... our "barn" (pavillion) is already filling pretty finely - come and look at the on-going transformation (lead by Maddie) ready for the opening of the HOG Roast cafe in two weeks time....
In addition, our friendly Hub support officer (Will) is planning to come and give us lots of advice on planning for the future success of Oxgrow. We hoping to discuss this all, and other Oxgrow plans over a few pizzas from the oven at the end of the afternoon... come and join us for a picnic discussion !
There's been loads going on down at the site in the last week! We've been thinning the salads, planting carrots, spuds, peas and beans. We've also been helping our strawberry plants out a bit, giving them a bit of an extension! We still have far too many though! They're doing sooooo well, that some of them are going to need a new home! Please help them, by finding a nice cosy patch of back garden/ pot on a windowsill/ hanging basket for them!
We've also had a few casualties due to high winds last week - with some minor damage to the plastic bottle greenhouse. This has been repaired, and because of our extra Wednesday session there is even a roof on it! Some of the tomato inhabitants were, unfortunately, slightly bashed, but nothing too serious and they should heal up soon!
Following on from last weeks Dandelion theme - one intrepid forager on site has gathered some dandelion roots and some burdock for an attempt at a 'witches brew'. Watch this space!
There are also some really exciting things happening down at the pavillion - take a look below at the Cafe! It feels like a new building!
Lots of loves,
The Oxgrow Team
If you've not been to the garden recently you might get a surprise as you cross the bridge and spy our brilliant yellow lawn. However, as you come closer you'll begin to realise, it's not some funky new kind of grass the like of which you may well expect to find at OxGrow, but in fact the gardener's worst nightmare (well, this gardener's anyway) - an invasion of the dandelions!
Over the last few weeks we've been hard pressed to find a single blade of grass in this sea of yellow flowers, which has led us to wondering - what on earth can be done with such a tremendous crop? Well, lots of things as it happens if our foraging books are to be believed. Apparently, some crazy people actually farm these things! All we need are a few intrepid volunteers who fancy a bit of experimentation. Already a couple of pioneering souls have taken dustbin bags full of flowers for dandelion wine and there's been much talk of dandelion & burdock cordial, but tea, coffee, salad, rubber and all manner of other intriguing uses have been suggested. Anyone up for the challenge?
Our Wednesday work parties have also been going tremendously, with the pizza oven getting another test drive, and this time it worked perfectly! We've planted all our tomatoes in the greenhouse and around the rest of the garden you’ll now find carrots, parsnips, beetroot, potatoes, peas, broad beans, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, garlic, onions, rocket, spinach, Jerusalem artichokes and all sorts of lettuce sprouting up.
This week there’s loads of weeding, watering and thinning of seedlings to do, as well as planting strawberries into a new bed to give them more space, and plenty more sowing of seed to keep us busy too.
A particularly exciting activity coming soon to the garden will be our highly scientific and world renowned marathon training programme! This involves racing across the bridge carrying bucket loads of compost as fast as you can in competition with volunteers armed with spades filling up buckets as if their lives depended on it. We have our very own veteran marathon runner enrolled on this programme, and she’s looking for training partners to push her to the next level. The best bit is we don’t even charge! Just join us at the garden to sign up now.
See you as ever, Sunday from 1pm or Wednesday from 6pm
Lots of love
The OxGrow team
P.s. plenty of tasty morsels to keep you going this week, read on below.
Just a reminder that there will be a bunch of OxGrowers at the garden tomorrow evening from 6pm cracking on with all the usual tasks. Last week was a great start when we finally managed to get our greenhouse up and running, which is now chock full of tomato plants!
Tomorrow we'll need to do lots of weeding, and start thinning some of the salad crops growing in the raised beds. We've also got loads of new strawberry plants sprouting up from last year's runners, which will need planting out in another bed to give the established plants space to stretch their leaves.
Looking forward to seeing lots of you there,
Catch you later
The OxGrow team.
Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is our first Wednesday evening OxGrow session and we'd love for you to join us. We'll be on site from 6pm until it gets dark and the plan is for this to be a regular fixture throughout the Summer.
Ciao for now
the OxGrow crew
Last week was made very exciting by the sight of our first seedlings of the year poking their heads through the soil. Onions, cabbages, kale and plenty of salady things are all on their way up and need lots of care and attention at this very tender stage of their development.
We also collected a shower screen from a nearby house, which we'll be attempting to convert into a cloche (a sort of mini-greenhouse) to protect some of our less hardy crops like the tomatoes and peppers, which were also planted last week. So, if you're particularly technically minded and fancy helping to put this thing together, please do join us on Sunday.
