We are very keen to 'work with nature' in the garden (Chapter in recent City Council guide on 'Greening your garden'). These are some of the ways we can aim to do this:
Being observant and learning from what we find. We'd also like to share our findings with others to help them make their gardens and workplaces more biodiverse.
Planting wisely. Selecting native plants and trees but also ones that provide a long season of food including nectar (recent RHS paper on use of plants from many countries). Avoiding plants that need a lot of watering or soil manipulation.
Avoiding plants that have potential to be hazardous unless we think they have very good properties for biodiversity and it is unlikely people will try to eat them or we can keep them away from irritant sap.
Providing food for birds, pollinators and small mammals.
Trying to garden sustainably
Avoiding using garden chemicals, especially pesticides.
We are trying to work out if we can avoid using (too much) glyphosate to prepare the meadow beds each year.
We will do some little experiments with narrow beds and different kinds of raised beds. We will also try to turn some of the annual meadows into perennial planting.
Not using peat in the garden, because it degrades other environments.
Collecting rainwater and trying not to use mains water too much - we can't access the water supply in the garden at the moment so have to bring it across the park from the old pavilion in containers (Chapter on Saving water in recent City Council guide).
Collecting and sharing seeds. Our gardeners for health were very busy in the Autumn collecting seeds from their favourite flowers in the meadow and then sorting them over the winter months.
We took some of these to the Winter Festival in the garden in December 2015 and others to the annual Trumpington Seedy Sunday on 24 January 2016. We are also sharing them with other community gardeners as we meet them.
We aim to sow some of them in smaller beds in the green area this Spring 2016 - and carry on sharing them with park users.
Composting - local park users are bring us their kitchen waste and we are picking up coffee grounds from our local cafe too.
Keeping waste to a minimum, using it to make compost, raised beds or structures, taking bin waste back to recycle in our own household bins.
Respecting and improving the soil structure - we need to do more soil testing (RHS members can access a soil analysis service). In general, in the green area, we will try to mulch on top of clearer soil and let worms do the hard work rather than deep digging.
We'd like to enhance the mycorhizi in the soil by using Rootmore (or similar sources).
Sourcing materials locally where possible and trying to support independent suppliers.
Choosing hand tools rather than electric or petrol-powered ones where possible.
Preparing the narrow beds, kneeling down and with hand forks, was surprisingly popular because you can chat while you do it.
Tolerating untidiness - wildlife likes it (and some of us find this very easy...)
Sourcing used and waste materials and tools, up-cycling and sharing what we don't need or use.
Starting a tool library to share with other groups (see our wishlist). In March 2016, we are applying for funding for a 'starter kit'.
Using cycles, feet and public transport as much as possible (Chapter in recent City Council guide on Sustainable transport)..
We don't just want to encourage nature though - we also want to make a garden for everyone to enjoy - even just as a place to sit and ponder.
In 2015, our meadow beds were full of wildlife but also incredibly popular with people of all ages.
See the new Cambridge Wild webpage for some other links to groups and places.
Last updated: 1 February 2017