Livability Holton Lee’s Flourish project has been busy and some tips on growing the perfect herb spiral.

Flourish volunteers and Horticultural Therapy

The ‘Flourish’ project that looks to support disabled people to flourish through land based and wellbeing activities. Participants join a team for one day a week and gain practical hands on experience, skills and knowledge in conservation and horticulture. In addition there will be a programme of activities aimed at improving individual’s wellbeing.

The aim of the project is that over the course of a number of months each participant’s wellbeing, resilience, confidence, self esteem, skills and motivation will have all improved.

Flourish & Food Poverty

Our gardening project Flourish supports growing food for a range of health and wellbeing benefits. Over 40 people have been working together and learning how to grow so far this year.

We recognise that there is now a huge demand for emergency food assistance to meet the immediate needs of people without enough money for food. Food banks provide more than 20 million meals to people who are unable to afford an adequate and nutritious diet every year in the UK.

The Church Action on Poverty report by Oxfam and The Trussell Trust (2014) showed that changes to the social security system, rising costs of living, low wages and unemployment are all driving food poverty.

In response we are donating fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden to St Paul’s Hostel in Bournemouth to support their cookery club.

Roots to Routes also have a number of allotment plots in our community garden, as a way of increasing access to healthy, fresh food for people who are experiencing homelessness.

Tips from the gardening team – herb sprials

Livability Holton Lee’s Monday Volunteers have been busy constructing a herb spiral which are widely used in Permaculture and enable more food to grow in less space.

They are functional, attractive garden features which can be built on any surface and are convenient, low maintenance and easy to access for harvesting. Therefore we rely heavily on volunteers that are happy to get their hands dirty outside or are up for helping us to running things from the office.

Many herbs are mutually beneficial to one another e.g. flowering herbs attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, growing these herbs close together in a spiral improves their overall flavour, discourages pests and enables better pollination.

Stacking bricks in a spiral pattern creates different levels and microclimates allowing a variety of plants which favour different conditions to be grown in one spot. The bricks absorb heat from the sun during the day to insulate the soil at night. The spiral design maximises the natural force of gravity allowing water to drain freely and seep down all the layers reducing water waste.

The top of the spiral receives more sunlight and has better drainage but is windier making it ideal for tough, Mediterranean plants e.g. Rosemary/Thyme.

The Eastern section receives the gentle morning sun making it suitable for delicate herbs e.g. Parsley/Chives. The Southern section is best for sun loving plants e.g. Basil/Sage/Lavender and the bottom of the spiral is usually North facing, wetter and shadier, perfect for growing watercress or installing a small pond.

If you have limited space, sun or time to manage a herb garden then why not try constructing a herb spiral in your garden.

About the Author Andrew

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