Gardening in a changing climate

It is quite tough to garden with climate breakdown…   The RHS have a very good evidence-based   online report   about Gardening in a Changing Climate, and we have used this to structure some new information signs. These explain how we as gardeners can all respond to changes in climate (weather) - and what we, in this community garden, are doing to mitigate problems and also support biodiversity.    Sign 1: Green your living space - and plant a diverse range of plants  .    Sign 2: Compost garden and kitchen waste and water use and management.    We will continue work on some more signs, including around habitats for wildlife. We hope you find them of interest.

It is quite tough to garden with climate breakdown…

The RHS have a very good evidence-based online report about Gardening in a Changing Climate, and we have used this to structure some new information signs. These explain how we as gardeners can all respond to changes in climate (weather) - and what we, in this community garden, are doing to mitigate problems and also support biodiversity.

Sign 1: Green your living space - and plant a diverse range of plants.

Sign 2: Compost garden and kitchen waste and water use and management.

We will continue work on some more signs, including around habitats for wildlife. We hope you find them of interest.

Bumblebees

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Since 12 May, we have some bumblebees in residence in the garden - in one of our birds nest boxes. We think they might be tree bumblebees - they look ginger and white. We have put some signs up to explain that they will be with us for just a few months, that they won’t do us any harm but it is best to stay away from the immediate area. The nest will die back before winter and the queen will hibernate to look for another nest site next Spring.

This is a first for us and we are very lucky. Last year we had a bumblebee nest under the club hut but they looked like a different species. We also have lots of solitary bees laying eggs in the bughouses and the grass.

Our sign.

Further information on the Bumblebee Conservation website.

Feathers?

We still have some feathers in the garden, gently fading in colour. They are leftover from our Easter celebrations - a Swedish custom we learned about.

We still have some feathers in the garden, gently fading in colour. They are leftover from our Easter celebrations - a Swedish custom we learned about.

The garden is looking quite purple at the moment. Our favourite Purple Sensation alilums are starting to flower. Maybe not quite so large as in previous years - the weather wasn’t very kind last year.

The garden is looking quite purple at the moment. Our favourite Purple Sensation alilums are starting to flower. Maybe not quite so large as in previous years - the weather wasn’t very kind last year.

We have mown the area around the horse - a bit kinder to small children but it also helps us decide on new planting in the area. We’d like to put some more fruit bushes, maybe small trees. Possibly later in the year, especially if it is a hot, dry Summer again.

We have mown the area around the horse - a bit kinder to small children but it also helps us decide on new planting in the area. We’d like to put some more fruit bushes, maybe small trees. Possibly later in the year, especially if it is a hot, dry Summer again.

There is a lot of weeding to do in the garden all year around, especially after we have put small plants in. Or the California poppies, other annual seeds in the soil, and wind-sown grass just compete with them. We have two ‘bare earth beds’ that we will be sowing with perennial meadows soon. We are trying seeds called Super Pollinator this year. They are the last of the annual meadow beds and mean we shouldn’t need to re-sow now each year, which is much more sustainable and will take less work too.

There is a lot of weeding to do in the garden all year around, especially after we have put small plants in. Or the California poppies, other annual seeds in the soil, and wind-sown grass just compete with them. We have two ‘bare earth beds’ that we will be sowing with perennial meadows soon. We are trying seeds called Super Pollinator this year. They are the last of the annual meadow beds and mean we shouldn’t need to re-sow now each year, which is much more sustainable and will take less work too.

Full of promise for produce

We have more kinds of potatoes growing this year, in the ground, bags and pallet planters.

We have more kinds of potatoes growing this year, in the ground, bags and pallet planters.

We are trying out some ‘shelling beans’ this year, growing up our super-tall wigwam. Some are Greek giganti beans and we are trying borlotto and some other spotty beans. We won’t harvest the green pods for eating but let them dry and harvest them at the end of the season as beans inside dry pods. We will also have wigwams for runner and green beans in other places.

We are trying out some ‘shelling beans’ this year, growing up our super-tall wigwam. Some are Greek giganti beans and we are trying borlotto and some other spotty beans. We won’t harvest the green pods for eating but let them dry and harvest them at the end of the season as beans inside dry pods. We will also have wigwams for runner and green beans in other places.

