Working Notes - June 2023

25 June: Growing Well and Nature Tots started the week with a bang, letting off sunflower bombs around the garden before learning about compost mixes, organic pest control methods and making miniature bug houses to take home. With the caterpillar season seemingly upon us perhaps they could find somewhere attractive for the caterpillars to mingle, preferably far away from our brassica beds.

There has been plenty of netting and supports put in place throughout the week, and plenty of plants potted up, all of which looked great for those on today’s Buxton Garden Trail. The roses which were donated over the winter came into bloom at just the right time and looked stunning for the 70 visitors we had in the garden throughout the day. It was great to see so many visitors walking away with armfuls of plants and produce, as well as kids and young families taking an interest in some of the programmes on offer at the SCG.

A big thanks to everyone who has put the time and effort into getting the garden looking glorious throughout the year, and thanks to Madeline, Patty, Joe, Jane, Maria, Anne, Keith and Diane for coming in today to help with the running of the garden and taking tours. The weather helped too in making it a really positive day all round and meeting plenty of people who seemed keen on what the SCG has to offer.

18 June: After a few weeks of fine but very dry weather I’m sure you’ll all agree it’s good to have had a decent bit of rain. The water butts around the garden had run dry some time ago so there seemed no better time for our volunteers to give them a bit of a spring clean in preparation for the rain to come. Along with erecting a gazebo for shade cover and sewing together some netting for crop protection they have also planted out Mooli radishes, celeriac, turnips, courgettes and sowed some swede.

Outside of the garden I was lucky enough to spend a day working with the Buxton Wild Weeks team, planting a herb and wildflower garden with a small group of children at Fairfield school. I’m happy to say that the children really enjoyed the day, as well as all the other exciting activities throughout the week. We have also had had 13 Give Peas A Chance children who are collected from Burbage School each week and walked to the gardens through Lismore Meadow and Serpentine Park looking at plants, flowers and signs of nature. The first week was spent doing a Nature & Gardening Trail with them exploring all aspects of the garden.

Last night’s storm made watering a far easier prospect today, concentrating only on the greenhouses and polytunnels. It gave me time to take a real good look around the garden and take in how much has changed in the last few weeks, from the Stephenson’s peas appearing in their droves to the mammoth gourds taking over poly 1.

11 June: At the time of writing this email there are no signs of the rumoured rain clouds gathering over Buxton, though I hope for the garden we get some showers over the coming days. Full credit to our volunteers who have been off their feet, coming in numerous times throughout the week to keep the plants well watered. It’s a tough job watering and weeding inside the polytunnels, some of which are recording highs of 41 C.

Our two Growing Well groups started the week planting cucomelon, spinach, lamb’s and mixed lettuce before tasting an early harvest of radishes and tending to the bug hotel. The children from Serpentine Nursery visited the garden to explore the grounds and learn about the local wildlife, as did the kids from the Give Peas a Chance after school programme. I’m really pleased to see so many children using the garden and engaging with nature.
This week saw two events take place in the garden. Wednesday saw Anne run a workshop on salad sowing and growing and on Saturday was the SCG Social Picnic. I’m sad to say that I was unable to attend either event due to work commitments, though I’m sure Anne sowed some seeds of knowledge for those who could attend and I imagine I missed out on some delicious home baked treats on Saturday.
There has been a huge number of plants split and potted up for our donations table throughout the week including plenty of red cabbage, sprouting broccoli and tomatoes. We also received a huge donation of plants from Transition Buxton’s plant swap stall which was on the market yesterday afternoon. Please remember that every Sunday we are open for donations of excess produce and plants which we plan to share around local food banks to save on food waste. I have also been in talks with some local allotments who have agreed to email their allotment holders with information about our fresh food donations each Sunday.

4 June: May, as usual, was a busy old month. On top of the explosion of life throughout the garden we have held some very well received events including a study of compost mixes and recipes, planting a wildflower garden at The Palace Hotel and a child first aid course presented by The Mini First Aid Company. It has been great to see so many volunteers enjoying the events and this month has started just the same.

This week, Gil was on hand to lead a workshop on successional sowing, tackling pests organically, hardening off, potting on and planting out. Good to see the information provided through the workshop being put to use so soon, with some sacrificial plants dotted around the garden to satisfy the hunger of our greedy garden pests. Today, Francis volunteered to show a lovely group of children around the garden, teaching them about wildlife habitats and how to create their own bug hotels to re-wild their own gardens. We also have a new group of Give Peas a Chance starting this coming week. Every Monday we will be holding an afternoon programme for children aged 9 – 11 to learn about gardening and nature.

The majority of the week though was preparation for the Rotary Fair. In fact you could say the last couple of months have been in preparation with volunteers growing a large variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables, all of which helped us raise over £100 in donations while making some new acquaintances on the day. It was a real team effort across the board, with a special thanks to all the volunteers who gave up some of their Saturday to help set up and man the stall.

This coming week we have a couple more events on the agenda for your diaries. On Wednesday, from 11am, Anne and the salad folk (a good name for a band) will be giving their knowledge on sowing and growing everything salad related. And on Saturday the 10th, between 1pm and 3pm, we will be holding our volunteer social with a little picnic at the garden.

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