What’s been happening!

ImageThings have been so busy with plant sales and workshops, not to mention meetings with organisations to try and get the enterprise going. I had meant to regularly post on this blog but realise that it has been a month! Where did the time go?

My husband had his foot broken as well and so I have had to be at home quite a bit to help and look after him. He is now getting better and is back at work, so I can focus my whole attention on work.

It really is difficult at times when life gets in the way, everything is moving along quite nicely and then wham, an unexpected jolt knocks you off track for a bit. Well, we are only human and can’t do everything. But sometimes I worry that the way things are going with social media and so on, people expect instant updates and there is therefore no room for error or quietness on the blog front.

We had a plant sale on 13th April which went extremely well; we sold lots of young plants, heritage (heirloom) tomatoes, beans and squash. They had names such as ‘Nun’s Belly Button’, ‘Dreadnought’, ‘White Custard’, ‘Zapotec Pleated’, ‘Yellow Stuffer’. It was all well and good if you like tomatoes that are black, white or yellow!

20th April saw our third workshop which involved learning how to make ‘Hanging Baskets’. All materials were provided and everyone who attended took home a lovely 14″ hanging basket. It was a beautiful day, at last the weather is being kinder to us. But don’t rush to put your tender veggies out just yet as we are still getting ground frosts in Milton Keynes.

Old adage of the week: “When you hear the cuckoo shout ’tis time to plant your tatties out”.


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Joys of Spring

Exciting times, I still feel that buzz every time when I see the seedlings emerging, 30 odd years on and still as fresh as the first time something germinated when I sowed some carrots as a kid. It’s a fascination that never fades. The heritage varieties that were sown at the beginning of the month have just been pricked out and potted on; Tomato ‘Yellow Stuffer’, Tomato ‘White Wonder’, Tomato ‘Black Trifele’, Tomato ‘Alaskan Fancy’, Soapwort, Parcel, Pea ‘Lincoln’. Sadly the Woad did not germinate, will have to source some more seed. The Purple Mangetout and Bunny’s Ears are up too. We have decided that we will grow Heritage, Heirloom and Unusual varieties to stock the gardens or sell on through plant sales locally. Last week I also grafted a number of fruit trees; Apples ‘Blenheim Orange’ (found at Woodstock, Blenheim in about 1740) & ‘Annie Elizabeth’ (raised by Samuel Greatorex at Knighton, Leics in about 1857)along with some Pears ‘Comice’ & ‘Conference’ (stock kindly donated by local allotmenteers) as well as some lovely old quince (Cydonia oblonga). Will need to finish off with some cherries by the end of the week.

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Much March Snow A Fine May Doth Show


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The compost has landed

The compost has landed

The compost and soil conditioner has arrived. Had to help the delivery driver push the pallets off the tailgate of his truck whilst he pulled them with a pallet trolley. It took over an hour to get these off the truck. They weigh around 1 tonne each. Suffice to say they had to be left wherever they landed as they just sank into the pea shingle. This is apparently what happens when you order stuff like this over the internet, but the compost had to be bought outright with the grant money. I think we could possibly get away with calling it an installation or ‘pop up kitchen garden’!

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Mad March Weather

It seems like the weather just can’t make up it’s mind, from one glorious sunny day to more snow. Whilst we are awaiting the Spring that is supposedly just around the corner we can ponder the following old gardeners weather lore for March – ‘In like a lion out like a lamb’, ‘A windy March foretells a fine May’. Today being St Patrick’s Day is said to be the best day for planting Sweet Peas, which are said to produce larger more fragrant blooms if sown today. If you can brave the weather it is also supposed to be the best day for pruning your roses. Fortunately we don’t have any yet!

The Apple tree pruning is now complete and the order has been placed for a row of cordon and espalier apple and pear trees to be planted along the west facing wall. These will be varieties that would have been available pre 1830. It is so exciting although we will have to contain ourselves, as they won’t be with us until the Autumn. But such is the strength of faith and hope in the future that gardening brings. We have to learn to be patient and with that comes a peaceful acceptance of the natural cycle of things.

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There is something really special about this site, which is why I wanted to share it’s story with people. I also wanted to share the story of Branch-out mk CIC, a social enterprise that was created in October 2012, with the aim of helping people experiencing disadvantage or disability through Social & Therapeutic Horticulture. From the preparation, painting and paperwork to welcoming our first clients, I wanted to share the blood, sweat and tears that go into bringing the gardens back to life. Whatever happens it’s going to be an amazing journey.

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Let’s get started

    Branch-out mk CIC was set up in October 2012 in order to help people in the local community to recover their health through Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) (see www.asthp.org.uk for more details about STH). Why? because it works! There is now a vast amount of research and evidence to support STH activities. We moved into the North Pavillion at Great Linford in November 2012 and what a wonderful site it is. With a good lick of paint and tidy up the workshop has brushed up very nicely indeed. We are ready and waiting – for people to help and for spring to come. But more snow is falling again. The shrubs seem confused; buds are swelling and some have already broken their buds, only to be knocked back by the cold weather. But like the rest of us it is only a matter of focusing on the positive and feeling safe in the knowledge that the weather will get better in time and then we can get back out in the garden again. So don’t throw off the fleece just yet. There is an old saying which goes like this; ‘Much February snow, a fine summer doth show’, let’s hope so.

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