The warm weather's really brought the garden to life and everything feels in fast forward after months of pause, so there's plenty to keep us busy this Sunday. Tending our newly sprouted seedlings, which means weeding, watering and mulching; sowing more seeds of all varieties, particularly peas, broad beans, carrots and beetroot; tidying up our strawberry patch before the weeds consume it entirely; finishing off the last side of our plastic bottle greenhouse; planting out home grown tomato plants (if the warm weather doesn't vanish); more harvest festival patch clearing, planting and composting, etc, etc... We may even get to do some harvesting as certain members of the herb spiral begin to outgrow their plot.
"Surely you can't fit that all into one Sunday!" I hear you cry. Well, we couldn't agree more, which is why we will now also be having Wednesday evening sessions throughout the summer from 6pm til dusk, starting 1st of May. Read the first item below for all the details.
In other exciting news and all thanks to Ben, I think it's safe to declare our leaky water butt fixed! Ben's exact words were "if that doesn't hold water I'll eat my hat." A promise I don't think we'll hold him to, but it certainly inspires confidence.
Plenty more exciting stuff below...
Hi there OxGrowers,
We had a very productive work party last Sunday, with special thanks to Jack, the man mountain who tirelessly hauled box after box of compost over the bridge for hour upon hour, later helped by Matt and others who between them got almost our entire harvest festival patch mulched.
Also ticked off the list was a sowing of various salad leaves, spinach and onions in our raised beds, which hopefully will be beginning to sprout by now and ready to harvest in just three or four weeks!
This Sunday it's definitely time to get our potatoes in the ground and a little trick with some of our empty raised beds should deliver a bumper crop if we're lucky. Carrots, broad beans and peas are the other crops we should be planting in earnest this week, and of course now that it's warmed up the weeds are growing in abundance too, so keeping them at bay will need constant vigilance.
The other exciting news is that we now have a commitment from one of our volunteers to run a regular weekday work party on a Wednesday evening from 6pm while there's enough light throughout the summer! We're aiming to have our first session on 1st of May, but more updates will be coming next week, so keep your eyes peeled.
See you soon
The OxGrow crew
Finally, it’s here! Some weather that’s warm enough to start planting! The season’s been so delayed this year we’re almost a month behind our normal schedule, so there are all manner of seeds to be sown – peas, beans, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, potatoes, onions, spinach, chard, radishes, rocket and more.
Also, we’re really hoping to have enough people to get the last side of our plastic bottle greenhouse put up and a temporary plastic sheet stuck on for a roof, so we can start using it while we wait for our collection of bottles to grow sufficiently to finish the permanent roof.
Lastly, we’ve got to start thinking about our AGM, finding new officers and our plans for the garden this year, so we’re bringing back our half time tea break round the fire pit to give everyone the space to share their thoughts. Please bring ideas for plants you’d like to see us growing, activities you’d like the garden to host, things you’d like us to build or anything else that would help us realise the full potential of OxGrow as a community garden.
See you tomorrow
The OxGrow team
We hope you've had a lovely Easter and are feeling ready to burn off some of those extra chocolate related calories coz we've got loads of hard graft waiting for intrepid volunteers down at OxGrow. Still five of the seven raised beds to fill and several overgrown beds to clear, as well as firewood to scavenge for the party we're having this Sunday evening. Oh yeah, WE'RE HAVING A PARTY!!!
Well, technically Abundance are having a party, but obviously with it being at OxGrow and with our PIZZA OVEN BEING CHRISTENED all OxGrowers are invited too. The plan is to start around 4:45/5:00 ish with a little foraging expedition, then cook and share food with the pizza oven, followed by sitting round the fire, playing instruments and all that jazz… pretty simple really! It won't be going on particularly late though, probably til around 9pm, so anyone being too fashionable might end up missing out. See all the details here https://www.facebook.com/events/240324996107022/
Bring a little cash too as donations will be gratefully received for glasses of Abundance's home made cider, brewed with lovely, organic back garden apples from all over Oxford. All proceeds will go into making the project bigger and better in years to come.
Hope to see lots of you there, please read on for other interesting notices...
The OxGrow team
We hope you're all looking forward to a lovely, relaxing bank holiday weekend. It might be cold, but it looks like the sun will be shining on Saturday and Sunday, so we've got a double OxGrow serving planned to help keep you entertained.
Our Sunday session will be going ahead as usual from 1 to 4 pm and we'll be focusing on the harvest festival patch while it's dry to try and get some of our root vegetables in the ground, carrots and parsnips, which did fantastically well for us last year.
And, on Saturday from 10am the long saga of the pizza oven will continue with the hollowing out of the sand mould in the centre and the lighting of a small fire to gently dry the cob. If all goes to plan, by mid-afternoon we should be ready to put on our waterproof lime wash and even possibly cook a pizza (but we can’t promise anything)! From inception to near completion it’s been more than a year, but what a difference it’ll make to the garden to be able to cook and eat our very own produce as we harvest it outside together!
