As I write this builders are finishing the groundwork on the garden site. Back in August the committee finalised the layout of the beds, shed and polytunnel with the help of Victoria, Matt and Nigel from the University Estates team. And here is what we come up with:
We are working with a 450m2 plot of land which is on quite a slope. With the entrance at the bottom (the left of the drawing) and the top nearest to the cathedral and the shade of the nearby trees.
As you can see there are 5 raised beds, a shed, a big polytunnel and 7 planting beds. If you look even closer you may notice that on the right (which is the back of the garden) there is more space for another bed spanning the width of the back of the garden. Let’s learn a bit more about each of these…
Firstly, the raised beds. These are one of the first things you will see when you get into the garden. Five 1.2m square beds raised about a metre off the paved ground, they are ideally placed for growing small sets of plants. As they are right at the entrance to the garden, some strong smelling basil or mint would be great here, but anything is possible! At the bottom of the hill, they are the most wheelchair accessible of all the beds.
To the right of the raised beds is the tools shed. Every garden needs somewhere for it’s hose, watering cans, trowels and shovels – and this is that place for us. We’re also planning to have a noticeboard and whiteboard here to keep members up-to-date with what everyone has been doing on the garden: where plants have been recently planted, which beds are being fertilised for next season’s crops, and where would be a good place to pick a strawberry or two!
Next up is the monster polytunnel! An 11m by 4 metre beast, this thing will protect seedlings from the harsh British winter (and summer!) We’ll be able to start growing plants here before they are big enough for one of the outside beds. I imagine it’s also a good place to chill out in April if you get caught out in a quick April shower.
Walking up to the top of the paving we reach the plant-a-bout. With a beautiful tree as it’s centrepiece (kindly being planted by the university’s landscape manager) it’s the starting point of the seven large planting beds that flow off it. Beyond this point all the paths will be wood-chip to protect from slugs act as drainage.
Each planting bed is at least 3 metres wide, so we’re planning on adding planks of wood or stepping stones down the middle to make planting and harvesting easier.
It’s so exciting seeing the final plans coming together knowing that is just a few weeks time we’ll be able to start growing our own food right here on campus!
Written by Charles, the Garden Soc president