Filed under: Collecting, Doing | Tags: church street, foraging, fruit, grapes, hackney, local, local food, organic, seasonal, seasonal food, soft fruit, stoke newington
It is that time of the year where I cycle about dumbfounded at the amount of organic seasonal locally produced food going to waste.
If you live in Hackney get your arse down to Sandbrook Road, N16 (just off Church Street). At the north end there is a wall dripping with grapes which I have never seen anyone else harvest. The photo below is from Googlemaps… imagine that whole wall overflowing with the good stuff.
It looks like it got pretty cold last night and some of my bean pods lost all their colour almost cracking open in places.
I decided it was a good morning for a spot of seed saving.
Filed under: Doing
my dad just sent me a few photos of his summer salads looking fairly happy growing in polystyrene packing bits… perhaps not my choice of container…
I prefer the big oil cans which all of the fast food places regularly throw up around here… but each to there own and the salad looks happy which is most important!
I get the tops off the oil cans using an old kitchen knife which needs a few bashes with a hammer to get it going and when it gets stuck
Filed under: Doing | Tags: beans, cat guarding, potatoes in bag, raised bed salad, string hanging from tree, tomatoes patio
Back in late march I helped my mum to set up a few raised beds; see post here. Last month I brought over a few cuttings, seedlings and other bits and bobs to which she has added to… the results are below:
Filed under: Doing | Tags: farleigh road, guerrilla gardening, n16, pimp my pavement, stoke newington
Inspired by the ‘pimp my pavement‘ website I have recently been spending time with other residents making mini gardens on the street.
The sun did not shine and we had to flee inside shortly after due to a downpour but we now have two pretty little beds at the bases of the street trees on Farleigh Road.
They were made using lime branches pollarded from other street trees and planted up with flowers and beans which should climb up the tree cages. I propagated the beans myself and the flowers came from Columbia Road flower market.
Filed under: Doing | Tags: beans, companion planting, squash, sweetcorn, the three sisters
I just learnt about the ‘three sisters’ companion planting last week so when my dad invited me over to have a peek at his little corner of an allotment I thought it would be good to give it a go…
One lesson learnt from the day is always carry a proper camera about with you – as you can see below the camera on my dad’s phone is AWEFUL!
…anyway – the three sisters is a trinity of plants which all assist each other to grow… sweetcorn grows tall, beans climb the sweetcorn stalks and squash provides ground cover surpressing weeds and generally being green. I would write more but wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive bit of info here, and there is more info here although it all sounds far more technical and scary than I am really into.
One thing which I learnt from my friend Hedvig from Get Growing is that you need to plant the sweetcorn bunched together in a group rather than in a single line – they need to pollinate each other, which won’t work so well in a single line.
I did not build a mound which seems to be recommended in quite a few places so watch this space to see if it works :-)
Filed under: Doing | Tags: charles dowding, no dig, raised bed, raised beds, rocket gardens
The bug has started to spread around my family – my dad was talking this morning about sharing an allotment with a friend and my mother and stepdad have decided to sacrifice some of their lawn for some raised beds :-)
I would more normally used recycled scaff planks for raised beds but my mum had already plumped for a B&Q kit. It was rather unnecessarily high so we cut into two and filled up with compost that my mum has been hoarding for a while. Once filled we temporarily covered with plastic to stop cats, squirrels and others diving in for a cheeky dig.
I have recommended that she buys one of Rocket Garden’s excellent growing kits from here which i have now used on a number of occasions.
I have also set her some homework of reading up about salads – for those of you not familiar with Charles Dowding then please have a read of his site and perhaps even buy his book – http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/Books-Salad-Leaves-For-All-Seasons
Filed under: Doing, Recycling | Tags: music magpie, selling second hand cds
I curiously manage to be a hoarder who aspires to have few posessions. Every so often my ruthless streak overcomes my hoarding streak and I eBay, freecycle or put things out on the street to get rid of them.
