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Fat Cake Workshop

You will need: 

  • Lard x 1 pack
  • Wild birdseeds (handful)
  • Peanuts for birds (not for humans)
  • Bird friendly cupboard scraps (grated cheese, raisins, oats)
  • Paper cups, or recycled yogurt pots.
  • String and scissors
  • Mixing bowl & spoon

To make fat ball birdfeeders

This easy recipe is taken from the RSPB website, and in its simplest form mixes wild birdseeds and nuts with lard to form a texture that you can shape into balls or ‘cakes’ to hang from tree branches. The birds will love these during the winter months and you can add little extra treats to really feed them up such as grated cheese and raisins.  Be careful to select seeds suitable for birds, and peanuts for birds, not humans, as they are very different in their toxicity and salt content. Most local convenience stores will sell wild birdseed, and garden centres and pet supply shops will provide nuts for birds. Oats are great to add too to build consistency.

Step 1 Take a paper cup or recycled yogurt pot and prepare it for hanging in a tree by piercing a hole in the bottom, feeding string through, and tying the string to form a knot.  Leave enough string to hang from a branch. The pot will hang upside down, so your knot should be inside the pot/cup.

Step 2 Let your lard soften at room temperature (no need to melt it) and cut it into small cubes. Add the cubes to the mixing bowl.

Step 3 Add all the other ingredients to your mixing bowl, mix and squidge together with your fingertips until it holds together.

Step 4 Fill your cup/pot with bird cake mixture, leave to set in the fridge for and hour or so. Once set, remove ready to hang.

Step 5 Hang your pot from a tree and enjoy watching the birds feed!

Winter Newsletter

Welcome to Winter 2020 at the garden

Hello from the KentCOG team, we hope you are keeping well despite the lockdown challenges. Our small volunteer working party worked wonders maintaining the site during the autumn months. The garden has been strimmed, weeded, and the beds are now planted with green manure to see us through until the New Year.  We also planted bulbs and sweet peas with the help of volunteer students, and were on the cusp of opening our doors to the wider community when the second lockdown restrictions hit and we had to make the decision to close again.  We are now working remotely and growing from home once more. I’m pleased to say the sweet peas are coming along nicely and the bulbs are on course to brighten up our stall come spring.  

What’s happening this season?

Now is the time to make the most of the daylight hours and get outside before the nights draw in.  Soaking up some all-important sunrays will help boost your mood, aid sleep, and add to a general sense of wellbeing.  If you can do some DIY in your own backyard it will help you get ahead for next years growing seasons, so dust out those cobwebs in the shed, fix the broken canes and frames, and design a planting plan that will brighten up a grey day.  At KentCOG we gave our potting shed a much-needed makeover with support from East Kent Mind and B&Q, who donated floor paint, plants, and furniture to cheer the place up. Take a look at our before and after shots on Instagram (kent_community_oasis_garden) and come visit us in person for a hot cuppa when we reopen next year.

East Kent Mind’s December timetable continues to provide a rich array of online workshops.  Their website is well worth a visit for all sorts of ways to stay well and connected over the Christmas period, from poetry workshops to full body workouts. They are also offering one-hour peer support groups called Winter Warmers, so no one ever needs to feel alone. 

 

East Kent Mind support line 0808 196 3898 www.eastkentmind.org.uk 

Seasonal jobs

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen and preserve your remaining fruit and vegetables.  We have been busy making chutneys and flavoured gins for Christmas gifts, and we couldn’t resist making the ultimate rustic wreath made with foraged materials from our woodland walks. Check out our blog for top tips and recipes https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/ and email us if you would like to register your interest for future Grow Your Wellbeing workshops via zoom. 

Last but not least 

We would like to say a special thank you to our head gardener Brian, for all his hard work over a very difficult year.  Thank you also to our working party volunteers Justin and Graham for their on-going support. We hope you all finally get to put your feet up over the festive period and enjoy a well-earned rest!  

When we re-open, please come and help us grow again! Email us at KentCOG to join one of our regular sessions or to find out more:

Every Tuesday 10 – 2pm (Community Session)

Every Wednesday 11.30 – 1.30pm (Student Session)

Find us here

Please visit https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/ for more information about the project or email kentcog@kent.ac.uk if you have any queries. Our Instagram is – kent_community_oasis_garden. 

