A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

World of chillies

Join us to explore a world of chillies and to grow your own winter salad bowl .. all in one September Sunday!!

At the Hawkwood growing site we’re enjoying this late seasonal warmth … the plants keep growing and the people that make this site flourish keep arriving for the weekly volunteer work days. As usual at the end of the month, our eyes are on the last Sunday for our monthly Sunday Open Day… in the spirit of this warm September we’re happy to be sharing the following on Sunday 30th September from 12-4pm .. join us for:

2-3pm: A 1 hour workshop on the world of chillies – with tastings, stories and growing tips. The Hawkwood chilli collection is growing each year (from seeds that are collected and saved each season). Participants are invited to share in our enthusiasm for this crop and encouraged to bring your own chilli plants… bring your stories and experiences into the workshop which will be led by Ru. (See grower’s blog excerpts below for a chilli preview.)

All day, 12-4pm: Winter salad seedlings will be available for sale .. to keep your food garden green, with vitality and cropping over the cold winter months that are on their way. Seedlings are ready for planting now and will be available in pots and plugs. List of salads that we’ve raised for this sale is below.

All day, 12-4pm: Logs for sale For those looking to get a supply of seasoned (1 and 2 years old) and cut wood for winter burners – on Sunday we’re offering a one-off special opportunity to purchase logs that have been processed at the site. [Priced at: £3-£4 per 20kg (onion sack), £50 per tonne (dumpy sack) – please feel able to bring your own sacks and we have scales available for self-service use.]

All day, 12-4pm: Importantly, there will be group horticultural activity throughout the day – which we love people to get involved in, even just for an hour or so – tools are out with task beginning at 12 midday!

Lunch is between 1-2pm – please bring a packed lunch if staying for the day.

Taster of the Hawkwood chilli collection: “…it’s pretty international: we have “Bolivian Rainbow”, a multicoloured specimen I picked up in Andalucia at the start of the year; “Serrano”, “Habanero” and “Jalapeno”, from the chilli cultural capital, Mexico; Scotch Bonnet “Safi” from the Caribbean, “Soverato” from farmers resisting land expropriation in the Susa Valley, Italy; Jim’s Long Cayenne from Australia; and the Yankee “Ring of Fire”. And going into the vegeboxes last week were the mild, large, orange-red torpedos of “Hungarian Hot Wax”….”

.. and winter salads: “Though the Indian summer, or its mirage, stretches to the horizon, still the world has tilted us into autumn. The light is decidedly shorter and lower, and its emotional quality is altered. And radicchio doesn’t lie: like litmus it tints deeper in direct proportion to the deepening night temperatures. Right now on the Entrance Field, these chicory leaves are torn between summer green and the scarlet shades that give “Orchidea Rossa”, “Rossa di Treviso” and “Grumolo Rossa” their names.”

Read more on the grower’s blog.

And the seedlings for sale at the site on Sunday 30th September will range from:

– Mustard – ‘Green in Snow’: Colmans in leaf format – and very hardy in freezing winter weather. Can be harvested through the winter.
– Rocket ‘rucola’: Grows well and will last throughout the cold season.
– Wild rocket: Smaller, finer and stronger than salad rocket – slower to bolt (i.e go to seed) so popular with Organiclea’s growers!
– Mizuna: Fast growing and will crop early in the winter. Harvest leaf by leaf as required.
– Chicory ‘Rossa di Treviso’: A gorgeous red colour which deepens as the weather gets colder.
– Rainbow Chard: Crop young as a colourful addition to salad, older for cooking. Essential ‘leafy green’ for winter nutrition.
– Perpetual Spinach: Offers you that essential leafy green and used young in salads. Also provides welcome cooking crop in the early Spring when there’s not much else around.
– Endive ‘Nouance’: Escarole type endive, mild and crunchy.
– Kale ‘Red Russian’: Bringing style and deep green colour and nutrients to your garden’s landscape and your winter flu-beating health plan. When it’s young, provides a lovely, nutritious raw leaf for those winter salads.

All the above have been hand-raised at Hawkwood throughout August and September – ready to keep your winter garden growing and productive!

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