Celebrating the abundance of summer!

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July and August have been mega months for our organic vegetable garden.

Throughout July and August, there has been an abundance of courgettes and squash amongst the sunflowers and lots of beans! The harvest has even required a wheelbarrow at times! Now as we move into late August the tomatoes are finally ripening, and we are starting to enjoy big juicy blackberries too. We’ve used them for crumble, smoothies, and kombucha so far.

Back in July, I picked up some old mushroom substrate blocks from Sarah at Dart Valley Fungi. We smashed the mouldy blocks into a new mushroom compost heap. The non-mouldy ones have started to create a bed border in our permaculture bed in the polytunnel. By mid-August the spent substrate blocks were fruiting like crazy in the polytunnel… we’ve been eating oyster and shiitake mushrooms every day, plus a huge lion’s mane and some wild chanterelles. Lion’s mane can be dried, powdered, and added to smoothies, hot chocolate, or sprinkled over food.

At the end of July, we had a gap between lettuce rounds, and it made me a bit more creative with the salad for the bunkhouse. We’ve been enjoying colourful salads full of nasturtium leaves and flowers, mizuna, rocket, edible chrysanthemum, borage flowers, and dill. Medeine and I recently did a big gathering session of some of the medicinal plants found in the garden – borage flowers, burdock leaves, rose hips, nettle leaves and seeds, and yarrow. We’ve laid them all out to dry and will store them for making tea. We also collected hogweed seeds, which dry on the plant and can be used as a spice – there’s a very similar plant in the same family as hogweed (Persian Hogweed) whose seeds are used as a very common spice in Iran. They call this spice “golpar”.

We looked at different growing systems and created a no-dig patch with cardboard, homemade compost, and mushroom compost with the summer trainees. We also covered the beds where our broad beans were growing and left the old stalks there to return nitrogen to the soil. We’ve pulled up and saved our purple-sprouting broccoli and broad bean seeds for the winter.

Finally, we have a new garden plan on a blackboard so we can change and update what’s happening in each bed and have put up signs around the garden in the places where we gardeners might know what’s going on but to others is just another smelly tub or heap!

Now we’ve passed the peak of the year and growing season, and as autumn is approaching, it’s time to breathe out, enjoy the abundance, and start thinking ahead. What do we want to work on over those winter months, when the plants die back and we have more space for redesigning and improving our systems in the garden? How can we create a more harmonious space that is easier for us to manage, provides us with nourishing food and looks after the earth and all the creatures who live in and visit the garden?

Autumn and winter are a time for reflection, working on our visions and doing the necessary work to be ready to go again in spring! Watch this space, we’ve got big and beautiful plans for our garden.

✍ Annie Emery – Ambios Garden Facilitator

Project supported by The National Lottery Community Fund


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