Library Community Garden Workday – Sunday 30th October, 11am-1pm

To all those who enjoy getting your hands dirty. The Library Courtyard Garden has been full of flowers, bees and fruit this year, so much so that it needs a little tidying up. If anyone has the time and some spare compost and pots, we would like to have a couple of hours of lifting, dividing, replanting and potting on, of those that have spread so well.

Do come along on 30 October, 11am-1pm, and give us a hand. In true Sustainable Bungay style you can bring plants and take some away from our Give and Grow table. All welcome!

We’re also starting to prepare the central bed for the Medicine Plant theme for 2012 which Mark is working on with Richard. If anyone has some Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower, see left) plants spare they’d be much appreciated. And if you have any other medicine plants which you think may be of interest please call Mark Watson on 01502 722419.

For further information contact Richard Owen Vinton

Autumn Produce Swap at the Library Garden

It was the hottest October weekend on record, and it certainly didn’t feel like Autumn in the library garden on Sunday morning (Oct 2) at Sustainable Bungay’s produce swap. Here was truly an abundance of fruit, vegetables, plants and seeds all from people’s gardens and allotments. Apples, pears, marrows, beans and people came and went and those golden delicious were the best I have ever tasted – who brought them?

Paul set up his small apple press so people could have a go at juicing some of the fruit. It was really good fun, and the juice was delicious – very welcome in that heat.

This was an event in true Sustainable Bungay give and take style, open to everyone, friendly and very transitional. A result of our persistence over these years in meeting together, organising and setting up events and projects. A live demonstration of community-in-action, working with each other, sharing what we’ve got and building social resilience for the future in a time of increasing economic and environmental pressures.

For when things get too hot and too lean!

One detail which symbolised the attention and effort people make for these days was a set of envelopes containing seeds and handpainted (or handprinted?) with calendula flowers. I asked several people who did them and no one seemed to know – but they made me feel very joyful.

I spent some time that morning looking at the central flowerbed with a view to the medicine plant theme I’m organising for next year. I experienced a sudden flash of permaculture insight about starting with the plants which are already there and working with them. I felt relief that we won’t have to dig everything up and start from scratch (which would have been more in line with our dominant throwaway culture than with working towards some kind of organic and sustainable continuity).

When I spoke to Richard about it he said he felt the same. Which was great since he mainly takes care of the garden. I’ll report on the project as we go, beginning with the lifting and moving of (some of) the plants on October 30th.

Meanwhile to breakfast… porridge, with a baked Bramley from the Produce Swap…

Pics: Apple pressing; people, pears and marrow; handpainted calendula seed packets; delicious golden delicious; central flowerbed still thriving by Mark Watson

First Wildflower Meadow has been sown!

The Plants for Bees strand of BCB had an important moment last week when with Keith and Jeannie Parker we planted a wildflower meadow at their home in Flixton. This is also one of our Apiary sites and so we should have some very happy bees next year! The hives are being re-sited and will be very close to the meadow and pond, I’m looking forward to sitting there and watching them at their work in the sunshine…

This is Rose’s account of the day, with a list of the plants she and Keith decided upon:

Today, thanks to a big team effort (and no thanks to my flagging energy and brain – guess who forgot to get the dry sand?!!) – Keith’s beautiful wildflower meadow was sown. Jeanie saved the day by pointing out that the rabbits had excavated a big pile of dry sand under the tree in her garden, which we duly sieved and then decanted into 5 buckets from the leaking wheelbarrow! The seed was all mixed together, divided and them mixed in the buckets of sand, and then broadcast in strips across the meadow.

Now hopefully, with the blessing of the nature spirits and some rain and some time, it will all germinate – (and hopefully the rabbits won’t like the plants we’ve sown!). Some seeds in the mix can take up to a year to germinate – others we should see forging ahead in spring and early summer. In the first year of growth with a wildflower meadow it needs to be cut to the one and a half inches in late June, which is a bit heart-breaking but ensures that the perennial broadleaved plants will bush out/tiller and be stronger overall – them it will need to be cut for hay in September – from the second year onwards – it should be OK to cut it just in September so we will get the long season of bee foraging in the 2nd year. this is according to the advice and experience of Chris Skinner, the farmer I went to see at Caistor St Edmund.

Keith and I have talked about sowing an annual strip down one side – or round the pond in the spring, that we leave to flower right throughout the summer and into the autumn – so that the bees will have plenty to forage on in June onwards of the first year. We have talked about sowing Red Poppy (already bought), Sainfoin (already bought – we have nearly a kilo of this) plus Phacelia.

Here is the final mix of grasses and flowers sown into this patch this autumn (including the first drilling that Keith had put in) – it’s pretty amazing:

Strong creeping red fescue grass
Chewings red fescue grass
Slender creeping red fescue grass
Sheeps fescue grass
Browntop bent grass
Birds foot trefoil
Oxeye Daisy
Common Knapweed
Greater Knapweed
Wild Carrot
Vipers Bugloss
Hemp Agrimony
Ladies Bedstraw
Field Scabious
Rough Hawkbit
Musk Mallow
Wild Marjoram
Common Fleabane
Meadow Buttercup
Wild Mignonette
Yelllow Rattle
Red Campion
Hedge Woundwort
Wild Red Clover
Tufted Vetch
Black Medick

We didn’t sow the Red Poppy into the mix as it would all get cut in June and we thought it best to keep it to sow in an annual strip in spring.

I think it would be best to leave planting the pond and banks until spring – because by then the pond will have filled a lot more and we should have a better idea of where the general waters edge will be – plus the banks will be softer for planting:

Marsh Marigold, Mullein, Hemp Agrimony, Native wild Valerian, Yellow Wild Loosestrife, more Knapweed, Meadowsweet, Watermint, Water Plantain, Branched Burrr Rush and Purple Loosestrife roots.

Bungay Bees a-baking

We did get some honey this year but not quite enough to jar up for all our members so we thought it would be a nice idea to use it collectively. The idea of a cake making session was born.

Not only did we use our own honey but we were lucky enough to be given the prize-winning Honey Cake recipe from the Bungay Beehive Day. The baking session actually ran more like a workshop under the experienced eye of Gemma from Humble Cake, complete with time for tea and apple scones while our own honey cakes were in the oven.

Everyone had a different approach – and all the cakes came out looking different – but all were delicious. There was the precise baker, the ‘that’s about right’ baker, the ‘bung it all in and mix’ baker, the somewhat imprecise baker and the ‘followed the recipe’ baker… You can make your own conclusions about who was who!

Not only was it fun but I think we all picked up some useful tips along the way! We will be making some more buns for our film night and for our January Meeting in 2012.

Busy Bees in October

This wonderful weather has allowed the bees to keep busy into autumn. I have been taking time to visit them and to sit and see what they are up to. They are taking loads of pollen into the hive still, which Bob Spruce said they will store until spring if it isn’t used straight away. I’m not sure what plants the pollen came from, perhaps ivy, but I have noticed two different pale yellows. This is in contrast to the almost dark orange I have noticed on the legs of the numerous common carder bees out there.

This winter I am going to experiment with listening through the hive wall to the bees using my stethoscope. Today Eloise and I met to try this out. We moved as quietly as possible amongst the outside of the cloud of bees coming and going and listened at the three sides away from the entrance. It was much quieter on the side that the brood nest starts from and much ‘buzzier’ on the side of stores. I hope this means they are hard at work building up their larder.