As spring belatedly arrives, the small community garden in Goresbridge begins to take shape…
Can you spot the new structure that’s appeared between the beds? We managed to lure Peter back into the garden with his handyman skills and he’s built a lovely arch out of the old posts and wire that we found in the shed last week. We’ll be training the runner beans up and over it in a few weeks time.
Bridget’s learning how to toil the soil gently with the tip of the spade and knock the lumps of clay out.
It wont be long before the beds are full of flowers and vegetables
Inside the polytunnel the warmth has helped the plugs plants to come on. Thankfully we only found a couple of slugs and snails this week so no more seedling devastation for now. Continue Reading…
One of the (many) things I enjoy about community gardening is the way we can try out different ideas and techniques, as well as see how fellow gardeners reuse or recycle. Community gardens by nature are generally short of funds so gardeners are great at adapting “stuff”.
In Goresbridge community garden we’ll be trying out a few ideas we’ve seen online to highlight what can be grown in a relatively small area. We’ll report back how we get on with them.
First off, with huge thanks to Colette’s husband Peter, we now have a vertical pallet garden on the wall. We started filling it with strawberries this morning and will add colour in the form of nasturtiums and perhaps salads over the coming weeks.
We have lots of strawberry plants this year so if you’re a regular follower of the Goresbridge garden posts you’ll start to notice them in all sorts of places. Here we’ve planted some up in guttering that’s been affixed to the wall (Peter is a marvel) and are on the look out for more. We’re curious to see how much watering they’ll need but have a good rota of people so hopefully this won’t be a problem.
Lots of space to add more guttering
Most of the community gardeners are growing vegetables in their own gardens too. Here’s a simple cold frame that James built for less than €20:
Imelda’s husband Ollie is full of great ideas too! How about this simple but effective one for keeping fleece or plastic in place over raised beds:
Bungies keep most things secure!
I especially like Imelda’s greenhouse that’s full of seedling’s under fleece right now.
Imelda & Ollie’s Greenhouse
Ollie built this using clear plastic sheeting and other bits and bobs at a fraction of the price of a flat pack alternative.
I’ll keep you posted of other ways the gardeners come up with to reuse/recycle over the coming months.
We spent a good part of the morning pouring over a catalogue from a nursery that sells plug plants and coming up with an order list for the village planting scheme. There are lots of beds, hanging baskets and containers that we’ll be filling full of colour but it was no easy task choosing and agreeing on the combinations!
Meanwhile Liam and James escaped from the women for a few minutes and headed outside where they dug the potato trenches and planted the chitted potatoes. We also laid down the growing mat that Sow Easy Sow had donated which we’ll be planting our brassicas in.
We moved the rhubarb (giving it a double layer of protection to help to prevent shock.
James planted peas into modules full of multipurpose compost. Although the seed packets will be telling you to sow from April, it’s still too cold to plant most seeds directly outside just yet.
How about this for a recycled plant pot idea that a visiting gardener bought along?
How are your garden preparations going? Are you making the most of the dry days?
As I left home to meet up with gardeners this week, the sky was heavy with its frosty load and the huge flakes softly floated around me as I tentatively set off once again down the slippery hilly lanes.
There was snow in the community garden with most of the beds frozen, but inside we were starting to see slow signs of life.
The potatoes are chitting nicely…
We transplanted strawberry runners into guttering that will be hung on the wall outside when the weather warms up a bit.
Very few seeds have germinated that were sown two weeks ago, it’s been so cold. The rocket is just up, a few tiny lettuce plants and some kale. We’ll be sowing fresh seeds over the next few weeks to counteract the losses/non germination…
Lastly we were able to thin out and divide the chives that we planted from seed a couple of years ago that were in danger of taking over the herb bed.
There is one delightfully uplifting area of the garden during this barren time… a large container full of pretty spring flowers. Fingers crossed for a warmer Wednesday next week!
The two gardens in question were nominated by Derry City Council in the 2012 Pride of Place awards under the City Category for Community Garden and obtained runners-up place.
The cost of each project was small in comparison to other projects (just £1,000 and £5,000 respectively) but the rewards and effects of bringing horticulture to the people have been considerable.
Leafair Community Garden
Leafair Community Garden
The first garden visit was to Leafair Laneway Community Garden and was a fantastic example of how community gardening and horticulture can so positively impact on residents and communities.
This series of gardens were developed in early 2011 by Leafair Community Association due to ongoing anti-social behaviour in the laneway. Cars were being driven up and down and residents had nailed their gates closed.
The project involved residents from the houses, Leafair Mens Health Project and Galliagh Off the streets initiative.
This laneway has since spawned a further three laneway projects in the area, with another four areas secured for redevelopment in the same style.
There must be hundreds of lanes and back alleys that would have room for raised beds like these… can you imagine them all in the summer and autumn months when they’re bursting with produce!
St Therese, the local primary school has installed over twenty raised beds in the schools grounds, started a school composting system and various flower and herb beds as a direct result of the laneway.
Fountain Community Garden aka Bastion Plots
The second community garden is just below the Derry city walls, hence the lovely view below. Developed in early 2011 this project saw the lead being taken by Cathedral Youth Club who had identified an area of their estate which was just ‘poor wet grass’ and obtained funding through Co-operation Ireland to develop a grow-your-own project. The garden was constructed by residents, young people and Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland.
Fountain Community Garden
The primary school has a strong involvement in the garden area, visiting the garden every fortnight to participate in general horticulture. (The blue buckets in the back left of the picture above are full of strawberries that they children will take home.) The school also has a number of beds and horticultural areas developed in their grounds.
The garden project has spawned a number of other initiatives in the community, such as large-scale daffodil planting, litter picking, graffiti removal and the installation of a new play park area – all led by the Cathedral Youth Club.
Fountain Community Garden
The garden involved co-operation from Derry City Council, Housing Executive and Roads Service.
Last year the two schools joined another school to create a new park space beside the Guildhall, now known as Foyle Gardens. This was formally a car park but is now a quality small park facility for tourists and residents to enjoy. The project involved Leafair Community Association taking the lead with support of Department of Social Development and Derry City Council Parks and Cemeteries department.
One of the reasons I was so keen to find other community gardeners was to see how other people were doing it so that I could bring that knowledge back to my own nearby towns and villages. With the Community Garden Network we can all learn from each other and share our experiences and expertise.
The next network meeting will be taking place in Sligo at the end of June where we hope to see more gardens. For anybody who can’t travel to the meetings, the gallery on the website is filling nicely with various groups pictures. I’ve written several posts on the community garden projects I’ve worked with here too.
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