Who would work in an allotment like this? Well, the Windmill volunteers and the good folk from the Gateway to Nature project certainly would, and we even had pretty good weather for it, in between a couple of snow storms!
Our project for this week was to create a Keyhole Bed. This is another idea promoted by the folk at Send a Cow (you may remember that they inspired the Tip Tap we installed last week). A Keyhole Bed in their style has a composting basket at its centre, with the slot of the keyhole allowing people to get close enough to the basket to fill it. The earth is angled so it rises to the compost in the middle, and worms helpfully transport the compost into the surrounding soil, adding fertility. It's simple and ingenious, particularly because it helps people to concentrate their resources and reuse their waste.
For us, the design was a great way to make use of some old wooden benches that were no longer strong enough for their original use, but still have quite a bit of sound wood. Chris helpfully reorganised Tracey's original plan for these to make it a lot more workable (ie - just because the design is circular, there's no need to follow it exactly when you have nice long planks that will make a perfectly good hexagon!). Obviously if we had been using bricks or stones, the circular plan would have worked nicely too.
|Clearing the site.|
Everyone set to with a will and cleared the ground in very quick time. The area has quite a bit of couch grass though, so we will probably need to go over it quite a few times to really clean it up. The shape of the bed was drawn in the cleared area by attaching 2 sticks together with rope so they were 1.5m apart, and then using this to draw a circle 3m across. We also added another stick to draw the circle for the central compost bin. The planks were placed so that their ends touch the circle, and then pinned in place with wooden stakes.
|Placing the planks in place.|
With all the planks in place, we began to construct the compost basket. Some of the group had already sharpened strong willow stakes and stripped off the bark to ensure these won't root when placed in the ground. We drove these into the ground and began to weave thinner willow around them to hold them in place.
|Putting points on the uprights for the compost basket.|
Done with care + health and safety in mind!
|Digging holes for fixing the compost uprights in place.|
Whilst all this was going on, Andrew managed to get another tip tap going, so that we have a washing station near the shed. Thanks to Mia for helping with digging the soak-away hole for this with a little help from her Dad! Pete also did a very efficient job changing the tyre on the wheelbarrow with the flat. We've gone for a puncture-proof tyre this time, so hopefully he won't have to do it again...
|Pete and the amazing puncture-proof tyre (fingers crossed!)|
That's how the project has been left at the moment, as we ran out of time and Thursday's work will be tidying out the shed - essential work! However, we hope to do more to it during "The Big Dig" on Saturday. There will be pizza and some of Steven's famous curried delights - so maybe we'll see you there!