Music magpie (http://www.musicmagpie.co.uk/) is a service for online buying of second hand cds and I have to say I am pretty impressed by their service. You type in the bar code, they make you an offer for your cds, then they send you postage stickers which you use to post them the cds using recycled jiffy bags which you have been hoarding too. Brilliant.
…and yes I did sell my Burt Bacharach cd… £36 for 27 cds was the final count – that is quite a bit of carrot cake.
Filed under: Collecting, Doing | Tags: apples, farleigh road, hackney, london, orchard, scrumping, st jude street
Not exactly rocket science but picking apples in London does seem to be a fringe activity. So many trees dripping with fruit, most of which ends up getting swept up by the street cleaners. Not this year :-)
Buying a telescopic fruit picker was the first action – I got mine second hand from ebay, here is a new one that is similiar – http://garden4less.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=RGM
Now off to these two trees on St Jude Street -
We had so many apples from our scrump that I set up shop on my street and started giving them away to neighbours which then resulted in my being invited into various back gardens to pick more!
Time to make some chutney now i guess :-)
Filed under: Collecting, Doing | Tags: climbing, device, fruit, fruit picking, harvest, picker, plum, scrumping, telescopic, tool, tree, wolf garden, wolf garten
I was never quite sure how we were going to get all of the plums harvested from the top of such a huge tree and then someone suggested I buy a special tool to do the job which I must confess hadn’t occurred to me!
A quick bit of googling and eBaying later and… ta da… one ten foot extendible fruit picking gadget. Happy days…
The one I bought was second hand on eBay but if I was going to buy new the one that caught my eye was the multi-use fruit picker made by Wolf Garden – http://www.wolf-garten.co.uk
The rest, as they say, is plum jam, plum pickle and assorted other forms of plum joy history.
Filed under: Doing | Tags: 19th july, big lunch, farleigh road, hackney, london, n16
Last week Farleigh Road held a street party as part of the national ‘Big Lunch’ campaign (http://www.thebiglunch.com/)
The road was shut, residents of all ages and nationalities pulled together to create a truly awesome feast and the street was transformed for a day.
I took the liberty of carrying furniture and plants from my front room into the street – happy days.
I am lucky to live on such an amazing street – full of diversity and life – a little positivity can go a long way.
Filed under: Doing | Tags: barrels, harvesting, rain water, recycled food drums
I decided it needed upgrading as we kept running out of water and after some surfing I found a source of recycled plastic food drums/barrels from this gem of a place in Wales – http://www.dvfuels.co.uk/category.asp?catID=4
Delivery worked out cheapest when buying a palette of eight so I got eight and found others to buy them using the local Transition Town Hackney mailing list.
Joe and I had a fun day plumbing them into the existing water butt. Nearly got the hang of using the power drill now!
Filed under: Doing, Learning, Planning, Thinking | Tags: fan, fruit tree, grapevine, pruning, training, trellis
When we first cleared back some of the undergrowth in the back garden we discovered an old grapevine stump that looked like it was dead. To our delight it started to sprout a tonne of leaves a few months back so todays job was to start training it up a trellis into a fan.
There is some good advice here – http://www.realenglishfruit.co.uk/content/treetraining.htm
Filed under: Doing | Tags: cauliflowers, nasturtium, peas, potatoes, rocket, young m27 apple tree
Okay so it is my first growing season which means just like your friends who bore you with baby photos, I have to upload photos of stuff growing.
Sure I am not going to win any awards for photo journalism but THESE THINGS ARE GROWING IN MY GARDEN!!!!
Loads of the turkish food places around me leave used oil drums out with the trash and I have taken quite the fancy to their bright colours and patterns and begun collecting them (I have seven different sorts so far!)
They make nice planters…
So we now have quite the tomato patch in the front room…
The pond has been getting a little moody so I thought I might buy it a present to cheer it up:
For forty pounds I got a solar powered water oxygenating pump from eBay. It seems to be a standard budget option and it is no frills, only working when the sun is beaming but with the addition of a bit more pond weed too, the pond is now starting to be a bit less grumpy. Pretty sure it was a good investment but I haven’t seen anything similar elsewhere on my wanders to compare it to…
Filed under: Doing, Learning | Tags: apprenticeship, growing communities, Ida Fabrizio, robin grey, ru litherland, sara davies, Sophie Verhagen
I am now half way through my appenticeship working on the urban market gardens at Growing Communities – this photo was taken today after an epic harvest.
