Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dawn Thomas, A volunteer with a vision

Dawn Thomas has joined Action as a volunteer with a vision. Dawn liked the look of the bottle greenhouse and could see potential for the small area of ground in front of the Re-useful Centre, so she offered to take it on as a project.
Dawn grows her own organic vegetables and has regularly bought things from our shop for her Kenilworth allotment. She is known by her fellow allotment holders as “Skippy” because she always has her head in a skip and her legs sticking out of it. She has got her ticket for Gardeners World on June 19 and is also going to a talk by “the man himself....Monty Don.”
Dawn hates waste and is a practical problem solver. So far she has developed a four year crop rotation plan, for the donated bath tubs outside the shop. Dawn will be growing vegetables and green manure (i.e. mustard and comfrey) in the bath tubs.
Comfrey and mustard can be dug straight into the earth during spring, summer or autumn and then planted with vegetables a few weeks later. Comfrey can be used as a liquid feed, by sticking it in an old pair of tights and hanging it in a water butt. Comfrey leaves can also be laid around vegetables to stop snails and slugs.
The raised beds Neil Dally made from old kitchen cupboards and off cuts of donated wood will be put to good use. Dawn is planting a variety of plants that work to attract insects, birds and wildlife, and can be used as companion plants. As part of the four year crop rotation Dawn is growing a variety of brassicas, legumes, roots crops and catch crops. This is an organic way to protect vegetables such as the broad beans, runner beans, cabbage and lettuce from unwanted disease and insects.
Dawn is growing nutritionally non demanding, non crop rotational and permanent crops. Sunflowers, marigolds, tagetes, nasturtiums, wild flowers, nettles and cosmos will all look wonderful in the summer. All of these will also help to attract wildlife, keep unwanted insects away from the vegetable and help fertilise and grow the tomatoes, runner beans and peas that are being grown in the raised beds along with the flowers.
If your soil is not very good, or you have an old pot from last year, Dawn thinks these crops will grow well:
All year round lettuce
salad leaves
Lollo Rossa lettuce
Parella red (winter hardy for cold frames)
Tom Thumb lettuce (solid and quick to mature)
In June Baginton Nurseries and Hinton Nurseries are kindly donating flowers for Dawn to plant, which will add some colour and good cheer to this exciting area.
A huge big thank you to Dawn for continuing the work of Lucy Bishop (bottle greenhouse) with vision and hard work. The front of the shop looks great and we hope it inspires our customers to get growing.