Lets hope our next newsletter will be full of cheer for the New Year, with news of restrictions lifting along with our spirits. Until then, lets raise a glass to one and all.  Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Best wishes,

Emily Hill, KentCOG Coordinator

Rustic Wreath Workshop

You will need: 

  • Gardening wire
  • Secateurs
  • Gardening gloves
  • Foraged natural materials (e.g. willow, twisted willow, holly, ivy, hawthorn berries, rosehip berries, laurel, olive or fir branches)
  • Extra decorations (ribbons, festive spray, pine cones -optional)

The only rule of thumb for wreath making is that there are no rules! 

This activity is all about having fun preparing for the festive season. It’s about playfulness and creativity, so gather some friends, don your woolly hats a go for a good old-fashioned walk in the countryside. Best take a big shopping bag and pair of secateurs for carrying your haul home, and don’t forget those all-important gardening gloves as you’re sure to get prickled otherwise.

Have fun selecting the biggest brightest rosehip berries you can find, and fill up your bag with lots of arm length pieces of twisted willow or ivy as these will help form the base circle to attach everything to.  Be careful to forage only where you sense it will not have a big impact on the environment, don’t strip a bush bare for example, take a few berries from a range of sources, and never forage on private property.

If you struggle to free style it and need some structure in your selection, check out Country Living’s 80 ideas for Christmas wreaths on google (or Ecosia, the search engine that plant trees!). It may help you form an idea of what to look out for, but what’s more fun than going on a treasure hunt and being inspired by what you find by chance?  Once you have a cheerful variety of autumnal colours and textures in your bag return home and put the kettle on.  Once you’ve warmed up, its time to play!  Just a few top tips to get started:

 

  1. Begin by forming a pizza-sized circle with you strips of willow, ivy, or even grapevine if you can find any. You can loosen hazel rods or twines by first bending them over your thigh to start to stretch them, then twist a few around each other and build up your circle.  Better still, use last years base circle if you saved it, and just add new twines.
  2. Build up your base by attaching your big leaves, like laurel ivy or holly branches cut to the size of your forearm.  Keep adding your green foliage until you are satisfied with the look and feel of your wreath.
  3. Now’s a good time to secure your display so far by twisting gardening wire around your leaves. Go around and around and don’t forget to create a loop at the top of your wreath with the wire enabling you to hang it later.
  4. Here’s when you can go wild adding all your colourful berries and unusual finds, you’ll soon disguise any wire, but its good to stand back, take a look, and pull any squashed leaves free.
  5. Now its style this baby! Add a giant ribbon, or some glittery pinecones if you wish, make it your own, hang it on your door and watch as and everyone admires your handmade work of art.

Pumpkin Chutney Workshop

You will need:

Pumpkin, medium sized, or squash (750g) peeled and cubed

Curry powder, 2 teaspoons

Soft brown sugar, 2 tablespoons

Light brown sugar, (250g) or 1½ cups

Salt and pepper, pinch

Raisins, (250g) or 1½ cups

Cooking apples, (250g) or 1½ cups

Onion, (250g) or 1 ½ cups, peeled and roughly chopped

Apple cider vinegar, (450ml) or 2 cups

Ginger, 2 ½ cm chunk peeled and grated

Cooking equipment (baking tray, oven, pot, knife, chopping board, spoons, sterilised jars, labels, pen, fabric, string, fabric scissors)

Pumpkin Chutney

Taken from ‘thespruceeats.com’ by Elaine Lemm

 

A chunky Christmas classic, this chutney will cheer up a plate of leftovers in no time! It’s a great gift idea for the festive season and batch cooking this treasure means you’ll have plenty left over for your own pantry.

Roasting the pumpkins in the sugar and spices will create a delicious caramelised flavour to add to your base of vinegar, ginger and apples.  Your kitchen will smell divine and your final preserve will be spicy, rich and fruity, what’s not to like?

Heat the oven to 190c 375f.

Prepare the pumpkin by peeling it and scooping out the seeds and stringy parts inside (set aside for the compost and dry the seeds to grow later in the year). Cut the flesh into large chunks and place them in a baking tray lined with Greece proof paper.

Sprinkle over the curry powder and soft brown sugar followed by a pinch of salt and pepper. Coat the pumpkin chunks by rolling them around in the sugar and spices. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin browns but is still slightly firm. Set aside.

