GRAFT March

Josh David-Read, 11 April 2024

“March brings breezes, loud and shrill, 
To stir the dancing daffodil.” Sara Coleridge, The Garden Year 

March is Most Likely the Gardener's Busiest Month!

This month has consisted of sowing, sowing, and more sowing! We've sown different varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, runner beans, chilies, watermelons, salad leaves, herbs, and roots (to name a few!). Most have started life in propagators in the orange container (more on that later) or in the polytunnel, as most seedlings prefer a warm environment to germinate. Hardier seeds like spinach have been directly sown outside.

Move Over, Marvin Gaye!

Ani and Laurence expertly pruned the grapevine in the polytunnel. This is the time to cut back the vine to encourage new growth. Don't be afraid to cut back more than you think. The rule of thumb is to choose a few of the strongest canes to leave and prune the rest. Typically, people choose 10 to 12 good canes and shorten them to four or five buds each.

The Hügelkultur Method

We tried the Hügelkultur method with our raised beds alongside the glass panels of the colonnade. In Hügelkultur, you layer different organic materials together, which will slowly release nutrients into the soil for years to come. To try it yourself, simply add a base layer of cardboard, wood such as logs and smaller dried twigs, and hay or grass cuttings, followed by green organic material. Then layer a lot of compost and topsoil, and you're ready to plant. Please note that the soil level will fall as the layers decompose. In this case, simply add another layer of soil to the top.

Bye-Bye, Orange!

This month has seen us update one of the staples in the GRAFT garden: the orange container. Over the years, the vibrant orange container has, well, become a bit tired and showed its age. So we decided to give it a facelift and employed the expertise of brothers Hassan and Kareem, who designed and painted the container. It's turned some heads and really given the garden a new lease on life! The design reflects the important elements of the garden and connects to nature.

A Cockleshell Pathway

We took delivery of some Penclawdd cockles to build a cockleshell pathway, making the garden more accessible, especially on rainy days. This will be an ongoing project, so watch this space!

Natural Dyes Workshop

On Thursday, March 14th, GRAFT volunteers visited the National Wool Museum in Drefach to learn about natural dyes and how to incorporate them into the GRAFT garden.

Susan taught everyone about the natural dyeing process using different plants. Then, everyone had a go at dyeing wool themselves in various colors. They even gave GRAFT seeds to get started, which we plan to plant this month!

Chai and Chat Takeover 

We are fortunate to be able to work with and host many community events and groups here at the Waterfront Museum! We're even more fortunate to offer them a taste of different aspects of the museum. On Wednesday, March 27th, the Chai and Chat group, which meets weekly at the museum, visited GRAFT and helped plant some seeds, transplant tomato seedlings, move strawberry plants, and harvest salad from our polytunnel. We're excited to welcome them back to the garden in the future!

Farewell, Zoë!

March also sees us sadly say farewell to one of the project founders, Zoë, who will be leaving the museum for new adventures! She leaves a great legacy in GRAFT and will be missed by all the volunteers, partners, and staff who use the garden.

I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT. 

Weathering the Storm

Penny Dacey, 11 April 2024

What was the weather like in 2023?

2023 was warm and wet! It saw record breaking temperatures in June, a heat wave in September and eleven named storms! It was the second warmest year for the UK since records began in 1884, with only 2022 coming in warmer. It was the warmest year on record for Wales and Northern Ireland and some parts of the UK saw over a third more rain than they would normally expect.

What were the named storms?

The named storms that visited the UK in 2023 were Otto (February), Noa (April), Antoni & Betty (August), Agnes (September), Babet (October), Ciaran & Debi (November), Elin, Fergus & Gerrit (December).

‘Storm Season’ runs from September of one year to August of the next. This coincides nicely with the time frame of our Investigation, which runs for a full academic year. From September 2022 to August 2023 there were four named storms. From September 2023 to now, there have already been 11 named storms! This makes for some very interesting weather data collection and observations from our participating schools! The storms to take place so far in 2024 are Henk, Isha & Jocelyn (January), and Kathleen (April).

Who chooses the storm names?

The MET Office began naming storms for the UK in 2015. They release a list of planned names at the beginning of each storm season. Other European countries also name storms, and if the same storm later impacts on one of these countries, then they will adopt the name already in use. This happened in 2023 with storm Otto and storm Noah, which were named by different groups.

You can suggest names to the MET Office for the next Storm Season here: Name our Storms - Met Office

Why are storms named?

Storms are named to raise awareness. Research shows that people hear about named storms more widely and better understand the link between the storm and the issues it causes across the UK. People understand that a named storm is expected to be disruptive, and they are more likely to take actions to prepare for the bad weather. Whether or not a storm is named depends on the impact it’s expected to have. Not only wind speeds, but things like where the storm is expected to occur, the time of year, time of day and even the day of the week can all impact on the decision of whether the storm will be named!

What are the next planned storm names for the 2023/24 storm season?

Lilian, Minnie, Nicholas, Olga, Piet, Regina, Stuart, Tamiko, Vincent and Walid.

Interestingly, four of this seasons storm names (Ciaran, Debi, Regina and Stuart) have been chosen in honour of people who have been recognised for helping to protect others from extreme weather.

What comments have schools shared about these storms?

