Friday, 28 December 2012

Winter Blues

It's been the wettest winter I've ever experienced. All the parks are flooded and many rivers have risen high above their banks. In the garden, the ground is saturated and the uncompleted pathways are now a boggy mush. It's good fun splashing around in the vastness of water and mud. It's also been cold, very very cold. -7°C. It's been so wet and so cold that we have not been able to spend much time working on the garden. I fear for the crops I planted outdoors a few months ago. The leeks and chard are not liking this volume of water and having their roots firmly fastened in heavy clay soil is not helping matters. Our soil holds onto water like a sponge, which is a good quality in most situations. I sit and hope that this period of wet weather won't cause too much permanent damage. 
Biological toilet build
Working on the new feature
Working in the polytunnel
One way we've been keeping warm during the odd brief break in the rains has been by working on creating new features in the garden. One of our volunteers has been designing and creating a stunning feature which will greet visitors as they walk into the garden. We have also been constructing the biological toilet, which has been severely delayed due to 'bad' weather. Our salvation during the rains has been the Polytunnel. There are many baby seedlings coming on in the tunnel and we had managed to keep salads going even through the frosty periods. But not even crops in the polytunnel have been completely safe from harm. The foxes are back in force. They too seem to have worked out that it's both drier and warmer in the tunnel. They have been tearing their way into the tunnels and causing a great deal of damage to both the tunnel and the plants that live there. The polytunnel won't be the only refuge from the poor weather for much longer. We are working on starting the build of our communal structure. Our friends at the National Trust have kindly agreed to give us as much material as we need from their tree punning exercises. Building work is due to start any time now.
Our Christmas tree 
The Christmas period was fun. We made a Christmas tree using recycled material and branches from several different trees to symbolise creativity and togetherness. This was on display at Morden Hall Park's Stable Yard for a few days during their Christmas celebrations and had a very good response. We also held a small feast where people came together to cook healthy and delicious meals from food that was thrown away by our local shops and supermarkets (pictures). On the 12th of December we had a small gathering where people came together to celebrated sustainability and enjoy good music and great company (pictures).
2012 has been a very full on high energy year and many developments and lessons learnt. We are very much looking forward to growing further in 2013. We hope you'll be able to join us.               

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Progressing together

Volunteer showing off her
handy wood carving skills
Warmest greetings on this wet autumn day. Still moaning about the wet weather this season. Many rivers in parts of the UK have burst their banks and caused loads of damage due to flooding. We have been very lucky, though we have had pretty much non stop rain for weeks we have not had any flooding. 
Herb Spiral build --
mulch layers 
On the odd occasion when the rain breaks for a few hours we managed to get out and do some work. We've completed our herb spiral. The herb spiral is a Permaculture form that allows you to create your own ecosystem and become self sufficient. The format can be adapted to large gardens if space is available. We found a large stack of bricks which were as a result of a demolition job near us. Bricks allows for retention of heat and insulate plants in colder weather or at night, while acting as a backbone for the structure. We used fermented grass as a base layer for the structure and filled it with layers of manure, straw, fallen leaves and compost. Thanks to the rain the layers have been watered in very well and have now settled and ready for planting up in spring. I am very excited about this project. The spiral was placed just outside the kitchen door and will act as a living spice rack conveniently placed to be utilized during cooking.

Planting plan -- Herb Spiral
The spiral is a natural form that provides an efficient method for managing space, storing and sorting. Using the natural universal design of a spiral, the forces of gravity and water flow are utilized to their fullest allowing for proper drainage downhill. Herbs that thrive on drier soils live at the top, whereas those needing more moisture reside at the bottom where water collects. This form allows for planting of a widely diverse number of plants, and creates natural, sunny and shady areas -- a perfect miniature microclimate landscape environment. The herb spiral also creates a bio-diverse habitat for creatures who come to visit the garden. For a more detailed look at the creation process check out our facebook link. Herb Spiral Build -- Autumn 2012

