Weekly Reports for February 2021

28 February 

During the week the Planning Officer from HPBC came to take a look at the Garden. Our planning application for our third polytunnel must go to Development Control Committee (on 22 March 2021) as the land is owned by the council and the decision must be seen to be made in public. The planning officer on the case foresees no problem with approval. On that basis, we plan to press on with groundworks to channel water away from the base. We’re convening a working party for Saturday 20 March 2021 from 10.30 until 2.30 for people with excess energy in need of exercising. Picks and shovels on site. Refreshments will be served –  courtesy of Margot.  Please let us know if you’d like to book in to help out.

We have had a beautiful week of crisp February sunshine and more is forecast so spring is hopefully near. It was strange feeling the heat of the sun today whilst the wood chip path was crunching underfoot with frost. The temperature gauge in poly 1 showed that temperatures have just varied between 25.5c and minus 4.5c so it’s amazing that anything grows. The spinach in particular seems to like the variability

This week the regular volunteers had a Zoom session to check out that everyone is feeling on board with current plans. Also we took a further look at the principles of organic gardening. The boundary between organic and non organic is much more complex than I ever knew. Anne will do a presentation next Zoom time about growing of chillies, peppers pre-germination of lettuce amongst other things.

On site there has been a topping up of raised beds. Boundary fencing has had an impact on existing hedging. This has hatched an idea to rebuild the wildlife corridor along the boundary using bare root hedging and wildlife friendly plants. Marjoram has been divided and put in small pots. Fava beans are sown, crowned with holly to keep the peskie pests at bay. Helen’s experiment with bokashi compost continues and looks like it will find it way into the raised bed to nourish shallots, initially.

21 February 2021

Earlier today Alyson, Jane and I walked the site , taking an objective view of how the Garden is progressing. Finally a mild day and the accompaniment of busy birdsong, one not to hurry. We saw the product of great SCG teamwork co-ordinated very well by Martha; not easy as the working groups do not mix because of covid.

Out front a lot of hard work has moved forward preparation around the base of the old garage where we hope to erect our third polytunnel. In terms of planning a decision on our planning application for the third polytunnel was initially delegated to a named planning officer. It has now been referred instead to a Planning Committee meeting on Monday 22 March 2021. The consultation period has also been extended to 9 March 2021. We so far have ten supportive comments and a note from Highways that they have no objection.

In poly 2 the SCG growing plan is boldly presented and we followed it today by planting green manure fava beans and dividing up the demo bed into three zones to make it easier to get further planting in exactly the right place. Signs of early season life are apparent – the cavolo nero is doing well, the broad beans happily now thawed and cauliflowers fleeced like so much of the contents of the polytunnel and greenhouses. The potatoes have arrived on site this week and are ready for nurturing before they are planted.

Helen continues to enthuse us about the science of composting and currently about bokashi. In brief this is a great technique for people with limited space as it quickly gets an amount of compost decomposing and into the ground. The SCG log book of what is happening each session is nicely up to date and the whiteboard indicates the direction being taken by each of the sub groups of special interest.

Langley’s wonderful labels are making the herb area well presented. Melissa is making a strong contribution by working on seed orders – padron and Italian pepperoncini seeds, lemon grass, two basil species (which will serve as companion plants for the tomatoes in due course) to name but a few. Overall then looking good!

14 February 2021

Hello again and welcome this time to our supporters as well. Happy New Year to you all. ‘Happy’ for starters as ‘hope you are offered a vaccine shortly’ and ‘hope you achieve increasing levels of normality’.  Within the current restrictions we continue to have permission to open the SCG to volunteers only which we are doing with numbers strictly controlled and small groups attending on specific days and groups not mixing.

The snowy weather has resulted in a steady 2021 start on site including winter maintenance; compost-filling of raised beds; winter salad planting; sorting out of furniture kindly donated by Tarmac and inevitable clearing of snow from polytunnels.

Off-site people have been putting seeds into hundreds of packets. We have now replenished the seed library set up by Gil and John and have a large array of seeds in trays which we will circulate into the local community when it is appropriate to do so.

Martha engaged most of the regular volunteers on Zoom during the week to draw us together as a team and hear ideas and share views about how we keep working in the same direction whilst not able to see each other face to face. A key way we will do this is to work to the growing plan set up by Gil and John with interesting and helpful notes about the plants also provided by them too. So …we look forward to getting started on planting those seeds into the ground.

7 February 2021

Well we might be facing beasts from the east or such. Whatever you call it we are having quite a tough winter to add to these covid times. I can’t though recall a wintertime when the Serpentine Community Garden seems to be buzzing so much. Our Veg Growers group this week have been sorting out the onion sets to sprout, then in due course to plant. They have been picking lovely leeks too, jam packed with nutrition. 

Meanwhile the Compost Group has been debating the merits of bokashi buckets like you do. The herb wormery has been lovingly topped up with worms. The passion for compost generated by this group is worth bottling itself. Martha has done a stock take on behalf of the Fruit Grower Group. We have raspberries, blueberry, gooseberries, and fruit trees of various sorts to name but a few. The list is greater than I think most of us imagined. The Salad Growers Group is busy tending existing crops such as peas and spinach. As a seed order goes in, hot chillies have captured interest so watch this space for new additions to the Garden.

  All the groups are keeping in close touch with each other too to make sure that we stay co-ordinated. So egg boxes are being kept by all as the seed potatoes have arrived and will need to chit.

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