Here are a few photos from our willow weaving skill share last month. We started to develop a willow dome for the children at the Library Garden, using a small existing willow tree as a base. We will post further photos as the dome grows.
Ive been busy composting through the dark months both physically and metaphysically and now here we are at the mid point between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox. It is hard sometimes to think of Spring in what feels like the depths of Winter. But if we look at the ground we can see the first shoots of green beginning to reach towards the Sun. Ive taken a couple of magical walks in the flurries of snow and im happy that the frosts will be killing of any unwanted bugs and dis-eases from the growing spaces. I've also observed and felt the stirrings of Spring, bulbs are poking up their heads and the garlic is looking robust and healthy. We are harvesting winter salad leaves out of the greenhouse and lambs lettuce from outside. The Broadbeans have got lovely fresh shoots under their fleece covering despite the weather. It may seem bleak to you out there but there is no doubt the earth is stirring and the spark of life is evident...and it ALL starts there....
We have had plenty of visitors down in the gardens this month, Warley school have visited as part of their project on the environment and will be taking on a patch of their own. We also run 'Seedlings' a home education group from the gardens as part of the work i do with The WildWood Emporium, the group adopted one of the raised beds. One of the families who attend have also taken on a bed. As well as continuing to inprove the soil and banish the couch grass we are working on a new base map of the site continuing the Sow We Grow project of numbering/labelling and mapping sections of the garden. Fruit and Vegtable wise we ourselves will be seasonal planting on a small scale and planting a big patch of potatoes and a big patch of pumpkins. We also have other plans for projects which tie into our group objectives. We are hoping to get a small amount of funding so we can put in some undercover space, restore our brick oven and alter the library door in order to make the garden more accessable. For a detailed spring/summer plan see HERE.
These are our meeting dates up till June we have included some evening dates this year and attached a skill sharing activity to each met in the hope of attracting some regular volunteers. We will also be meeting every two weeks after from May as opposed to once a month.
Sat 23rd Feb 11-1pm with willow dome activity
Sat 30th March 11-1pm with Sowing wild flowers activity
Sat 27th April 11-1pm with making Spring tonics activity
Sat 18th May - We would like to hold some kind of Spring event this day if possible, details TBC
Fri 31st May 4-6pm
Sat 15th June 11-1pm
Sat 29th June 11-1pm
For more info please see our events page
Our other projects this year are planned in order to develop our group objectives , we will be tying these in with our workdays, skillshares, events and socials.
And yes you read correctly above...great news!!...fairies have actually moved into the community garden. Theres only one door so far but ive heared a rumor on the ivy vine that there are more little folk moving in soon. If you visit the library pop out into the garden and see if you can spot the fairy door!
We have had a couple of additions since we produced our original list we now have Calendula, Ornimental 'drumstick' alliums and also Globe artichoke seeds...lots of them and it is the perfect time to sow them indoors now, its a fantastic perrenial to add to your growing space, favoured by the god Zeus apparently! There is some good info on germinating globe artichoke seeds here. If you would like some please get in touch and for the full list please see our seeds page.
Going into a new growing year, this is an updated list of the seeds we have in our community seedbank. If you would like some, get in touch and we can bring them along to one of our workdays at Bleakhouse Library, or we can post them out to you. We also have a small selection of seeds permanently available at the Library, so if you are there on a day we are not, please do feel free to take a couple of packets.
A couple of points to please bear in mind. We are not a corporate professional organisation. It is just the two of us doing this. The seeds are not weighed or measured, we just pop a few into a plain 'wage packet' style envelope. Therefore, some packets will contain more seeds than others. Also, as many of the seeds are donated, we often cannot give the variety of seed beyond it's generic name. We also don't have the resouces to include growing instructions, but these should hopefully be easy enough to find on the Internet. We cannot guarantee that seeds are organic. Some of the seeds are in short supply, so it is a case of first come, first served.
We are also very grateful for donations of seeds, so if you have any spare you don't need, please do bear us in mind.
Poached Egg plant
Cabbage (Savoy, Omskirk)
Cucumber (Boothbys Blonde)
French Beans, climbing
Radish (Mooli, Munchin Bier)
Some of you may have heard about the proposed build of an Aquatic centre for the olympic games on Londonderry playing fields in Smethwick. As a group we are against the proposed location (not the actual build) for a number of reasons, In brief they are as follows:
1. Consultation issues/legality/transparancy/accountability
3. Infastructure/safety/air quality/cost
4. Suitability of the site for building/clay pit/high water table/drainage issues
5. Environmental impact/loss of green space/wildlife corridor/ effect on health and wellbeing
I would really like to see the site study on this I have sent an foi request to find out where were it can be viewed.
