Rainfall in Cambridge

 Another night when we didn't get a thunderstorm. I don't think there will be any Spring rain in the bowling green area, it is extremely free draining because of the hardcore and clinker under the thin and very sandy top soil. I hear, traditionally, it starts to rain when the state schools break up (this Tuesday).

Another night when we didn't get a thunderstorm. I don't think there will be any Spring rain in the bowling green area, it is extremely free draining because of the hardcore and clinker under the thin and very sandy top soil. I hear, traditionally, it starts to rain when the state schools break up (this Tuesday).

New constituted group: Nightingale Gardeners

In May, we started a new group to 'enable community gardening' in the garden. Membership is open to anyone who is reasonably regular as a volunteer gardener or tea drinker at the Sunday or Monday sessions. It is free to join. It aims to be 'light' on admin, not over-burden the volunteers and be easy and enjoyable. All the papers are on this website in the gardening page.

It means we can fundraise and manage our own finances but we will also need to raise the cost of insurance each year. If you'd like to contribute to our running costs, do contact us. Or drop some coins in the tin during our weekly sessions.

Green-roofed veranda area

In June, we were successful in a recent bid for S106 'developer' funding for a green-roofed veranda. On 16 July, we had our first planning meeting with Guy from the Council (who will hold the budget) - aiming to create it in Spring 2019.

Our thoughts so far are to:

  • Make a flat, paved area immediately in front of the club hut. Have it open, and accessible, on at least two sides. Make a sturdy wooden structure above it, with a biodiverse green roof, overlapping the front of the existing club hut roof. This would be seeded predominantly with native (chalk grassland) plants ('wildflowers') with some sedums and maybe bulbs for extra interest.
  • Make a fixed bench, simple moveable table and have some cheap garden chairs. So people can sit and enjoy the garden at any time in the shade.
  • Re-clad the club hut and add a serving hatch, for regular volunteer sessions and events. This would help ventilate the club hut too.
  • Make some small raingardens at the base of some drainage chains at the front.
  • Add some more bug hotel 'infills'.
  • Add some noticeboards and chalkboards.

We still have some homework to do...

The Nightingale Gardeners Group will discuss this on Sunday 22 July at their second meeting (1pm in the garden). Let us know if you have any ideas.

Dome making

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One of our group has donated the funds to buy a Hub dome-making kit, and another couple have donated the broomsticks (from Ebay).

Over the past few weeks, Julian and Justin have spent a lot of time cutting the sticks and leftover plastic wood blocks to size and drilling holes in the ends for the connectors.

Last Sunday, we assembled it for the first time with help from some local families. It is quick to assemble - about 20 to 30 mins.

Next step is making a doorway, and also we think we will paint the short and long sticks different colours (or stripes of). Then it will be ready to play with over the summer in the garden and also at the Share Fair on 8 September at Wulfstan Way. We won't leave it up unattended though because it is very tempting to try to climb on and isn't build to withstand that. They can be used in gardens and plots as fruit cages or greenhouses. 

Japanese moss balls with the cubs

Last week, we had two evening sessions with the 28th Cambridge cubs. They completed their gardening badges learning about food growing and seasonaility, some did other badge activities (environment?), we made simple watering devices with plastic milk bottles and learned how to water plants. And we also made these Kokodama (moss balls), with succulent cuttings, John Innes No 2 compost, sphagnum moss and string. We have also made the with garden volunteers since then too. They are big fun.

Spudtastic

It has been ages since we put anything on this blog... I blame the weather, which hasn't been very garden- or gardener friendly.

 On 16 July, we harvested our two planters and one green bag of spuds: Arran pilot and Charlotte. We had a much better harvest that last year. The pallet planters yield more than the small green potato bag. We even had some surprise pink ones, grown from unidentified ones we must have left behind last year. We will do these varieties again next year I think - but with fresh compost. It was really fun digging them out!

On 16 July, we harvested our two planters and one green bag of spuds: Arran pilot and Charlotte. We had a much better harvest that last year. The pallet planters yield more than the small green potato bag. We even had some surprise pink ones, grown from unidentified ones we must have left behind last year. We will do these varieties again next year I think - but with fresh compost. It was really fun digging them out!

