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 30 January 2014

All Muck and Magic

Mark gathering the riches from our pile of "black gold"

Yet again, if we were superstitious, we might think that Mother Nature had it in for us. Today was the delivery of our composted manure, which was welcomed by snow flurries and strong winds - not ideal weather!

April and Chris were undeterred,
despite their wet, cold and mucky
first session with the team

Composted manure is not too bad to work with, as most of the smell has gone, but it's much heavier to move than fresh and quickly gets even heavier when it's wet. Still, the volunteers are made of strong stuff, and everyone set to with a will. We even managed to re-organise some of our compost bins which suffered from some over-enthusiastic filling at a company volunteering day a while back. They ended up full of weeds that really shouldn't go in a bin, so it needed the careful attention of Joyce, who carefully raked out the roots of the nasties and spread the finished compost on one of the beds.

After that, we re-built the compost heap in layers of dry material, and strawy manure that hadn't quite rotted. This should hopefully heat up quickly, even in the cold, and rot well, so it should be great for growing pumpkins and squashes in the Summer.

Joyce and Mark refilling the compost
bin in perfect approved style

It really was a miserable day, so we gave up on our plan to cook, and decamped to Collins "Legendary" Cash and Carry Cafe for some chips and a well-earned warm up!

Thanks to everyone who helped for all your efforts. Hopefully we'll be reaping the rewards in the Summer!



Thursday 23 January 2014

All hail the workers!

Wow! What a day! We have just finished an amazingly productive session with the help of Gateway to Nature, and all that work was done in between downpours and a massive hail storm. And we even managed a gourmet lunch in the middle of it all (gardening Windmill-style - we love it!).

Our goals for the day were to put in a wildlife pond and to renew the willow-weave edging around one of the herb beds. 

The pond is something that Lizzy and Chris were really keen for us to have, so it's great to be at this stage. It will give another good spot for wildlife in the allotment and hopefully increase the frog population so they can help with the slugs! Laurence is really interested in wildlife and has put in a few ponds before, so he agreed to lead the team.

Laurence checks the levels of the
pond edges.

Stabilising the sides of the pond.

Putting in the pond liner.

The pond is nearly finished- and quite a bit of that water
is from melted hail!

Putting in the new edge to the herb bed was really satisfying, because all the resources we needed were taken from our own coppiced and pollarded willow, literally from within 10m of the bed! The last time we created woven beds, the willow was left over from a weaving project and came from Somerset, so we have managed to be a lot nearer to carbon-neutral this time.

The method is simple, with stakes knocked into the ground and then more willow woven around these in a rough basket style, a little like a very low hurdle. We first cut stakes. Because willow is so good at growing from cuttings we shaved the bark from the part of the stake that would be below ground so that there is no danger of them making roots.

Shaving the bark from willow stakes.

Hammering the stakes into the ground

Starting the first weaving of the willow.

The completed bed. Brian the snail approves!

Hassan plants up the lettuce in the
warmth of the polytunnel.

A huge thank you to the volunteers and the Gateway to Nature folk for such hard work and for your stamina in difficult weather. Thanks also to Hassan, who made sure that the growing remit of Windmill wasn't forgotten in all the rushing about. And a final thank you to Paul, who has been such a great chef for our lunches over the last few months. You will be sorely missed, but we hope you have a great time visiting  your family in the US.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Windmill's alive!

Windmill was amazing today. It is as if the whole natural world has decided that it is Spring, and is preparing for it. Daffodil leaves under the trees are well up, the primroses are in flower and the whole place was alive with bird song. We were delighted to see a flock of long-tailed tits which flew about excitedly in the plum trees, like fluff balls on sticks. As their name suggests, their tail-feathers are long - longer than their bodies in fact. We like a bird that has a name which makes it easy to spot!

Big frog
(small frog was camera shy!)

Not everything was up and about. We found a pair of frogs enjoying a cosy spot in the leaf-mould bin, so we changed our plans to give them a bit of peace and quiet. But a lot of things seem to be taking a chance on the weather. We've actually had so little frost that last year's marigolds are still in flower! Now we are crossing our fingers that we don't get a massive cold snap like last year, because it meant a lot of birds in our area losing their early broods.

Marigolds in flower in January!

With all the gorgeous music going on from the tree tops and the bushes, everyone had to keep stopping just to enjoy it, but we still got lots done. Hassan and Joyce did a splendid job of picking up the last of the leaves, which Chris used to re-stuff Brian, our snail leaf-sculpture. New volunteer Andrew learned how to use a bow-saw under the watchful eye of Mark, and has helped us to re-stock our wood shed after the Lohri Festival last week. Lizzy joined us just in time to help Tracey show us some new ways to foil the ninja mice that eat any peas we plant in the polytunnel. Keep an eye out in the photos for some clever tricks and for a different egg-box planting method to the one we used last year. We'll keep you posted on the success or failure.

Mark shows Andrew how to
use a bowsaw

Egg box planting - cut a flap out of the top
and cover with foil.

Fill with compost

Put a pea in the top of each egg section, then press in lightly
and cover with a more compost so they are about 1cm below
the surface.


Place in hanging basket so mice
can't get the peas. Angle so that
the foil faces south to maximise
light when peas sprout.

Another "mouse proof" idea.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Up-coming workshops

We will be shortly running some training workshops, so let us know if you are interested.

On Saturday 8th February, we'll be running a fruit-tree pruning workshop with local expert Marc Richmond, from 10am until 1pm.

On Saturday 8th March, Leo Jordan from Summerwood Community Garden will be showing us techniques of grafting and taking cuttings, also from 10am until 1pm.

Both workshops are free (though we always welcome donations!). Hot refreshments will be available for a small donation.

If you would like to book a place, you can do so by leaving a comment to the blog post or emailing tracey.lloyd@groundworknottingham.org.uk

Saturday 11 January 2014

Lohri Festival 2014

A huge thank you to everyone who helped at out Lohri Festival today. What a great way to start the year, with fires, good food, beautiful lanterns and dohl drumming. Special thanks to the members of the Punjabi community who did us proud with the food. Thanks also to the Windmill volunteers who helped prepare the site, and to them, Groundwork staff and Gateway to Nature for helping us to make the beautiful lanterns that were on display.

Just a reminder that the fires we lit all used wood gathered on site which comes from a sustainable coppice rotation system we run on site. That means we can stay warm without adding to Carbon Dioxide in the environment, because we only burn wood that is being replaced by natural growth of wood from the coppice. 

Here are some photos of the greatest hits of the afternoon. 

Our dohl drummers did a grand job

Lots of lovely food, wrapped up and keeping warm

Drumming around the fire

A gorgeous day was followed by an equally lovely sunset

Time to light the lanterns