Beginning stages -- Biological toilet

We have also been working on the biological toilet. We have a rough design plan which keeps evolving to best match the materials we are able to salvage. Hardcore from old paving slabs were used to strengthen the foundation posts, discarded fence post for the framework, we've used palette wood to construct the composting chambers and later on in the build willow poles will be used to create a living shield which will not only enclosed and protect the structure from the elements but will also use up the excess liquid that will accumulate in the chambers, preventing undesirable leaks. We aim to have this project done before spring and will make a start on the communal structure shortly after the Christmas period. 
Andrew of Syon Lane
Community Allotment Project
helps to bag up compost

I mentioned in the last post that our composting system has grown significantly and has been very efficient and productive. We harvested over fifteen 60lt bags from one of the heaps and have used a lot of it to top up most of the growing beds and feed all our fruit trees and bushes. We've also had visits from old friends from the Syon Lane Community Allotment project and Runnymede Eco-village and had a good old catch on whats' been going on the the world of community eco-project. We have also just returned from a two day conference involving a number of food growing community projects. The conference was organised and facilitated by the UK Permaculture Association. We  were one of the featured projects and asked to do a short story telling session on our experiences and visions. The notion of food growing in the middle of a city environment engaging local communities is one that large environmental organisations are keen to support. And only two days ago we were asked to join a meeting hosted by the Councillors of Merton and the people responsible for the maintenance of the green spaces in the borough. This meeting was called to discuss the potential of forming a collective of community food growing and other ecological projects. This is great news for us as it means that we will be have the support of both the council and the many other community projects operating in Merton. We have been provided with maps showing many of the green spaces which may be freed up for community food growing in the near future.

Thanks to all our dedicated volunteers who have stuck with us all through the rough weather to help us realise our goals for creating an inspiring, educational, productive and relaxing community space. Peace, Love and more Blessings.  

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Atumn Bliss

The May team at Deen City
Farms' harvest day
So after a challenging spring/summer period, we are now carrying on into the winter months. So far it's been cold, wet and very windy. But that hasn't dampened the spirits of the true eco worriers  We have had a steady inflow of visitors and volunteers helping us get our herb spiral, composting toilet and communal space built before next spring. Over the past month we have been focusing on winter planting and early spring harvest. We have been making good use of our neighbors garden and have planted loads of golden chard and broccoli. 
Broccoli under plastic soda bottle
greenhouses/slug barriers 
We are still fighting with the slugs and snails but have an ally in the form of miniature white spider creatures which we have identified as a type of nematode. We have been noticing the increase of injured sickly look slugs being found around the garden and on closer inspection observed that these nematodes were crawling all over the poor slimy creatures. Natures balance. However we are still taking precautions and have added extra barriers to help keep the pests away.  We had a slight frost a few weeks ago and all of our younger tomatoes we were hoping to have a late harvest off were damaged. Next time we will aim to build some sort of temporary weather protection from the later succession crops. In our garden we have planted out the salads we had sown back in September. Most of which we planted in the polytunnel and the rest in large pot indoors. We are hoping that we will be able to harvest grees all through winter. 
Winter greens and seed balls/
green grenades
We have also planted loads of chard, broccoli, leek, kale, parsnip and cabbage all of which were sown last month and are now incubation in the winter nursery in the polytunnel. They all seem to be doing very well despite the low temperatures and limited sunlight available. In the last post I mentioned the workshops we have been hosting and all the groups and organisations we had visit. Well we were invited to be part of our local farms' harvest festival and were featured in the local newspaper as a result. We had seed balls making workshops and had jams and cider for sale. It was a great day and we were received very well. We have been growing slowing in popularity and are now been seen by other, larger more established, organisations as potential beneficial partners. This is great for us as it means that we have the backing and resources of more experience ecological institutes. 
Mushrooms growing in the QR
composting heap
Another thing which has grown dramatically this year is our compost making capacity. We have created so much compost this year that we are slightly struggling to find places to store the excess. I still have to publish a post completely dedicated to our composting system.We have five different composting processes but my personal favorite is the quick return (aerobic) system. During this time of year (summer - autumn) there is almost always lots of excess fruit laying about. This year our apple tree didn't do very well (compared to previous years) but we were blessed with locating a number of neglected fruit trees, both public and private. We collected a great deal of apples, plums and pears and had juicing sessions, and made a selection of jams and chutneys which went down a treat. 
A selection of jams
We have also been playing around with planting crops outdoors to see how they will cope with the harsh change in weather. The spring onions recently got demolished by slugs, but the beetroots are still going strong even after the frost. Also the forest garden has been really living up to its' name. All the trees have put on a hell of a lot of growth this year. We restricted them from bearing fruit by prick out the blossoms as they began to form fruits which I think allowed them to concentrate on working on root and wood development. We have also been dividing up the comfrey plants we have and planting them up around each tree. This will serve as feed for the trees next season when we will allow them to produce fruit.  

