A Bright Future (course notes)

Week 4 – Biodegradable Christmas Wreathes
This handout has been created using the Alys Fowler article on the guardian online.
What you need
4/5 6ft long willow whips (you could also use dogwood)
Green material – holly, ivy, young yew branches or other pliable evergreen material
Brown material- seed heads such as teasels, Sedum spectabile, ergyngiums, eupatoriums, aquilegias, honesty, cardoon seed heads or anything pretty from the garden

What to do
Willow is soft and pliable, however if you try bending straight off it it will kink. You need to ‘warm it up’ first to encourage it to bend round. The best way to do this is to gently bend it in sections around your knee holding each end.
When you have done this create a circle with the middle section of the willow by crossing the two ends over and weaving the excess over itself to secure the circle (don’t worry about any ends sticking out). Once you have made one loop, start to weave a second piece of willow in, with the thick end at the opposite side so that the circle ends up roughly even thickness. Keep weaving in more whips until you have a substantial base. You want it to be firm, but not so tight that you don’t have spaces to push your green material in.
Once you have made your base, tie in a loop so that you can hang the wreath (do this now whatever you re doing with your wreath as it can be hard to find a suitable place once the green materials are in). Some people may like to stop now and keep this simple circle as the completed wreath but for those of you that want to decorate yours continue to read.
The next stage is where you can get creative; spray paint it, add decorations, fill with greenery or any other inspired ideas you may have. If you are going for a more traditional wreath start by filling out the base with some background, be that evergreen material or sedam flower heads. Keep poking and weaving material in,
You don’t need to use string to hold anything in place, but do find a bradawl or small screwdriver might be helpful for making places to poke new material in.
A degree of symmetry works well. If you’re lost, keep to a clock face: if you put a seed head at 2 o’clock, put another one at 4, 7 and 10 o’clock. If that’s all too obvious, invoke Pollock and go at it whichever way you want.
As it is hung outside, plenty of fresh things will keep very well. Edible wreaths make lovely presents. You can use herbs such as rosemary, bay and thyme to pick at for Christmas as well as dried chilies and cinnamon quills.
If you need to tie in material then I suggest raffia, string or fine strands of a phormium leaf as they all break down quickly, so your wreath can head straight to the compost when you’re done with it.
Once you’ve made your wreath, why not enter the guardian’s competition – you could win a £250 voucher to spend at Wiggly Wigglers

http://scrumptiousliving.wordpress.com/ – nice website!


The Cycle Of Life (Course Notes)

You can go through a pair of Wellingtons a year spending lots of time outdoors and in the garden, and it can be hard to throw them out. Typically they have a minor leak or something like that so don’t work as water holding devices. There are lots of wonderful, creative things that you can use them for:
Flower pots, obviously they are a little on the tall side and unstable on their own, so tie or stick a pair together, then drill the sole with holes for drainage. Fill them half full with stones for more stability and drainage then plant with whatever you like… maybe herbs by the backdoor or sell them

Fill with cement and use as quirky picket fence posts, one welly at each end of a run of short fencing, you’d probably have to bolt the welly down to a post too

Tie them to the back of a ‘Just Married’ car along with those tin cans. It’s what I did when my mum got remarried – bought two pairs from a charity shop!

Welly hedge…. it could be a moveable hedge

You could fill a pair with sand and use as a doorstop

Have a welly throwing competition…!

Cut the rubber into strips to use for hinges on homemade doors

Paint them and nail them to a wall with a house name on

Cut off the foot and then cut down the middle to make rubber roof tiles for sheds
Cut the tops off and turn the soles into nifty sandals (possibly using the excess rubber as straps)

Please refer to previous handout for info on green manures.

You can recycle old newspapers and poster tubes (or similar) by using them to make paper pots. These are a fantastic and cheap way of growing plants from seed and the whole thing can be planted into the ground as the newspaper will rot into the soil and act as mulch around the seedling.

We will also be looking at creative uses for old tyres. You have to pay to dispose of old tyres so people are usually very happy to give them away to a good home! Below are some picture ideas for how to use them in your garden. Be aware though that you that chemicals can leach out of the tyres so it’s advisable to not grow edible plants in them just flowers!


Winter Window Boxes (course notes)

Below is the ingredients for an ideal instant garden for where space is limited (http://www.rocketgardens.co.uk/showdetails.asp?id=871). The plants can be grown in window boxes, containers or grow bags. You’ll be amazed at just how much food you can grow right through the Autumn and on into winter.
 Rosemary x 1
 Chives x 1
 Sage x 1
 Wild rocket x 5
 Chicorry x 5
 Green borecole x 5
 Winter green cabbage x 5
 Spring green cabbage x 5
 Calabrese x 5
 Winter lettuce x 10
 Giant Red Mustard x 5
 Rainbow chard x 5
 Mizuna red knight x 5
 Pak Choi x 5
 Cornsalad x 5

With the quantities detailed an area approximately 2.5m² is required to grow this garden.
Other things that the Growing Together Community Garden committee have grown successfully during the winter and recommend for growing in window boxes and/or containers include( tasty salad stuff):
1. American Land Cress. (Grows like a weed in one committee members garden!)
2. Mizuna 
3. Mustard greens (the Asian and Bengali gardeners will know this one!)
4. Coriander. This is notoriously difficult to grow but apparently the secret is to grow it between August –April when it seems to thrive…


Sowing and Growing (course notes)

Books – shops, library, grden she

Sowing and planting:
Sweet Peas
Onions and Garlic

Green Manures
Forage Pea Green Manure is a member of the legume family that is excellent at fixing nitrogen and has deep penetrative roots that help to break up the soil. It can grow up to 1 metre tall.

Forage Pea is excellent for over wintering and can be sown from September to November. It has good weed suppressing qualities but its foliage is not as bulky as some other green manures that overwinter.

It could be sown with a lower growing green manure like red clover if weed suppression was paramount and adding lots of bulky organic matter in spring is required. It is however good enough to use on its own too

Other ideas for planting at this time of year:
Bare root roses
Fruit trees and bushes
Lily of the Valley in drifts in shaded areas
Tulip bulbs
Deadhead pansies
Cut down chrysanthemums to soil level after flowering
Transplant shrubs and conifers that have outgrown their position
Clear faded growth of golden hops and annual climbers from pergolas and trellis
Empty pots of spent annuals and compost the remains
Rake autumn leaves from lawns and pick them out of borders for composting
Prune rambling roses after flowering
Move containers of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot when conditions turn very cold
Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers
Take root cuttings of oriental poppies
Plant heathers and trailing ivy in pots for winter colour
Cut down faded stems on rudbeckia and Shasta daisies, to just above soil level
Finish planting tulips as soon as possible
Clear golden hop, sweet peas and annual climbers from supports
Check variegated shrubs for plain green shoots and prune them away
Plant out wallflowers, forget-me-nots, pansies and other spring bedding
Fork over vacant areas of soil
Deadhead pansies regularly to keep the flowers coming
Plant lily-of-the-valley
Order hedging for winter planting