Puddling, Pizzas and Plants

My footprint in the “puddled” clay

Yesterday was the Space to Grow session at LEAF on Herries Road, I always enjoy going there – partly because you never quite know what to expect, and this time was no exception. I’d only been there a short time before I was invited to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my trackie bottoms and start “puddling”. Now we often complain (especially in Parson Cross park that the soil and ground is to clay – but on this occasion it really came into its own as we set about making a further batch of home grown clay to complete the dome on the pizza oven that has been built at LEAF.

Now this was the first time I’d even used my feet to make clay from the raw material dug from the ground, and I was quite sure how it would go. First reaction was a bit like that first toe dip into the sea, it felt way too cold, but after only a few seconds of tramping the clay I soon got used to the temperature and started to find it quite rewarded. There’s is something quite rewarding, and dare I say “spiritual” about taking some rough, dirty, freshly dug lump of clay from the ground and slowly transforming it into a wonderfully smooth and completely usable clay mix.

Nick gets to work on the clay (left) & Matt uses it to finish the pizza oven (right) Photos courtesy of LEAF.

Walking on the clay to make it useable is where my skills end, but thankfully there are others like Matt whose skills lie in other areas, and so with effort from all the volunteers the pizza oven has now been completed. If you fancy trying the efforts out and tasting home made pizza at LEAF you can do on 30th May (7-9pm) as part of Sheffield Environment Week when they are inviting people to an open evening to see the site and meet the volunteers, if you’ve got chance it would be worth a visit. http://www.leafsheffield.org.uk/wordpress/phew-170512

Meanwhile back on Plot107 there are now real signs of the new season coming into full swing with flowers beginning to open and display from the wonderful cowslip (always one of my favourites) to the purple heads of the chives, alongside the flowers the first signs of this years fruit harvest are developing. The rhubarb of course is coming into its own, but also very early (and very small) signs of gooseberries are appearing. In a few weeks, I’m hopefully getting some help from friends from Sheffield University Chaplaincy team to help clear and prepare the “other side” of Plot107. Here we’re hoping to plant even more fruit in particular alongside a couple of new beds for the

(going clockwise) Cowslip, Lambs Lettuce, Mizuna & Chives
Gooseberries & Rhubarb

veggies – speaking of which; the potatoes I’d thought we lost due to that late sharp dose of frost the other week, are bouncing back, so there’s hope there yet. Also the garlic I planted is looking well, as are the early broad bean plants, and onions that went in a couple of months back. All in all it’s looking quite productive on the plot  at the minute – so lets hope the weather stays fine, with just enough water to keep us going, and the we can have a good harvest this year.


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