Sandgate Community Garden: Update 17 October 2021

Have you ever wondered what happens to the town’s bedding plants when the season is finished?  We certainly have, and made some enquiries with Folkestone and Hythe horticultural department that carry out all the summer and winter floral displays all around the area from the parks to the street planters.

Most of the plants are annuals, which means after their display, they are literally exhausted and finished, fit only to be composted.  Some of the plants are perennials and can survive all year and come back to flower once again.  These were the plants we were interested in, as there were quite a few of them from dahlias to verbenas, gazanias and salvias.  It seems that most of the plants are removed from the beds and reused which is good news.  We were concerned that these plants might also end up on the compost heap and were keen to rescue them if that were indeed the case, and put them to good use in some of the areas we are looking after.

However, having removed all the plants the council decided that they did indeed have a few too many perennials left and offered them to us.  Always keen to save valuable resources, we jumped at the opportunity, and liberated several plants which we shared with the Incredible Edible team.  Many thanks to Folkestone and Hythe Council for thinking of us for these spare plants, and you never know, after planting out the winter bedding, there might be the possibility of a leftover plant or two – you never know!  The great thing about gardening is that nature is the master of recycling, and nothing is wasted.  Plants give their all by flowering or providing fruit/vegetables, and even when finished make the best compost, and the cycle continues. 

Talking of compost, our compost heaps all got turned this week, which was warm work!  Bin 3 which contains the finished compost got turned out and put onto empty beds, whilst bin 2 was turned into the now empty bin 3.  Bin 1 was full to bursting with all the new waste from veg peelings to finished plants, and got turned into bin 2, leaving an empty bin 1.  By Saturday, bin 1 was half full again, but you can be sure that by the time we return for our garden session on Wednesday the compost will have started to rot down and make some more room!  Turning the compost gives an opportunity to mix the ingredients together for a perfect end result – too wet, then add some brown or dry ingredients, too dry then mix with green (wet) ingredients.  Always interesting to see the compost wildlife, especially the worms, hard at work.

As well as flexing some muscles turning the compost, the onion sets and garlic got planted, and hundreds of broad beans sown in anticipation of an early crop next year.  Planting or sowing into modules has given us time to empty some of the beds over the next month or so and cover them with a new layer of compost to benefit all the plants in that bed for the next year. 

As the days are starting to shorten, the garden is entering a new phase in preparation for the winter to come.  The dominant summer planting making way for the hardy autumn and winter crops.  Leafy chard, spinach, cabbage, kale and sprouting broccoli alongside the roots of swede, celeriac, and parsnips.  Their time is about to come, and some first pickings have been made.  These plants enjoy a slower pace unlike their summer predecessors, often maturing at different rates with an ability to be left in the ground or on the plant until required.  A useful state in a family allotment, but probably not appreciated in a community garden where the demands on fresh vegetables is at a premium – no time for storing or biding time, unless the destination is a jar of chutney or frozen meal of course!

What’s next?

  • Search out more planting boxes for the cold frames
  • Finish planting last of the onion sets
  • Check on seeds needing sowing in the autumn for flower beds/herbs
  • Start clearing fallen leaves