I had fun watering the baby plants in the bed in the park last week with my two kids, which is now looking alive with herbs, lettuces, chard, beans and other edibles! Do come and check it out when you’re next in the area. With all the rain over the last couple of days, it looks as if won’t need to be watering again for a while.
Meanwhile, just over the bridge outside the Cutteslowe Community Centre, the new bed there is looking amazing. Full of flowers and peas enjoying the combination of sunshine and rain!
Produce is starting to be ready for harvesting, so do start to put out your pots or tubs for others to help themselves from if you’ve got something ready.
Last weekend, on 22-23 May, we formally launched Edible Cutteslowe at the Cutteslowe Garden and Horticultural Therapy Centre’s “Not Quite Chelsea Flower Show”. There were show gardens made by local community groups, as well as some put together by the Garden Centre staff. Everyone who came was invited to vote for the garden we liked the most, and Cutteslowe Primary School won the community gardens competition.
There were also seed kits available for people to help themselves to as a way of getting involved with Edible Cutteslowe. They all went, so here’s looking forward to seeing lots of vegetables growing around the neighbourhood soon!
It was a great event despite lots of rain and wind – so thanks to all at the Garden Centre!
If you’ve started to grow some produce to put out for others to forage from, it’d probably be a good idea to make a sign to let people know that they can help themselves. You can either download the document at the bottom of the front page of our website. This has 6 signs on it with the Edible Cutteslowe logo on. There’s a space to write the name of the crop and then you can laminate in plastic, cut them out and attach to sticks.
Or, here is an idea from Becki Huth, the Forest School Leader at Cutteslowe Primary School.
This sign was easy to make. I upcycled things I had lying around the house. Here’s a picture of the things I used.
What you need
Plastic for your sign. I used scrap laminate.
Rafia, twine or string
Dimensional paint (or, you can just use a marker pen)
What you need to do
Cut the plastic to size you want your sign
Use the hole punch to put a hole in each corner, tie on the rafia
Write your message on the sign with the marker
If you are using the dimensional paint, use this last and leave to dry overnight
On 22-23 May, as part of an event run by the Cutteslowe Horticultural Therapy and Garden Centre is running – “The Not Quite Chelsea Flower Show” – we’ll be formally launching Edible Cutteslowe. Come along over the weekend from 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday to see some show gardens made by local community groups, and to take part in some family activities running from 10-3 each day.
If you haven’t started your planting yet to take part at home, there’s still time! You can also ask at the weekend about volunteering opportunities on the public, community beds.
Planting up of the bed in Cutteslowe Park has started. Come along and check it out! The bed is by the mini-railway extension line, not far from the playground. Here’s some lettuce enjoying its new spot. More veg varieties will be put in in the next few weeks. You can see a video of the planting by going to our Facebook page.
Do get in touch if you’d like to help out maintaining this or other communal beds, or if you want some ideas of how to get involved from home.
Cutteslowe Primary School has just completed building a raised bed which is situated at the school front gate. The children have already started to plant a variety of fruit and vegetables, and will continue to add to this over the next few weeks.
All children from nursery through to Year 6 learn how to respect the environment around them through Forest School sessions, visits to the schools allotment and the Cutteslowe Horticultural Therapy and Garden Centre. They explore and experience hands-on how to grow food and respectfully handle plants so that they are healthy for planting and harvesting.
A group of Year 4 children have become Edible Cutteslowe ambassadors, and seed kits are being made for children to take home to start planting up! Children will also be able to make a sign to put by the plants as they grow and are ready for harvesting. Way to go, Cutteslowe Primary School!
You may have plenty of experience growing vegetables, but if you’re new to growing vegetables and you have a pot or a small space you want to try it out in, here are a few ideas about what you could grow.
If you’re looking to have a doorstep pot, use a large pot (10 litres plus). Try filling this with 1 tomato plant, 2 basil plants and 3 multicoloured lettuces.
If you’d like to try a window box, nasturtiums for edible flowers and leaves, spring onions, radishes and mixed lettuces would make for a great combination.
If you’ve got a bed – say around 3 metres square – you could have a go at golden courgette, chard, and a border of spring onions. Or, you could make a support out of canes in the centre with runner beans on, and surround this with red Russian kale and leeks.
These crops are all fairly easy to grow and don’t take a lot of maintenance.
You may have spotted something new in Cutteslowe Park – this is Edible Cutteslowe’s new vegetable bed, now ready and waiting for planting up!
It’s a no-dig bed – rather than break our backs churning up a muddy mess of the grass, we decided to simply cover it. You can see here how we laid some cardboard over the strongest looking grass, then piled used compost over everything. A bed this size takes a LOT of compost, but luckily we had a lot available not too far away, after growing hundreds of tomato plants at the Horticultural Therapy and Garden Centre!
We’ll leave it now for a few weeks while our seedlings get started in the glasshouses, then plant those straight into the mulch later in the spring.
Edible Cutteslowe is all about growing vegetables and fruit sustainably and locally. In the process, we hope to build community and have fun. It’s simple. You grow some vegetables or fruit that you invite other people to forage.
We’re an informal group based in Cutteslowe, North Oxford, that started thinking about this idea towards the end of 2020. We’re hoping that it offers some hope, positivity and connection in the face of the challenges that Covid-19 has brought.
There will be a vegetable bed in Cutteslowe Park to act as a focal point for the project, as well as some other communal beds that organisations are developing in the local area. We’re also hoping that lots of people will decide to take part at home and plant some seeds and put the plant outside their door or in their front garden.
How to Get Involved
There are a few ways to get involved. You can sow some seeds this spring—in a pot or patch of ground outside the front of your flat or house—and then, when the produce is ready to harvest, just put a sign up letting other people know they can help themselves. We’ll be putting up some ideas and instructions about how to get planting and how to make a sign soon.
Or, get in touch with us to help look after one of the community patches of vegetables and fruit being grown around the neighbourhood.
Cutteslowe Horticultural Therapy and Garden Centre