Tuesday, September 21, 2010

London Health Commission Awards

Oh well, unfortunately Lansbury Gardeners did not win the Well London award last night at the London Health Commission Awards ceremony. It was great that we got through to the top three though, so should feel proud of that.

Boris was there in good form and looking as tousled as ever, and there was a lovely view of Tower Bridge from the top of City Hall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chilli festival at RHS Hyde Hall

Yesterday Lansbury Gardeners had a great day out at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex. We chose this weekend as there was also a chilli pepper festival on with plenty of fresh chilli and chilli products to taste, as well as cooking demonstrations and chilli pepper talks. We grow quite a few chilli peppers in our garden at Hind Grove in Poplar, so there are quite a few enthusiasts among us.

I must admit I tasted the hottest chilli ever which brought tears to my eyes and made my tongue so hot and numb I couldn't speak for nearly ten minutes... So thanks to the young man in our group who tempted me down that path - you know who you are!!

Hyde Hall is a great place to go, the cultivated gardens are quite compact so there is definitely not so many of those to see compared to Wisley, but there are lots of wide open spaces outside of the main hilltop gardens for young people to run around in, or for a woodland walk, and it definitely provided a relaxing day.

Our group comprised 20 adults and 20 children - the vegetable garden is a great place to test people's knowledge and I enjoyed a little impromptu teaching on a lovely day out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spitalfields Show and Green Fair September 2010

Mary and Luthfa explore the farm

A small group of us went to the Spitalfields Show today. We wanted to see what the show was like so we can think about entering next year. The Coriander Club will be a hard act to beat - but I think we can have a go!

We visited the farm first which set several of us off reminiscing about animals we had known when we were young. Luthfa talked happily to the chickens who surprisingly seemed to understand her chicken talk and clucked back. They reminded her of chickens eating out of her hand when she was young. The guineas pigs reminded Francis of her of her father who reared Guinea Pigs for food when she was a child. I was reminded of poor old Percy our Cockerel who came to a sticky end when his early morning crowing was just too much for us and our neighbours. Being presented with my noisy friend "Percy" for dinner one evening, was too much for me. He was also rather tough and chewy.

The vegetables in the garden are great and an inspiration - but we couldn't identify them all, so would be good to have more signs. If only we had more space in Poplar - what we could achieve...Frances is very keen to grow Callaloo so we will order some seeds for next year.

Finally, the only disappointment of the afternoon was the lack of a cuppa. There was lots of lovely food - but no tea stall, and the coffee hut on the farm closed early. Perhaps next year the East End WI could do a tea and cake stall?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A visit to the Spitalfields Show

Do you know about the wonderful city farm and garden in Spitalfields? If not come along with us to the Spitalfields Show and Green Fair on Sunday 12th September 2010.

Spitalfields City Farm is located between Whitechapel and Brick Lane - More information about the show is here.

We are planning to meet up at 12.45 outside the Hind Grove Community Hall to be ready to leave promptly at 1pm to travel to the show together using public transport. If you want to come please sign up at upcoming.

Perhaps next year Lansbury Gardeners can enter some of our own vegetables and try to win a prize? Come with us to see what the show is all about and to get some ideas, see the animals, look at the vegetable gardens, and see the countryside in the City.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lansbury Gardeners have been shortlisted for the London Health Commission Awards!

Lansbury Gardeners have been shortlisted for the London Health Commission 2010 Awards (Well London).

We had an assessment visit earlier this month and now have to wait until September 20th with all the other shortlisted groups to find out who has won.

Watch this space to find out what happens next!

The photo is of Francis - taken by Mikey Tomkins.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dirty Hands

This afternoon seven of us visited the Dirty Hands Project over in Plaistow, east London. Mikey Tomkins linked us in with this project which has had some funding from Capital Growth. The area is much larger than ours and has about 120 grow bags! I've posted some photos on facebook. It's always great to visit other gardens to get ideas for things we would like to try growing. So our wish list from today is as follows:
  • Sage (we already have a variegated plant - but want more varieties)
  • Curly leaved lettuce
  • Plum and beefsteak tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Pink flowered runner beans
  • Pak Choi
  • Big leaf mustard
  • Peas
  • French Marigold
Francis is also keen to grow some callaloo but is not sure where to get the seeds - will do some searching and see where that leads.

