Sandgate Community Garden: Update 30 August 2020

The high winds continued to run their course at the start of this week, and so we have found the answer to our question about the viability of growing runner beans on the site – a big fat no, when for the second summer they were destroyed by the high winds in spite of all measures to protect them.  So it will be dwarf beans or nothing from now on.  A few beans are still standing, but looking very sad and sorry.  The sunflowers suffered the same fate, but happily the tomatoes are made of stronger stuff, and although the sweet corn was partially blown over and looked tattered and torn, they were on the whole still alright.  Considering we did not expect to be able to collect any corn after finding out there were badgers running amuck, the now ripe cobs were a bonus.

The planter outside the ship suffered the same fate, and was battered mercilessly, but the foliage is dense, and after a bit of a trim to remove the blackened areas, the plants looked in fine fettle.  The planter also had ripe corn cobs, but certainly not for sharing as corn relies on being pollinated by the wind ironically, but with only three plants, were not enough to make for a good example of a corn cob, being sparse and not worth bothering with; and so it has in effect been ornamental .  The space cleared will be planted again this week with something yet to be decided.  We are pleased at how the planter has fared being in such a position, both outside a pub and practically right on the seafront, and it still has plenty to offer.  We have heard tales of how locals are nipping out to collect a few herbs when they suddenly realise they are missing an ingredient in the cupboard which the planter can provide – perfect!

We put in some winter mustards this week and a few more pak choi, there will be sowings of spring onions and bulb onions to overwinter and be ready to harvest in the spring or through to high summer 2021. 

We are still continuing to collect more of the strawberry compost from the strawberry farm and stockpile it for using in November/December to cover the beds.  The compost heaps were all turned again and we found two slow worms tucked up in them – they were carefully moved to safety. 

You might have thought that the rain we had was enough to refill the pond but it is still only about a third to half full.  We are pleased to notice dragonfly larvae in the pond, and on a recent sunny afternoon, the pond was host to many bright red dragonflies, and a picture of one is included below.

There comes a time when you have to be brave and remove the mesh protecting the brassicas from the dreaded cabbage white butterflies eager to lay their eggs, simply because the plants need staking and have outgrown their enclosure.  We will still have to keep a close eye on the plants and continue to remove eggs, and we have positioned some mesh hanging over the broccoli as they were plagued by pigeons last year, but pigeons do not like to be under structures apparently, and so we hope this arrangement will work.  Soon find out!

We heard from the Hythe Hops scheme that the first harvest date for the hops will be this Thursday 3rd September.  We will be collecting our hops this day as they are certainly ready now, a little wind scorched but generally fine.  These fresh hops will be used to make a ‘green brew’ by Docker brewery.  Any hops collected at a later date by other growers in the scheme, are hopefully to be dried and used to make ales that can be bottled or canned over the months to come.

What’s next?

  • Plant out the mooli radishes
  • Harvest the hops
  • Continue to collect compost
  • Sow spring and bulb onion seeds
  • Find plants for the Ship planter