Sandgate Community Garden: Update 20 September 2020

Now that the days are getting shorter, it is beginning to feel a little autumnal, and thoughts are turning to the last sowings of the year, harvesting and clearing away the summer crops, then getting all set for the winter months.  However the weather keeps trying to hang on to the summer and we are still watering and watering when you might hope we would get some respite.  It has been noted that the next time we plant the squashes and equally wandering courgettes, it would be a good idea to mark exactly where they are placed as it is notoriously difficult if next to impossible, to find where a plant begins in order to water the roots.  We often end up just watering the leaves and hoping for the best! 

The Goji berry plants, although still young and having put on plenty of growth seemed as if they would come to nothing.  This week they have suddenly come into flower and may yet surprise us with a berry or two – time will tell.  A photo of the flowers have been added below, they are quite delicate and interesting.  On the theme of flowers, the African marigolds have been superb (also shown below) and have given us so much colour.  Perhaps it was the flowers that attracted the nursery children from the Saga nursery, back to the garden this week.  We are pleased to welcome the children again into the garden with their teachers, so that they can collect flowers, graze on some of the fruits and vegetables and find out about where food comes from.  We cannot work with the children as we did before Covid for now, but we are delighted they have the garden as a resource for their learning.  Since the Covid rules for socialising have changed and we may be on the brink of further restrictions, we are going to have to ask all visitors to the garden to stay outside the fence whilst we are working on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.  We will position all available produce close to the gate for anybody coming to collect, and hope you will all understand we have to be careful and protect our gardeners.

The onion seeds have been sown; the last spinach plugs for the year have been planted, as has the coriander, leaving a few more pak choi, extra spinach plants and some spring cabbages to go in next week.  The last of the leaf mould has been removed from the leaf cage and added to the compost pile waiting to be spread on the beds, and newly fallen leaves are gradually being collected and starting to fill the leaf cage once more.  The brassicas liberated from the net cloches have certainly still been attacked by the cabbage white butterflies, and we have promised ourselves that next year we will be resorting to plan B as regards dealing with such brassica pests and investing in a tried and tested organic method which will be revealed as we get into spring next year.  The method of suspending a mesh above the purple sprouting is so far proving interesting, as they have suffered very little pest damage from either caterpillars or birds, but time will tell if they will fare better than the crop did last winter/spring.

Early on in the year, we applied to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) to register the garden as part of the Community Gardening Awards.  At that time, the garden had been up and running for less than a year, and it was touch and go as to whether the awards would still go ahead with Covid happening.  Happily and surprisingly, we were given an ‘Advancing’ award, the categories being, ‘Establishing, Improving, Advancing, Thriving, and Outstanding’.  We still have a way to go for that ‘Outstanding’ award, and will be looking to how we can get there in the future.  In the meantime, we are considering the possibility of opening the garden for the National Garden Scheme – now there is another possibility, and plenty for us to be working on!

What’s next?

  • Plant out last of spinach, and pak choi
  • Plant out the first of the onion sowings – cover
  • Continue to get strawberry compost out of the bags for adding to compost pile
  • Keep watering
  • Lay down fresh compost on beds being planted up with overwintering crops.