Whilst the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the rest of the chutney by putting all the remaining ingredients into a pan and gently stir with a wooden spoon.  Gently bring the mixture to a slow boil and let it simmer there for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the pumpkin has cooled, add it to the pan and lower the heat to keep the chunks from turning to mush.  Cook for another 15 minutes until the chutney is thick and glossy in texture.

Remove from the heat and, after one last stir, allow the chutney to stand for ten minutes.  Spoon the contents into pre-sterilised jars (a run through the dishwasher is enough to do this, or dip them into boiling water with tongs and leave to dry) and leave to cool.  

Once cooled, label the jars, decorate the tops with recycled fabric circles tied up with string, and store in cupboard for up to a year.  Once opened keep in the fridge and enjoy!

Health benefits of pumpkin chutney:

Source: ‘Healing Foods’ by Neal’s Yard Remedies

Pumpkins help fight inflammation, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, promote bowel regularity, and support a healthy pregnancy

Onions have a powerful antibiotic action, help lower cholesterol, and feed good bacteria in the gut.

Spices possess powerful antioxidant and antibiotic qualities, and benefit digestive health.

Pepper aids digestion, stimulates appetite, helps detoxify the body, eases lung and bronchial infections, relieves shock and stress, and can even halt cancer…respect!

Chillies help remove toxins from the body, help lower cholesterol, reduce appetite cravings, and help clear congestion.

Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory oils, helps alleviate arthritic pain and reduces symptoms of nausea.

Raisins are an effective prebiotic, feeding good bacteria in the gut.

Apples help balance blood sugar levels, tackle diarrhoea and constipation, help strengthen bones, and help lower cholesterol

 

Squash Soup Workshop

You will need:

  • Squash, medium sized, a pumpkin will do just fine
  • Onion, 1 white, peeled and sliced into 6 chunks
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, to roast in their skins
  • Olive oil, a good glug
  • Stock, vegetable, dissolved in 600ml of hot water
  • Ginger, 2cm chunk peeled and roughly chopped
  • Nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground
  • Paprika, ½ teaspoon ground
  • Chilli flakes, ½ teaspoon
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Seeds, (pumpkin, linseeds & sesame) 1 tablespoon of each, toasted to dress
  • Cooking equipment (baking tray, oven, blender/soup maker, pot, frying pan, knife, chopping board, bowls & spoons)

Spicey Squash Soup

Taken from ‘LEON Happy Soup’s by Rebecca Seal & John Vincent

 – serves 4

This is a super simple vegan soup with plenty of punch for those cold winter days ahead.  Roasting the squash gives it a creamy texture and the chilli and lime add a warm and refreshing kick.  It’s also really good for you, and a great way to use up those extra pumpkins after Halloween.

Heat the oven to 200c 400f gas mark 6.

Pumpkins are high in fibre and sweeter than other squash, so a great choice for this recipe. Prepare the pumpkin by peeling it and scooping out the seeds and stringy parts inside (set aside for the compost and dry the seeds to grow later in the year). Cut the flesh into large chunks and place them in a baking tray with a good glug of oil and the garlic cloves in their skins. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, then once removed from the heat, squeeze out the garlic and remove the skins.

Whilst the pumpkin is roasting, sauté the ginger for a minute in a pan by cooking it in some oil, then add the stock, nutmeg, paprika, chilli flakes and pumpkin chunks when they are ready. Bring to a simmer and after a minute remove from the heat and blend in a jug blender (or soup maker). This is a great soup to make in batches, so prepare to store some in the freezer to enjoy on a rainy day.

When serving the soup, its lovely to add some nutty tasting roasted seeds and a squeeze of lime.  Just heat the seeds in a frying pan until they begin to pop and puff, then remove from the heat before they burn and serve in a side dish along with your sliced lime. Perfection!

Health benefits of pumpkin soup:

Source: ‘Healing Foods’ by Neal’s Yard Remedies

Pumpkins help fight inflammation, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, promote bowel regularity, and support a healthy pregnancy

Onions have a powerful antibiotic action, help lower cholesterol, and feed good bacteria in the gut.

Garlic is a natural anti-coagulant, helps strengthen the immune system, removes toxins and pollutants, and contains anti-cancer substances.

Olive oil lowers cholesterol, helps to control blood sugar levels, and protects against heart disease.

Nutmeg helps fight the effect of stress, it’s an adaptogen so can stimulate and sedate according to the body’s needs.

Chillies help remove toxins from the body, help lower cholesterol, reduce appetite cravings, and help clear congestion.

