Weekly Reports for September 2020

24 September 2020

Just 21 days after notice of demolition of the old tractor garage, the deed is done.  We are grateful to HPBC, to DCC and to their appointed contractors for a prompt and professional job. Volunteers spent a happy hour (alcohol-free) yesterday pacing out our new estate. We plan to transform the space as we have transformed the old plant nursery. We’ll see if the soil will support a mini-orchard, fill a new wall of ton bags with well mixed soil for fresh planting and see if there are suitable locations for a couple of beehives.  Coincidentally, we were contacted by a passer-by in Serpentine Walks stung by a bee on two consecutive days. Were these our honey bees? No, but that’s something to think about when we decide on new development.

We’re pleased that last week’s request for strawberry runners bore fruit. We now have a quarter of the fruit bush bed underplanted with a variety labelled ‘Patty’s.  Next week we will have another section of ‘Margaret’s’. There’s space for two more in the bed.

The seed order, collated by John and Gil with enthusiastic support from the veg team, is shaping up nicely. Careful seed harvesting, collection and cataloging cover nearly three-quarters of our needs but it’s fun to pore over brochures for fresh supplies and new varieties. And an unusual request this week. Oyster mushroom cultivation needs a clean medium limiting micro-organisms which compete with the mushroom spawn. Straw is good for this, so are coffee grounds. We used to collect coffee grounds for composting from Waitrose but they no longer offer hot drinks so the supply has dried up. Are there other coffee houses, or houses that go through a lot of coffee, who can help?

17 September 2020

We’ve made the most of fine weather this week, sowing fresh lettuce for the salad beds and Swiss Chard ‘Rainbow’ for trialling in a new bed. It’s a challenging spot, partially shaded stony ground: few vegetables would thrive in those conditions but chard has a chance. Time will tell. We take heart from an earlier trial sowing carrots in a trench of grit sand which has worked well. Janette’s taken some home for the taste test.

Opening the old depot to drop-in visitors for their own taste of what we’re producing has brought its own fresh crop – people asking to join the volunteer team. We are now up to maximum numbers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Friday mornings and Sundays. In October, all being well, we will launch a Tuesday volunteer session.

Martha, a new volunteer, has further volunteered to shadow John and Gil in their work as seed guardians for the Heritage Seed Library. This is great news, building resilience for our own project and for the national collection.

For the more immediate future, we’re working on the seed and planting plan for next year. New ideas include micro-greens for quick results for the groups of 11-14 year olds on our Cadent-funded project ‘Give Peas a Chance’ starting in April 2021; cultivation of oyster mushrooms, growing bilberries from seed and softwood cuttings; and underplanting fruit bushes with strawberries. We have lots of wild strawberries but want to supplement them with bigger varieties. If you have strawberries which do well in Buxton, we’d welcome some runners.

10 September 2020

Nine days in to meteorological autumn (which starts on the first of September) we took down the shade netting from the large greenhouse. It was the sunniest day for a while. Buxton weather continues to confound. We look forward to a late flush of unscheduled summer.

Seed collection is coming along nicely with new stock stored in paper bags in the filing cabinet once dry. Although we aren’t planning a January seed swap this year, we will set out a selection of packs in the Pavilion foyer in the New Year. We’ll also sow more ourselves this year taking full advantage of our covered growing space so that we can offer plug plants when they’re ready for the outdoor elements next May.

We now have a regular roster of volunteers covering three days a week plus one morning visit for cropping salad supplied to the Cafe in the Green Pavilion. Two days are at maximum numbers. (We’re a workplace of over half an acre, largely outdoor, so are not affected by the stricter limits on social groups meeting. However, we have agreed a maximum of ten people in the working Garden at any one time.) In October, all being well, we will launch another working day so we can spread ourselves, and make space for a few more people who wish to join the volunteer teams.

3 September 2020

Great news. We had confirmation this morning that the condemned tractor garage in the old depot area is to be demolished and cleared in the three days 21 – 23 September. DCC contractors commissioned by HPBC will undertake the work. Normal volunteer activity will be suspended as a safety measure, resuming on Thursday 24 September. We are grateful to the council for its practical support for a community resource and for moving swiftly once a decision was reached.

Clearing the garage clears the ground for agreement of the new long-term lease, agreed in principle last year.  Secure tenancy opens up great opportunities for further development. Hooray, and thanks to all our supporters and friends.

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