St Mary’s Veg Beds – A look back at 2021

Last February in the midst of Covid restrictions our meeting had to take place on Zoom. It was great to get together, although we were looking forward to being able to have group sessions at the beds again. With 3 separate, long beds it was possible for a few people to abide by restrictions and still work at the same time and we got the spuds planted in March. Restrictions were easing but it wasn’t till mid May that things got completely back to normal for us when the government said we could meet outside in groups of up to 30 people.

St Marys Veg Beds July 2021

From April onwards we had an unusually large number of people asking to join us. It was lovely to see new faces but also a bit of a challenge to organise the work with so many eager volunteers! It was lovely to welcome our youngest new recruit was working for his Duke of Edinburgh award. We continued to use our own gloves and hand tools rather than the group ones in the Phoenix store. Luckily with the raised beds we didn’t need long handled tools anyway.

We had our work cut out to keep on top of watering during the hot dry days in the summer but quite a few people pitched in and we even got Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, to help out after putting an appeal on Facebook.

It was Ben who first noticed an infestation of tiny insects on one of the sorrels. We’d already been having trouble with them and in the end, we had to clear them all. Although we hadn’t noticed many adults taking sorrel to use, we were surprised to learn that some children from different families liked to grab a leaf to eat every time they were in the park. Joan suggested getting different varieties of sorrel for 2022. Other crops did quite well, especially the yellow podded mange tout that always go on and on producing new pods. ‘Compact’ nasturtiums brought welcome colour but also smothered everything in the nearby squares. Marigolds from the previous year came to life again too.

Several children showed interest in the beds, especially in strawberries of course, but there was one really remarkable little 3 year old boy who came with his mother a number of times and made an amazing job of following instructions and skilfully planting whole squares of seedlings.

As usual we were often asked by passers-by what we were growing and we tried labelling the squares again. Unfortunately, the labels got moved round or taken so we had to abandon that idea. We had Cath’s natty info. slips for most of our regular crops, what they are and how to use them, but we need to think more about how to get them used by our visitors.

We also got round to re-staining and sealing the notice board and it looks much smarter. We often see people reading it and hopefully some of them follow us up on our website or social media.

The beds have looked rather bare over the winter without the sorrel. The last planting of the year was of garlic, a square in each bed, so it’s good to see some fresh green leaves growing well.

Join us this year to help out at the veg beds. No experience needed and it’s usually on alternate Saturdays and Sundays 10am-12pm.  Contact Andrew at   iepad.volunteers@gmail.com

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St Mary’s Park