Sandgate Community Garden: Update 14 February 2021

It has gone from being wet to just snow, bitterly cold and more snow.  Nothing got done at the garden this week, but it has been visited often to break the ice on the pond.   It has always been said that you should break the ice on a frozen pond to release any gases from dead leaves and silt at the bottom, but now experts are telling us that it may not be necessary to do so unless you have fish.  Always a contradiction to be found on many a subject!  However Wildlife rely on the water being available too.

The plants are now looking very sad as you can see in the pictures below, and it will be interesting to see if they perk up once the temperatures rise.  Our plastic cold frames were the only coverings to keep the snow away from the plants.  It was possible to track all the garden visitors from human footprints to dog or fox paw prints and birds feet leaving long trails.

Being stuck indoors gives the ideal opportunity to catch up with orders such as new plants and seeds.  Last year we had to make do with donated seeds and plants or buy at out of season sales or attend seed swaps.  This year, and as a result of our plant sales last year, we are in the delightful situation of being able to order the seeds and varieties we want, such a luxury.  We have a large selection of seeds from at least seven different companies, and they can come in quantities of just half a dozen, to thousands.  If you know what you are doing, it is possible to grow and collect your own seeds; however we do not have the space to be able to do this successfully.  We are hoping to be able to sow and grow even more than we did last year.  We will be advertising when the tomato or squash plants are available so keep a look out for that – the plan is also to have other plants available too. 

Now that the daylight hours are longer, the first seed sowings of spring onions, lettuce, spinach, coriander, early cabbage, broccoli, broad beans, peas for shoots and parsley can be made.  It is far too cold outside for the seeds to germinate successfully, so they will have to be kept indoors, and as soon as they germinate, put outside with protection in a greenhouse or cold frame.  If you have the luxury of a greenhouse or polytunnel , now is the time to be sowing aubergines, peppers and chillies.   Later on in the week we will be sowing radishes and beetroot. 

The subject of seeds is absolutely vast believe it or not – there are so many considerations if you really get into the subject.  One of the biggest issues was that seed companies never had to tell you when the seeds were harvested, just the year in which they were packed for selling, and so it was impossible to know how old seeds were.  One bonus of Brexit and Covid has been that seed companies sold out of seed in 2020, something unheard of, so it is likely that seeds this year will be fresh.  It has certainly been a learning curve for many horticultural companies with an unprecedented leap in the amount of households now growing much more at home, or growing for the first time ever.

Always glad to give any advice on sowing, growing and looking after your plants at home, get in touch if you have any questions, or chat to us over the fence at Enbrook Park on Wednesday or Saturday mornings – unless of course it is lashing with rain or snow, or freezing cold!

What’s next?

  • Sow the seeds as mentioned above
  • Check on any mushy plants needing removing at Enbrook
  • Check on Fremantle Park plot and if wood chip paths can be added.
  • If not slushy or freezing, there is still wood chips and compost to be collected and moved!
  • Pot up two fruit trees