of the site with our gardener Dave Chester-master, and tours of our plant nursery.

nursery entranceSeri who works on the nursery showed visitors behind the scenes, discussing propagation in the polytunnel and the outdoor cutting and stock beds. The nursery is busy preparing Christmas gifts which are now for sale onsite at Pen Dinas, at Newtown Tuesday street market and online. We have Hyacinth bowls and baskets, gift wrapped Aloa vera, Christmas wreaths and some gorgeous little house leeks in cans.

Aloa bags

houseleek tin

shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day saw the launch of our online shop. Currently orders can be taken at any time with pick up days on Wed, Thur and Friday from the Newtown community garden, we hope that with more customers we can create other pick up points. Please try out an order and give us your feed back. Don’t forget we do still deliver veg boxes and these can now be ordered on line. Hampers are now available to order for Christmas either onsite or online along with all our other Christmas gifts. Nursery plant sales are not currently online, but orders can be emailed to  emmam@cwmharry.org.

membership posterThe open day also  saw the launch of our membership shares, which gives individuals the chance to support the good work we are doing in ‘linking local food and communities’. Our aim is to increase the local food economy, by supporting local food producers and spread the word about global environmental and food issues. Shares can be bought as gifts and we have three different gift options available from £25.

 

 

 

During the day we held an apple pressing workshop by Emma Maxwell, a honey extraction workshop by Richard and Catharyn Edwards and seed saving by expert Sue Stickland.

seed savinghoney

 

Our resident volunteer chefs Alistair and Chris served up another culinary treat of pizza, onion barjees, cake and biscuits.

The cob oven was fired up in the round house for some lovely fluffy stone backed pizza. This oven was made during a workshop this summer ran by Matthew at the Fabulous Cob oven Company. On November 16th he will be featured on BBC1’s Countryfile. This edition will focus on rural crafts, much of which was filmed at Acton Scott working farm museum in the Shropshire hills.

Future event where you will find a Cultivate stall:

Turning on of the Christmas lights 28th November.

Newtown Christmas market 6th December

hares

 

 

Llanidloes open day

kitchen party

We had a final push to finish jobs in the Llanidloes garden yesterday before our open event in the afternoon. The weather stayed dry if a little windy, but we had around 70 people call in through the day to look at the transformed community space.

open day

 

We enjoyed pizza cooked in the cob oven, by our Newtown volunteer chefs, Chris and Alistair. We ate salad harvested from the garden.  On display was the photo diary of how the garden has progressed over the last year. Transformed into diverse habitats for wildlife, whilst providing food and sanctuary for all of us.

seed bombs

 

 

We made wild flower seed bombs for people to take home and spread around the place.

 

 

 

entrance

In the morning Dave, David and Brian put up the flag pole, we forgot to bring a flag so David quickly made one from scrap material. The flag pole was a request from the scout groups, so that when they are using the garden they can fly the Union jack. Most the time we will be displaying our Green flag award. If anyone is feeling artistic and wants to make us a community garden flag, please do. Brian and I finished the entrance sign off, attaching the waterproof clip frames, that will allow anyone to put up fliers and notices in the dry.

finished viewing platformRhys and I laid the paving in front of the viewing platform to give a smooth level surface to access this area. Whilst keeping an eye on the fire in the cob oven that needed to be lit three hours before we started cooking. Beryl arrived early for the open event and stepped straight in to help us out, planting the last of the plants in the bed for dye plants.

 

The garden is open at all times for anyone to visit, volunteer sessions are on Monday mornings. You can find the site behind Bethel Street Chapel in the centre of town.

Next week in the garden I will be teaching a two hour practical session on over wintering crops. Come an get stuck in, we will be planting and sowing a variety of crops that will give you a crop from May next year. Peas, beans, onions, garlic, salads, herbs. No experience needed, and it’s FREE. 10 – 12am. Booking is essential for this course, through the botanic garden of Wales.

 

 

 

Busy volunteer day and willow workshop

This Monday saw a busy day in the Llani garden, finishing off different projects before our open day next week. When we will be firing up the pizza oven, making wild flower seed bombs and praying for good weather.

