They say that the best winter gardening is done by a fireside with a big mug of tea, and a pen and paper. While it’s up to each individual gardener to follow that route in their spare time, I propose that the next-best winter gardening is done by chatting and learning new skills with fellow amateur gardeners. And in Witney there are two opportunities to do that very thing in February!
First on the calendar is the local Edible Gardens group, who are meeting on 12 February. This group helps support people who: want to start using some or all of their garden space for food; are looking for spare land or someone to help them grow on the land they already have; or are just interested in sharing tips and advice about growing your own food.
The weekend after that, the farm and manor house at Cogges is opening early for a volunteer open day, on 16 February. On the same day is 2013’s first Big Dig, where volunteers all help out to plan out, and start digging on, the fine Victorian walled garden. If you’re interested in helping out at Cogges, and especially if you’d trade a couple of hours’ hard work for a share of the wisdom of all the other volunteer gardeners, then you should definitely come along.
(And if you still want that warming mug of tea to go with your winter gardening, I dare say both of these events can provide…!)
Cogges will be having a volunteer day on Saturday 16 February. Potential and current volunteers are all welcome 10am-3pm, to talk to staff and others about what being a volunteer involves.
It neatly coincides with the Victorian Garden’s first Big Dig of the year: volunteers will be preparing the garden for an exciting second season of intense volunteer work. If you’re interested – if you’d like to help, or learn a new skill – then turn up and introduce yourself.
Last week Sustainable Witney met at the Fleece for the two-monthly meeting. We had a lot to get through, including:
Witney Farmer’s Market has relocated to the Market Square where you’ll find it on the last Friday of every month.
Sustainable Witney were kindly offered a pitch to promote sustainable living and we jumped at the chance. We promoted the events we are running this year which include swap shops, upcycling workshops, another Refashion Show and helped to give away the free farmers’ market re-useable bags. 30+ people stopped by to talk to us.
It has a good variety of stalls selling bread, vegetables, preserves, cakes, meat and beer, which ticked off most of the things on my shopping list last Friday.
We will be there again next month on Friday 22nd February so why not drop by for a chat?
Today I received my order for a cleaning product I ordered online as I couldn’t find it in any of the shops in Witney. I use the product because it cleans so many things and you only need to use a very small amount to get a good result. I ordered 6 to make it worth the trip from London but was amazed when it arrived in such a large box. Peeling away the wrapping was like the never-ending scarf trick!
The packaging consisted of bubble wrap around the containers and lining the box and then air filled plastic on top of it all. I could possibly understand it if it was breakable but the product is in plastic bottles and is a powder. It is also in a cardboard tray surrounded by plastic. I won’t name the company as I have sent a copy of this photo to see what they have to say and it is only fair to let them respond.
Why aren’t manufacturers and retailers taking some of the responsibility for excessive packaging? My new year’s resolution this year was to reduce the amount of packaging I put out for recycling by shopping more carefully and choosing goods that aren’t overpackaged where I can. However, as this shows, I don’t always have the choice.
… You’re sure of a big surprise. Well, you’ll encounter the Sustainable Witney display anyway:
We’ve taken over the library vestibule for a week to showcase some of the amazing things we’ve been doing. Along with pictures and information about Refashion, thermal imaging and our swapshops, we’ve added a few upcycled and recrafted bits and pieces: a quilt and bunting, by Mary Marshall; a vinyl record bowl, by Katharine Mann; and Tetrapak wallets, by all of us at the SW AGM (under the tuition of Helen Osborne from Barracks Lane).
It all gives you some idea what we’re about, and the kind of sustainable world and lifestyle we’d like to promote. So have a look in, if you’re going past! As if you need an excuse to go to the library….
A few weekends ago I dismantled a wooden pallet, yielding a surprising amount of wood. Last weekend I reassembled this wood into a raised bed.
As before, there are plenty of guides out there on how to put a raised bed together from pallets: here’s one way to do it although there are plenty of others within searching distance. Anyway, this was the method I broadly followed, with (as before) a few interesting observations which I mention below.
Last summer I blogged about taking the train from London to Barcelona using the Paris-Barcelona sleeper. There wasn’t room in that post for a detailed comparison of all the booking options, so I thought I would write one in this follow-up post.
I’ve been booking the London-Barcelona train journey in various different ways for nearly seven years now, and I think I’ve tried all the options. The most surprising thing I’ve discovered from this is how few options there really are. There are also a surprising number of fake options which will cause stress and wasted time if you let them. These are listed later in this blog post under “ones to avoid”.
The proliferation of different websites makes it seem at first as if there’s plenty of choice and competition in this market. But, as I explain, that’s not really true.
Wooden pallets are practically the original and most recognizable example of discarded and waste wood. Also, you usually expect to see them consigned to the flames: it almost isn’t a successful Guy Fawkes’ Night, until you’ve put at least one of them on the bonfire.
But they’re also a convenient source of second-best reclaimed wood, if you can get your hands on them well in advance of your DIY project. Taking apart a pallet is really satisfying – it’s feels a bit like magically conjuring usable wood – but there are a few tricks you’ll need. Here’s a video that shows one successful method:
In short, you start by lump-hammering the chocks – the cuboids of wood between the planks – at right angles to the nail direction. This gradually bends the joins apart and eventually frees the chocks entirely. Once you’ve got some chocks to prop up the upturned remainder of the pallet, you can lump-hammer individual planks away from others, and they drop down between the chocks. As you proceed, continually claw-hammer any nails back out, in the opposite direction from how they were hammered in.