Working Notes - Jan/Feb 2024

25 February – Another month has passed in the blink of an eye and we are getting closer to the start of the new growing season. This week our volunteers have sown a range of beans including Buxton Best, Imperial Long Pods and Fava. Our Sweetpeas have also been started in the large greenhouse as well as some additional herbs with coriander and chamomile seeds sown. Work on improving the soil in our raised beds has continued as has work on the raised beds themselves. Just a reminder that on the 3rd and 17th of March we will be holding some maintenance work days, hoping to complete the majority of the work on rebuilding the raised beds. Elsewhere, on the 31st of March, we will be holding our Easter Sunday Egg hunt as well as a special promotional afternoon for our Family Fun Days and other children’s programmes. On the day we will also be building a new small pond habitat for the children to explore. For anyone wishing to get involved with any of our children’s programmes this year please don’t hesitate to contact Melissa, Frances or me.

18 February – It seems to happen the same every year. We wait patiently throughout the winter, putting off those little odd jobs around the garden, thinking we have plenty of time before spring. Then before you know it the Snowdrops are out, daffodils and tulips are breaking through the soil and that list of chores you’ve been putting off all winter seems a little more daunting. Perhaps, like me, your house is overrun with tomato, pepper and aubergine plants on heat mats, determined to get an early start whilst jostling for growing space and hoping to avoid those lingering morning frosts.

Even here at the SCG time seems to slip away from us occasionally. With a bumper year of activities and events planned we are hoping to have the majority of our maintenance work completed by the Easter weekend. The Wednesday group have been doing a stellar job on the raised beds, and after speaking with Anne and Keith last week, I offered to help out where we could on Sundays, dismantling some of the old raised beds. I mean, how hard could taking apart some rotten timbers be?

Well as it turned out today – annoyingly hard. But with a little persistence, and a lot of bad language, we managed to dismantle half of the next bed, which will hopefully save the Wednesday group a little time. Elsewhere our volunteers have been cleaning down the polytunnels and raking out the pond in the woodland area, as well as sweeping out and organising the tool shed. The perennial kale has found a new home near the potager and has been replaced with a lovely budding Jostaberry plant.

Lastly, we are hoping to install a new small pond for the children’s groups to enjoy between the green shed and the bug hotel as the current pond in the woodland area is quite overgrown and tricky to explore entirely. If anyone has any comments about the idea please speak with me or Melissa and we can pass on your concerns.

11 February – It’s been another week where the weather has tried its best to dampen our spirits. The midweek snowstorm may have slowed some of our maintenance work but the preparation for Seedy Saturday was mostly unaffected. Our weekly volunteers gathered with their usual vigour to get everything in place and with a number of volunteers available on the day to welcome the 30 plus visitors we had on site. 

As well as prepping the site for Seedy Saturday some volunteers have busied themselves by putting together the sowing and planting plans for 2024, which can be found on the notice boards in Poly 3. Special mention to Jill, having put in many hours over the past months taking stock of the seeds, drawing up the raised bed plans and putting together the sowing dates. 
 
This morning, Frances and I had a wander around the garden, putting together a health and safety audit for the Nature Tots Risk Assessment. We also looked at how to make the most of the activity sites around the garden for the Nature Tots families. Nature Tots will run every Tuesday morning  from 9 – 10.30 am from the 2nd of April to the 24th of September with Pam, Diane, Maryla and Frances. 
If anyone wants to get in touch with them please email naturetotsbuxton@gmail.com

4 February – We still have a little while to go until the cold weather is behind us and we can really get stuck into the garden again. Still it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Throughout the week our volunteers have been continuing their work getting the garden ready for Seedy Saturday, taking place this coming Saturday, from 10am to 12.30pm. We have a fine collection of flower and vegetable seeds available as well as some Broom plants and other cuttings. Though the weather is looking a little chilly it will be well worth a look during a brisk morning walk. Elsewhere a few seeds have been sown including sweet peas, spinach, mizuna, lettuce and radishes, as well as a variety of flowers. As always we will be offering plenty of vegetable stock plants for the public throughout the season and a few volunteers are hoping to increase our potted flower stock to give our visitors a wider choice of plants to take home. We are also looking to increase our number of Family Friendly workshops, running every other Sunday starting on April the 7th, with a promotional day on Easter Sunday, including an Easter egg hunt. All dates will be updated on our calendar within the week and will be advertised on our social media pages there after.

Finally for any handy men or women looking for a bit of a workout we are currently working on renovations for our raised beds. Though work is in steady progress we are hoping a few extra hands may help things move along a little swifter. Having spoken with the Wednesday group, who have done the bulk of the work until now, we have arranged for a couple of Sunday maintenance days to lend them a hand. The dates are the 3rd and 17th of March, from 11am. We will also be working each Sunday from now on removing parts of the old beds, so for those who like a bit of demolition work you’re more than welcome to pop along.