Chard and leek beds
So it hasn't been all dull, wet and gloomy this season. Though the harvest wasn't as abundant as we would have expected, we still managed to form valuable connections, learnt valuable lessons and are now even more confident for the development in the coming seasons. We've got a compost toilet, communal structure, and herb spiral on the horizon. This season was all about creating awareness of the project, building up our network and developing the main focus of the project. This come season we will aim to increase the educational aspect of the project and step up community engagement. We always welcome new ideas and energies to the project so if you have anything to offer or just want to get involve and learn about ecology please visit our website and get in touch. Peace Love and Blessings.      

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The challenge is carrying on.

The Challenge

This summer has been full of many activities. We have been holding regular workshops on ecological topic such as making wildlife habitat from recycled materials, wild food foraging, and composting. We had two groups of young people for the organisation called The Challenge come round and got involved in compost making, seed, firewood collection and apple pressing. It was a such a privilege having them over and seeing them get excited about their environment the potential they posses to make a difference. One of the groups went off and did a sponsored barefoot walk as a direct result of their visit. The other returned and built themselves a few bird boxes. It was great having the young people over but it was also challenging. We had to convince them that it was alright to get dirt under your nails and that worms were actually really cool creatures and have a very important role to play in the grand scheme of things. It took a while to convince them but at the end of the visit the vast majority of them were happy playing around in the soil and holding worms. So we now have a new member organisation to add to our network and for that we are thankful.
Courgettes (marrows)
Collecting straw and manure
Our bond with Deen City Farm has also grown stronger. For the past few months we have been helping them get their allotment space up and running and it's doing amazingly well. We have also been harvesting loads of courgettes from our little plot at their growing gardens site located at the farm and we often collect straw and manure from their muck pile. Deen City Farm is an amazing place and has a number of exciting programmes ongoing. We will be a feature at their harvest festival on the 29th September. Our theme for the event will be Permacultue and Guerilla Gardening. We will be engaging the public by making clay seed bombs and a wormery made from used tyres. We are very excited about it all. We have also been collecting straw and manure for mulching and compost making from the farm. This is an amazing resource to have just outside our doorstep and everyone gets involved in the process. 
So the rains have finally held off for a bit and we were graced with a long spell of both dry and hot weather. As a result we have seen the number of volunteers increase. Many came and helped out in the harvesting and maintenance of the garden. We had a good potato harvest this year, and we are picking tomatoes on a regular basis. We did loose a lot to blight and mildew but luckily we were prepared and had quite a lot of seedlings on standby, we always sow about a third more than we think we might need. The excess can be given away or planted out on a disused site. 
Volunteer digging for potatoes
Golden sunrise tomatoes
We have also been harvesting peppers, aubergines, beans, sweet corn and beetroot. Our onions didn't do well this year, many of them were repeatedly attacked by slugs and snails and as a result did not get very big. Our garlics on the other hand were a success and were surprisingly strong flavoured this time round. We lost the majority of our pumpkin crop but managed to save one and she now lives in the polytunnel. During the hot periods we move our nursery outside the polytunnel. We used pallets to make a temporary table and this is where we keep our young plants. We are getting ready for winter and have sown the majority of our winter crops this year we are going for leeks, parsnips, broccoli, chard, cabbages and kale. We will also be trying to have some salads going over the winter period as well.
Roasting sweet corn on the BBQ
We have been doing a fair bit of salvaging over the past few months and have came across some really good finds. It's amazing what people throw out in a country where surplus is in abundance. A few weeks ago we found a cut little cast iron BBQ and a large heavy duty waterproof tarp which we used to waterproof the pallet shack we have been building since last November. The wormery we built a few months ago has been doing very well and was made using old tyres we found while out scouting. We recently harvested the first bit of worm castings and the texture is amazing, very light and airy. The wormery was made by attaching chicken wire to the bottom of each tyre and stacking them on each other. We then lined the inside of the tyres with straw and laid down a generous layer of absorbent organic material like newspaper, egg cartons, and dead leaves at the bottom of each tyre. The bottom tyre was filled with well rotted compost, leaf mould and some partially rotted organic material (kitchen waste, garden weeds, etc), then a few handfuls of worms which we collected from our already existing composting systems. This was then covered and left for two days to allow the worms to settle into their new home. The second tyre was filled with organic kitchen waste and two weeks later the final tyre was also filled with organic kitchen waste and the wormery was complete. The wormery was built in May and approximately four months later we harvested the first of the bounty. We refilled the harvested tyre (bottom one) then refilled it with organic kitchen waste and topped it off with the worms from the previously harvested batch.
Fresh tyre of organic kitchen waste(left) and topped off with worms and some compost(right)
Lots learnt this season. Though we had a very challenging summer we harvested loads and are hopeful for the autumn and winter months so we carry on.         

