SHERFIELD ENGLISH CHILDREN’S COMMUNITY GARDEN
The children's gardening club is in its eleventh year. It was set up to introduce gardening, in general, to local children and also to develop their interest in science. The children help in every aspect of vegetable and fruit growing and most importantly get to taste and take home what they have produced.
The ages of the children range from 5 to 15 years. Younger children are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent/carer. We try to instil a sense of responsibility and common sense into the children to work independently but the welfare of the children remains the responsibility of parents at all times. The group is open to all children within the parish of Sherfield English and its environs. There is no charge to join the group but we welcome help and support from all families. All families are welcome to join us, just turn up on any Saturday.
We garden every Saturday from 10am to 12noon with a break at 11am when the tearoom at Gilbert's Nursery very kindly provide us with welcome refreshments.
March 2020 - unfortuantely due to restrictions put in place for Covid-19 we have been unable to restart gardening Club this year.
Gardening Club EVERY SATURDAY 10-12noon
ALL WELCOME - Just POP IN FOR A CHAT
End of Season Report November 2019
…so you can have parties in polytunnels as well as grow things! Tomato and pepper plants removed, cardboard on the floor and it was time to make some pumpkin lanterns for Halloween!
Memories from this year – amazing number of tomato varieties, butterfly count, garden crafts, eating your own fruit and veg (of course!). Pond dipping, ‘Waitrose’ peppers, Village Garden show trophy and certificates, and just time outside with village friends.
A bit of tidying up around the garden to be done and hoping to get some manure to put a cosy cover on the veg beds for the winter. We will try and tackle these when it stops raining one Saturday – at least the pond is now full again!
Community garden regular Saturday gardening will start up again about March time and all are invited to join us. Additional volunteers and children always welcome even if you can’t commit to regular slots and if you fancy a bit of winter garden maintenance then do get in touch.
Thank you to Gilberts Nursery for their support throughout the year.
March/April 2019 update
The Sherfield English Children’s community garden is open again for its 11th year. It provides a focus for our village for families to meet each week and a place where we have fun together learning about our natural environment whilst planting, watering and harvesting our own award winning fruit and veg and flowers. You can cultivate your own plot or just help out in the communal areas. Just pop in when you can! We are now registered with the RHS under their ‘It’s Our Neighbourhood’ Community and ‘I can Grow’ School campaigns.
The garden is run by volunteers and kindly supported by Gilberts Nursery. We welcome new members, of all ages. The Childrens Garden Group meet every Saturday morning but we are also looking to set up an adult group meeting mid week to increase use of the gardens, support the children’s garden and just provide an additional local community social opportunity.
In the garden this month the tadpoles are wiggling and we are keeping a log of how they grow each week. The robin has been watching as we prepare the plots and took the opportunity to grab some tasty bits as we sat down for a drink and biscuit! We watched the cows stand up and sit down as grey clouds floated overhead - perhaps there is something in the old wives’ tale? We have planted some beans, added some rooting willow whips to the willow arbor to extend and thicken it, and have carried out some general maintenance to water butts, downpipes and structures. We’ve also cleared the area around the pond from marching raspberries and an errant hawthorn bush, to improve access for viewing the pond-life.
Please do just pop in and join us any Saturday morning or contact by email for further information.
Well the saying "it never rains but it pours" couldn’t have been more true on Saturday morning. Having enjoyed a wonderfully warm summer the children's gardens were looking rather parched. The plants appeared thirsty, the water butts urgently needed refilling as did our pond. Needless to say on Saturday 6th October it rained and rained and rained some more, much to the delight of the children’s plants and flowers - not so much to the soggy attendees.
We made the most of the shelter the polytunnel provided by ensuring the tomatoes were picked and indoor irrigation system was working correctly (fed from the water butts outside). We even consumed our tea and cake, kindly provided by the ladies from Gilbert’s tea room, inside the poly tunnel listening to the downpour outside. During a short break in the weather, we busily collected fallen leaves from around the garden and car park. In a week or two, once the leaves have fully dried out the children will be sticking them to cardboard cutout hedgehogs providing a colourful coat of pointy brown, yellow and red ‘spikes’. Other plans we have for the coming weeks are to prepare for the children’s annual halloween party and then to ready everyone’s plots for the winter. This usually consists of removing all remaining plants and flowers and adding them to the compost heap, covering the exposed soil with cardboard to discourage weed growth and ensuring that all garden tools are clean and tidily put away in the shed ready for next year.
This year the Sherfield English Children’s Community Garden has joined the Royal Horticultural Society 'Campaign For School Gardening'. This initiative provides a chance for young people to discover the benefits of gardening, not only for them but also in their local community and the wider world. Registration has provided the children with free packets of seeds, a gardening project book and numerous factsheets to educate them in four themes of gardening around The Changing Climate, Wildlife, Growing Food For Their Plate and Creating a Happy Place. We really hope that this campaign will be running again next year as it’s helped the less knowledgable to get a better understanding around gardening techniques.
