Sandgate Community Garden

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?

Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 12 September 2021

It is with great excitement that the hops are going to be picked this Sunday both at Enbrook Park and Fremantle Park.  Last year the harvest was a little earlier and we picked just 2.12 kg although this year we have three extra plants at Fremantle too!  The suspicion is that although the hops are older, they have suffered this year, so we shall see. 

We knew it would only be a matter of time until blight arrived at the last place to show signs of it – Enbrook Park.  Two plants were infected so far and have been removed and composted.  It is fine to compost plants with blight as the disease is airborne and not spread through the soil. 

The last of the small seeds for this year have been sown.  We still have more spring onions to plant, and bulb onions to put in for next year.  The last additions to the plot will be garlic and broad beans to overwinter. It will be strange not to be looking after any seedlings now until mid February 2022 when we start all over again!   A further 120 plugs of spinach got planted this week, as did 120 plugs of spring onions, some more winter radishes and more parsley.  The coriander sown just a few weeks ago decided to go to seed already, an example of how things  just decide to do their own thing no matter how much you try!

We removed a bed of squashes which had struggled all the way through the summer – sometimes you just have to give up and try again, and so the bed is being prepared for bulb onions instead.  Frustratingly, a random leftover squash plant was planted in a part of the garden near the fruit trees and just left to get on with it.  The plant took up the challenge and with total neglect from us has rambled all over the place and produced some large squashes as pictured below – typical!  You win some and you lose some, we think that we need to get the soil right in various parts of the garden so that most things will have a fair or more equal chance.

You may recall that we had started our first experiment using a natural soil bourne bacteria to spray on the brassicas to deter the caterpillars from stripping them bare which happens every year no matter how much you think you have protected them.  Pleased to report it has actually worked and we have brassicas standing to attention and looking fabulous already so that they can get even bigger and better over autumn and into winter.  However the brassicas at Fremantle did not get the spray and have been chewed to bits.  There is now a move to rescue what is left, but we are pleased to know that it really does work;  if there was only such a deterrent for pigeons!

This coming week we should finally find out how we fared from our visit with an RHS community gardens inspector.  It has been some time since the visit, and there is no pass or fail, it just tells you how you are doing and if there are any recommendations which could be implemented.  Always room for improvement, it will be interesting to know what they thought.

What’s next?

  • Finish the preparation of the bed with new compost for the bulb onions
  • Weed the gooseberry patch
  • Keep watering the new seedlings
  • Pot up any spare herbs and plants Try moving the cold frames into winter places
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 5 September 2021

What a fabulous time we had at the Sea Festival last Sunday.  Nobody could have wished for better weather considering what it had been like previously.  Tucked up against the wall on the seafront outside the castle, we managed to stay out of any wind amd it was just perfect.  We managed to raise a massive £308.29 from the stall with the help of many of the volunteers plus a £20 donation from favourite auntie M.  A special mention to Ali and Tania pictured below as they raised over £30 by baking some most delicious muffins for the occasion.  Many thanks for all the love and support we experienced from everyone there. 

Well now we are in September, and it might have felt as if it has always been raining in August, but the rain gauage said that just 77.8 mm of the wet stuff came down during the month, and it is getting quite dry again.  The first Hythe hops collection date was supposed to have been  Thursday, however the Oast House where all the hops get dried was not able to take them, and so the next harvest date is Sunday 12th September instead, weather permitting.  Many of the hop growers are saying that the harvest is very variable this year, some had been slow to make a start, and some, like our own, had been damaged during high winds.   Time will tell, and we shall see once all the hops are gathered and the collective weight recorded. 

The sweet peas finally gave up the ghost this week and have been removed, they certainly lasted longer than they did last year and seemed to enjoy the cooler wetter weather.  Only the tomato plants at Enbrook park are blight free now.  Some people seem to worry that tomato plants affected by blight will make the actual tomatoes inedible.  As long as the fruit shows little or no sign of blight, then they are fine to eat – even green tomatoes can be removed and ripened on a windowsill, so just try to make the most of what is there under such circumstances.