Friday, 13 July 2012

Rain, rain and more rain

Slug enjoying a strawberry
It's been very very wet this season. We've lost many crops due to the invasion of hundreds of snails and slugs. The case for ducks and/or chickens is growing. Being organic we would rather not use any form of chemical based pesticides. Despite the slugs and snails taking many of our crops we were still able to harvest quite a bit of produce. The berries are flourishing, and we harvested some of our first crop of potatoes and beetroot. We also have onions, garlics and chives and the apples are now staring to add a bit of colour to them. The sun has been making it's presence felt a bit more over the past few days and many of the crops are now showing their appreciation.
May Project Gardens Stall at NT's
Green Day Out
Tow major activities we had going on in the past weeks were the National Trusts' Green Day Out held at Morden Hall park where we were a participant with stalls displaying and advertising the goings on at May Project Gardens. It was wet but very exciting. Despite the wet weather peoples came out in support of their local community projects. We had a D.I.Y solar panel workshop on the go (weather put a stop that later on in the day), seedling transplanting sessions, Indian head massages, and a talk on mushrooms given by Kalindi Idy.
Kayleigh Doughty with her lovely
pen art work
Kalindi Idy talks about edible
and medicinal mushrooms
There was a fair bit of activities going on on the day with many local and regional projects attending to showcase their efforts to build and/or promote a green future. We had a lovely young lady doing a bit of live pen painting art. The resulting piece of art was later erected at the May Project Gardens site.The other major activity we had going on at the May Project Gardens was the laying of the foundation for our new communal space. We were generously donated some funds to complete the first stage of our communal space. We bought and laid some decking on gravel. This was done by our volunteers during one of out volunteer open days. We had lots of fun constructing the base and we were all happy with the results. 
Wooden decking foundation for
new communal space
The next stage would be sourcing some poles for the construction of the walls and roof. We also had our first Permaculture course delivered to our volunteers at the May Project Gardens site. It was a great success and judging from the feedback, everyone gained something as a result of the day. So all in all it has been a very busy and eventful few weeks. 
While all these activities were going on we had to keep on top of the gardening side of things. The rain fell and kept falling and falling and falling. we had a few thunder storms and the pond had regularly overflowing. The frogs are loving the wet weather as are the mature trees, but the soft fruits and most vegetables are struggling as a result of slugs and snails not giving them a chance to get going. Also the wet and humid atmosphere have been causing rot and diseases but luckily the straw we put down as mulch earlier this year has helped keep this to a minimum. We have finally been able to harvest some strawberries but due to the lack of sun they weren't as sweet as last years' harvest.
This year we have had some new additions to our soft fruits harvest. Our black current and red current bushes have fruited this season and have been very productive. The little experiment we had going with the 2m x 2m polyculture bed is going very well. Again the only major issue is with slugs and snails. All the beans have been eaten and the cucumbers have not been given the best start due to both slugs and snails and the limited sun we have had so far this season. But overall the polyculture bed has been very successful and I would urge everyone to have a go at incorporating one into their gardens. It's a very efficient use of space and because it is a small space it is very easy to manage.
Black Currents
The only space in the garden that has not been too affected by the slug and snail population explosion is the polytunnel. There has been some damage but because the moisture levels under the polytunnel can be easily managed their numbers are greatly reduced compared to outdoors. We have peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, and melons so far in the polytunnel and lots of seeds and seedlings coming up in the nursery. The new sites we have acquired are slowly coming together. I will attempt to get some pictures and share in the next post. Until then enjoy the weather regardless of what it may bring and happy gardening.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Summer's here

