Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

London Eco projects

March 4, 2015

seeds for a swapping in the

South London Seed Swap organised by Lewisham Gardens (Anne-Marie at the helm)

This proved to be a lovely afternoon, out at the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, with dozens of enthusiasts bringing their bulbs and seeds into the garden, to share, swap and exchange. I selected a range of veg, herbs and flowers to take in for my swap and as exchange, selected a range of others including; 2 varieties of kale, cress, swede (we shared out a pack), 2 types of cauliflower and lettuce, peppers, tomatoes (as a result of hearing Mihail from the nursery discuss his tips), plus basil, echinacea, 2 varieties of sunflower and half a dozen other flowering annuals 🙂

There were also a series of excellent workshops; demonstrations to educate on new skills. We learnt how to hold and twist a bouquet of flowers, to form the perfect jug, from every angle, by Sharmini, a local seasonal florist who designs the floral arrangements for the garden museum in Lambeth. She very carefully showed us how to add different colour stems and place them at angles which appeared to me odd, at first, plus foliage, but when all fully combined, yielded the prettiest of bouquets. She shared, too, her trick to displaying stems in a wide neck vase: place scelloptape in a criss-cross pattern across the top, to keep them in their place, to prevent them from falling over.seed swapping day Lewisham Gardens

Next up was Mihail from Dig this Nursery; a heath shop, plant nursery & cafe by New Cross ‘Venue’ club… it has recently moved there, from opposite New X Gate area (by the Hobgoblin Pub). Now they are in their new home and teaching us here, how to best sow our tomato plants; in to the smallest containers first, prior to planting into slightly larger pots, then into hanging baskets (in order to avoid slugs etc) or raised beds etc. This makes a lot of sense; to develop the roots gradually and to master the stems first.

Finally we learnt about Wildlife Gardening from Alison, who’d driven all the way up from Kent (where it had been snowing-proper) to teach us about easy ways to attract all sorts of wildlife & engage us with a nice quiz! 🙂

We left feeling v.happy (though I’d have felt happier had I not had a flat back tyre & had to walk, all the way home, to SE6…)

WM garden trowel

The V&A have launched a William Morris design range of garden tools; inspred by his paintings & art work, there’s a torch, tape measure, scissors, secateurs and hammer\screwdriver multi-tool (all of which I am much enamoured by) and I recently bought myself a garden trowel, in a ‘Daisy’ print design. It is both stunningly beautiful and utterly practical; Morris would approve, himself. 🙂 Re- the recent exhibition at the NPG in London; on his life & work 🙂

Other news: I recently attended an Introduction to Permaculture Course based at Stepney City Farm, which is a super-fab place to hang out, at the best of times. We enjoyed the course enormously; it was justthe right mix and balance of fun, studious design efforts & planning out projects that was needed. Plus we turned compost heaps and were left to roam the farm to develop our senses of this environment.

primula potSpring has sprung! My colour-co-ordinated Primula plant pots, in the kitchen (matching the blind!) 🙂

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The Ecology, Environment and Eating your words in London

November 23, 2014

Saturday morning, I casually interviewed our local farmer’s market assistant trader, Jackie, from Whitegates Farm & Nursery. She is every inch a convert to organic gardening and growing but later in life (some might suppose…)  owing to being brought up in a concrete jungle, in Brixton (South London), she said & her accent hasn’t changed… What’s more she hasn’t eaten fresh produce from a supermarket in 4 yrs and buys her toiletries elsewhere, as to find the brands which are free-from SLS.  and she explained that she’s amazed by just how different the fresh produce tastes! She finds it amazing how much better the home-grown carrots taste by comparison to the supermarket ones; “Flavour versus no flavour!”

Since it’s now Autumn, there are a great array of squashes & patty pan (small squashes, masquerading as miniature pumpkins) but a distinct lack of Horesradish, which was due to the weather. The strong-flavoured roots grow far further down into the soil and owing to the heavy rain, it had become very muddy and somewhat difficult to remove, given the time he (the farmer, Mike) now has, since he began to run the stall weekly and has to dig up more carrots too.  This really brought home the whole farm-to-fork concept of gardening.

