Museum Allotment

Favourite Object from the Collection

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Watering the Museum allotment
Watering the Museum allotment

As it reaches the time of year when the Museum allotment is always thirsty, I thought I’d share this post from Bryan Sitch (Curator of Archaeology) about his favourite object from the collection……

Ancient Worlds

Collections Team with their favourite objects Collections Team with their favourite objects

Here we all are in this morning’s team meeting with our favourite objects. Kate had a shark’s jaw bone with some nasty looking teeth, Steve had a copy of the Salford register because it had details of the most important ethnographic objects in the Museum collection, Phil had some parasitic  flies, Campbell part of an ivory chariot fitting, Rachel had some saffron, Lindsey had some rubber stamps, Henry a mounted Ross’ gull and I took along a post-medieval watering can made of fired clay (accession no. 20838). The latter is one of my favourite objects in the collection. I kind of fell in love with it as soon as I saw it in the Museum store.

Ceramic watering can Ceramic watering can

It’s about 36cm tall and as you can see it’s made of orange-red clay with a brownish glaze. You can see where the separately made rose…

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Weeding in the Museum allotment

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It’s been a while since I’ve been down to the Museum allotment, and while our windows are relaced with double glazing we no longer have a view over it either. So it was high time I went along to see Anna Bunney and the allotment voluteers, Scott, Bernard and Beryl, to find out what’s growing. The peas and beans are looking good, the nasturtiums are flowering enthusiastically and the garlic chives are just about ready to open their buds. The kiwi fruit which must have grown from the remains of someone’s lunch is still going strong too. The potatoes have been coming out over the last few weeks and so there’s now new spinach and pak choi seedlings and some small celery plants. I thought I’d better make myself useful and so I tidied up the runners from the alpine srawberries so that Anna could sow some new beetroot seeds.

Collection Bites: Think•Eat•Save

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Allotment veg
June 5th 1.05-2pm
Please book on 0161 275 2648 or as spaces are very limited.

This months Collection Bites will focus on the fantastically diverse botany collection and will be lead by its Curator Rachel Webster. As June 5th is World Environment Day Rachel will take its theme of Think•Eat•Save, focusing on food sustainability, sharing stories about the objects from the botanical collections which are used to promote sustainability and their links with the Museum allotment project and the Living Worlds gallery.

Collection Bites is a lunchtime conversation series which invites a different speaker each month to take a closer look at objects in the Museum. It is part of the work of the Collections Study Centre which is open to everyone wanting to carry out research, draw or just get a little bit closer to the collection.
More information can be found here:
To make an appointment please email

The Museum Allotment in August

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It’s raining on the allotment volunteers again. Still, they’re a dedicated bunch and despite the drizzle, here they are this afternoon tidying up more nasturtiums, picking peas and finding hidden potatoes. We’ve now got some huge sunflowers planted up around the allotment courtesy of our friends at the Turing sunflower project at MOSI. This year Manchester mathematicians are hoping to study the spiral patterns visible in sunflower seedheads to see if the numbers match to the interesting Fibonnacci number sequence. Later in the Autumn we will be hosting sunflower spiral counting events. If you have  grown a sunflower this summer why not get involved with this huge science project?

The Museum Allotment in July

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There’s just enough left of July for me to post up a quick view of the allotment from the herbarium windows. The green roof is looking very, well, green, the purple peas are cropping nicely and the nasturtiums are trying for world domination.

We’ve also been harvesting potatoes – here’s the last of the earlies coming out. There’s still plenty of mint to go with them!

The Museum Allotment in April

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It’s about time I took another picture of the allotment from up here in the herbarium, but a passing raincloud has just made it so dark and wet that you can see the lights reflecting on the pavement at the Museum entrance. The plants are loving the April sun and showers though, and I think there’s going to be plenty of things for the allotment volunteers to be tending. The rhubarb is getting bigger, the little broad bean plantlets are growing strongly and all the different varieties of mint are beginning to explore new areas of the raised beds.

Wet, wet, wet!

The green roof also had some work done to it over the winter and is beginning to look green again. The shed is now sporting a nice selection of ferns in amongst other low growing plants.

A herbarium sheet of Blechnum spicant (hard fern)

The allotment in March

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Having had a few days of really warm weather, everything on the allotment is looking very green and happy and the kale is looking particularly good. We’re also beginning to see the first of this year’s weeds popping up – a sprinkling of celandine seedlings. Perhaps I should re-plant them in the wildflower plot

Last Friday the volunteers noticed that the hazel bush is flowering which is pretty exciting as last year there were only leaves. It’s got 5 female flowers open, will we get any nuts?

The allotment in February

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Out on the allotment there has been snow, frost, wind and rain and so not much has changed since January. However, while everything’s quiet on the plant front, the allotment has welcomed lots of visitors to the museum during half-term week. Look how dry the path to the front door is after so many feet have passed by! The allotment volunteers have also been busy behind-the-scenes, planning the year ahead and exciting new developments for the shed.

Happy New Year 2012!

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It may have snowed on the blog during December, but so far this wet and windy winter has been quite gentle to the museum allotment. From up here in the herbarium tower it’s looking quite green down there in the museum courtyard.

Some of the greenery is from perennial plants such as the strawberries which are waiting for the spring, but there are also plenty of over-wintering crops such as kale, winter cabbage and kohl rabi.

There are also  little spearheads of garlic (Allium sativum) emerging from out of the compost. Despite needing sunshine in the summer and well-drained soil to keep away the damp, it’s said that the flavour of the garlic inproves if it gets a winter chill. There is still plenty of winter to come if you want to try growing it at home.