28 January – I was pleased to arrive at the garden this morning to find little to no damage from the storm earlier this week. Safe to say what debris had fallen had already been dealt with by our weekday volunteers, and hopefully the weather is set to be a touch more settled for the next few weeks. Besides cleaning up after the seemingly never ending storms our volunteers have continued with their preparations for spring. The winter salads have had a good tidy up in poly 1 and the French tarragon is showing signs of new growth. The herbs have had a little prune and some gooseberry cuttings have been taken and potted up. The raised bed renovations continue with two existing beds back up and running and we have a real good stock of seeds prepared for Seedy Saturday, taking place on February the 10th, from 10am to 12.30pm.

Elsewhere I have been putting some plans together to add a few more family friendly workshops on our Sunday opening hours. The idea is to encourage young families to become passionate about nature and gardening. I’m hoping to run the workshops every other Sunday starting from the end of March or the start of April. Projects will include learning about seed sowing and saving, building cheap and easy raised beds, propagation and the benefits of organic gardening for us and the planet. I should have the dates earmarked on our online calendar within the next week or so. If anyone knows of any families who may be interested in these events or may want to get involved in helping organise the workshops themselves then please feel free to email me for more details.

21 January – With the frosty conditions persisting throughout the week it’s been difficult to get stuck into the garden for most of us. Still our volunteers haven’t been shy when it comes to facing the weather. Work has continued on the rebuilding of the raised beds and thanks to a fresh delivery of sand from Fairfield Builders we are able to continue work on building up our soil content. Our information sign outside poly 2, which was a casualty of the storm a couple of weeks back, has been re-erected and will hopefully stand up better to this current storm.

A lot of efforts this week have gone into preparations for Seedy Saturday. Throughout the weeks our groups have been organising and packaging our supply of seeds for the event. There is also a sign up sheet in poly 3 for anyone who would like to volunteer for the event. For those who noticed my mistake in last week’s email, Seedy Saturday is taking place on February the 10th not the 11th. Apologies for any confusion caused.

Lastly it seems there have been a few instances throughout the week where volunteers have found a couple of wild birds trapped in poly 2. I for one had released a bird from there last Sunday only for two more to be found on Tuesday. Again, on my arrival today, I found a bird inside poly 2. Having a quick nosey about I suspect they are getting in under the polytunnel doors. After releasing the bird today I debated whether to block the doorway with bricks but decided against it in case of trapping anything inside. Just thought it best to make everyone aware.

14 January – I hope everyone has been keeping themselves well wrapped up this week. With temperatures set to fall further I hope all you home growers have spared a thought for your gardens and allotments. Here at the SCG the winter months have been spent preparing for just this. After a few weeks away our volunteers have picked up where they left off.

The Tuesday group got things back underway and were welcomed by Jill with a harvest of chicory to share. Keith and the Wednesday group wasted no time in stripping one of a few raised beds back to the bare essentials in preparation for further maintenance work, while the Thursday group took to the task of trimming back some of the wild areas and getting an early start on planting a variety of sweet peas. Everyone throughout the week has mucked in with topping up the raised beds with a blend of leaf mould, soil improver, compost and sand, to give us the best chance of a bumper crop this year.
There is plenty more going on behind the scenes, with projects and events planned for throughout the year. Seedy Saturday, our first annual event, is penned for the 11th of February with Nature Tots looking to re-launch in early April. Give Peas a Chance will be back during the summer term as will another exciting community arts project. I am currently drawing up a plan of Family friendly Sunday projects too, so be sure to keep an eye out for more details on that, as well as dates for The Rotary Fair, The Buxton Garden Trail, our Summer Bizarre, The Fringe Awards, Apple Day and plenty more.

7 January – I’d like to start by saying thank you to everyone for their festive wishes and hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and new year. Supposedly 2023 was the 3rd wettest year in Buxton since records began in 1860, so let’s hope 2024 brings a little more sunshine for us all.I suspect I am not the only one feeling a little groggy after a little too much festive fun. And, as I do every new year, I’m looking after myself a little more than usual. And what better way to give myself a little physical and mental boost than to take a stroll down to The Serpentine. As we will be open again as of Tuesday this week, I thought it best to see how the garden had fared against the onslaught of storms of late. There were a few casualties, including a pane of glazing from the flower greenhouse and the sign outside poly 2, which has been upended. But nothing we can’t handle over the coming weeks. I have also dropped off a donation of 2 olive trees which need a little TLC and a new home.

As for 2024 there is plenty to look forward to. Over the next couple of months we will be working on planning and preparing for this year’s crop. From renewing our raised beds and starting our seed sowing plan there will be plenty to keep everyone busy. We hope to grow our ever expanding volunteer list too, so if you know of anyone curious about the garden please feel free to pass over my contact information. Come the spring we will be opening the garden for our extra programmes including Growing Well, Nature Tots and our family fun days. I’m also hoping to bring some new activities to our Sunday opening hours, including guest speakers, so look out for further updates over the coming weeks.

 

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