The weather wasn’t looking to promising this week, but it turned out to be a lovely day, the rain held off and the busyness of activity kept everyone warm.

willow workshopwillow fenceBeryl Smith ran a day long workshop in willow weaving to create a beautiful and practical fence above the terraces. This was constructed with fresh green willow just cut this week, so still with leaves, but these will drop off over the next couple of weeks leaving a clean tidy weave. As we now have a pond in this area it is important that we close this area off from unattended children. The pond can be viewed from the new platform and there will be a gate giving access to this area for maintenance, harvesting and education. The fencing will give the neighbouring houses a bit more privacy, and hopefully they will feel a little less overlooked as visitors eyes are taken away from their back gardens and onto the planting around the pond. Now that this area has been completed It is wonderful to see the realisation of the wildlife area design that was created by level 2 gardening students from WEA Cymru (formally Coleg Harlech WEA). I think all will agree it is well designed and constructed and works beautifully.

gateBrain got together with Dave and David to hang the new gate, and fix the new gate post. Not an easy job as the post hole didn’t go far in the ground before hitting concreted bricks.

 

 

Rhys cob ovenMeanwhile our regular volunteer Rhys worked on his own make a clay, sand mix to patch up the oven before next weeks pizza session. The oven suffered some rain damage a while back before we had time to cover it, but it now has a roof to protect it and it no longer leaks. Rhys patched up the oven and gave it a new coat of clay all over, so hopefully this will keep it good for the winter.

Tinisha popped in for a lunch time session, when she grabbed an hour off from toddler and new baby. Plenty long enough to build a raised bed for her micro allotment, where she hope to grow herbs and salad for their great little venue The Old Mill.

seating plantedThe Cultivate team were here on mass this week, with Seri from the Cultivate nursery and Rachel working with volunteers to clear and plant the area around the sunken seating area. In preparing the ground four large pieces of slate were dug up, which we will find uses for around the garden. The bed was edged with wood and topped up with 1/2 a ton of top top soil. A box hedge was planted to back the bench seat, with rosemary and lavender for scent and to attract insects.

Hope to see everyone next Monday for pizza and pictures of the site development.

New pond for Llani

We had another good day developing the wildlife area in the Llanidloes cocaroline & Rees- digging the bog gardenmmunity garden. Regular volunteer Rees started the day with the help of Caroline and myself weeding the apple terrace and path, clearing seedling brambles and rosebay willow herb. We then moved on to digging out the bog garden. This is positioned at the end of this area just under the edge of the corrugated roofs, where it will catch the drips to keep the soil moist for all the bog loving plants.

The day started wet, with some heavy rain showers, but that was just what we needed to fill the pond that we had lined last week. The rain stopped mid morning, so we finished filling the pond with a long hose. Once the pond was full of water we could then trim off the excess liner and start to bury the edge.

julie & Caroline bog gardenThe trimmings of liner gave us just what we needed for the bog garden liner. These were laid in strips in the prepared bog area with a few holes made for drainage. We want the bog garden wet but not flooded. Level 2 gardening students that had designed the area came back to help. Julie and Alison came to join Caroline in the afternoon to get the area finished. Last but not least the planting could begin.

new wildlife areaThe planting plan has been designed for year round interest for us whilst providing food and habitat for wildlife. Planting is mainly based on native plants with a few naturalised and non native plants for added interest or to restrict growth and spread. Choosing a variety of colours and shapes of flowers attracts a wide range of insects. Always selecting single flowers for pollen collecting insects, rather than being tempted by multi petalled hybrids, that often are missing the sexual parts of the flower that carry the pollen.

Julie pondA mixture of woody plants (shrubs and climbers) and herbaceous plants (soft stemmed plants) gives habitat for a range of insect and amphibians all year. This area is one of the shadiest places in the garden, which is not ideal for ponds. The design has ensured that the pond will catch any available sun and will not be further shaded by planting. Lower growing ground cover plants have been used on the east side, so as not to block the sun, whilst taller plants at the back of the pond give protected exit routes for pond life.The sun directly hits this area most of the morning, whilst the decking continues to catch some sun into the afternoon.

What is needed now is a selection of nice big river stones to go around the pond and bog area. These will hide the pond liner and give hiding places for a range of wildlife.

Volunteers always welcome on a Monday. Over the next couple of weeks we will be building an entrance arch and notice board. As well as helping new allotment holders build their micro allotments ready for the free practical planting course on Monday  3rd November. This Saturdays course (11th Oct) is ‘Extend your growing season’. Booking for both courses is essential.