Second try at sowing seeds. We sowed a lot of seeds a few weeks ag but had a very poor germination rate. It might have been too hot, too cold but there were some suspicious-looking (child sized) foot-shaped holes in the bed too. Also, if people water the seed beds without a rose on the can it washes the small seeds too deep. This time we have added some small plants too. Fingers crossed!

Second try at sowing seeds. We sowed a lot of seeds a few weeks ag but had a very poor germination rate. It might have been too hot, too cold but there were some suspicious-looking (child sized) foot-shaped holes in the bed too. Also, if people water the seed beds without a rose on the can it washes the small seeds too deep. This time we have added some small plants too. Fingers crossed!

Little Nightingales on Friday afternoons

The weather on Friday was wonderful, people came in Summer dresses. Lots of enthusiasm for watering, making pretend camp fires, teddy bear picnics, reading books. And we had lots of children from Queen Emma’s come to visit us too. We found some frogspawn, tadpoles and a couple of newts in a bucket to show everyone.

The weather on Friday was wonderful, people came in Summer dresses. Lots of enthusiasm for watering, making pretend camp fires, teddy bear picnics, reading books. And we had lots of children from Queen Emma’s come to visit us too. We found some frogspawn, tadpoles and a couple of newts in a bucket to show everyone.

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Last Sunday’s tadpoles - we looked up the pale brown ones and think they are baby newts. The black ones are different ages and frogs, we think.

The frogspawn is mainly hatched now and the tadpoles are swimming all over the pond so they are tricky to see and pick up now. We hope we will get some more spawn and the volunteers can carefully lift some for children to see. Please don’t go into the pond area yourself or it will get a bit over-trampled and the wildlife will probably leave the garden for calmer places!

Two large male newts from the pond. We think they are smooth newts. They have the best feet - with spotty socks. On Friday afternoon, we found two females who had no crest, fewer spots and much daintier feet (I forgot to take a photo).

Two large male newts from the pond. We think they are smooth newts. They have the best feet - with spotty socks. On Friday afternoon, we found two females who had no crest, fewer spots and much daintier feet (I forgot to take a photo).

Hail... a small army of barrowers!

What an extraordinary afternoon. Two of us got verily hailed on cycling to the garden, assuming no-one else was silly enough to join us.

But we ended up with six willing volunteers and two tea drinkers and got masses done.

At one point we had to take cover as another hailstorm deposited a layer of icy pearls all over the garden - and they also bounced into the club hut where we were scoffing cake and keeping warm with hot drinks.

But later on it was sunny and very beautiful.

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A swoosh of sterile mulch now just waiting to be sown with perennial seed mix. Lots of barrowing and raking. We will mulch the weeded beds too.

The new and old raised beds got a top mulch of soil conditioner too.

The new and old raised beds got a top mulch of soil conditioner too.

We planted a kiwi berry in the central bed. Eventually, it will give us a heavy crop of grape-sized kiwi-fruit tasting fruits, which don’t need peeling. We will need to make a climbing structure for it.

We planted a kiwi berry in the central bed. Eventually, it will give us a heavy crop of grape-sized kiwi-fruit tasting fruits, which don’t need peeling. We will need to make a climbing structure for it.

Beds for hungry veg will get a mulch too - here, the over-wintering garlic is growing well, before we put runner beans in later on.

Beds for hungry veg will get a mulch too - here, the over-wintering garlic is growing well, before we put runner beans in later on.

Spawn has arrived!

We had a good Gardeners Group meeting at lunchtime today, although we had to take cover to the club hut - the wind was very strong, cold and noisy. Notes to follow on the Gardening page.

First spotted on Saturday - and a large frog to go with it. They seem to like to lay it in the shallow parts of the pond.

First spotted on Saturday - and a large frog to go with it. They seem to like to lay it in the shallow parts of the pond.

The largest area of frogspawn. Lots of it.

The largest area of frogspawn. Lots of it.

We are enjoying these small daffodils. I think we need to plant more bulbs next year. They fill in a gap after snowdrops and before tulips. We have hyacinths coming into flower too.