There is a facebook group called Save Londonderry lane playing fields which has some dedicated members working on constructively challanging the council and asking for answers on this. One of the reasons for writing this blog is to spread the word further afield and also to enable people who are not on facebook to find out whats going on. The SABPermaculture network would also like to provide an off facebook space to put any important or interesting information and documents anyone else who wishes to do this or add comments here is more than welcome, I will transfer things over as and when I get time. We also have a forum attached to this site which is currently not used, so people can also make use of this too if they so wish.
A beautiful project has blossomed in the midst of this however, after a suggestion from a member of the facebook group people have begun to paint memory stones to leave in the park. If you have a stroll round you may find one or you may even like to paint one and leave it down there yourself!
Link for the Online petition HERE
Greetings from the urban wilderness...
a massive thanks to those who came and helped at the last work day, we really appreciate the support, it means we can get so much more achieved. We harvested potatoes, tomatoes, chard, landcress and chives. The food is there to be harvested by the community, we are not sure this is obvious to people, we are organising a display so that when you visit the library it is clear you can go out and pick. It will also tell you what is ready to be harvested and what plants you can take seeds from. We also planted up a parsley, cabbage, winter radish, spinach and salad leaves
WORKDAYS/GATHERINGS DATES AND DETAILS OF EVENTS
We have 3 more work/social days coming up this year 20th Oct/24th Nov/15th Dec 11am till 1pm, we will be doing an autumn tidy up and collecting seed for our seedbank. It is also intended as a social event so please pop down and find out what we are up to and how you can get involved. At this months get together we will be chatting about future development and planning our Autumn event for the gardens which will be held on 27th October. Friends old and new - please join us for our Autumn celebration down at the library garden, we will have all the usual permaculture and Nettle info plus any produce/harvest we have. We will have the community seedbank, willow weaving and making blackberry oxymel. Refreshments and drinks will be available and we will have activities on for the kids.
We are still trying to get a regular group of volunteers together to maintain and develop the gardens along permaculture principles, so please come along and find out more if you are interested.
We are hosting a couple of meetings for our Nettle collective which is an on-going Community project collectively experimenting with Nettle fibre extraction, processing and application. We will be meeting on the same dates as we are having the workdays and will follow on from the workdays starting at 1pm till 3pm. This is where we are up to so far:
For our first meeting we met at Londonderry playing fields in order the support the Save Londonderry lane playing fields group. The council has proposed to build a swimming centre for the commonwealth games here, we are against these plans for a number of reasons. In brief the site is not suitable for such a build in geological terms or in terms of the surrounding infrastructure, we believe there are more appropriate sites elsewhere in the borough. We also want to save and help develop what little green space we have as it is imperative for health and wellbeing, environment and wildlife. There are also wider issues here about council transparency and accountability. It is also a fantastic place to harvest nettle!
20/10 - All our previously collected stems should be retted and dried by now so we will be breaking and scutching (the stems)
if you did not come and collect stems on our first meet we will have spare stems you can work with. We will also save the woody pith to experiment making paper with. Please bring gloves and a rounded stone about the size of your palm.
24/11- We will card up and spin the fibres
15/12- Paper making and deciding how we want to further experiment with the fibre in the new year eg.crochet, weaving, art projects
HOME EDUCATION SESSIONS
As part of our work with The WildWood Emporium we started the Seedlings home ed group based in the gardens. Sessions have been running now for a few months. Its a fantastic space for the children to explore, they have also adopted one of the raised beds which has established really well and contains all kinds of tasty veg and interesting insects! At the last session we had a great time planting garlic, weaving fish and making magical potions.
We will be starting a very exciting project in the new year involving building a Raspberry PI weather station and nature cam. We meet every 2 weeks on a Friday and also once a month on a Saturday at a local allotment site. If you would to know more about the sessions please get in touch through our contacts page.
We are currently developing our little corner of the library so people can see what we are up to. There will be group and meeting/event details as well as a visual plan of the gardens. Information about what is currently ready for harvest that people can go out and pick and we will also have our seedbank permently there so people can access it at any time.
Moving forward into the new year we are looking our development plans for the garden which need updating as well as continuing on with our nettle fibre project.at We are still in desperate need of volunteers for the community garden...we would love to get together a little dedicated band of peeps to help us maintain and develop the space...it has so much potential ...we have been chatting about maybe a different time to set the workday/socials would help...so if you have ever thought about coming along please let us know when is good for you we would love to meet you.
Last Saturday, Nyrees took a group of us on a foraging walk around Londonderry Lane Playing Fields. The fields are situated within Sandwell, and will soon be lost to an Olympic-sized swimming pool and aquatic centre for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Sandwell Council are keen to promote the benefits of the new use of the site, but some of us remain to be convinced. However, I digress. It was a beautiful day, and we found many beneficial plants growing on the site. Doubtless there are more that I missed, but here are a few photos.
Hawthorn and Elder
Greater Plantain and Ribwort Plantain
Wood Avens and Rosebay Willowherb
Members of the thistle family. Many of these have medicinal uses.
The small nettle, Urtica urens, and ox-eye daisy
Blackberries and a walnut tree.
