Learning how

Mon 31 May 2010

We had to look up how to trench celery in the classic 'The Vegetable Garden Displayed"....

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A quick plug for What will the harvest be?, which is a gorgeous public garden in East London that I designed with Nina Pope and it's now in its second season as a communal 'harvest garden'. A horticultural and social experiment, it allows anyone to come and grow and harvest food and flowers for free and is open dawn to dusk.

We open the garden for London Open Squares weekend on June 12/13th, 10-5pm both days, teas etc are available and we will be giving guided tours all day long, so do please come along.
The address is Baker's Row, London E15 3NF a- a 10 minute walk from West Ham or Stratford train / tubes.

I'm very proud of this project as I've been able to apply so many of the lessons I learnt up here at Lawson Park, and we have even succeeded in growing the rare blue Himalayan poppy there, from seeds harvested from my plants up here.

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Meconopsis betonicifolia having a go in East London
Meconopsis betonicifolia having a go in East London

Slow down please

Fri 21 May 2010

Due to the long, long winter, spring came late here and the last daffodils have only just gone over mid-May. Looking at pictures of the garden this time a few years ago, it was much greener and fuller.

But given our slender means, we are happy for summer to slide in slowly as we spend 5-8.30pm most days now on the land, weeding, sowing, dividing and planting. The legend that is Mr James Herd has been back rerouting the front Farmhouse Garden pathways and retaining walls, creating a rather more formal and rather more massive border than before - about 100 sq metres - almost all filled with propagated plants from existing stock. I'm trying very hard to minimise maintenance all over the garden, using more shrubs where I can and mulching like it's going out of style, using old chipped wood (almost free but ugly) and spent mushroom compost (good looks don't come cheap). A short-term Japanese intern, Mi, has gamely saved the day by planting the orchard hedge with the already in leaf hawthorn James donated to us - it seemed a terrible shame not to get a season ahead with the plan but the scale of the challenge had beaten me and I had resigned myself to postponing it. As long as we water the plants well we can hope it will thrive.

Vegetables begun in the polytunnel and now planted out include pak choi (about to bolt due to too long in the trays I fear), broad beans 'The Sutton Dwarf' (no staking apparently), and spinach 'Bordeaux'. Verdant Leaf beet 'Oriol' has been extraordinarily hardy, the only vegetable to survive the winter's snow and hard, hard frost and still going strong. French shallots (first in in March) are doing well and spring onions and Chinese radish are both showing now.

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