Tag Archives: london

Book review: The Urban Kitchen Gardener

Mouse melons: a tiny alternative to cucumbers

Like many urban gardeners with limited space, I want as much as I can get out of my plants. It’s not enough for my pots to be pretty, they need to do something too. As a result, you’re more likely to find herbs than hydrangeas on my windowsill.

But beyond supermarket-bought basil and a couple of chillies, I’ve been stumped for how to grow edible plants in the pots and boxes I can fit in my flat and tiny garden. Most growing guides are for people with allotments and vegetable patches.

So I was thrilled at the release of The Urban Kitchen Gardener, a new book by urban agriculture advocate Tom Moggach.

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Historic florist to be demolished

A couple of weeks ago I was doing a work attachment at the Ham & High newspaper in London.  I was sent to Belsize Park to vox-pop locals about a historic florist which is set to be demolished in the area.

The Salmon Florist, located next door to Belzise Park tube station, is over a century old. The quaint little hut, which sells a range of flowers and shrubs, brightens up Haverstock Hill, standing out in a street full of chain restaurants and high-street shops.

The hut was once part of the Devonshire nurseries, which used to cover a large proportion of the land by the tube (it’s now a council estate and coffee shops). Despite opposition from some residents, Camden Council have sold the land, which looks like it will be replaced with a basement development.

Despite it being a cold and rainy day, a number of people stopped to look at the plants. The vast majority of people I spoke to said they were sad to see it go, as it is such a focal point of the area. Many had gone there to buy additions to their gardens or seasonal decorations and gifts and thought it’d be a shame.

It’s a sad fact that similar things are happening all over London (and the rest of the UK as well). We need to start supporting our local, independent gardening shops.

Do you know of anything similar happening in East London? Tweet us @eastendgardener.

By Natasha Wynarczyk. Photo from 192.com

Is the hosepipe ban affecting you?

hosepipe ban uk london

Watering the lawn is going to prove a bit harder from today, as seven water suppliers introduce a hosepipe ban across southeast England.

Thames, Southern, South East, Anglian, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East water companies have all imposed the ban, which affects up to 20m people. Flouting the ban could mean a £1,000 fine.

And if you’re suspicious that your neighbours are watering their roses on the sly, some companies have even set up a hotline for you to grass (um…) them up.

If you’re worried, the Guardian has a handy checklist of what you can and can’t do under the ban.

How do you guys feel about this? My garden is far too small to even warrant a hose, but my aunt in north London isn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of having to use a watering can on her vegetable patch. Are you going to be affected by the ban?

By Zing Tsjeng. Photo by Jez Page under a CC licence

Are the Olympics hurting your gardens?

data olympics complaints

 These words were taken from complaints made by east London resident infuriated by the Olympics construction. Click

How are the Olympics affecting your gardening? We want to hear from people worried about the impact of the games. Get in touch: eastendgardener@gmail.com

By Hannah Bass.

At Columbia road flower market

Columbia Road Market_7582

“Three bunches for a tenner, come on darling, spring has come. Tulips three for a tenner,” sings a cockney holding out the custard yellow, red-veined flowers.

Climbers and ferns march down Columbia Road, East London’s Sunday flower market, carried by families and Shoreditch’s youth, and every so often a potted evergreen brushes against a face. Boxes of bulbs are lined up in rows waiting to be sold, with names like Dutch Iris, Peasant’s Eyes, Sir Winston Churchill and Lilac Wonder.

The smell of almond croissants and ground coffee from surrounding cafes, with the occasional hint of cigarette smoke, overpowers the scent of roses and chrysanthemums, while from the herb stall sage, mint, rosemary and oregano spice fragrant the cold January air. The trader has every type of thyme on offer, orange thyme, creeping red thyme, lemon thyme, Peter Davis thyme. “Yes, I make my own thyme,” he grins.

Burnt orange and lilac Birds of Paradise stand out among the many daffs and carnations filling the flower buckets. “Come on you greedy lot, wholesale price, two bunches for a fiver, two for a bluey,” a parrot-like voice shouts. Bicycle bells and motorcycle engines rev on nearby streets, and the faint sound of music from a group of Victorian themed buskers who are playing the harmonica, banjo and keyboard as they sing in a thick Essex dialect.

The crowd at the market speak in different tongues – French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese can be heard, a mix of cultural soil at the Sunday market. Traders list their encyclopaedic horticultural knowledge, “What are you looking for miss, Dendrobiums? Rhododendrons, Araucaria or Lupins? I have everything you need here.” Here are lilies ready to burst, there snake plants with waxy leaves that stand rigid, there furry Christmas cactus, cotton-bud pussy willow and sticks of chilli plants.

The market traders shout out the day’s football results to each other while wrapping the bunches in brown paper, and the sound of pulling sellotape and cashing change adds music to every sale made. East End trendies in fur jackets and flat caps poise their SLRs at stands spilling with Hollyhocks, bunches of lavender, hyacinths and amaryllis lying in boxes with stems four inches wide.

The air is bitter and still, with grey clouds covering the tops of the pitched market tents. Spilled soil colours the concrete road with dismembered twigs and leaves scattered on the ground. Metal stands wheeling across the emptying road clatter as unsold flowers make their way back to the vans. “The last of the tulips,” shouts a young, bright-eyed trader. “Yes, no? My last tulips for you.”

By Krystena Petrakas. Photo by kiwi vic under a CC licence

Make a date with a seed swap

seedy sunday seed swap

Fancy getting exchanging some of your old seed packets for exciting new ones – for free? Seedy Sunday is a UK-wide community event that lets thrifty gardeners spring clean their seed stock and get some new seeds in exchange.

The London swap is part of a skill share day, with advice for new gardeners and gardening mags and books up for grabs. But if you’re not in London, don’t despair – the kick-off event for Seedy Sunday is in Brighton, and swaps are being held all over the country (see full list here). So grab your unloved seed packets and get stuck in!

London Seed Swap
6 February, 2-4pm
Tottenham Chances Club
399 High Road
N17 6QN

By Zing Tsjeng. Photo by Duncan Creamer under a CC licence

Call for action

Winter garden urban gardening London

We know winter probably wasn’t the best time to start a gardening blog, but we are still optimistic and won’t let our passion wilt just yet.

Dubious on the knowledge Google has on gardening, we’re asking for your help – all urban gardeners, green-fingered enthusiasts and anyone with horticultural knowledge.

We want to know, what should you plant in urban gardens in the bitter winter months?

Please send us ideas, suggestions, photos, videos and any comments – we need you to water our knowledge.

Photo by Matti Malda via Flickr under a CC licence.