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It’s National Gardening Week, a perfect time for us to explore what’s been happening in our Kensington Garden’s Allotment.

The first allotments in Kensington Gardens were built during World War One. To combat food shortages the British government turned areas of Kensington Gardens into allotments. This tradition still lives on today in our community allotment situated behind the Sackler gallery.

During the lockdown our staff are still maintaining these wonderful spaces and as spring continues the gardens are coming alive with delicious fruit and vegetables. Visitors can still come in and visit, while abiding to social distancing rules.

This week Elena, our allotment coordinator has been working hard to keep the allotment as productive as possible. Here’s what’s been happening this week:

Planting out

The brassica bed has now all been planted with the kale and cauliflowers our volunteers sowed back in February. There were even enough seedlings to spare that Elena left some out for visitors to take home with them. These have also been intercropped with lettuce.

kale
Kale planted out with comfrey to add nutrients


Intercropping is when you plant a fast-growing plant, like lettuce, beside a slower growing plant like kale and cauliflower. The lettuce reaches full maturity and is harvested before the broccoli and cauliflower get too big and take over. It’s a great way to grow more food in a small space.

Wildlife

Our lovely bee hotel had some visitors! These are solitary bees which are so important for pollinating our fruiting plants. Solitary bees don’t live in hives like honeybees, and bee hotels like this are great places for them to sleep in.

solitary bees using a bug hotel
Solitary bees using our bug hotel


Did you know that 1/3 of all the food we eat needs to be pollinated? That’s why it is so important to look after pollinators such as bees and butterflies. To find out more check our Mission:Inverterbrate page


Garden maintenance

Our globe artichoke plants are getting very bushy and some leaves were removed to encourage flower growth. It is the flower of the artichoke that we eat, and they are usually ready to harvest in early June.

Pests

At this time of year aphids love to suck the sap from the new growth of bean plants (especially broad beans) which can damage the plant. To deter them we use garlic spray.

To create a garlic spray yourself cut up 1 head of garlic and pour over ½ cup of boiling water. Let it steep overnight and then strain into a spray bottle. Spray this liberally over your beans.


Harvesting

Corn salad and radishes were harvested, and visitors were encouraged to take some home. Lots of children really enjoyed the radishes and kept coming to the hose to wash them and eat them!

radishes
Breakfast radishes from the morning harvest


Radishes are very quick and simple to grow and don’t need a lot of space. They can be grown easily on a balcony or even a windowsill at home.



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