Fruit & Vegetable Growing Workshops
In the spring and early summer of 2012, the Council ran a series of workshops free of charge for all the allotment tenants. The sessions took place at Grange Moor allotments and were delivered through the Holme Valley Gardening Network, fully financed by the Council. Reports and photographs of the sessions are below.
Session 1: 14th April The weather was a little cool and damp, but it did not deter many of the tenants turning out enthusiastically in fleeces and wellies. Talked about how to start off, where to plant and crop rotation. Some work was done on a vacant piece of land, breaking up the soil and dividing into 4 sections. Later we all went round to each of the Grange Moor tenants' plots, where the owners told us of their plans for the season. They also related a little of the history on that particular plot and details of how they had overcome various problems. People chipped in with tips and suggestions for issues which were still a problem. The session ended with a well earned cup of coffee and cakes. One of the ladies had baked fairy cakes and the Tutor brought biscuits with her. We were all most appreciative of that.
Session 2: 28th April Due to the weather being extremely rainy the session was held in St Bartholomew's Church Hall in Grange Moor. We planted seeds for a range of crops such as lettuce, cabbage, peas, beetroot etc in small pots. We had a discussion covering subjects such as how to grow sweetcorn, problems with carrot growing, partner planting, timing of sowing seeds & planting out and composting. We also heard anecdotes from various tenants about problems with mice and other pests and received advice from the Rachel and Elaine, the Tutors, and colleague tenants about what to do to avoid it happening next time. We all took away the pots to look after and hope to plant them out in a few weeks time.
Session 3: 19th May Another cold day but at least it's stopped raining! However, the weather did not stop lots of the tenants turning out to carry on with the course. We found out how to plant peas out and to organise the canes/twine. The tenants received one-to-one advice on particular issues on their own plots. Advice was given about how to erect greenhouses. Over a cup of coffee participants made suggestions for future sessions, which included: how to build composters & cloches, how and when to prune fruit trees.
Session 4: 26th May Finally the weather is on our side. Glorious summer sun greeted us as we arrived at Grange Moor allotments. It looks such a different place from last week. We sat around in a circle and after a general exchange of information we tackled the subject of pests and disease. Rachel gave us lots of information and suggestions how to combat the pests and produce good crops without the use of pesticide. Later we visited Flockton allotments where Cllr Jimmy Paxton has his own plot and Flockton First School also have an allotment. It was very interesting to see the differences in the sites and how others have sorted out their plots.
As well as gaining in gardening knowledge, the workshops have brought people closer together, enabled the tenants to work as a group improving communication links and created an atmosphere of co-operation and an exchange of expertise/information. Everyone who has participated brings such enthusiasm with them, it's heartening to see and bodes well for the future of the Council's allotments.
The Council subsequently held a further set of workshops the following year, with the topics chosen by the participants which included compost making, pruning fruit trees, choice of crops, rotation and repelling pests. There was also a visit to another local allotment garden to compare methods. The Parish Council is grateful to the tutors of the Holme Valley Gardening Network for sharing their wealth of knowledge and expertise.