Thank you as always to all volunteers who give up their time and resources to this great local community group.
July/August 2018 - Thank you Smita!
Water! More needed! We are hoping that the pond is not quite as dry as it looks and that there is a damp refuge in the bottom where many of our pond creatures will have been able to survive. We have water butts to collect rain and these overflow into the pond. After rain last week there is a very small puddle in the bottom of the pond and the water butts are replenished. We are focussing on more rainwater harvesting; we have replaced the overflow with an old washing machine hose, acquired two new water butts and have bought some connectors to make a bigger water butt chain. It’s quite amazing how much water can be harvested from the roof of one shed and a bottle greenhouse.
The children have manged to find a little produce each week, including some delicious black tomatoes and attractive courgettes.
On the first Saturday in August we had a ‘Thank you Smita’ party as she and Krish are hoping to move north before long to be closer to family. Smita was a founder of the community garden in the village and has given her time, amazing knowledge and enthusiasm to establish the children’s garden club as a village centre of community excellence. It was lovely to see some of our past gardeners again. We wish Smita and Krish all the best for their new adventures and will sorely miss them.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be focussing on our entries for the Sherfield English Garden Show and hope to come away with some prize certificates. We hope to have seen lots of you there too.
Thank you very much to Gilbert’s Nursery for their support and children’s refreshments each week.
Best wishes, Ursula and the Children’s Garden Community Team
The Community Garden sprang back into action in April this year. This was a little later than usual but the ‘Beasts from the East’ had at least finally departed by then. Pots of daffodils, planted last year as Mother’s Day gifts,
were in full bloom at the first meeting and were promptly, but belatedly, sent home with their creators.
The club has been invigorated by some new young members, who are keen to grow as much as possible, and with this new injection of enthusiasm we’ve quickly caught up any lost time. Most of the beds are now weeded and planted. The small plots are sub-divided into squares and planted with a variety of vegetables, which are germinating and growing quickly in the ‘bursts’ of warm weather. Finger’s crossed, we seem to have avoided the hard late frost, that disfigured much new Spring growth last year. The fruit trees are grateful for this and arose from their cold, winter’s rest to produce much blossom, now transforming into a promising crop of apples, pears, cherries and plums.
Next on the list is a poly-tunnel spring clean, in preparation for the transplanting of warmth-loving vegetables. The scarecrow also needs a repair to its right hand, and a plan is being formulated to construct a family of scare-crow helpers!
Thanks, as always, to Gilbert’s Nursery and Tearooms for their continued support and supplying us with drinks and cake to keep us going.
and so to bed...... We were lucky to have a dry day for our end of season party on the 4th November. Thanks to Roger Harris the children had a ready supply of clay, tools (including garlic presses to make hair for ghoulies and ghosties), coloured slips and the promise to fire the finished creations. Villagers who take part in the Fun Day will remember Roger dressed up as the 17th Century Potter demonstrating his craft. We needed both the plastic bottle greenhouse and the shed for eager children getting their hands dirty. In the polytunnel we had spread a white sheet over the table to be decorated with a multitude of colourful pictures. And then to the feast. With contributions from parents, volunteers and the tearooms there was little room to spare and we might need another table next year! Phoebe, our oldest girl surprised us with her own creation of a chocolate cake, suitably decorated for Halloween. We now look forward to the next season. In the meantime we must still cut down the autumn raspberry canes, keep an eye on the pond, winter prune the fruit trees and look out for the bulbs planted up for next year's Mothering Sunday. May we wish every reader a Happy New Year. Smita Kulkarni
October 2017 Report
A window of warm and dry weather at the beginning of October has allowed
us to re-paint our tool shed. Environment-friendly shed treatment was
distributed in pots to all and coveralls were provided to minimise spread of
paint. Many hands certainly made light work and after two sessions the
shed looks almost like new with two thick coats applied. All being well the
shed, which is a vital hub for our garden activities, will now live on for
several more years without requiring too much additional maintenance.
Another key development has been the decommissioning of our old
scarecrow and its replacement with a resplendent new model, complete
with decorative shirt and smart red (wedding) hat! Let’s hope he takes his
duties seriously and guards those vegetable patches from unwanted avian
guests (and ideally moles too!).
The last of the vegetables are now being gathered as we head towards the
seasonal end of activities and the traditional autumn party. As yet we’ve
avoided a frost and so the raspberries, beans and tomatoes are still being
harvested. At the edge of the garden the sunflowers continue to give
structural interest and beyond the Gilberts Nursery dahlia field remains in
full bloom and provides a wonderfully colourful backdrop.
Thanks, as always, to Gilbert’s Nursery and Tearooms for their continued
support and supplying us with drinks and cake to keep us going.
