Growers Hub

Bristol Leigh Woods Update: Compost, Skylarks, Planning, The Future of Growing!

Written by
April 25, 2024

Following the confirmed legal use of the land for allotments by North Somerset council on Nov 2023 Roots have been slowly but surely preparing the site for this years growing season after an extremely wet Winter and start to Spring.

With many members from Bristol and the surrounding area being super excited for a patch and to get access to a space to grow their own and be part of a like minded community.

This morning they brought in the first loads of compost that will be used to create no dig beds that will provide its members with a good growing medium for the season ahead.

‘We’ve spent considerable time checking and double checking PAS100 compost suppliers processes to make sure what we get is of a much better quality than previously experienced. Compost and the way we treat our green waste in the UK does need a serious overhaul and governmental intervention to minimise plastic content’ - says Will Gay, Founder Roots

Once you start to delve into plastics it’s truly shocking, they are in the clouds being rained down on us, in the deepest parts of the ocean, in our drinking water and food chain already. There’s an element of us as a society needing to be pragmatic in working through the realities of the world we have created since plastics were produced and hope that together we can find a natural solution to deal with them.

On many of Roots sites there are members growing happily using this growing medium and it makes sense to try and use our green waste as a part of a circular system. Hundreds of thousands of tons are ploughed into our fields every month by farmers up and down the country to boost organic matter content.

Lastly Abbots Leigh Parish Council had contacted Roots last week to notify them that Skylarks were in the area again. Roots hired ecologists quickly to do another study Friday, 19.04.24 on the land they wish to use allotments and the study revealed the same results as the one they carried out last year that the area is only being used for feeding activity because no skylark returned within 45 minutes which they would do if there were nests present. This further re-enforces the theory of skylarks nesting deeper in the more undisturbed pasture of the 70+ acres which doesn’t have a footpath running straight through it. The report is here for reference.

We will continue to monitor the site with the help of professional ecologists over the coming weeks and months. If nesting skylarks are found within our area during future studies we will ensure to set up generous exclusion zones to make sure their nesting is undistributed.

The importance of reconnecting with the land and inspiring future growers who may want to get into local food production on a larger scale than allotments is massively part of Roots mission. With the UK heavily reliant on pastoral farming and high levels of vegetable imports, it’s of the utmost importance to inspire and educate those who want to work the land to help increase future food security which is threatened by changes to the climate and its impact it may have on the countries we import food from.

Roots hopes to continue preparing this location for a new growing community to move in ASAP where they will work together to plant more hedgerow, establish wetland habitat, extend native woodland from Leigh Woods and also create locally saved seed tree nurseries that will grow thousands of trees to aid future re-wilding projects.

Allota Futureland Limited (trading as Roots), its representatives, customers, employees, contractors, and licensees will not use the part of Coronation Avenue owned by the Forestry Commission to access the Roots site or to use the Forestry Commission Car Park to visit or access Roots site, unless walking via the Monarchs Way Public Footpath.

1) No digging needed! Your Back Will Thank You

Yes, it’s true. You’ll be picking bountiful harvests without needing to dig, turn or fork the earth! Your back will thank you because digging takes about 2 x times longer than No dig. Beds are made by covering your growing ground in cardboard and placing nutrient rich compost on top - giving you a surface that’s ready to plant straight away!

2) Less weeding 

Weeds get suppressed by the layer of cardboard and compost, they then die off because of no sunlight! If soil stays undisturbed then weeds and their seeds are more likely to stay locked into the ground instead of sprouting when disturbed on a traditionally dug allotment.

3) Feeding the soil creates healthier plants

By building yearly layers of organic matter and not disturbing the soil’s ecosystem, you will increase the amount of good microbial activity. Good microbes help plants access nutrients and water, so the healthier your soil - the healthier your plants! 

4) You’ll do less watering!

No dig beds retain moisture better because you’re introducing organic matter, not taking it away. By keeping the soil’s ecosystem in-tact and encouraging bacteria, fungi and worms to do their thing will create better layers of soil that save water for when your plants need it - instead of bare dug ground that leaks moisture! Water is a precious resource and no dig helps us make the most of every drop!

5) Higher Yields Are Scientifically proven!

No dig has been proven to produce significantly higher yields by Charles Dowding over the last 9 years at his Homeacres Farm. He has been weighing the results of identically planted dug vs no dig beds and over that time the results are 100’s of kg’s greater.

6) Reduce Single-Use Plastic! <3 The Planet!

Every harvest throughout the seasons means you’ll be totally cutting out vast amounts of single use plastic that is used in supermarket produce! The supply chains we rely on use way too much making no dig a great way to start reducing personal consumption of single use plastic.

7) Experience Less pests & diseases

The result of great soil health by the no-dig method helps good bacteria, insects and animals thrive! Using natural methods of pest control we can learn to work with nature instead of against it - a single teaspoon of healthy rich soil can contain up to 1 billion bacteria!.

8) You’ll help fungal networks and they’ll help your plants grow

Fungi are a super important part of running a productive healthy patch. When soil is full of life and undisturbed there will be miles and miles of fungal networks beneath your feet trading nutrients with each other and your plants.

9) Save time and be 40% more productive by no dig!

When you don’t need to spend hours and hours digging, turning and prepping the soil for planting, you’ll be able to spend it doing the fun creative side of gardening - planning, planting, pruning your patch to create your own edible zen garden.

As a bonus you will also feel the mental and physical boost of growing your own

Gardening and feeding yourself with incredibly fresh nutrient dense food has amazing positive side effects for both people and the planet. As time goes by you’ll feel closer and more at one with nature.