Consider the alternatives; whereas  the supermarket culture has us examining our veg all year round, here is a farm where many products are grown, seasonally and annually, only to be directly affected by the weather… of course. It’s much  more easy and practical to pull up several bunches of carrots, than to spend the same time pulling up a single horseradish root, for a few pence more…

As a result of her working for the farm,  Jackie’s friends and family have all become more chemically conscious; she is a marvelous example and  activist (with a v.small ‘a’) for all things eco.

Go & visit them for the farm fresh fruit and veg http://www.weareccfm.co.uk (Manor House Gardens)

A round-up of this week’s other activities…

This week it’s all about food relating to community, cost of living and climate change \ the Earth at large, concepts.

Starting on Tuesday – Our monthly London Permaculture Publicity group meeting held at the South Bank, which is looking gloriously festive with lots of new food stall huts, complete with a maze made out of the type of things I’m not mentioning ’til next month, being as it’s not yet even the month of December … it’s all very pretty. Lola & I went on a little walk about; there is a Scandinavian theme bar area, complete with sofas and rugs and all with a great view of the river from upstairs.

Stefan Gates Food Matters Excel

Wednesday: took the DLR over to Food Matters expo at Excel Centre  – in time to join the audience for a panel discussion\debate with Prue Leith CBE, an MP, an Oxford Uni Prof and a food historian. All debating their views on how to eliminate childhood obesity and malnutrition: A combination of free meals for all, school influence, improving school dinners, banning packed lunch boxes and changing legislation. This was excellent to see a panel of such eminent authorities putting their views forward. I thought they were all great if not a little far fetched. I didn’t think any are totally plausable in current UK political climate. What govt. is willing to make cuts to subsidise these proposed desired changes? It was rather like an ‘If I ruled the world’ type of exploration.

Onto another exploration of another kind altogether… ‘feeding 9 million +’ read  the blurb on the board, which looked like the most interesting demonstration of some type of food related cookery. An area of research close to my heart & head for campaigning to reduce\eliminate farming of livestock. This was Stefan Gates, author, tv presenter and weird chef (but in a kind of exciting, very active way…) An adventurer and explorer (as he prefers it). He started out by handing round marshmallows and traditional lolly pops to the gathered audience – the public duly popped them into their mouths and onward he went. We watched as he shared video clips from his travel series where he eats many (revolting) things inc animal penises (in China) then he filled a huge long plastic bag with dry ice and explained that it represented how much methane gas a cow emits throughout  a day\annually; which incidentally, is lots (see above). He explained how reducing our meat consumption might help to reduce this gas and instead, suggests we eat insects… & he & his ‘grub’ chums promptly handed round fried crickets which half the audience tasted, whilst the remaining half (moi y inclu) looked on in silent disbelief…

Next, he proceeded to crush beetles into a pestle and mortar as if to illustrate that we, humans, have eaten insects, just unknowingly. The crushed beetles were added into a big vat of water, which duly turned pink; Cochineal \ E120 \ Red food colouring. And the trick? He explored how this innocent sounding food colouring actually ends up into marshmallows and lolly pops, which the audience had gamely eaten earlier. Except myself, for precisely that same reason…. (& the sugar… & the gelatine…)

Thursday – Monty Don; ‘Down to Earth’.  Sadly, I missed the great Monty Don speak about his gardening career locally this week at Blackheath Halls 😦  His twitter account is full of great joys to read though, so I can recommend that as at least a small alternative…) it sounded v.inspiring from what I could tell by the other tweets… I need to find out what I’d missed.

Friday – a UCL talk on Climate Change by @ClimateGeorge; author of a book entitled (something like): ‘Are our brains wired to deny climate change’ ie I think not, it makes sense for us to be ‘wired’ towards sustainability, I felt.  A long & deliriously comic talk, at times, about how the nation should be discussing this topic, why it isn’t, why it should care more, as seen through the eyes of a fossil-fuel activist (ie focused in this fashion; as his ‘lens’).  He went to Brussels to speak to EUMPs there, before I got a chance to ask him a question about his eating habits re-meat & methane production in general. Met some interesting people at the cloisters afterwards though inc. political editor & film maker.

