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 23 May 2013

Visit from Year 5, Robert Shaw Primary

Since our Climate Friendly Gardeners scheme started, we have had a great relationship with our local primary school - Robert Shaw Primary. One of the great traditions we have developed is for pupils to start their Year 5 with a visit to us to harvest tomatoes and create a meal with them on site. Then in the Spring, they come and plant up tomatoes to provide a chance for the following year's pupils to do the same. This year, we're carrying on the tradition, and today was the first visit of 2, as there are 2 Year 5 classes at the school.

Planting the all-important tomatoes

The class split off into 4, with 2 of the groups weeding, whilst the others planted either tomatoes or sweetcorn. "Planting tomatoes" also included planting up hanging baskets, which we're keen to try so that we use the roof space too. The main tomato area is the polytunnel, but we'll also be planting outside as well, so it will be interestng to compare.

Jade helped her groups to set up hanging basket tomatoes

We do this on the cheap with plastic bag liners.

Jade shows off the completed hanging baskets

New volunteer Lizzy led the weeding team.

Trying out the tip tap for the clean up afterwards

One we had said goodbye to the class, we welcomed by volunteer Edith, who arrived with hot fruit pancakes and immediately got involved in helping, so we got loads done. Sadly, the afternoon class were put off by torrential rain and hail, but we'll hopefully see them after half-term.

Thanks to everyone for the big planting, and all the hard work. Now fingers crossed for the weather to make it all grow!

Saturday 11 May 2013

Seed Swap Saturday at Windmill


Well done to everyone who braved the dodgy weather to join us at Windmill for our Seed and Plant Swap this morning. We hope you all enjoy your swaps, and thank you for the things you gave us!


Also many thanks to the volunteers, who did a great job weeding and planting whilst all the swapping was happening, especially to Tracey's two teens and husband who got stuck straight in to weeding at 9.30am, without complaint (though the promise of getting to see the new Star Trek movie afterwards may have been a bit of an incentive!)

Edith and Rosie sow some seeds

Holly, Pete and Mark tackling the sensory beds

Finally - hats off to Steven, for turning up with freshly made pakora!

Thursday 2 May 2013

Next steps on the tyre bed

We're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves because today we were able to finish the tyre bed. Yesterday, we began with a curve of tyres, which was angled so that the curve will provide shelter from the coldest Northerly and Easterly winds, whilst leaving the area in front of the bed open to the south. This means that the sun will heat up the tyres and that heat will also make the area inside the south-facing curve a little warmer - a good place to try outdoor tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers. 

A filled tyre on the first layer

The first layer of tyres were placed to create the basic shape and then filled with a rim of partly composted wood-chips to fill the walls of the tyre. The centre of each was then filled with sieved soil to make sure we removed any plants like bindweed or ground elder which could be a problem later.

Adding the next layer of tyres, overlapping the first
Note there is a gap which needs to be bridged to stop soil loss
The next layer of tyres went on top overlapping like a course of bricks. It helps if you have made sure the first layer of tyres are about the same size and are sitting level, but we didn't manage to do that perfectly, and it still worked ok. Unless the tyres are being set into a bank, this second layer will need to have a brick or bit of slate inside it to stop soil falling out of the middle of the tyre where it overlaps the two beneath it.

Using slates to bridge the gap and stop soil falling out

If you sieve the soil first, it hopefully means
less weedy surprises later on!

The tyres are filled as before, and then a final layer of tyres is put in, again overlapping like bricks. The three layer structure should be tall enough to give new plants a good start, but it could be made taller if you are very pessimistic about summers in the UK!

Thank you to all the Gateway to Nature folk who came again this week to help us to finish the tyre bed. The work you did today will make all the difference to us getting it finished in time for the school group who will be planting up the tyres with strawberries!

Wednesday 1 May 2013

New Tricks with Gateway to Nature

Windmill welcomes Gateway to Nature
This year, we are aiming to get more of our ground into production than in previous years, but that's also given us a chance to try out some different ideas which may help folk trying to garden in our currently extremely changeable and changing climate. Our good friends from Gateway to Nature were pleased to join us to help start the ball rolling on making the new beds, which also helped us to get things organised quickly.

One of our aims is to create a half-moon shaped tyre structure which will act as a wind-break and also as a warming bed, as the tyres will warm up fast in sunlight and some of that heat will collect in the middle as well as being released overnight. If we get it right, it should mean early strawberries, some happy mediterranean herbs on top, and a good space in the middle for plants like tomatoes or pumpkins.

The other aim is to make a hugelkultur bed. This is an idea from several sources, but got its name from Germany. With hugelkulture, a hole is dug, then this is filled with rotting wood which is then covered over with the same soil to make a mini hill. In our version, the gap will be also contain composted and fresh bark chips. In all cases, the wood should gradually rot down, warming the soil and also eventually breaking down to form humus-rich soil and being both free draining and offering a store for water.

Making a start on clearing the ground

Of course the first step in any project for us is to weed thoroughly. Our Gateway to Nature friends helped a huge aamount with this, setting to and making short work of vegetation removal, as well as helping us to process some of the wood that had been stored on the site previously. Thank you so much, and we look forward to showing off the finished beds very soon!

Ground quickly cleared - thanks all!

Thanks for cutting more firewood for us folks!

We also got some help from Stevan, who is an experienced gardener, but now has mobility problems, so he was happy to help us with our raised beds. He and one of our regular volunteers, Andrew helped us to finish planting up our potato and onion bed - just what we needed!

Stevan and Andrew make a start on the spuds.
And anyone who fancied a rest from the more energetic work helped us to pot up seedlings. It was really nice as some of the group had never had the chance to do this before, but they quickly got the hang of it.

A newly expert potter-up!