6 & 10 October
We have had our first frosts which have knocked over some of the outdoor plants. The changeable weather has been a feature of the year. Even with the benefit of the polytunnel, we have now finished cropping salads for the year. Looking back at our records, this is very early. Last cropping in 2017 was 7 November, and in 2016 an amazing 12 December! It may have been another very warm year, but it seems to have been the wrong sort of warmth at the wrong time for our plants. But we have new things growing. Overwintering lettuce have been pricked out and wallflowers and Chilean Glory Vine are showing strong seedlings. We have generously been given apples, fruit bushes and compost bins and a further greenhouse is in course. We feel very blessed. The team have worked hard to ensure we are all set up for the Tarmac team day project and that everything is in place for Apple Day.
13 & 16 October
A busy week since last Wednesday. Thursday saw a group from Tarmac having a team building day on site during which they did an enormous amount of work including building a new handrail and resurfacing the approach path, completely refurbishing and filling one of the large abandoned octagonal planters, and fitting several bird boxes in place. And it all looks as if it “belongs”. Friday was the last of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Nature Tot sessions, a bit of a party for Tots who were completely undeterred by the awful weather. We have loved welcoming them over the ten sessions – and they left us with a box of useful goodies not least tea, coffee and biscuits! The Sunday was Apple Day – many people, many apples turned in to juice, and great “spoon” puppets facilitated by Stone and Water. Then on Wednesday it was back to more normal activity. Light came to the polytunnels as a result of an annual clean of the outside with brushes and water. Just a bit of finishing off to do over the tops – any very tall volunteers available?
20 & 23 October
Sunday was our AGM – informative, thoughtful, well dressed people and productive as we look ahead to the next twelve months. Wednesday was a contrast. Still very productive, but less well dressed and accompanied by a rather persistent aroma. Our friends at Able Tree Service collected and delivered a load of “soil improver” from Waterswallows. On arrival, it was still warm and noticeable from some distance away. Most has now been shifted to a storage bay and will keep us supplied with the ingredients for mixing potting compost and mulching the raised beds. As if that wasn’t enough, we also started spreading well rotted horse manure on another raised bed. Frost seems ever closer and frost will lead to falling leaves so we are ensuring we have space to receive and mature them. We really appreciate the support given by our friends in the community as we build the fertility of the growing areas on the site.
27 & 30 October
Our tallest volunteer, plus stepladder and long handled brush has cleaned the polytunnels’ covering and transformed the amount of light reaching the inside. A great job. Our monthly workshop explored volunteers’ ideas for sowing and growing in 2020. It was a very productive session. We now have to convert the ideas into a coherent plan. We are trialling sowing acorns, conkers etc. to see if we can germinate them and establish saplings for planting out in the community and woodlands. The group also agreed to take on one of Garden Organic’s experimental projects in 2020, underplanting French beans with a green manure. Plenty to do and to learn!