Sandgate Community Garden: Update 16 May 2021

We have started to catch up with ourselves this week and it was touch and go if the Saturday session would happen due to heavy rain, but several gardeners put on a brave face and got on with it.  We got wet, but there were a couple of breaks in the cloud and the garden is looking so green and lush, with plenty of new growth, that it made it all worthwhile.  We took off the fleece covers this week as the night time temperatures have improved but have had to replace some of them with netting or enviromesh to protect them from either flea beetles, pigeons, squirrels, foxes or maybe even badgers, depending on what they are currently looking for to eat.

A strange start to the growing season, where the planting of tender annuals, tomatoes, courgettes and squashes have been delayed, however we did decide to be bold and plant out the tomatoes, mostly up against the wall which will give a little extra protection – let us hope it was the right decision.  This rain has been just perfect for the garden, prolonged and heavy enough to penetrate right down into the soil.  All too often it can just wet the surface and run off; not reaching those roots at all.  With all the beds given a good mulch of compost, we are more confident that it will retain more moisture which we have definitely noticed this year after the long dry spell in April. 

It was mentioned last week about the 14 week wait for our new tool box – it suddenly arrived Tuesday evening and the next day was assembled and put into place.  It is a smart green metal box, large enough to accommodate our longer hoes and rakes which we had to leave out before.  We are now just waiting on two more cold frames to be finished and delivered and then we will be up to date with new purchases from our Community Grant with the Kent County Council. 

The supermarket, Morrisons in Folkestone, very kindly gave us two dozen petunia plants which we have put into several planters in the Enbrook garden as well as two of the planters at Golden Valley.

A couple of us finally made it to visit another Community Garden based in East Malling, called Communigrow.  A trip we had been trying to make before the onset of Covid.  This garden is more than two acres, and has salaried full and part time members of staff, but it was interesting to see what they are doing, and they were interested in how we have spread out to other areas in our locality to reach out to different people.  Their head gardener was just starting an experiment with dig and no dig beds as they had a student keen to study the similarities and differences.  We are certainly happy with our no dig methods, and the guru Charles Dowding asked us to make a short video of our garden at Enbrook to show our progress so far and to perhaps be included in one of his YouTube videos.  He currently has 400,000 subscribers to his video channel, so no pressure there! 

Typically, the plentiful rain accelerated the growth of the weeds too, but they are quite easy to hoe and remove by hand, again because of the depth of compost.  Apart from looking neat and tidy for the filming, we are also expecting a visit from the RHS in June or July to give us advice on how we could improve and move forward.  Exciting times!

What’s next?

  • Put enviromesh over the carrot bed
  • Continue planting out the flowering annuals in the other Sandgate gardens and planters.
  • Weed the strip of ground along the outside wall
  • Start to turn the compost bins at Enbrook
  • More potting up of seedlings
  • Sow more spring onions and celery
  • Weed Fremantle areas
  • Keep picking the salads, herbs and spinach,
  • Plant out the kale