Come and join us for pizza and tours of the garden on our open day Monday 27th October 12-4 pm.

New wild life area

carrot harvestbugsLlanidloes garden is buzzing with activity….. new micro allotments being built, summer harvests and the development of the wildlife area.

The wildlife area has been design by level two gardening students and has been funded by the ‘Grow wild’ project. Yesterday past students came back to help finish digging out and shape the pond area. We used recycled carpet as underlay to protect the butyl pond liner from sharp stones. Above this sits a viewing platform that over looks the pond and wildlife area, this has been built by volunteer Glen over the last week.

pondplatform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Monday we will be developing the bog area and planting the whole area with native plants following the planting plan created by gardening students. This area has been designed to be both ornamental and of benefit to wildlife. It will provide all year around pollen, berries and shelter, to increase local insects that are so important for food growing. They provide pollination services and act as predators for our food pests. For more info on why this is so important follow this link from the WWF report on global loss of wildlife over the last 40 years.

September in the garden

It is a busy time of year, with gathering in the harvest and planting crops for overwinter. The Pen Dinas site was busy with activity from staff, volunteers and a couple of visitors from our new project in North Wales ‘ Moelyci environmental and education centre’. There was at least 16 of us sitting down for a shared feast for lunch, prepared by our regular volunteers Chris and Alister using veg from our gardens. Today another new volunteer joined our team, Jack has written this weeks blog post…….

calundulaAs autumn begins the wildlife and plant growth seems abundant with a bumper crop of pumpkins and new shoots for the foreseeable winter turnover. Flower production in late bloom gives the cultivate project that added colour. The polytunnels with new seedlings prove to be a constant level of production, where tomato plants are still in late flower with a good looking amount of produce to be cropped in the upcoming months. Root vegetables such as beetroot and carrots are still in their young state.

 

applesMaintaining the growth with regulated watering and cutting stations gives the annual crop of vegetables and herbs a successful outlook for the sale side of things for when the colder season occurs. The sale area is stocked with a wide range of different species for sale to the general public and replanting on our community gardens. With the organic compost at a very dry state it shows that the soil is not lacking but containing the needed nutrients for a level of sustainable growth during autumn. Orchard trees are producing rosy red and vibrant green apples that set the colourful tone of the garden as a high yield year.

pumpkin harvestRipening and leaf evolution is showing an all-round success, due to well cared and persistent maintenance, evident in the different sections of garden areas during late September. Where replanting and new life lengthens the cultivate project’s success in deliverance of a wide range of different types of plant life for the forthcoming frost. Keeping the new seedlings and shoots at a maintained level of temperature is essential.

Newtown food festival

food fest reducedWe had a busy weekend at the Newtown food festival. The stall looked great, full of locally grown produce. The weather was great too, which bought out lots of visitors to the event.

We do a regular market every Tuesday in Newtown and today was the first day that Dan our regular garden volunteer worked the stall. He will be taken over the running of the stall in a couple of weeks when Joe Ashley leaves to head off to Uni. Now is the perfect time to be buying local produce with the community garden and local growers producing masses of tasty seasonal harvest the stall is full of a wide variety of fruit and veg.

raised beds and nurseryBack in the garden at Pen Dinas everything is growing well and still thriving even though the night time temperatures are starting to drop. Now is the time to watch out for early frosts. In Llanidloes we have had a couple of light frosts this week, enough to kill off the squash leaves. If frost is looking likely in your area, cover plants with fleece overnight, uncover during the day otherwise things will stay damp and be susceptible to mildew.

blackberry picking

We have a bumper crop of fruit this year. Earlier in the season we have harvested strawberries and raspberries, but in the last few weeks we have had Discovery apples and most the plums. We are just starting to crop blackberries and hazel nuts.

The nursery is getting busy propagating plants for next year. Seri works on the nursery three days a week and is always busy. She can always do with a hand on a Wednesdays and is looking for some keen volunteers, it is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to gain some experience in propagating and nursery work. Please get in touch if you are interested. Plants are sold from site Monday to Friday and also are at the market on Tuesdays.

For anyone keen on taking on a micro allotment we are having a harvest get together on the 7th October at Pen Dinas, for all current and want to be micro allotment holders.

