As you may be able to guess from the photo above, planning for next season is now underway. Last Sunday we had a good old wander around the garden and discussed what sort of crops should go in each bed based on the rotation we began establishing last year. Responsibility for planning each bed was then divided up between the volunteers present who will put together a board like the one above for their chosen plot, so that each and every OxGrower knows exactly what needs to be done in the months to come.
We only had enough volunteers to allocate about half the beds last week, so don't worry if you weren't there, you haven't missed out. We'd like as many people as possible to be involved in this process as it's a fantastic opportunity for a bit of collaborative learning, something we're very keen on at OxGrow.
So, this Sunday we'll contiue with the planning, of course, but there are lots of other jobs still to be done. Parsnips, Jerusalem Artichokes, Leeks, Kale, Chard, Muli, Mizuna and Beetroot are all still growing in the ground, so will need some care and harvesting. Bare soil in any beds that are not being used will need to be mulched with cardboard, compost, straw, or black plastic. Salad in the polytunnel may need planting out and watering and much more, so we need as many hands as ever!
See you Sunday,
The OxGrow team
Well hello there wonderful Oxgrowers! What a week it's been- I hope everyone had a splendid thanksgivukkah! Last week's introductory session was wonderful- we had composting tips from a master composter, learnt to plant seedlings and ate some really awesome cake. It was really lovely to see so many new faces in the garden too.
This week we're going to be focusing on planning the garden for next year. The idea is that everyone will take responsibility for planning a bed or two (with a bit of help) and deciding what to plant in that bed.
See you on Sunday!
Still lots of things going on in the garden this Sunday - and we're also holding an introductory session for anyone new to the garden, or wanting to gain a few basic gardening skills - there's seedlings to plant out in the poly-tunnel, tool maintenance, pruning, what to plant for next season, crop rotation.... and lots more!
Also lots of other food and sustainable living events in Oxford over the next few weeks, see below!
In case you haven't heard about the amazing event happening in Bonn Square this coming Thursday take a look at the blurb in the section below and find out more through facebook or Abundance Oxford's Blog. Some of OxGrow's giant pumpkins will be featuring on the menu, so if you work in Oxford and can get there for your free lunch you won't want to miss out.
Last week in the garden we finally managed to get some raised beds constructed and filled with compost in the polytunnel, which is very exciting as that gives us loads of space to try our hand at a spot of winter salad.
We also had a fantastic team of leaf rakers who gathered piles and piles of leaves to cover about a quarter of the harvest festival patch and keep the soil protected over winter. Still a long way to go though, so this is something to keep ourselves busy with for the next couple of Sundays.
Other potential jobs this week include digging up more root crops, particularly parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes; building coldframes from excess plastic sheeting left behind from the polytunnel; repairing our plastic bottle greenhouse, which has taken a battering from the wind; and covering any other beds which will now remain empty for the winter.
Also, Sunday 24th is a date to put in your diary as this will be our OxGrow Introductory Session for people new to the garden. Read on below for more details and check out next week's newsletter.
Ciao for now
The OxGrow Crew
Sunday is of course always the best day of the week because that's when OxGrow happens, but this Sunday also looks like having the best weather of the week, so come down and bust those winter blues with a little time in the sun.
Above is an example of a little of the abundance we've had at OxGrow this year and we're not likely to run out any time soon. We've still got piles and piles of carrots, leeks, squashes, pumpkins, potatoes, artichokes, chard, kale, beetroot, parsnips and even some salad. If you're volunteering this week don't forget to bring a bag to take away some of the spoils.
Last week we did lots of weeding and dug over a large section of the harvest festival patch to clear and decompact the soil. We also managed to get some winter salad planted in trays which will need a little tending this week in the polytunnel.
A big job this Sunday will be raking up leaves to cover any bare soil which won't have plants in over winter, particularly on the harvest festival patch. This stops the soil being eroded and compacted by heavy rain during the winter and also prevents nutrients such as nitrogen from escaping from so they're available to our crops next year. This is a vitally important task in an organic system, so if we want a good harvest next season we'll have to start preparing for it now. Also to be done is preparing the soil in the polytunnel, so our winter salads can go out when they're big enough; building more cold frames to help give us a head start with sowing in the spring and, if we have time and enough volunteers we can start building the roof for our plastic bottle greenhouse. Plenty to keep us busy, then.
