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The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Weather Wars

Welcome to part 2 of the ‘Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Weather Wars’, inspired by CCCU Edible Campus’s Allotment Blitz allotment events.

1- all year round

The weather can be a major battle when trying to grow the most perfect plants. Which is why we have compiled a guide of carefully selected tips on how to keep your plants thriving all year round. Now not even winter can ruin your allotment or garden.



Take advantage of the winter, when no plants are growing, to prepare for next year’s gardening season!

  • Clean up your tools; give them a good clean to remove dirt and rust.
  • Check fences, gates and other structures for weakness or rotting. Get them repaired!
  • Avoid using the lawn to give it a breather.
  • Start a compost heap.
  • Deadhead autumn flowering plants before the heavy frosts arrive.

2- winter 1


If the winter starts warm, then becomes abruptly freezing, cabbage– and similar- may not thrive as well as it should, or even survive. Dig a one ft square around the plant with your shovel, a spade depth down. In doing this, the roots that weaken the whole system will be chopped off, leaving the plant with enough strength to survive the harsh winter.
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A good way to decide whether or not to start sowing seeds is to press an elbow, finger or hand to the soil. If it’s very cold or wet, don’t sow!

4- spring 1


In the spring months, give your allotment a rough tidy up. Remove leaves, and other pesky debris, from boarders, lawns and ponds. Cut back the dead growth of wild flowers- unless you’re wildlife friendly, in which case delay the cut back until early spring.

5- spring 2


Spring is the perfect time to sow seeds that may need a longer season, such as Geraniums, Begonias, Peppers and Aubergine. Take a look at http://www.thompson-morgan.com/in-the-garden-this-month to see which month it is best to start growing different kinds of plant in.6- spring 3



During the warm summer months, a moat is the perfect way to channel water toward the root of a plant when it rains. Create the moats around each plant– so they are slightly larger than where the leaves reach out to.

7- summer 1


There are several ways to keep your plants alive and well over the sweltering summer months:

  • Water early in the day, preferably in the morning, to avoid mildew and other fungi attacks.
  • Add nutrients to water if you only water occasionally, preferably nutrients from a soluble fertiliser with added seaweed. For example:
    • Water in potash- for fruit trees, improving flavours and juiciness.
    • Potassium in potash- for avocados and mangos, to improve plant vigour and resistance to fungi.

Read http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/types-of-organic-fertilizer.htm for further advice on plant fertilisers.

8- summer 2

Edible Campus’s beautiful allotments at the Chaplaincy. Sourced from Edible Campus’s Facebook page.


Consider shade thoroughly. New plants are likely to need plenty of shade while hardening to the sun. Plan trees to protect your garden from the harsh Summer sun. Equally, you may want some plants, flowers or vegetables to be exposed to more light.

11- summer 3



Lift tender plants out of the bed before the first frost arrives! Tender plants are often perennial (meaning they only last one year). Tender plants include bananas, tree ferns, begonias and dahlias. Cut back the stems. Lift the tubers from the ground. Clean the soil from them, then carefully place and store them in trays of dry compost or sand, with only the tip of the crown visible. Keep in a cool, frost-free place over the winter.

9- autumn 1


They provide structure in your garden and will add interest to an otherwise empty plot in the winter months.

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Now go ahead and perfect your incredible allotment, whatever the weather!

Need a recap on the basics of allotment gardening? Click here to visit our first ‘The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’ blog: Getting Started.

Liked this guide? Read more on futurelifehappiness.wordpress.com.

Have you seen our other guides?

  1. The SGO Quick Guide to Holiday Safety
  2. Do-It-Yourself Spa Day
  3. The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Getting Started
  4. Holiday the Sustainable Way
  5. How to get a Good Night’s Sleep

Interested in writing blogs, creating recipe cards or writing reviews for Future.Life.Happiness? Email m.cork630@canterbury.ac.uk to let us know!


Meg & the SGO xxx

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The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Getting Started

Writing to you exclusively from our office in Fleming building, CCCU campus, we at the SGO are passionate about helping you succeed to the best of your abilities in all sustainable matters. Whether it’s perfecting the perfect sustainable meal menu, or assisting you in promoting Fracking awareness, or working together on a water-use campaign, we are here to help you. Which is why we have released the Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening. This guide is for both beginners and advanced gardeners a-like. Whether you have an allotment already or if the idea is just a distant dream, we hope to give you helpful tips on making your allotment experience as successful and rewarding as possible.

So join us over the next few weeks as we release our four part series of the ‘Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’, inspired by CCCU Edible Campus’s Allotment Blitz allotment events.

Why Garden?

