Sandgate Community Garden: Update 25 July 2021

Tales from friends and relations of torrential rain and terrific thunderstorms in other parts led us all to think that our hand watering days would be over and we would be able to spend that time doing something else that needed tackling.  However so far, despite looking promising, it was not to be, and the usual Sandgate rain dodge happened all over again.  There is still the hope that by the time you are reading this newsletter, our prayers will have been answered, however it seems we should be careful what we wish for as some of the rain has been of epic proportions!

This year we are trying harder to have more in the way of leafy vegetables, lettuces, chard, kale, and spinach, we are getting there but it is always a juggle to make sure we have finished a crop in time to plant the next thing which will already be a few weeks old and desperate to get out of the modules they have been sown and grown in.  The second sowings of lettuce and chard are being picked every week, along with courgettes, spring onions, and more recently, plenty of sweet peas.  The dwarf beans are now in flower, as are the autumn raspberries which will soon be fruiting hopefully well into late autumn.  The second tray of beetroot got planted as did a first of new chard plants.  The dill, chervil and two varieties of coriander got sown. 

The cabbage white butterflies have started to arrive in force, attracted by the smell of the brassica plants covered in a fine mesh netting, they constantly dance with frustration, and unable to find a way in to lay their eggs, have to go elsewhere, unless of course they manage to find an opening.  All the brassica seedlings waiting to be planted and yet tiny in their growing modules have already been visited, and any hatching caterpillar will make short work of them so we need to be vigilant.  This year we have a master plan to use organic bacteria against the caterpillars, a highly selective biological insecticide, gives them a stomach ache and they drop off the plants after just a day or two of happy munching.  Totally ineffective against people, pets, birds, and pollinators, this bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis is easy to use when made into a spray.   We always ensure we have plants and flowers to encourage as much wildlife as possible, and we do have alternatives for the caterpillars to go to, but the misery of caterpillar infested brassicas is something that all veg growers know about.  The horror of finding boiled or steamed victims in the saucepan in spite of diligent searching is very unpleasant indeed.  The alternative is to use a spray that affects all insects which to us is unacceptable, and try as you might to keep the plants clean of eggs and constantly covered in fine netting is still never good enough.  We are keen to see for ourselves if this will be the answer we have been waiting for, and will let you know.

Morrisons the supermarket, are still happy to be supporting us, and have recently provided some herbs shared with the Incredible Edibles, and for us, a pack of most unusual seed packets of wild flowers.  It never quite ceases to amaze the ways and means thought of to entice us humans into growing things when perhaps we may have tired of more conventional means provided by a mere packet of wild flower seeds.  Pictured below, you simply poke the card tabs, pointed end down into the soil up to the marker, and apparently ‘hey presto’ the collection of seeds stuck there are good to grow.  Unbelievable, and what more can be said about the time and energy that went into producing those – however if it floats your boat then crack on and try it!  With time and any luck the final effect might look as good as the fine display currently in flower outside St. Paul’s Church near the path of the front entrance, and pictured below.  Absolutely delightful and a real picture to see so have a look if you are going that way, or even if you are not, give your eyes and brain a treat.

What’s next?

  • Finish clipping the perimeter hedge plants
  • Plant chard tray number two
  • Plant Chinese cabbages and Kaibroc if ready
  • Keep watering new and speedily growing plants including celery
  • Continue to side shoot the tomatoes
  • Maybe start on that bed inside the top gate