Community Garden June 22 Update

What a fantastic month to be a grower this has been – plenty of rain, lovely warm temperatures day and night, and not too many scorchers. Everything is growing at an extraordinary pace in the community garden and allotment – weeds included – and we have been frantically picking and getting things into the shop.

This month has seen the wonderful peonies come and go (do we love them so much, partly because of their fleeting nature?), lettuces of all types, rocket, gooseberries, and the first raspberries, which have been a pleasure to grow and pick. The interns from Mission EmployAble have been working hard, mainly at the allotment, where they have been weeding, watering, and picking, as well as tackling one of the vacant allotments which had got into a sorry state – this is a really tough job to do by hand, so we just do a short stint each week before moving on to more forgiving jobs. They have also been making delicious jam which you can find in the shop – proceeds split between the Community Garden and Mission EmployAble.

Some flowers that have been notable for pollinators this month were the allium ‘siculum’  ( a dusky pink allium which I personally think is unattractive, but the bees disagree, and have been all over it), the first borage (adored by honeybees in particular), the last of the phacelia tanecetifolia, and good old nepeta (catmint). Honeybees have had a good spring, and Sue and I were able to take some honey off our hives – you’ll find some for sale in the village shop, with proceeds going to the Community Garden and Mission EmployAble. This honey is not from the community garden bees, as they are a new colony, and need their honey stores for themselves – maybe next year! If you love bees and/or honey, please plant more flowers, including flowering trees – hawthorn, fruit trees, limes (tilia), Holm oaks, rowans are all fantastic for bees, as are so many garden plants – alliums, catmint, lavender, all of the salvia family, borage, single dahlias, hardy geraniums and Asters to name a few. Sadly the bedding plants bred for hanging baskets and pots (impatiens, begonias, petunias etc) offer next to no value for pollinators. Our new colony is doing very well, with lots of beautiful new brood being laid by a clearly healthy queen – I have high hopes for them!

A note about the community garden and the new café behind the shop. These are separate entities, though obviously we support each other. With a heavy heart, we ask people not to go into the community garden if they are visiting the café – it is a working garden, supplying food, and we cannot have people in there unsupervised, especially with the many hazards that accompany it (not least the 2 beehives!). Just imagine if someone’s dog left a calling card on the lettuces, or dug up the dahlias… you get the gist. We’d very much like to have an open day soon, but have held back while the café gets itself established. If you would like to have a look, do just get in touch with me and we can sort something out.

Finally, thank you to all those who have helped this month, including those who have donated grass cuttings to the compost – it is all very much appreciated, and makes a genuine difference. To follow the community garden on a more regular basis, have a look for Sarratt Community garden on Facebook for photos and short videos.