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 2 October 2014

All Curcubits Great and Small.

Sometimes you discover things when you have a tidy up. We tried growing cucamelons (or mouse melons) this year, and thought the crop had failed, but when we tidied, we found we had one solitary melon! The plants we grew from seed all grew well, and those we gave to other people bore quite a few fruits, so we think the problem may be to do with temperature. The successful gardeners all had glass houses with a brick base, which would be warmer at night than our polytunnel. We suspect that we were scuppered by the cool August, and that adding some plastic bottles of water around the plants or other heat storing devices might solve the problem in future years. For the record, we cut it up into tiny bits, and it tasted wonderful - really nice cucumber flavour with a hint of citrus.

One lonely little melon!
Just as a contrast, we met some of the larger members of the curcubit family when Barbara from Bulwell Forest Garden arrived to donate some pumpkins for our up-coming Pumpkin Celebration. Thanks BFG - we promise we'll make something lovely with them and let you have them back afterwards!

Barbara with BFG's gift of pumpkins

Today we also did a lot of harvesting of chickpeas, which are a bit fiddly, but taste great. This is probably not a crop to grow to save money, but it is fun. The pods pop wonderfully, and fresh chickpeas taste really nice from the pod, and don't go mealy like peas do as they get older. They also seem to manage with almost no watering, and weren't too bothered by our cold August. We just use chickpeas from the shops as seed, since they are vastly cheaper than from seed companies, and we found that they last for several years before the germination rate falls.

Freshly podded chickpeas
Of course, once you have the chickpeas, you might as well use them for something delicious. We made a ratatouille from our last aubergine, courgettes, onions, garlic and tomatoes and added in the chickpeas along with a good handful of fresh basil and oregano (recipe below). It was lovely with bread and grated cheese - the perfect allotment lunch!

Ratatouille about to disappear.

Joyce enjoys the fruits of her labour.

We also did a lot of tidying and weeding in the sensory garden. Joyce and Brian worked hard to make the area around the memorial bench look good, whilst new volunteer Andrea, along with Tracey and Hassan did stirling work digging up the sensory bed, which had rather too many thistles and buttercups. Thanks to all of you!

Joyce and Brian trimming the hedge

Andrea gets stuck into digging

Ratatouille with fresh chickpeas


1 medium aubergine (firm ones will be sweeter - no need to salt)
1 medium courgette
500g / 1lb tomatoes (fully ripe - the tastier the tomatoes, the better it will taste)
1 onion
1 large clove of garlic
tomato puree to taste (if the tomatoes aren't strong enough tasting)
handful chopped basil
small bunch oregano - leaves removed and shredded

Chop onions and garlic and sweat in a little olive oil until softened.
Add chopped courgette and aubergine. Cook for a minute and then turn off the heat and put the lid on so it can soften whilst you chop the tomatoes.
The tomatoes may be skinned if you prefer - just drop them in boiling water for 10 seconds, then move them to a basin of cold water and the skin will come off easily. Otherwise, chop finely to avoid finding large bits of skin in the stew.
Add tomatoes and increase the heat until the stew is bubbling. Add chopped oregano. Simmer for 15 - 30 minutes, until all the ingredients are soft and the flavours have mingled. If stew is a little watery, add some tomato puree. Add basil just before serving and stir through. We eat this with cheese, so we don't find the need to add salt.

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