Youth Volunteers Jan ’23

Brr!  What kind of gardening happens in January??

More than just pulling weeds

Yep, we certainly pulled weeds this month, but there is more to volunteering with IEL than just pulling weeds.  We encourage our volunteers to learn real-life transferable work skills by helping run the youth program.  This month the IEL Youth Volunteers finished up their promotional posters to encourage others to come and join our weekly sessions.  They created content for the IEL Youth Volunteers webpage describing the program and why other young people might want to participate and they created content for fundraising.  Excellent work, volunteers!

Preparing for the summer

The courtyard of the West Norwood Library doesn’t have a ready water source.  Thinking about the drought conditions of last summer, we knew we needed a way to keep the plants well watered each week – especially during a hoseban.  Our technique?   “Ollas”.  Ollas are a traditional way of watering that involves burying clay pots (ollas) in the ground next to your plants.  These self-watering clay pots slowly and evenly release water into the soil around them.  They bring water straight to the roots, encouraging strong plant growth. They are very environmentally beneficial as they use up to 70% less water as compared to above ground irrigation.  Look for our ‘ollas’ in the tall grey planters.

Find out more about Ollas here:

DIY instructions for making an Olla:

How to make DIY Ollas: Low Tech Self-Watering Systems for Plants


Can anything be planted in January?  Yes!  If the soil is not too hard, there are actually a few seeds and bulbs you can still put into the ground in January for spring veg.  We were given some broad beans and some garlic for the West Norwood Library gardens.  The volunteers planted the broad beans in the tall narrow planters.  This is the same place where you will also find the ‘Ollas’.  Look out for the sprouting beans in the spring.

The IEL Youth Volunteers are currently meeting each Saturday morning at the West Norwood Library and Picturehouse.  This is a part of a pilot program with Lambeth Libraries providing youth with safe spaces to volunteer and contribute to their community.  Find out more about this collaboration and our youth volunteers here.