Renewing the plot

There’s been a lot of renewal work going on at London Rd Station during November, helped by the dry(ish) weather. The wet weather in the first part of the year really did for our raised beds. Already in May, we realised the corner posts of our central beds were rotting. The rot got progressively worse until we had to tie the old scaffolding planks together with leads and bang in a couple of temporary boards to retain the long shady bed against the wall.

Given that these were our first raised beds, constructed from used scaffolding boards back in 2011, it’s not surprising they were collapsing. The key detail we discovered later when we constructed the fruit tree beds along the south facing wall: make sure you line the beds with pond liner or equivalent to keep the moisture from the wood.

And so it was that we decided to replace our raised beds. Not an easy task really, as it required digging out the soil. Enter the cavalry: a Network Rail volunteer gang. Thanks to our guardian angel Sam Bryant, formerly of Sussex Community Rail Partnership, and collaboration between our Network Rail contact, Eddie Burton, and our Southern line manager, Lisa Stacey, we were visited in early November by five Network volunteers who enthusiastically swapped a day in the office for a day digging out the soil from our raised beds and clearing weeds from the station forecourt. Southern’s maintenance team were also on site.

It took three people three hours or so to dig out the soil. The bridge then got swept and the shady triangle cleared and tidied. Lisa got stuck in cleaning up the platform shelters, Sam dropped by to do what she’s so good at – motivate, enthuse, congratulate, take photos – and Eddie drew the short straw: sweeping up leaves from the forecourt which then reappeared with the next gust of wind. It was a really productive day, we really appreciated everybody’s hard work and the station is looking all the better for it. Network volunteers have even enquired about coming back to London Rd Station. Wonderful … That soil is going to need to go back into the new raised beds! (There are other jobs to be done such as cleaning our lovely underpass mosaic;) We’d love to see you again – a big thank-you to all.

Since then, the station has had further repainting work and looks so much prouder. The genial decorators even took the trouble to redecorate the areas around the edible plot and the composting area. It looks so much better that we’ll forgive the spits and spots of paint on the fruit trees and platform planters – inevitable, really and we can deal with it.

The mini-orchard and the forecourt and platform planters are now taking a bit of a rest over the winter, while the shady plot has also been cleared ready for spring replanting. We’re right now planning our carpentry workshop in order to reconstruct the new raised beds. Lovely new scaffolding boards – our investment, thanks to a kind donation from our neighbour John – to be lined with LDPE in the form of old compost bags turned inside out – still frugal and re-using after all these years.

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