September has been a lovely month in the garden so we thought we'd drop you an update on all our doings. The beds are teeming with a huge variety of vegetables and the hard work of all our gardeners has been rewarded with oodles of veggies to take home with them.
Over the past few weeks we have been harvesting:
Sweetcorn, Peppers, Chilli’s, Courgette, Butternut Squash, Potatoes, Carrots, Turnip, Swede, Oats, Lettuce, Onions, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Beetroot, Pumpkins, lots of herbs including rosemary, tarragon, sage, thyme and orgegano.
The polytunnel has been turned into something from Day of the Triffids as abundant tomato plants spread their tendrils out across the pathways and up to the roof. You’d need to be a bit of a contortionist to harvest some of the shyer yellow cherry tomatoes but they are well worth the trouble. Next to these delicate and dainty beauties, there are also some giant varieties which are literally groaning on the vine and roughly the size of a small child’s head. For some reason we didn’t think about growing an Inbetweener this year.
Our sunflowers have finally come into the own. Having lost so many fledgling plants to slugs, and after a cautious start these leggy creatures are now gracing the garden with their glorious blooms. We planted a few different varieties – many of them are smaller but streaked with dark orange and they provide a startling point of difference to their plate-shaped cousins. The nasturtiums, French marigolds and calendulas have also given uplifting splashes of colour to the garden as well as diverting many pests away from the precious veggies.
This year we undertook an experiment and planted up quinoa, golden amaranth and oats in our ‘Grains’ bed. Debate has raged all summer as to whether you call it ‘keen-ahwa’ or ‘quin (as in Sean) oah’. You say tomayto, I say tomahto… No matter how it is pronounced, it finally grew, if a little patchily but only a few of the verdant golden amaranth survived. However considering these are varieties more suited to a dry sunny climate we consider we’ve done pretty well in our sodden little spot of Northern Europe. And you’ve got to try these new-fangled things haven’t you?
The biggest surprise though have been our oats. When we planted them back in spring the birds were only delighted and had a marvellous few weeks feasting on the seeds. As the weeds grew and the rain beat down we resigned ourselves to it being a bad year for oats. And then in late August we started seeing …. Oats in the bed. Lots and lots of oats. Delighted, we enthusiastically made plans to harvest them. Well we are only about a quarter of the way through this job and all I can say about it is that it’s the most high maintenance way to make a bowl of porridge or a flapjack that I have ever encountered. The sheaves are hand picked, stacked in a wheelbarrow and then the ears are painstakingly stripped of their seeds by hand. To look on the bright side it means sitting at the table with 2 or 3 others having a good gossip for an hour while you all methodically work through the stack, dropping your carefully harvested seeds into a sack at your feet, a sack which takes a depressingly long time to fill up. And it’s quite therapeutic in a brain-dead kind of way. But I’ve gone off porridge all the same.
Turning our attention to the more ‘everyday’ crops we are delighted to report that we are awash with cabbages and spuds at the moment. All you need is a bit of bacon and some parsley sauce to make a delicious ‘mammy dinner’.
If you have visited over the summer you will have seen that the Beaumont Beavers have a small bed full of herbs and flowers and we are really keen to welcome more community and childrens groups into the garden. Electricity Ireland are organising a lunchtime gardening group for their staff who work locally and we look forward to seeing them into the garden soon. They will be working with us on our weekly ‘To Do’ list and we are looking forward to the extra help!
In addition we are hoping St Michael’s House, a local school and a nearby crèche will also be availing of our facilities soon.
Our Orchard is coming on beautifully and at last most of the trees are bigger than the stakes! We now have nearly 60 trees sponsored, many of them as gifts for loved ones but many more to commemorate someone who has passed away. There is a lovely tranquil atmosphere in the orchard and we have been heartened to see so many families who come to visit ‘their tree’ regularly. As one of our recent sponsors put it ‘it’s so much nicer to come to the tree than to go to a graveyard’. So we are glad to be able to offer this option to people and we do hope it gives them some solace.
Finally our membership numbers remain healthy (and indeed our members remain healthy and why wouldn’t they with all that fresh food, fresh air and exercise!). We currently have nearly 80 people signed up, approx. 30 of whom are regular visitors. We spent the last 6 months getting everyone on the same ‘membership cycle’ so we are now at the stage where we ask all members to renew their fees every August/September. So this is our annual plea for fees.
We rely on membership fees to pay for the day-to-day running costs including seeds, plants, tools, insurance and of course all the fresh fruit and vegetables you can pick and eat. I do hope our members consider their 10/20 euro well spent and good value for money and that they will be happy to renew again this year.
Even if you don't come to the garden regularly we still really appreciate the support in terms of fees so any ‘lapsed’ members will be welcomed back with open arms! As before renewal can be made through Paypal online at http://www.santrycommunitygarden.ie/join-us.html
Alternatively you can pay cash to any committee member/lead gardener at a time when the garden is open.
Thanks in advance for your support and happy gardening!
The Santry Community Garden Committee