Summer trip to Sissinghurst Castle and the end of year Garden Party

Instead of the June meeting the AHS held its Annual Summer Trip, this year  to the beautiful garden of Sissinghurst, created by Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson and now owned by the National Trust.  Over 70 members and friends went on the visit on a day that started wet but cleared later.  At the May meeting Ruth Martin gave a talk about the history and creation of Sissinghurst so hopefully those members who heard the talk were able to use their knowledge to understand and see how the garden has developed and appreciate its beauty today.

An end of year (that is the horticultural year) social for Aldersbrook Horticultural Society took place on a wet Tuesday evening in July.  However, despite the weather, about 40 members turned out to share food which members brought and Prosecco provided by the AHS.  Although, most of the evening took place indoors, when the sky cleared members were able to admire Theresa Holland’s beautiful garden.  A horticultural quiz was enjoyed by several members and won by Julie Donovan.  Ruth Martin, the chair of AHS, thanked Theresa for hosting the evening and announced the first meeting of the next horticultural year on Tuesday September 10th when Manoj Malde, a leading garden designer and RHS Ambassador will speak.

All you need to know about composting

Elaine Fieldhouse & Barry Reeves, both local gardeners, gave a fascinating talk at April’s AHS meeting about compost.  Elaine who has  a wonderful garden backing on to an allotment in Plaistow has 22 compost bins including 4 tumblers.  She explained  that the material in each compost takes about 6 to 8 months to break down.  Elaine creates wet compost with some plants – adding water to plants to make a slurry then she adds it to her compost bin.  She told us that rhubarb leaves break down quickly; that she packages kitchen waste adding water to make it more moist and she adds cardboard to wet compost .  Dry cardboard needs to be dampened. She doesn’t add any cooked food.  The advantage of home grown compost over bought compost is that its free and you know what goes into it.  Asked about adding weeds to compost bins she explained that weeds don’t come back if they are well rotted.  Elaine uses her home grown compost to mulch her garden and allotment carried out in October/November and then February.
Barry told us about using a Hot Compost bin.  The advantage of a Hot Bin is that it will fit into a small garden.  He told us to stick to the instructions provided with the bin – a starter bottle of liquid is provided at the beginning as well as wood chips it is important to add wood chips and shredded paper and cardboard to keep the contents of the bin aerated. The bin is provided with a kind of stirrer with which one can stir the contents. The contents of the bin get very hot as the bin is covered with a sort of polystyrene to heat the contents – the temperature gauge on the lid shows the temperature of the contents. When you open the hot bin you can see the steam coming from it. You can add cooked food to a Hot Bin as well as green garden waste but better to chop it up so that it breaks down quicker.  The contents of the bin should never be solid and the heat is enough to kill weeds.  At the bottom of the bin there is a blue tap from which you can drain liquid plant food.  Barry told us that he gets about 5 buckets of compost after 2 months – the compost is of great quality and doesn’t smell.