Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Thursday 31 March 2011

Another busy day at Windmill

We had another great day at Windmill, which again lived up to its name on a very breezy day. We have to get a wind turbine going to take advantage!

In normal Windmill tradition, we were also aiming to do something that wasn't really sensible in the windy weather - sow the seeds for the wild flower meadow. We bought the seeds from a wonderful local firm - Naturescape - based at Langar, who do a lovely range of different seed mixes. We've chosen their long-season sunny meadow mix for the middle and their hedgerow mix for under the trees and the edges which will be more shady. We've also added cornfield annuals to give some colour in the first year as the perennial meadow plants establish. We're intending to use a similar technique for the meadow area, but we will grow some heavy shade plants for when the fruit trees in the orchard get large enough to cast dense shade.

But this being Windmill, we had to do quite a lot of ground preparation before we could sow the seed. The site has a healthy (!) population of couch grass and we were only able to get the ground ready thanks to another group from New College Nottingham, who did a good job battling with the ground conditions alongside Helen, Alison, Daniel, Ellis and Wayne. We also have to thank Mike and Simon from the work team who did some of the job for us earlier in the week.

Some of the NCN crowd had a talent for finding archaeology, finding a Victorian medicine bottle, a vintage butter knife, some interesting pottery shards and an oyster shell. Of course they also found large amounts of big rocks, bricks and broken glass as well, but eventually we got it all dug over, fairly weeded (we'd have to sieve it all through a fine mesh to completely clear it), and raked. The New College bunch had to leave before the sowing, but we still managed it with care, though it meant everyone had to release the seed just a fraction above the ground so that it didn't blow away. A quick watering and we were done.

We must also thank the New College artists who quietly got on with the job of decorating the high raised beds. Some of the group are doing carpentry skills as well, so they are hoping to help with a number of nice jobs we have planned, like getting our outdoor kitchen up and running.

Next week, all being well, we'll do a long day and finish putting up the polytunnel. Fingers crossed!

Thursday 24 March 2011

Arty bits and weeding for Climate Week.

A fun day today, in beautiful weather, as we were joined by the gang of artists from New College Nottingham to do more work on decorating our raised beds. They were also marking Climate Week, so look out for them in the papers.

One talented artist painting a tree onto one of the murals

The butterflies, in all their colourful glory, get a pale green background

The rest of the group got on with finishing planting the raspberries and preparing the area that is going to be a wildflower meadow.

We had a little break to create a living willow sculpture - an obelisk that can be used to grow things up or hang things from.

Helen, Jonathan and Alison standing with the willow obelisk

At the end, we realised that some of the plants that were waiting to go into the wild area around the stumpery were in danger of dying because of the drought, so we quickly planted them and gave them a good soaking. A few of them are mystery plants so we're looking forward to seeing what they turn into.

One of these plants ia a dicentra or bleeding heart plant which now resides in the garden of Helen's boyfriend

Thanks to Helen, Alison, Jonathan, Matt and Ellis for all their hard work and welcome to new volunteer Nicola who proved very handy with a spade when she came along to see how we were doing. Thanks also to the New College group, who are well on the way to creating a masterpiece!

These artists are so talented that they can pose for two photos at once!

Jonathan prunes a tree with our fantastic new loppers

Thursday 17 March 2011

Planting up the fruit cage - at last!

So after all our hard work over the last few weeks, we're now at the stage that we've been really looking forward to, and we have finally planted up the fruit cage. We've got red, white and black currants, gooseberries and thornless blackberries and a blackberry raspberry cross. We're also planting summer and autumn raspberries outside, and a specialised hazel nut tree.

Alison, Helen and Ellis did a great job, and the fruit cage now looks splendid, with a good top-dressing of compost. It's been so dry that we've had to water well. There's not much rain forecast. so we may have to water more if the leaves break soon.

The finished fruit cage with the bushes planted

Jake and the crew have also been hard at work, and the fedge is now looking splendid. We have even had compliments on it from passers-by! They've also started putting up the frame of the polytunnel, which is great, as we're raring to go with planting in there.

The polytunnel frame as constructed by Jake and the team

Some tomato plants which Helen grew from seed - they are even bigger than this now and ready to go in the polytunnel!

Thursday 10 March 2011

Putting up the Fruit Cage and starting the fedge

Today involved much head scratching and some words we can't publish here, but ended in great success, as we now have an almost complete fruit cage.

Us versus the wind - we all battle to construct the fruit cage while the wind battles to blow it down!
The first problem was that we put it up in a gale. We cannot recommend this! We also think it's not possible to knock the cage uprights into the ground despite what the instructions say, as any small stone in the ground will deflect them so they end up out of position. This is also an activity where size matters. If we hadn't had some talk folk, things would have been a lot more difficult! I should also say that all the shorter folk did sterling work as well, and it was a good job we had a crowd in, as we pretty much needed a person for each upright, as attaching one horizontal top pole tended to dislodge another....

Even tall Xavier needed a step ladder for this job!

Thank you to Phil, Helen, Xavier, Jack, Jonathan, Alison and Ellis.

Phil, Jack and Xavier also worked very hard to get in the main structure of the fedge we are making in the wild orchard, which Jake is hoping to finish off soon. We're looking forward to seeing it all sprout soon.  For those of you who are wondering what we mean by a 'fedge', well it's a combination of a 'hedge' and a 'fence' - basically a fence constructed using live willow sticks!

Saturday 5 March 2011

3rd March - More volunteers, much digging!

Today started very cold and stayed that way, but we needed to dig over the area in preparation for the fruit cage and the soft fruit so that kept us warm.

We braved the cold and got a lot done, with some new arrivals helping to get things moving quickly. Thanks to Alison and Jennie, who did sterling work alongside Matt, Wayne, Ellise, Simon and Adam. Helen also did a brilliant job, re-homing some orphaned daffodil bulbs we've been given in the wild garden.

Ian and Daniel removing some of the compost from the car park to put in the fruit patch
The digging was, as always here, more like archaeology. We found all kinds of debris, including lots of landscape fabric that had become buried under the grass, and a large concrete and brick construction that isn't in a helpful place. We hope to move this next week, as we need to plant the fruit bushes as soon as possible. If you feel like doing some good exercise, why not come next week and see what we're up to?
The group is delighted to discover more landscape fabric under the weeds.
It was also a similar story planting the daffodill bulbs. Lots of bricks, tiles and landscape fabric, and that's in addition to the very annoying carpeting ivy which make digging a challenge! The bulbs will be relieved to have a home though so it is well worth the work - Helen.

Helen posing with the trusty new bulb planter!