Give and Grow, Walk and Be Well

Image4061 - Copy (lowres)Our 4th annual Give and Grow at the Community Library garden on 20th May held particular significance this year in the light of the recently passed EU “Plant Reproductive Material Law” aiming to regulate and restrict the sale, exchange or growth of all plants unless officially registered.

This would have impacted severely upon our freedom to (legally) “Give and Grow” in the manner of even our humble SB events, had the law not been mitigated in the final hour due to pressure from growers, gardeners and lovers of plants and freedom from all over Europe. See The Real Seed Catalogue’s page for more information and why we need to keep an eye on this law (and take a look at their great vegetable seed list, too).

Thanks especially to Nick and Lesley for organising it, and to everyone who helped out and brought (and took) plants and seeds.

Don’t forget to pop in to the library and check out the permanent plant swap table, and feel free to take the plants and/or give some. Don’t be shy on either count. If you could label the plants you bring that would be great!

Our 2nd Well-Being walk took place after the Give and Grow with a group of six adults and three children setting off through town and the annual Bungay Garden Street Market, where we were joined by Sofia, recently moved to Norwich where she is studying midwifery. So here is a story in mostly pictures and some words of both the Give and Grow and the Well-being walk:

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 01 Lesley

Lesley Hartley, who is curating this year’s Edible Bed in the centre of the library garden. Note the crimson flowered broad bean to Lesley’s left. After a slow post-cold-winter start, the garden is beginning to respond to Lesley’s hard work.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 02 Lesley and Mark

Plant Medicine 2012 meets Edible Bed 2013. Mark and Lesley trying not to hide behind flowering brussels. What was that about Brussels and plants… keep giving and growing?!?

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 03 Brussels, Sign, Van

Brussels, A-Board and the big old red Post Office van, which Eloise has picked up all the large Give and Take day furniture and garden donations in over the last three years and used to deliver items to people after the events. As well as couriering display boards for Bee group events and other talks and workshops.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 03A Nick, Mark & Lesley

Nick shows Mark how to construct a make-shift seed envelope. This turned out to be a double (flowered?) version.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 04 Richard planting Primroses

Richard demonstrates how to divide primrose roots and replant them. Primroses respond well to root division and the best time to start is just as the flowers are going over. Here Richard explains that even a small section of root like the one in his hands will resprout, though a misting table is best for roots this size.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 08 Richard planting Primroses 2

A new tray of primroses.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 05 Double-flowered feverfew

Double-flowered feverfew growing out of the cracks and just about to come into flower. Feverfew leaves are a well-known herbal remedy for migraine. I’d never heard of anyone who’d actually used it till last year. A lady from Beccles came to a Plants for Life session and told us she swore by feverfew and used it any time she felt the beginnings of a migraine lurking. “Do you put it in bread,” I asked. I’d read countless times that bread helped it to be easier on the stomach. “Oh no, I just eat a couple of leaves raw. Always works!”

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 07 Tony Reading TFP

You can’t go to a Give and Grow event anywhere these days without coming across someone reading the Transition Free Press! Tony in  deep concentration.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 09 Charlotte and Tony

And isn’t that the TFP’s editor sitting there with Tony? What a coincidence!

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 10 Paul and Rob and TFP in Pocket

Goodness me! Is that ANOTHER copy of Transition Free Press sticking out of Paul’s pocket?

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 11 Straw Bale Culture by Lesley

Straw bale culture. Cucumber. nasturtiums and giant pumpkin planted by Lesley for EastFeast at the Street Garden Market.

We’ve now left the library and the Give and Grow and started our well-being walk. No one was in any rush to leave the courtyard garden though, it was so relaxing.

We mapped out the route between us deciding to go via the market to the bridge at the bottom of Earsham Street and then down Castle Lane which skirts round the castle ruins. A favourite walk for several people, some found the castle ruins romantic, some liked visiting the wildflowers and others found it an  enjoyable route for walking the children to school.

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 12 EastFeast at the Market

A brief stop at the East Feast stall (love that hat, Dano!), to play a board game with the children, and then on to  Orchard End Herbs: “I know you,” I said to a young woman there. “You came to my Trade School class on rosemary and circulation at the Common Room in Norwich a few months back. Would you like to join us on our well-being walk?” “That’d be great,” said Sofia. “And I’d like to bring some friends to Happy Mondays tomorrow. How do I book?” “You need to talk to Josiah,” I said. “And he’s coming on the walk, too.”

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 13 Looking Over the Bridge

Leaving the market (and the Punch and Judy show) and heading down to Earsham Street bridge and the River Waveney. This is one of Sally’s favourite places to visit.

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 14 Bridge Over the River

Waterweeds in the Waveney.

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 15 Occupying the Street

Reuben leads us purposefully to Castle Lane.

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 16 Down to the River

Take Me To The River, but don’t drop me in the water… at least not until August when we combine our annual picnic with a swim.

Give&Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 18 Edge of Flowers

Back lanes full of wildflowers and garden escapes, from cow parsley and Babington’s poppy to shining cranesbill and grape hyacinth. One of Bungay’s delights.

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 17 Sitting on the Bench

Sitting (and climbing) on the bench, before heading back to Sally’s for a cup of tea. The whole walk was very relaxed and took about an hour and a quarter. To find out when our next Wellbeing walk is, check out the Sustainable Bungay Calendar – all welcome!

