Working Notes - October 2022

31 October 2022: It’s been surprisingly warm for the time of year, if a little soggy, but we don’t let it dampen our mood. Growing Well started the week full of beans. Pests were picked and poppy seeds were planted in Buxton’s no 1 insect hotel, which also had fresh lashings of compost deposited throughout. Hyacinth bulbs were planted for Christmas while the two groups painted spooky Halloween pictures and learned about different flower seeds around the garden.

The Tuesday team looked to have been just as busy, covering all the pathways in fresh woodchip as well as working on the wormery and breaking down the compost bays. Wednesday saw a haul of 2 tonnes of soil improver delivered from Waterswallows. A special thanks to Anne and John Sellors for the pick up and delivery of 3 individual trailer loads and to Melissa and all the volunteers who helped with the unloading at our end. Thursday began the prep work for the raised beds, loosening the spent soil and replenishing it with fresh compost and improver. Tomatoes were harvested and the finished plants were cut back and removed, as were our brassicas, carrots and onions. There has also been a little time to sow some red kale, garlic chives, pak choi and American land cress in the large greenhouse and into the salad tunnel.
Today saw our volunteers continue their work on the newly cleared area around the tool shed, that was until rain stopped play. Meanwhile I dropped in on a meeting with Frances, John and Gil to learn more about the Buxton Nature Tots programme we hope to have up and running from next spring. Our aim is to give young families a place to go together to interact with nature.If you would like any more details on the Nature Tots programme or would like to get involved yourself please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

23 October 2022: While we continue to tend to this tiny piece of planet we call The Serpentine, know that we are forever planning for the future. Inside the social tunnel you may notice a brainstorm board in the far corner. This is for anyone and everyone who wishes to share their ideas and views on what they would like to see in the garden next year. We have ideas ranging from wildflower meadows and craft days to expanding next years growing programme to include more exotic foods, including ginger, West Indian Calalloo and bottle necked gourds. The list, like most things in the garden, grows bigger by the week, so please don’t hesitate to jot down your idea or start a conversation over a cup of tea.

Having taken shelter from this morning’s deluge, I took a little time to look over the tomato tasting table to see four varieties which scored head and shoulders above the rest. Koraliko, Broad Ripple, Blue Bayou and Green Bell scored superior for taste, texture and overall appearance compared to the other varieties grown, so I expect to see them on the seed list again for the new year.

Thankfully the rained eased in time to travel to Poole’s Cavern, where we held our AGM. It was a fine turnout of fine people. Ruby and Melissa gave an impassioned talk on how Growing Well has developed throughout the year, and showed that the garden doesn’t just benefit us physically but positively impacts our mental wellbeing too. Pete Brown, who fronts our art projects, brought up the issue of signage for the garden, which led to talk of a new gate, a totem pole or some decorated stones leading from the main road as potential solutions. As always, we encourage members and volunteers to share their thoughts and views. These projects are due to take place from April next year. If anyone would like to take part in any art projects, including work on the front gate and signage, please get in contact with myself or Pete Brown directly before the new year. Another topic of discussion was on bolstering our volunteer numbers, not just in the garden but with some behind the scenes work also. Again if you, or someone you know, would be interested in an administrative role with in the garden please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

There was much else discussed, including long term plans for the stone buildings and funding for further community projects. All in all I feel the garden is in competent and safe hands for the here and now and for future generations to come.

16 October 2022: As the temperature drops in the garden we turn our attention to the seasons to come. Growing Well were busy this Monday, layering the pathways with fresh woodchip, planting lettuce, mustard and rocket seedlings, painting floral moulds and making peanut butter bird feeders. While the birds feasted on their peanut butter, the Growing Well team enjoyed some treats of their own, in the form of fresh and dehydrated fruit from around the garden.

Though the garden looks a little less colourful than weeks past, be assured our volunteers are always hard at work. Raised beds have been cleared of weeds and spent plants and topped up with fresh compost. Canes and netting have been put into storage and green manure planted into empty beds. Vast quantities of tomato seeds, including Tigerella, Green Bell, Blue Bayou, Black Truffle and many more have been collected, dried and set in strips for easy planting next spring.
Margot and Declan blessed us with their presence thoughout the week, working on redecorating our compost toilet. The window has had new putty applied and a lick of paint applied inside and out to keep it free from damp and looking fresh.
Unfortunately I will be ending this email on a sad note. Our Tuesday day organiser, Helan Jagger, handed in her key this week and will be stepping away from SCG for the time being to pursue other interests in her life. I for one wish her all the best for the future and she will be welcome back at anytime.

9 October 2022: This week has been all about apples. Our volunteers have collected and washed heaps of windfalls from here, there and everywhere – ready for our little Apple Day. The grinder and the press were prepped and ready to go and for hours on end a small group of volunteers sliced and diced and crushed and chopped their way through box after box of fragrant fresh fruit. The juice was wonderfully sweet, as was the apple sauce, and many a slice of apple and pear was dried for tasty treats.

Despite everyone’s hard toil we still had a few crates of apples on site. Some have been collected for donation to The Residents of Fairfield Foodbank, while the rest will be pressed again this coming Wednesdayfor anyone who could not make today’s event.

Elsewhere in the garden we have begun collecting seed from our tomato varieties, and have also set up a tasting station for anyone wishing to try each variety and comment on which seed they’d like to grow again next year.
There has been much clearing and composting as well as spreading of daffodil bulbs around the garden to brighten the place up come spring. And talking of spring, I have received some interest from people wanting to get involved in plans for the flowerbeds and rockery for next year. I will be looking to put together a list of interested individuals over the next couple of weeks, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you would like to help out.
Lastly we are in need of a good Samaritan. We have also been offered some soil improver from Waterswallows, but unfortunately they can not deliver to the garden as there trucks struggle to fit down the entrance. If anybody can, or knows or anyone who can pick up a delivery of soil improver we would very much appreciate any help we can get.

2 October 2022: September has seen a change in the weather. The mornings are brisker and the hosepipe has been safely packed away. The last month our volunteers have been kept busy harvesting from our wide variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, courgettes as well as planting winter lettuce, Pak Choi and an assortment of flowers. Work has begun on clearing new growing areas throughout the garden and finishing past projects, like glazing and painting the Growing Well shed.

This week’s Growing Well group really hit the ground running, clearing the Growing Well bed and breaking the contents down for compost. They also planted cornflowers and Pak Choi, as well picking an array of apples, spring onions, blackberries, tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, chillies, squash and verbena.
We sourced a large pile of woodchip from a neighbours garden to renew our pathways, most of which have had a good weeding over the last few weeks.
With the Growing Well shed now fully glazed work has begun on painting the interior, with Joe and Gemma making a great team on the job.
Our demo bed has been almost fully cleared of weeds, runner beans and companion plants – and our volunteers have spent all week digging deep for any rogue potatoes that may be looking to spend a winter underground.
With our harvest of tomatoes quickly diminishing some of our weekly volunteers will be conducting a taste test over the next week or so to see which varieties will be sown again for next spring.
Having spoken with some interested volunteers about remodelling areas of the flowerbeds I would like to extend an invitation to anyone else interested in getting involved. If you would like to take part in projects involving the flowerbeds/rockery please send me an email and we can look to arrange a meeting over the winter to plan for next year.
Please don’t forget this coming Sunday we will be hosting Apple Day at the garden, from 11am till 3pm. It should be great fun for people of all ages and having tasted a slice of dehydrated apple earlier today I can guarantee you’ll take home a tasty treat.

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