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 18 December 2014

Fabulously Festive Fuddling

Today we had our final fling of the year at Windmill, with lots of lovely people coming to help us decorate the polytunnel and even more coming to enjoy food with us at lunch time. As is usual on these occasions, we ran the clay oven, and as is also usual, the wind direction was wrong and it didn't behave to begin with!

Clay oven - being re-lit - again!

Whilst the valiant oven lighters were doing their best outside, a happy group were working inside the polytunnel to make it look lovely. Tracey helped the Gateway to Nature gang and some of our own volunteers to create a swag using ivy, hedge cuttings, ribbons and tinsel to create a lovely effect. 

Jon with the swag

We then got to work on a fun activity that someone showed us on Facebook - a bicycle-wheel wreath! The spokes of the wheel make a great base for threading in foliage to create a nice, well-covered wreath, and are also good for tying decorations on. The final effect was really impressive, even sprouting "bells" made from foil cups (blame Tracey's custard tart habit!). 

 Making the wreath

Finished wreath looking splendid

Then the final touch - clove pomanders with a twist - the base is an apple, not an orange. This actually works really well if you use enough cloves, as these prevent the apple from going mouldy and help it to dry out. Our apples may not have had quite enough, but they only needed to look good for a wee while, so it didn't matter, and we added some extra glittery bits to make them look even more festive.

Apple pomander making

Finished articles

More lovely pomanders

Once we had organised the decorations, we moved onto getting food ready. Pre-prepared ingredients made it easy, so cubes from one of our green-point orange squashes, onions, garlic and sage went into one of our famous pumpkin risottos. We also used dough that had been warming on the oven top to make beautifully thin pizza bases which we spread with a pizza sauce that was made this Summer using only our own home-grown ingredients and cheese. There was also a treat as some of the delicious new potatoes we grew in the Autumn made an appearance as mini-roastie toast-racks (scrub leaving skin on, cut 5mm thick slices about 2/3rds of the way into each potato, as if you were trying to slice it up but didn't quite. As they cook, the spuds open, and rubbing them with olive oil or coconut oil makes them into yummy crisp bites that just need a tiny bit of salt to taste good enough to make a snack on their own). A great and very healthy alternative to chips or roast potatoes.

Pizza ready for the oven and pear
frangipane tarts - yum

Guests brought along lots of other wonderful stuff, so the polytunnel table was soon groaning with a huge spread - though everyone did their very best to get through it.

Didn't get to the table quickly enough to take
a photo of it in full glory!

Danny and Dan took charge of the pizza oven with great skill

And our guests also washed up - it made a great early Christmas present!

Joy of Washing Up - and Frogs!

Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped us this year and worked so hard. Special thanks to Hassan, who has been a brilliant support and really made a difference to the site. Also to Chris, who has as always got us to get going, had some excellent ideas and kept us well entertained with his singing. Joyce - lived up to Tracey's nickname for her - Joy of Gardening, and was a wonderful friend, being especially willing to turn out for early and late calls. Andrea, Ellie, Mark, Guy, Brian, Dan, Danny and Jason have all been stalwarts during the week, with Kathy, Lynn, Rosie, Steven, Sibel, Ash, Rowan, Jeremy, Dianne and Derek being a big help at events. We also welcomed back Helen, Ellis, Matt and Dan for visits, and had help from many visitors especially Gateway to Nature and classes from Robert Shaw Primary (thanks to Sheila for organising this).

What a great year - here's to the next one!

Thursday 11 December 2014

When Life Hands You Hay....

The lovely people at Woodthorpe Park have lots of spare hay bales to give away at the moment, so we took advantage of the offer, and got a load, re-carpeting Tracey's car with stray hay stalks as we did so! The hay is cut from meadows on the Council's parkland, but the bales we have don't seem to have much obvious seed in them. We're hoping that this makes them useful for lots of different things in the allotment. 

One thing we were interested in trying was this - 

From Permaculture Magazine

This was really Hassan's baby, as he suggested that we should make an insulated cold frame, and these bales will be great insulation. Brian should also get some thanks, as he kindly provided some old window panes which turned out to be exactly the right size to make a roof, and heavy enough not to blow away in the gales that immediately hit!

Hassan and Guy with bale-bed mark1

First, we tried putting the bales the same way up as they are in the image that gave us the idea. They we realised that with the low sun we get in Winter, the high-sides would mean that any plants would get very little direct light, so we turned the bales on to their flatter side instead. This made the bed sides lower so more light could get in.

The bed planted with lettuce

Then we added some well-composted manure on the surface of the soil, and planted some lettuce seedlings into it. Finally we added Brian's double glazing panels, which conveniently were just the right size to cover the top. We'll now monitor progress and let you know how the bed works for us. We're also hoping to plant into the bales themselves once they start decomposing.

The finished bed, covered with old window units.

Finally we treated ourselves to some well-earned soup - tagine-spiced butternut squash and sweet potato - made extra special with stars of orange zest stirred into it - delicious. You'll find the recipe in a separate post. 

Starry, starry soup....