Mix Salad Leaves
Cabbage, Spinach, Chard, Salad leaves, and Comfrey are plentiful in the garden this month. We've been getting very creative with these ingredients and when combined with a few skipped vegetable we end up with some amazing meals. Over the past weeks we've seen a lot of growth as the average temperature increases. The Food Forest Garden is really looking alive now. Both the fruit trees and bushes are doing well. We are experimenting with a technique for gardening in small spaces by creating a poly-culture bed. We'll be growing ten or more vegetables in less than 4sqm. So far so good. We had a few run ins with snails and slugs but managed to keep the bed going. We've planted; garlic, parsley, lettuce, onion, tomato, potato, courgette, broad bean, and we added some vertical space for runner bean, and cucumber. 
Chard (leaf beet)
Poly-culture: 10 diff veg in 4sqm
Another experiment we are conducting is using different mulching techniques. We have been given the use of an allotment space near here and now have the space to player around with other methods of gardening. Our little plot at Dean City Farm (DCF) is also coming along nicely. Putting down straw as a mulch has been a big help in controlling weeds and holding moisture. It's great that we have these new spaces to work on and I am sure we will learn alot from it. 
Strawberries at DCF plot
We've started putting out our summer crops. This season we'll have tomatoes, sweet corn, courgettes, onions, potatoes, runner beans and broad beans growing on the main outside beds, and, tomatoes, peppers, melons, aubergines and cucumbers in the polytunnel. We're growing most of our crops from transplants which we start off in our mini-greenhouse nurseries, this allows us to design the garden very efficiently (spacings, light, shade, etc). The poly-culture bed is a good example of what can be achieved using transplants and good design.
Food forest garden
We harvested most of the chard and spinach from the polytunnel and replaced them with tomatoes and aubergines. We like to leave the roots of the previous plants in the ground when harvesting. I believe in giving back to the soil as much of more than what's been taken. With the chard, for example, we harvest all but two of the plants by cutting cut the entire plant as close to the ground as possible, leaving the roots in the ground. The two that remained are for seed production. We then add a generous layer of worm rich compost (made on site). We give the worms and other creates present in the compost time to settle in. Then we add tomato plants to the bed and water in. Job done. Transplants enables you to be flexible and helps keep your beds active. We had hope to have some pumpkins and squashes planted up in the Forest garden but we lost all our seedlings during a very hot few days. We are now playing catchup and hope we will be able to get some more germinated in time. We produced a lot of food from the garden this spring, and I think summer's going to be even better.    

