Growing Tooting – the sixth weekend of our local grow-your-own food workshop series
Last weekend we enjoyed the sixth crop of fortnightly ‘triple-header’ Growing Tooting workshops – one each in Balham, Tooting and Wandsworth. (Plus there’s the fourth series: an extra Wandsworth group running on the intervening weekends).
As ever, thanks to Martin for the energy and co-ordination!
What did we do this week?
As a comprehensive gardening topic we looked in detail at Permaculture – a growing approach that aims to integrate natural systems with social and individual needs for food, clean water, energy… (click here or here for two in-depth web resources).
To make that practical, in one group Donna presented her own garden as a case study.
She filmed a video of the back garden, plus photos of the front, for us to get an idea of the spaces and how the garden fits into her life.
|Donna’s team of advisers – an unusual opportunity!|
‘Observing’ before diving in is as useful in gardening as it is in swimming. Thank you Donna!
|How is the potato progressing?|
Secondly about observing – in our classes we encourage participants to be ‘grower scientist – investigators’ alongside enjoying being outside and putting good food on the table.
Here’s an example from someone who likes to measure and celebrate her plants’ progress! Why not try it – you learn a lot.
We have our latest Growing Tooting Handout 6 available – click here to download. The handout includes interrelated features of good common-sense gardening (and of permaculture):
- Attracting wildlife to control pests
- Mycorrhizal soil fungi
- No-dig gardening
To illustrate combing several of these elements, the second Wandsworth group planted up a square foot raised bed which had been prepared with a no-dig approach. First we removed the weeds then covered with a couple of inches of leaf mould from one of the housing estate’s leaf pens, then covered that with sieved soil to achieve a fine tilth for sowing seeds.
|You can see the separate layers|
We planted spinach, nasturtium, basil, plus marigold and tomato seedlings under bottle cloches (we’re experimenting with companion planting for the latter two).
Finally: two more illustrations of this week’s topics:
Attracting beneficial insects.
It’s useful to provide habitats for predators such as ladybirds (the larvae eat loads of greenfly).
This is a roll of corrugated card inside a plastic bottle with its base cut off.
No-dig and mulch gardening.
One guru for this approach was Ruth Stout. We’ll share some excerpts from her 1970s book, which is worth looking out for.
A practical no-dig resource online is SPUDS (Society for the Prevention of Unnecessary Disturbance of the Soil).
It really works.
Happy Gardening – Charles