Despite the style of talk, I’ve since discovered that his wife, Annie, writes an exceptionally lovely blog here: http://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/

With thanks to @hedgehoghugh for connecting us together on this matter 🙂

Meanwhile great news in the ‘News’, well, Time Out (which is the news we’d sometime rather read and isn’t so much that but more up-to-the-minute-London-life info) and The Final Word pg columnist, Giles Coren; not known, I’d have previously thought, for his pro-eco stance in the world but here he is, in an article, debating the nations’ love of …. coffee… and milk!  It’s not one that I can understand, personally, since I detest it; its flavour and that of honey (aka ‘bee vomit’ – reinforces adventurer, Stefan Gates!)

To quote him verbatim; ‘and you don’t even like the taste. So you drown (it) in a pint of hot milk and call it a ‘latte’ and … mope wordlessly to work, suckling like a giant toddler on quantities of warm cow’s milk that are healthy only for other cows,newly born and then only for a matter of weeks, delivering levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) that in adult humans will grow you at best a fat belly and at worst, it is argued, give you cancer…’  

Whoah! Wow! The restaurant critic that is GC has come out as a cow-caring consumer! 😉 Whatever next..? he’s read enough about the dairy industry to learn that it isn’t all hunky-dory to go consuming milk, willy-nilly and is taking up a gauntlet to educate his latte-loving readers. Well done GC & TO, for almost daring readers to become coffee & dairy-free 😉

Back to the great outdoors and the Burgess Park Glengall Wharf Garden: On Saturday, I cycled and bussed over to Burgess pk (off Old Kent Rd) for the main meeting of the London Permaculture Network. There is a lot going on here at this garden and we held a v.productive meeting to discuss future plans and expansions 🙂

Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, the BBC has a good link to a foraging article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30015052

Save our original Lamp-posts! Local campaign has begun!

July 16, 2014

Original Victorian lampost with top curl feature and ladder rung pieceTonight, a friend and I went to the Hither Green Wine Club, held at the local florist & cafe, ‘You don’t bring me flowers’. It was a v.social affair with a friendly bunch, informally sipping on glasses of Chardonnay and Malbec wine. We’d guessed as much; or rather my neighbouring wine-buff, Kerry did & I agreed.
I met Steve passing, another local resident who shares my passions for eco-environmental issues, gardening, food growing & veggie living and he kindly shared his pepper plants; a fully fledged plant to add to the plot…
Back at the Wine Club… & after several sips later, me; glasses, all others, the conversation turned towards that of conservation.

The support from the group in favour of our traditional, original lampposts was overwhelmingly positive and everyone present signed the petition.
Lynn at YDBMF will soon carry a petition at the cafe for any customers wishing to voice their concerns, to sign in there.

On the way back home, further discussion arose when dodging the newly upturned roads\pavements for the appearance of the new ‘WOTW’ stick style posts.

Daniel, founder of The Hither Green Wine Club, commented that “the new ones are too tall and …are more suited to areas where bright lights are necessary (for safety reasons) but not in a residential area like ours, which just doesn’t warrant bright lights such as these. They really made us squint as we walked past them.
Rachael (Daniel’s wife) is also a neighbour and added that “they’d shine brightly into top room windows as they are too tall; look out of place for the area.”
Kerry shared that she has an original lamppost directly outside her house, affectionately named Mr Tumnus (like in the Lion, the Witch & the Warderobe) as it appears other-worldly in old-fashionedness and decorative in its curvy shape.

Latest supporters: Guardian & award winning ‘Stylist’ journalist, Lucy Mangan, who also happens to be an old school-mate & Hither Green local + her sister Emily.

With grateful thanks to: Councillor Egan 🙂

Find out who your local councillors are to contact:

Do you know a local business or group of residents who could use a petition?! Contact me for info.

