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 26 April 2012

Builder's Bag Beds!

Today, we managed to start something we've been thinking about for a while - builder's bag beds. This is a good way to use something that is otherwise waste, and they make a useful-sized raised bed. Rosy and Matt did most of the hard work. First they dug up the deep rooted weeds from the area where the beds were to be sited, to stop them growing up through the bags. The next step was to fill the bags with a mixture of soil and compost. We are still using municipal compost from last year, so this was sieved to get rid of any weeds that had grown in it and mixed with the soil-rich heap of composted "super weeds" that we created last year. That might sound a bit risky, but we put them under a black pond-liner, which had the great result of heating them up so most of the weeds died, and then kept the pile so dark that no weeds re-grew in the pile. We folded down the sides of the bags by half, so they wouldn't take too much soil too fill but would still be deep enough to grow a good crop. The compost that's left is really nice stuff, so we are hoping that it will help us grow some nice stuff.

Rosy and Matt work out how to get the raised bag beds to behave

The two new beds that Rosy and Matt created are now filled with potatoes. The next beds will be planted up with pumpkins and beans.

Phil filling pots

Whilst all that was going on, Philippa was getting lots of plants potted up in the polytunnel, and Dan and Ellis, despite getting caught looking very relaxed, also found the time to do a lot of tidying up in the area where the new clay oven will be put.

"We're just thinking about which job to do next, honest!"

Ellis and Dan working hard to get the clay oven site ready

Thursday 19 April 2012

Time for Tomatoes?

We headed down to Windmill Community Gardens for a busy day of planting and weeding. Despite the very variable weather, we managed to get lots done, but it's a worry - some things that should already be in the ground are still in the polytunnel because it's so chilly, and some things we have put in to the outside beds have just sat and sulked, like our first planting of cabbages.

Ta da! Chris is thrilled with his newly sprouted broad beans
However, some things are working very well. Chris did a sterling job planting broad beans a few weeks ago, and was delighted to see that they are now showing. The peas also seem happy, and the twigs we put over them have done a great job at protecting them from birds. We planted up our raised-bed potatoes, which was a lot less effort than planting the ones in the low beds, reminding us that high
raised beds really make a difference for folk with bad backs or trouble bending. Helen bravely tackled the weeds in the herb garden which seem to be enjoying the plot more than we'd hoped, although thanks to efforts like hers, the herbs are still winning the battle.

Rosy planting potatoes

Newly completed potato bed

Pink Lady - Helen weeding in the herb garden

In the polytunnel (a very popular place in this weather!), Ellis and Phillipa planted Helen's tomatoes, then Rosy planted a living mulch of lettuce and basil seedlings around them. Dan and Ellis also used the warm space to pot on some French and Runner beans for planting out once the weather improves.

Ellis and Philippa planting tomato plants in the polytunnel
Rosy appearing surprised by the plants

Dan and Ellis with their little beany friends

One problem we hadn't anticipated came not from the weather, but from one of our robin pairs, who have decided that the narrow ledge above the sink in the outdoor kitchen is a good place to make a nest. Unfortunately, gravity and breezes keep knocking the nesting material into the sink, so we made them a state of the art nesting shelf at the front of the structure, where any fallen stuff won't be a health hazard, and we put the remaining nesting material on it. We'll see if they take the hint and go for the new site.

Ellis constructing a new house for the robins

One of the most novel creations of the day had to be the strawberry cone! This is the answer to "What do you do at a community allotment when someone dumps a damaged traffic cone in your hedge?", and involved cutting holes into a traffic cone, turning this upside down and filling it with strawberry plants and soil. We topped it off with a funnel made from a plastic bottle to make watering easier. It should be quite a sight once it gets growing... and also rather tasty!

Rosy and Tracey battling to construct an amazing traffic cone strawberry planter

Thursday 5 April 2012

Back to Winter, but with Easter Fun

Well, we knew it was too good to last - Winter came back to us with a vengance this week. We had plans for Thursday to have the Bilborough Children's Centre visit to enjoy some Easter related activities, and we'd been hoping for some sun, but it wasn't to be. We still managed the fun though, and to get across lots of great environmental messages with our "Cycle - Recycle" theme. We also had some practical planting, thanks to Chris, who helped everyone plant their own peas and mark out their row so they can come back and pick them.

Chris gives a pea planting demonstration
Another activity which was much enjoyed was making plantable Easter cards, using an egg-shaped template and glue to stick poppy seeds to the card. We hope there will be lots of poppies in Bilborough this year! Thanks to Matt for running the activity and making some really cool cards.

Poppy seed Easter card making

Knowing how little people enjoy it, we also had a digging area, and also a place to make clay eggs full of wildflower seeds to throw into a patch of bare earth to make a little wildlife-friendly flower area.

Ingredients for pancakes and healthy sandwiches

And, since it's Windmill, we have to have some food cooking! Rosy and Phil made some super-healthy sandwich spread with cheese, onions and carrot, and also some of our famous apple pancakes, once we'd worked out that they work in Metric, whilst Tracey, being ancient, had written out the recipes in Pounds and Ounces! I think it's fair to say that a lot of apple was smuggled into willing mouths, and the food seemed to disappear as soon as it was made.

Making apple pancakes - one of your 5-a-day!

Ray helped the session go with a swing by entertaining us on his guitar. Notice that he had worked out what the temperature was going to be!

Ray adds a bit of entertainment with his guitar

Tracey meanwhile was making paper in the polytunnel. She had done a deal with the lovely people from Pulp-friction, who brought their smoothie bike and their spare blender cup to make the paper pulp by pedaling to make the blender work. That meant that the paper was really re-cycled!

Having fun with paper making
Tracey was able to show everyone how to make paper themselves, so most people got to take away a sheet of their own, and Pulp Friction have borrowed the kit so they can become experts themselves. For anyone trying it on a cold day like this - make sure you put a bit of warm water in the vat!

Paper making workshop
We've heard that the families from Bilborough really enjoyed it and have had a good time planting their cards and seed-eggs, as well as trying out some of the recipes. We're looking forward to inviting them back when the weather is warmer!