Organic gardening in Ngaio and Hampstead

Over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying a new blog on the Guardian website about an organic allotment a group of Observer Magazine staff have started working on. They’re starting from scratch at a negelected allotment in Hampstead, London. As photos and videos on the blog show, they started with a pretty messy site but they’re slowly transforming it.

In the latest entry we hear about delivery of “perfectly rotted down two-year-old cow manure loaded with biodynamic preparations and thrumming with life to pass onto our soil and crops”. And there are pictures too (see below).

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Considering the state of my so-called compost heap I’m suffering from humus envy big time. The Observer crew seem to be racing ahead at a fast rate.

The pace of growth seems is something of a contrast to approach to organic gardening espoused by local seed raiser and man of the land Dave Treadwell. Earlier today Dave shared his knowledge and philosophy through an organic gardening course I went on (thanks to Mandy for a very thoughtful christmas present).

A big lesson I picked up was on the need to spend time observing your garden. Sit back and notice what is going on. When removing the vermicast when worms have finished their munching, Dave said go and have a cuppa to allow the worms to flee. He said it takes about seven years to really understand the microclimates and ecological niches in a garden.

Dave sells his organic seeds by mail order. As a source of seeds selected to thrive in local conditions and having visisted where the crops are grown in Ngaio, I’m pretty keen to buy seeds from him in the future. The seed catalogue along with some tips can be found on the ecoseeds website.

It was good to get practical experience in my own backyard because I can’t see myself visiting the Observer Magazine allotment in the next wee while. I’ll still be checking the blog regularly though.