If you have been keeping up to date with my Twitter feed then you know I have been a busy Squirrel trying to renovate this small patch of green space at the Boys and Girls Club on Mereside.
So far we have some small pots with onions and garden peas growing but we are ready to take this to the next stage and get a vegetable patch built. This is all so we can educate the young people in healthy eating as well as looking at alternative ways to use the vegetables – such as ink pigments and natural fabric dyes.
Network Rail have (almost) promised us some Railway sleepers to get this happening and the lovely Max McMurdo from various Channel 4 up cycling shows has helped with suggestions but now I am asking YOU if you can help us? Please share this with your friends and family – healthy eating and education should not be this hard for the lovely children at the Boys and Girls Club!
The weather has been quite a mixture this week in Lancashire and so when Wednesday came and the sun was shining it was time to head to the allotment for their weekly session.
Most sessions have involved planting out the small seedlings that have been growing in the polytunnel with some success but the most interesting is when you find the plants lying on top of the soil. This seems to be (we think) birds or even rats that roam the allotment during the night. To avoid this we have again replanted but used mesh and twigs to protect them.
Fending off small bugs and insects is apart of the allotment life and there have been some great suggestions bounced around while I’ve been planting and digging. The most common is slug repellant and someone has even suggested vaseline around the rim of the plant pots. Do you have any helpful hints or tips? I would love hear them!
Lats summer I experimented with the idea of using plants and natural foliage to create my own inks for printing. I also had the opportunity to make some natural dyes for the fabrics I use when screen printing.
Although I found the process quite hard at times I did find great comfort in knowing I could use the allotment (and the wonderful staff at GrowBlackpool) to answer any and all of my questions. There was some small victories in using beetroot boiled for hours and a surprising result with wild grass but never anything solid and that I could rely on.
Today I was able to reignite this passion over a conversation in the Polytunnel sewing Teasel seeds. I discussed my idea with the head of the allotment and she too was excited of the idea that I could grow and use my own produce for printing and decided to allocate me my very own plot!
The allotment became a part of my life last year for a number of reasons and I now use it as often as I can. Initially I went to create pottery but it has led to so much more than this.
The free pottery workshops became available through the Banquet project funded by LeftCoast (local Creative People in Places initiative) but it quickly became clear that the shared allotment was a space open to all each week for free sessions with Grow Blackpool.
After the pottery workshops finished I found I was still craving the feeling of dirt on my hands and wanted my own crops to explore how I could grow organic inks to print with. This process is still ongoing as you can imagine growing can take time but so far I have learnt about the earth and what wonderful and surprising colours you can achieve from different plants.