Working Notes - August 2023

27 August 2023 – It was another soggy Sunday today at the SCG and it got me thinking about the impact this rather wet, tepid summer had had on this years harvest. Though our tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers were maybe not quite as bombastic as they were last year, I’m surprised to say that most things are doing quite well.

Week after week we’ve had a constant supply of courgettes, peas and beans, and the salad leaves have been as steady as ever. After a slow start to life, Janette’s basil has also gone great guns, bringing those mediterranean vibes to Poly 2. Another success has been this year’s brassicas in the new outdoor raised beds, thanks to some early netting we have the best cabbages I have seen in the few years I have been on site. The same can be said for the celeriac, which has been receiving plenty of extra attention to keep constantly moist. Our fruit trees, which are often overlooked during very dry spells, are looking like producing plenty of fruit for our Apple Day on the 22nd of October too.

All in all then perhaps the weather hasn’t been as damaging as I first thought, though a few weeks of sunshine wouldn’t go amiss either. This week work continued on the wild area to the rear of Poly 3. Though more discussion is needed on the extent of the clearing in general, work will continue this week, forking over and clearing the waste from an area dedicated for the children to build a den for outdoor learning activities and a path leading to it. It’s another big project to get stuck into over the autumn and winter months, which I for one am looking forward to.

20 August 2023 – It doesn’t seem too long ago I was planning on what to do around the garden in preparation for the summer. Now it seems I’m preparing for autumn, without achieving too much of what I had planned. I’m hoping we may experience a bit of an Indian summer, but I’m not holding my breath.Growing Well was postponed this week, and to make things worse I arrived on site this morning to find their tomato crop had collapsed under its own weight. Thankfully, with the help of Patty, we were able to save the majority of the fruit.

Richard and Lewis have done a grand job putting together a rough plan for the wild area behind Poly 3. The plan is drawn up on the whiteboard and very much in its infancy but feel free to get involved and voice your thoughts on the project and what you’d like to see the area used for. Personally I feel a quiet wildlife viewing area could work well.

Our tomatoes are starting to ripen nicely and we have a good glut of potatoes stored in the green shed for anyone in need of a few extra spuds for their Sunday lunch. Speaking of spuds I’m on the hunt for somewhere local to get some summer sowing potato seeds to donate to the GPAC children to grow their own veggies for Christmas day. If anyone has any leads feel free to give me a shout.

13 August 2023 – As our early potato crop is ripe for harvest the Growing Well gang took a closer look into the world of spuds as their Veg of the Week. FUN FACT: potatoes originate from South America and were brought over to Europe in the 1600s.

Having learned from last year’s brassica massacre we netted this year’s beds as soon as they were planted. During the week we removed the nets for a bit of TLC; re-staking the plants, removing excess leaves and raising the hoops and netting. All the plants are looking strong, the cabbages in particular are really coming along nicely.
After a nice harvest of blackcurrants the shrubs have been pruned back and the cuttings potted up in the cold frames, along with some mint and rosemary, while the social tunnel has an array of herbs, onions and garlic braided and hung to dry.
We have had some positive feedback this week from the council with plans to remodel the wooded area behind the social tunnel. A few volunteers will be putting some preliminary ideas together for everyone to take a look at and see how we proceed in the future.

6 August 2023 -July was a bit of a washout to say the least. The cold and the rain have had quite an adverse effect on our crop, except for our celeriac which is thriving in the damp conditions. Despite the consistent gloom we have had a few spots of sunshine throughout the month, most notably with our Summertime Beano with mocktails and live music from No Joke and The Shortcomings.

Unfortunately August hasn’t brought about much change on the weather front so it was indoor jobs for most of us again throughout the week. Growing Well made a batch of potting compost to sow an array of radishes and salad including red kitten spinach, french breakfast radish, rainbow beetroot, romaine lettuce, mizuna, pak choi and more. They also took a deep dive into the world of sweetcorn, which was their Veg of the Week.

Hugo, one of our newest volunteers, was kind enough to donate 30 copies of Frank Tozar’s books, The New Vegetable Growers Handbook and The Organic Gardeners Handbook, to us. Due to his kindness we have taken many donations this week in exchange for the books, and anyone interested in a copy will be pleased to hear there are still some spare on site if interested.

Whilst popping my head into the garden throughout the week it has been great to catch up with our midweek volunteers. I don’t often get a chance to get involved on a school day due to other work commitments, so to be able to talk one on one about ambitions for the future of the garden is really important. There seems to be a real positive outlook amongst the groups, and with so many exciting projects on the horizon I get the feeling there are some exciting times to come.

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