Pepper aids digestion, stimulates appetite, helps detoxify the body, eases lung and bronchial infections, relieves shock and stress, and can even halt cancer…respect!

Squash seeds all squash seeds are edible and are high in healthy fat, protein and fibre, yet low carbohydrate making them great for heart health as well as prostate and urinary problems.

Sesame seeds are a good source of vitamin E, promoting healthy skin and hair, great for removing toxins from the body, also high in calcium for bone and teeth health.

Linseeds are particularly good for heart health and are also beneficial to the eyes, joints, and brain health. Awesome!

Autumn Newsletter (September edition)

Welcome to Autumn 2020 at the garden

Hello everyone, hope you are keeping well. It has been a challenging summer in many ways, but we hope you have found some solace in the joy of gardening and the healing power of nature. We have finally re opened the community garden to a small working party of volunteers who are in the process of restoring the garden to its former glory and doing everything they can to make it a safe and secure place to work and visit in the future. We will let you know when it is safe to return via email.

We have consulted the government guidelines, and worked with the University’s’ Safety, Health and Environment Unit (SHE) to create a number of procedures to make our space Covid-19 secure. The garden comes under the regulations for educational activities, supporting the university curriculum, and can accommodate small groups of people (we are currently operating at 6 including a facilitator) but can accommodate larger numbers outdoors providing people remain at a safe distance of 2 meters apart, 3 meters if doing strenuous activity like digging.

In the next few weeks, we will open further and invite our community volunteers to return on a Tuesday and students/staff will be welcome on a Wednesday.  All sessions will run from 10am until 2pm, but you can call in at any time during the session and do not have to stay for the full four hours.  Initially, we will be asking volunteers to book onto sessions by emailing kentcog@kent.ac.uk so that we can monitor numbers. More information will follow on this.

Whether you are returning or coming for the first time, you will be fully briefed of our new procedures on arrival. If you have any concerns, your facilitator will be on hand to help answer your questions. Just remember to bring your own lunch and refreshments (hot drinks are available) and wear suitable clothing for outdoor activity.  It would be really helpful if individuals could purchase their own facemasks and gardening gloves in advance, as wearing personal protective equipment is mandatory. We will have a small selection of items if you cannot but this is limited.

The garden, after months of neglect, is in need of some tender love and care. It has now been strimmed but needs a lot of weeding.  We are also lacking in plants, so if anyone has any seeds or plants they would like to donate, please come along once we are fully open and leave any offerings at the plant stand.  We would love to see what you have been growing!

Thank you to our volunteers who have donated produce from their allotments, we have had a splendid collection of tomatoes available for donations, along with cucumbers, apples, onions and a variety of greens (all on our Instagram feed). Please help yourself if you are passing us on the crab and winkle way, and place your donations in the box on the wall behind the plant stand. Every penny helps!

When you are notified, please come to one of our regular KentCOG sessions to find out more about the partnership project between East Kent Mind and the University of Kent:

Every Tuesday 10 – 2pm (Community Session)

Every Wednesday 10 – 2pm (Student Session)

Find the garden here

Please visit https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/ for more information about the project or email kentcog@kent.ac.uk if you have any queries. Our Instagram is – kent_community_oasis_garden.

What’s happening this season?

East Kent Mind continues to provide a digital weekly timetable of workshops; here is September’s timetable. October’s timetable will be online very soon. www.eastkentmind.org.uk

Fundraising:

David Palmer, CEO East Kent Mind, is running a marathon to raise money for Mind. Here’s what he has to say:
Help me get to my target. So here we go. I’m running the London marathon in October for Mind.  Training is very, very hard particularly in this glorious weather.  No booze, healthy food and lots of chocolate and lots of running, cycling, long walks at a fast pace and only 1 week to go. This is a massive, massive challenge for me professionally and personally. I so need the support to do this. Please, please share my page and encourage others to do the same and donate if you can no matter how small. All funds raised will go directly to Mind.  Man,y many thanks in advance. I need all the support I can get. Apologies for cross posting.”

If you would like to support David please visit:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/18041_7881877_894

Seasonal jobs:

It’s harvest time in the garden and we have recently foraged apples, plums, rosehips and sloe berries from the garden. Check out our blog for our raw rosehip syrup recipe courtesy of the Woodland Trust. https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/2020/09/24/rosehip-syrup-workshop/

We are compiling our seed order for next year as we speak; if you have any requests just email us at the address at the bottom of the page.