The second sowing of mustards and winter lettuces did not get done so will have to be urgently on the list for this week.  The third lettuce sowings of the year are now mature enough to pick and take over from the second sowings which have finally gone to seed as have the tree spinach which will be left to mature for collecting, however that will most likely seem pointless as once you have let this one go to seed in the garden, it will likely be with you forever!

On Sunday 5th September, the Walk and Talk about the Sandgate Community Gardens and ‘no dig’ will be taking place, so if you have booked a place with the Sandgate Society, we will look forward to seeing you there!

What’s next?

  • Sow those mustard seeds and winter lettuces pronto
  • Keep watering and watering
  • Prepare the area where the sweet peas were and plant up with seedlings waiting to go out
  • Plant out the new spinach plants Consider having to resite the cold frames for the winter
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 29 August 2021

It is now a real race against time to get everything in that was sown at the start of the month and to get the final sowings of winter greens done by the end of the first week in September.  You can already feel the change in the season, the days are shorter and cooler.  We sowed four trays of spring onions, and four of bulb onions, plus a few more winter radish.

Strapped for space, we are being ruthless and twisting out anything that is past its best or not performing well enough, in favour of new plants.  These plantings will take us into mid winter and spring so the beds are given a generous helping of compost  as it is much easier to do so now than in December and working around established plants. 

We planted over 120 plugs of spinach with 1 – 3 plants each plug a potential of some 300 plants however you need a lot of spinach to make a meal and more was sown in the week.  The Nero kale and Florence fennel got planted as well as more coriander, Amsoi, Pak Choi, red giant mustard, mizuna and Green in the Snow.  The mustards are able to withstand a temperature of at least minus six, depending on the duration of the freezing.  Some of them will be grown in beds and some will be planted into mushroom boxes and kept in the cold frames.

The tops of the tomatoes should have all been pinched out by now to allow them to concentrate on ripening the tomatoes they already have, any later tomatoes are unlikely to have the time to mature especially outdoors.  We find a few half chewed as well as pecked courgettes occassionaly, but the wildlife seem to not be so sure of the fat prickly cucumbers pictured below – mind you neither are some of the gardeners at first until they try one!

We are now starting to water the celeriac as they are beginning to swell at ground level, although we are still unsure if any bolted plants will yet perform.  The kale is pushing up the mesh netting and interesting the cabbage white butterflies but soon they will cease to bother with the brassicas at all now the window of opportunity has nearly gone.

Many thanks for all the messages of support following the ITV Meridian report which finally got aired on Thursday following the filming on Tuesday in Sandgate and Cheriton of the Incredible Edible spaces.  The phone did not stop pinging all day and evening.  If you missed the film, here is the link below.

https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2021-08-26/community-garden-scheme-bears-fruit-in-folkestone

Our next outing is the Sea Festival in Sandgate this Sunday 29th, and may all be over by the time you read this newsletter.  We will be on the seafront outside the castle with our plants {thank you Jill for your donation of houseplants) and various wares on our table, plus lots of smiles hoping to encourage you to part with some cash for yet more projects.  Erica of the Incredible Edible crew, kindly donated a rather splendid butternut squash from her no dig organic allotment, for the ‘Guess the weight of the squash’ competition.  We picked a bucket of flowers for the Sandgate Society to put in small vases on the tables for the pop-up tea and cake café at the Fire Station, which will certainly be getting visited by many of us when we have finished a stint of rattling the donation box at our stall! 

Finally, if you are interested in the community gardens and like the idea of growing organic, no dig fruit and vegetables then come along to the walk and talk on Sunday 5th September.  Happily it will be worth the visit just to frequent the pub (The Golden Arrow) at Golden Valley to sup tea or coffee with the new landlords Shona and Richard, both looking forward to welcoming you to see the changes they have brought to the establishment.  Check out the Sandgate Society website to book.

What’s next?