Cuthbertson Primary: A tree was blown up in our garden, revealing its roots and posing a threat to safety. We have limited access to the bulbs until the tree is secured. Two storms in one week, the highest wind we have ever felt. Storm Isha and Jacqueline. We have the beginnings of green sprouts showing though.

Alloway Primary: Stormy weather this week. Inside for play due to high winds and rain.

Irvinestown Primary: We weren’t able to record weather data this week due to storm Isha and Storm Jocelyn. Our potted bulbs all tumbled over and fell out of their pots and the weather recording equipment was also affected. We are aiming to get all back up and running again as soon as possible.

Kirkmichael Primary: What a week it has been. We have had two storms, so much wind and rain and even some power cuts. Our rain gauge had fallen over on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because of the wind, so we discussed how we can wedge it into the soil more effectively. It was also getting warmer towards the end of the week.

Doonfoot Primary: We have had TWO storms this week which has meant that we have had lots and lots of rain. The temperature is definitely increasing as the weeks progress. No blooms yet. Our Mystery Bulbs have been growing and we already have a list of guesses snowdrops, bluebells, narcissi and...more crocuses just to fool us.

Kirkmichael Primary: What a week for the weather. Overnight on Wednesday into Thursday we hit lows of -14. So very cold, although we feel like once it hits a certain (low) temperature it doesn’t feel any more cold. We are hoping though that this extreme cold hasn’t damaged our bulbs, and hope to see some signs of growth soon. Next week we have a weather storm forecast - lots of crazy weather.

St Mary's Primary: Storm Debi was Monday.

YGG Bronllwyn: Bad storms with thunder and lightning on Thursday.

St John Ogilvie Primary: Very heavy rain. Storm conditions.

Fleet Wood Lane Primary:We seem to have survived Storm Ciaran on this side of the country.

Tŷ Hafan SuperSibs

Megan Naish, Learning Facilitator, 27 March 2024

Amgueddfa Cymru has partnered with Tŷ Hafan as part of our Family and Early Years Learning Program. Within this partnership, we also work with Tŷ Hafan’s  SuperSibs group, created for the siblings of children with life limiting illnesses and families who have been bereaved. In our sessions, we engage the children in collection-based craft, play and games themed around an area in our museum collection, such as ‘Dino Discovery Day’, ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Minibeasts’.

Some sessions take place at the Hospice itself, where the grounds are beautifully created to provide a space to relax, play and explore for the families at Tŷ Hafan, situated by the beach. Other sessions are held virtually from the museum, delivering a digital, accessible version of the planned activities that can be done from home. Our sessions often center around social, group-orientated activities that offer the children a chance to play and spend time with each other, all while making use of our wonderful museum handling objects. The informal activities promote conversation, trust and sharing, which can be beneficial and important for children who may share similar life experiences. 

Working with the incredible staff at Tŷ Hafan, we are able to contribute to this positive, engaging and friendly environment by sharing our own resources and developing a trustworthy relationship with the lovely families at Tŷ Hafan!

Happy Easter Bulb Buddies

Penny Dacey, 26 March 2024

Thank you to all of the schools who have uploaded their weather and flower data before finishing for the holidays. Some of you are still collecting data this week and will be uploading it to the website on Thursday. Thank you for all of your hard work. 

Schools have shared some lovely comments about the project this week. Some of these are included to the right. 

After the holidays we will announce winners of the BulbCast video competition. In May we will send prizes out to all schools who have shared data. Before the end of the school year we will share a report that explores the weather and flower data and compares it to previous years. 

Thanks again Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

GRAFT January

Josh David-Read, 21 March 2024

 

 

“No matter how long the winter, the spring is sure to follow”. 

 

For many March is the month to begin sowing, planting and getting excited for a year full of harvest. In GRAFT the Volunteers have not stopped and waited for March but instead have ploughed through the cold winter weather to fix and prepare the garden for the year ahead. 

 

January

January 12th and 19th was our first sessions back after a couple of weeks off. With the bad weather and power cuts in the museum we stuck to maintenance jobs, clearing  some of our raised beds and preparing beds ready to be planted later in the year. Even more exciting we sorted all of the seeds into month order [TOP TIP] which helped us to plan what seeds we needed to buy from our suppliers (Real Seeds, and the Incredible Seed Hub) but also forward plan the growing schedule for the year. 

We also cleared and cut back our Birch and planted in some blackthorn and hawthorn. We did this to make the hedge more attractive to different wild-life species and also harvest lovely tasting berries. 

Compost glorious compost! Compost is so important to the garden for many reasons. Not only does it reduce waste, reduces landfill and saves water but it also enriches the soil and adds lots of microorganisms to it. It’s great for the environment By composting at home you will reduce your carbon footprint by not buying factory-made fertilisers. [TOP TIP] only add the following to your compost pile: Fruit scraps, Vegetable scraps, Coffee grounds, Eggshells (though they can take a while to break down), Grass and plant clippings. DON’T add Bread, Diary Products, Rice and anything not biodegradable, such as plastics, shiny paper, stickers and some tea bag brands. 

 

Annie led Graft Volunteers alongside Westcross Day Care to empty our compost out, sieve it and picked out worms to add back into the compost.

 

 I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT.