Welcome to the Boot Up! Project

Welcome to Boot Up! Outdoor Learning with Falmouth Forest School

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Feed the Birds

Recycled juice bottle, a wooden spoon and a bird seed 3 course meal for the birds! The great tits and chaffinches just LOVE it. A 'well balanced' diet!

Poly3 - sowing and seeds

We have pruned back the overgrown vines and swept out the top half of Poly3 ready to make use of the space and tables to create a nursery. As a back up to the outdoor planting, the same seeds have been sown in pots and trays in case of crop failure or bad weather. They will also provide a second crop to plant out in PolyHQ tunnel. French marigolds have also been sown to add to the planting to help prevent white fly and pests. Some cut flower seeds have also been sown to create a flower garden near the entrance gate. Boy! is it hot in here!!!!

Sunny Delight

The White Stuff

For 6 months we have not been able to move forward with digging up at 'Flowerpots Allotments' due to a huge pile of nasty looking heavy unidentified white stuff. After much research it was concluded that this stuff was not toxic as was first feared, and was not lime as was also suggested but most likely to be Kaolin (china clay). Curious as to why this was stored in tons in a polytunnel, some research on Wikepaedia found that kaolin in a watered down form is used as an organic treatment spray for organically grown apple trees. This is most likely what it was used for as it was stored next to all that pumping machinery that was moved earlier on. This was a huge relief as we realised it was not toxic.

However, it took two days hard slog to dig out 2 tons of wet claggy white clay that resembled a thick gluey toffee texture. It was very very messy!

The Kaolin moved into piles for removal - the final stage

No More white stuff. Hoooorayyyyy......

The last flower pot up at Flowerpots! That was at least 2000 moved, phew! Now for the digging :(

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Water Aid

It is a miracle! We have a tap with running water! No more carrying heavy containers up the hill in a wheelbarrow, and constantly reminding everyone of how precious the resource is. However, it helps to be mindful of how much we can waste.

It has taken months of research and searching the whole farm site and garden centre to find how and where the water comes from. There are three (yes three!) disused pumps at Boot Up! and no one knows which one feeds what. There is a borehole on site and a massive tank of ever=flowing water in amongst Tall Trees which we assume if fed uphill from maybe the lakes at the bottom or the borehole down in the car park. It is a mystery!

Our back-to-basics approach was to follow the blue alcathene pipes back from the site where we want a tap, down the hill to the vineyard where there is a valve which has water. This is pumped through a UV- filtration system at the farm pumped up from the borehole in the top car park and then up the hill to the vineyard. All we need to do is tap (pardon the pun) into the supply from here.

And YES! it works!!!!

Hoooray - the days of drinking water drought are behind us. Now we need to work on the rainwater harvest system - and our clever water-team leader has an idea ... watch this space..............

The Perfect end to a Perfect Day

Friday, 23 April 2010


It is a gargantuan struggle - the earth is heavy and dry and the grass is compacted and weedy on top. Cutting the turf off and digging the allotments is exhausting work. But satisfying.......

We get the chitted potatoes and broad beans into the furrows the kids have dug out in March and we are pleased that something is growing at last.

We turn our attention to designing the beds, drawing up planting plans and marking out the paths. The beds are going to be planted in drifts of colour, so we get going with a bed each.

Hard back breaking work in the hot sun. Still at least it's not raining!

Seeds for Change

18th April. Today, after months of deliberating amongst ourselves - organic or non -organic (cheaper), local garden centre or online, early or late planting, waiting for time to dig the soil, clearing polytunnel 3 to make a seed nursery, cold nights warm days..... the seeds finally arrive.

Delighted with the purchase we are keen to get them planted. We decided to but organic seeds online from an established organic grower. Although we know that we can not claim our produce to be truly organic as we do not know what has gone before with the soil and we cant guarantee feed and compost will be truly organic, we feel that we might as well start as we mean to go on.

The choice of seed ranges from a high-octane mix of leafy cut and come again salads, oriental vegetables,, unusual shape and colour tomatoes, beans and peas, courgettes and squashes. We have chosen red varieties as well as green of onion, cabbage, basil , peas and we have decided to follow the rules of companion planting but also plant the beds in colour sections. One in charge of the red-bed, another the white, another the green and so on...... makes for interesting planting and a chance to follow of making our garden into our art :)))

Sail Away

We always knew the day would come, but the need for shade has overtaken the desire to do anything else. The sun and brightness at the Boot Up! garden is relentless. The clear cloudless days are hot and bright and, depite being beautiful, are uncomfortable in the mid-day sun.

In fact we can't find any activity that we can do at mid day as working in the polytunnels in near impossible with stifling temperatures, the digging and planting up at Tall Trees Allotment is so exposed that we get sunburnt, watering the seeds in the nursery polytunnel means the water just evaporates........all we can do is sit in the sun with straw hats on and read books! Not a bad life eh?

Back to work though... we decide to create some shade by installing an awning on the front of the build. Luckily I have an old canvas sail in my studio (lucky or what!) that I use for parties and shelter workshops. A quick visit to my studio and the chandlers to buy some eyelets and carabinas and we are away....

We use the trunk of a Leylandii that had been felled and with a bit of discussion and clever engineering - Hey presto - a makeshift awning! I rather like it, it softens the edges of the build and gives the place a more friendly lived- in feel. I think that is a major achievement.

Easter Holiday Activities 12th April

Lots of fun for everyone, art and woodwork activities. We made a scarecrow (scarey crow), made cress heads, seed bracelets, wooden mallets and we did some gardening. One of the best Boot Up! days so far. Hot sunny weather - too hot in fact - we need to make some shade.

The day went far too quickly - everyone wants to come back again soon.

In days of Yore...

Clear Warm sunny days

The elongated spell of bright sunny endless days and frosty cold nights makes me think about gardening when I was small. My Grandad used to say 'never sow the seed 'till the frost is passed' and ' ne'er cast a clout 'till May is out', which my Mum used to take as meaning 'don't take your vest off until the first of June!' but which I really think meant don't dig your fragile plants in until the signs of blossom on the May Trees (Hawthorn or Blackthorn?) is out (which makes more sense).

Whichever it is, I am sure that this year, we have a spring like it was 30 years ago, and that the season has gone back to as it was. The effects of climate change have been very evident in the last few years, long wet warm summers and early springs and I have a feeling that this spring feels like spring when I was a child, that daily searching with your eyes for the first sign of leaves unfurling on the trees, that first primrose in the hedgerow, the first sign of blossom on the trees. This year, after one of the hardest winters on record, these things seem even more special and to me, such a delight.

Signs of Spring - at last!

At last, some tiny signs of spring. The nights and early mornings are very cold still, with even a touch of ground frost late into April, but the days are hot and the leaves are just beginning to unfurl. It's only a matter of days .............