Submitted by Aimee on

Several allotmenters attended Ruth Swales' Growing Vegetables workshop on Saturday 2nd April and learnt some basics about plant growing, including soil conditioning, common pests and how to avoid them, planting and thinning and crop rotation.

Some useful tips included:

  • adding organic material to the soil: as well as the usual blood fish and bone or chicken manure pellets, organic gardeners can grow comfrey and plough it in before it flowers, or make liquid feed from nettles or seaweed (please only collect seaweed after winter storms in case you deplete natural resources). Mulches of straw added to the soil surface over the winter can improve structure.
  • 3 sisters: a traditional Native American form of growing involves planting sweetcorn, peas or beans and pumpkins or squash together: the peas can grow up the sweetcorn and the squash or pumpkin smothers weeds
  • pests: rabbit fences should be dug in if possible! Vaseline on pot rims can deter slugs. Bird scarers such as hanging CDs are a good idea - we notice that some allotmenters are using plastic bags attached to poles to deter birds. Collars around the base of growing brassicas can prevent fly attack

Many thanks to Ruth, and Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change, for giving us her time at the theory session and then later on the site, where she advised on thinning and planting techniques and use of plots. She also gave us some raspberry canes and was able to give some excellent tools and seeds to people who attended the theory session in the morning.