Sandgate Community Garden: Update 22 November 2020

The last sowings of Broad beans have now been planted and are already starting to romp away, a little disconcerting for the end of November.  It is still not too late to sow or plant broad beans, or garlic if you fancy giving it a go.  The autumn peas were planted too.  Some of them will be for pea pods, the others for early pea shoots.  Never good to sow peas direct as they often attract rodents and get dug up and eaten before they get the chance to sprout.  We have not tried autumn peas before now so it will be interesting to see if it is worth the effort compared to spring sown peas.   We have noticed that the pigeons have turned their attention to the cabbages and purple sprouting, so plants had to be covered with netting once more.  We had hoped to get away with them uncovered.

One of the Oca or New Zealand yam plants was lifted to see if they are ready, but they still seem a little small, and will be left alone for a few more weeks to get bigger with any luck!  However the leeks and celeriac are ready and we should all be able to have just one or two, enough to make a soup or a welcome addition to a meal.  The winter purslane or claytonia is ready for picking, that is if you have the patience as it is quite tiny and very fiddly to collect.

Following a couple of birthdays, we had carrot muffins and beetroot brownies to share – so many excellent recipes out there, and always grateful to be eating cake on a cold morning to help make the work that much easier.

The assumption was that our new fleece covering would arrive this week, but it has now been delayed again, so our fingers are remaining crossed for the continuation of this milder weather for the time of year.

At very short notice we were offered a free delivery of wood chips from a tree surgeon working locally.  Rather than have to take the chips back to his yard, he was looking to find homes for a few deliveries.  Although wood chips are a waste product, a load can cost in the region of £100 by the time you consider the transport costs and time for a driver to load up and deliver.  We gratefully accepted a load, and have started to lay down more paths as well as add a layer to the current compost bin as it could do with some drier, ‘brown’ content as it is too ‘green’ or moist.  This should help to make the balance.

On Monday some of us attended the virtual summit – Kent’s Plan Bee, to find out about the plight of insects throughout the UK, and how Kent ‘s council is able to respond and help wildlife in the county by making a few changes to how the parkland and grass verges are managed.  We were surprised to learn that Kent has over 130 miles of bee and insect friendly planting along the coastline, which is linked to a network of wildlife zones throughout the county.  We also heard from a local farmer concerned about farming methods having such an impact on wildlife numbers and how he is putting in place some steps to change the way he farms.  Some of the plans are still at early stages, and it has made us think about things we can add to the garden to help out.  We already have wildlife areas, but one thing that did strike us was that it was important to have something in flower in the garden all year round.  We have more ideas to work on, and are going to work towards a ‘neighbourhood with the best buzz’ award.

What’s next?

  • We still have strawberry compost bags to open
  • We have beds waiting for a layer of compost mulch
  • Continue to barrow wood chips up to the garden
  • If the fleece arrives, start to put it over the plants
  • Continue to keep the weeds down
  • Collect last few leaves blowing about