Working Notes - December 2022

18 December 2022: It’s been fairly quiet this week at the SCG. Our volunteers have been keeping their hands warm having a general tidy up around the site and storing seeds, protecting them from the damp within the polytunnels.

Today a festive gathering was held with donations of hot drinks and mince pies coming from Morrisons. It was great to see so many faces brave the elements for a cuppa and a few laughs and to those who could not attend due to illness I wish them a speedy recovery. As always the weather played its part. The pathways were treacherously icy underfoot and our water supply was frozen stiff. But with a little sand and the help of a neighbour we were soon well watered and taking to the terrain like mountain goats.

Yet as I write it seems the temperature is picking up and the ice is thawing. The garden is now closed for Christmas and will open again from the 9th of January. So to everyone in this green fingered family I wish you all a Merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

11 December 2022: Though it may be cold and a little treacherous underfoot I enjoyed my journey this morning into The Serpentine, taking in the snow flecked scenes of the Pavillion Gardens and watching the geese on the lake. Had I a little more time I would have stopped by Project eARTh’s seed exchange box, which was put on display this week in the foyer, for local people to share and swap seeds.

On entering the site this week I see that some of our volunteers have been in the holiday mood and dressed the apple tree in a festive garb, which looked particularly pretty against the snow. Had only I been sharp enough to take a photo of our resident robin perched upon the decorations it would’ve made the perfect picture for a Christmas card.
With the impending frosts our volunteers were quick to act throughout the week, draining and switching off the irrigation system as well as storing our less hardy plants indoors and fleecing any seedlings in the polytunnels, with temperatures dropping below -6C throughout the night.
4 December 2022: November has been and gone in a flash. Though the garden itself is in a mostly dormant state the spirit of the Serpentine is always growing. We were well attended at Transition Buxton’s student conference on climate change, where hundreds of students from 7 local schools met with local organisations to discuss projects for helping the environment. The new growing plans for 2023 are in development, with seeds and materials for new raised beds in the pipeline. Growing Well has wound down for the winter, and like the bulbs recently planted in our walkways, we look forward to their return come spring. However, for now winter is certainly upon us. The days may be a little shorter and the nights a little colder but you will find us in the garden, in scarfs and hats and gloves, and smiles on our faces. Despite the sudden cold snap there has been a bit of a spring clean happening throughout the garden. New furniture is being built and arranged and the old is being organised. The social tunnel in particular is benefiting from a good clear out as some volunteers braved the cold to give Poly 2 a once over with soapy water (though a plan and/or specilised tool is required for those hard to reach areas).

Chives have been removed and split whilst rocket and corn salad have been planted under cover of the polytunnel. There has also been a collection of seeds for companion planting, including tagetes, marigolds and cerinthe.

A big thank you to Anne Wood and transition Buxton for arranging our crop of potatoes for next year, including 1st early Pentland Javelin, 2nd early Charlotte and Kestrel and main crop Desiree, King Edward and Picasso. Though pre ordering is now closed, on the 28th of January Transition Chesterfield’s Potato day will be selling surplus stock and Inspire Community Garden will be selling a range of green manures at the Pavements shopping centre, Chesterfield, between 9.30am and 1.00pm.

Also, Buxton’s Seed Exchange, decorated with ceramics by High Peak Community Arts’ Project eARTh participants, is ready for installation in Pavilion gardens. On Tuesday 6th December 2022 the beautiful box will be filled with seeds for sharing and placed within the foyer of Pavilion Gardens for maximum, and dry, public access. This is a great opportunity for Buxton and the High Peak home growers to exchange and share seeds from crops which do well in our particularly challenging climate. Serpentine Community Garden volunteers will be topping up and replenishing stock regularly. Come and try.

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