Allotment gardening is increasing in popularity all over the UK. Allotments are a cheap and effective source of freshly grown fruit and veg, a good place to have a natter with neighbouring gardeners while you’re on a break, and a great source of physical activity. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

1- Why Garden


Getting Started

1) Basic Tools

The basic tools you’ll need are a fork, spade, seed rake, hoe and trowel. If you don’t already own one or don’t have much money, visit a car boot sale to find second hand tools.


2) Make an allotment plan

It might seem more exciting to dive in headfirst, but before properly working on your allotment, get to know your plot. Observe the path the sun takes across the sky to help with planting positions. Observe your plants as they grow to learn how long they take to grow and any problems that occur for future reference. In your plan, consider the time you will spend on your allotment. Every person and every allotment is different, but if you want to steadily improve your allotment, working on it for 4 to 5 hours a week means you will start noticing a substantial difference within your allotment very soon. If you enjoy it, spend more hours on it. Remember, picking crops can be time consuming. In the summer, visit your allotment for an hour or so each night. If you find it relaxing, it won’t seem like hard work!

2- Clearing Allotments

3) Clearing Allotments

Start clearing them slowly.  Start with a small, manageable size, perhaps inviting somebody else to join you. Dig carefully to remove perennial roots, multiple times with a couple of weeks’ gap between each dig to remove regrowth.


4) Start simple

Instead of diving head first into the deep end, start with easily manageable plants such as peas, sweet corn, radishes, beans and courgettes– rather than those cauliflowers and aubergines you are desperate to make.

4- Start Simple

5) Manure

Let’s think about manure. Manure is used to supply nutrients and add to biological activity of soil. Chicken manure provides the most nitrogen and phosphorous. Chicken manure is organic, however is not necessarily ecologically or economically friendly as the chickens may not be free-range.

You could make your own green crop manure. These will give you choice to choose crops for each job needed. Species belonging to pea/ clover family will improve soil fertility. Green manures will decompose after they have been dug in, improving drainage and root penetration.

Make sure your manure is organic, as it does not contain herbicide from an animal’s diet of treated food, however it is often pricy and hard to find. Sow soft compost straightaway. For other types, make your bed a month before bed making or you may discover slugs, weeds, clumps of soil and old compost.


6) Compost

Compost is a great fertilizer. It can enrich the soil with organic materials. When using it, mix it with the soil completely, as it provides oxygenation. Firstly, decide why you need a compost bin– for a type of compost, or for compost turning.

Next, set up your bin. 16-gauge plastic-coated wire mesh and hardware cloth are good. Or build it from wooden pallets, snow fencing and a rabbit hutch. Reserve an area for composting. Burn plant rubbish in a bonfire or incinerator.

Materials that you can put in your composting bin include yard waste, such as grass and hedge trimmings, leaves or tree bark and wood chips. You may use household waste such as spoiled produce, fruit and vegetable peel, tea bags and coffee grounds. You could also use human hair, or even fabric scraps! Garden waste such as plants and weeds can be used, however avoid using diseased plants.

3- Manure

7) Work with what’s there

If broccoli is growing, leave it. If an onion is growing, take careful of it. Not only does it make the task easier for you, but you have an interesting garden from the get go.


8) Little and Often

Make sure to consistently tend to your allotment. Visit it on a regular basis for a small time, and don’t abandon it when the weather gets bad. This ensures that your allotment will steadily improve, and you don’t have the large task of deweeding and maintaining your allotment after leaving it for some time.

5- Work with whats there

9) Choose crops that don’t spoil

Being at university is a busy time and we understand if you can’t visit your allotment every day. Which is why, when considering vegetables to grow, it is important that you choose those that won’t spoil if you don’t harvest them immediately. These vegetables include chillies, potatoes, rhubarb, artichokes, beetroot, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, shallots and spinach.


10) Digging

Prepare the ground by digging it to remove weeds. Dig a trench to the depth of the spade, and barrow the soil to the other end of the plot. Fill up the new trench with soil from the previous one. Move backwards as you dig. Fill the final trench with the soil from the first.


Simples! Now have a go at getting started on your own allotment.

In Blog 2 of the ‘Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’, we will be discussing ‘Weather’ and how to deal with tough conditions!

Catch you next time,

Meg & the SGO xxx

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Holiday the Sustainable Way!

Everybody loves a good summer holiday. Whether you’re venturing afar to outback Australia, or chilling on the beach in Tunisia, or taking a short weekend break to Cambridge, a moment of consideration should be given to the environment and society no matter where you go. Going on holiday shouldn’t be an excuse to abandon good, environmentally-friendly habits for a week. It may seem tough to make holidays sustainable, what with airplane exhaust fumes and holiday destinations readily becoming globalised. Here are our top ten tips for squeezing every inch of sustainability out of your summer abroad.

