Sandgate Community Garden: Update 14 November 2021

After the great excitement of announcing the big plant up of several fruit trees in the Sandgate and Fremantle Parks, the bad news is we got let down on the readiness of the trees for this weekend, and so the planting had to be cancelled.  Apparently they should be ready this coming week and so we are hoping to plant the trees in Sandgate Park on Sunday morning at 10.30 am, and in Fremantle Park on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.  Here is one of the pitfalls of buying bare rooted trees in that they have to be planted soon after collection or risk drying out the root system.  Let us hope there are no problems this week! 

Get in touch if you would like to help, through our Instagram or Facebook pages, via this email, or text Leonie on 07840138308.

The good news is that we have COMPOST from Hope Farm in Hawkinge!  You may recall we had a setback in being able to receive the compost as the tractors on the farm are simply too large to be able to access the dropping off site, so we had to hire a drop side truck for the day and go and collect it ourselves.  It was incredibly interesting at the farm especially if you are a compost nerd, and appreciate the processes required in the making.  Hope Farm takes in all the green waste from several council re-cycling centres, and processes the waste themselves into compost; 50% is spread on their own farm, and the rest is taken to several farms around Kent.  None of the compost is sold commercially; it only goes to Kent farms.

Hope Farm have been most kind in agreeing to support the garden and allow us to have compost free of charge, and we are indeed most grateful as although we make as much of our own compost as we can, we cannot make enough for our needs and have to buy supplies which have been spiralling in price over the past year or so.

The compost making farm is constantly busy, with huge trucks delivering garden waste where it starts the conversion process by being taken into a huge shed with a conveyor belt and large stones, plastics and metals are removed – basically everything that is not going to break down.  Large bits of wood are shredded, and the material, now made smaller, is laid out in a massive yard in long, mountainous lines where it gets turned by machinery, and the moisture content monitored.  It was a cool day when we visited the farm, and the heat given off by the compost could be seen in large plumes over the top of the buildings.  The finished product takes eight weeks, but it is still too active for our garden.  When we went to move and bag up some of the compost on Saturday morning, following collection, it felt very warm in the middle of the pile, and when bagged up, the bags were very warm to the touch.  We can use some of the compost now on older or mature plants, but not for young plants or seedlings.  We will need to leave the compost to mature over the winter and early spring in a pile, just to let it finish the natural chemical reaction of decomposition, and allow the bacteria and minibeasts to multiply there.

The drop side truck we hired for the day had a 1.5 ton limit, and so the farm workers had to calculate how much compost to drop into the back from a gigantic bulldozer.  Our truck was weighed on a weighing bridge before and after the collection to make sure we were not overloaded, and we were issued with a ticket, a requirement so that we can prove our load has been monitored.  We were able to make three collections until we ran out of muscle power back at Enbrook Park.  All very easy to collect the stuff, but back at the park it was a case of having to shovel and push the stuff off our truck.  There were six of us in total to help with this task, but special thanks go to Greg, Antony and Ed who answered the SOS from the Sandgate Society to lend a hand, which was very much appreciated.  We are now the proud owners of a rather large pile of lovely compost which will be put to use already this coming week for a couple of jobs!

All that only took a day to complete, but other things did get done too this week.  The alleyway between Chichester Road and Meadowbrook got cleared, more bulbs planted, particularly at Golden Valley; the last of the broad bean seedlings found themselves in a comfy bed, and just a few more sown in case of any casualties.  The last of the garlic and onions got planted, lots and lots of fallen leaves picked up and composted.   Weeds got weeded although this will be ongoing as now the hops and raspberries have diminished, those cheeky weeds hiding amongst their stems are suddenly in view and larger than life so will have to go before they take over!

Remember, plenty going on next weekend, 20th and 21st November – Disco Soup at the Bowls Club at Radnor Park, a great day out for all the family, and a fabulous, community orientated way to use excess food which might have ended up as landfill.  On Sunday we hope to be planting fruit trees subject to them being ready, get in touch if you are interested so we can keep you informed.

What’s next?

  • Mulch the alleyway where the ground has now been cleared
  • Bag up more compost for tree planting
  • Few more bulbs to plant
  • Cut back the hops and mulch
  • Keep weeding and tidying
  • Tree planting on Sunday..?