If you are interested in knowing more about the playing fields, this is Sandwell Coucil's FAQ on the new swimming centre www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200237/leisure_parks_and_events/4178/sandwell_aquatic_centre_frequently_asked_questions
The Facebook page for the Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields is here www.facebook.com/groups/2079881118922659/about/
We've got a lot of things growing away at the Community Garden, and we will be going in regularly to keep the weeds down and to keep on eye on things. However, for various personal reasons, we can't commit to more of our regular pre-planned Saturday workdays just at the moment. The last regular workday will be going ahead on 23 June 11am-1pm as advertised. However, If you would like to join us to help out in the garden after that, or just want a chat, please get in touch and we can sort out a mutually agreeable date. We are hoping to hold some sort of Autumn event in the garden, so watch this space!
Annie and Nyrees
We had a very productive session in the Library Community Garden today, getting lots of clearing and planting done. We have chard, parsnips, land cress, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and spring onions all on the go. We also potted up some pansies into the planter generously donated by AL's PLANTERS. The Forget-Me-Nots are too pretty to clear, and the bees love them!
We are always grateful for help in the Garden, so if you are local, come on down.
Our next dates are - 26 May, 9 June, and 23 June. 11am till 1pm.
The fire of Spring, interwoven with dew and light...These glistening willow buds were just one of the signs of Spring that greeted us down at the library community garden today, the hellebore patch is a mass of pink and green and we have tiny pockets of narcissus and muscari dotted around. We have beautiful fresh growth on the lemon balm and fat juicy buds on the apple and pears - not bad at all considering recent conditions. I think the rain and warmer conditions have helped bring everything on.
We did a bit of clearing and maintenance today as well as sowing some seed, we put in some swiss chard, calendula and salad burnet. We have a mixture of various seed in our seedbank if you would like some for free please pop along to one of our workdays - details below.
LOCAL FOOD MARKET
Are you a local gardener or allotment holder?
Would you like to sell your surplus produce?
We have plans to hold a monthly food market to provide the community with healthy, affordable local produce thereby also supporting local people by developing a local economy. This is a market that will be predominantly fruit, vegetables, herbs and plants. We are hooking up with the www.bigbarn.co.uk/crop-for-the-shop/ initiative and would like to sign up individuals and groups
to sell their produce. We are planning the first market for sometime in May (date tbc)
If you are interested please contact us to chat terms and conditions and get signed up.
We are looking for volunteers to help maintain and develop the gardens. We welcome all members of the community to come along on our workdays whatever your ability or gardening experience, we are keen to get together a group to look after and enjoy this space, we are also open to ideas on how the space can be used.
We have the medicine wheel bed we are developing on site along with the fruit area, we have the wildlife area and also have a number of waist height raised beds that need adopting. They are perfect if you are new to gardening or if you would just like a small manageable space to grow in.
if you would like to adopt one we can offer you seeds from our seed bank and advice on growing.
You can see more information of the space and a detailed plan of the development ideas on our projects page.
If you would like to join us on one of our workdays you can check for dates on our news and events page or contact us.
The gardens are a beautiful mix of cultivated and wild plants. We currently have an abundance of Garlic mustard aka Jack in the hedge in the gardens so if you are a keen forager please pop down a pick a bunch. They can be eaten like braised green, raw in salads and it also makes a beautiful pesto. You could also add other Spring greens, recipe below:
Two big handfuls of a wild garlic, Garlic Mustard
Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan or oven for 5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.
Crush the nettles up well in a pestle and mortar or blender- this will eliminate the stings. Chop the rest of the herbs roughly and throw them in the blender along with the cheese, salt and pepper and half the nuts. Add about half of the oil and pulse until roughly blended.
Add the remaining nuts but only pulse a few more times to leave the pesto with some crunch. If the pesto looks dry, add more oil. Spoon into sterilised glass jars and cover with a layer of oil. Every time you use some of the pesto cover with another layer of oil to keep the air out. Store in the fridge and it should last a couple of weeks.
SATURDAY 28TH APRIL
11am till 1pm
The community garden is open during library opening hours for anyone to enjoy - it may be possible for us to meet you there at other times please contact us and we will organise this if possible.
"When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring."
Both August and September have been pretty rainy, which has made work at our community garden a challenge, especially as the greenery has thrived and is taking over where we would prefer it not to!
Last weekend, we had a stall at the Harvest Open Day held at our old stomping ground, Salop Drive Market Garden. Fortunately, the rain actually held off for this one! The Market Garden is looking simply splendid, thanks to the amazing work done by Tim and co. I, (Annie), had a lovely time chatting to visitors about permaculture and nettles.
We are holding our own Autumn event at the Bleakhouse Library garden next month, details to follow. In the meantime, here are a few photos from last Saturday.
Nyrees is a member of the Sandwell permaculture Network, she loves foraging, being creative,permaculture and metaphysical debate!!