Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Pumpkin Bag

Who says fashion and fancy dress can’t mix? To jazz up a Halloween outfit why not make a pumpkin bag. It cost me all of £1.45 took 15 minutes to make and went down a treat.

Attach a bag strap using string

Lining the bag is good idea

Wear it with's a pumpkin bag!


How to harvest your Halloween pumpkins

If you had the foresight to grow your own Halloween pumpkins, the East End Gardener has some tips for harvesting.

You should leave the pumpkins on the plant for as long as possible (although you have permission to pick some tonight for Jack O’Lanterns). You’ll know that the fruit is mature when the stem starts to crack and the skin feels hard. The best test is to give them a tap: if it makes a hollow sound then it’s ready to be picked.

Use a sharp knife to cut the fruit, leaving a long stalk. If you want to eat your pumpkins (and not just carve silly faces into them), leave them in the sun for about 10 days or indoors for4 days to fully ripen.

If you have a glut even bigger than our crowd, you’ll be pleased to hear that pumpkins can be kept for up to six months, so long as you store them in a cool, dry place. So you can enjoy pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread all the way through winter.

By Hannah Bass

Wishing you a happy Halloween and a garden full of pumpkins…



Don’t get too smashed…

By Hannah Bass.

What to plant in winter

How to grow broad beans and other winter crops

These broad beans could too be yours by next summer!

The nights are drawing in, it’s getting chillier by the day, and the last thing you want to be doing is toiling in half-frozen dirt – so with that in mind, here are some three suggestions for easy winter crops.

Broad beans
Brilliantly simple, you should see shoots about two and a half weeks in. By Spring you’ll have lovely beans. If the plants grow too tall they tend to split under the weight, so give them something to climb on – stick some posts or sticks into the ground. Check out the BBC’s handy guide to growing broad beans.

Always a great beginner crop and can be harvested early next year. Onion sets (think mini onion bulbs) are much easier to grow than seeds. Plant them just below the soil – the good thing about growing onions in winter is they have a much longer growing season, so they’ve got enough time to get nice and big. Try Radar sets, which produce mild white onions from late May onwards.

Definitely the dummy gardener’s perfect crop. Again, you’ll want to use sets here – you could grow garlic from supermarket bulbs, but they might turn out diseased. Use a container at least 10 inches deep and plant bulbs, pointy bit up, at least two inches under a mix of soil and compost. They’re a low-maintenance plant, so only water when the weather’s been dry for a few days. You’ll be making garlic pesto by summer!

By Zing Tsjeng. Photo by John the Geologist via Flickr under a CC licence

Urban gardeners vs. the urban fox

get rid of urban foxes

Don't let foxes dig up your flowerbeds!

You might have to say goodbye to your garden gnomes if you want to prevent fox intruders.

If you are experiencing problems with foxes in your garden, as some urban gardeners do, then there are many preventatives to make sure foxes don’t ruin your rose beds.

Foxes are known for digging so make sure your garden fence goes at least 8 inches underground. They are also notorious for rummaging through bins; the easier it is for foxes to get to your rubbish the more likely they are to hang around your garden. Make sure any rubbish and refuse sacks are thrown away securely in waste bins and lock the lid.

It’s easy to hear a female fox in your garden as vixens are known to make a screaming sounds at night when they are ready to mate, you can buy strong smelling repellents from garden centres which will discourage foxes from trespassing but don’t harm the animal in any way.

Foxes often communicate with each other by ‘marking their territory’, you can prevent them from urinating on your flower patch ridding your garden of any dorment features, such as tree stumps and even garden gnomes are seen as an attraction for some foxes wanting to make their mark. It is also a good idea to fill any holes underneath garden sheds to prevent them from making any resting places in your backyard.

If you want more information on pest control look at your council’s website and see for more information.

By Krystena Petrakas. Photo from Digital Primate via Flickr under CC licence

How London gardeners can get a grant

Cash is up for grabs for green-fingered Londoners as Boris Johnson plans to get the city gardening.

Image by London Permaculture

The Mayor of London is giving away grants for community gardens as part of the Capital Growth programme. Budding community groups can apply for up to £750 to get their gardening idea off the ground.

The scheme aims to foster 2,012 community food growing projects in London by the year 2012. East London is already home to one success story, the Wenlock Barn Herb Garden.

Residents of Wenlock Barn housing estate, Hackney, applied for a grant in 2010. They used the money to plant a garden on a scrap of disused land on the housing estate. The garden now produces salad and herbs which are sold to local shops and restaurants.

If you’ve got a growing project in mind, you can apply for a Capital Growth grant and help make London a greener city for 2012.

By Hannah Bass.

Russell Brand jumps on the gardening bandwagon

Russell Brand Katy Perry sex gardening

Russell Brand has replaced sex with gardening, apparently

He’s the wild-haired, tight-trousered comedian famed for his womanising ways, but it seems Russell Brand has discovered an unlikely new pursuit, giving up tending to lady gardens in favour of, er, actual gardens.

Since marrying American singer Katy Perry Russell claims that although he is not having sex with various women 20 times a week, he is now a “bloody good gardener”.

He’s a veggie, so we can only imagine he’s growing a wide range of vegetables. And with rumours of infidelity on his part we only hope he’s grown Katy some lovely flowers too…

By Natasha Wynarczyk. Image from Wikimedia Commons under a CC licence.