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January at the Community Garden – growing from home

By 21st January 2021 January 27th, 2021 One Comment

Well, here we are again, being told to stay at home and if possible, to work from home. But can a Gardener work from home away from the garden?

This blog will attempt to do just that by setting out a plan of how we all might achieve the desirable position of having the process of successful growing restarted! We will also be giving regular advice of what individuals and families can do from home to begin the growing of veg and flowers, last year’s lockdown gardening workshop recordings can also be revisited and, depending on where we find ourselves in a couple of months, it is hoped to repeat our successful seed and plant swap sessions.

Once we have the green light to re-start, we plan to follow a similar format as last year when volunteers were invited to take part in gardening activities and will be given a specific task, day and time.  Any resources required e.g. seeds, tools will be made available beforehand. Last year these plans to keep the garden going and to offer volunteers meaningful enjoyable exercise were approved by the Fife’s Allotment Officer.

Preparation

Seeds were selected from last season’s residual packets, most left-over seeds will still be viable for a couple of years as long as they have been stored away from temperature extremes and in a dry place (See last year’s vlog). You can also do some window-sill gardening by sowing some mustard and cress in trays of kitchen towel, this can be a bit of lockdown fun with your little ones and even be a part of their home schooling!

The pots, trays and the propagators have been thoroughly cleaned to avoid any fungal infections of the sowing mediums and young seedlings.

We have sent out this year’s new seed order (53 varieties), although we were advised that we may experience a delay in receiving them due to a reduced dispatch staff. Please be aware that garden centres are closed to customers except for essential items such as pet and bird feed and fuel items, I can’t understand why potential food items such as veg seeds, seed potatoes and onion sets etc. aren’t included! However, our preferred garden centre, Bridgend in Freuchie, are running a click and collect service. We were able to visit before total lock-down began and pick up some of this year’s selection of seed potatoes (varieties shown below), onion and shallot sets. Your seed potatoes should be placed in a suitable container e.g. egg box (see photo) with their ‘eyes’ in full light but not full sun, and cool but as frost-free as possible.


FIRST EARLY POTATO LIST

  • Duke of York (Scotland 1891)
    An old favourite, smooth and yellow, great flavoursome and waxy becoming less so on ageing.
  • Epicure (England 1897)
    One of the best for early planting as it recovers well from any frost damage, floury and tasty.
  • Foremost (UK 1954)
    A gardener’s favourite, waxy but one of the earliest baker.
  • Home Guard (Scotland 1942)
    The earliest early, good boiler which doesn’t disintegrate, high yield and best eaten early.
  • Rocket (England 1987)
    A recent variety bred for eelworm resistance and high early production.
    The jury is out on flavour!
  • Sharpe’s Express (England 1900)
    Grown for very good flavour as opposed to lower yield and disease resistance, so a bit of an indulgence!
  • Ulster Prince (N. Ireland! 1947)
    Another very tasty early early which should be eaten early also. A favourite with our tattie aficionados.


Time to plant

Kirsty has been busy getting our early crops started by sowing seeds such as tomatoes, chilis, peppers, aubergines and leeks. Don’t worry if you can’t start this early as there is still plenty of time. Our aim is to have lots of surplus early plants to be available for our community growers in a Spring plant swap similar to the one which we hosted last year.

The onion and shallot sets have been planted in compost in shallow trays to root, again kept in a sheltered position outside. Check them after a frost to make sure that they haven’t been lifted clear of the compost.
There is still time to plant garlic cloves in pots which can be placed in a sheltered spot in the garden, this gives them a chance to ‘catch up’ with ones planted last Autumn and can be planted out later when the weather allows.

Maintenance

We have also been able to spend our ‘working from home’ time to plan for the non-gardening aspects of the successful running of the garden. This includes identifying the need to acquire other items such as fertilisers and other soil improvement products, crop protection and support materials, identifying places to source them.

We have also ordered the technical material needed to upgrade and improve the efficiency of the irrigation system for the polytunnel beds. The previous drip feed seep hoses had started to fail due to a build-up of algal detritus which blocked up the interior. Watch this space!

Get in touch

We are still on the search for a source of high-grade weed-free topsoil in order to fill up the new raised beds, the construction of which was completed just before the Christmas break. We are also keen to identify individuals and families who want to begin growing their own but do not have a garden our suitable space to do so. If you, or someone you know is interested in having a growing space please contact Ali (our volunteer coordinator) at volunteer@tayportgarden.org.

Watch this space for other tips and recommendations on how to grow your own this coming season and other demonstrations either virtually or, hopefully, on the ground.

Here’s hoping for a good and safe growing season to come!

Peter

Peter

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: http://wp.me/p7E0tX-1cc

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