Last but not least:

If you have spotted a hedgehog on campus, in your garden or around your local area please log your sighting onto the Big Hedgehog Map. https://bighedgehogmap.org/

By logging your sighting you are helping hedgehog conservationists and scientists build a picture of our hedgehog populations, which are in a lot of trouble with populations plummeting 50% since 2000.

Rosehip Syrup Workshop

You will need:

  • Rosehips, freshly foraged, heads and stalks trimmed off, washed
  • Sugar, granulated or caster (or whatever is in your cupboard)
  • Jar (sterilised)
  • Equipment (pot, boiling water, tongs, spoon, folk, scissors)
  • Muslin for straining the syrup (and rosehip hairs which irritate)

Directions:

There are many recipes for rosehip syrup which traditionally involve boiling, straining, and deseeding the rosehips, but this method taken from the Woodland Trust uses the rosehips ‘raw’ maintaining all the properties of the hip. It is by far the easiest recipe to follow and is great for novice foragers and strangers to the kitchen. It’s truly a sweet delight!

Be sure to know you are picking rosehips when out and about, the elongated shape of the rosehip is a giveaway, but it’s always a good idea to get to know your local hedgerows first.  Look out for the dog rose bush earlier in the year so you can return to a spot you know will be laden with rosehips.  Pick a basket full of hips then wash them at home, removing the furry ends and stalks with a pair of kitchen scissors.  Pierce each hip with a fork and layer them in a sterilised jar, in between layers of sugar, sealing the jar when full.  Place on a sunny windowsill and watch it turn into syrup.

Turn upside down every few days to let the sugar cover the hips, drawing out the oils and preserving the goodness.  After a couple of weeks, or months, strain the syrup into another sterilised jar through a muslin cloth, this is to remove the fine hip ‘hairs’ which are an irritant. Keep in the fridge, and enjoy drizzled on breakfast cereals, diluted in water, or in a mojito!

Rose in all it forms protects against bacterial infection, helps ease menstrual cramps, has natural sedative properties and can help ease joint pain.  The hip is packed full of vitamin C and healing oils that treat inflammation, soothing arthritis and joint pain. It’s iron rich so also great for menstrual cramps, and it’s even good for your heart as it reduces blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.  What a tasty bonus!

 

 

Garden Herbal Remedies

 Homegrown herbal remedies are perfect for reviving a tired gardener, and the healing properties of your herbs can really help during stressful times.  As we adjust to ever changing circumstances, your garden can provide a bounty of calming remedies, here are just a few to try taken from a selection of Neal’s Yard Remedies books:

  • Herbal face and body ‘spritz’
  • Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion
  • Headache tonic
  • Calming peppermint and lavender compress

The refreshing mint in a herbal ‘spritz’ is ideal for hot summer days or nights to help cool the skin.  Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion is perfect to sooth the body and mind with its mixture of herbs, petals, and fragrant oils. The headache tonic and compress are both tried and tested for relieving deep tension and migraines.

Herbal face and body ‘spritz’:

Fresh Mint (3x heaped teaspoons)

Fresh Dill (1x heaped teaspoon)

Fresh Parsley (1x heaped teaspoon)

Mineral water (85ml / 2 ¾ fl oz)

  1. Make an infusion by chopping up the herbs and adding them to a cup or teapot, boil some water and pour over the herbs using just enough to cover them. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, preferably covered, to avoid the loss of volatile oils in the steam.
  2. Strain infusion before use, add the mineral water and pour into a sterilised glass bottle with an atomiser spray.
  3. Store in the refrigerator to keep it cool, and spray it in a fine mist over exposed skin on the face or body as required. Use within two days.

(NOTE: to sterilize a glass jar or bottle, wash it and its lid in hot water, drain upside down, and put into a cool oven 140 oC/275 oF for 15 minutes)

Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion:

Makes 530ml (171/2 fl oz)

 Lemon balm (dried, 1x tablespoon)

Rose petals (dried, 1x tablespoon)

Water for the infusion (500ml / 16fl oz)

Lavender essential oil (10 drops)

Mineral salts (1x tablespoon)

The sweet herbal scent of lavender oil is widely used for relaxation, while rose is uplifting and soothing.  Lemon balm, a common garden plant, is wonderfully calming.

