Big Dig Saturday March 16th at 11am was probably the maddest time to be out gardening. Icy rain, 33mph blustery winds, the garden paths turning to mud: but as Mary tweeted, ‘it’s not about poor weather, just poor choice of clothing’. Cowering in anoraks, waterproofs, hats and scarfs, we were out there on the terraces of London Road Station trying to plant seeds and repot herbs, while the wind howled and blew the seed trays away.
Sue and Diane bravely managed to sow sweet peas in toilet rolls and ‘Matsoka’ tomatoes, together with a tray of ‘Dazzle’ lettuce and another with a mixed sowing of parsley, onion, nasturtium, lettuce and spring onion. We managed to plant three herb pots with rosemary, thyme and fennel.
Roberta and Vic from Brighton & Hove Food Partnership arrived to ‘launch’ the Big Dig Week with our Mayor, Bill Randall, and MP and neighbour, Caroline Lucas. Sam Bryant from SCRP, who helped us set up the station partnership two years ago, joined us along with Karen Barnes from Southern Railway. I tried to encourage a bit of gardening by giving Roberta a pair of secateurs to trim an overgrown mint, and Sam a pot and some tomato seeds, but fingers were getting cold …
We took shelter in the cosy station building while Chris provided tea, and we ate rosemary biscuits made with rosemary from the LRSP garden that a few days earlier had been covered in snow. We had to remind ourselves that there will come a time when the garden will produce again. Hard to imagine that in a couple of months’ time, we will probably be worrying about getting enough water on the soil for our crops.
We honestly didn’t get much gardening done, but then that is not atypical of our ‘work’ sessions. We chatted to neighbours and station users, Angie showed two families around the garden, Chris took visitors to see the shady triangle where the daffodils are looking cheerful despite last week’s snow, I discussed pruning fruit trees with a neighbour who has just planted a cordonned mini-orchard, inspired by last year’s event, Audrey read up on compost and Anna shared tips about planting parsnips in drain-pipes.
Our newest volunteer gamely ended up posing for photos (thank you!) rather than big digging, but she did get to see the compost heap and take home a table-top caddy. ‘Proper’ gardening may resume on Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting. Perhaps we should rename it The Big Chat – The Big Dig is ‘just’ a focus for all those lovely conversations. ‘Just’? Around twenty people turned up to our Big Dig day on a vile Saturday morning, inspired by the idea of getting together to grow things.
And in other food growing plots around the city, there were lots of other wonderful things going on. It is about opportunities to share: ideas, skills, fun, food and crazy experiences like trying to mix potting compost and sow seeds in a gale. Let’s hope the weather starts behaving properly soon, though, and we can soon do a bit of big digging. Well, not quite that big …
More on Storify: http://storify.com/amarystevens/brighton-big-dig-launch.
Do join us at London Road Station gardens on Tuesday 19th March from 2pm, weather permitting. Check ‘Workdays’ page above.