After having worked hard to keep up with weeding and sowing we welcomed the hot day of the 17th June. It happened to be the day before Father's Day and the children made bouquets of all the different grasses that they could find adding a few wild flowers to brighten up their creation. After that they drew and coloured Father's Day cards. (I am sure that fathers did not mind having more than one card on their special day). When the refreshments came all the children sat under the willow arch which gives welcome shade on days like that.
Our polytunnel has been planted up with different kinds of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and they are doing well. The tree tomato planted in the greenhouse needs more support as it has already reached the height of the first support. Now that the second waterbutt has been attached to the guttering of the plastic bottle greenhouse we plan to raise biennial flowers in trays ready to be planted out in autumn. Last autumn we planted Sweet Williams, Canterbury Bells and Mullein. We added Sunflowers recently and some bulbs that nobody can remember what they were! All adds excitement. All we need is a thunderstorm that will fill the butts! We thank the ladies of the tearooms for their generous support. Smita Kulkarni
May 2017 REPORT
It's been a busy month for everyone, with plenty to do and see in the Community Garden at springtime. One unexpected sight was an amazing dragonfly we witnessed hatching before our very eyes. A nymph was spotted clinging to a blade of grass beside the pond (as photographed below), then slowly an adult dragonfly was seen emerging by hanging upside down and popping out of its own skin! (much to the fascination of the children). During the next hour it continued to expand and turn into a recognisable dragonfly shape, by pulling itself up and slowly opening and closing its wings. We all hope to see it flying around the pond area during the next few months.
The plants within the garden are growing well - especially with the sunshine and rain we've been getting in the village. The strawberry patch already has some small green strawberries visible and the peas now need supporting with sticks to keep them tall and growing nicely. Our carrots are very small but getting bigger and our potatoes (only planted a couple of weeks ago) have already turned into plants with large leaves. Close to the entrance of the Community Garden we have also sewn seeds to grow some colourful flowers to welcome any visitors as they arrive.
The recent torrential rain has been very good for the garden and useful for refilling our water butt. Unfortunately on one occasion it was raining so hard that we all had to retreat into the poly tunnel to keep dry. However not to be beaten, whilst undercover we took the opportunity to prepare the ground inside the poly tunnel for the tomatoes we will soon be planting and really look forward to eating!
Update from Bethany Clarke (age 7) and Neil Clarke (her dad)
April 2017 Report
When you read this I hope that you have good memories of the Easter
holidays. At the children's garden we had our customary egg hunt which
was enjoyed by all. We must thank our teenager for hiding them so well.
We would like to welcome our new gardeners called Sadie and Joe
(brother and sister), Sophia and Charlie.
Our square foot gardening seems to be working well. Most of the squares
are now cleared of weeds and sown with radishes, carrots, onions,
beetroots and peas. Next will be one potato into one square which will
form a competition. Our overwintering onions look all right but need
weeding. However, there is a theory that weeds take up most of the
available nitrogen making more solid onions which keep better.
All our fruit trees are in flower and we are hoping for great things!
We are still mending fences which take up a lot of time. Is there someone
in the village who would like to occasionally help with this kind of work?
The shed soon needs a coat of paint which we have in stock. The children
take turns for about five to ten minutes donning clean but old shirts.
After all that work we are always grateful for the lovely refreshments
provided by the ladies of the tearooms.
August 2016 Report
This coming Saturday is the day before Fun Day. The children are keen to make tray gardens which always contribute nicely to the garden tent. We will also have other produce to show off. The children have worked hard and I hope that they will be rewarded with some prizes.
We had a good crop of loganberries and other soft fruits. We did make an attempt to cover the bushes but some enterprising blackbirds still got in and stripped the white currants first. They know a good thing when they see it.
Produce in the polytunnel is growing well and we have had cucumbers and the first tomatoes as well, and cucamelons!
The potato crop was fair. Beans and peas have been plentiful and the plots look particularly lovely with all those sweet peas and morning glory flowers intermingling the climbing beans.
We shall have a good crop of apples and plums and for the first time the pear tree is bearing fruit.
We are very lucky to have Cathryn and Neil with their two children Bethany and Dominic join us on a regular basis. Their help is visible in that the herb garden is tidier and we have resurrected the flower garden. We planted it up with Sweet Williams, Wallflowers and Canterbury Bells. We sewed late cornflowers and added Bellis perennis as well. We rescued a lonely Chinese Lantern plant right in the middle of the bed and replanted daffodils bulbs. It should really look lovely when everything is mature.
The plastic bottle greenhouse has guttering fixed along the front side and we will fix the back one as soon as possible.
We always look forward to the refreshments so kindly provided by the ladies of the tearooms. Smita
The children have been very busy. They have weeded, sown and watered their individual plots and now the first radishes, peas and carrots are up and the broad beans in flower. We have started to clear all the communal plots and erected the frame for the climbing beans. The first plot to be cleared has a healthy row of peas but unfortunately the early dwarf beans were caught by a ground frost. As well as the unpredictable weather we also have to contend with more slugs and snails than we usually see.
