Sandgate Community Garden: Update 18 February 2024

Sandgate Community Garden Team Diary Entry for 18th February: The wild plum trees are out in blossom this week in the Sandgate Park.

The wild plum trees are out in blossom this week in the Sandgate Park.  Full of flower buds, you get to appreciate how precarious it is to be flowering this time of year and a small miracle that there are any plums on the trees at all in the summer.  The weather can be so windy, wet, and frosty giving little encouragement for any available pollinators to get out there and do the business of pollination.  We shall have to wait and see if there will be enough fruit worthy of picking in a few months’ time.

To be fair we have had a couple of sunny days during the week, but otherwise it has been pretty dismal and drizzly.  For our Wednesday morning session at Enbrook Park we were all geared up to start sowing the first seeds of the season, however it was raining again and the session was cancelled; Saturday did not fare much better either.  Luckily there is no rush to sow seeds and plenty of time to get going when the weather is more favourable as there is no joy to be had in sowing seeds in the rain or wind.

The weather cleared up enough for a few volunteers to come out from the Napier Barracks to help weed both inside and out of the brick borders at Enbrook Valley shops.  The bulbs are just starting to show flower buds and it was good to be able to clear much of the self-sown forget-me-nots which had sprouted up in many of the beds.  This is another plant that can overtake if given the chance and many were put into pots and taken to the kitchen garden at Pent Farm where there is a small wooded area.  Here they were replanted and can flower away to their hearts content with any luck.  Once we had finished weeding the borders a generous mulch of compost was added to the beds to help the plants along in the growing season to come. 

Back at Enbrook Park we are still in the process of putting down new woodchips on the smaller paths around the plot.  It was noted on closer inspection that there are already lots of sycamore seedlings starting to unfurl all over the place, so it would be an excellent idea to get out the hoes and stop them in their tracks before they start to put down some serious roots!

Our hot composter at Folkestone College is being fed every day with food waste and wood shavings.  Although it is cool outdoors, the inside of the composting tank is really starting to get up to temperature which has taken a few weeks.  The first compost to come out of the composter had not been able to get up to temperature and kill off the harmful pathogens, and so it had to be fed back into the machine to go through the system again.  After doing this for a couple more weeks, the tank is now really throwing out some heat and warmed up considerably enough to now be producing some decent compost.  Still not fully broken down, and needing more time to mature before it can be used, this compost is put into a maturation bay to break down even further.

We have had several enquiries from various organisations interested in how the hot composter works, and this week we had a visit from a representative of ‘Heart and Soil’ in Faversham.  We are really pleased to be able to share information on this form of recycling, and really hope that this method of composting cooked food can be replicated in many more areas.

What’s next?

  • Get the hoes out for some serious sycamore seedling chasing
  • Start sowing some seeds if the weather allows
  • Collect some pond weed for the new pond at Pent Farm

This weeks update from the Sandgate Community Garden Diary.