Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens – November Update

This year’s autumn has officially been the mildest in living memory, with only a couple of touches of frost to date. Autumn sown crops such as Broad Beans and Spring Cabbage have been growing on strongly, while the clement conditions have allowed us to press on with outdoor tasks such as path work, and the winter dig of cultivated areas.

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A change, in the form of driving rain, came over the last few days of the month, triggering the long awaited tidy up of the glasshouse in preparation for a good early start to next year’s growing season.

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Volunteering

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Many people have again made use of the gardens this month, including quite a number of new faces, often folk who have heard good things through friends. The educational theme has continued, with Bruntsfield Primary School’s ‘eco-group’ paying a visit early in the month. The kids helped out with collecting leaves for composting, then harvested Kale and Parsnips which were taken back to school to share with classmates.

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Jewell and Esk Valley College have continued their involvement, and their visits are now a weekly fixture. The group’s work in the garden contributes towards achieving the Duke of Edinburgh award, and they have worked really well on a variety of tasks: pruning hedges, spreading rock dust, digging beds, improving paths and helping with glasshouse tasks!

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The gardens hosted another instalment of the Shandon Local Food Group organic gardening course. Around 24 participants attended sessions on planning and preparation of food gardens, and ‘focus on fruit.’ Much positive feedback has been received, such as; “A thoroughly enjoyable two hours. Met lots of nice, interesting people, and lovely to see the community gardens at last. Have come home all fired up!”

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New opportunities

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The Gannett Foundation has generously offered funding for us to purchase a portacabin. This will make it possible for us to have a portacabin in the long term as the costs of the temporarily rented portacabin were prohibitive, and it will also allow us to customise our own building.

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Robbie Millar has joined us on a work placement this month, and we are delighted that he’ll be with us for the next six months. He says:

After working in France as an assistant garden for six months I wanted to implement the skills I learned there in Edinburgh and learn new things associated with gardening. Over the past two weeks a trip to Cyrenians farm was scheduled in order for me to get a feel for how things work there. Additionally, I participated in the Good Food programme which involves the redistribution of otherwise wasted supermarket food to homeless hostels/shelters across Scotland. This programme is vital in not only providing the homeless with food that would otherwise go to waste but also provides good opportunities to volunteer and a reason to get up in the morning. Overall my short time here so far has been very enjoyable and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere has helped me settle in well.

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Wildlife

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Bird feeding has begun in earnest, and many thanks to Lesley for donations of feeders and food. Watching the garden birds has generated lots of enjoyment for human garden visitors! Other ornithological highlights included a flock of 9 Whooper Swans flying over on the 1st, and a Woodcock along the woodland walk on the 9th. A ‘charm’ of 60 Goldfinches on the 30th was a good count.

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The mild weather seems to have favoured fungi, including these beautiful ‘Earth Stars’