The blossom on the fruit trees and the flowers on the various currants all seem to have survived the bad weather and the children have weeded the strawberry bed and spread our home made compost giving the plants a real boost.
The poly tunnel is ready for the tomatoes, peppers and aubergines we will plant over the next few weeks, the seed packets have been sorted ready for sowing more tender outside plants which will join the vegetables and flowers being hardened off at home ready for the communal beds.
Two activities eagerly anticipated by the children are firstly looking at what is happening in the pond - and I am pleased to report that some of the many tadpoles now have legs - and secondly "break" - many thanks to the ladies of the tearoom for the delicious refreshments they all look forward to.
We garden every Saturday morning from 10.00am to 12.00 at Gilberts Nursery and all local children are welcome to come and join in.
We started gardening on the 19th March. While we were greeting one another and introducing the new children to each other the smallest boy piped up:"When are we going to do some gardening?" If that is not keen, I do not know what is.
We set to clear the plots ready to receive the first planting of broad beans. The beds in the polytunnel had been raised over the years by the addition of our lovely compost. It was decided to lift the carpets surrounding the beds and level the ground. After replacing the carpets we heaped new compost onto the beds which will between now and the planting season be taken down by the healthy worm population. The following week we sowed radishes and carrots. We have also planted sweet peas into the bed that will grow our climbing beans once the frost is gone.
The pond has a large population of tadpoles and every week we are looking to see whether they are growing legs!
We discovered two interesting insects, which are probably solitary bees and wasps. At least we can be assured of pollination.
We cleared and planted up our vertical flower bed with campanulas and artemisias. We will add nasturtiums later.
Greta visited us and told the children about the woolly woods project. All the children promised to make a fairy door to complement the hard work of the Knit and Natter group.
The children always look forward to the lovely refreshments given so generously by the ladies of the tearooms as do the adults. Smita Kulkarni
May Report 2015
Everything is growing so fast it is difficult to keep on top of the weeding. Nevertheless, we have already pulled the first radishes which were delicious.
We have planted the first tomatoes in the polytunnel and erected the structure for the runner beans. In another week we will plant/sow the beans. We will again grow sweet peas down the middle, which looks nice and attracts pollinating insects.
Our nature table is growing and when Carol, the lovely lady who gave us so much equipment for the plastic greenhouse and for the garden in general, visited, she was given an interesting guide by Tom Westmore, our budding Naturalist.
He discovered that in one of our trays the two big beetles who were thought to be dead had sprung to life and we had fun letting them crawl up our arms. They were, of course, May Bugs. Another surprise was when out of a chrysalis four flies hatched. So the children could learn about parasitism.
We had two new recruits who were very impressed with our greenhouse. "Can we build one at home, Mum?"
We were impressed with the way the older children came together to first clear a patch and help the newcomers sow rows of seeds. It showed that they had learnt a lot by coming to the garden.
Thanks to Carol we can now build a cage around our soft fruit bushes and cover our strawberries and cherry tree with netting.
The Romsey Advertiser was supposed to visit Saturday, 9th May, but did not turn up. We were all disappointed. However, when I got home there was a message to contact them. I supplied them with several photos to choose from and by the time you read this it may already have been published. Look at the Evening Echo also and in June the Discovery magazine has promised to give us some space.
We always enjoy the break when the ladies of the tearooms bring us lovely refreshments. Thank you! Smita Kulkarni
(Apologies for inadvertently omitting this report in last month’s SEDCA. Ed)
We are working very hard to get the garden back under control. The children who come regularly have cleared their patch and sown carrots, radishes and peas. Broad Beans which were raised off site were planted into a communal bed. We cleared the onion bed and planted potatoes. The tender plants are still raised off site. We cleared the polytunnel of weeds and then washed the plastic inside and out. Where the polythene is fixed to the door frame it naturally has to be folded and for a long time we said to ourselves we must clear the folds of dross. When we finally got round to it we found to our surprise that a creature had built a nest in one of the larger folds. It was beautifully constructed out of moss and dry grasses. The indentation of the nest itself was only the size of a chicken's egg. Who built it?
We are very grateful to a lovely lady in the village who has given us everything we need to furnish our plastic greenhouse. We now need to tie the rows of bottles with wire. Cover the roof with plastic sheeting, fix guttering around the roof to catch the rain and last but not least fix the stable doors. It feels very cosy inside and we hope that any future plants will feel the same.
Our thanks as always go the ladies of the tearooms who give us the welcome refreshments. Smita Kulkarni
Over the years we have improved and added to the facilities available. Our last addition is in its final stages - the plastic bottle greenhouse. A big fat toad has already taken up residence and when the children arrive it is the first port of call to see whether it is still there.