Sunny September in Llani

water collection- reducedWe had a lovely hot and sunny volunteer session this week and the perfect job for such weather. Starting the day with sorting out the water collection and recycling. We have been donated a very mucky IBC which regular volunteer Rees gave a good scrub to get clean.Whilst Brian fixed the gutters and down pipe running off the chapel.  We have also been offered a second water butt which we will link into the system when it arrives. A lot of the garden is made up of raised beds without a lot of soil under them, so they do require a lot of watering. We may not have had the water collection sorted for this summers hot weather but we will be ready for the next spell of dry weather.

tile workshop reducedThe next job for the day was fixing the finished mosaic tiled wall to the kitchen area. It was originally to go on the breeze block wall as a sink splash back, but it looks so fantastic we decided to put it in a prime visable location on our stud wall which makes up the kitchen area. This way it can be seen as soon as you enter the garden. The mosaic was created during a two day workshop hosted by Terri Sweeney as part of the ‘Grow wild’ summer activities. The participants cut and laid the tiles to make up individual letters, then designed insects and plants for the corners. Tiles were place upside down in an indirect method which later Terri fixed and grouted to the eight foot board.

commuity garden tiles- reduced

Terri is a local artist who runs a variety of courses and workshops in the community, at festivals and for schools.

finished tile wall- reduced

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grow wild project has been running through the summer promoting wild and native plants and animals. We have had some funding to enable us to do a series of free summer art workshops for all ages. The last part of this project is to complete the wildlife area in the garden, including establishing a pond and native plants. I have the pond liner ready to go in and have just been donated some old carpet to use as underlay to protect it from stones. Come and get involved on Monday 29th September and 6th October.

Next week in the garden we will be making the last of the raised beds to be used as micro allotments. There are still a few plots available on a first come basis and we still need a donation of a few more planks for our 2m by 1.2m bed. Get in touch or get involved Monday 15th September 10am – 2pm. This will be followed by a short National Botanic Gardens course ‘Extending your growing season’. This course is on 11th October 10am – 1pm and only cost £5. Get started with some over wintering food crops for harvest early next year. To  enrol contact bookings.

Poster short gardening course 2014

We will be finishing our summer season with a half term Grow wild get together in the garden. Keep and eye open for confirmation of time and date. Join us for  a harvest gathering,  bring and share, fire up the pizza oven, sit around the fire pit and have fun with kids activities.

 

Grow wild

10593178_10202302906485938_8824817254722291747_nWe have had a series of grow wild craft workshop over the summer. Irene started the season with creating a colourful wall mural to cover the breeze block wall that backs the kitchen seating area. She followed this last week with a two day workshop making up-cycled insects that are decorating the garden, rambling over walls, crawling up plants and flying around our heads.

It might have been wet but there were still some creatures hatching. Here our regular volunteer Brian is busy helping one emerge.

 

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Meanwhile Terri has been working on the final fixings for the mosaic tiled wall. This workshop was held over a busy 2 days with 20 people attending on Monday to cut and fix tiles to spell out ‘Community garden’. Local youngsters went home inspired to draw designs of insect that were then made from tiles the next day to decorate each corner of the wall. We will be fixing the tiled panel to the wall behind the sink to give a washable hygienic surface in the kitchen area.

As a continuation of our Grow wild season we will be creating a wildlife area to increase the beneficial insects needed to protect all the wonderful bounty of fruit and vegetables from pests. Work will start soon on a viewing platform that will over look this area. On Monday 29th we will be fitting the pond liner and planting native plants. If anyone has any native plants that they can donate to the garden or if you wish to help form this new area please come and get involved or contact the Cultivate team. We will also need old carpets or sand as a liner underneath the pond liner to protect it from sharp stones. Donations gratefully received.

There are still some micro allotments available and we are after donations of wood to help make the raised bed to reduce barriers and encourage people to get growing. Planks either 1.2m or 2m long are needed please contact the team if you can help. On 11th October we are running a National botanic gardens one day gardening course ‘ Veg for autumn sowing’ Only £5 and perfect to get you started. For those wanting a bit more you can join courses through WEA Cymru starting 25th and 26th September in ‘Essential Gardening skills’ for beginners or ‘Level 2 gardening’ for those more experienced and wanting a deeper understanding.

The next couple of Mondays in the garden volunteers and micro allotment holders will be sorting out the water collection system…… better late than never, it will be ready for the next dry spell….

We will also be mulching perennial beds and preparing ground for planting.