See you soon!
Oh my pumpkins, it's November already! Despite the onset of winter, there's still plenty to do in the garden. We had a busy week last week clearing the harvest beds, turning the mountains of compost and eating lots of delicious cake, and the fun is set to continue this week as we plant winter crops and think up wonderful things with which to fill the polytunnel. Plus, today is the Corpus Christi environment fair AND the CAG skillshare, both of which promise to be fun filled and informative events. Have a beautiful day!
Think there's nothing going on at Oxgrow now that we've had the Harvest Festival and Apple Day ?
This is when we prepare the beds for winter, and think about what we might plant next year.
So if you're new to gardening, this is a good time to come down and see how the whole process happens.....we've listed some ideas below.
If you're an expert gardener, we also want your input! Come down and make your suggestions as to what you'd like to see growing in the garden and polytunnel next season.
...and although we're sorry not to see our Hogroast cafe volunteers every Sunday, this means we can show off our cake baking skills (?!), and squat the pavillion during rainy spells. Tea and cakes will be on offer this Sunday for anyone volunteering in the garden!
There's still plenty of produce to be harvested and shared out down at Oxgrow (squash, onions, beetroot, salad, chard, Jersulam artichokes...) and of course lots of work to do to prepare the now nearly empty HARVEST FESTIVAL BED for winter, so we'll be having our regular work party from 1pm til 4pm.
We will also be planting a few winter crops, weeding beds so they don't get overgrown over winter, sowing seeds in the polytunnel, checking our tools are in good order, and planning for what we can grow next year. If you'd like to find out more, make suggestions about what to grow next year, or learn about aspects of gardening, come down and talk to us, and meet other friendly volunteers...
...and there'll be a whole team of people from Abundance and Hogacre celebrating Apple Day, so please come and join in!
Sorry about the extra email this week, but there is an opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks that we thought you should all be made aware of:
CAG Skill Share
Saturday 2 November
The School of Geography and the Environment, South Parks Rd, Oxford
£5 per head (for refreshments, lunch and wine)
CAG stands for the Community Action Group Network and, as their name suggests they are a support network for voluntary community groups around the county, mainly with an environmental focus. We've been a member of the network for just over two years and as such our volunteers can access fantastic learning opportunities like the one above.
Don't worry if you're new to OxGrow, or if you've only just arrived in Oxford and haven't been able to make it along yet. If you're on our mailing list you qualify as a member of the group, so take a look at the attached list of workshops being provided at this event and let us know if there are any you would like to attend BY THIS SUNDAY, THE 20TH. Pick as many workshops as you like as the schedule is still being arranged, so sessions will be organized around demand.
All the best
The OxGrow team
A tantalising glimpse of what we've been harvesting this week...
Hello one and all,
We extend a particularly warm welcome to all those who joined our mailing list at the freshers’ fair and offer an invitation to sample the delights of our community garden at this Sunday's Harvest Festival!
The photo above gives small taster of what's been harvested so far, ready to be served up as part of a monumental feast in celebration of all our achievements this year.
The festivities get started at 12pm with music, games, crafts, local beer, apple pressing, peddle powered smoothie making, tea, coffee, cakes and of course loads of freshly prepared OxGrow produce. Directions can be found here or watch the video of how to find us here
Lunch is at no charge, but donations to cover costs and support our project would be most appreciated and we recommended you have a bit of cash for drinks and cakes. Otherwise, all you need to bring is yourself and a big appetite!
If you happen to have a fruit tree or two in your garden Abundance will be there pressing apples and pears, so any surplus you might have would be more than welcome. Bring a few bottles with screw top caps and take away some of your very own juice.
New people can find us on facebook here or follow us on twitter
See you Sunday!
The OxGrow Team
Q: Which of these fruits could you soon be seeing down at Oxgrow?
A: All three if we get our polytunnel finished!
just the doors to put on, so come and help us out this Sunday during our regular work party from 1pm to 4pm
There's still lots of produce to harvest (salad, purple French beans, yellow courgettes, squash, beetroot, chard, carrots...)
and we've been sowing clover, mustard and Hungarian rye. These 'green manure' plants stay in over winter, improve soil structure, add nutrients and suppress weeds... hopefully saving us a lot of work next Spring.
Despite the days getting steadily shorter, we're still enjoying the autumn sunshine, and getting ready for the Harvest Festival on Sunday 13th October.
