Weekly Updates March 2022

27th March

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the weather. It’s been another busy week at the SCG, prepping for the season to come. But before I get into this weeks update let me first take a moment to introduce myself.

My name is Jim Leighton, one of the two new ‘Gardenisers’ enrolled by the SCG, starting from April 1st. Along with Melissa Koontz, our role as ‘Gardenisers’ is to help the SCG reach its full potential. From working alongside our trustees and weekly volunteers, recruiting new members, organising special events and activities and expanding our social media coverage, Melissa and I will be advertising our wonderful little garden to the world and working behind the scenes to keep everything running like clockwork.

My first task as ‘Gardeniser’ is to write the weekly updates, so here goes.

Firstly I’d like to thank Stephen for his time writing the weekly updates and for passing on his knowledge to me. I hope everyone looks forward to my emails as I know they did yours.

In the garden this week beds C and D have been cleared and topped up ready for sowing. The square foot bed has also had a makeover, with fresh soil improver and new dividers. The fine weather has meant lots of watering. Garlic has been planted beneath the fruit trees and a few variaties of tomatos (blue bayou, black truffle and koralik) have been taken home by volunteers for sowing.

Away from the garden I have come across some old photos of the Serpentine from it’s nursery days. I have left the photos on site (top drawer of the silver filing cabinet) for anyone who wishes to take a look over the next week. The owner of the photos hopes to unearth some more in the near future along with plans of the original buildings.

20th March

The weather has been getting progressively better throughout the week, ending with a bright and beautiful Sunday today. Sundays have been quieter working sessions lately but the sunshine brought out a number of strong supporters of the Serpentine Community Garden – John, Gil, Madeline, Carol, Jim, Alyson and Steve. Also a founder member of the Garden, Anne Holloway paid a us a visit while in town for a short time. Anne was able to reflect back to us many changes she observed since she moved from the area and it is encouraging to take stock in this way from time to time.

The week has seen a real sense of stepping up of the action, so here we go.

  • Seed sowing is well underway, with the growing programme taking centre stage again. Leeks, brassicas, sprouts, broad beans, lavender, coriander, morning glory and peas (magnum bonum and Stephens) are planted.
  • Planting out of lettuce bronze arrow and bloody warrior has been done and phacelia (green nutrition) has been dug in.
  • Kale and salad have been harvested.
  • Watering is back as part of the sessions as the warm spring air draws out the moisture.
  • A start has been made to clear the site for the new shed.

Other site maintenance carried out has included removal of twigs from the quiet area (which was very messy); removal of brassicas from the demo bed; filling a ton bag; cleaning the pond; weeding the square foot demo bed and composting raised bed B.

Elsewhere further brassicas were taken out as the blue netting had blown down and the dear birds had enjoyed a feast.

One of our newly appointed ‘Gardenisers’ Melissa has given us some really interesting information about what she is currently doing:

Just wanted to let you know that as the British Science Association’s East Midlands Community Leader with SCG, I will be hosting (on our behalf) several horticulture workshops locally, in schools and community groups. Over 10 days, more than 400 people will take part in SCG’s “Doing your bit: Food miles and sustainable food growth” workshops. Participants will learn how to do their bit to protect the environment and reduce their food mileage and footprint. We will dissect, harvest and reuse seeds from “wet and dry produce” as well as force root food scraps via water transportation. We’ll sow previously harvested seeds and play learning games like Food Trumps! The workshops were supposed to take place during British Science Week ….it all kicks off this week with a pop up Growing Well event at the Garden. Old and new Growing Well participants will come together to welcome in spring and to participate in gardening and wellbeing activities. I’ll be out in the community sharing the scientific knowledge and skills practised at SCG. Lots of links have made or strengthened to launch this out into the community (Transition Buxton, The Stronger Roots Project, High Peak Community Arts (Project Earth, etc). I’ve been pleased 100% of the people I contacted wanted to take part or get involved—that says something about SCG’s reputation and standing in the community.

Our other newly appointed ‘gardeniser,’ Jim will now be having a go at writing this weekly SCG briefing so welcome to him in anticipation of his contributions.

13th March

During the week we heard the outcome of the much awaited interviews. Melissa and Jim will job share the role of ‘gardeniser’ on a 2:1 ratio. They will be giving the work of SCGS its direction and will co-ordinate the work of the volunteers so we achieve our aims.

Melissa will also be developing, delivering and evaluating three ‘Growing Well’ courses (for people engaging in growing via prescription).

Rubi Sufi is joining us for the first time and is bringing a wealth of experience to SCGS. She will run one Growing Well course in year 1; two in year 2 and three in year 3. We wish all of them much enjoyment and success in their roles.

The Wednesday working group had a spring like feel about it with SCGS welcoming Jim and Richard signing up as members and we have a new name in the team too Matthew. The session looked busy with lots of soil improver and compost being moved.

Planting is underway with Buxton broad beans, Imperial Long Pod beans, fava beans and pak choi going in. The raised beds have been further filled, a second coat of Danish oil has been applied in P3 and a delivery has been taken of gravel and sand. Also various things have been potted on such as festucca and primula. Harvesting has included lettuce sprouts, kale and cress. The herb greenhouse has received a spring clean and the compost toilet has been cleaned and tidied (welcome back Margot!)

6th March – Seedier Sunday

Our original ‘Seedy Saturday’ event on 19 March took place on a very stormy day but still attracted a good number of visitors. A follow up event took place today and 20 visitors came with 5 people working on site. £61 was dropped into the box too. It feels very good to have visitors at the Serpentine Community Garden – like pre covid times.

A new shed has been commissioned and has made a very tidy tool store. A further donated shed will soon be available and used by people involved in on site projects.

Our National Lottery Community Fund grant of £95,914 is starting to make an impact as interviews take place tomorrow for the posts of ‘Gardeniser’ (cohesion/direction of work of volunteers) and Growing Well Programme Coordinator (leading programmes of ‘gardening by prescription’).  The people appointed will have the opportunity to give vital time and energy to take forward important aspects of developments on site.

On 2 April we will have children back on site for the next programme of ‘Give Peas a Chance’

On site during the week netting has gone up in Poly 2 for the peas; fava beans have been sewed for seed; broccoli was planted; mullein was transferred; a new compost bin was sorted out; some checking and t.l.c given to salads, sweet peas and broad beans; old labels removed; a side of the new bed in poly 2 dug out; watering done in the greenhouse and poly 1 (yes it’s started already!); weeding in poly 1; applying of Danish oil to staging in Poly 3; potting up various self-seeded plants.

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