Sandgate Community Garden: Update 19 September 2021

We have been experiencing issues with watering this week.  It has been very warm and dry again, with some promises of rain dissolving into nothing.  So hand watering it is, of the many newly planted beds of spinach, spring onions, mustard greens and herbs.  The autumn raspberries are managing to produce fruit, but they are small, and the leaves are starting to turn yellow. 

Our lettuce mix now has a good percentage of endive and chicory.  We have two types of endive, a broad leaf and a frilly strapped leaf. they are super nutritious and pictured below.  Both have a slightly bitter taste, and can survive very cold temperatures in the winter.  Bitter foods are considered to be very good for our gut health, with evidence that they may work like prebiotics. 

We had our results from the RHS.  We have made progress from our last inspection to level 4 or ‘Thriving’, with five levels possible in total, the last being ‘outstanding’.  The inspector said that it was ‘difficult to offer any words of advice’ apart from addressing our reliance on mains water.  We have all tried to solve that problem from the very start, to no avail as yet.  The only other point was that the garden was difficult to find within the park, however there are new signs made and  installed at all the park entrances, and it is clear now where we can be found.  In effect we are doing alright, and if they cannot offer much in the way of advice to improve our situation then we should be happy with that!

The hops got picked this week.  All the hops at Fremantle and Enbrook had to be picked on the same day, and taken to the Hythe collection point for weighing and putting into hessian sacks for transportation  to a brewery to make a fresh hop (green) brew, with the rest going to an oast house to be dried for use throughout the year.  We were not expecting too much from the four Enbrook plants as they had suffered this year, but they gave 650g compared with last year’s 2.120kg.  Fremantle has three hop plants, and one of those got invaded by ants and only just survived, leaving  two plants which gave an amazing 865g.  In total across the scheme, there were 83kg of hops collected, with another collection date for less mature hops arranged for 19th September. 30kg of fresh hops has gone to Docker and Hopfuzz breweries, and the remaining 23 kg went off to be dried and will then be sent to Docker for further brews in the year.  The green hop ales will be available in 4-6 weeks at selected local pubs as well as in bottles or cans.  We will let you know where you can try it when we know, but you have to be quick to visit the pub, as it can sell out within a day!

What’s next?

  • Get in a cheeky sowing of some winter lettuces if possible
  • Plant some saffron crocuses
  • Water water water
  • Anybody around strong enough to help move the cold frames?