Disaster struck when unexpected building works started at the station. A trench was dug right through the middle of the site, soft fruit bushes were trampled, a vine plant was concreted in and the place looked a wreck.
Most upsetting of all, we learned that the lamp posts we'd carefully planted our trees in line with, had great big hinges at their bases to allow engineers access. Our fruit trees would get crushed whenever this happened. We were going to have to move them right in the middle of the growing season. All in all, it seemed that hours of volunteer time, and London Overground money were wasted through lack of communication.
After contacting LOROL and finding out that the station manager we'd originally liaised with had left, we decided to dig up the plants and put them to one side until the building works were completed. The one saving grace at this stage was that the brambles we tied up at the back of the site bore loads of fruit.
There is now a new station manager who expressed some concern that we had been digging in an area with buried high voltage cables. We're trying to arrange a meeting with him to work out a way forward - perhaps planting into boxes near the new cycle rack?
Four adults and assorted kids did a spot of weeding on the weekend. We were removing thistles, brambles, baby sycamores and a few cleavers that were threatening to overcrowd the young soft fruit bushes. The bank to the right of 'bramble walk' was looking a little bare without the brambles, so we planted some pansies, woodruff and hellebores (thanks Liberty and Jen) to brighten things up and hold the bank together. We have left the brambles on the fence side, and expect a good harvest.
The fruit trees were all looking well, although one of the stakes has started sprouting - never had that problem before! The soil was looking very fertile, but slightly dry, so we finished up with a bit of watering using the new station hose. Ideally, we'd like to rig up a water butt under the platform to collect the platform water. We could also do with a composter as we were just throwing the pulled up plants down to the bottom of the shady bank.
LOROL have decided where they'll put in the new bike park, so we can put in an additional planting area to the right of the portacabin. This will be Sharma's plot.
We kick started the planting on Sunday 28th February around 2pm and considering the soggy weather we had an amazing turnout of N4 gardening enthusiasts. The task ahead of us was to carefully plant a combination of blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, grapevines, edible ostrich fern, lavender, rosemary, sage and some pretty bulbs. We mapped out where we wanted to put each plant and then the digging began with vigour. The site soil, a term a use very loosely, consisted of rubble and clay.
Fortunately Jo had magically sourced enough compost and top soil to host a horticultural festival. My good friend Jo is the type of person that would find you that needle in that haystack.
We dug deep, removing as much rubble as possible and then partially refilled the holes with a rich mixture of compost, wood chippings and top soil before carefully re-housing our new plant stock. Thanks to Sharma and his generous tea making we all managed to stay warm despite the mud and the wet. It was definitely a Sunday afternoon well spent and I had a great time. Well done to Laura who was extremely instrumental in making this, our first major N4 growing projects, happen. It will be a wonderful harvest!
Check out Laura's write up in the The Ecologist no less!