Autumn Equinox

Time for reflection and blessings

Autumn is a time to allow our work over the summer to do its magic. We have aimed for many projects to be completed and have achieved much more with the help of our volunteers. Upon autumn equinox we reflect on the wonderful work of everyone involved over the summer months.

The Garden

We aim to mulch all trees and bushes, with either grass clippings or woodchip, so that the ground has the best chance at holding moisture along with providing weed suppression and encouraging top soil as well as many other benefits. We do this using the grass clippings that we have mown from the paths and from around the trees. We then put cardboard down before grass clippings go on top. This is a 5 acre site, with over 100 fruit and nut trees and bushes, this is a job we do throughout the spring, summer and autumn to ensure by autumn all the trees have what they need for their rest and growth throughout the winter.

We have been gradually adding guilds to the site, but have been unable to plant many plants in them without a rabbit barrier in place – the rabbit proof fence is awaiting approval. The grass and in some places the creeping buttercup takes over the guilds quickly, so our volunteers have been weeding and ensuring the guilds are mulched too.

Many of the fruit bushes are protected by blackthorn as we used chopped down blackthorn suckers as a rabbit barrier, this needs to be removed so that we could clear the weeds and mulch the ground. The guild just outside the round shed has been tended to and has a fence around it, meaning that we’ve been able to enjoy the many plants and flowers that have been able to grow.

The pond is coming to the end of its second natural season and with the help of the Dawn, Nina, Claire and Katerina, 30 posts were collected from Coppicewood College for the purpose of building a dead hedge around the pond as a natural fence to make the garden safer for children. Luke has been busy putting the posts in and building the dead hedge with help of the children that visit the garden and other volunteers.

As our compost system grows, we needed another section added to the compost bays, so Bob has been busy building that. This compost system aims to feed the new plants and trees being planted. The process of making your own compost and especially for a large site takes a while, so this project will be added to overtime. In the meantime we have received another 2 loads of manure from our friend John.

We have tasked the children with jobs such as collecting wood from around the site that can’t be used for anything else, so they have been cutting it for our wood store. It’s really important that everyone feels that they can participate and be involved in whichever way they feel they can.

These are just some of the many jobs going on around the site. It’s been a pleasure to watch the gardens grow in more ways than just the plants this year. Other jobs include the maintenance of the buildings in place as well as the tools and equipment used. We encourage our volunteers to know how to sharpen tools, to keep them well looked after by maintaining them. The wheelbarrows are an essential use in the garden so making sure that they are all kept in use is important too. Two very important maintenance jobs have been to move the furniture in the round shed and treating the floor as this gets a lot of use as well as the compost loo being cleaned out.

We have had lots of visitors including Paul who has carried out butterfly surveys, with the open day bringing more awareness to people about the gardens and what we are doing here. We have also visited other forest garden sites for inspiration and to aid our planning for this site. Katerina, a regular volunteer, is an ecologist specialising in plants and Lee, specialising in small mammals, have walked the gardens and provided us information that can help us with planning also.

The summer hasn’t been without its difficulties, with the very dry weather, planning being turned down with the request of a covered fire pit and needing to be resubmitted and it’s not been as busy with volunteers as the previous years. However, we come to the end of summer season grateful and full of appreciation for the land and the love that has been put into it. The rewards we reap are deep connection, richness with the earth, learning the will of nature and the abundance it provides.

Now that we enter autumn, our focus is moving to planning and the design of planting, we have made a start on a scale map of the bottom field to help us with this. Our fenced in veggie garden is also being redesigned so that we can expand the usage of it for not only vegetables but as a nursery for plants to go out into the bigger guilds when they are strong enough. Lee has also proposed that he could run ecology courses on the site also.

Our Community Volunteer Days for the next month:

Tuesday 27th September 10am -4pm – Coffee morning 10-11am – Autumn Tree and Plant Planning 10.30am -12.30pm

Tuesday 4th October 10am – 4pm – Coffee morning 10-11am

Tuesday 11th October 10am – 4pm – Coffee morning 10-11am

Tuesday 18th October 10am – 4pm