We are enjoying these small daffodils. I think we need to plant more bulbs next year. They fill in a gap after snowdrops and before tulips. We have hyacinths coming into flower too.

We are doing lots of cutting back and weeding at the moment - to give new growth, such as this rhubarb and fennel  more space.

We are doing lots of cutting back and weeding at the moment - to give new growth, such as this rhubarb and fennel more space.

This early rhubarb is doing well - but we shouldn’t crop it too hard - it is still a baby plant - rescued from a nearby garden about to be bulldozed.

This early rhubarb is doing well - but we shouldn’t crop it too hard - it is still a baby plant - rescued from a nearby garden about to be bulldozed.

Justin’s garlic is doing well in the runner bean bed. I can spot some thistles too!

Justin’s garlic is doing well in the runner bean bed. I can spot some thistles too!

Taking it easy in the sun... while the rest of us toiled (and drank tea)

We think the ducks liked sitting on the hot rock - and then they spent the afternoon splashing around and swimming.

We think the ducks liked sitting on the hot rock - and then they spent the afternoon splashing around and swimming.

We had two very productive afternoons in the hot February sun (we don’t type that often).

Purple for Polio crocuses fully out in the sun - around the green area - thanks to local Rotary clubs and cubs for the planting. You can see we planted them in slits in the turf.

Purple for Polio crocuses fully out in the sun - around the green area - thanks to local Rotary clubs and cubs for the planting. You can see we planted them in slits in the turf.

The start of a new climbing French bean wigwam. We hope they won’t all be at the top of this VERY TALL structure. Thanks to the willow weavers and hazel crafters.

The start of a new climbing French bean wigwam. We hope they won’t all be at the top of this VERY TALL structure. Thanks to the willow weavers and hazel crafters.

The start of some new sweet pea wigwams - thanks to the diggers and constructors. They should have better soil and will be nearer the water supply compared with our previous bed. They will remind us of all the people who love, and loved, growing sweet peas - especially two special grandfathers… The tree stakes were re-purposed from a local public art project - thanks Paul! We hope they will give a waft of fragrance near the garden gate and our scented garden and that people will cut them often to take home with them.

The start of some new sweet pea wigwams - thanks to the diggers and constructors. They should have better soil and will be nearer the water supply compared with our previous bed. They will remind us of all the people who love, and loved, growing sweet peas - especially two special grandfathers… The tree stakes were re-purposed from a local public art project - thanks Paul! We hope they will give a waft of fragrance near the garden gate and our scented garden and that people will cut them often to take home with them.

Sunny and very productive February afternoons

New raised beds. At the end of the day the crocuses close up… we put signs up to remind people not to walk on the grass edges to the green.

New raised beds. At the end of the day the crocuses close up… we put signs up to remind people not to walk on the grass edges to the green.

We had a very productive Sunday and Monday - in the sun. Lots of people on Sunday - lots of vegan raspberry cake.

New shoots of rhubarb are another sign of Spring…

New shoots of rhubarb are another sign of Spring…

Some things we finished, which is always good:

  • Small signs and the potato planters, repainted with exterior blackboard paint - thanks Immy!

  • Living willow around the pond - patches finished, membrane pegged down, cuttings planted. Thanks to everyone who has worked on these over several weeks.

  • Three new raised beds, near Rosie the horse.

And others continued weeding, digging, raking…

The new ‘sticks’ are cuttings of pretty basketry willow, from a nearby allotment. We hope they will grow into the existing fence around the pond and eventually make a living deciduous hedge around it. They will have some bark mulches soon.

The new ‘sticks’ are cuttings of pretty basketry willow, from a nearby allotment. We hope they will grow into the existing fence around the pond and eventually make a living deciduous hedge around it. They will have some bark mulches soon.

We have started an informal survey of wildlife in and around the pond. Let us know if you spot anything. Just two waterboatmen on Sunday. But we found a small frog in the area where we are making the new raised beds - and put it back there after a bit of ‘show and tell’… we like frogs.

Lots of weeding between bulbs going on at the moment - thanks Louise!

Lots of weeding between bulbs going on at the moment - thanks Louise!