  1. Make the infusion by brewing the lemon balm and rose petals for ten minutes in a teapot with 500ml boiled water
  2. In a bowl, add the lavender essential oil to the mineral salts and combine to make a paste
  3. Strain the infusion liquid into a bowl. Add the oil and salt paste to the strained infusion and stir until the salt is dissolved

How to use:

In the bath Add the infusion mixture to the bath immediately and unwind and relax.

As a foot bath Add the infusion to a warm foot bath to soothe tired and aching feet

Headache tonic:

Apple cider vinegar (2x tsp)

Honey (2x tsp to taste)

This natural remedy with all its nutrients will help to ease the symptoms of a headache and support healing.

  1. Fill a small glass with tepid water and add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and two teaspoons of honey to taste.
  2. Stir, and drink to relieve symptoms of a headache.

Calming peppermint and lavender compress:

Makes 1 compress

Almond oil (1x teaspoon)

Peppermint essential oil (3 drops)

Lavender essential oil (2 drops)

The stimulating properties of peppermint have long been used in aromatherapy for treating tension headaches, as it seems to cool and refresh the mind. Lavender is also well known its relaxing qualities, and is well known to help bring relief to headaches caused by anxiety and stress.

  1. Fill a bowl with warm water. Add the essential oils to the almond oil, then add to the water
  2. Soak a flannel in the bowl, then remove and squeeze out the excess water
  3. Place the compress on the forehead. Leave the flannel in a place while it cools to body temperature, repeat the process three times.

Relax and enjoy!

Make your own Garden Teas and ‘Mocktails’

Mid summer marks a time for celebration at the garden, as the flowers bloom and the vegetables grow, we can finally put up our feet and begin to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Usually, we would be planning a party on the plot, but this year we encourage everyone to pick a favourite spot outdoors, set up a picnic and refresh the senses with some home-grown delights.

Here we have listed some uplifting and calming teas made from our very own flowers and herbs, and suggested some refreshing ‘mocktails’ to mix, complete with edible flower ice cubes to bring some cheer to your glass.

Home Grown Mint Mojito Mocktail

 

Teas:

 Generally, when making herbal teas, it is necessary to prepare your tea mixes in advance by harvesting and drying your herbs, ideally in a dehydrating machine overnight, or by hanging them upside down in bunches somewhere warm until they are completely dry (make sure they don’t go ‘musty’ in the middle).

When dry, crunch leaves such as nettles and lemon balm into smaller tea leaves and store them in airtight jars mixed with your selected flowers and peels. Then label and enjoy your mid summer flavours late into the year.

As a rule, when adding your tea mix to the teapot, use one teaspoon per person and ‘one for the pot’. Then add your boiling water and leave to ‘steep’ for five minutes. Some pots have a built in vessel for holding the tea leaves in place when pouring, or you can use a separate strainer to catch the leaves and prevent them from falling into the cup.

A Moroccan teapot is designed so that you can put whole springs of mint leaves directly into the pot, and they will not make their way down the spout.  It’s best to make mint tea with fresh leaves rather than dried, for an extra fresh flavour.  Add honey to sweeten either to your pot or cup directly.

If you don’t have a teapot, use an individual tea strainer submerged into your cup of hot water. Leave to steep and remove before drinking, then relax and enjoy the taste of your homegrown teas whilst reaping the benefits of their healing properties.

Mint and Honey Tea

You will need:

Mint – fresh from the garden

Honey – local organic honey is the best

This is such a simple and delicious blend, just pick the top 5 leaves from your fresh mint plant and add a handful to your pot.  Steep for 5 minutes and add 1 teaspoon of honey to your cup to taste. There are many varieties of mint to try, from sweet mint to spearmint flavour, so have fun with experimenting with what works for you.

Lemon Balm and Grapefruit Tea

You will need:

 Lemon balm (a few large handfuls, pre-dried)

Grapefruit rind (1x grapefruit rind grated and pre-dried)

Ginger (1x teaspoon, freshly grated, added to cup to taste)

IF YOU ARE ON MEDICATION PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU ARE ABLE TO CONSUME GRAPEFRUIT – AVOID IF ON MEDICATION FOR EPILEPSY AND ANXIETY.

To make a brew of lemon balm, grapefruit (peel) and fresh ginger tea, mix your dried ingredients together and store; when ready add I teaspoon per person to your pot plus one teaspoon for the pot, add your boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes, pour, and add approximately 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger direct to your cup to taste. Stir and enjoy.

