Winter at KentCOG 2021



Welcome to Winter 2021 at the garden

Winter greetings from the KentCOG team. We hope you are keeping well despite the continuing Covid challenges. So, what have we been up to this season? We have had a really busy season so far here in the garden as we have moved through Autumn into Winter. A lot of the effort of the group has been focussed on building new beds in the Allotment garden which will make a big difference to maintenance and accessibility as we move into the growing season. We have also been working hard to build a rabbit proof fence around the garden which we hope to finish in January. We learned the hard way last year that our young veg is a very tasty treat to our wild neighbours! We have also started clearing our Flower garden, revealing paths and beds from the old greenhouses that were located there, with the plan to create a pollinator friendly veritable feast of colour and texture to help to increase the biodiversity in the garden.  The challenge for this garden will be to plant varieties that not only create a long season of flowering plants for the pollinators and wildlife that we hope will visit, but also varieties that are not too temptingly tasty for our resident rabbits. November also saw the start of our new KentCOG Coordinator, Debi A., who will be running the weekly sessions working alongside Emily M.

 What’s happening from January?

From January we have planned a new programme of activities. Our garden sessions, which are open to everyone, will be happening twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays (10am -2pm) starting Wednesday January 5th.   There will also be monthly Wellbeing workshops and regular Sunday Seasonal sessions. Check out our timetable for January, February and March.

The gardening sessions will continue routinely every week throughout the year, but we may well add new wellbeing and seasonal sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, so keep an eye on the KentCOG website and our social media for any new additions we are offering.

Seasonal Activities

Even though the KentCOG garden is closed from now until January it is good to consider what else we can do outside. At this time of year you can still continue to plant trees and shrubs. If you fancy a challenge, you can take hardwood cuttings of your favourite shrubs or  prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls),  acers, and birches.  If the rabbits hadn’t got there first we would be able to harvest our remaining root crops, but unfortunately for us at KentCOG, they’re all now gone. We have however, locked away all our seeds for spring growing in a safe dry place so that the mice will not be tempted.  If you have a green garden indoors, it is a good idea to reduce watering of houseplants at this time of year as with the reduced light, lots of our houseplants are much less active and quite dormant so need less water.

A final thought is for the wildlife around us that is active over winter. It’s always helpful to make sure birdfeeders are well stocked and that there is a safe source of freshwater in the garden for any local wildlife that needs it. We are going to be working to increase our small water habitats in the garden next year.


When the temperatures drop and the daylight dwindles, it can be hard to keep yourself feeling your best. So that’s where a few winter wellbeing life hack reminders come in.

Getting outside can be key. It’s both good for exercise and for your health. It’s said that just 20 minutes a day can help your mental health, boost your metabolism, and make you feel better.

East Kent Mind’s December digital 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 from yoga to photography.

You can find out more at

East Kent Mind support line 0808 196 3898

          And finally….

We hope you all get a chance to put your feet up over the festive period and enjoy a well-earned rest!  When we re-open on 5th January 2022, please come and help us grow again! We look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Every Wednesday 10 – 2pm (All Welcome)

Every Friday 10 – 2pm (All Welcome)


How to do ecotherapy at home

Ecotherapy is essentially all about improving your mental and physical wellbeing by doing activities outdoors in nature, but what happens when your time outside is limited, or you can’t access green spaces easily?  In these difficult times, where social distancing and staying at home is becoming the new normal, let’s take a look at what can be done to top up our daily dose of green care.

Here at KentCOG even though volunteers are unable to get to the community garden to work in nature, every individual can still experience nature and the positive effects it has on wellbeing and physical health from home, and so can you.  Here’s how, with some of my favourite suggestions from Mind’s Making sense of ecotherapy resource, available online at

Bring nature into your home environment

  • Collect natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds and anything else that you like to decorate your home and use in art projects.
  • Create a comfortable space to sit in in your home where you can look out over a view of the sky or a tree.
  • Grow plants on your windowsills.

  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature and set them as your phone and computer backgrounds.
  • Try to do more everyday activity in front of a window so that you can see the sky (for example ironing clothes, chopping vegetables, brushing your teeth, drying dishes or daily exercises).
  • Download some recordings of your favourite natural sounds such as birdsong or waves.

Try horticulture at home

  • Create a growing space at home. If you don’t have a garden invest in a window box or plant pot and plant some salad leaves or herbs – even keeping a small container on your windowsill can help.

  • If you have flower beds try planting some vegetables amongst the flowers. Many varieties of vegetables have attractive flowers for part of the year and might even add to your display.
  • Put your name down for an allotment or consider sharing one.
  • Join a local community food growing project if there is one in your area.
  • Go fruit picking in the countryside, or find out about urban food foraging and get some tasty food for free.  For example, in late summer and early autumn you might find lots of wild blackberry bushes growing in urban spaces, and some trees you walk by every day on your street might actually be apple or cherry.

Get close to animals

  • Go for walks in the countryside by rivers, fields and trees, and look out for wildlife. If you don’t live near open countryside, look out for urban wildlife in your local park, such as squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds.

  • Go birdwatching by yourself.
  • Hang a bird feeder outside one of your windows. If you have the space you could build a small roosting box on a tree or under a windowsill so that you can watch baby sparrows or blue tits when they leave the nest. The RSPB provides more information on feeding and sheltering birds.
  • Think about whether owning a pet would be the right thing for you. Many people find caring for a pet every day brings lots of benefits, but you need to be sure your home environment and personal circumstances would be the right thing for the animal as well as for you. If you don’t own your home, it’s also important to check if you’re allowed pets.

Do your bit for the Environment

  • Go on a litter picking walk in the park or on the beach.
  • Plant something outside the front of your home so that everybody who walks by can enjoy it.
  • Plant flowers for the bees and berry bushes for the birds in your garden.
  • Build an animal habitat – put up a bird box, create a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have enough space. Even a small pond can offer a home to creatures, such as newts and pond skaters.

Do more activities outdoors

  • Build a ten minute walk into your day, see if you can plan the route so that you take in a park or river.
  • If you have a garden create a space in it that you enjoy sitting in, have a picnic with home grown produce.
  • Sit under a tree in silence for a while, lean back against it and feel it supporting you.
  • Give yourself a sensory outdoor workout – find things to look at, listen to, taste, smell and touch. For inspiration visit the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website (

Ecotherapy improves mental health, physical health, develops social life, builds confidence, strengthens your connection with nature and helps you practise mindfulness.  There are many ways to get involved and more information and support available at You can also join in a weekly zoom meeting on Green Spaces KentCOG 2-3pm from my home and see many of these ideas being put into practice. Spaces are limited, to book email

Take care.

Emily Hill – KentCOG Coordinator