It has been a very hot summer and the lack of rain meant that we did not have enough pumpkins for our Halloween party. We harvested one large one to guess the weight and the rest were only good enough to take home, maybe for stuffing or roasting.
We always finish the year with a Halloween party. We split the children into groups: some help to clear the tunnel, harvesting the last tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and melons. We grew a variety of melon which grows as big as plums, is green and yellow mottled and was loved by all the children. The other group "plays" with clay and this year we had creations like: pig, snowman, a lovely big boot complete with laces, duckbilled platypus and a pterodactyl! Then we would start the decorations for the party. We draw pictures on the shed window with soap, we hang images from the polytunnel frame and then the white tablecloth receives many imaginative pictures and symbols. Then the food is brought in. Blood soup, cheesy spider scones, bread fingers, lovely carrot cake donated by Gilbert's Nursery etc etc. If there is still time we carve the pumpkins into faces. Some of our children prefer to take them home intact. This year the weather did not play fair. It rained! It did not dampen the spirit, however, and we are now looking forward to a new season starting in March 2015.
As we approach the end of October the weather is unusually balmy and there is still no sign of a frost. We are continuing to harvest tasty tomatoes, aubergines and Ruth’s experimental but popular mouse melons (which are about the size of grapes and taste like full-flavoured cucumbers) in the polytunnel. Outside, strawberries have been transplanted, onion sets have been planted, and marrows, pumpkins, carrots, sweet corn, and the last of the French beans have now been harvested.
Some welcome rain has filled the wild-life pond and the damp weather seems to be suiting the rather large, friendly toad that has taken up residence in the bottle green house and is closely monitoring the construction as we progress towards the roof. We are now tantalisingly close to finishing the bottle-work and the building is starting to look magnificent, but we still need some more green and clear two litre bottles so do still bring them along.
A couple of weeks ago we were very fortunate to be paid a visit by founder member Ray’s Uncle Phil who lives in Australia. Phil kindly brought along his videoing equipment and produced a very professional documentary film, bringing the story of the garden up to date, with fantastic clips of everybody enjoying themselves and featuring an interview with our rather modest head gardener, Smita. It’s been great watching the footage and we thank Phil very much for visiting us and for his hard work.
With the days now closing in, the focus is now on tidying up the beds and battening down the hatches for the coming winter. Just one more week of gardening and then the traditional Halloween end of season party!
Many thanks to Gilbert’s Nursery and Tearooms for generously supporting the garden and supplying us with drinks and cake to keep us going. Michael G
It has been a lovely summer but it has not been without problems. We could, for example, not work as hard clearing weeds as we would have liked. It was simply too hot. The willow arbour came into its own. It gave lovely shade and after doing minimal weeding the children sat under the canopy and consulted books on insects and other creepy crawlies found on site. We found vapourer moth and its caterpillar. All different kinds of slugs and snails. Bumble bees are a favourite and the difference between carder
bumble bee and terrestial bumble bee were noted. We were able to rear out the parasitoid wasp of the blackflies that were colonising our broadbeans. As soon as one wasp hatches it will parasitize 100 aphids. So, in no time at all the blackflies were
parasitized. No more problems and next year we do not have to import the wasps from outside. It will simply reappear at the appropriate time. The children entered several items at the Fun Day Horticultural Show. We won first prize for peas, second prize for our raspberries and each child who entered the tray garden won a prize as well. Two got first prize, two got second prize and two got a third prize. Flowers and pot plants also did well. Three Dahlias got a first prize and the beautiful. Aeonium arboreum “Schwarzkopf”,which was given to us by Mrs Jacky Woodley also got first prize. I entered it in her name without her knowledge. She forgave me and is delighted to have won. If you want to see it, it lives on a bed of pebbles surrounded by
waving grasses at the edge of the pond. We have just been given ten brand new nets for our pond dipping activities. We are I
ndeed grateful because our old ones kept on breaking due to enthusiastic use! We are harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers (including lemon cucumbers) and some very small melons no larger than a bonbon. Three pumpkins showing signs of reaching a
decent size for our Halloween party. Peas and beans have been plentiful and we still have to harvest our potatoes.
After all that work a welcome cup of tea and juice for the children including a piece of cake is just the ticket.
May 2014 Report
The weather has been very kind to us and we have put in seeds of carrots and peas. We also planted bean plants which were raised off site and will add sweet peas into the same bed a bit later when they have grown a bit larger. Broad beans are growing away and some are already in bloom. We want to have a sunflower competition and have planted four plants for each child. Communal areas are gradually weeded and seeded with flower seeds and/or plants. Our first cut of comfrey is in the bin fermenting to give us our fertilisers for tomatoes, chillies, peppers and cucumbers. This year we shall have some lemon cucumbers!
We have used all usable plastic bottles for the bottle greenhouse and the plea is going out herewith. We need more clear 2l bottles. Please, do not crush them. We may be able to blow them straight again, but the crush has given them fault lines which may have later consequences.
