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 24 November 2011

Rhubarb, rhubarb!

We all agree that one thing an allotment needs is a good rhubarb patch. And we didn't have one, so we were delighted when we were offered the money to pay for 3 plants for us as a thank you from a visiting group.

Tracey went off to Cool Temperate Nurseries at Cossall, to get advice from Phil Corbett who runs the place and has been great in supplying us with soft fruit bushes that work well in local conditions. He supplied us with a very early rhubarb, and also a mid-season and a late one, so we should have plenty of choice once they establish.

The team worked really hard to get the beds well dug over and improved with compost to give the rhubarb a good start, so we have high hopes.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Polythene vs. Chickenwire?

So - you have a polytunnel that, for some reason, some passerby sometimes decides to de-skin. When they do this, it costs at least £130 to re-skin it, along with a lot of lost time which should be spent doing gardening and improving the allotment.

Now, we've heard from several people that putting chickenwire over the top of the polytunnel will help protect it from being slashed, and that the bits need to be held together by ties. We had a think, and worked out that we couldn't tie the wire together by putting it on afterwards, so we cable-tied it all together and then attempted to roll it over the top of the polytunnel....

Well - it didn't work! The chicken wire dug into the plastic and we had to abandon before we did the vandals work for them. We've left the wire in a roll but we hope we'll get some advice soon, so we can finish the job. A word of praise for the volunteers who didn't run off shouting in exasperation when Tracey called a halt to proceedings.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Well - here goes... We began the process of re-covering the polytunnel today (or should that be re-re-covering?!)

Dan and Ellis remove the batons attaching the old, damaged plastic to the tunnel structure

We decided it was worth the risk, because we've worked to make the fences and gates more secure, and hopefully the plastic-pincher has got themselves a fair selection already. We can but hope!

There are some issues... First, though we love Mike Gosnall dearly, and found his help covering the tunnel the first 2 times very valuable, we kind of thought we might have got the idea of how to do it now, so we've had a go on our own. Secondly, it's not as warm as it was the last 2 times we did this, and that might be a problem, as it makes it more difficult to stretch the plastic over the hoops and can mean it then gets baggy. We're actually going to stretch it more when we finish it next week.

Mostly finished polytunnel - not yet fully stretched though

Anyway, we tried and we've managed to create something that looks a bit like what Mike helped us do, but we'll see what it looks like next week, assuming no-one has "modified" it for us by then... Well done to Helen, Dan, Ellis, Mel and Craig who helped do the job.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

More cooking in the dark

We had another visit from the Killisick group tonight. Because they meet in the evenings, we need to think of things to do in the dark, so this time we did a session on "Fire and Feeling" - with the group working together to light a fire only using matches and a small amount of paper apart from the wood (which they did very well).

We had also set up a "feely trail" which the group got round very well, although it was cloudy, which meant it wasn't quite as dark as we'd hoped because of the reflection of the street-lights on the clouds. Still - a bit of fun and a chance to try out some other senses.

Then we returned to the fire to make popcorn and apple pancakes, washed down with hot chocolate. It also gave the group a chance to have a chat about some issues before they went home.

A big thank you to Ellis and Mel who helped set up, and special thanks Ellis, for staying until the end to keep Tracey company.

Eco Note:

The aim of the fire, and using it to cook on, was partly to start a discussion about using renewable energy, as the wood we use was all cut from the site, and we aim to only use our own wood, from our coppiced willow, as this will keep growing, making our cooking carbon neutral. One of the group raised a very interesting question - "what about the matches?" He has a point, especially as Tracey has a flint and steel which should do the job quite nicely, so in future, we will aim to use that instead. We will also have a go at making char-cloth, as this is great for lighting fires, and a good use of really worn-out cotton clothing.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Time for the big clean up, and a visit

This week, we made a start on getting the beds ready for winter. This year's spent growth needs to be taken out and composted, and then we'll top-dress with the remains of the municipal compost.

We began on Wednesday with the polytunnel which needed a really good clean out to get rid of fallen fruit and all the caterpillars. We also had a huge horseradish plant that had emerged too close to the tomatoes to be pulled out before. Helen just got her spade and that was the end of it - very impressive! She and Ellis did a fantastic job clearing the polytunnel beds and then raking them to remove all the rotten tomatoes that were on the soil. They also found enough green tomatoes to make a batch of chutney.

Helen and Ellis did sterling work clearing the polytunnel.

We also had some visitors from the Deaf Wellbeing Group. Lucy, Andy and Jude came along to see the site and the potential to do some volunteering here. The group mainly use sign language to communicate, so this could be a great learning opportunity for us too. Even on this visit, as we now know how to ask in British Sign Language if someone wants tea or coffee, and if they want milk. We're also hoping the group will be able to give us a BSL contribution for our multi-lingual garden translator information.

Lucy translates the names of unfamiliar herbs for Andy and Jude

Our visitors enjoyed looking at the remaining crops and learning all the names of the plants in our well-stocked herb beds, and are keen to come back soon. We're looking forward to it and we hope that they enjoy the lettuces.

On Thursday, we were joined by Dan and Mel, and did more clearing. We lifted the first parsnips of the season. Tracey is hoping to turn these into something delicious soon, along with a good crop of chard and spinach. We also harvested the lemon verbena and the tarragon from the herb bed, and lifted the lemon verbena so we can try to get it through the winter alive.

We've been offered some free chicken wire to armour the polytunnel against knife attack, so if the weather doesn't get too cold or windy, we might manage to recover it next week. Fingers crossed and watch this space!