winter on the Old North Stables

The recent warm weather makes it hard to believe that spring has not yet sprung (officially it doesn’t until the equinox). The hours of daylight are getting noticeably longer, however, and we can all look forward to warmer days and longer evenings.

Down on the Old North Stables there is always plenty to do, whatever the season. Seeds have been collected and stored from last season and whilst there are still a few of last season’s crops like beetroot in the ground, the focus is now very much on the new growing season – preparing our raised beds, planting seeds and nurturing seedlings.

Over the late autumn and early winter Tony planted more trees, including quince, damson, mulberry and a Worcester Black Pear. The black pear variety is believed to be at least six hundred years old and has a long association with the city of Worcester, even appearing on its coat of arms. The black pear can be found in numerous other connections with the city (there is even a Black Pear Joggers club). It seems only right, therefore, that Worcester’s community garden should have its very own black pear tree.

In the greenhouse our succession-sown lettuces continue to flourish and the broad bean seedlings are starting to emerge. Soon these hardy young plants will be settled outside. In and around the hives, the warm weather has stirred the bees into life.

We are delighted to have gained some new regular volunteers recently, but more are always welcome. If you are ever passing the gardens, which nestle on the edge of Pitchcroft, do drop in and have a look round. We’re never too busy to show visitors round.

Finally, a date for your diary: our annual seed swap takes place at the Pump House Environment Centre on Saturday 16 March from 11am to 2pm. Bring along any spare seeds you may have and swap them for a new variety or something completely different. It’s also a chance to meet our volunteers and talk about growing your own in 2019.

Autumn on the Old North Stables

Whatever the time of year there is always plenty of work to be done at the Old North Stables.

Being a time of harvest, early autumn is particularly eventful on the site. This year we’ve had an exceptional crop of fruit and vegetables, most of which has now already gone, or is on its way, to local good causes.


The extraordinary run of good weather over the past months means that we still have tomatoes growing and ripening in our big greenhouse and main polytunnel, although no doubt soon we will have to source a good recipe for green tomato chutney.

In the meantime, Tony has been succession sowing winter lettuces and has even found time to prepare some new raised beds so we can grow even more produce next year.

Under the expert watchful eye of Tony Beekeeper our bees continue to thrive, and are currently busy foraging for nectar and pollen for their winter stores.

The Old North Stables keeps us busy all year round, but we are never too busy to welcome visitors, so do drop in and say hello and have a look around whenever you are next passing.

And if you’d like to volunteer, on a regular or ad hoc basis, do get in touch. Whether you are an experienced gardener or would simply like to get involved or develop new skills we’d be delighted to welcome you on board.

summer at the the Old North Stables

It may have been a long while since our last post, but that doesn’t mean we’ve been inactive.

In fact there is always plenty of activity down at the Old North Stables, and especially so during this period of glorious early summer weather.

old-north-stables-panorama-shot

As this photograph shows, the site has continued to expand and develop organically from where we were when we first started.

Everything we have planted this year is starting to come up. Our tomatoes are thriving in the new big greenhouse, and we are growing melons and vines in our other greenhouses. If we can replicate last year’s bumper melon crop we’ll be very happy.

We also have plenty of outdoor crops on the way, including the beautifully quaint “walking onion”, a plant which grows a perfect set of baby onions at the top of its stem. These eventually fall to the ground, where the individual baby onions take root in the soil and so continue this plant’s extraordinary life cycle.

tomatoes-in-the-big-greenhousepruning-the-vineswalking-onionrunner-beans

Tony and his small band of volunteers aren’t the only ones keeping busy down at the Old North Stables. Our honey bee hives are thriving, and their numbers have been swelled recently by the arrival of a new swarm which decided it liked the look of the place and took over one of our empty hives.