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Steady Growth = Manageable Progress

Food forest garden
We have had a few really good week in the garden recently. We have had quite a few visitors and volunteers passing through and they all love the site. Two weeks ago we managed to upgrade the paths in the food forest garden by putting down wood chip and the week after we made a wormery out of old used tyres and 'waste' chicken wire. We made these path by first digging out a low trench, lined it with cardboard then filled it in with the wood chip. We are very lucky to have friends at the Morden Hall Park who were generous enough to give us some of their excess wood chip. 
Wormery made from
old used tyres
We have been making an effort to network with as many similar projects as possible, both locally and beyond. We now have a small plot at the amazing Dean City Farm in Merton Abbey and are very involved in helping to get their new allotment space up and running. Many people have been showing interest in what we do at the May Project Gardens, so we will be doing some short and long courses and workshops on Permaculture and various other sustainability topics in the near future. We have an experience Permaculture teacher who is willing to help make this happen. Another project we will be getting more involved with is The Peoples' Kitchen. This group addresses the problem of perfectly good food going to waste in the city of London by hosting weekly and monthly communal feasts. 
Lemon Balm
During this time of year we gardeners are beginning to see the fruits of our labour. Almost all the seeds sown at the beginning of the season are now ready to be planted out and perennial plants (those which come up year after year) are now showing substantial growth. We've got chives, thyme, rosemary, fennel, comfrey, rhubarb, lemon balm and a number of fruit bushes including black currents and red currents are developing fruit. Slugs and snails are a continual problem but we have been able to keep the majority of our crops safe from harm by putting down decoy barriers of cabbage leaves and going out hunting for them regularly. Recently we added some nematodes, which are microscopic natural predators of slugs and snails, to the garden and we wait to see if they really make any difference to the pests' population. 
In the polytunnel we have been harvesting salads, leaf beet and lemon balm for a few weeks now. It really does pay to have a polytunnel in you garden, if you've got the space for it. It has allowed us to extend our growing season and it also helps with pest management. As it is an enclosed space the problems we get with pest under the polytunnel is much lower than the outdoor gardens. The only problem is keeping it watered. It gets hot in the polytunnel, very hot on some occasions and as a result the crops grow quicker but the ground dries out quite quickly. The mulch we put down has help but we really need to get our irrigation system up and running asap. The polytunnel is also the space we use to start off most of our seeds.
Third succession of seed sowing

We sow seed in our seeds in a succession. We sow the first set of seeds early in the season, in February then a second set in late March then another set in mid to late April and so on. This technique ensures that we have a consistent supply of produce throughout the season and not ending up harvesting all our produce all at once. The polytunnel also allows us to still work in the garden even when the weather's not too friendly for outdoor work. On rainy days we  sometimes retreat to the polytunnel and conduct other activities such as clay making.    

Clay making session

So food growing is not the only activity we get up to in the Garden. We are in the process of building a structure made from wooden pallets and other 'waste' materials, and earlier this week a few volunteers came down and we had a nice session making bird boxes, feeding tables and insect habitats all using 'waste' materials.
Bird boxes, table feeder, and insect habitat
The project is growing and the skills and interactions gained as a result of getting involved with the May Project Gardens are  invaluable. As we grow we welcome each and everyone to come we grow together. If you would like to get a taste of the May Project experience check out our website or give us a shout o on facebook and visit us at the garden on one of our open days. More information on courses and workshops will be published soon.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Attack of the killer slugs....and snails

