Archive for the ‘Gardening’ category

Edible Gardens’ Grow Your Own Veg: workshop in April

March 24th, 2013

Edible Gardens are running a free workshop to help you get started with growing your own veg, on Thursday 18 April, 3.15 – 4.30pm at Witney Community Primary School, Hailey Road. Although it’s free you should book your place before Monday 8 April.

Once you’re booked on the workshop, you’ll find out how to grow food to eat this year: you can

  • sow some seeds to grow your own beans, beetroot, courgettes and peas
  • start off salad leaves
  • pot up tomato seedlings
  • learn how to grow spuds and carrots
  • get some ideas about cooking what you grow
  • ask questions and we’ll try to answer them

and take away all you’ve done free of charge!

To book by Monday 8 April, fill in this form and then you can either:

  • Email it to
  • Print it and post it to The Active Communities Team, Cottsway House, Heynes Place, Avenue Two, Witney, OX28 4YG
  • or call 0800 8 766 366

If you need more information or have any queries, then get in touch with the Active Communities Team at Cottsway via email or ring them free of charge on the number above.

Turning a raised bed frame into a vegetable garden

March 17th, 2013

As you’re probably aware from previous posts, I’ve been building a raised bed from pallet wood, and last weekend Kate and I planted our first seeds in it. So to round off this short series of posts, I thought you might like to see how we went from a bare wooden frame to an actual vegetable garden.

» Read more: Turning a raised bed frame into a vegetable garden

February gardening events: Cogges and Edible Gardens

January 30th, 2013

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 volunteer day and February Big Dig

January 30th, 2013

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.

How to build a raised bed from pallet wood

January 13th, 2013

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.

» Read more: How to build a raised bed from pallet wood

Dismantling a pallet into reusable wood planks

January 3rd, 2013

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.

» Read more: Dismantling a pallet into reusable wood planks

Bridewell Organic Gardens open days in August and September

August 9th, 2012

Bridewell Organic Gardens (©

Bridewell Organic Gardens are on the far side of Wilcote from Witney. You might have seen their signs and garden walls, en route between Wilcote and North Leigh on the long, sweeping single-track road.

But have you ever thought about what they do? They’re a therapeutic gardening project: they offer worthwhile work opportunities, in a therapeutic setting, for those who need a combination of therapy, exercise and to make a valuable contribution while doing so; the majority of their referrals are from primary care trusts.

Because of their therapeutic status, the gardens aren’t often accessible to the public. But! you can go on one of their open days, which will be on Sundays 19 August and 9 September. That’s a week this Sunday; and the second Sunday in September.

If you’re free on one of those days, why not pop along to Bridewell gardens, and maybe bring back some locally produced organic wine, or even organic honey, in your panniers…?

Cogges opens for the new season tomorrow

March 30th, 2012

Cogges Farm is opening Saturday 31 March: that’s tomorrow! The attractions available include the working farm site, a petting area, the manor house and a beautiful newly refurbished coffee shop. And most importantly, this season they’ve got animals! Here’s some footage of the rabbits and piglets:

… but there are also sheep, pygmy goats, chickens, ducks and guinea pigs.

» Read more: Cogges opens for the new season tomorrow

Meeting: Local Food – Cogges Farm

October 19th, 2011

Meeting of local environmental groups at the Cogges Farm Museum Cafe to discuss food projects. This Thursday, 20th Oct, 7:30pm.

(Apologies for the late notice)


Pesky Pest Protection

May 12th, 2011

Here’s the first version of my Brassica Cage. It’s based on Brenda’s description from March’s Edible Gardens meeting – a frame of tennis balls from the pound shop and bamboo canes.

I didn’t go for the scaffold netting on ebay that Andy recommended in the end. It’s a lot cheaper but I wanted a width quite a bit greater than 2m to match the 4ft canes. So instead I splashed out on a roll of 3.6m Enviromesh which is just about ideal.

I’m looking forward to getting a decent helping of calabrese this year – ahead of the pigeons and the caterpillars for a change 😮

Growing Your Own

February 27th, 2011

Yesterday’s meeting of the Edible Gardens group was a timely reminder that we’re getting very close to all systems go in the garden and on the allotment. And while the grown-ups were busy talking vegetables, the children worked on the marketing.

Looking at my notebook it went something like this…

» Read more: Growing Your Own

Dig for Victory

January 21st, 2011

I couldn’t resist recycling this old newsreel – it is Friday afternoon after all.

And it is about time I gave some thought to planning this year’s growth on the allotment. But if that film hasn’t got you fired up for digging, I lifted this from the NEF blog

“If your fingers are green enough, growing your own vegetables could save you around £1,500 a year, according to new research by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. The study priced the amount of food grown by gardeners at cheapest supermarket costs. (Hat tip to Rob Hopkins)”

Allotment News

December 21st, 2010

The only thing likely to be occurring on the allotments this week is the picking of brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner! However, the Witney Allotment Association has the following news for its members:

“The result of the recent ballot proposing that the association enter into negotiations with the council to take over administration of the sites was as follows;

44 for, 11 against.

80% of those who voted were in favour.

The committee have met since the ballot and it has been agreed that they will meet with council representatives early in the New Year to renew discussions. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.”


Allotment Association EGM

December 2nd, 2010

7:30pm Thursday 2 Dec at the Masonic Hall, Church Green, Witney.

Witney Allotment Association AGM

July 6th, 2010

This evening, Tuesday 6th July, in the Langdale Hall at 7pm.