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September gardening update -a summer of Brassica frustrations and onion wonders

By 5th September 2019No Comments

Harvesting is now fully underway at the Community Garden and the Sunday afternoon stall at Tayport harbour is doing well (when the weather allows) and not too much produce comes back. We seem to get many happy repeat cutomers! Lewis has been very succesful running produce sales for us among his neighbours too.

There has been a mix in the success (or otherwise) of the crops. The polytunnel’s have been very good, perhaps a bit late due to the cool Summer.

Outdoors, some of the potato varieties have been quite badly affected by blight and the shaws had to be cut back early to try to curb the spread of the disease. Also they have been attacked by underground keel slugs which only became apparent after harvest. A quality control inspection has had to be carried out in case a customer finds squelchy tatties or unexpected protein supplements.

A potential solution to the problem (with hindsight) would have been to apply a technique which the gardeners of old used, they would fashion a cylindrical container from perforated zinc and fill these with vegetable peelings from the kitchen. These would then be buried in the affected areas with a wire handle showing above the soil and left for a few days after which they were lifted and would hopefully contain the culprits along with other pests such as millipedes and wireworms and ‘disposed of’.

Despite the best efforts to protect the brasssica crops with a big Enviromesh cage, the Cabbage White butterflies still managed to get in with a subsequent infestation of caterpillars causing damage to the Kale especially. It’s astonishing how they manage to find the smallest of gaps even though care was taken to seal up the joins. Even with fairly regular physical inspection and removal by hand more could always be found a couple of days later!
Spraying with soft soap helped when a large number of newly emerged eggs were found but didn’t seem to have an effect on the bigger ones. Later in the season there was also a problem with the Cabbage Moth whose caterpillar is huge and very good at hiding.
An application of a biological control which contains nematodes was sprayed also but proved ineffective for varying reasons, possibly because a regular temperature if above 16°C is required. On a cheerier note, we also had lots of other butterflies visit our garden flowers and spotted two amazing hawkmoths over the summer months (thankfully these are not pests and absolutely amazing creatures).

There was a lot of good veg which has been harvested by the regular volunteers and there is still lots to pick yet…carrots, peas, runner beans, beetroot, spinach, chard, lettuce, peashoots, tomatoes, peppers, chillis, padron peppers, courgettes, squashes and the winter veg is doing well. There are still potatoes left too.For some reason we have lots of pictures of onions – which are pretty spectacular this year and plenty of them left still. You may be able to spot a celeb garden visitor on the pictures above – we had Willie Rennie, our local MSP, picking up some mean onion platting skills from the Alzheimers group the other day.

We also have a couple of more exotic specialties – cucumelons and agretti. Ali prepared some printouts with recipe suggestions for the latter if you’d like to try it out. We will continue with our produce stall at the Harbour every Sunday, 1-3pm so come by and see us. You can also pick some up at the Garden gate on Mondays and Wednesdays.

We also celebrated our first ever apricot from the trees at the tool shed and lots of yummy berries in the fruiting hedge which have been popular with the passers-by. We managed a couple of sessions at the Fruit Tree Walk, weeding, picking berries, and taking care of the trees. Local Scotscraig residents of all ages have been enjoying the fruit over the summer, with blackcurrants and alpine strawberries doing particularly well. There are now plenty of apples on the trees but many are not quite ready to pick yet. You can read more in a Fruit Tree Walk update from Janice.

We are excited about a new project taken up by Matthew, who is giving his engineering skills to the building of a couple of outside coldframes to use some of the up-cycled wood timbers and safety glass which will be a useful addition to the garden. We would also like to thank Fraser for putting his scythe to the unruly weeds amongs our fruiting hedge.

Many thanks to all the other volunteers who helped make this season largely successful.

Peter Christopher

I am PLANT's Community Gardener and will be making regular posts about what and how we are growing things at the Tayport Community Garden. You can find out more about me here:

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