What a strange winter. As we continue to evade frost and wait for the remainder of our plants to reach dormancy, we've been busy with taking and planting cuttings for next years round of new trees and plants, including fuchsia, hawthorn, mulberry, worcesterberry, hops, fig, and elaeagnus.
This season is a good time to take hardwood cuttings. To do this, you simply find a healthy section of this year's growth indicated by a newer looking part of the woody shoot, cut off a section of about 1 foot long just below a bud, remove the remaining leaves and top green growth of shoot or "tip growth" just above a bud, and submerge into fertile, well-drained soil with approximately 1/3 of the cutting left exposed and the remaining 2/3 underground. You can read more about the process here. It will take about a year for the cutting to grow its roots and can be relocated once it becomes dormant in the following winter. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is! What an easy way to get a head-start and replicate your favorite types of hardwoods. We will be holding cuttings workshops in January and February, you can sign up to our google groups to find out more here.
We also included an experiment during our cuttings session by soaking some in a rooting compound made from willow bark, and planting the others dry to see which works best. And out of curiosity we dug up one of last years cuttings to see how the roots form, which seem to grow out of the nodes where the buds would have been had the plant been left to its own devices. So it seems the plant can transform its energy from budding to rooting by detecting that it's underground and instead of harvesting sunlight for food, it now has nutrient-rich soil. Doesn't that make you smile?
We've had the pleasure of being joined by some folks from Mind in Haringey during one of our hardwood cuttings workshops led by Gemma, in what turned out to be a fun and open exchange of ideas followed by a shared lunch.
We look forward to working with them on different projects in the future, as well as providing them with plants and a planting layout for their own growing space.
Jo has been hard at work on our ever-expanding online plant inventory, and we are elaborating on it with information such as plants which can be harvested in winter months, and when is best to dig up different species of plants.
We've also been checking the root systems of all our potted plants as it's now a good season to disturb the dormant plants and suit them up for another year of growth or until they are moved to a new home.
Other tasks such as woodchipping the paths, ordering rootstocks for next years grafting sessions and collecting leaves for yummy leaf mulch have keep these short days busy.
And there's still plenty to do in the upcoming winter months. If sign making, designing and building our rainwater-harvesting structure, re-planting last years cuttings to our new edible hedge, and eating delicious edibles sound interesting to you, then come and check us out! We are here Mondays and Thursdays from 10-3 and some weekends when we also pair up with Crafternoon Tea. All are welcome to join us during any of these hours, with a shared lunch at 1. See you there!
Harvest season is upon us, and we are enjoying the fruits of our labor and preparing for the next growing season, or as I like to call it- out with the old and in with the new.
With the forest garden approach and lots of perennials, its a cinch. Yes, we've harvested and loved our desired annuals like chard and land cress, but a little effort goes a long way with perennials. We have potted some of these up and are labeling things for easy identification next spring when things start to pop up again.
We've also cleared out some space to plant some new seeds. Sean came up with a great way to recycle plastic bags by building dividers for the different seeds.
We have had the pleasure to work with filmmaker Jonathan Goldberg who has produced a short film about the nursery here. We are pleased to have such a professional and artistic networking tool in which to share and grow interest in our project.
In early October, some of us joined Urban Harvest to gather tree seeds in Finsbury Park. People were invited to take their seeds home, and some were planted in the Seed Bed. You can see some photos from the day here.
Tis the season to relocate some plants, like the Goji berry into our edible hedge and various plants into our Showcase Bed so they can make a bigger impression in the spring. We've also ordered rootstock to graft cuttings onto in the coming months. Stay tuned for grafting workshop dates and times.
One sunny Thursday morning we found ourselves trying some new berries, like Sea Buckthorn, Plum Yew and Blue Bean which were brought back from Plants for a Future which you can read about here. After surprising our taste buds with some, like the tartness of the Sea Buckthorn, we then divided the seeds into halves- one half to plant and the other to store for the spring to see which plants prefer what. We found that the easiest way to extract the Sea Buckthorn seeds was to simply mash them into the table as they are very tiny. Some of us liked the juice so much, we couldn't help but lick it right up!
We also got down and dirty with some power tools and built a new raised bed. Recycling old wood with help from Richard, we braved the rain and built a bed with extended posts for the option of attaching a cover in the future.
We have conducted our annual meeting with great attendance, and have decided to conduct quarterly meetings on the 1st Thursday of November 2011, and February, May, August and November 2012 at 11am. We are also opening on weekends when available, and as of now have the following scheduled times: Sunday 20th Nov from 11-1, Sunday 4th Dec from 11-1, and Sunday 11th Dec from 1-4.
As usual, we are open on Mondays and Thursdays from 10-3 with a shared lunch at 1pm. Volunteers are welcome to turn up any time during these open hours. We hope to see you soon!