Saturday 20 February 2010

Ouch, and ouch

In between job hunting, I've been getting some work done both at the lottie and at home. Kevin and I have made lots of progress cutting back the brambles that covers two-thirds of the lottie. But, ouch! Bloody brambles, they really hurt. I cannot seem to find gloves that a strong enough to withstand their ouchness. Argh.

Ouch no. 2 is at home. I'm pulling out a heap of raspberry canes, and they have an ouch factor too. Also, there are some brambles mixed in, so extra ouch. I'm sure other fruit and veg growers will wonder why in the hell I'm pulling up raspberry canes. Well, there is too many of them, and they are in the prime warmest spot in the garden, where frankly I could be growing tomatoes and corn, which I much prefer. So some of the rapsberry canes are moving to a different place, and others are being passed onto friends.

It's satisfying to see the brambles and raspberry canes being cleared, but ouch. My fingers hurt!

Sunday 7 February 2010

Permaculture design course in Oxford

I have been interested in Permaculture for a few years now, and have recently been trying to apply it more readily in my daily life. I feel permaculture principles offer a positive alternative to the corporatist, capitalist, anti-nature and neo-con version of the how we live on the planet. And with the dual threats of climate change and peak oil, permaculture seems to offer very practical and positive ways in which we can meet these challenges. Importantly, the principles can be applied whether you live in an university city such as Oxford, in a village under occupation such as Beit Sahour in Palestine, or a primary school in Malawi.

I've been wanting to undertake the full Permaculture Design Course for a while, but they have always been somewhere else, which means that beyond the course fee you have the added expenses such as travel and accommodation. Lucky for me, and everyone else in the Oxford area, the Oxford Permaculture Group are running a full design course in 2010. Yay I say.

The Oxford course will focus on urban permaculture, food production and ecorenovation. I'm particularly interested in urban permaculture as most of us will never be able to 'escape to the country' so I think it will be really useful to be able to apply permaculture skills in an urban context.

The other useful thing about the Oxford course, is many of the full courses run over a 2 week period, which is not always easy to fit in around the rest of life. The Oxford course will run over 7 weekends throughout the year beginning later March, so I can fit it around work (well, job hunting!), my allotment and garden, WDM campaigning, and still have time for Kevin, Merlyn and my lovely friends*.

Once you have undertaken the course, you can then go on to undertake the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, something I might want to do at a later date.

*oh, and baking too. Must have time for baking. yum.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Potato day 2010

Last Saturday was members Potato Day at Garden Organic. I think I've gone nearly every year for the last 10 or so years, apart from last year. We moved house the day before and Kevin was deaf to my view that potato day was more important than unpacking boxes...

My chosen varieties for 2010 are now chitting in egg boxes in the lounge room, viz:
And because you probably cannot read the labels(!), here is the list:
It might seem like a lot of potatoes, but not as many as you think. In most cases I just get 4-5 of each variety. I do this because: a) diversity means that if some potatoes get hit by blight, not all of them will (at least that's been my experience to date); b) I like growing different types of taties for different eating (mashing, baking, salad etc); and finally; c) I love growing more unusual varieties, espectially if they are red or purple. I love purple veggies. I don't know why, I just do.

*Will is a potato given to me at the seed event in Oxford by Ben from Real Seeds. It is supposed to be a blight resistant variety, but don't know anything about it other than this. Ben gave me 2 seed potatoes, so now let's see what happens.

A potato expert has written a useful article regarding how to be potato blight in The Guardian today. To date I haven't heard any predictions for how this summer is going to turn out, so best to keep your blight information close by. My non-very-scientific experience has been that if it is a very warm April, summer is wet, but cold or at least a wet April, often leads to a warmer summer. So let's see what April will bring.

I went up to potato day with Kevin and Mark. It was a stunningly beautiful day, cold but crisp, blue skies and warm sun. On the way back we stopped by the Rollright Stones (stone circle). You can see how sunny it was by Kevin and Mark blinking into the camera!

And here is the Rollrights under beautiful English winter blue skies...