Monday, 17 February 2014

What We Achieved in 2013

It has been a while since the last blog post but I thought now would be a good time to reflect on our year at the allotment. Of course, huge thanks must go to our amazing allotment volunteers who dedicated approximately 200 hours of their time to digging, weeding, planting and watering Nature's Garden. Thanks must also go to those who helped out in other ways from donating equipment to helping with administration issues.

The year began with a wonderful Winter surprise as our first vegetable seedlings appeared in early January.

The annual People & Planet Go Green Week was next where we held an event encouraging students to bring a recycled coffee cup in return for free chilli, lettuce and herb seeds.

Our elementary DIY skills were utilised in March as we built a bench from recycled scrap materials (we must have done something right as it’s still standing!)

A late Spring came next as we turned an empty flowerbed into a sea of colour.
Weeding became the name of the game in May as we struggled to win the War of the Weeds.

Some summer vegetable planting came next as we planted courgettes, pumpkins, radishes, beetroot and much more!

And for a fitting end to the summer, we reaped the rewards of our labour with a bountiful harvest.

Thank you to everyone who contributed throughout the year. The allotment is the product of all your hard work. I hope you all had a fantastic 2013 and best wishes for the new year!

If you're interested in joining us, please like our FaceBook page to keep track of when our sessions are.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Sunny Days

Sun glorious sun! Today the allotment was basked in a wonderfully warm glow, erasing all memories of the previous rain-filled week. As we surveyed the allotment for what needed to be done, it was clear last week's rain had not been all bad as some new flowers had bloomed and our vegetables, particularly the broad beans, had grown even taller. But alas, despite the good news, our old enemy, the weeds, had decided to come back for revenge. This time, feeling somewhat lethargic, we decided to employ a new tactic which would utilise the hoe. We roughly dug up the weeds and left them on the surface of the soil for our old friend, the sun, to dry them out. This method was of course far easier on our delicate hands and dodgy knees but we'll have to wait and see how effective it is. Stay tuned!

The weeds are back!

Two hours of hard work later...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Full of Beans

After our successful escapade in the warm weather last week, this week was destined to be different from the start. Our wonderful runner bean pole structure that we built last week was looking particularly bare and needed some plants to finish it off. As we begun to plant the runner beans, storm clouds started to gather above us, an ominous sign from Mother Nature. I began to reassure my fellow volunteers but my words of wisdom seemed lost on them. In hindsight, after 10 minutes of being pummelled by hail stones and then heavy rain, my earlier wise words of 'a bit of rain won't hurt' and 'it won't last long' seemed wholly inappropriate. Some of us huddled in the tightly packed shed, with only garden tools and bags of compost for company whilst the rest of our garden troupe decided to make a dash for home, the revision they had been putting off for weeks suddenly seeming very appealing. In the end, the rain did not subside so the rest of us quickly finished planting our runner beans and trudged back to the University. At least we didn't have to water the plants!

Still looking bare but the runner beans have finally been planted.

One of the sweet pepper seeds we planted in February for Go Green Week 2013.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

War of the Weeds

It was a delightfully sunny day today and as we approached the allotment we talked dreamily of relaxing on our new bench and enjoying our new view. Yet as we arrived and surveyed the sun-parched soil beds, our gasts were flabbered by the sight of a stickyweed blanket over our crops. The weeds had invaded! As we bravely begun the battle of man vs weed, we strained to think of childhood memories of stickyweed and a strategy to defeat them. Our initial pull tactics seemed to be successful and we eventually cleared the herb bed of all remaining weeds. As we surveyed the bare soil before us, our sweaty bodies tired from our toil, we began the clean-up operation by heaping the weeds onto the compost bin. We had reclaimed the herb bed. The first battle had been won but the war had only just begun...

Oh and we also found some time afterwards to put up our bean poles and repair the compost bin!

The bean poles are up!
The compost bin...fixed.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Planting Time

Today was the first allotment session back after Easter and we were all ready and raring to get gardening. Much had changed over the Easter break. Our tulips and daffodils we had planted in March had finally flowered, our onions and peas had grown nearly a foot tall and the weeds did not disappoint. However, the biggest shock was the school next door being pulled down and levelled which gave rise to an expansive post-apocalyptic landscape immediately beyond the allotment wall. However, as one of us pointed out, it was not all bad news as we now have a beautiful view of the Cheshire hills beyond. We are unsure how long it will last, but we certainly are not complaining! The rest of the afternoon was spent planting vegetable seeds from carrots and courgettes to spinach and radishes. Yum!

The spring flowers are up...a month late!
Our new view.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Happy Spring!

Despite the lack of daffodils and shivering nights (and not to mention the snow!), Spring is finally here! That’s right, as of the 20th March, the sun crossed the equator for the Spring equinox. As it's Easter break for students, there won’t be any allotment sessions for the next couple of weeks. Our first session back will be Saturday 20th April when we will get back to planting for the summer.

As summer is fast approaching, I am looking for any students or staff that will be in Chester during the summer and are willing to spend an hour or so each week or every other week to help with basic upkeep in the allotment (most likely weeding and watering). If you are interested, either now or during the summer, please contact

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page, Nature’s Garden, at:

Have a great Easter everyone!

The daffodils know it's Spring even if we can't feel it! - Outside Riverside Campus

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Snow, Part 2

It was Thursday night, and as I checked the weather forecast for Saturday I felt sure that the prediction of a little light snow would not stop our band of trusty green-fingered gardeners. After all, we had had our most productive day yet the last time it snowed. I was resolute. A little white powder wouldn’t stop us. The allotment would be on!...

…As I shivered and wrapped my duvet around me tighter early on Saturday morning, I decided to peek out of the window to see what the weather was like. I awoke to a gardener’s worst nightmare: a thick blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape, with not a single inch of colour to be seen. It was snowing heavily and I could barely make out the houses across the road. The allotment would have to be cancelled. Mother Nature had caught us out this time. After alerting everybody of the cancellation (which came as a surprise to no-one!), I dived back under the covers and hoped our vegetables were better at withstanding the cold than us mere humans.

Still waiting to enjoy a summer's day on our new bench...

At least the weeds aren't growing!