Working Notes - November 2023

26 November  – I hope everybody has had ample time to prepare for the first frosts this week? Our volunteers, as ever, were one step ahead of the game, fleecing the greenhouses and turning over any compacted soil and replenishing the beds with fresh compost. The last of the potatoes were harvested and everywhere has had a real tidy up. Anne was also kind enough to send me an update of the 2023/24 seed planning meeting for me to share with you all. I’ll leave the attachment with this email. The Growing Well gang compared 3 types of kale we have on site. Each of Cavolo Nero, Kalettes and Perpetual kale were studied by the children, who also checked over the other brassicas around the garden before making clay hedgehog bird feeders to take home.

Though the cold can play havoc in the garden I do enjoy the brisk mornings this time of year. Of course they can also be treacherous, hence why I’m happy that we finally finished work on the entrance to poly 3 this afternoon. A big thanks to Margeret, Patty and Linda for lending a hand over the past few weeks, and apologies to any of our neighbours who had to endure the noise of a concrete breaker this afternoon. I’m sure they are as happy as me to finally have the work complete and let’s hope the increased drainage can stand up to whatever the winter has to offer.

A quick reminder to all volunteers that I hope to have someone come by in the next week or so to remove any unwanted scrap that has built up over the year. If anyone wishes to keep any of the scrap metal to the side of and behind poly 3 please leave a message with Melissa or me to keep it separate from anything else to be taken away.

19 November  – One of the objectives for the SCG is to grow people as well as plants. Throughout the year we conduct a wide range of activities to teach young people about the environment and what we can do to live in harmony with it. From plastic pollution, toxic chemicals and the advantages of organic gardening, there is plenty to learn.

This week, Melissa and the Growing Well gang searched and discovered new habitats around the garden as well as taking a deep dive into how soil works and the importance of fungi and worms within it. I’m sure the children enjoyed the day, especially warming up with a course of hot chocolate and biscuits. Away from the garden, Melissa, Madeline, Gil and Carole took to The Dome for the annual Eco Conference, providing workshops on soil and compost making for the young people of Buxton.
Back in the garden and work is well underway with preparing for winter. The large greenhouse has been mostly cleared and any empty beds have been replenished with soil improver and compost. The raised beds in Poly 1 have been reinforced with new timber and Fairfield Builders have delivered a tonne bag of 10mm limestone to improve drainage outside poly 3. Unfortunately time and the weather was against me on Sunday, so work is still ongoing with the extension on the french drain outside poly 3 but we hope to have it completed soon.

12 November – It’s been another pretty wet and wild week and early indications suggest another storm could be on the horizon. With that in mind we had decided to start maintenance work around the garden before the real heavy weather kicks in. During the week our daily groups were concentrating on removing the last of the canes and netting before giving the greenhouses and polytunnels a good clean. It looks as if Keith has been busy as ever, doing a grand job repairing the raised beds in Poly 1. I also noticed Jill had set up a dark spot in Poly 1 to force some chicory. I look forward to seeing the results over the next few weeks.

Today we attempted to tackle the problem of the bog in front of the social tunnel. It was hard going in spots but we managed to remove a large section of the area down to the solid base. We also excavated a small trench which will soon be back filled with stone to add drainage from the problem area. The work will probably take another week or so to complete so please be mindful that the entrance to poly 3 may be a little uneven until then.

5 November – As the days turn colder and the long nights draw in, our summer sanctuaries can quickly become a little less accessible. But no matter the weather, here at the SCG we like to keep things fun, whether it’s carving pumpkins or pressing apples. Growing Well didn’t let the weather ruin their final session of the year, instead making bird feeders from pine cones and peanut butter to hang about the garden. They also spent the time searching the garden for habitats, finding 1 bat box and 7 bird houses.

We have also harvested the last of our beans, leeks, onions and raspberries, while planting out garlic bulbs and sowing spinach. Our flower seed stores have also been topped up with packages including coneflowers, french marigolds, zinnias, chamomile and curry plants. But as the gardening winds down we are turning our attention to other matters, mainly of maintenance. Work has already began, with the gutters being cleared of leaves and the cold frames having some recycled lids installed. Next week we hope to solve the issue of the boggy entrance to Poly 3 before moving on to renovating some of our raised beds.

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