Read on below for our usual roundup of events and articles of interest...
See you soon
The OxGrow team
What a difference a day makes! If you weren’t able to join us last Saturday you’ve got a lovely surprise awaiting you on your next visit. The fabulous photo above (courtesy of Dot), however spectacular it may look is still only a teasing glimpse of the amazing transformation that our garden has undergone.
It’s hard to know where to begin expressing our thanks to all those who made this possible, but as good a place as any has to be with our fabulous project leaders - Emily and Sonny on the pizza oven, Kim with the raised beds and Andrew who coordinated installation of the compost toilet. All of these brilliant people spent hours and hours behind the scenes designing our new garden features, sourcing materials and planning activities on the day. None had volunteered with OxGrow previously and most won’t be around in Oxford to enjoy the fruits of their labour, which makes their gift to us all the more special.
Then of course there are the usual suspects: Ben, Hogacre’s site manager, who was as integral as ever to facilitating so many aspects of all successful OxGrow events; Andrea and her Low Carbon South Oxford food group volunteers who prepared the amazing spread that kept us all energised and working at full capacity; Joe from Green Broom whose expertise in constructing cob ovens was absolutely invaluable from start to finish; Dot who took hundreds of awesome photos which we’ll be posting up on flickr soon; and (in no particular order), we mustn’t forget Andy, Jak, Judy, Alex C, Sam W, Peter S, Peter Lefort at CAG and countless other people that no doubt have been omitted from this hastily cobbled together list.
And, last but not least we have to thank all the intrepid souls who braved the unpredictable weather and turned up on the day, which, as well as most of the people already mentioned above included 20 people completely new to the garden and 1 person who was even entirely new to volunteering (perhaps one of the kiddies)!
It’s not all over yet though! If you missed out last week there’s still loads to help us finish. The raised beds need filling, more plastic bottles need to be collected and the pizza oven needs digging out and drying, which will hopefully be happening on Saturday from 10am if you’d like to join in.
One last request before we finish, is anyone up for writing a blog about the event to go on our website? Maybe even several people to do blogs about each project? Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to have a go!
See you soon,
The OxGrow team
Happening this weekend...
The Big Dig is here! Tomorrow, Saturday 16th from 12pm to 5pm we'll have over 50 volunteers beavering away merrily on our four special projects:
- the pizza oven
- the plastic bottle greenhouse,
- the compost toilet
- and raised beds
If you've not signed up, please don't worry. Everyone is welcome to drop in at any point during the day whenever you're available.
We'll admit, the weather isn't looking perfect tomorrow, but we've got plenty of indoor space, lots of gazebos and tea and coffee on tap to keep us all motivated, not to mention the delicious selection of soups being prepared by Andrea and the Low Carbon South Oxford Food Group.
Important things to note
- Please bring appropriate clothing, which means warm, waterproof and rugged. In particular, please make sure you have tough shoes such as walking boots, or similar.
- It's best to come on foot, by bike or by public transport as there will be very limited space for parking on Whitehouse Road.
- We've got a few people making cakes to have with the tea and coffee, so if you'd like to join in and contribute one yourself you'd be more than welcome. The more the merrier.
- Plastic bottles, we still need more. Please bring any empty 2 litre fizzy drinks bottles you might have lying around at home at to help us complete our greenhouse.
That's it for now, see you all tomorrow!
Lots of love
The OxGrow team
It starts here! This is the weekend that we'll be laying the foundations for next week's Big Dig, literally. On Saturday afternoon (yes, Saturday), from 1pm we'll be digging and filling the base of the pizza oven, followed on Sunday (at our usual work party) by the building of the brick platform upon which our cob dome will eventually sit. We also hope to dig the foundations and fix the four main pillars of our plastic bottle greenhouse on Sunday, but this will be dependent on the number hands available.
So, if like me the anticipation of the Big Dig is just getting too much and you really need to get stuck in right now, join us tomorrow and/or Sunday for lots of pre-Big Dig fun!
If we're really lucky and loads of people turn up there's also the small matter of planting hundreds more onion sets, some early potatoes, broad beans, peas, salady things, parsnips and many other hardy crops that don't mind the fairly chilly temperatures we're still enduring.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon.
Lots of love
The OxGrow crew x
Many apologies for the late arrival of our newsletter this week, all our rushing around in preparation for the Big Dig has kept us very busy the last few days! With only two weeks to go we’ve been out scavenging bricks from skips for the base of our pizza oven, which we’ll be building next Sunday ready for the cob dome to be added on the 16th. We still need loads more bricks though, so if you know of any going spare, please drop us an email. Also, if you know you’re coming to the Big Dig, but you’ve not yet RSVP’d, here’s the link again to our event page http://groupspaces.com/OxGrow/item/401232
As for this Sunday in the garden, it looks like being perfect planting weather for onions, parsnips, beetroots, early carrots, peas, broad beans and many brassicas, as well as lots of salad type vegetables under cover of plastic bottle cloches, or cold frames. We’ll need to carry on digging over as much of our harvest festival patch as we can and begin carrying over compost from the other side of the foot bridge to mulch what we’ve planted and help restore any soil fertility we may have lost as a result of all the flooding over Christmas, which can wash nutrients out of the soil.
