The Allotment Diary: winter slackers

The indecisive winter weather so far this year has seen slow progress at the allotment.

Due to the frozen ground and wet weather we’ve had some enforced Sunday lie-ins (oh, the horror!) but as there is not much pressing work to be done right now we can enjoy this slower time – it certainly won’t last, as soon as the ground warms up the weeds will be racing off and we’ll be struggling to keep up with it all.

That’s not to say that we haven’t done any work. For starters, our apple tree that had been so overgrown when we took on the allotment was given a winter prune, and combined with the earlier removal of the brambles suffocating it hopefully we’ll get a good apple harvest this year, now that light and air will be able to get to the fruit. Check out our apple tree before and after – hubba hubba!

 

We’ve also been busily edging our borders, and Mike was hard at work putting up some bean canes so we can look forward to another bumper crop of runner beans this year. We even included an installation art piece as a typically Folkestonian health and safety feature, thanks to a neon yellow plastic plant pot we have stuck on the end. Hopefully this will be enough to stop Cantiaci members impaling themselves.

Some new rhubarb crowns have also gone into the ground, and a couple of established rhubarb plants have started to poke their way through the matted grass. We cleared the grass from them and found a bottomless bucket to hopefully force the stems of the smaller so we can have some early rhubarb. Rhubarb was one of our key crops last year, the plant we had inherited on our other plot produced massive bundles of rhubarb right through to September so we’re hoping for similar success again.

Meanwhile at our other allotment site we continue to harvest leeks – although some are not growing as fast as others (why is that?!) and our onions don’t seem to have grown underground at all, despite their flourishing green tops – all fur coat and no knickers.

Naturally, all this hard work is always rewarded with a steaming cup of tea, often as we cower out of the wind and drizzle in our (rather small) shed, dreaming of spring harvests and mild weather (and not thinking about those weeds… or the slugs… or that chemical toilet we still haven’t had the courage to open and dispose of…!)

Frankly it sometimes feels like being at the allotment is just an excuse to enjoy a good cuppa and have a natter…

See You Tonight! Here’s An Update From Lynda Jones

We hope you’re feeling thirsty!

See you later for the tea tasting and talk!

Lynda Jones : Hello there, I’ve decided to do a “question and answer” session about my work. I felt that would b more helpful than choosing one subject that might not suit all. Please note though, I can’t be specific about your own personal health issues outside the consultation setting. I look forward to meeting you 😃 xxx

Event details are here.

Folkestone Cantiaci, Folkestone, Cantiaci, Community, Transition Town, Kipps Alehouse, Kipps, Tea, Tea Tasting

See You Thursday! Here’s A Poem About Tea

Not long until the tea tasting and talk! What blends are your favourite?

Click here for more information on the event. 

Here’s a poem about tea from our columnist Dave Horn:

The kettle boils
Signalling the end
Of recent toils
Time for tea!
A dear one calls
And from all around they descend

Just one cup of tea
Is the source of such glee!
A time to rest and share
Make it herbal
And it’s even healthy
Hearts, minds and bodies on the mend

That is the beauty of tea
Rooted in simplicity
It has such capacity
To bring happiness and laughter
A good old catch-up
Or debrief post disaster

Seemingly infinite in it’s forms
A good tea pot
Every house should adorn
Bring out an infuser
And you’re stepping
Into tea porn

Just hot water
Dried leaves
Perhaps milk
But add sugar
And you’re
Of a bad ilk

But that is tea’s beauty
Who am I to prescribe or judge
Infinite forms
And infinite variations
We all have our particular
Tea related fixations

A shared experience
Your unique expression
For times good
For times bad
Tea is a gift and tool
Bring life whatever it would

 

David James Horn ©

Folkestone Cantiaci, Folkestone, Cantiaci, Community, Transition Town, Kipps Alehouse, Kipps, Tea, Tea Tasting

The Allotment Diary: Frosty Ground

This week was chilly, very chilly! The ground was to frozen to dig and even too frozen to weed! Our new allotment friends the moles seem to have been unperturbed by this frosty ground, atleast our soil must be good. Luckily the tea wasn’t frozen, and delicious. Today we enjoyed ginger and turmeric, and dandelion and burdock.

There was still somethings to do.  Frank cut our dishevelled green house into small car sized pieces.  The rest of us, and then Frank, gave the apple tree a haircut so hopefully this year’s apples will slightly more healthy.

Even the sun was pale today!

Join Us For A Tea Tasting

We are very excited to announce we will be hosting another tea tasting! We really enjoyed the last one, and love tea perhaps a little too much, so thought we’d do it again!

We’ll have a range of teas, some we’ve bought and some that have been blended by Cantiaci members in-house at Kipps’ Alehouse, Folkestone. Expect delicious teas and leave your tasting notes!

This time we have invited a guest speaker, local herbalist Lynda Jones! Lynda will be speaking about healthy living through herbalism and the power of herbs!

Join us at Kipps’ Alehouse, Folkestone on Thursday 9th February at 7pm for some amazing tea inspired times!  Below is our poster as well as some photos from last year!

Click here for the Facebook event.

Folkestone Cantiaci, Folkestone, Cantiaci, Community, Transition Town, Kipps Alehouse, Kipps, Tea, Tea Tasting

Park Farm allotment tour

On Sunday a handful of us braved the cold, drizzly winter morning to take a tour of Folkestone’s Park Farm allotments, a large established allotment site run by Folkestone Town Council.

Our guide was Jimmy, who has had a plot there for several years and was making good use of the space he had with broad beans planted last November already at a good height and peas doing well in his greenhouse.

It was very interesting to see how this site was run – and the luxuries they had! Our own allotment at Newington doesn’t have such fancy things as electricity, running water or toilets (well, apart from that chemical toilet we found in the shed and still haven’t had the courage to open…)

Allotments are always good places to see innovative recycling and none more so than the Park Farm space, with its communal tea shed built from materials donated by builders working on the new school across the road, homemade planters (a particular favourite was the old barrel with holes cut in the sides for strawberries, plus upturned bottle for watering.) You could see allotmenteers at this site had really made their plots their home from home and put a lot of time and effort into their growing.

Also worth a mention is the concrete area to one side – huge raised beds built from breeze blocks with paving slab pathways. Quite out of place among the muddy paths and ramshackle wooden sheds you normally see. Jimmy explained that this area had been built to make the allotment more accessible – the tall raised beds are perfect for people who can’t bend down anymore, and the paving slabs make it easy for wheelchairs to get through. What a great way to make growing your own produce easier for everyone!

We did notice a few unloved plots that had been left to go to ruin. In some cases the allotmenteer had become ill or sadly passed away, but in other cases the plot holders simply didn’t have time to manage them with family and job commitments.

That’s where a group like Cantiaci can be really beneficial for people who love the idea of having an allotment but don’t have the time to take one on. By tending to our plots as a group we remove that pressure and members are able to still enjoy their free time and go away for the weekend without worrying about weeds and slugs taking over. If you’d like to take part just drop us an email at folkestonecantiaci@gmail.com or message us on Facebook. During winter we meet in Folkestone at 10am every Sunday morning and usually work until 12 – 1pm, but when the days get longer often fit in some weekday evening slots too. Of course you would be welcome to pop to the site at times convenient to you, if you can get to Newington and don’t need to carshare.

To rent one of the Park Farm Allotments call Folkestone Town Council on 01303 257946.