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Volunteering at Let's Grow Preston

Good afternoon and welcome to the one and only blog covering the voluntary pursuits Alex Ashworth is committed to here in the Lancashire district of Preston.

It was Wednesday so that meant two things. One, it was time for another session with the Let's Grow Preston team. And two, it was also time for a another learning experience with the horticultural crew made up of five volunteers including myself.

I arrived at the Pavilion base HQ at 11.45am and fashionably interrupted a meeting that was taking place. Once I'd braved through that minor ordeal I happily helped myself to a nice hot cup of coffee from the kitchen whilst waiting for the remaining four other volunteers to appear.

Annie Wyn was in charge today so once everybody had arrived we got on to business. For the first 15 minutes or so ( taking us up 12.15pm) myself and quite a gregarious character planted a series of golden plum tomatoes in a raised bed in the community garden. She made the hole with the trowel and I carefully and delicately placed the golden plum tomato in the prepared hole. It was then tightly sealed with our hands to firm it in the soil. A gentle showering of water was then added for the growing to take place.

By 12.15pm the three amigos turned up and it was time to complete task number two. Task number two required removing the hay from one of th

e raised beds to allow the soil to breathe and the roots to develop. We all mucked in and I had the role of temporary farmer because I had a fork and a nifty wheelbarrow to dispose of the hay into the compost area.

We'd diligently completed this task with much grace and skill. Some volunteers took the initiative and saw an opportunity to remove some of the grass around a series of the raised beds borders.

Annie ( who is the lead of Let's Grow Preston) alerted us to the fact that she had to get going so she made us aware of the other tasks to complete by 3pm ( the end of our three hour session). The strawberries needed taking out of the community fruit garden, a portion of seeds needed sowing and an area at the community fruit garden needed some much needed TLC ( a mass of weeds needed taking out)

In true delegation style two volunteers were working on the fruit garden and two volunteers were sowing the seeds whilst the final volunteer was continuing to take out excess grassy areas around the raised beds.

The seeds that were sown were :- Rudbeckia or Golden Compass, Russian Tarragon and Parsley which are both herbs and Anemone which is an excellent cut flower. The parsley is also an excellent flavour and is nutritious. The Rudbeckia likes to be placed in a good, moist seed compost and to be placed in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.

At this point in the afternoon it was heading towards 2.15pm and some volunteers were placing the strawberries in the greenhouse area whilst others were sowing the seeds mentioned in the previous paragraph. We also were given the chance to have our own strawberry plant to take home. Some took this chance, others declined.

We'd worked for a good two hours so it was high time for that much needed coffee/tea break. We took quarter of an hour out of the three hour schedule and chatted and chilled whilst drinking our brew.

The final half hour or so involved uprooting the weeds from the community fruit garden and taking out some of the rhubarb for us to enjoy at our own leisure. It was rigorous work getting the weeds out especially as there were so many nettles but we got there in the end. We also used a disused corner of the fruit garden to dispose of the weeds.

As we were taking items back to the HQ base we'd remembered we needed to all sign out. Thankfully one kind volunteer had signed out for all of us.

Bill the tutor of the horticultural class is back next week but for now it's been a fun and enjoyable three hours with a strong team of volunteers who were prepared to do anything and to reap the rewards as well.

This is Alex Ashworth signing off for a rewarding and productive session with Let's Grow Preston.

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