Weekly Updates for August 2021

29th August

There is plenty to take away presently from the Serpentine Garden with a lot of cropping going on – beans, salads, cavolo nero, blueberries and tomatoes now on offer. The potatoes are being dug up with productivity being keenly contested by the Setantas, Kerrs Pink and Nicola. The latter is ahead at present based on results from the demonstration bed. Potatoes from the ton bags are yet to yield their secrets so the final outcome may change.

Meanwhile there is steady activity on site weeding and watering. The fruit trees have been topped up with compost and more lettuce has been planted. The tomatoes have been clipped of their surplus shoots and shadowing leaves to display what looks like a good crop of many varieties of tomatoes.

Margaret has taken pole position of the silver greenhouse as a base for flower growing and an immediate sense of tidiness and order is already apparent. Today a kind man called Andy dropped by with two apple trees and a pear tree all about 5ft tall and they will make their new home at the Serpentine Garden.

The WhatsApp group has debated the mystery of apparently rampant round courgettes in poly 1 which have owned up to actually being squash. Penny informed us that there are 7039 edible plants in the world (how does anyone ever manage to count I wonder?) Anyway just 417 are acknowledged as being major crops.

22nd August

The week just gone seems to be one where it forgot to be summer and darkness and drizzle has been the theme. It’s looking good next week though as our plants continue to reach cropping time. This week courgettes, runner beans, broad beans and New Zealand spinach seem to have been the main features. Some more seed gathering has taken place too. Onions are out to dry.

There has been plenty of maintenance going on with thinning out of dead or dewey leaves and trimming of over enthusiastic bean plants. Full battle is now on with the caterpillars trying to take up residence on leaves of brassicas.

John and Gil’s workshop duly took place on Wednesday with harvesting as the topic. John has followed up the workshop by making people aware that the Heritage Seed Library has complete seed saving guidelines which will definitely be of interest to some of our volunteers. Likely workshop ideas are already shaping up for September (tomato tasting) and October (planning 2022). More details to follow.

15th August

The SCGS volunteers never cease to amaze me. Every week someone does something special. This week’s surprise was from Melissa who will become the East Midlands British Science Association Community leader. Taking forward Frances’ previous work with British Science Week, SCGS applied to the British Science Association’s Community Leaders programme.  After an interview, Melissa was able to confirm that we were chosen as Derbyshire’s Community Leaders.  This programme provides workshops and training for community groups, just like ours, to further entrench ourselves into the wider community. It also gives £1,000 to go towards an outreach programme (Growing Well). It requires involvement in 2022’s Science Week, but I am sure we can come up with something quite fun for that. Well done SCGS team!

The ‘Growing Well’ groups attend on Mondays for people attending ‘on prescription for health reasons and has been growing both people and plants for 7 weeks now.  People attending  started the programme feeling isolated, some with very little sense of purpose or confidence. Two were unsure if they would even make it the first week.  How they have bloomed! They now lead conversations and want to know when they can meet more people at the Garden.  It has been just brilliant.16th August is the last week of the Growing Well pilot programme.  We will evaluate things and plan to start with a new cohort in September.

Someone asked in the week during a radio programme.”What can an individual do to combat global warming?” The answer seems to be to take every opportunity as it presents itself. Helen gave a good example during the week by accepting a pile of grass clippings from a Council worker for the Garden. If she hadn’t done so the clippings would have gone to landfill and created gas. Helen pointed out that if 1% of the world composted that is the equivalent of 3.5 million acres of trees. Phew!

Out on site its been business as usual for August with weeding, watering, early seed collecting, clipping back plus work on the new poly tunnel.

8th August

Well how many downpours can the weather manage in one day? Several days during the past week would be contenders for the highest number which has seen our volunteers scuttling in and out of the polytunnels and the greenhouses. Watering outside was at least taken care of by the elements.

Keith has made visible progress on the new polytunnel and has taken us closer to the big moment when it will be all hands on deck to get the cover onto the steel structure.

Essentially it is cropping time and during the week people have taken away broad beans, courgettes, broccoli, runner beans, cucumber, radish, lettuce, cavolo nero and peas.

Some seed gathering has started. Peas in poly 2 have started to drop and among them an artichoke which has kept a low profile was doing the same thing. Nasturtium seeds, ever popular when offered to the community, are also gathered in a tray.

Last year our failure to net the greens growing in the greenhouse resulted in significant damage from pests. This year was different but the week offered a reminder of the dangers of complacency. Craig and Holly removed the netting to promote cross pollination of the crops but found plenty of caterpillars enjoying the leaves. There are a lot less caterpillars now but we need to be vigilant.

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