Ornate 1930's lamppost ladder rungAn original lampost outside our house SE6

An unforgettable floral and feathery afternoon at Kew

July 8, 2014

This afternoon, a friend took me to visit Kew Gardens again, with the premise of viewing the art exhibition currently available to view by Marianne North and the garden shop for a plant present.
We began by visiting the Gin & Tonic section (only open at weekends) as part of the Plantasia exhibition and learnt that many medicinal plants are traditionally used in the drink.
We ate our packed lunch in the grounds; sprouted green lentils, avocado, linseed crackers and lettuce tacos with hummus, cucumber, mallow flower and freshly picked wild rocket from near my garden. For dessert: A fresh Chocolate Orange Cream.
We made our way towards the art gallery via the main lake and palm house; collecting a pine cone and Ginko Biloba leaves on the way as momentos….
the lakeside planting is so beautiful; vibrant red crocosmia highlighted by a mauve flowering plant. There is also a beautiful old fountain in the centre which adds a historical feel. We went into the Lilly house where we heard a tour guide explaining the pollination techniques of one of the grand lillies and how the Beautiful Lotus flower plants have leaves that allow the rain water to fall straight off (a lesson for life here, as was explained later, by an Indian doctor).
The Lilly pad leaves are huge by all standards and look like you want to jump into the pond and sit on them, like Alice in Wonderland! 🙂

Then we went into the main palm house to see more tropical plants: Coffee, Mangos, Bananas, Macadamia Nut and Neem, the natural anti-septic, anti-fungal (anti-everything-undesirable!) native from India. (Akin to the Australia Tea Tree). We met a couple of Indian Doctors who stopped to explain their personal experiences & benefits of Neem… now in their 60s\70s, they both experience perfect dental health (with no cavities… unlike their children) due to using Neem twigs as toothbrushes\floss extensively during their childhoods. Neem is so good for teeth and gums it appears, that it is still used today. Plus, the eldest said, the only place he knew where to get them from, is in Lewisham…  That’s handy, then! 🙂

They went on to talk about further natural herbal and gastronomic remedies: Coconut Oil benefits also include Cholesterol reduction, Turmeric uses inc. as a preservative and skin cleanser\detoxifier for conditions and Darjeeling tea beats coffee any time (but then, he would say that.. 😉 )  We sat in the humidity and talked about Ayurvedics and the ‘5 holy tree effect’ (for meditation inc Oak for air purity, Neem for medicine, banana for energy etc.)

Their parting words were concerning the beautiful, pink Lotus Flowers, growing in the Lilly house pond next door; that we should be like the Lotus, which sits tall above the water level; its roots stretch deep into the murky waters below. The plant lets the water from rain roll straight off its leaves; the message being to remain beautiful and unaffected – of the world but in the world. This is a Krishna based belief but has a direct reference and similarity to Christianity.

The heat rose to a level to warrant a breather outdoors.  Thanks to Dr Ghosh (whose son is an obesity GP specialist) 🙂

We moved onto the shop, which contains an amazing assortment of every seasonal vegetable, fruit and shrubs etc plus all lovely garden paraphernalia.  We found some nice presents in the form of plants for friends & family, a vintage floral print tea towel and magnet (a cook’s essentials…)   http://shop.kew.org/homeware/tea-towels-and-aprons  The delightful thing is that these images at Kew’s shop, match the very postcards which I’d purchased 5 months earlier at a postcard fair (which is now no longer in existance) but I have the postcards and soon a whole collection of inspired things for the home. (now on my b.day present list…)

Since the Marianne North botanical art exhibition was closing, we viewed the prints in the shop instead; a rich, vibrant, tropical mix of flowers and foods. (view) http://prints.kew.org/category/botanical-art/marianne-north I could almost smell the scent of the Red Hibiscus!

A quick trip to Miss M’s curious curiosities – Medicinal Plants at Kew – we learnt about the pharmaceutical properties and uses of the plants: from opium poppy – to morphine\heroine, meadowsweet to quinine (and how Oliver Cromwell had died without it).  A male peacock appeared and strutted his stuff with his plumage lying low, I stood, taking photos. Miss M remarked “Oh look, he’s leaving you a feather…” and sure enough, as he walked off, a feather dropped out and I ran to collect it, waving it proudly! “A feather!” I exclaimed. This day is now complete! (even though we had missed the real art… 😦 ) Feeling utterly delighted that I had a feather, given to me, directly from the bird (without any cruelty involved), we went home via the city; from floral tranquillity into commute-life humdrum.

kew peacock

Palm House @Kewkew 2 ph roof kew 7 ph oldest tree trunk kew ph 3 red berries kew ph 4 view kew ph 5 coffee kew ph 5 oldest tree kew ph 7 timeline