Images (all by Mark Watson) Beans, peas and seeds; Lesley and the Edible Bed; Mark and Lesley behind the flowering broccoli – medicine plant bed 2012 meets edible plant bed 2013; brussels, board and red van; making seed envelopes; Richard demonstrates primrose division 1 & 2; double-flowered feverfew growing through the concrete; Tony gets the lowdown with Transition Free Press; And again with TFP’s editor Charlotte; Give and Grow and sit down for a chat; straw bale culture; garden street market with Dano; Earsham Street Bridge; waterweeds; follow the leader;  down by the Waveney; plants along the wayside; on the bench

Installing bees into the observation hive

The latest additions to the apiary includes 2 clear tubes between the entrance holes and the hive. Hopefully we shall be able to see the bees with pollen on their legs returning to the nest. Mike added some ‘porches’ on the outside as well to ensure water doesn’t get driven in.

Showing 2 entrance holes with weather guards (on the left)

Showing 2 entrance holes with weather guards (on the left)

This was also the first use of the top bar nuc boxes and it all worked beautifully.

Our bees arriving at the apiary

Our bees arriving at the apiary

It was then a case of transferring the bars into the observation hive and popping the open nuc box in the bottom to allow the remaining bees to find their way out. All very gentle. And we even saw the Queen.

transferring frames into the hive.

transferring frames into the hive.

The nuc box was left in to allow the bees to leave it in their own time

The nuc box was left in to allow the bees to leave it in their own time

Comb in place with the most heavily populated one to the rear

Comb in place with the most heavily populated one to the rear

Give and Grow, Sunday May 19th, 11am-1pm

Almost ready for our regular Spring exchange of plants, seeds, seedlings & garden equipment in Bungay Library Courtyard. An opportunity to come and meet some fellow gardeners for a chat, a brew and some swapping – all for free!

Donations – clearly labelled please – can be dropped off at the library over the preceding days or from 10am on the morning of the event.

NR35 Dead-Hedgers Society – the Over 50s Contingent

Image3822 low resIt just so happened that the five of us who turned up at Richard’s on Wednesday morning to learn how to do dead-hedging with Paul were all over 50,  and so the title of this post was the ad hoc name we came up with for that morning’s grouping. However, anyone of any age was welcome to join the new Transition social enterprise NR35 (NR = Natural Resources and NR35 is the local postcode) practical dead-hedge laying session.

Image3823 low resThis involved laying out and hammering in stakes staggered along a boundary of about twenty-five feet, and then placing and roughly weaving in branches and twigs from recently coppiced trees between the stakes. Making a hedge in this way would not only provide Richard with a decent boundary, but create a refuge for wildlife. Birds like wrens will often build their nests in dead hedges. Tony found an old nest rather larger than a wren’s, which we placed in the hedge once we’d finished.

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This was the first time dead-hedging for all of us except Paul, who is a professional tree surgeon, and who taught us with consummate calm and patience. I asked everyone how it had been for them.

Cathy: Well, it uses up an amazing amount of material you might think would be difficult to dispose of. And it’s delightful doing it with others.

Nick: It’s hard work and it makes you sweat, but I’m surprised how easily we managed to get a good end-product (the hedge), in  the space of 2 hours. And it’s brilliant we can go away and do it ourselves now.

Tony: Working as a team is really good fun. And it’s satisfying to start off with all this dead material and end up with a hedge.

Image3848 low res

I asked Paul how he found us as a group to teach: “It’s been really satisfying. Everyone’s been very receptive and quick to learn the skills and techniques. The results speak for themselves: we have a very reasonable dead-hedge. I’ve seen a lot worse.”

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Me: I found the whole morning instructive and really good fun. I noticed that being physically engaged in building the dead hedge you got into a kind of rhythm with everyone- I would find my hands often knew just what to do. It would have taken forever to do it from a book.

Part of dead-hedging is jumping up and down on top of the laid branches when they’re at a certain height. Cathy and I held hands and pogo-ed up and down together. Later, I realised that over the years I’ve frequently bounced up and down at our events!

Just because you’re over 50 doesn’t mean you’ve got no bounce! Or that you can’t learn a new practical skill in the course of a morning in a congenial atmosphere with fellow reskilling dead-hedgers.

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For more information on Sustainable Bungay’s NR35 Natural Resources group, see here.

All images by Mark Watson: Hammering in the staggered stakes; building the hedge from the bottom up; bird’s nest; receptive and quick to learn; the finished dead-hedge; bouncing up and down on the hedge

Mikes Most Marvellous Observation Hive

I spent a great three hours earlier with Mike and his family as he got the majority of the observation hive installed. If I’m brutally honest I wasn’t particularly useful, but I did get to swan around taking pictures and getting a feel for the space.

The viewing shed itself is light and roomy, with plenty of window space overlooking the paved area where the outdoor top bar hives will be situated.  Beyond these we are planning to plant bee-friendly flowers, both as a treat for the bees and as an example of a buzzing border.

We expect the bees for our new apiary to arrive in just over a week, with the first school visit on the 23rd May. I’m currently in the process of finding some posters for the walls and reviewing fun learning activities. To that end just being at the apiary site was inspiring.

Viewing shed from the back

Looking through the viewing shed

Looking out over area for outdoor hives and bee-friendly flowers

Looking out over outdoor hive and bee friendly flower area

Putting the glass in

The hive has glass sides (with cover panels)

More glass...

Bees are accessed from outside but glass means interactions can be viewed from inside

The core nuc box for top bars and the comb board

Integral top bar nuc and board for building comb on

Getting in place with nuc and comb board in situ

Board for building comb on, top bar nuc and mesh floor in place

Showing outside access to observation hive

Outdoor access to the hive

With covers in place

Back covers in place

The main body installed

Observation hive body in situ

Mike has been very busy designing and building this observation hive. He will post a more in-depth account of his exploits and reasoning processes in the future, so if you’re interested in the more technical aspects watch this space….