  • Tidy the area where the raised boxes were
  • First pick of the third lettuce sowing
  • Sow more mustards
  • Pot up some coriander plugs
  • Weed under some of the nets
  • Hoe along the outside edge of the fence
  • Keep watering the new plants
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 22 August 2021

Thanks to all those who pointed out the typo in last week’s newsletter which seemed to cause much hilarity – it just goes to prove that the update does get read!

It was mentioned last week that tomato blight is in the locality, and it has appeared in our plants at the Golden Valley, so Saturday morning was spent scrutinising the tomato plants at Enbrook, however it seems we have got away with it right now.  Even so it will be a case of really keeping an eye out for it and removing the infected areas or even the whole plant as soon as it is seen.  It is probably a case of when not if. 

As there is so much growth in the garden and we are full to the brim, it is ideal conditions for some mighty big weeds to sneak in, snuggle up against the vegetables and take away the water from their roots – before you know it you have a monster weed and an overwhelmed tiny vegetable plant.  It is always good practice to remove the competition, and whilst picking various things around the garden to also have a container  to collect the weeds so that they can be composted.  The habit is often to leave them for later or to pull them and place them on the floor where they often still manage to drop their seeds or even re-root if the soil and weather is wet.  We put absolutely everything in the compost heap and have no worries about all the weeds from mares tails to nettles and bindweed, they are all composted.  You can tell from turning the compost that there is nothing left of the plant material except good compost, and seeds will have been mostly heated and destroyed as part of the composting process.   If there are vast amounts of bindweed, it can be laid out in the sun to dry out thoroughly before being added to the compost if you are worried about it regrowing.  Most weeds are best removed whilst still small and can be easily hoed on a fine dry day, or just pulled between finger and thumb.  Easy if the beds have a good layer of compost.

Some trays of spring onions and more winter radishes got sown this week.  We had a delivery of ready to sow seeds from the amazing Seed Craft company in Folkestone.  They sent us a box of seeds a little while back and we were delighted to receive this one too – many thanks.  The dill, coriander and chervil plants got planted.  The second batch of  lettuces are now standing up on great long stalks in response to their outer leaves being removed weekly.  The timing between these and the next batch of lettuces may well be just right fortunately, as the new plants are just about ready for a first pick.

Lots of things are going on outside of the garden too.  ITV Meridian News heard the podcast on local radio about the Incredible Edible planters and areas in Sandgate and Cheriton.  They want to run a news story about the concept, and it would be fantastic if other neighbourhoods became as inspired as we were by the original group in Todmorden in Yorkshire.  All going well, Incredible Edible should be set to be on the local news Tuesday evening. 

The Community Gardeners are looking forward to being at the Sandgate Sea Festival next Sunday 29th, where we will be advertising the garden and raising funds. Please stop and say hello when you see us as it always cheers you up to see some friendly faces.

The Sandgate Society have kindly set up a walk and talk from the Community Garden at Enbrook to the garden at Freemantle Park, followed by refreshment at the Golden Arrow in the Golden Valley with the new landlords Shona and Richard.  The focus is on ‘no dig’ gardening, how to start and to let it be known just how easy it really all is.  You can make a bed and plant it up in just one day.

If you are interested in coming along then please contact the Sandgate Society sandgatesociety@gmail.com  or ring Gemma on 07984 694907. The date is Sunday 5th September at 2pm.  The cost is £5 to include tea or coffee at the Golden arrow, and any profits will be ploughed back into the garden, so a brilliant cause!

What’s next?

  • Start planting the spinach plugs
  • Keep watering the new herb bed and smaller lettuces
  • Dismantle the last of the strawberry bed and rake ground
  • Raise some of the flat nets
  • Plant the Nero kale
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 15 August 2021

It has been ‘hunt the cucumber’ week as all the plants have been scattered along the wall and in any available space so that when they trail along and produce fruit, they can appear just about anywhere.  It makes for an interesting time finding them, and an achievement when one gets found after the search is called off.  The tomatoes are starting to try to do something now with a first fruit picked, but many gardeners are telling how theirs are lost to blight this year.  We shall have to keep fingers crossed that ours survive as they are slow to get going this year and have been put back further by the strong winds.  We have been comparing site conditions as one of our gardeners has been picking tomatoes for some time. 

