Transition Sunderland

Hendon Natural Community Garden – Update – February 2019

Ah,where are those balmy Summer evenings? Gone but not forgotten, they’ll soon be back with us once more.

Meanwhile, this what’s been going on for HNCG during the Winter:

Edible Parks – #2

(for Edible Parks – #1 see this post)

December2018 saw yet another park/green space in Sunderland receiving apple trees. 

Known locally as Rocket Park – Azelea Terrace South, Ashbrooke. The name relating to the children’s climbing frame in the shape of a rocket, that was once sited there. This green space is quite small taking-up only the space of two houses which were, (I believe) demolished during the war. 

Rocket Park
Rocket Park

Recent years have seen improvements to the space by Gentoo in collaboration with Ashbrooke Residents Association, (ARA) which have left a pleasant green space with mown grass, trees & shrubs. More recently some of the grassed area has been sown with wildflower meadow seed, which it is hoped will support Bees & other pollinators while also giving some colour to the area. 

In December ARA planted two apple trees with the help of Hendon Natural Community Garden. Viewed from the road the apple varieties are Spartan on the left and James Grieve on the right.

HNCG’s Mission

This may be a good moment to point out that HNCG sees as it’s mission, to spread fruit trees throughout the local area. This can be accomplished by myself in a voluntary role on a small scale if given adequate flexibility in terms of time, so as to fit in with my own time constraints, or, for those whose ambitions are on a larger scale ie, several trees, or who

wish to keep to a rigid timetable and are prepared to pay, I can provide the service for a fee, as my alter ego The Ethical Gardener.

Tools of the trade

Back To Eden – Forest Garden

For those unfamiliar with what has been happening at Hendon Natural Community Garden (in Commercial Road Allotments). We have two gardens under development, the first garden we acquired has a medium sized pond, extensive decked area, and is intended to be a wildlife/orchard/community garden. The second one has been undergoing major work by yours truly since April 2018, as it was totally overgrown. In fact so overgrown to have been taken out of the plot renting structure. I approached the Council offering to take-it-on if they waived the annual fee for two years. This results in a win win win scenario; I jump the queue gaining immediate access to the plot, the local ecology benefits from my management of plot and the Council receive back a pristine example of a plot which has been managed using Permaculture Ethics & Principles when I pop-my-clogs. (:

If you think this is bad, you should have seen it before I started

As I fought my way through the undergrowth during the Summer, chopping brambles, moving rubbish, sifting & levelling soil. I stopped for a moment to wipe my brow, looking behind me, I was aghast to see the brambles & weeds starting to grow once again where I had cleared them! This is of course Nature’s way, it doesn’t like to have bare soil open to the elements, preferring to clothe the soil with plants. Perhaps Nature knows best?

To overcome this problem I began covering the area I’d cleared, with wood mulch gleaned from outside Tunstall Hills Allotments (after seeking their permission). A good 4” (100mm) layer laid on top of a layer of cardboard on the top of the soil stopped the regrowth of weeds.

Luke, engrossed in his work

And so I have continued through Autumn & Winter 2 hours a day gives approx. 1 metre progress each day. Until now, “Houston we have a problem” I’m running out of wood mulch! In the normal course of events this wouldn’t be too bad, more mulch will no doubt become available over the next few months, the problem is that I found-out about the Back To Eden method.

Freddie,my partner in grime

The principle of the Back To Eden garden is that in Nature, woodlands are one of the most diverse ecosystems, leaves & twigs fall annually, the soil is teeming with life decomposing this material, and it is the interactions of this life which provides the ideal conditions for a Forest Garden. I’ve created a Facebook Group separate from HNCG’s Facebook Page as I think some people will be specifically interested in the Forest Garden while not wishing to receive notifications about regular events. In the Group are links to several YouTube videos including the main film, and others who are creating their own gardens. This is the link to the Facebook Group: Back To Eden – Forest Garden – NE England.

For those not on Facebook this is the link to the YouTube film: 

Back To Eden – Gardening

For this method of gardening the requirement is to have 8” to 10” (200 – 250mm) depth of wood mulch. As I currently have two thirds of the garden covered with 4” (100mm) it just makes sense to me to trial this process in the UK.

We have a wire framework up ready to accept the 10 apple trees that we grafted last year – thanks to Jesmond Community Orchard for the instruction –  grown as cordons, each one a different variety. The order for 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and a variety of currants & strawberries is ready to send in to get us started.

All we need is more – lots more – wood mulch, preferably free. If anyone has any contacts in the tree surgery business let me know. Thanks.

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