As you can see, things are really starting to pick up as the weather improves and the days lengthen, so if you’ve been meaning to visit us for a while and just haven’t found the right occasion, now’s the time! Remember, all are welcome, whatever your experience; there’s no obligation and you can pop in and out any time between 1pm and 4pm as is convenient to you.
Please read on for many other interesting snippets below
All the best
The OxGrow crew
You might think it’s still months away with this bitter little cold snap hanging around over the weekend, but spring really is heading towards us very rapidly. Last weekend we had a fantastic and wonderfully sunny session with six new faces and nearly as many regulars digging, chatting, planting, drinking tea and eating cake all afternoon, which left us in very high spirits.
We focused most of our attention on the harvest festival beds, clearing around 100 square meters and planting two rows of onion sets, as well as a row of shallots in some of the no-dig beds at the other end of the garden.
This weekend we’ll continue with clearing this area and perhaps mulch our previously planted onions with compost to give added protection from the weather. The cold snap may however force us to postpone any more planting outdoors, but planting in pots is an entirely different matter! If you’re happy to take away a few small pots to nurture on your windowsill until they're ready to plant out in the garden please come prepared with a container to take them away. Having no space inside on site for brining on early seedlings we rely entirely on volunteers to take care of this very important job for us at home.
If it’s not too cold will also be helping Hogacre continue with the very special task of planting the last of the new orchard and its surrounding hedge, so we really could do with a bumper crop of volunteers this Sunday.
Please read on below for other interesting notices…
All the best
The OxGrow team
Many thanks to all the brave people who came to Oxgrow last Sunday in the very cold and wet weather!
We proved that given enough biscuits and hot tea, and a bit of space in the garage, we can still plant seeds ready for transplanting later in the year.
I'm told that Sunday will be dry and (slightly?) sunny - so we can start preparing our Harvest Bed, sorting out compost, and planting more seeds.
Other activities on offer in the next few weeks (with lots of wet weather options!):
Sorry for the additional email this week, but there's a great event happening on Saturday that we think you'd all love to know about.
The Oxford Volunteering Showcase is a one day event organised by the Student Hub in partnership with the City Council to showcase all the volunteering happening in Oxford. The event will bring together student-run and community-run projects with the aim of enabling students and permanent residents to interact and share ideas, particulary where there is an overlap of work or opportunities for joint work to happen. The event will be focusing on educational volunteering, community volunteering and environmental volunteering.
This couldn't be a better opportunity for OxGrow to strut it's stuff, so we'll of course be hosting a stall alongside Hogacre and Abundance, and we'll need your help to staff it. If you can, please sign up for a slot on the following doodle poll and share your OxGrow experience with the public http://www.doodle.com/wetnxauz7rr97fzz
Over the course of the day there will be panel discussions discussing the vision of students and residents for the University's role in the local community, workshops, fairs and a range of inspirational speakers. In addition the Careers Service will be on hand to offer careers advice to students on how to apply your volunteering experience. So, if you'd also like to register as an atendee follow this link to the Showcase Website http://oxfordvolunteeringshowcase.eventbrite.com/
Lots of love
The OxGrow team
It looks like tomorrow will be a very lively day down at the garden! We're expecting a visit from a group of OUSU Environment & Ethics volunteers who, in their effort to build collaborative relationships with other like-minded groups in the area will be joining us in a spirit of solidarity to get stuck into the many tasks we've got planned for the day.
We'll also have a visit from our two Big Dig pizza oven project leaders who are Brookes Architecture graduates, so we can't wait to see what ideas they put forward for the design!
And, we may even have a couple of current Architecture students coming along to find out all our about OxGrow and gather information on issues that we and our volunteers have in trying to farm sustainably in an urban environment for a project they're undertaking as part of their course.
What better day could there be then to join us and meet lots of new and interesting people and help plan for all our activities this coming season? We hope we see you there!
For other items of interesting news, please read on...
We spent last week doing some general weeding and tidying up beds, as well as turning some compost - nice to see some new faces there! Please come back and see us again for more exciting events to come!
Come along this week to join in with some planting!
We'll be planting onion seeds, lettuce, summer cabbages, garlic and tomatoes - yummy!
Our garden tools are looking worse for wear at the moment so we're also planning a cleaning/sharpening session.