Polytunnel – First Hoop

Yesterday, Craven Arms Community Garden member John Wood and I installed the first hoop of the new polytunnel which has been obtained through the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival.

The photograph below taken from the South and looking North shows this first hoop in place at the northen end of the 25′ by 12′ polytunnel along with the internal raised beds in the foreground.

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

Whilst it might not seem like a big deal I would like to remind members of the Community Garden that a lot of hard work went into the preparation necessary to reach this major milestone.

So that’s one down, five to go – or should that be one up, five to go.

Solar-Powered Rainwater Pumping

Thanks to the generosity of Ludlow Food Festival the Craven Arms Community Garden are the proud owners of a Solar Powered Submersible Butt pump as described in a previous post.

Yesterday, the sunniest day of the year so far, CACG members John Wood and Sean Scannell commissioned the pump to transfer valuable rainwater from an existing IBC water storage container to the three new IBCs.

There were three objectives:

  • to commission the submersible water butt pump
  • to transfer water from a full water storage container to empty new containers
  • to learn how long a full battery charge will last

Historically water storage has been an issue at the Community Garden and so it is vital that we fill all the new IBC water storage containers with rainwater whilst we have rain and in advance of any potential summer drought.

The slightly Heath-Robinson set-up shown below was very effective in meeting the objectives we set and supporting the required learning.

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

The unit starts with a full charge from the mains and this is supplemented by the solar power trickle charge. We learned several important things:

  • the pump can successfully transfer water from this existing container to the new containers
  • a good flow rate can be achieved
  • the battery charge depletes in about an hour even in strong sunshine

There is an important monitoring task within this operation which is to ensure that the submersible pump is always submerged and the photograph below shows John Wood monitoring and adjusting the flow rate out of the IBC to feed the pump.

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

The photograph below shows more detail of the submersible pump in action.

The Submersible Pump in Action

The Submersible Pump in Action

We estimated that over the course of an hour we transferred about 200 litres of water which, crucially, meant that the tank we were pumping out of had capacity to collect further rainwater.

In the longer term the pump will be used to supply irrigation within the new polytunnel from the adjacent rainwater storage tanks. However, the facility to use the pump to transfer water from one set of storage containers to another is a valuable sustainability factor that enables us to maximise the collection of rainwater and to help ensure that the Community Garden does not suffer during any summer drought.

New Shed Installed

As part of the ongoing work to enhance and improve the Community Garden at Craven Arms we have taken delivery of a new 6′ by 6′ secure wooden shed from local supplier Mike Pryce of Craven Timber Products. It is the policy of CACG wherever possible to buy from local businesses.

The shed was delivered and installed on Monday 11th May and can be seen below:

New Shed at Craven Arms Community Garden

New Shed at Craven Arms Community Garden

The shed will allow us to store CACG tools and equipment close to the micro-allotment plots.

Our grateful thanks to the Ludlow Food Festival for their generosity in funding this purchase for the Craven Arms Community Garden.

Tidy Day – May 2015

Members are reminded that the first Saturday of each month from February through October or November is Craven Arms Community Garden Tidy Day and these coincide with the Farmers Market held at the Discovery Centre.

The May 2015 Tidy Day is therefore Saturday 2nd May when we intend to tackle the following tasks in the communal areas:

  • grass-cutting
  • weeding
  • and general tidying up

Some plot-holders have allowed the boundary areas surrounding their plots to become badly overgrown with weeds and these need to be cleared to prevent adverse effects on others’ plots.

We hope to see many, if not all, members on Saturday 2nd May from 10:00 when your valuable contribution to the maintenance of the communal areas of the Community Garden will be greatly appreciated.

The Tidy Day is also an opportunity for members to meet and get to know each other and as a group of members we take a mid-morning break and enjoy some refreshment together provided by the Discovery Centre. Plot holders can often be heard sharing gardening tips and advice over coffee or hot chocolate.

Solar Powered Water Pumping

An order has been placed for a Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump which will facilitate the automatic watering of plants within the soon to be installed poly-tunnel.

The photograph below is taken from the supplier’s brochure and illustrates the equipment that will be installed.

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

The solar panel will be located on the existing roof of the new IBC water storage area and the pump will be located downstream from the IBCs so that water feeds the poly-tunnel as required through an irrigation system.

Our grateful thanks to the Ludlow Food Festival for their generosity in funding this purchase within the project to install a new poly-tunnel to supplement the existing micro-allotment capacity of the Craven Arms Community Garden.

Grateful thanks also to Grow Cook Learn and the team at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre for their administrative support.