The other ALFI plots are also starting to look productive. At the Westbrooke plot the narrow border is now a ‘salad bar’ with lettuces, radish, spring onions and salad leaves all coming on. The station plot is planted with beans, onions, leeks, courgettes, potatoes etc, as well as some soft fruit and an espaliered pear and a new apple tree. Up at the Jubilee field most of the trees have fruit starting to swell, promising a crop later in the year.
This year ALFI is setting out to interest children in the joys of gardening, cooking with fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit – and eating the results.
We are already supporting local schools gardening clubs and this year we are giving each primary school an apple tree.
We will have recipes, and articles in our newsletters to encourage children, parents and grandparents to find new ways of enjoying fresh seasonal and local food. Children love getting dirty hands, planting seeds and seeing the seedlings grow. and they love cooking so this can be a good way to get them to try some foods which they might otherwise reject. We also plan to have some children’s activities at our regular events – ideas and recipes gratefully received!
ALFI joined a number of charities in the lovely Allen Gallery garden, with a table with a tombola, and a cress-growing activity for children as well as our display boards and newsletters to publicise our events and activities.
It was a hot, sunny day as a number of people came to see what we do and to support our efforts. The profits from the tombola, which sported a number of gardening related prizes, will go towards expenses for our plots and planters, and educational schemes such as our annual schools competition.
ALFI maintains a herb bed in the Allen gallery garden, and next door is our fabulous Vicarage plot, which has yielded a staggering amount of fruit this year, regularly picked and put out for public collection by our volunteers.
Elsewhere, two of our apple trees down at Jubilee Fields (between the Sports Centre and the playing fields) are bearing fruit that should be ready to pick in September or October. The trees in our orchard are only young, and their yield will pick up over the next few years, and, with a little care and attention, they will fruit for decades to come. Did you know that the original “Bramley’s Seedling” apple tree, from which the famous cooking apple originates, is now more than 200 years old? Orchards, as well as being wonderful for us, are also great for wild-life, supporting many invertebrates, pollinators and birds. We’ll enjoy watching it grow!
Our next event will be our annual Harvest Feast on October 9th in the Methodist Church Hall in Alton, from 11.00am.
Lots of ALFI activity at the moment.
The children’s competition entries are in and being judged this week. Look out for results on our front page.
The plots are all looking good and being most productive. Lettuces, broad beans, radish, rocket, carrots, peas, and bunches of sweet peas have already been harvested. There will soon be potatoes, French beans, beetroot and other crops coming along.
From the new Vicarage plot there have been some strawberries, redcurrants and gooseberries.
Herbs are growing in lots of beds and planters and we hope people will snips bunches for their own use.
Up at the Jubilee field, the apple trees have a promising number of apples coming along, though the plum tree is having a rest this year.
And we have two supporters now looking after the Sensory garden at the Limes, a new venture for us.
The circular concrete planters opposite the Railway Arms are looking both decorative and productive now with a mixture of flowers and vegetables.
Our generic signs are now in place at all our plots, planters and orchard, and with the warm weather, these areas are all bursting into life.The fruit trees at Jubilee field are now starting to bloom – so pretty – and we hope the pollinating insects are at work turning flowers into fruit!
Westbrooke plot had a most satisfying working party yesterday, planting seedlings – cabbage plants, lettuces, peas, parsley, sweet peas, marigolds, nasturtiums – and sowing seeds of salad crops, parsnips, beetroot and rocket. And now we have had some rain overnight which is perfect. We have a proper rainwater butt there now, which a neighbour kindly helped me to fill from her tap. In a month’s time the town groundsman will keep it topped up for us.
The station plot continues to collect compliments. There, too, cabbages, beans, leeks etc are all being planted and the pear tree is in blossom.
The Railway barrels and concrete ring planters in Anstey Road, which we have recently taken over, are filling up with a variety of crops and flowering plants which is making this rather bare corner much more attractive.
The Vicarage plot grew a spectacular display of celandines when we weren’t looking, but this has now been covered with layers of cardboard and soil, with gaps for strawberry plants to grow through. We hope this will discourage the celandines, pretty though they are briefly in the spring. The fruit bushes there seem to have settled in well over the winter and are already growing fast.
And the planters in the town are full of herbs which passers-by can snip (but not’pull’ please) for their own use.
Our first working party on March 6th was on a warm, sunny afternoon, when 5 of us dug the soil out of the small raised bed, removed the many fibrous tree roots which had grown in from a neighbouring tree, and put down a permeable membrane to try to stop it happening again. We sieved the soil back in which was good exercise but hard work!. We also started some tidying up, and planted foxgloves, grape hyacinths and primroses in the shady bank at the top of the plot. Our party included a well-behaved black labrador and a 3 month old baby who slept contentedly for the whole time.
A note had recently been left in the basket where we leave produce.
“ALFI – Thank you for the excellent cabbage last week. Couldn’t find the donation box at the Station but will donate when it reappears”