Weekly Reports for April 2021

4 April 2021

The spring weather continues to offer a range of experiences for volunteers and plants alike. The thermometer in poly 1 today had recently extended from 39.3 degrees c to minus 1.7c. The fleece is going on and coming off routinely to encourage the green shoots and the salads at least seem to be responding. Salad is featuring quite a lot in volunteers’ meals just now.

This week the paths have had a bit of attention, dead leaves have been trimmed and re-potting done. The flower borders have been tidied. Watering has become an essential part of each volunteer session and is likely to remain so for a while. Planting out continues including strawberries, celeriac, magnum bonum peas and setting up the netting up which they will hopefully climb.

Off-site volunteers’ window sills remain busy. Loving photos are being exchanged as proud growers broadcast that their tomatoes are germinating. Janette is nurturing sweet lemon, red and Greek basil in her conservatory and Melissa sings the praises the invention of heated propagators for turning seeds into seedlings. Meanwhile Helen is introducing composting methods used by Maeve in the 1930’s and why not?

11 April 2021

One of the WhatsApp entries between volunteers summed up the week by advising volunteers to attend the Garden with thermals and sunhats. Certainly a cold week with temperatures inside the polytunnels moving between 30 degrees c down to 3 under. Amazingly most of what we have planted is surviving even though growth is delicate at this stage of the season.

It seemed that the Sunday session, today, would be brief and unproductive as the Garden was clothed in snow but strong sunlight transformed the place. Patty got stuck into the greenhouse where many polygoniums had overwintered, cutting away dead foliage and ousting dead plants to leave this part of the Garden looking much better tended.

Alyson did a de-cluttering of the tree nursery in the cage and combined the contents with the netted pots which have been sitting on the worktop. Netting has kept away squirrels but not always the mice so quite a few pots were empty. How on earth oak trees survive when acorns are so tasty for animals I will never know.

Planting has continued including broad beans, sweet peas, cabbage and cauliflower. Inevitably some re-planting has also been needed such as the autumn mammoth and Hannibal leeks because we don’t always succeed first time. Lettuce has been pricked out and more compost made. Keith’s extension to the compost bays is already half full (and you can’t be a compost bay half empty person can you?).

Helen’s talk about the wormery was such a success that the requests are in for a repeat to be done. She makes composting so interesting and really no-one can do it like Helen.

The new poly tunnel shouldn’t be long in arriving, the electrician has been on site and the neighbour’s fence is nearly done – leaving a long section of banking just asking for some imaginative planting up very soon.

18 April 2021

A week is a long time in gardening so the saying goes. This time last week we were advising volunteers that we might not stay open for long because of the snow. Today it was glorious and the Garden felt like an oasis as all around us as the town filled up with visitors. Poly 2 maxed its temperature out at an amazing 46.6 degrees C.

The Garden has been busy as usual with useful jobs being done. Steve Taylor has installed the metal supports in readiness for the arrival of the new poly tunnel. Volunteers have added to preparations by shifting woodchip and stones. It all looks ready to go now so well done everyone who has contributed. Keith and Anne Wood have put wooden frames along the right hand greenhouse raised bed, now draped with fine netting. Last year the butterflies played havoc with our produce in the greenhouse but this year they can only be spectators.

Watering is back as a ‘must do’ task and the little stall is going outside for members of the public people to be able to take away surplus plants ideally for a donation. Potting up of tomatoes has continued and, during the week, we have moved on to planting broad beans. We are also on to the replanting phase as some of the first attempts didn’t make it – the batch of Roma for example. Margaret has brought in a selection of home-grown plants and planted them to brighten up the place. Add to this other planting such as borage, more work on composting and setting out leaf mould to dry and that was the week that was.

25 April 2021

This rather extraordinary April draws to an end as our polytunnel thermometer soars into the high forties but then also slumps to 5 degrees below. Watering has become a big part of the sessions through the week as the clouds offer little hint of rain.

It has been a month when volunteers wrap up warmly yet stick on the sun blocker and the dark specs. Our fledgling plants have been confused too and in some cases have given up, making a measure of replanting inevitable.

Planting continues and during the week has included French beans; sunflower seeds and lettuce. Potatoes have gone into the demo bed and ton bags. The fruit cage is set up to keep out the peskies. Cropping is currently taking place including salads, spinach, chives, parsley and broccoli. Very nice to take something home for tea.

Our intrepid team could not turn down the offer of an unwanted shed even knowing that it was in poor condition. The bug hotel will be the beneficiaries of the salvaged wood.  Penny’s solar dyeing experiment continues and we await the outcome.

Anne Wood has catalogued what fruit we have growing about the site and we do sound very bucolic when you hear the list. How about bloody ploughman apples; laxton superbs; worcester pearman; ellisons orange? Then add in some quince, mulberry, pear, blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberry. We have ’em all.

The Serpentine Community Garden is beginning to look outwards again as we emerge cautiously from covid 19. The ‘Give Peas a Chance’ project starts on 1 May and will see young people on site on Saturdays until the end of June. They will gain practical knowledge of growing and will have food as part of the day.

Plans are starting to very soon re-establish the popular monthly workshops run by John and Gil. The base plates for our new polytunnel are in place and ready for the arrival of the new equipment, thanks to Steve Taylor. Demi and Jenny have filmed a great video for the Great Science Share and it will go on our website once the GSS add their slides. Lots happening as usual.

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