Showing posts with label Recycled. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recycled. Show all posts

28 May 2011

The Saturday Snap

Recycling. Save the Planet, blah, blah. Everyone's getting the idea nowadays, aren't they?  But instead of just chucking your rubbish out into specific bags or bins, or throwing clutter out to the charity shops, how about a bit of genuine creative UP-cycling - or is it re-using?  Gardeners have been doing this for years, saving handy bits of wood, mesh, etc.  So when I saw this on a recent visit to the City Farm, I had a quiet chuckle to myself.  Today's (two for the price of one) Saturday Snap/s are ...

Raised Beds!

Raised bed
Timber framed with bedknob?
or, below, metal bedhead with knobs?
Raised bed

Have a jolly gardening weekend everyone!

1 Oct 2010

Sunshine and soft fruits…

 ~ Carrots, leeks, courgettes, tagetes, cabbage, runner beans, tomatoes ~
:: The Regent's Park Allotment::

Being of a very curious nature, I do love a good nosey around other gardens and allotments. I find inspiration everywhere: the planting, the colours, the layout, clever use of discarded items… So, it was with a carefree heart that I pedalled off last Saturday to a half-day training in the Regent's Park allotment run by Capital Growth and Capel Manor College. The sun was shining as I cycled through the park, a highly enjoyable but somewhat rebellious act due to it being Not Allowed. (Why is that, I wonder? Children who won't walk any distance will often cycle happily, thereby allowing families to embrace the Great Outdoors together.)

But I digress…   my hopes and expectations for the day were fully met:  an excellent and comprehensive training in Growing and Preserving Soft Fruits was provided by Tom from City Leaf (with handouts, which was lucky as I would never have remembered it all).  In three short hours we covered the four Ps (Planting, Pruning, Propagation and Preserving) in relation to a range of soft fruits: gooseberries, red/white currants vs blackcurrants, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.  Whew - feeling hungry yet?  As if that wasn't enough, we also briefly looked at ways of training fruit, veering off into the realms of cordoned and espaliered apples.

~ Garden of Eden? ~
I must admit my motivation for going was to get access to an Idiot's Guide to Growing Raspberries as our canes didn't do well this year.  Poor little things. I now know that this is due to a combination of not planting soon enough (nor heeling in), not preparing the site well beforehand (it was nearly Christmas and we were desperate), not giving them enough space and also the poor plants being choked by weeds from a neighbouring patch. We'd literally plonked them into the soil in a spare corner of Leigh's allotment as the Veg Patch was not ready for them.  See?  Loads of info.  I'm going to replace the canes and, this time, lavish care and attention on them. 

We also looked at successfully growing grapes in an urban environment (apparently London is now warm enough for this, which is great  news).  Their grapes looked luscious:

And in anticipation of the wonderful harvest we'll all have next  year, and in case any of it actually reaches our kitchens (mine will all be eaten as it ripens by the children), our group was introduced to preserving your soft fruit harvest by a local guest speaker; a wonderful woman who brought along some of her produce and made it sound so easy.  She scotched several myths:  no, she doesn't use special preserving sugar (juice of a lemon will serve instead, if needed), blackberries do not set well on their own (throw in a Bramley) and the original jam jar lids are just as good as the cellophane/rubber band option, if properly cleaned. Mantra: Cleanliness is all when preserving!

I spotted this wonderful 1970s cookbook (Readers Digest, I think) on the table at the end.  It caught my eye, set against the jars of chutney and melons grown in the allotment.  Yes! Melons are possible in the UK - we had some of these fruits during the break. (Delish.) The allotment has an open aspect, sheltered by fencing on the North and East sides, with the melon vines planted at the southern end.

Elsewhere, other vegetables were all still flourishing and ripening (the carrots! the rhubarb! the beans! giant tomatoes!). You'll recognise the asparagus in the above photo - a huge bed of it, with ripening berries.  The volunteer gardeners try to nip them off when they turn red and before they burst and scatter the seeds.  Bare patches in the beds were explained by the recent harvesting of the butternut squash which was set to one side in baskets - there was an open day 'Harvest Cook Off' the following day (at least I hope so as the weather had turned wet by then).

The entire allotment was full of inspiration, if excessively tidy (but then they are on permanent view to the public).  Companion planting abounded:  Basil and cabbages, crimson nasturtiums under the runner beans and around the rhubarb,  and bright orange tagetes were planted (and interplanted) everywhere - around tomatoes, apples, beans, herbs - and doing a fantastic job of bringing in the bees.

But I especially l-o-v-e-d the use of recycling:  peppers, tomatoes and herbs grew in large empty white Italian tomato cans, an old Royal Parks watering can had been planted with herbs, and … the best bit for me …  the fibreglass poles from a defunct tent used to hold up netting.  I'm SO pinching that idea!

There, I think I've rambled on long enough.  It's worth a visit if you find yourself near Regents Park and also very handy the Cow and Coffee Bean Café. (Here's the Google map link). I took far too many photographs and am now making a Flickr page so, once the link is up, pop over there if you want to see more!

13 Nov 2009

It's a Bug's Life…

(Harlequin Ladybird:  Harmonia axyridis succinea)

There's been a lot of fuss over the summer about ladybirds - both our native UK ladybirds (Coccinellids) and the Harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) aka Multicoloured Asian Ladybirds.  The Harleys are causing concern over here because they're born survivors and will eat the eggs of UK ladybirds and butterflies when hungry - but their first choice from the menu is aphids. 

