Despite reaching the end of the summer, we have not slowed down over the past two months! We kicked off September by hosting BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time. The panel visited the Ayr garden, donated and planted out Agapanthus in the border by the veterans’ quiet area and a few of the veterans and staff were interviewed for the programme. Afterwards we all went to Ayr town hall where the remainder of the show was recorded in front of a live audience. The event went well and helped to promote the work that is carried out by GL.
Shortly after this we held another and long overdue volunteer training day. During the day we were able to discuss the way we work at GL and also the way forward for the charity. It also provided an opportunity to present “first aid at work” and VASA awards to some of the volunteers.
Meanwhile in the garden, the harvest continued with lots of produce going to the SRUC poultry shop each week, including the last of our show leeks and onions (ideal for making a pot of soup!) Last sowings outside included a green manure “phacelia” we will overwinter and then dig in this crop which not only suppresses weeds but increases soil organic matter. In the vegetable beds, we have continued to sow mizuna, corn salad and mustard and also transplanted winter lettuce and planted out onion sets and garlic. Indoors we have been sowing calendula, lupins, aquilegia, VC poppy, pansy and viola that will all flower next year. We have also sown sweet peas and broad beans into root trainers to enjoy early next year.
We have planted out daffodils and crocus into beds and borders, and plants that were sown earlier in July have been transplanted as well: wallflower, sweet william and stocks. These will provide us with colour next spring. We also planted bulbs in layers in pots for selling. Tulips on the bottom followed by daffodils and then crocus topped with some winter pansies ….All sold straight away!
In the Stovehouse, our first tomato crop had finished with well over 80 kilos of tomatoes harvested. We took this opportunity to clean out the plant section and then volunteer Joe methodically washed down the unit with Jeyes Fluid. We then proceeded to cut back and tidy our geraniums in the section and took many cuttings from the plants that will provide us with a good stock next year.
In the kitchen we have made good use of the harvest, we have enjoyed kale and courgette frittata, broccoli and chicken bake and since we are heading towards autumn we have been practising soups; tomato and lentil, pea and ham, potato and leek. We made piccalilli for the first time from some odds and ends of the harvest, not due to be opened until January …. so we will have to wait and taste then! We also made pickled radish, green tomato chutney, spicy apple chutney, bramble and apple jam. All of which are selling well at the poultry shop and events.
Staff have been busy going out and about carrying out GL briefings. They have been to Colmonell WRI, Kirkmichael gardening group, and Prestwick South parish church Guild. We would like to thank all the groups for making us welcome and for their kind donations for the GL produce sold.
By the end of October, the harvest had slowed down with kale, turnips, swede, and spicy salad leaves being picked each week. We have saved all the seed from our VC poppies and put them into their envelopes for selling. We would like to thank Catherine Stevenson who is a good friend of GL for growing VC poppies in her own garden and saving the seed for us as well!
With Christmas just around the corner, we have also managed some forward planning. We went out to the woods and collected logs which we will use for xmas table decorations and in the woodwork section the veterans have been starting to make wooden xmas trees and santas, which sold like “hot cakes” when we attended Pinwherry craft fair on the last Saturday in October.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish Sallie well in her new role as horticultural therapy manager. Her base will be at Ayr; however she will travel between sites overseeing service delivery, supporting the therapists and helping to implement the new strategy.
Pamela and Victoria.