Sandgate Community Garden: Update 24 January 2021

Another week has flown by, whilst the wood chip pile at the lower wall continues to gradually diminish, and the wood chip piles within the Community Garden grow ever larger.  We are still wheelbarrowing!   It has been colder this week, and an hour of work is enough before the fingers and toes start to complain – we continue to take it in turns to be there, and appreciate that we have become quite a close knit community, shopping for one of our gardeners with Covid, and passing on information about a multitude of questions on our WhatsApp group. 

There have been some frosts, enough to have to break the ice on the pond a couple of times, and yet another storm flew through so that covers needed retrieving and putting back over plants, and one of our plastic compost bins needing fishing out of the pond.   In spite of all this, the rhubarb is pushing its way above the compost mulch obviously un-phased by challenging weather.

It is now a year that our pond has been in place, this is the best time to establish a new pond or to sort out an old one as the plants will be dormant and the wildlife hunkering down in the mud in the deepest part.  One of our gardeners has an established pond right in the High Street, and has been re-lining it as there was a leak.  Below is a picture of one of the frogs helped to temporarily relocate until the work is done.  A pond is the best thing you can have to attract wildlife to a garden, and how simply fantastic to have such wildlife right by the sea and on a busy High Street – it just goes to show how wildlife can flourish in pockets of space if the right conditions are there.  The Kent Wildlife Trust recorded the earliest sightings of frogspawn in mid-January, so it would just be perfect to see any in our pond this year.

With most of the winter work nearly complete, the beds have a mulch of compost, the paths have a covering of wood chips, and the compost bins all turned, the three main workers of organic matter can get to business.  We follow ‘no dig’ principles which mean that the worms, fungi and bacteria work for us to break down organic materials be they fresh in the compost bins or on the paths.  This year we have seen a delightful range of mushrooms and soil mycelia which some of the gardeners find disconcerting, until reassured that these forms are beneficial for the garden and to be welcomed.  The world is only just beginning to understand the relationship between fungi and plants but it is known that they live to benefit each other to access nutrients, water and carbohydrates.  No dig enables the plant roots to find mycorrhizal fungi in the soil which wrap around the roots to begin the exchange, and to continue this relationship without any soil disturbance which will break the cycle.  Below are a few of the fungi forms both great and small seen recently in the garden, of course we always respect the fact that unless you really know your edible fungi, they should never be eaten.

What’s Next?

  • Continue the wood chip migration
  • Net the kale as the birds are making a meal of them
  • Search for any more seedlings worth potting up
  • One asparagus bed needs extra mulch
  • Rake up escaping compost