Sandgate Community Garden: Update 10 May 2020

We had a delivery of compost which was able to be tipped straight into the garden, so there will not be any complaints about having to barrow it up the hill, what a result!   We have also made some compost storage areas so that compost we make can be stored until the winter, as well as any we might be able to get our hands on over the next few months.  Concerned about aminopyralid arriving in horse manure which has been added to the compost heap, we have created a trial bed and will grow some tomato plants in it over the summer to see if this nasty weed killer is present.    Aminopyralid is sprayed onto grass to kill broad leaved weeds, the grass is made into hay, horses eat the hay, and when the manure is collected, the weed killer is still active and can kill or seriously affect whatever is grown in it.  The problem is that horse owners buy in much of their hay and will have no idea if it has been sprayed.  We will let you know if our trial bed is clear of it!

Compost is probably the most important feature of a ‘no dig’ garden, it is what makes the health and vigour of all that is grown there, and it will take at least another year of adding lashings of the stuff until we can say we have decent enough soil.  Our five compost bins were all full and were turned into the first wooden container this week; always interesting what you might find inside!  This time it was a silver spoon.  We are always losing secateurs, pairs of scissors and pen knives in the garden, so we are constantly on the lookout, but the spoon must have come with some kitchen waste.  Happy to say, something we do not find any more in the compost is tea bags.  It has taken a long time for it to sink in that they are made with plastic, and would be forever present amongst the vegetables, unable to break down into the soil – now we know!

Talking about soil health, we won a prize from the Permaculture magazine – a 20kg bag of volcanic rock dust!  A remineraliser, It will not go very far, but is another organic way to add that extra bit of vitality.

The other half of the asparagus crowns arrived this week, and they were quickly planted.  We now have another three years to wait until we can harvest just a few spears.  It certainly is a waiting game, but definitely worth it.  We were given some primo raspberry plants, thank you Anna and Eddie, as well as a few more strawberry plants.  Celery and celeriac got planted, Hamburg parsley (it has a root like a parsnip, with leaves that are similar to parsley) was sown, and the galloping potato plants got another covering of compost which they have already burst through.

We have enough cardboard to have covered most of the garden it seems, so many thanks for those of you that have kindly been bringing piles of it to us.  We might just about have enough now but will be making the odd patch or two if any weeds manage to work their way through.

All the cucumbers, courgettes, cucamelons, summer and winter squashes have been potted up, and spare plants will be at the garden on Saturday 16th between 10am and 12 noon.  So if you are looking for any of these, fancy trying something different, or……. murdered your own plants – come along and pick something up (but not coronavirus, so remember about the distancing and keeping safe!)

What’s next?

  • No rain in sight, so keep watering certain areas
  • Keep picking
  • Find some grass cuttings to mulch the potatoes one last time
  • Get together any compost currently outside the garden and move it to the holding area
  • Mulch the rest of the hedge with the old compost
  • Pinch out any flowers appearing on the onions and garlic