0 Seychelleds

Don’t let your vacation destroy this beautiful paradise.

1) Cultural Research

Understand the environmental you are visiting. Learn about the natural environment, culture and history to truly experience and understand the destination you are visiting. Talk to locals, visit historic attractions, try local cuisine and participate in local activities and events.

1 Tribal Dance

     Participate in an Aborigine tribal dance while travelling in Australia.

2) Support Locals

While we don’t suggest you go crazy, buying local products and produce helps support the locals, who may depend on tourism for their income. So go ahead and buy a loaf of Turkish Ramadan bread to take home for your parents, a Greek vase, or take part in a Native American healing ritual. As long as you don’t spend over your limit, it can only do good!

3 Support Locals

3) Sustainable buying

While it’s important to support locals by buying their produce, consider its origins before purchasing. Never buy products made from endangered wildlife and certainly do not bring it back home- in many countries, this is illegal!

31 Sustainable Buying

4) Fuel Thinking

It’s hard to completely stop fuel use when vacationing, unless you’re walking or cycling to or through your destination. Instead, think of ways to cut down on fuel use. If you’re travelling within the UK, take a coach or train to your destination instead of driving. If you’re flying to your destination, book direct flights instead of changing. Walk or cycle as much as possible in your chosen destination. It may be more economically costly, but it will do a world of good for the environment! Remember, staying closer to home is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint. So if you want to be truly sustainable, consider a camping trip in the UK rather than a resort holiday in Greece.

2 canadian mountains

Inter-rail across the stunning Kananaskis Mountains in Canada, rather than drive.

5) Proper Waste Disposal

Don’t let your good habits turn bad. Continue to recycle while on holiday. Dispose of your waste properly at the designated facilities. Dispose with care to protect the wildlife, and to leave the destination a beautiful place for future generations to enjoy.

4- Recyling

6) Sustainable Planning

Plan your holiday with sustainability in mind. Ensure you book your holiday with companies that engage in sustainability, perhaps through energy efficiency or recycling initiatives, or through actively helping to preserve communities and the environment. Similarly, make sure your hotel is green as well!

5 Travel Agency

7) Clubbing holidays

Destinations such as Ayia Napa, Ibiza, Kavos and Magaluf are well known for their vibrant nightlife and extreme clubbing. While this is fun for tourists, this behaviour may have inadvertent effects on the local community. Families with young children will not want to hear screaming and shouting at 3 o’clock in the morning. Similarly, local residents will not appreciate discovering broken glass bottles on pavements. Consider the impacts of your actions on the local community before embarking on this type of holiday. Vacations that are truly sustainable do not negatively impact on the local community.

7 Clubbing holidays

8) Dress code

Take the advantage of following the local dress code to explore the local culture. Dress appropriately by learning about local conventions. Remember that dressing modestly is an important aspect of many cultures.

8 Dress code

9) Bon Jour!

Learn the local language before or during your trip. Use the language you have learned to talk to locals and develop relationships with them.

9 Languages

10) Enhance the destination, instead of hinder

Make it one of your aims to not just leave the destination how you found it, but leave it better than you found it! Make the conscious decision to improve the destination by picking up trash, volunteering or donating money.

10 enhance destination

Preserve the stunning beauty of the Greek islands for years to come.

Did you know there is such a thing as sustainable tourism?   


11 unsustainable tourism

… To This

12 sustainable tourism

Help prevent the destruction of natural features such as coral reefs by thinking sustainably while on holiday.

Sustainable tourists aim to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy when visiting their chosen destination, using local transportation, accommodation, entertainment, food and shopping. Sustainable tourists should respect local cultures and environment, buying locally unfairly, protect water, energy and endangered wildlife, take responsibility for their actions, protect and enhance destinations. Everybody should be a sustainable tourists, no matter how close or far away from home they are travelling.

Following the 10 above steps will not only help you become the best sustainable tourist possible, but help preserve our beloved tourist destinations for many years to come!


Meg & the SGO xxx

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Welcome to our fresh, new blog! We’ll be making weekly posts delegated to different sectors, including: D.I.Y, events, food, reviews, lifestyle and sustainability.

Our main aim is to inspire you to become more creative, develop a sense of sustainability and ensure that every post holds an element of fun or adventure. Whether you’re an artistic individual, or just having a peek – you’ve landed on our blog for a reason, and we can guarantee that we will post something you can relate to.


Please feel free to contact us, give us your feedback and tell us what you’d like to see more of on the blog.



Chelsea, Jess & Michaela



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Chelsea McMurray, Jessica Chamberlain & Michaela McDonell-Barbara