Read on for ways you can help us to make the festival a success:
As the Summer turns to Autumn and the daylight hours wind down, so we've had to wind up our Wednesday evening sessions for this year. At our final session this week, apart from completing the mammoth exercise of getting the plastic on the polytunnel we also had a lovely celebratory meal involving pizza made entirely from OxGrow produce, including flour from our very own wheat! Except for the cheese of course, which got us talking about whether it's time we found ourselves some cows! An exciting thought, and who knows what the future might bring.
Sadly, this means that until next summer you'll only be able to get one gardening fix a week, so better make the most of it. This Sunday we may be attempting to get the doors on the polytunnel, which would bring the exciting prospect of doing some planting in there! Also, there will be plenty of harvesting to do with salad, tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, courgettes, squash, chard, beetroot, corn and purple french beans all still available. Planting green manure to protect the soil in empty beds over the winter is another important task for this time of year and there's always lots of weeding to be done.
See you soon,
The OxGrow team
With the Summer closing in, we're unfortunately having to announce the end of our Wednesday work sessions. The last Wednesday work party will be 25th September, so please join us if you can! If you can't make it, fear not! The Sunday sessions will continue as per usual all through winter so be sure to get your coats and boots ready...
Enjoy the last of the Summer rays, and see you soon,
The Oxgrow team.
P.S. Be sure to put Oxford 13th in your diaries for the Harvest festival! More details to come closer to the date...
It seems like Autumn is slowly setting in with its cold and wet nights, but nonetheless, a strong team turned up Wednesday evening to continue weeding and looking after the garden. We managed to pick some peas and baby corn, and the tomatoes are slowly looking like they're about to be ready in the coming weeks which is exciting!
Also on Wednesday, we had a committee meeting to discuss how Oxgrow could be improved for current and future Oxgrowers. To even out the workload a little more, we thought it would be better to have a few more facilitators during the Sunday sessions. Don't worry if you don't feel like you know much about gardening, all we need are some enthusiatic people to make the sessions go smoothly. If you would like to help out as a facilitator at any of the work parties, please get in touch!
See you soon,
The Oxgrow team.
Four headed cabbage anyone?
Yes, that really is one cabbage with four heads and it's not the only unusual vegetable we've harvested of late. Squid like carrots; tomatoes with long, pointy noses, siamese beetroot... maybe there's something in the water! But, notwithstanding their strange appearance, these vegetables really are some of the tastiest we've ever encountered, and our plants are still producing prolifically, so don't do any grocery shopping before you've visited us on Sunday.
Some sad news to report though, we've had quite a few of our squashes and pumpkins stolen in the last couple of weeks including some from the harvest festival patch, which is very disheartening as our crop was shaping up to be a record breaker. For this reason we've now put locks on all the gates and changed the code on the main entrance to try and preserve what we have left at least until the harvest festival on the 13th of October. So, if you're used to visiting the site during the week to potter about and enjoy the beautiful space, get in touch and we'll fill you in with the new codes.
We didn't quite manage to get our polytunnel finished on Wednesday as assembling the doors and digging the trench to bury the plastic sheeting in took much longer than expected, so if there are any adventurous souls down on Sunday and the weather isn't too bad we can have another go.
There shouldn't be much watering to do on Sunday at least, but there will be plenty of weeding and general tidying, as well as planting vegetables that we want to stand through the winter ready for harvesting in the spring.
See you soon
The OxGrow team
Sorry for the lack of an email last week, we were all just getting a bit carried away with building this!
That's right, our polytunnel is about half way there! However, this took five or six of us several hours, so still loads of work to be done, which also means plenty of opportunity to get involved. We'd love to have lots of people along tomorrow to our Wednesday work-party from 6pm and hopefully finish this off while the weather's being so good to us.
Of course the garden is still brimming over with veg to take away too, particularly courgettes and squash, but also the salad has never been so good. With five or six different types of leaf available right now along with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, how could anyone possibly stay away? Don't forget to bring along a bag or two for your pickings.