We are cutting the 1l bottles into collars to place around tender plants; hopefully keeping the slugs off as well.
The pond is full of life and the damselflies have arrived and started laying into the foliage.
After all that work the refreshments from Gilberts Tearooms are a welcome sight. A big thank you to the ladies. Smita Kulkarni
What a difference a year makes! Today has been the hottest so far this year and, as a result, we were forced to retreat to the shade more than is usual. We took a welcome refreshment break under the shelter of a useful Sallow tree in a corner of the garden. A big thankyou to the ladies of Gilbert’s Tearooms for generously supplying us with drinks and cake to keep us going.
All is well in the polytunnel, with tomatoes planted and growing strongly. We just need to get the irrigation system fully functional again, as supplementary watering by hand is a challenge in the heat. Outside, the children have been very busy with their watering cans and this week took the opportunity of plunging their feet in buckets of water to cool off!
Almost all our plants are benefitting from the summer warmth and a variety of abundant produce has already been harvested. The strawberries are almost over, but blackcurrants and whitecurrants are now available to replace them. Radishes have been enjoyed by some, and the first of our potatoes have been dug and are in good shape. The heat has, alas, proved too much for the raised flower bed, as the daily watering it would require at the moment just isn’t an option.
Our willows have been transformed into an arbour, supported on a bamboo frame provided by Ruth, and the gaps are already filling in with new growth. It looks like at least one ‘window’ will be left in the arbour, so that the children can spy on us and check we’re working hard!
We have started clearing and levelling the site for our exciting bottle greenhouse project, which will soon be underway. Do keep those two-litre and 1½ litre bottles coming, as our target of 1700 bottles is still some way off. A collection bin is provided next to the Children’s Community Garden in Gilbert’s Nursery. We can’t do anything with milk bottles, non-transparent bottles, and bottles of other sizes unfortunately. So please recycle or find another use for these if you can.
Michael and Smita Kulkarni
Now that finally Spring has sprung we are working hard to catch up with sowing and planting. We sowed broad beans, peas, carrots and onions. In the polytunnel, in pots, the first sweet peas are up. A suggestion is to plant runner beans and sweet peas together. It should look colourful and is supposed to attract the insects that will then go on to pollinate the runner beans. Watch this space!
We connected up the solar power to the pump and were rewarded with a lovely burst of water. Sadly, one of our mature frogs died under a cover of ice two weeks ago. It just goes to show how important it is to keep a pond free of continuous ice cover. The tadpoles have left their nursery ring and have dispersed throughout the pond. No signs of legs yet.
We have planted the last rods of willow to complete the future willow arbour. This will give the children a chance to weave the living branches and to do selective pruning.
Our raised flower bed (as demonstrated on TV by Christine Walkden) will soon burst into daisy flowers to complement the violas and campanulas.
Our next task will be to move our raised hotbeds and the row of comfrey plants. This is to make way for our bottle greenhouse. We shall have a presence at the Green Fair, Crosfield Hall, Romsey, 18th May, 10am till 4pm. This is to advertise our existence and hopefully to collect empty 1.1/2l and 2l bottles for our project. Hope to see you there. We need 1700 mainly clear bottles but some green and brown are also welcome. Please we cannot use any bottles that are square and that are not transparent. If all goes well this may be the last year that Ruth and I raise tender plants at home!
On the 20th April the sun was so warm that we could sit outside and enjoy the lovely refreshments given so generously by the ladies of Gilbert’s Tearooms.
We are starting the new sessions on 16th March, 2013.
10am – 12 noon.
Our first task will be to look for green shoots of overwintering onions, then to see if there are any Brussels sprouts to be had, examine the fruit trees and identify leaf and fruit buds. Are there any frog or toad spawn in the pond? Etc etc.
You may remember that the Lockerley Scouts wanted to build a greenhouse using plastic bottles on our site. Unfortunately, it did not materialize and after much thought we have decided to have a go ourselves. So, please let us have your empty 2 litre plastic bottles. There will be a dedicated collection area at Gilbert’s Nursery. We will need 1700 bottles!!! Please support this venture if you can.
November 2012 Report
Our Halloween party was memorable. It was a bitterly cold but very sunny day. To keep warm it was all hands on deck to harvest all the rest of the tomatoes red and green and a few remaining peppers. We cleared the polytunnel of all plant material and moved in the table and chairs. We were really glad to be able to retreat into such a warm place. Before that, however, there were still raspberries to be picked and our big pumpkin to be harvested. Ruth ran a competition on how heavy is this pumpkin? We were all amazed that the weight was 28kg.
Sadly, we had to buy in the pumpkins to be carved into funny and/or fearsome faces.
