My sixth day volunteering at OrganicLea and it’s the first proper sunny day:
I feel like i’ve been more times than I actually have which is great as I think it’s means a) i’m enjoying it and b) i’m learning lots each time I come.
Today I jumped at the chance of spending my first task of the outside helping Marco in the vineyard. Once we’d found something to hold water in (old coffee jar in my case) and picked up the tools we would need (hoes mainly) we headed up the hill to the corner of the site that houses the vineyard…
Job 1: Weeding the vines
The vines at OrganicLea are managed mainly by Marco who’s been growing vines for over a long time in Hackney. They’ve been planted over a few years so some are younger than others. The older vines (3 years old I think) are likely to fruit (productively) for the first time this coming autumn, so next year is likely to see the first bottles of ‘Chateau du OrganicLea, 2013’ which is an exciting prospect (I wonder if volunteers get a free bottle….?)
Job 2: Cleaning the Glasshouse
After lunch, not wishing to hog all the sunshine I opted to switch jobs and was given the task of cleaning the glasshouse roof. This isn’t that easy a job as it involves wielding a 3 meter (I didn’t measure it but it felt that long) long pole with high pressure hose at the end. The idea was to manuvar the jet of water into all the edges of the glass pains to remove the scum and moss that grows there. I was then followed down the row by another volunteer with a broom attachement who’s job it was to scrub the whole pain of glass (also with water being pumped out).
As you can imagine, this task was not one where you could keep dry, I basically ended up 50% drenched, but likely being such a warm day, it wasn’t that bad.
This job was pretty physical and demanded a lot of upper body strength. I only managed one row which took an hour and then had to switch jobs in order than I might still be able to function the next day!
Job 3: Potting On
As more and more seedlings germinate in the warm glasshouse environment, they need potting on to bigger pots to give them more room and more food. These chillies we were potting on are for one of the many plant sales that take place, here’s a list of where you can buy their plants: OrganicLea Plant Sales.
Like any task volunteers are given here, there’s also member of staff to show you how it’s done and check in on progress / answer any questions. Ru came over at one point and asked if Keith and I could pot the chillies a bit deeper, ideally burying most of the stem with compost. This is because chillies, like tomatoes are part of the Nightshade family and they root from the stem, which means that where we’ve buried the stem in nice warm compost, it will put on extra roots and therefore make the future plant stronger. I’ve since used this technique when potting on my own tomatoes so fingers crossed I didn’t misunderstand Ru!
There’s lots going on all around the site and I took a few more photos of things that caught my eye:
P.S. If you’re in the mood for some far superior plant based photography then head over to Mark Diancono’s blog Otter Farm as he really knows how to take a photo or two.