Adele the hedgehog - a good news story

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Just found out (via twitter) that Adele the hedgehog was released from our local hedgehog hospital on 7 April to a secure garden. Last Autumn, we found her wandering slowly, in daylight, at Nightingale. She weighed only about 300g and had every kind of parasite. The hospital volunteers and staff gave her some amazing care and she was more than 1600g by the time she was released. Go Adele!

She is the third hedgehog we have found during volunteering sessions at Nightingale and had to call for help. One didn't make it but the last two have done very well and have been released to safe locations.

We have recently seen some hedgehog poo in the garden so we hope we might be a happier night-time habitat for these very popular animals. This is one reason why we lock the garden at night to give the wildlife a rest from visiting humans and especially dogs.

 

Meadow sowing and blossom out

 Finally, we found the right conditions and time to sow the annual and perennial Pictorial Meadow beds. We have Velvet and Pastel mix in the triangular one; Velvet in the two annual beds (to the left here) and Tuscan Hills in the two perennial beds (to the right). We are a bit short of hills here, and probably Tuscan weather too... but it was the best mic for Spring sowing.

Finally, we found the right conditions and time to sow the annual and perennial Pictorial Meadow beds. We have Velvet and Pastel mix in the triangular one; Velvet in the two annual beds (to the left here) and Tuscan Hills in the two perennial beds (to the right). We are a bit short of hills here, and probably Tuscan weather too... but it was the best mic for Spring sowing.

 Really good to see the cordon apples coming into blossom.

Really good to see the cordon apples coming into blossom.

 This photo is surprisingly, for me, in focus.

This photo is surprisingly, for me, in focus.

 I like the apple blossom when it is still in tight buds too.

I like the apple blossom when it is still in tight buds too.

More things happening

 Our big rhubarb bed is looking very good at the moment. Underplanting with a few bulbs and lots of pulmonaria (lungwort) seems to work well. 

Our big rhubarb bed is looking very good at the moment. Underplanting with a few bulbs and lots of pulmonaria (lungwort) seems to work well. 

 The recycled bulbs are looking great at the moment - we had no idea what they would look like but planting similar looking ones in blocks works well. Some of them even smell nice too.

The recycled bulbs are looking great at the moment - we had no idea what they would look like but planting similar looking ones in blocks works well. Some of them even smell nice too.

 Almost ready to sow the meadow beds... 

Almost ready to sow the meadow beds... 

 If you are in the garden, look out for this kind of plant - they are full of bumble bees at the moment. I think the black one here might be a male 'hairy footed flower bee' - I hope so anyway because it has such a good name - they especially like pulmonaria, which seems to like our funny soil. As do docks - which I have just noticed needs weeding out next to it...

If you are in the garden, look out for this kind of plant - they are full of bumble bees at the moment. I think the black one here might be a male 'hairy footed flower bee' - I hope so anyway because it has such a good name - they especially like pulmonaria, which seems to like our funny soil. As do docks - which I have just noticed needs weeding out next to it...

Busy afternoon seed planting and other things

 Lots of seeds for delicious veg and herbs started by our seed-sowing dream team.

Lots of seeds for delicious veg and herbs started by our seed-sowing dream team.

 We needed to move last year's parsley to make room for the sweet peas - I hope we will get a bit more crop from it before we replace it with new plants.

We needed to move last year's parsley to make room for the sweet peas - I hope we will get a bit more crop from it before we replace it with new plants.

 The other sweet pea wigwam, with a few bedding plants... hope they won't compete too much for resources.

The other sweet pea wigwam, with a few bedding plants... hope they won't compete too much for resources.

 The living willow in the circle (aka 'Reggie's tent') is alive and starting to sprout leaves. Will be good to see it green and a bit less twiggy.

The living willow in the circle (aka 'Reggie's tent') is alive and starting to sprout leaves. Will be good to see it green and a bit less twiggy.

 We have started a second raised bed for squash and courgettes - our aim is to make an arch between the two to grow some of them up. All recycled wood from air conditioning deliveries. And a lot of digging from our dream digging team.

We have started a second raised bed for squash and courgettes - our aim is to make an arch between the two to grow some of them up. All recycled wood from air conditioning deliveries. And a lot of digging from our dream digging team.