We covered the table with a white sheet gave the children a set of colouring pencils and without prompting it was decorated with a wonderful array of faces, insects, spiders’ webs etc. Before we could stop them they had used some overripe raspberries to smear ‘blood’ to good effect. After that we laid out the food. A special Thank You must go to Helen Gilbert for the lovely carrot cake especially baked for the occasion. We had spider cheese scones, knobbly hands to go with the blood/tomato soup, Pumpkin chips, fondant fancies etc etc.
Last month Ruth made the surplus green tomatoes into chutney and every household was given a jar. Thank you, Ruth, it really is delicious.
We said goodbye to the children for this season and we shall meet again in the new year.
The adults decided to meet again in a fortnight’s time to tidy up, and we did ,and two children came too!
We had raised some Hollyhock plants from seeds and Nick Gilbert very kindly allowed us to sell them for funds at the Nursery. We raised £13.95 which will be very useful towards our next plan: to build a greenhouse made with 2l plastic bottles. It needs sturdy timbers and stiff wires to hold them into place. All this costs money so if you like hollyhocks there are still plenty in stock; and we need 1700 empty 2l plastic bottles!
I sign off now until next year. All children will be notified of the start date next March.
We thank the team of ladies at the tearooms for their lovely refreshments. It is the highlight of the morning and is very welcome. Smita Kulkarni
August 2012 Report
The Saturday before the Fun Day the children prepared a garden in a seed tray. I am always amazed at the imagination employed. They were all very beautiful and the youngest child got first prize.
We are now well into harvesting our produce. Beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are plentiful. What a shame they were not ready for the Fun Day. However, we did manage to pick a winning bunch of flowers (first prize), a third for carrots, a second for our large potato. The growing year has been the most difficult that I have ever experienced and full marks to all those brave people who entered their produce. The tent certainly looked colourful. Although the photographic competition was not that well represented, the photos displayed were of a very high quality; and Ruth McFadyen won a first with her photo of our children pond dipping!
The apple trees have held on to their apples and we found one plum turning yellow and we hope that next week we can cut it into however many pieces to let everyone have a taste.
We had to cover our brassicas because the pigeons had started to take an interest. Our next job is to get the onion bed ready. It will be weeded, compost dug in and then trodden well down because onions like to push against something. Ruth is planning to make a framework of bamboo canes so that the willow saplings can be trained over them.
Christine Walkden’s structure (as shown on the One Show) was planted up with campanulas and is filling up nicely. On each corner we stuck in cuttings of artemesias which have taken and will soon cascade down the sides.
All soft fruits were picked by birds and we will have to think of planning for a fruit cage. The autumn fruiting raspberries seem to be left alone and are beginning to yield a crop.
Thanks again for the delicious refreshments at break time. We are always looking forward to them. Smita Kulkarni
One week to go to the Fun Day!
We harvested some potatoes which had self sown into one of the hotbeds. I know that when it comes to the children’s garden I am a bit of a fisherman – but these potatoes are BIG. The children suggested that they are good enough to show. Next Saturday the day before the big day we shall select maybe some carrots, peas and certainly flowers.
In the polytunnel the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are growing away and we feed them weekly now with our own liquid fertilizer made from comfrey.
We planted up a bed with herbs such as chervil, majoram, chives, peppermint and feverfew and added two globe artichokes.
The children’s plots have yielded some peas and there is a promise of very good broad beans and sweetcorn. We have separate beds for runner beans and celeriac.
Our strawberry bed is now three years old and we must plan for a new bed. So the children were shown how to pot on rooted runners and where the roots were not advanced enough the plant was potted up but left attached to the mother plant.
The pumpkins are beginning to bloom and we are hoping for good results.
I was given some seeds of white hollyhock and when sown, I think, every one germinated so the children potted them up and we hope to sell them to top up our funds. If you are interested, they will be available on the days the Dahlia fields are open under the National Garden Scheme.
Every Saturday the children and adults look forward to the lovely refreshments kindly provided by the ladies of Gilbert’s Tearooms. Thank you so much. Smita Kulkarni
June 2012 Report
This season has been the most difficult for growing that I have ever known. I am sure that I am not alone in this. The temperature fluctuations were extreme and the rainfall….the less said the better. Nonetheless we had a very good show of Lupins and Sweet Williams that were raised last year. The high winds played havoc with our bean poles and also broke the bamboo support to the plum tree. All has been restored to normal thanks to two dads. Our apple trees have set fruit and there are four apples on the smallest tree and two on the larger one. We have also harvested the first strawberries. As every year some fruits do not reach the parents when they arrive to collect their offspring. The same happens with the vegetables. Who says that children do not like their greens?
