To mark a decade of SCCG, we invited the community for a day of activities, food and entertainment.
On Sunday 10th October we were delighted to welcome people from across the community to our 10th Anniversary event. We wanted to run the event as both a ‘thank you’ for volunteers and supporters who have contributed to our work over the years, and as a chance for residents to find out about the community garden, our history, and how they can get involved.
The free event included a range of activities – our Sunday Community Gardener, Jane Sowerby, coordinated a stall where people could make their own flower garland ‘crown’ – lots of our Little Growers (and a few ‘bigger growers’!) were proudly photographed wearing their bright and colourful head pieces.
SCCG Trustee, Kate Daly, ran an apple-tasting table, offering visitors the chance to try ten varieties of apple, including some that had originated in South London. We also invited younger guests to make their own bird feeders out of toilet roll tubes, peanut butter and bird seed.
Ruth Arnott, our Wednesday Community Gardener, fired up the pizza oven and all were invited to share a delicious range of freshly cooked pizzas alongside a buffet of salads, side dishes and cakes contributed to by many Trustees, volunteers and visitors.
Mulberry tree expert, Peter Coles, who runs Morus Londinium, gave a fascinating talk on the history of mulberry trees and his project to map them across the UK. Peter discussed our 250-year-old mulberry tree as part of his presentation – he commented on how healthy it looked compared to other similar-aged trees he has seen in London.
In addition, we ran a plant sale and a raffle, which together with generous donations from visitors, helped us cover costs of running the event. The day was then rounded off with an excellent performance by the Brixton Tatterjacks. Returning to the garden for the first time since January 2020, the troop of Morris Dancers encouraged visitors to join them for a number of energetic dances – a great end to a very special celebration.
Here’s to the next ten years!
A big thank you to our volunteers who have installed a small pond in the community garden as part of the renovation of the mulberry area. It was hard work, with lots of digging, and quite a few adjustments. But we are sure birds, insects and our resident frogs will soon explore the new water source.
Creating a pond is one of the most important things you can do to attract wildlife into your garden. Frogs and toads love to visit. You will see birds attracted by the water, the insects, and a chance to have a wash. If you’re fortunate you may also see a hedgehog having a drink.
Ponds do not have to be big. A small container can work well in a typical urban garden. There is lots of advice on the web about introducing a pond to your space. The Wildlife Trust’s pages give step by step a guidance and autumn is the perfect time to get started: How to build a pond | The Wildlife Trusts, so why not give it a go?
If do you install a pond into your growing space, we’d love to see it. Please take a photo and share on social media. Our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter links are on the top right of this webpage.
Would you like to create your own woodland area in your garden?
As many of you know, thanks to funding from National Lottery Awards for All, we are currently giving our mulberry tree and the surrounding area some tender loving care. We will show how shady and woodland areas can be managed to grow a variety of plants as well as encouraging more wildlife. These areas are great for encouraging visiting birds, bats, insects, mice, hedgehogs and, if you’ve a water source, dragon flies, frogs, and toads.
You do not need a large garden to create a woodland environment. An area of the garden of even a few metres is enough to encourage a wide range of woodland visitors. The Wildlife Trust has some really useful tips on creating a ‘Woodland Edge Garden’, including how to get started as well as choosing plants and flowers that will thrive in shady areas. It is really easy to do, and the great news is that you don’t have to be too tidy! Have fun and enjoy your woodland edge.
We are delighted to announce that National Lottery Awards for All is giving us funding to make the garden even more amazing.
Many of you love our ancient mulberry tree, which is thought to have been planted when the former ‘Rookery House’ and its gardens were established in the late 1700s. It sits in a small woodland area of the garden which needs some tender loving care. With the funding we will develop this mulberry glade area to:
- Showcase how shady and woodland areas can be managed to grow a variety of plants.
- Inform visitors on the history of the mulberry and about the wildlife that can be found in the area.
- Support existing wildlife and encourage a more diverse range of wildlife.
- Create a peaceful spot away from busy urban Streatham to sit and enjoy nature.
We know how much COVID-19 has impacted on so many people and we hope that this project will both inspire you and encourage you to become involved with the garden as the area is developed. Please look out for updates on our progress, how you can become involved, and how you can apply ideas on woodland planting to your own growing spaces.
We had just recruited this year’s keen Learner Plotters this year when Covid 19 hit and social distancing came into force. So, the groups, individuals, families, flatmates + friends who are taking part are designing their growing spaces at home + their plots for the garden, hoping for a later season start. You can join in too, we’ll be updating as we go along and sharing resources + tips.
We had our induction day remotely on Zoom with handouts and videos. 25 households in Streatham and wider Lambeth were delivered seeds, compost + seed trays at the beginning of April. They have designed their growing spaces where they live, from windowsills, balconies to more outside space, and also their plots for the community garden. We have had Zoom Gardeners Question Time every Wednesday and are learning together. Many are first time growers and we think they are doing brilliantly. Seeds have been sown, using seedtrays and recycling, on windowsills and any outside space to get more access to the sunshine we’ve been having. Seedlings have had more attention at home than ever before, with some Plotters saying it is the highlight of the day to see how much they’ve grown each morning.
How to get started…
🍃Growing spaces at home range from windowsills, balconies, patios to small gardens. The plots in the community garden are generally 1m x 4m. First task, observe your space and make a simple drawing with dimensions of growing space, whether containers or pots or trays, or a small raised bed. Also include direction the space is facing, any trees or tall buildings throwing shade on your space, whether it’s windy or sheltered.
🍃Secondly, think about some different themes or techniques to divide up your space. Square foot gardening is great for a small raised bed, create a grid initially with string and sticks, use different squares to grow a variety of crops. It’s a good way to learn about spacing and not grow a glut of one crop. Other themes may be a salad garden including edible flowers, with one or two fruiting crops in container gardens. Or a windowsill garden may be herbs and microgreens.
🍃Thirdly, come up with your planting plan. What you like eating is the best place to start! Consider the aspect of your space, full sun + sheltered gives most options, perfect for fruiting crops. Partial shade still allows leafy crops to grow. Then consider and learn about the timings of different crops from sowing to harvesting. In container gardens ‘cut and come again’ crops make sense, leafy green crops such as salads, chard, spinach, kale give multiple harvests, don’t take up much space, taste best fresh +are expensive per kg to buy. Utilise space round slower growing fruiting crops by sowing ‘catch crops’ such as radishes, rocket, peashoots which will be ready to eat in a few weeks. Try to plan your succession crops – what will replace your first crops in September/Autumn. Find out when to sow them and do that in trays so you’re ready to transplant when the time comes.
Here are some of our favourite veg growing resources out there…
Check out no-dig champion Charles Dowding – www.charlesdowding.co.uk especially useful for sowing timelines and his Youtube channel has videos on every crop.
www.verticalveg.org.uk is great for container growing tips, from irrigation to best crops to grow in containers.
Garden Organic has lots of growing tips, great all round advice on organic growing www.gardenorganic.org.uk
Watch out for seed sowing tips coming later this week.
Thanks to the Lambeth Wellbeing Fund through London Community Foundation for funding our Learner Plot project this year.
Your support and the Co-Op’s donations will help us make our new raised beds amazing and provide new gardening tools. For more information on this year’s Streatham Co-op Good Causes