Salad and herbs
Yesterday it rain more than I have ever seen it rain in London. It started at 5am and it still hasn't really stopped yet. So far the prediction of a drought hasn't materialised. I am happy for the rain. All the plants are looking very vibrant and happy for a good drink. The rain makes everything feel more alive and I like the freshness it brings to the space. We mulched the remaining beds in the garden before the rains came and I am hoping that this will help with both the weeds and the holding water on the site. This month has been wet and very cold, but a few days ago I was planting out some coriander and noticed how much warmer the soil under the mulch was compared to the un-mulched beds. The mulch we used was mostly straw covering crass clippings and some manure. We were lucky enough to have a almost endless supply of both straw and manure from the lovely Dean City Farm near Colliers Wood. We also use hedge trimmings, newspaper and dead leaves as mulch. This year we have managed to get a bit more land to work on and will be experimenting with various mulching materials in an effort to see which works best. I am rooting for straw with a bit of manure.
Salad and herbs planted through mulch
One problem with mulching, I always hear people say, is that it provides ideal environment for slugs and snails. Since we started growing on the site it has been an ongoing battle with hundreds of slugs and snails. Earlier on in the year it hasn't been much of an issue as it's been fairly dry. April has been wet, very wet. Since the start of the month it rained almost everyday and as I mentioned earlier yesterdays' rain was heavy and consistent. I was cycling down along the river Wandle yesterday and the water level was the highest I had ever seen it. This was a good site, this meant that the wetland marshes could be flooded and kick start the abundance of life and activity that goes on there.
One night slug and snail hunting
With the arrival of the rains came the return of the slugs and snails. Last night I went slug and snail hunting and collected well over 60 individuals. We will be trying a few natural pest control methods to deal with this problem and will keep you posted on the results.
We have also put down a heavy mulch of newspaper, straw and manure on the beds which were being over run by ground elder. That has been down for two weeks now and we have planted some lettuce, coriander, basil and peas through the mulch. So far so good. Non of the ground elder has made it through yet. I am sure eventually they will manage to break their way through, I am hoping that it will take a while before they do return, but as they do we will continue to pull them out and top up the mulch. I am really excited about this season. We have introduce some perennial herbs, will be doing a lot more companion planting, and we are attempting a small poly-culture bed.
May Pond in April 2012
The pond is now very well established and the food forest is also beginning to hold its own. The black current bushes are loaded with buds and a few buds have began to develop on both the red and white currents as well. The apple and pear trees have also been producing blossoms but we have decided to give them another season to work on their root structures. So no new apples or pears this year, however we do have our ever reliant large mature apple tree and she is in full bloom at the moment. We have had to move the cheery tree from her original position in the food forest. We were a bit worried about the competition for space that may arise in the future. She is now happily blooming near our composting system.
Three composting solutions (L to R)
quick return, open heap and urinal.
Our compost is also doing very well. We managed to get about 60lt of very rich compost from the quick return wooded compost bin and one of the plastic bins will be ready fro harvest in a few weeks. The pit compost too will be ready for harvest soon. The wormery has not been well maintained and as a result has been very slow to produce but we have added some straw and shredded newspaper to the mix and it is already looking a lot better. We have also built a new compost bin. The system we will be using in this space will be the open heap method. This is where we will continually collect compostable  material and pile it all up in one large heap of alternating layers. We are also still making loads of comfrey-nettle fertilizer (Netfrey Tea).
The polytunnel has been providing us with a constant supply of salad leaves, leaf beet and lemon balm.
We have also just planted out some spinach. In the nursery we have got some tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, melons, courgettes, corn, and many other seedlings, some of which would be going to our second musical event for sale.

This time round we have joined up with a project called Concrete Jungle to organise a whole day festival to celebrate all things sustainable. Its' quite exciting as it is most likely to be a lot bigger than our last event. We have also partnered up with The Peoples' Kitchen Brixton who are doing amazing work in the field of waste food. This year is shaping out to be a very eventful one. The trick now is to try and hold true to our core principles and not get too carried away with our successes. One of the many Permaculture principles reminds us thasystems should be designed to function at the smallest scale that is practical and energy efficient (rather than the biggest). 'Slow and steady wins the race'.