Sandgate Community Garden: Update 9 August 2020

Far too scorchio for us this week, it has been a struggle to hand water the plot, and to water it well enough.

The brassicas have been checked again and again for pesky caterpillars or eggs, which means crawling around on all fours peering at small plants, but very necessary.  The endives and lettuces got planted, as did Chinese cabbages and a few Romanesco, squeezed into the last available space.  The runner beans are now showing plenty of flower and with enough water and no more gale force winds, there could even be some beans!  We noticed lots and lots of ladybird larvae on the beans which was where the blackfly had been partying; thank goodness the cavalry have arrived in force as they should make short work of those unwanted guests.

Some of the sweet corn is starting to swell.  When it is ripe, it gives out a sweet smell which attracts wildlife (thinking in particular of our visiting badger) and so we have been rubbing Vics vapour rub around the base of each plant as an experiment to try to mask the sweetness.  If we come away with any ripe sweet corn, it would be a minor miracle.

The flowers are looking particularly beautiful these past few weeks and we have been picking sweet peas by the armful.  You have to be sure to pick every sweet pea or it will go to seed and stop flowering.  The picking also generates lots and lots of flowers to the point that by the next day, even more are there.  As the season goes on, the stems become shorter and shorter, so faced with hundreds of stumpy flowers we have decided to let them finish and use the much wanted space to grow something else.  It was great while it lasted, and they could for some time, but we are happy to move on with other things. 

The winter squashes are starting to swell, and it can often be difficult to identify which are summer squashes to be picked now, and which are to be left to grow on into the autumn.  Summer squashes are softer and more prolific – winter squashes may only have one or two fruits per plant depending on the variety, and can be stored and eaten months later.  These plants can regulate how many fruits they can cope with over the growing period, and eject any that cause extra stress.  We often have to wind the long trailing stems along the edge of pathways so they do not get stepped on as who knows where they are trying to get to!

What’s next?

  • Let the sweet peas go to seed
  • Water, water, water
  • Pick, pick, pick
  • More vapour rub on the sweet corn
  • Keep checking for caterpillars
  • What are the soy beans doing?  Have they been worth the effort?
  • Assess what space if any may become available for planting up in the next few weeks.
  • Start to move compost if it cools down.