The polytunnel is planted up with a variety of tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and the first fruits are setting. The hotbeds are showing several rows of luscious salads and spicy leaves which we shall be able to start cutting next week. (23rd June). Thanks to Ray Dixon we now have our own jubilee tree, a conference pear, which though planted rather late in the season is showing good promise. The boys dug a deep hole and filled it with our own compost, watered it and planted it. Good preparation always pays! We are very grateful to Mrs Burn who donated into our funds. This generous gift covered the cost of a bin which we need for producing our own comfrey liquid compost. ‘Our’ mole which we tried to discourage from our patch by putting wood ash and citronella drops into his run, was found dead on the surface. He/she was trying to get away from his killer by digging back into the soil, but it was not successful. We pulled him out and the children could inspect him in great detail. Fascinating! Pond dipping had to be suspended for two weeks because one of the boys pulled out a great crested newt! These creatures are endangered and we wanted them to breed in peace. We sowed four different culinary herbs into large pots and hope that they will be good enough for the Garden Show on the Fun Day.
We are, of course, grateful to the ladies of the Tearooms. The refreshments are always delicious and it makes a welcome break. I do not know how they manage to include us despite the fact that they are so busy. Smita Kulkarni
May 2012 Report
Our report to the Parish Council was submitted on Wednesday, 16th May. It was well received. It is incredible that we are now in our fifth year!
I reported that due to circumstances unforeseen the project to erect a greenhouse made out of plastic bottles had to be abandoned. The local scout group who were in charge of the project were as disappointed as we were. Not to be discouraged, we are now looking for a secondhand aluminium greenhouse (or new if you are a generous benefactor). It would greatly help with early seed sowing, potting on, and taking cuttings and bulb planting etc. We are also looking for a medium dustbin to hold our first harvest of comfrey. Comfrey rots into the most useful rich liquid feed for vegetables and flowers alike.
We are reviving our plan to build a living willow den. Judging by the way the children took to weaving goat willow this project will go down very well.
Pond dipping can now begin. We cannot see any tadpoles let alone froglets. We hope that they left when our back was turned.We did notice a large frog dive into the water when disturbed by our activity to clear the weeds around the pond. We also discovered a large toad and hope that, in time, it will also breed.
We were much surprised to get a visit from Anne Drew. She had found a dead pippistrelle bat on her kitchen sill. She had carefully put it on card and into a window bag. It did not look dead at all. She was going to put it into her freezer afterwards so that she could also show it to her grandchildren. Our children loved it. Thank you, Anne, it was much appreciated.
We are, of course, grateful to the ladies of the Tearooms. The refreshments are always delicious and it makes a welcome break. I do not know how they manage to include us despite the fact that they are so busy.
April 2012 Report
Allow me to start this report with an apology. Early in the year I found several packets of seed in my postbox. They were a kind donation from Denise Smythe-Wright. I used to see her walking her dog quite regularly and thought I would thank her on one of those occasions. You guessed it, it did not happen. So here is a big THANK YOU. We have already sown the wildflower seeds in trays and hope for good germination.
Another month has flown by. We have sown carrots, onions, radishes, annual flowers and sugar peas. Only the radishes have put their heads above the parapet.
As you know, the weather is so changeable it is difficult to know what to do for the best. To sow or not to sow.
Very rarely do we get rain during our session, but it does happen and one Saturday it tipped it down. Grasscutting was abandoned and we retreated into our lovely shed. I cut some branches from an overhanging goat willow and showed the children how to start a basket. I must admit that they were much better at it than I. What they do not know is that the same technique is going to be used to weave plant supports!
Pond dipping will only start again after the froglets have left the pond. At the moment they are keeping well out of sight, but as soon as the sun appears up they come to take advantage of the warmth.
The fruit trees are soon bursting into flower. We will have to think up some cover for our cherry tree.
Our scarecrow is a sorry sight but we have new trousers and a promise of a jacket. So watch this space, Smita Kulkarni
March 2012 Report
We started gardening again on the 17th March. The magnet was, of course, the pond. We looked for frogspawn and found tadpoles and frogspawn, both. The cover of the solar panel was taken off and when the sun shines it will activate the pump which will then oxygenate the water which will in turn get rid of the little blanket weed present. No pond dipping until the tadpoles are ready to leave the pond!
We cut the grass and started to clear the vegetable beds. No seeds were sown because the forecast is still for frosty weather.
The compost in bin No 1 had sunk well and we took off a 25cm layer. This was put into compost bin No 2 to rot down in the coming year. All new weeds were put on top of this. The next slightly rough compost we shall use as mulch on top of the autumn fruiting raspberries. The layers after that will be good enough to be incorporated into the vegetable beds.
The worms in the wormery have survived the winter and need feeding kitchen waste to build up their numbers.
Our arch had to be taken down. It looked worse for wear and needs replacing. The same goes for the scarecrow. We need some ‘new’ clothes to make a smarter looking one!
The polytunnel was cleared of weeds last autumn and only a few reappeared. It is planned to grow some early cut and come again lettuce and other leaves before we are ready again to plant it up with tomatoes etc.
We are always grateful for the delicious refreshments served by Gilbert’s tearooms.
Saturdays from 10am to 12noon