Quite how I managed to get three months into the apprenticeship without mentioning it on the blog is a mystery but I have been so busy learning the names of leafy green things that my mind has not quite been on the money in other areas :-)
The fellow front left is Ru Litherland, the head grower, and the person to whom I now owe a huge chunk of my knowledge about plants, especially salad growing and pruning fruit trees.
If you don’t know anything about Growing Communities can I recommend you have a peek around their website – http://www.growingcommunities.org/ – as part of their weekly fruit and veg box scheme they run the only pieces of organically certified land inside the M25 to produce mixed leaf salad and other bits and bobs.
Filed under: Doing, Thinking | Tags: capture, compassion, head torch, prevention, slug, snail, vegan
Okay so slugs and snails can be a bit of an arse. I have tried EVERYTHING. Well, not quite everything as I don’t want to poison or kill/harm the buggers in anyway. Stupid vegan hippie I hear you stay but seriously the way I am going I may be reborn as a slug and I would like a fair innings no matter what shape or size being I become.
So what to do, what to do…
Midnight slug and snail raids with a head torch and a big plastic container to store them is the answer. I have been looking for an excuse to buy a head torch for ages. Then you take them to the nearest patch of waste or common ground and let them go… You will not believe how many of them I have ‘moved’ and it can be kinda fun playing hide and seek with them in the dark… They are quick too!
Filed under: Doing, Learning, Planning, Recycling, Thinking | Tags: grey water recycling, Horizontal Flow Reed Bed, reed beds, reeds from seeds, vertical Flow Reed Bed
One of the projects that really stuck in my head after reading my first book on permaculture was creating reed beds for recycling grey water (any waste water from the house except sewage from the toilet).
After a good deal of time spent researching and reading around the topic the time finally came to make it a reality. Luckily there is a builders depo at the end of my street who sell gravel and my friend Morgan was on hand to help me put it all together.
For an average household you need 1m² of reed bed to recycle each persons grey water and you need four reeds per square metre. As I already had two used bath tubs to hand which came to just over 2m² and the three of us who live at 33b don’t use that much water I decided to go with that even if it was a little below the recommended area.
Ten reed plants were bought from Reeds from Seeds who can be found here – http://www.brynpolyn.co.uk/ – The total costwas £27.60 most of which was the delivery cost to London from Wales. They were very helpful people indeed explaining that late April or early May were the best time to plant.
A depth of about a metre seems to be the order of the day from a couple of diagrams I saw. The bath tubs took a maximum of about 80cm so I went with that, filling them with a layer of fine gravel on top of a layer of coarse gravel, about 50/50 of each.
It was decided after some debate to run the water into the bottom of each bath tub with water exiting out of the top. This way it has to pass up through the whole reed bed and cannot flow straight through as some designs seem to indicate. Pipes were fixed in the bottom with bricks and slate to keep them from being crushed by the weight of the gravel and to stop them from coming out. You can see that the first ‘metal tub’ reed bed is above the height of the other ‘mighty white’ tub so the water passes from the house into the bottom of the upper tub, rising through the bed to a pipe which feeds it into the bottom of the lower tub before it overflows through the bath’s original overflow into either the pond or the adjacent bed.
The metal tub was lined with a plastic sheet as it had many holes in the bottom from a previous life as a planter. Making the right sized hole for the pipe fixture was a challenge finally managed with a drill, some elbow grease and a bit of love, hence the three photos!
A lot of designs have settlement tanks and other features. I decided not to go for these yet but allowed space further back upstream to retro fit a settlement tank if needed. Whilst the reeds establish themselves I only plan to put bath and shower water into them and to use only natural grooming and cleaning products in the bathroom so there shouldn’t be anything too nasty for them to have to deal with and not too much by way of solid matter as the plug hole catches all the hairs!
Here are a few other pages of interest -