Please also take a look at our list of harvest festival tasks and sign up for one or two if you can: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-JKPeOzaEAAdC9wlL49xdvNWLlaPzBh0VXb-s-dqoFk/viewform
See you soon
The OxGrow crew
This coming week is set to be very exciting down at Hogacre. We've currently got more than 20 volunteers signed up and ready to come camp with us and help complete all sorts of awesome projects such as installing a poly tunnel (which arrived yesterday!), improving signage all around the garden, finishing our plastic bottle greenhouse, fitting boarders round more of our raised beds and much more. We'll also be working on projects in the cafe, the hard tennis courts and several other places around the eco park.
Learn more and sign up here: Work Party Week Info & Sign-up
Also, a gardening expert is booked to join us on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to share all sorts of essential knowledge and practical skills about low-input, no-dig and organic gardening methods.
Everyone is welcome to join us for this training, but please follow the link below to find out more and register in advance. There is a highly subsidised fee of £5 per session: Training Registration Form
Let's not forget about our usual Sunday work party though! Still loads to do, such as staking up tomato plants to support them under the tremendous weight of the millions of tomatoes they're growing(!), chopping and mixing our compost heaps, weeding the plague of thistles sweeping through the garden and figuring out what we need to plant before the winter sets in ready to shoot up in the spring.
Lots of other exciting things to look forward to below, don't stop reading now!
See you soon
The OxGrow team
The start of our week of camping down at Hogacre and getting loads of really amazing things done is fast approaching, only 10 days away in fact! But, the really exciting news is that we can now confirm an expert from the Oxford Garden Project will be coming to give us three half day training sessions in the basics of Organic, low-input and no-dig gardening! There are limited places, so please read on in the section below and express your interest by following the link to the registration form provided.
We had a fantastic time on Wednesday evening with Joe and Becky teaching us all about making sauerkraut and also about the many health benefits of this magical cultured food. We had a small army of volunteers washing, chopping, crushing, squelching and stuffing vegetables into jars for several hours, but still only managed to get rid of about a third of our cabbages! It also appears that OxGrow cabbages make the best sauerkraut known to mankind (only a slight paraphrasing of Joe's words), and I can certainly vouch for the fact that what he'd made earlier was the tastiest I'd ever eaten! Don't worry if you couldn't attend, we have lots of experts now who I'm sure would be happy to share their skills and we're saving plenty of what we made for the Harvest festival, so an opportunity to sample its delights in October.
With all the lovely rain we've had the last few days you'll be happy to know the one thing we certainly won't be doing on Sunday is watering! However, the rain does of course mean that our veg will be growing faster than ever, so there should be loads more harvesting to continue with. We also seem to have had a major outbreak of thistles which are growing in carpets like a rash all over the garden, so lots of opportunity to practice your hoeing skills this Sunday. And, the cafe will be open from 11 til 3, so you could just come down for coffee and cake and to enjoy the fine weather predicted.
See you all soon,
The OxGrow team
Last Wednesday we spent leisurely summer evening harvesting onions, courgettes, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and our first tomato,with just a little bit of husbandry in the form of weeding, and quite a lot of friendly conversation.
It will be interesting this Sunday to see whether yet more produce is ready to harvest and take away. Otherwise it is very much the time to enjoy the garden and mull over what seems most appropriate to do whether it is weeding, a bit of grass cutting, or some other task that catches your eye.
We had a pretty good turn out on Wednesday eve and got plenty harvested, but everything's growing just that quickly right now we simply can't keep up, so there's bound to be even more ready for Sunday. To make the most of this abundance before it's past its best we've arranged for an experienced friend of OxGrow to come and share with us how he makes his splendid sauerkraut and other fermented vegetable preserves. Find out more below and sign up on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/188540727986011/
Also this month, as part of a Hogacre camp out week we'll hopefully be having lots of volunteers joinging us from the 25th to 30th to take on all sorts of projects around the eco-park. Thanks to some generous funding from the County and City Councils this should now include a poly tunnel, a revamped signage system, an irrigation system and some expert training in organic, low-input gardening from the folk at Oxford Garden Project! More details will follow soon, but this event is open to all and you can express your interest by joining the facebook event here https://www.facebook.com/events/399390010174247/. More details below.
As you might imagine, the weeds are growing just as fast as our crops, so there's plenty to be done tomorrow to keep the garden looking good. We've also got a couple of newly filled raised beds not yet fully planted and lots of purple peas coming into flower that need staking up with sticks. Hope to see plenty of you down tomorrow, any time between 1 and 4pm as usual.
Ciao for now,
The OxGrow crew