(A few more Harlequin ladybirds caught on camera.)

I've been seeing quite a few Harleys in the last few weeks (one had managed to get through my third floor windows!) - and I wondered, "Where do ladybirds go in winter?" (if not to my kitchen).

A tiny bit of googling reveals that they hibernate.  (I know, I should have guessed.)  Their food supply dries up with the colder November temperatures and they start to look for somewhere to bed down, preferably together, sometimes hundreds together!  If you find any indoors, it's kindest to put them back outside as the warmth indoors will wake them up too early (normally they sleep until March) and they'll starve for lack of food (they search out early aphids prior to mating).  They like to shelter under a bit of tree bark or a few leaves, as long as it's frost free and where they're less likely to be attacked by predators (usually sparrows).

Or, using only two recycled items, you can make a lovely little Spotty Lodgers Hotel.  One which presumably sparrows can't get in to.  Find instructions here on the UK Safari website.   You only need an empty 2 litre drinks bottle and a piece of corrugated cardboard to roll up loosely inside it.  Easy Peasy.  (Here's a sneak preview, click link above for full instructions.)

But, if you do this, please don't put our natural ladybirds in with the Harleys.  It could get nasty.   And don't forget, as you're (hopefully) depriving the food chain of a few ladybirds, it's helpful to put out some sunflower seeds or millet in a feeder for the sparrows.  (Using another cleaned, empty water bottle, the RSPB has an instructable for making a Recycled Bird Feeder here.)

19 Oct 2009

Our Brick Skip Hour …

A load of old bricks

If you happened to be in the Kentish Town Road at 6.30 a.m. last Friday you might have seen my … ahem … derrière sticking out of a skip.  (If you were sensible, you'd have looked away quickly.  Ho, ho;  No, not really, I'm sure my bum didn't look that big in it …  Er, why's it all gone quiet?)

I'd spotted a skip load of lovely old weathered bricks as I cycled home the previous afternoon, a sight which quickened my heart.  (And, believe me, there's not a lot that does that these days…)

As the ground in the vegpatch is a lot damper in these Autumn days (which is good) and quite a lot of it goes home on the soles of our shoes, we needed to put down some little paths next to our raised beds.  And because we want to keep appearances up, we thought brick would be nice … except they're expensive and we have a tiny budget.  So the Skip Sisters (L and me) were on the lookout, and also passed the word around.  After many weeks, and many people claiming to have "only just got rid of" theirs, fate presented us with this bountiful haul.  And, by the way, I wasn't up at the crack of dawn because I doing anything illegally, but because the traffic is dreadful in Kentish Town.  I had, of course, asked permission to take the bricks as, I imagine, would all of you lot.

Now then, where are those builders when you need them?  Er, Frank?  Frank?  *Tap, Tap*  Is anyone there?

15 Oct 2009

A matter of priorities …

October Peppers - still growing!

I can't believe how quickly the time has gone since Saturday's jaunt to Camden's Good Food Day, what with the arrival of our first fruit trees on Tuesday and Wednesday (on which topic, I think enough has been said), plus we've had a couple of beautiful sunny, fresh autumnal days so, obviously, back out into the Veg Patch for some happy time, and a chance to look around the place with my camera lens. Sometimes there's so much good stuff going on you just don't know where to start …

Ooo… lucky D.  What a stunner! 

But first, a quick update on Saturday's event.  It was quieter than I anticipated - but hopefully lots of people went along later because there was some good stuff there: inspiration and education for food growing, advice about healthy eating and food waste, food co-ops and the seed exchange.  I chatted to a variety of folk doing sterling work in the community; hopefully a few of you will click through to their websites, below, and be inspired by the good they do - or maybe you already have something similar in your part of the globe.

Let me just say this - Real Bread making skills are back on everyone's agenda (as part of a community food project and as a free workshop on the South Bank on 24th Oct - more details nearer the time)  and I'm pursuing a line of enquiry about making huge baskets for plant growing - see Global Generation below, and I've made simple recycled plant markers from a top tip on City Leaf's website. (I also made some of my own which I'll show with a tutorial - mine are also recycled, but prettier, naturellement.)  Utterly F.A.B.

And, as they say, last but certainly not least:  Pumpkin progress.  We're watching this one.  Only 2 weeks to go before (say it quietly) … snip, snip, snip.  (Ouch! I feel so mean saying that.)

Here are a few highlights from Saturday:

Sustain - loads on their website about food, the environment, urban agriculture, workshops, training and grants.  Recommended! 

FoodWorks - Cooking and redistributing surplus retail food overstock as nutritious meals to needy people in the local community.  (Inspired by the Campus Kitchens Project in the U.S.A.)

Global Generation, engaging with younger generations to promote change in both the community and business.  (Take a look at their website; I was inspired by the large baskets they made to grow veg in at a local school, especially good if you only have a concrete patio, balcony or rooftop at your disposal.)

City Leaf:  Helping would-be gardeners make the most of their growing space (however small).  The website has some interesting tips and advice for gardeners - even if you're not local to London!! (Yayy, something for the non-London readers!)  …  I would, however, take them to task with their by-line "Grow Food Not Flowers".   For shame, guys!  Flowers are edible (nasturtiums, violas, lavender, marigolds, sunflower seeds, for heaven's sake!) … and companion plants … and pretty up your growing space to make it even more inviting.  Okay, I rest my case.  Point made.  Getting off my soapbox (for now).
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