The Hythe Hops group has started the process of deciding on harvest dates for all the hops in the area.  It seems optimistic to be contemplating a harvest as our poor hops at Enbrook were looking somewhat brown and crispy after the salty winds last swept through however happily some new shoots have fought their way through and are sending out some flowers so all is not lost, there should be something to pick and contribute. 

The winter radishes sown last week got planted on Saturday, and the mustards sown in the week along with the spinach, are up already through the soil in their modules, which puts the pressure on to find and clear more beds to make space.  The celery bed should be free soon as we are having to harvest them quite quickly as some of them are bolting.  Like the celeriac, after they were sown way back in the early spring, we had several days of colder weather making them believe they were experiencing winter so that when the summer arrived, they had been fooled into thinking they were in their second summer which triggers them to produce flowers followed by seeds.  The plant then becomes tough and bitter so needs to be removed as soon as possible.  Chris, obviously our speediest gardener made hers into a fabulous soup within two hours of being picked.  It looked fabulous in a picture on our WhatsApp group.   Other plants confused by the seasons are some cowslips planted in the seafront planters, now currently flowering. 

We have been checking under the netting of the brassicas, removing yellowing and doyley leaves chewed by the illusive keel slugs.  We have invested in more fine mesh this year, not just for the brassicas but also to protect new plantings until established.  The netting over a bed of chard was removed in order to use it to protect the new radishes, as the chard is now a few weeks old.  However, as soon as it was removed, an opportunistic pigeon caught sight of the unprotected chard and swiftly flew in to start work on them before being noticed and shooed away!  The chard got covered again!

There is a picture below of a Jersey Tiger moth seen at Fremantle Park this week, such a beautiful creature and a treat to see, we are always on the lookout for more unusual sightings in the locality.

The Sandgate Sea Festival is fast approaching and we are starting to collect things for our stall to raise some funds to keep our Sandgate projects old and new progressing as well as contributing to our sister group, The Incredible Edibles based in Cheriton.  Many thanks to Terry for contacting us and donating some beautiful house plants, thanks also to Marjorie for funding towards seeds and pants for next year.  We will be doing our utmost to help you part with some of your cash should you venture our way on the day!

What’s next?

  • Not looking like rain is on the near horizon so back to some watering
  • Pot up more plants for the stall
  • Keep an eye out for any signs of blight
  • Check busy areas for some weeds hiding
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

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.
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 1 August 2021

Wow!  It is August already and nobody is quite sure how that happened so quickly.  On Saturday morning it was great to be able to go along to the grand reopening of the Sandgate Society Fire Station, have a glass of bubbly and/or a coffee and to see people again.  There seemed to be quite a few new members recently moved into the area, and lots of conversations about growing things in the garden and how different vegetables had fared this year.

There was a question about why radishes were not successful this summer.  We only grow radishes in the cooler weather, early spring and from August onwards as they bolt and go to seed in the warm weather.  We are just starting to sow autumn and winter radishes from this week, such as the Asian Daikon or mooli radish and the large watermelon radish which can overwinter.   The next opportunity for more garden conversations will be at the Sandgate Sea and Food Festival on 29th August – we will be there with a stall so please find us and say hello.

The garden is always a great conversation starter, from what to grow when, through to the sharing of recipes and pictures of some amazing meals made using Community Garden produce on Instagram, Facebook and our very active WhatsApp group.  Currently popular and in season are courgette recipes and various vases of sweet peas.  At the garden we have plenty of courgettes, sweet peas, salad leaves, chard, spring onions and some kale.  The new chard plants, Chinese cabbages, and Kaibroc got planted in the hope they will grow fast enough before the keel slugs can overwhelm them.  We remove slugs if we find them but keel slugs are more evasive and can disappear into the soil only to reappear at night and do their damage in the perfect damp and warm conditions we have right now.  Last week we were hoping for some rain, and happily it did happen, and continues to do so on and off which means that little hand watering is required. 

