Sandgate Community Garden: Update 8 August 2021

Big change over of plants at the moment, lots of new sowings and trying to find room to plant kale and yet more lettuces which need a few weeks to grow before they can take over from the lettuces we are currently picking so as not to disrupt the supply. 

We have a bed near the top gate to the garden which has been something of a dilemma to us as whatever we plant there will grow for a few weeks then starts to turn yellow, is stunted and fails to thrive.  We are not sure if the compost we added there is contaminated with something, or if the original soil underneath is the problem. So that we can still use the precious space we have put raised beds there filled with more soil in the hope that depth of growing matter will sort the issue. 

Raised beds cause their own problems, attracting snails and slugs with plenty of hiding places, and can dry out around the edges fast, but we will give it a chance and see what happens, and it has to be better than trying to grow in a contaminated space. 

Always be aware that if your plants fail to come up to your expectations it might not be your fault as regards how much care you put in; it could be a problem with the environment, the soil (even if it was compost bought in bags) or the seeds you started with.  Unfortunately it can make beginners think they are doing something wrong when in fact they stood little chance of success in the first place as the failure had been caused by something else out of their control.   The main thing is to start again and just get growing as there is always something to learn along the way and the rewards are great when it does go well.

The autumn and winter radishes got sown and by Saturday were already poking out above the ground, they are so fast to get going.  The Nero kale got pricked out, and a few plants in the garden beds lost to slugs got replaced with spares.  Three trays of spinach have been sown for the autumn, and we will have to consider starting to sow the winter mustards and hardy lettuces which could take us through the winter months. 

Although most of the brassicas are covered in Enviromesh so that they cannot be reached by butterflies wanting to lay their eggs, the swedes did get forgotten to be included in the brassica family (a common problem).  With no mesh covering or spray they consequently had been chewed to bits and smothered in caterpillars until given a dose of our organic bacterial spray and are now starting to recover.  The swedes will be a true test as to how our experiment with the spray will fare.  We love caterpillars and butterflies but have given them alternatives to take so that we can grow viable brassicas as an important food source over the colder months.  Meanwhile the Incredible Edible team in Cheriton decided on a policy not to spray and to allow the brassicas to be eaten by caterpillars which of course they are.  

The Cheriton Incredible Edible team have been clearing some of the planters where the plants had reached maturity, and replenished with new stock for both humans and insects.  Below is a picture of the herb planter outside the butchers shop.  The butcher always takes time to water and care for his planter and he has been rewarded with a lovely display of herbs with plenty of visiting bees and hoverflies.  It has to be said that this year there are many homes, shops, pubs and restaurants along Sandgate High Street growing some amazing floral displays; it really makes a difference and brightens the street for all to enjoy.

The Sandgate Sea & Food Festival is rapidly on its way and we hope to have some plants on our stall to raise some funds.  If you have any spare house or garden plants please get in touch via email, text/call on 07840 138308, or pop in to the garden Wednesday or Saturday mornings.  We are really looking forward to seeing you there, and hope you will stop at our stall and say hello.

What’s next?

  • Sow the mustards
  • Prick out the overcrowded Chervil, coriander and dill seedlings
  • Check the wall plantings for random cucumbers and tomato plants needing attention.
  • Check the celery for side shoots and remove
  • Check the celeriac for old leaves that need removing
  • Check under nets for weeds and remove old leaves trailing on the ground.