Our honey bees, together with local wild bees, have been busy foraging amongst the borage, a great favourite, as well as other flowering plants on and around the site.

hive-of-activitybee-and-boragebumble-bees-amongst-the-boragehives

We’re intending to post on a more regular basis in future, but in the meantime why not drop in to the Old North Stables and see for yourself what we’re doing here? You will always be warmly welcomed and shown around the site.

We would also be delighted to welcome any new volunteers who are interested in helping out, either on a regular or an occasional basis.

Even if you can only spare an hour or so, there are always jobs that need doing, and we don’t mind whether you have skills to share or would simply like to muck in and learn new skills: no one is ever turned away!

Summer pruning at The Old North Stables

We have about 50 cordon apple trees at the stables. Grafted during a Worcester Orchard Workers course they are now 5 years old and growing well. To ensure they are easy to pick and provide lots of fruit there is a programme of pruning and they are due for their summer prune. Summer pruning limits the growth of the tree while winter pruning stimulates that growth.
We will have a pruning workshop at the Stables 11am Saturday 15th July 2017 when the emphasis will be on summer pruning but we can talk about all things concerning apples. Everybody is welcome and you may just turn up on the day although it would be appreciated if you could drop us a line at admin@oldnorthstables.org.uk

Old North Stables pitching at Worcester Soup

On the 16th October we will be doing a pitch at the Worcester Soup
We could use your support in this.

This event is held at Cafe Bliss at the Arts Workshop
21 Sansome St, Worcester WR1 1UH from 2pm – 6pm.

soup

What is the Worcester Soup?

Each quarter, Worcester Soup will host a group dinner in Worcester City.

Worcester Soup is a potluck style dinner. You are invited to bring food to share if you want. (usually soup, bread and salad). It is a free dinner. The door fee is for grant funding of local community projects.

  • Worcester residents and supporters donate £4 at the door (you can give more if you want🙂
  • 4 people working on projects that benefit the community get 4 minutes to present their proposals to the group
  • The diners get to ask 4 questions per project
  • Over dinner, diners cast their vote for the project they want to help fund
  • The winning project goes home with all of the money raised on the door
  • Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to tell us about how the project went!

We will use these funds if we win to fund our running costs, buy seeds and look in to creating more raised beds. To make sure we will get the votes we will need your support and we hope you would be willing to come to the event and support us.

More information about the Worcester Soup can be found on www.worcestersoup.co.uk

Transition Worcester Apple Pressing

This year’s programme of apple pressing events is now underway! Bring surplus apples or pears from your trees and get them pressed into juice with our Orchard Worker volunteers. Please bring your own clean bottles or containers. The events are also a good opportunity to find out about managing your trees for fruit and for wildlife.

All events run from approximately 11 am – 3pm. Here are the venues and dates:

October 201

Please note the event on Saturday 1st October has been canceled
Earth Festival @The Fold – Bransford: Sunday 2nd October
Cripplegate Park (near the Sons of Rest Building): Saturday 8th October
Lyppard Hub, Warndon: Saturday 15th October
The Commandery: Saturday 22th October
The Fold at Bransford: Sunday 23rd October
Ellenden Farm Shop, WR11 8LU: Tuesday 25th October
Evesham Country Park: Thursday 27th October
Pump House Environment Centre: Saturday 29nd October

November 2016
Countryside Centre: Saturday 12th November
Ellenden Farm Shop: Saturday 19th November

recipe: Steve’s vegetable curry

This is the first in an occasional series of recipes created by Steve Dent, aka the Circus Gardener, based on the lovely, fresh, local, organic produce we grow at the Old North Stables .

Steve produced this curry for our barbecue at the end of July and it went down very well.

Steve's vegetable curry


Steve’s vegetable curry (enough for 4 servings)

Ingredients

2 red chillies, roughly chopped (keep the seeds in)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped,
5 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida
1 onion, chopped
400 g can chopped tomatoes
500 g potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and cut into chunks
300 g courgette, sliced
100 g green beans, trimmed
1 carrot, sliced
400 g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
50 g frozen or fresh peas
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
250 ml water or vegetable stock
1 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method

1. Combine the chillies, ginger, garlic and sea salt into a thick paste using a pestle and mortar or an electric chopper.