Local weekend antics

June 2, 2014

Before my Healthwise clinic began in the afternoon, I chose to visit A Chelsea Fringe event – a Gardening road show – what would this be like {Q} I went over to St Catherine’s church in New Cross, by the ever lovely Telegraph Hill Pk to  investigate. The park is alive with flowing the stream\waterfall and exotic planting, alongside African monuments & grassy slopes.  The fair, though small, was bustling with activity and horticultural expertise from the Kent fairs with succulents from blueleaf plants, bouquets from Bow Meadows and herbs from Invicta 🙂 Enjoyed a lovely atmosphere for an hr til I had to head off towards Blackheath.flowers etc spring May 13 202

En route, discovering the delightful mini-health shop & plant nursery, Dig this Nursery http://www.digthisnursery.co.uk  located by the railway bridge, directly opposite New Cross Gate stn, with plants outside (it makes a nice change in the area 😉 ) They sell plants, flowers, organic fresh produce and a good selection of grocery goods etc in a wee spot. A lovely little place to stock up on the essentials!

Next shop stop Greenwich Market, raw food \ mixed salad stall (& other bakers & cooked veg*n delicacies) to enjoy in the park & meander through the beautiful flower gardens on the way back home. flowers etc spring May 13 211flowers etc spring May 13 218flowers etc spring May 13 222

Fortunately another sunny day on Sunday, brought planting out the new Chelsea Flower show plants inc cornflower and a borage; all purple and blue ground covers and red foliage and gardening in general, since I’d been away over the past few weeks.

Next up, I got a call from my dad, who told me that our neighbouring rd, Further Green Rd, was having a street party, so I went round to investigate. A wonderful time was had by all, including a salsa dancing spot and local dignitaries 🙂

Our gathering Elder flowers all weekend (and ever since) has not been in vain. All week, Cerys Matthews (from Catatonia fame) is DJing on Radio 2 from 8-10pm discussing foraging, amongst other brilliant things. Unable to resist my favourite topic of the month, I sent in a short txt msg about the walk and edible foods inc. the refresher recipe and had a mention live on air. It seems that Cerys is not just a super singer & DJ but a foraging lover too…!

My fridge has been full of containers full of flowers and water, on a cyclical basis since they came out into bloom. It’s the most flavourful drink I know and is pertained to be healing for hay-fever and mucous conditions (since it is beneficial to the mucus lining).

So go & get picking whilst they last! 😉 Elder flowers cluster from Mansfield Pk

 

London Permaculture Festival 2014

May 4, 2014

It’s just a couple of months away ’til the 4th Annual London Permaculture Festival. A one day event held at Cecil Sharp House, Camden, London NW1 7AY. Once again, I’m proud to be part of the volunteer publicity team on this special event day.

There will be workshops (intro and advanced), ‘how-to’ sessions, live music, films, a stalls market and a kid’s zone. Find more information at www.londonpermaculturefestival.com.

Tickets: £6 (waged) / £4 (unwaged) on the door

Join people from all over London and beyond to discuss, network and learn about creative solutions for a sustainable, healthy future.

This is a grassroots event, organised entirely by volunteers, if you’d like to help out with program planning, publicity or being part of the crew on the day, please contact Kayode at: info@londonpermaculturefestival.com

Wild Food Foraging Nature Walk

April 29, 2014

Tickets are now on sale for the guided Nature Walk on Sat 24th May.

Have you spotted the Green Events posters around the local area{Q}! 🙂

Visit http://www.ourhithergreen.com for more info.

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Get your GLOW on!

March 23, 2014

I walked into one of my favourite health stores in London this afternoon and was greeted by the owner, Steve “Wow! You’re glowing today!” I smiled and suggested that it may have been perhaps that I’d worn my hair up…? (I could think of no immediate difference from any other day.) “No, you’re definitely glowing!” he replied. “Aha! I’ve been collecting wild greens and making tea, soup, eating more fresh fruit & … barefoot gardening…!” I responded. So here’s how to get on a glow, naturally 🙂

Sleep, rest (another hr would be nice…)

Meditiation. My friend Joe announced this week that meditating for just 5 mins can change your whole day.

