National Allotment Week!
It’s National Allotment Week! Did you know that we have numerous community allotments across Lancashire?
Rhyddings Park Kitchen Garden, our community garden in Oswaldtwistle, welcomes all members of the community to get involved and help this bloomin’ lovely garden thrive and grow.
Chloe, the gardening coach at the Kitchen Garden, has shared with us the weird and wonderful produce that they grow, along with her best tips for growing your own veg at home:
“Here at Rhyddings Park Kitchen Garden we try to grow lots of unusual varieties of veg, this allows
visitors to see what fantastic produce is available to the home grower that isn’t available at the supermarket! As well as growing the standard orange carrots, we have been growing purple, red, yellow and white ones, we have purple, green and orange cauliflowers and we’ve also got striped aubergines, yellow and green tomatoes and purple peppers – the choices out there for the home grower are huge!
”Another fantastic, and very unusual vegetable that has been really popular this year is the Kohlrabi, this is a member of the cabbage family but looks very space age, it can be cooked or eaten raw. All of these unusual vegetables are a great way to get kids interested in their food and eating healthily.”
The Kitchen Garden doesn’t let any of this produce go to waste. Twenty bags of veg gets donated to the local food bank each week. The volunteers each take a bag of food away after every session and the Rhyddings Park café, The Coach House, uses the fresh vegetables in their salads and soups.
There are also several raised beds that have been adopted by local schools and community groups. The food they grow in the allotments goes back with them to help teach and promote healthy eating; it also gives pupils the chance to get out of the classroom and learn practical gardening and
Chloe’s top growing tips:
Parsnip seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate, always use new seeds as some don’t last longer than a year. One way that has worked well for us here at the Kitchen Garden is to get them germinating on some damp kitchen roll. Once a small white root is showing, gently transfer them
into your growing space and cover with soil. Sow your seeds in March or April and your parsnips should be a good size by September or October, however, if you leave them in the ground as the weather gets cold and they get a good frost they will taste much sweeter. They grow quite long, so a
good depth of stone free soil is the best place for them.
There’s almost nothing better than a fresh tomato straight off the plant! We are very lucky here at Rhyddings Park Kitchen Garden to have a huge glasshouse for growing tomatoes, but a sunny windowsill or even a sunny, sheltered spot outside is great for growing your own tomatoes at home.
Seeds for tomatoes should be sown indoors in late February or March and as the seedlings grow they should be potted on into bigger pots until all frosts have passed, then they can go outside or into an unheated greenhouse. Once your plants start flowering, try and give them a weekly feed with seaweed or tomato feed, then just watch for the fruits to start growing and ripening. When they are fully ripe, they should break off the vine easily.
You can find seeds for ‘Baby Leaf Mix’ in your local garden centre or supermarket. These packets will have a mixture of different varieties of salad leaves for making up a great mixed salad. You can sow
the seeds in early spring, either in the ground or in pots, and make sure you keep them well watered. Start picking the leaves from around the outside of the plants and at the base as soon as they get to a reasonable size. If the plants get the right amount of water and light there’s no reason
why they can’t last you all the way through summer, in fact some varieties can grow throughout winter as well. Salad leaves are great for starting kids off with growing veg, they may also be more inclined to try it if they have grown it themselves!
If you would like to get involved with volunteering at Rhyddings Park Kitchen Garden or would like more information, please call Joanne on 07701 312277 or view their Facebook page here.
Our other community allotment schemes in Lancashire include:
Hodge House Pocket Park
Off regent St, Nelson. BB9 8LJ
Contact Joanne for more information on 07701 312277
Greensleeves Community Garden,
Shadsworth, off Oban Drive (pathway adjacent to number 82)
Contact Rachel Street for more information on 07766 421706