Summer Greetings from the Garden!

Hopefully this newsletter finds you well and coping with whatever the Coronavirus situation has thrown at you this year. We are now very happy to be able to welcome volunteers again to regular twice weekly sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, and are really looking forward to getting back to some kind of normality. We would also like to invite locals who would like to pick flowers to visit within these sessions in exchange for a small donation. Please check our website or find us on Facebook for session times and any cancellations.

Of course our priority is the health and safety of all volunteers and visitors, so a few rules will apply:
  • Please avoid attending the garden if you feel unwell, if you have been in contact with another person who is unwell, or if you have an underlying health condition that would make you vulnerable to infection. 
  • We continue to practice social distancing by making sure to keep at least two metres between us at all times, a fairly easy task in our 4 acres of garden. 
  • Please also bring your own refreshments, tools, gardening gloves and hand sanitiser/wipes. We are sad that no refreshments can be provided for the time being, as we so enjoyed our social coffee breaks, but that’s life, just now!
  • Hand sanitiser is available for use when arriving and within the garden. Any tools that must be shared, wheelbarrow handles, and other surfaces will be regularly disinfected.
  • Two people maximum only in the polytunnel at any one time.

Since March the small local steering group has been getting plenty of exercise keeping things ticking over.

We have been planting lots of trees. Some small native saplings for a new hedge to shelter the veg beds. Some of these also in the forest garden along with blueberries, plums, mulberry, and a crab apple avenue.  Also, a beautiful ring of kindly donated birch trees. Our socially-distanced tree planting event just before lockdown was successful and, encouraged by the Woodland Trust, we hope to repeat this later in the year.

The veg beds have been well attended and extended with potatoes, beans, chard, kale, peas, courgettes, fennel, beetroot, all growing vigorously. Tomatoes, cucumber, aubergines, peppers and basil are doing well in the polytunnel.
We are also involved in an experimental “patchwork wheat farm” project. Our wheat, grown from heritage seed provided by Philip Revell, is looking healthy, and developing into what we hope will be a good crop. Who knows, we may be able to see the entire process through to baking a tasty sourdough loaf! This will also link us with other local projects and growers.

The fruit garden is about to come into production big time with plenty of currants, gooseberries, rasps, and a few blueberries starting to ripen, and strawberries on the go for a week or so already. We have also started a new artichoke border which hopefully will be supplying plenty of goodies next year. Since the Coronavirus struck we have all started to think seriously about food production, and we hope to have enough surplus produce to offer to our local Community Kitchen as the season progresses.

Whilst we have been putting most of our energy into food production and maintaining and expanding these areas, we haven't forgotten our lovely cut flower garden and shrub borders. These are looking fantastic now, forming a welcoming entrance to the garden, and the bees and butterflies are loving them, with plenty of variety of these beautiful insects in very busy attendance.

We are proud of the Pollinator Award we received from Keep Scotland Beautiful in 2019, as we aim to provide a habitat for all stages of pollinator development; overwintering sites for bumblebees, butterflies and moths being just as important as nectar and pollen in the summer. A grant from the Butterfly Conservation Trust has helped us towards developing a management programme for the grassland areas in the garden so that we can enrich the sward with native grasses and wild flowers.
The Dyers Garden is a new development within the cut flower area, where we intend to try out plants we can use for natural dyeing, such as safflower, golden rod, coreopsis, weld and woad. Another new development is an area devoted to lavender, which should be very special next year.

Jerry used lockdown to experiment with constructing a ‘sunhive’ and framework to be placed near the ‘skeps’ he made last year which now have a healthy colony and to continue to experiment with Natural Beekeeping - providing habitat and allowing bees to fend for themselves, taking no honey.
The sunhive is made from our willow and a mixture of horse manure and mud from the burn to provide covering insulation. The sunhive is now in position and waiting for a colony. Jerry recently gave a zoom talk to the Edinburgh Permaculture Community Classroom on how to make a ‘sunhive’ and natural beekeeping.
We continue to garden organically and with biodiversity very much in mind. We also hope that more people will be able to benefit from the enhanced mental and physical well-being that gardening in this beautiful space can provide.

If you would like to and are able to volunteer, please do get in touch through the website we would love to see you.
Very best wishes,
From Growing at Gilmerton

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