The last couple of months have been slightly less hectic at the Garden, but only just.
As we have done most of the harvesting for the year now, Frank has had time to sit down and crunch the numbers. It would be an understatement to say that Peter was rather pleased that between April and October this year the Garden has grown an impressive 1.2 tonnes of produce. Pumpkins alone produced almost 100 kg! This makes for a yield of 4.2 kg per square meter which exceeds the standard allotment yield of 3kg by 40%! It’s also 3.5 times last season’s total Garden harvest.
But that’s not all – thanks to Will’s juicing prowess, another 1.2 tonnes of unwanted apples have been harvested from gardens around Tayport and most of them converted into the yummy long-life apple juice.
But wait…there is more! Our Grow@Home members are also reporting growing success, with 240 kg of produce recorded so far, doubling last year’s figures.
All this local growing has not only produced a mountain of yummy food but has also shrunk Tayport’s carbon footprint by nearly 6.8 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. Go us!
We think it may be time for a little celebratory dance, don’t you?
Talking about mountains of food – we have kept back the makings of locally grown Christmas feast, so make sure you stock up at one last pre-Christmas sale to be held at the Garden on 17th of December. We will have the usual parsnips, carrots, and sprouts as well as some oca tubers for those more adventurous amongst you. Kaska has roasted scrubbed whole oca with some garlic and oil for about 20minutes in the oven and reports delicious results. There is also still plenty of Tayport Apple Juice left and you can pop by the Garden and pick some up during our opening hours.
In addition to the oca, other exotic tuber crops we have recently lifted were the sweet potatoes and Peruvian tuberous nasturtium (Tropaeolum tuberosum) from the polytunnel Cucubrit bed. Unfortunately, the sweet potatoes were a complete fail, probably due to shading by the vigorous cucumber plants growing in front of them. But the nasturtium produced a healthy crop of tubers, not unlike those of oca in size and appearance. No tasting notes as yet – let us know if you would like to give cooking it a go!
We have continued clearing garden beds, outside and inside the polytunnel, and putting some under compost mulch. The green manure of winter rye sown on the tattie bed has germinated nicely. We are taking advantage of all the fallen leaves too – Graeme and Peter having set up a chicken wire leaf cage for them to rot away into a leaf mold. Once decomposed, they make for a great soil conditioner, helping with soil water retention and boosting soil life.
The onion and garlic were planted in late October to replace the lifted carrots, and we have sown a selection of winter salads, including mustards, chinese greens, lamb’s lettuce and kale in a polytunnel bed. It’s a bit late for the latter but they have germinated nicely so we hope they will produce nice full-flavoured greens to brighten our plates in late winter-early spring. We’ve sown some broadbeans in pots too to get them kickstarted for the Spring.
November workshop participants have helped plant additional wildflowers to further enrich the Garden habitats for our pollinators within the newly created Biodiversity Neuk around the willow tunnel – you can see Peter’s tips from the session in our November vlog.
The Monday Caley group made sure that our flower boat on Queen Street has been tidied up for winter and planted up with some spring bulbs. We also had a bit of a weedbusting session and a tidy up at the Fruit Tree Walk’s Garvie Brae play park. More sessions are planned at the Fruit Tree Walk including winter prune of fruit trees and bushes. Get in touch with Jenny if you’d like to join the Fruit Tree Walk Crew on regular basis.
All this digging has unearthed a very healthy population of earthworms, which had Kaska and Brendan tempted into trying out some earthworm identification using OPAL survey kit. We discovered three species in a sample from the freshly dug oca bed: Lob worm (Lumbricus terrestris), Black headed worm (Aporrectodea longa) and Compost Worm (Eisenia veneta). This has whet our appetites for completing the full survey and we are already planning sessions for children and adults next Spring.
After Bill constructed the base for the miniature garden on top of one of our bug hotels last month, Louise, with Peter’s help, has started the planning. They made a selection of small, drought-resistant ground cover plants: Tranegue camomile, sempervirums, sedums, Saxifraga granulata, dwarf willow Salix x Boydi and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’. She’s also started designing and making scaled down garden ‘furniture’ with Caley and children’s groups.
Finally, we had a nice surprise last week when, after a very long wait, workmen turned up to set up the Garden’s mains water connection. Thankfully, they managed to complete the work with minimal disruption to the Garden and local residents. Now we only have to sort out connections to the internal pipes already in place…
With a few frosty nights behind us already, and some miserably wet weather this week, the Garden is starting to feel quite wintry. But we are still there for our regular sessions so please come by for a cuppa and a good chinwag (we are only closed from 21 December to 2 January for the Christmas break). You may even pick up some useful garden design tips to get you started with your own growing in the New Year.
Oh and to get you in a Christmas mood we are holding a Natural Christmas decoration workshop this Sunday 25th of November, 1 to 3pm. Hope to see you there:)