2. Heat a heavy bottomed pan over a high heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and stir. After 30 seconds they will start to pop. Now add the asafoetida, stir again and after a further 30 seconds add the onion. Continue to cook, stirring regularly until the onion is soft and translucent. Now add the potatoes, carrot, beans and courgette, the garlic, chilli, and ginger paste, the chopped tomatoes, the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt and the water or stock. Stir to combine.

3. Bring the pan to a simmer and then reduce the heat so as to maintain it at a gentle simmer. Cook at this temperature for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender, then stir in the peas, chickpeas and fresh coriander. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with rice and/or Indian flatbread.

Potato bash 2016

potato
Welcome to the Transition Worcester Potato Bash 2016.
This is your chance to take part in a fun potato growing competition, see just how many spuds you can grow for yourself, and you might even win one of two cash prizes!

PICK UP YOUR POTATO AT THE OLD NORTH STABLES OR THE LANDSDOWNE ALLOTMENT SHOP FOR JUST £1


The rules:

  • Entry is £1
  • £10 cash prize for the heaviest total yield from a single seed potato (supplied by Transition Worcester)
  • £5 cash prize for the heaviest single grown potato (seed potato supplied by Transition Worcester)

What should I do?

  1. Pay £1 to enter the competition.
  2. Pick your potato from the authorised Transition Worcester Potato Bash potato supplier
  3. Take your potato home and ‘chit’ it.
  4. When you want to, get a pot and compost, and plant your potato.
  5. Note that you MUST grow your potato plant in a pot or container (no bigger than 30 litres*) and not in the open ground. The growing medium you use is up to you.
  6. Look after your potato plant.
  7. Bring your potato plant, in its pot, to the Transition Worcester stall at the Worcester Flower Show, Gheluvelt Park on Sunday 14th August, by 1pm at the latest.

*As a guide: 30 Litres = 31cm x 31cm x 31cm (approx) or a cylinder 30cm diameter and 42cm depth.

Plant Swap

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The Transition Worcester Plant Swap will be taking place on Saturday 7th May from 11am to 3pm.

Join us at the Old North Stables for veg seedlings, advice and to chat with like minded people. Have a tour of the site, where you’ll see the initial progress on the Forest Garden project, as well as the floating beehives…. that’s right beehives that can float! Also, while you’re there why not pick up your official Potato Bash competition spud!

We’ll have the usual range of veg seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, beans etc), and fruit bushes available, and of course the things that we don’t know about that other people will bring on the day.

Seed Swap – 5th March 2016

Just like last year, we’ve decided to hold the Seed Swap 2016 at the Old North Stable Teaching and Display Garden.

In addition to the seed swap, our Energy group will be promoting low energy LED light bulbs, secondary glazing and wall insulation. We are also holding biochar making demonstrations.

If you’ve not visited the Old North Stables before, we will be able to take the opportunity to briefly show you around the site. Directions are shown on the map. The nearest car park is opposite the Pump House Environment Centre in Waterworks Road. Whatever means of transport you use, just follow the eastern edge of Pitchcroft until you find the open gates… you really can’t miss us!

The event takes place on Saturday 5th March, 10am-3pm. As well as the seed swap, we’ll be launching our 2016 Potato Bash, and will have experienced gardeners on hand to provide tips on how to Grow Your Own. As always, we like to start the event with a good “kitty” of seeds, so if you have seeds that you want to donate before the event, these can be dropped off at the Pump House Environment Centre. Alternatively, please email us if you have seeds to swap but can’t make the day.

Also if you have any unwanted hand tools, which you might want to donate, we welcome these very much.

This is a great event to volunteer at, so if you can spare a little time, please do come along and help us out!