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 27 March 2014

It's SOW Green

Wow - what a day!

Today was the culmination of a huge amount of planning and preparation from Tracey and the volunteers, as we hosted the "It's SOW Green" conference, to mark the end of the Climate Friendly Gardeners project at Windmill. It was also the launch of our new Resource Pack, which shows a lot of the lessons we have learned and ideas we have tried at Windmill over the last 3 years.

Delegates at the New Art Exchange

Tracey gets support from
Claire Hale of Groundwork Greater Nottingham

The day began in the New Art Exchange next to the Forest. We welcomed "The Queen of Green" - Penney Poyser to set the scene for the day, then Tracey gave the main presentation about Windmill and our work. After a tea break, and the chance to enjoy the wonderful beetroot and chocolate brownies from Beccy's Global Kitchen, we then had presentations from Phil Knott from the Charity "Send a Cow" (we pinched many of our best ideas from them), and long-time friend of Windmill, Anton Rosenfeld from the Sowing New Seeds Project, who taught us all we know about new exotic crops, and what to do with Shark's Fin Melon!

Penney and Phil getting ready for their gig

Following a spectacularly good lunch from the New Art Exchange kitchens, the volunteers rushed to Windmill to get ready for the afternoon visit to the site. We set up information and workshop sites all around to showcase lots of things that we have done. When the conference delegates arrived, they were able to have a try at scything, building bottle beds, seeing how we made our hugelkultur and tyre arc, how rivers work and how we save water, where our crops and food come from, how we run our polytunnel and how we help wildlife on the site. That was followed by a cooking demonstration from Tracey, showing how we use our hay-box to cook pumpkin risotto, with Lynn Taylor from The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens on hand to make sure that lots of tips for cooking hygienically outdoors were passed on. Most of the delegates kindly brought their own mugs for the event, so we didn't have too much washing up to do!

Chris gets a hand making a bottle bed

Tracey shows how rivers and flooding work - or making mud!

Mark shows how to save energy - with tools.

Well done all who brought their own mugs!

Cooking the risotto

Everyone got a taste of the risotto to prove the hay-box works!

The volunteers were just amazing - confident and knowledgeable, and we got great feedback from the visitors. Tracey managed not to cry (just) when several nice things were said about her and she got given a beautiful bunch of flowers by the volunteers! Massive thanks to everyone who helped out, especially our star volunteers Chris, Mark, Rosy, Jade, Carrie, Hassan, Lizzie and Joyce. Steven also lent great support, and Shona was a huge help behind the scenes. You are all stars and should be very proud of yourselves.

The finished resource pack

Kath's beautiful map

The Resource Pack is also a joint effort, brought together by Tracey, but with many contributions from Rosy, Jade, Matt, Claire, Andrew and Kevan, with a fabulous new map of Windmill created by the talented Kath Hamper. Credit should also go to Diane and Adrian from Print Revolution who toiled long and hard to make it as pretty as it is!

Well done all!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Windmill - Wildlife Wonderland

What a gorgeous day we got today - a perfect day to help the wildlife that is literally full of the joys of Spring. Joining us, also full of joy, were a happy team from Gateway to Nature - and we're always glad to see them, so joy all round!

The first step was to add a few more trees to the wildlife hedge that we planted in the boundary car park in 2012. The hedge plants were chosen because they have fruits or nuts that will be food in the autumn for birds and animals. The team set to work, firstly to see what trees remained, as there was a "strimming incident" when the neighbouring allotments, who look after the car park, strimmed the hedge. We thought we'd lost a lot of the plants, but it turned out when we marked them, that most of the trees were still there, and still quite healthy. We gave them a weed through, and then planted up thin bits and gaps, and mulched everything with wood-chip to keep the moisture in.

Guy trims back the bramble to make planting
more comfortable!

Jon shows us how to slip plant a tree


The Gateway to Nature Team after a job well done.
Then, in true Windmill style, we rewarded the hard work with soup made from last-year's pumpkins, which had been made earlier and was kept piping hot in the hay-box.

After lunch, we worked to improve our site's wildlife value. We created "critter bottles" - lots of plastic bottles full of straw or cardboard rolls, to provide dry spaces for mini beasts. These went in various places in the orchard, and in the mini beast hotel.

Bottle with a cardboard roll inside - excellent for
various mini beasts, including lacewings

Filled with straw - bottles make a great dry space
for many different creatures.

Stuffing a large bottle with hay and cardboard
to see if this is even more enjoyed

Putting "critter bottles" into the mini beast hotel
We also created a hedgehog house from flower pots and used hay and sticks to camouflage it,

Hedgehog home ready to be installed

Once box is covered with hay and twigs, it's almost invisible
and quite cosy.
Another interesting idea that we borrowed from Summerwood Community Allotment is to use some of the old hose that we have to create potential homes for solitary bees, which like holes to nest in. We've also installed a new fancy bee box, to go with the bamboo-bundles that we already have, so we'll check them later in the year to see which have been most successful, or if the bees just use the compost bin like last year! We also put in a few other bee-boxes, aimed at bumble bees, so we'll see if they work too.

Bumble-bee nest option 1 - clay pot version

Version 2, plastic bottle version bee home

Old hose pipe can also make a good home for solitary bees.
In other news, we were pleased to see that the robin was taking notice of the teapot that we put into the rosebush as a possible nesting site. It looks as if there might be a pair using it, so we'll see if that turns out to be the case. We've included quite a few nesting sites for birds that like shelves and open-fronted boxes, so hopefully they and the blackbirds will be happy.

Thanks again to Gateway to Nature. We really enjoy their monthly visits, and it certainly means we get a lot done!

Saturday 8 March 2014

Grafting workshop

Great turn out for the grafting workshop today. 16 happy people, all trying to cut nice little jigsaw-links to make a root-stock link up with a grafted apple.

It takes a surprisingly long time to get the hang of the process, but it is very satisfying once you do, though the proof of that will presumably show up in many months time, when it will be clear if the grafted wood has taken!

Thanks to Leo from Summerwood Community Garden, who did such a great job and was a very patient teacher. Thanks also to Tracey for providing soup, and Birgitte for her delicious jam that went down so well with the bread, and to all the folk who turned up.

If anyone missed the grafting and would still like to have a go, they should visit Summerwood on the last Saturday in March, between 10am and 1pm.

Friday 7 March 2014

Spring Cleaning!

Just a quick blog today to thank the wonderful volunteers for all their hard work sorting out the polytunnel and storage areas, which had been getting a bit wild and wooly. Well done all and thank you so much for making such a difference. It will be great to move around without falling over, and really helpful to know where everything is!

And lunch? Pancakes of course! Stuffed with a mushroom and tomato sauce and cheese - lovely grub!

Behold, the tidy polytunnel!