29 April 2020
We had a week of two halves. On Sunday in blazing sun we drained the water butts to drench beds ready for planting peas and beans outside and salad in the tunnel. On Tuesday as the weather turned we picked up a splendid range of tomatoes – Salt Spring Sunrise, Sunray Gold, Golden Sunrise, Veepro Paste, Cheethams, Broad Ripple, Alicante and Aunt Madge – plus chillis and aubergines from John and Gil’s home nursery. Anne Wood left a tray of Bloody Warrior lettuce plantlets at the gate to refresh the salad leaves planting. Come Wednesday the temperature plummeted and the heavens opened. All veg and volunteers thoroughly soaked.
Fruit bushes donated last year by B&Q as basket cases that would otherwise die are regenerating – four gooseberries, two of the four blueberries, a tub of blackberries. Amazing what a little care and consideration can do. Nine raspberry canes have perished though, you can’t win them all. We’re bringing Gil’s elderberry experiment on instead – a tangle of young trees grown from a spray of berries now potted up separately to add to the stock for BCA to replant in Buxton’s woodlands.
We’ve moved on from our mice problems. Slugs are the current menace. We prepare for pigeon attack next. It’s all go.
22 April 2020
For the last two years we have supplied the Cafe at the Green Pavilion in Buxton from April through to October with a weekly tray of salad leaves: organic produce with near zero food miles. This year’s lettuce, mustard leaves, rocket, mizuna, american land cress (very spicy), chives, coriander and parsley are filling the bed in polytunnel 1. We are shifting supply to the Buxton Covid 19 street by street support group.
We’ve always known we can’t feed Buxton. We can though add a little to the food parcels street by street volunteers distribute daily to households in need. The bulk of items come from supermarket donations. Our contribution will liven up the lettuce. Every little helps.
We’re also offering a plant of the week to people in households in need who are interested in growing their own veg and flowers. Again, the mutual aid group (https://buxtonstreetbystreet.co.uk/ ) will organise deliveries alongside the food drops. First out will be a range of tomatoes. As the poster said at our NoJoke Fringe 2019 event: ‘I love you from my head tomatoes.’
15 April 2020
Garden life is settling into a beguilingly placid routine. Our biggest concerns are squirrel attacks (successfully repelled) on tree seedlings destined for planting in Buxton Civic Association’s managed woods around Buxton and acrobatic mice chewing on pea and bean seeds. We thought we were winning that skirmish but the mice have opened a new flank with a raid on sunflower seeds. They left us just the husks. All pots now replanted, and balanced on a raised platform in the new greenhouse.
That second greenhouse went up in a day with concerted action by the Taylor family: ‘taylor-made’ for us. It’s filling up fast with flowers and fruit – including a fine specimen labelled ‘Gil’s Elderberry Experiment.’ We look forward to hearing the research parameters – and to eventually tasting the fruit cordial.
8 April 2020
Our dedicated, but dispersed as we observe physical distancing, team of fifteen clocked up forty four hours on site this last week. In addition countless hours have been devoted in households isolating but continuing to produce the goods for planting out in our communal garden when their time comes. A local arborist and his ground crew also spent a couple of hours on site pollarding a willow and pruning a trunk from another that threatened to foul our neighbours’ phone line. That work has yielded a happy bonus of increased light to a shady patch of land: room for more plants. Meanwhile the green roof on the compost loo is looking after itself, and looking lovely.
1 April 2020
We’re moving on from taking things a day at a time to a weekly plan, and making good progress. A small but perfectly formed team of volunteers are now on site for five days a week in a variety of configurations: groups of up to six for people comfortable with that; pairs for people who prefer to steer very clear of others just now; a couple who are keeping a guard up between themselves and everyone else; an individual who wants to be alone on site. Amongst that patchwork of cover, gaps may be used to fit in other activity – an arborist visiting to pollard the willow, a family group outing to erect a small greenhouse.
Other members of our Garden Society have set up their homes and gardens as satellite centres whilst they cocoon. On their last day out in Buxton, John and Gil brought a detailed ‘to do’ list and sealed containers of seeds for each month through to June. We’ve completed March and have made on early start on the April box. Gil is in touch to curb our enthusiasm over planting out more tender specimens. We will synchronise planting out broad beans, potato sowing and a green manure experiment led by Garden Organic (previously the Henry Doubleday Research Association). Margaret posts photos of the flowers she is cultivating at home, and in return gets shots of the spring bulb display she planted along our entrance border: entrancing.
The office of the Police Commissioner for Derbyshire has confirmed that Serpentine Community Garden is an essential work place, exempt from the necessary constraints on movement. On site, we observe rigorous hygiene protocols and physical distancing, calling to each other from either end of a polytunnel or across the rows of raised beds. We’ve been asked to provide video footage of activity as an exemplar of good practice for the Derbyshire website. Videoing each other in 30 second clips provided brief rest breaks in between maintenance and growing tasks: feeding the wormeries; tapping them for ‘worm juice’ liquid fertiliser; watering all the plants under cover; rolling our own plant pots; sowing brassicas and planting out onion sets; refreshing the slug traps with bottled shandy; cropping salad; sieving leaves and soil improver. There is much potting on to be done.