The planter outside the ship seems to be well frequented, with herbs, lettuce and chard being taken, which is as we hoped it would be used.  It is a shame that the alley at the end of Meadowbrook is so far from the High Street as that is bursting full of flower and herbs but has fewer visitors!   All our planters are for the community to share but we ask that the growing plots are left for us to pick and make available as we have certain picking methods and know what is ready and what needs to be left alone.

Finally, there is a picture below of some grape vine cuttings given to us by a kind local in the spring.  They are being kept in pots for now and starting to be trained as the hope is to plant them in the garden next spring to create our own small vineyard as a companion to the Hythe hops – very exciting!

What’s next?

  • Still need to finish tidying the hedge
  • Sow some radishes for winter
  • Replace any lost plants
  • Still need to clear and sort bed by the second gate
  • Prick out the Nero kale plants
  • Consider where the Endive will go!
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

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
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden

Sandgate Community Garden: Update 18 July 2021

July is important for the sowing of new seeds.  Many of the beds have been cleared of one crop, and another has been planted in its place.  Some of the beds will have three plantings this year, and a few may even see four before the year is out.  The days are shortening and every growing day in July is about equivalent to two in August, and a week in October.   The third lettuce sowing of the year was done just this week and they are now ready to be pricked out into individual pots or cells for growing on.  The second lettuce sowings are just starting to give us a few leaves, about four each plant for now, and the next picking a week later until they really get going and will then be picked twice a week for a few weeks until the next plants take over.  That at least is the theory, and timing is critical.  On Wednesday Chinese cabbage and Kaibroc got sown, by Friday they had grown their first two seed leaves which was pretty impressive.  The Kaibroc was moved into a tray of cells to grow on; it is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale and produces many tender side shoots for harvesting after the main head.  The next seeds to be sown will be Florence fennel, and in a few days’ time the second batch of coriander, dill and chervil.

The very prickly job of picking all the gooseberries got completed, providing many delicious tales of mostly gooseberry crumbles, some of which got mixed with a stick or two of rhubarb – just fabulous.  It is hard to find gooseberries in the shops these days as they are so labour intensive, and ours disappeared in no time at all, as did the few blackcurrants that managed to survive the winds, and seemed to have ripened overnight.    The crowded carrots and parsnips got pulled in some spaces to allow the remaining roots to grow on, and they were just big enough to make something out of them.  The Charlotte potato variety, a second early, got lifted on Saturday and then just as quickly as they came up, disappeared and taken to several households in Sandgate – we only had room for a few plants but they were appreciated. 

Many of the plants in all the community areas will be enjoying the heat and sunshine we have been experiencing, and they will be trying to catch up with where they should be.  It has been noticed that the celeriac, not ready to be harvested until October/November is trying to go to seed and developing a flower head!  This is most unusual, and apparently is caused by a period of cold days which leads them to believe they have been through winter and so start to flower when it warms up!  It is also unusual to see so many fungi in high summer.  Both Enbrook Park and Fremantle Park are sporting several ‘fairy rings’ in the grass, the one below was photographed at Fremantle.  Fairy rings are linked with folklore and often viewed with great suspicion; they can grow up to ten meters in diameter apparently.

The Incredible Edible team will be supporting the grand re-opening of the Community Network in Cheriton High Street on Saturday 24th July from 12pm until 4pm.  So if you are interested in volunteering or just joining in with the activities that day, then come along!  The Incredible Edible garden at All Souls outside the hall is now planted up with all sorts of flowers, vegetables and herbs, however pictures rarely do justice to the subject at hand and always best to come and see it all yourself!

What’s next?

  • Keep watering the new plantings and check the Enviromesh is in place.
  • Plant out the second beetroot tray
  • Sow coriander, dill and chervil
  • Start work if possible on the bed inside top gate
  • Finish tidying and clearing daisy area
  • Tackle some bind weed and mares tails
Posted by Tim Prater in Sandgate Community Garden