Chamomile and Lavender Tea

You will need:

Chamomile flowers (handful of heads – pre-dried)

Lavender flowers (handful of flowers – pre-dried)

To make a Chamomile and Lavender infusion from your dried flower heads, just add a teaspoon of chamomile flowers into your strainer, with half a teaspoon of lavender flowers and leave to steep in your cup for 5 minutes. Top up with a bit more hot water and enjoy this soothing blend.

Healing benefits of your tea blends:

Lemon balm – great for anxiety and insomnia, a digestive also, perfect for a bedtime brew.  Lemon balm is also in lots of natural anti depressants so helpful during bouts of anxiety.

 Grapefruit – appetite stimulant, great for removing fatty deposits, helps to regulate the appetite so is helpful for people dealing with weight issues.  Grapefruit is also a detoxifier, so good for a hangover, and regulates sleep hence used by people who travel a lot.  It also helps to focus and clear the mind, so great during exam time.

 Ginger – good for nausea and sickness, generates heat in the body, great for people who do too much; a cup of ginger tea is stimulating yet grounding, leaving you active without the need for caffeine. It is also excellent for muscle cramps, post exercise recovery, and during menstruation.

Mint – stimulating and refreshing, helps to boost your metabolism and aids digestion.  Mint is anti-inflammatory and helps open the airways, so great for asthma sufferers and for general cough and cold remedies.

 Honey – natural antiseptic, antihistamine, and general all round brilliant healing super-food. Put direct onto skin for cuts and boils, it is also an antidote for bee stings (after removing the sting). Great for gardeners!

 Chamomile – sedative, relaxing, and useful for sleep remedies because of its calming effect. It is soothing to the skin and can be used as a compress on scalds.  It’s also good for the digestive system and helps relax the stomach.

 Lavender – calming, good for sleep, a sedative for the nervous system, perfect for relieving worry, stress, and migraines. Use in combination with lavender flowers mixed with rice in an eye bag placed over the eyes at night to encourage relaxation and a good nights sleep.

 

Mocktails:

 Ice cube tray preparation:

Prepare ice cubes by placing edible flowers from the garden into ice cube trays.  Make sure there are no pests on your petals or flower heads and be sure to use plants you know are safe to eat and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.

Alternatives to flowers are small slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or frozen berries, which are available all year round from the shops.  Arrange a selection of colourful flowers, fruits and berries into your tray, add water and freeze.

If using mint, pick the tiny top three mint leaves fresh from a spring of growing mint to add a refreshing zing to your cubes. Add water to your tray and place in the freezer.

Virgin Mojito

You will need:

Mint (handful of sweet mint per serving, third of your glass)

Limes (1x per serving cut into wedges)

Cucumber (chopped finely, with mint leaves, frozen in ice cubes)

Golden caster sugar (1x teaspoon per serving)

Sparkling Water (instead of rum and soda water)

Pestle and mortar

Tall glass

Spoon for stirring

Prepare ice cubes by finely chopping cucumber and mint leaves together, then add a teaspoon of your mix to each ice cube tray compartment, topping up with water.  Place in the freezer until you are ready to mix your ‘mocktail’.

To make your virgin mojito, place half of your mint in a pestle and mortar, and put the remaining sprigs in a tall glass.  Cut your lime into four wedges and squeeze three into your pestle and mortar.  Muddle the mint, lime, and sugar together (crushing with the pestle), pour all the mint and liquid into your glass.

Add the used lime wedges to your glass (for extra flavour), then add your ice cubes and top up with your sparkling water, giving the mix a stir.  Place you remaining wedge of lime onto your glass rim for decoration and enjoy your refreshing and delicious mojito ‘mocktail’!

 

Maiden Moon Walk

You will need:

Grapefruit (one slice for decoration on glass)

Grapefruit juice (a dash per serving, or freshly squeezed)

Sparkling water (instead of Prosecco)

Ginger (grated – a teaspoon)

Flower ice cubes (violas, rose bud, pansies, borage flowers)

When ready to make your Maiden Moon Walk, choose a pretty cocktail glass and slice your grapefruit in half.  Squeeze one half of your grapefruit into your glass filling it a quarter full (you can use bottled grapefruit too).  Take a slice from your remaining half grapefruit and save for decoration.

Grate a teaspoons’ worth of fresh ginger into your glass.  Add a teaspoon of sugar and mix, then drop in your ice cubes, place the slice of grapefruit on the rim of your glass like a giant moon decoration, and relax and enjoy your lunar landing!

