To say this has been a difficult year would be an understatement, but despite all the challenges our garden has manged to keep ticking along.
Back in March, just as we were preparing for the growing season ahead, suddenly everything came to a halt. Covid-19 lockdown kicked in! This meant cancelling all our planned events and for a while we thought our garden would have to close for the foreseable future.
Luckily, in compliance with Government restrictions a core group of our members were able to keep our garden growing while keeping apart, using their daily exercise time to water, sow seeds and pot on small plants.
One of our biggest challenges during this time was sourcing compost, demand outweighed its availability. Confined to their homes many people turned their lockdown time and attention to reinvigorating their outdoor space, if they were lucky enough to have one. But with garden centres closed compost was like gold dust and lots of people began to ask if any was available at the garden.
When Bandstand Beds began in 2013 there was a plan to turn ‘the dump’ beside our garden into a functional green waste site, making growing medium available to the local community. We even ran compost giveaways as shown here.
The Covid crisis has proved there is a real need for compost and we haven’t lost sight of the original idea. We are still working with Lambeth Council and CCMAC to come up with a plan for a properly developed green waste site. Watch this space – and the one beside our garden!
In the garden, by the end of May we were able to harvest our onions, garlic and broad beans, all sown last autumn, and began running our Saturday produce table.
Once word was out we soon had lots of regular visitors coming along to pick up our freshly harvested veg and plants. Of course, social distancing was observed vehemently with no actual cash passing through our hands. All donations were made using our contactless card reader.
Although our main garden was looking glorious, sadly our other our growing sites on Clapham Common fared less well. Particularly our fruit beds situated in front of the toilet block, closed due to lockdown. But when you’ve got to go you’ve got…. Our rhubarb patch, it really wasn’t a pretty site!
Our namesake beds beside the café near the Bandstand have been a disappointment too. Usually there are wonderful big sunflowers in bloom by summer, but not this year. Every picture tells a story, as they say…
Once lockdown had eased a little, in mid-July a team of our gardeners headed over to tidy them up a bit, but they still didn’t look great…
Basically, the beds need some major improvements. Next spring the plan is to rebuild them to their original spec and former glory.
All in all the past few months have been difficult for all of us, but some good has also come out of the Covid-19 crisis. Rather than travelling on public transport we’ve had to find alternative ways to get around and Lambeth Council has introduced schemes to make walking and cycling more accessible to all.
As a result Windmill Drive beside our garden is now closed to through traffic, making the Common safer for everyone. Everyone at Bandstand Beds was thrilled to see the road closed and enjoyed an afternoon planting up the new raised beds placed on the road.
Later in the year we’re also hoping to hold our annual feast combined with a Car Free Day celebration on Windmill Drive, as we did in 2018. Fingers crossed, this will happen on Saturday 26 September.
Right now our garden looks amazing and we’re harvesting lots of wonderful fresh produce – especially cucumbers. With such a bumper crop we filled our produce table, pickled like crazy and also donated some to the Ace of Clubs.
If you would like to pick up some fresh veg or plants from our garden, we harvest on Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 7pm and Saturday mornings. All donations go toward keeping our garden growing.