Barefoot gardening. Gardening in general – hands in the soil (as opposed to our mobile devices – re Satish Kumar’s recent quote in Resurgence magazine) is a good thing. Taking off your shoes and socks, voluntarily and pootling around the lawn and paths on a warm sunny day, is even better 🙂 Grounding through the earth, soil, negative ions, makes for a pleasant 20 mins gardening session weekly \ daily.

Weeds up to your ankles? Find your local hot-spots for naturally wild growing edibles. March brings nettles, cleavers, chickweed, mallow and many more soon & before long there’ll be a multitude to chose from. This involves knowing what, where and how to collect. See other blog posts for info on this weeks’ collection items. Clearly, they have done their job. 2pts Cleavers Tonic = Cleansing to a glow on another level! Lots grow in my local nature reserve, clean alley ways and woodland.

Natural Hygeine and Food Combining. A good food combination makes for easy digestion, greater energy and brighter skin. I began the day with Banana & Pear (& Satsuma end of previous day -post party!). Less is more – choose from a couple of items eg fresh fruit & a fresh fat or even 1 variety eaten alone makes the stomach feel full and replenished. Try blueberries, melon (when warmer) all with lettuce, celery & fennel (when in season) for further weight-loss action.

Fresh Water & healing herbal teas – Chamomile, green, mint, Jasmine, lemon in water. During warmer weather, we must replenish our levels often, with the purest sources possible.

I like to drink a mixture now, of a variety of teas, combined with fresh water, juice, smoothies, coconut water, ‘mocktails’ and nut & seed milks.

Sunshine; well as often as we can get it in the UK – in the mornings this week, I’ve been out to soak up Vitamin D and enjoy the sun as often as possible. Tips – homeworkers, moving the office outside can be a nice way to begin the day & barefoot in the grass. However it’s not always the most plausable or ideal option for us all.

Touch = giving and recieving, in the most harmonious of ways, makes us feel, and feel more human as we’re physiologically and biologically made to enjoy and give, natural (wanted) general or loving touch. Whether at a Tantra festival (as I was yesterday) stroking a strangers brow or in a more intimate embrace; giving and recieving a natural touch is healing on many levels. Recieving a light, gentle stroke across my face or a neck & shoulder massage, makes me feel understood and welcome (in the right circumstances).

Hobbies – spend time in the best way you know how, at that moment. This morning, I browsed round a collection fair and discovered my love for vintage posters, local social history and my old floral & fruit interests re-ignited again 🙂 I purchsed a number of images to show my family and friends and invite their interest into social history in new ways.

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Home Grown Apples

February 4, 2014

The last of the locally grown apples from my neighbour’s tree have been made into Fresh Apple Jelly (with cinnamon & psyllium) over the weekend.  I made a jar especially and took it round to her house as a ‘thank you’ for supplying me with 2 bags over last autumn (I’d never seemed to have a spare jar before).

Over the past months, I’ve used them to make into apple sauce, baked apples, stewed apples as well as jars of sugar-free apple jelly (suitable for babies!) it is lovely to eat for breakfast with muesli (Mmmm!) or as an addition to a dessert or pie\tart filling. They have filled a gap for a dessert when needed (and utterly out of chocolate.. 😉 )

Long live local apple trees! and lovely neighbours to provide and supply to.

 

Wild Foods for Winter – Immune system boosting Rose Hip Syrup \ ‘Juice’

November 26, 2013

At this time of year, rose hips are an abundant wild, natural resource to collect & use to support and strengthen our immune systems and prevent against Cold or ‘flu. They contain high doses of Vitamin C .

Read how to make Rose Hip Syrup or Juice in 5 easy steps:

1. Collect a few handfuls of ripe rose hips (ideally by end of October-mid November) and carefully remove the ends containing the Imageseed heads from within.
2. Scrape the majority of the small white seeds away and place the remaining rose hip flesh (it is quite sticky!) into a pan with a little hot water.
3. Heat the rose hips over a gentle heat until they are soft enough to dissolve into a deep, blood red liquid.
4. Stir repeatedly to dissolve them until they are all dissolved with just seeds and skin.
5. Strain the liquid using a little sieve and reserve the liquid ‘juice’.

Drink 1-2 tsp per day or use as a sauce on paler, sweet fruit for a contrast in flavours.ImageImage