 

More options:

 Another simple and refreshing drink to serve at any party on the plot is fresh dill in a jug of water.  Add a couple of slices of lemon, and some pretty ice cubes you prepared earlier (lemon and lime works well) and off you go. Your visitors will love the taste of summer in a glass!

Healing benefits of your ‘mocktail’ mixes:

Mint – stimulating and refreshing, helps to boost your metabolism and aids digestion.  Mint is anti-inflammatory and helps open the airways, so great for asthma sufferers and for general cough and cold remedies.

Lemon and Lime – both of these are great immunity boosting citrus fruits, so again fabulous for staving off coughs and colds.

Grapefruit – appetite stimulant, great for removing fatty deposits, helps to regulate the appetite so is helpful for people dealing with weight issues.  Grapefruit is also a detoxifier, so good for a hangover, it also regulates sleep hence used by people who travel a lot.  It also helps to focus and clear the mind, so great during exam time.

 Ginger – good for nausea and sickness, generates heat in the body, good for people who do too much; a cup of ginger tea is stimulating yet grounding, leaving you active without the need for caffeine. It is also great for muscle cramps, post exercise recovery, and during menstruation.

 Dill – is great for digestion, including loss of appetite, and good for treatment of coughs and colds, cramps, and sleep disorders amongst other things, so and all round fabulous plant, great with fish dishes too.

 

Spring Newsletter

Welcome to Spring 2020 at the garden

It has been a long time since our last newsletter, and so much has changed. The KentCOG team wanted to take this opportunity to keep in touch, and update you on the ever evolving community garden.  Although our volunteers are busy gardening at home, and the plot remains closed, our community is still active and happy to support those in need of some green care.

KentCOG have teamed up with East Kent Mind this year to grow the garden as a community base focused on wellbeing, and I have returned after a year away to welcome you to be part of that development.  Please share your stories, growing experiences, and experiments in gardening with us, including photos, recipes and top tips in creating a thriving natural home environment for wellbeing, whatever that may mean to you.  Practicing Ecotherapy at home has helped me stay grounded during times of change, and that’s what I am exploring in more detail over the coming months.

What’s happening this season?

East Kent Mind have provided an array of live workshops, courses and activities accessible on your phone or computer at home. KentCOG are supporting the online digital weekly timetable with a regular slot Grow Your Wellbeing (more details below).

East Kent Mind have also set up a wellbeing support line open Monday-Friday 2pm-5pm, Friday-Sunday 6pm-10pm, if you need to talk please call 0203 912 0032.

 

 https://sharepoint.kent.ac.uk/estates/kentcog/Shared%20Documents/Student%20Engagement/file-20.jpeg

Seasonal jobs

Growing herbs on your windowsill can be very satisfying and family favourite cress is quick to sprout and great to eat with your eggs for breakfast, perfect for beginner gardeners.

  

If you have an outdoor growing space try preparing a meter square bed for companionship planting, a popular combination to grow is squash beside climbing beans supported by corn.

It’s time to harden off your seedlings outside or plant new seeds directly into prepared beds, following packet guidelines.

This season’s events

It was Mental Health Awareness Week last week, so why not check out Grow Your Wellbeing sessions on Zoom with Emily Hill every Wednesday afternoon (2-3pm) with practical advice on trying Ecotherapy at home.

Sign up by visiting eastkentmind.org.uk and complete a registration form online, or email info@eastkentmind.org.uk

When lockdown is lifted, please come to one of our regular KentCOG sessions to find out more:

Every Tuesday 10 – 2pm

(Community Session)

Every Wednesday 10 – 2pm

(East Kent Mind Open Spaces – Student Session)

Looking for something to celebrate? It was World Bee Day on the 19th May, so on the advice of our partners the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers, I have included some links to find out more about our valuable friends. Did you know there were 271 species of bee in the UK?

https://whitstable-hernebay-beekeepers.org.uk/2019/06/29/how-time-and-bees-flies/
https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bumblebee-species-guide/
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/blog/ryan-clark/guide-solitary-bees-britain
https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/30dayswild

Please visit https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog/ for more information about the project or email kentcog@kent.ac.uk if you have any queries or want to join our mailing list.

 Find us here

We will write again when we can reopen the garden , until then take care, and carry on gardening.

Best wishes,

Emily Hill, KentCOG Coordinator