Weekly Reports for January 2021

31 January 2021

We are hoping to erect a third polytunnel at the Serpentine Community Garden on the base left by the old garage. We need planning permission before we can do so and we hope you can support us as outlined below by Madeline. I have sent in my comments. Those familiar with my IT skills will realise that it must be easy!

Our  application) for full planning permission for the third polytunnel is on the HPBC planning portal. The consultation period runs to 26 February with a decision by 19 March 2021. This is your opportunity to look at the plans, and at the accompanying Habitat and Heritage statements. We would welcome supportive comments. Anyone is free to add a comment online. All are published. There’s an alert on the web page about a technical problem with posting online – but the problem seems to be fixed so it’s fine to use the online form.

Like every organisation we have long since forgotten what ‘normal’ means. Our latest efforts to keep focussed at the SCG is inviting regular volunteers to join WhatsApp groups of interest in fruit growing; salads; veg; compost or  flowers. Well the WhatsApp’s have all been red hot and promise to help people concentrate on their personal interests but also to brief others about what needs doing when on site. A good start clearly made on this.

24 January 2021

It’s been another proper winter week in Buxton with the ground sodden by rain or melting snow. Most gardeners are sticking firmly indoors but the Serpentine keen volunteers have still been getting some work done. Maximum and minimum temperatures are being  carefully read to give clues about when some planting might go ahead. Sieving of leaves and compost mixing have helped warm people up apart from giving a foundation for the growing season. Some paper pot making has taken place ready for the sweet peas. A few are already underway too.

Off site, WhatsApp has been busy keeping people connected. A decision has been made about how our much loved potager will be managed this year. It will feature rainbow colours with each section contrasting. The foot square plots offered seem to have been all taken now so we will see in due course how people will use their micro areas for growing and hopefully experimentation and learning.

Penny has produced sprouting alfalfa in the midst of January which looks pretty rewarding and better than micro salads.

17 January 2021

During cold January it might seem quiet at the Serpentine Garden but behind the scenes c/o WhatsApp there is plenty of activity. Several people are growing mushrooms off site with varying success, mould being an issue in some cases and advice what to do about it flowing back and forth. Not many people can identify xylaria hypoxylo from a WhatsApp picture! Copper mesh was another topic, and garlic watering to deal with slugs, greenfly on avocado. Who says we are a bit keen?

Martha has rounded up the ‘regulars’ on Zoom for a ‘catch up’ which highlighted interest in organic principles, herb growing and uses of herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes. Martha has also developed a useful virtual notice board to which volunteers will be adding photos, comments and files so we keep well connected despite ensuring on-site working groups stay firmly apart for covid reasons.

On site the pak choi is doing well and garlic and hyssop are starting to show. Sweet peas have been planted and the squares for volunteers to grow what they wish have been laid out with cords plaited by Margaret. A tree survey has been done round the old depot, the area where we hope to be able to erect another polytunnel if permission is granted. Ruth has been back on site adding to our photographic record of the Garden too. All in all the grass is not growing under our feet.

10 January 2021

Hello everyone at the end of a cold snowy week. The small working groups through the week have been doing a range of typical off season tasks – knocking snow off the polytunnels; sweeping; bubble wrapping/fleecing up the wormeries so we have happy, snug worms doing their work; leaf mould has been sieved. An important job was pinning  growing plans onto relevant raised beds to ensure planting is done in the right place. Once seeds are planted out of place there is a knock on effect as we found last year. Having the plans on the beds should help us stick firmly to the growing  plan. A small amount of harvesting was still possible, some salads and kale were picked.

The Thursday group devoted some time to discussing herb categories – medicinal, exotic or culinary which will be good prep for a WhatsApp chat due to take place shortly among some volunteers about the herb area. The herbs seem to be attracting particular interest amongst current volunteers. Ruth Eyre was on site on Sunday. She is doing a photographic record of the Garden and made a start by snapping the site very much in winter down time.

3 January 2021

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.

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