Everything on our project site is growing like mad at the moment, hundreds of bulging pods of broad beans that have suddenly just appeared from nowhere are spilling over the sides of raised beds, there are dozens of tennis ball sized white onions in the beds, and Cardoons that have gotten completely out of control and reached over six feet in height. The rhubarb is two feet high, so too is the chard, I could go on all day about the health of everything that is growing here.
The healthy growth on the site seems to be partly to do with the fact the old tennis court on which our site is situated is about 2 metres lower than the level of the pubs bowling green and is completely South facing, there are seldom any winds due to tree cover and nearby buildings, but interestingly Ive been on the site from 5am and observed the dew settling on the clay covering of the tennis court and in the raised beds, and then watched it slow release itself into the raised beds and out of the clay back into the atmosphere at quite a slow rate. In short, on hot days, the water seems to stick about for enough time for the plants to benefit from it because it isn’t instantly evaporated at the first site of the sun as it would if it was in a more exposed area, this is something that I will continue to monitor as the site develops.
The food that we grow on our site at Southfields pub in Great Lever all stays in the community, and doesn’t travel more than a quarter of a mile from the site where it was grown. Which ever crops happen to be coming in at the whatever time of the year are distributed in a number of ways, firstly anyone who volunteers on the site is given produce to take home with them. We are also making a once a week donation of produce to the Great Lever connected centre where a soup or stew is made to feed unemployed people attending the centre. We will also be holding an open day soon for local residents where some of our produce will be cooked on site and used to feed those attending the open day we also hope this this will inspire folk to think about growing some of their own food at home.
Since we last visited the site some of the wildflowers at the bottom end have finally opened and attracted pollinators, there are also some wild fox gloves that have suddenly appeared on the site. When I initially designed this experimental area I planted the wildflowers in small networks that linked up with the pond, and followed a curved line leading up to a young apple tree. One thing that has also helped the pollinators occurred when we raked an area of the clay covered surface of the site and left nature to ship the seeds in on the wind, in her own time, this has resulted in the return of some different varieties of flowers and grasses that the pollinators utilize, the other motive for allowing the clay surface to grow these flowers and grasses is to that we can build soil up over time by scything all of the grasses and flowers towards autumn and leaving them on the clay surface as a mulch.