Many thanks to Alison Skeat for showing us the garden and the lovely gift of some beetroot! We are always keen to meet other gardeners too, so please get in touch if you want to visit us at Lansbury Gardeners.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mary and her garlic

A few weeks ago we harvested the garlic which was planted in late October 2009. It's great as it doesn't take up much space - you may have to replant it a few times to begin with until it's rooted as the squirrels sometimes like to pull it up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fun in Bartlett Park

Just back home having had our Lansbury Gardeners stall in Bartlett Park as part of the Zoetrope fun day. Brilliant three hours with loads of kids and their families enjoying themselves.

Funded by Poplar HARCA our stall provided pots that children could paint. They then filled them with compost and sowed seeds - mostly dill, basil, radish and lettuce - and then took them home.

We need to get better at estimating how many people will turn up though as had to move onto plastic pots very quickly - just about exhausting our supplies - so looks like another trip the garden centre this weekend to replenish stocks. I think we got through nearly 90 pots of various sizes.

The other activity we held was the Name that Fruit or Vegetable quiz. People had to answer ten picture questions and then everyone who scored six or more correct answers went into a draw to win a box of vegetables. 43 people entered the quiz and everyone who entered got more than six answers right - 47% scored 10/10; 30% scored 9/10; 16% scored 8/10 and 7% scored 7/10.

All the winners scored 10/10! First prize winner of a large box of vegetables was Noel (above in the yellow shirt). Second prize of a medium box of vegetables went to Mira (centre photo), and last but not least Mohammed (top photo) won third prize which was a small box of vegetables. Many of the vegetables in the prize boxes were grown locally - others were bought locally and are all produce of the UK. The prizes were handed out by Nimish Shah of Groundwork London. Well done everyone!

The event also gave us a chance to catch up with some old gardening friends who have either moved away or got too busy with work to meet up regularly. It was also good to see other gardeners from the womens project at Lansbury Lodge and the new garden at West India House.

Finally a big thanks to all the Lansbury Gardeners who helped out today on our stall. We were so busy and it was wonderful that so many people volunteered to help others have such an enjoyable day. Gardening together just carries on...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Something is gnawing at the cucumbers!

Popped into the garden this morning to show a friend only to discover one of the cucumbers on the floor with teeth marks in it. Another one still attached to plant also has been gnawed! Not happy - but not much we can do. It could be a rat, or possibly a squirrel. Whatever it was couldn't have liked the taste much because they didn't eat much.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gardening together

I think one of the things about our Thursday morning sessions is that although they are quite short - they are intense. There is a lot of gardening together that is quite different to my experience of allotment gardening where I definitely desire to garden my plot - on my own. Select people get invited to help out from time to time, or just visit - but I love to garden my own allotment in my own way.

I don't feel like that about Lansbury Gardeners - it's quite different - in fact I do very little physical gardening there. The limited space means we have to socialise more with each other, and a lot of time is spent talking about gardening, thinking about garden, admiring each others plants or crops, and planning other activities. The time spent physically gardening is quite limited - and we tend to have short bursts of activity. That intensity is quite exhilarating though - and sustaining as people come back week after week after week for their social gardening fix.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fruit picking

Just back from a visit to the lovely Cammas Hall fruit farm in Hertfordshire. Nearly cancelled the trip as the weather was so bad this morning and some people were wavering a bit on whether to come - but eventually got together enough people and we had (well I think we did) a great time. Rain held off until we got to the Harlow Garden Centre our second stop.

So now have fridge full of strawberries and raspberries, cream and apple juice. Puchased some tulip bulbs for myself. Several of us selected some more flowering plants and herbs for the garden at Hind Grove, as there are a few gaps in the wall pots that need filling.

We are also taking part in a community event in Bartlett Park on Wednesday August 18th. So today we loaded up the coach with terracotta pots in various sizes for children to paint before sowing radish or lettuce in them. Just need to organise the paints now - but have some in my shed we can probably use.

I really love getting together with such a lovely group of neighbours. I have never spent so much time with neighbours ever before Lansbury Gardeners started, and gardening really does bring people together. I especially like being fed such tasty food by my friends - today I had the equivalent of about three lunches and had to turn food away.

Our Thursday session this week will involve planting up the remaining empty pots with the plants we bought today, and probably some weeding.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Building a Garden

Originally uploaded by Marj Joly
This was the day the soil arrived and we created a garden.


Originally uploaded by LoopZilla


Originally uploaded by LoopZilla
Mahmud trying out a new taste!

A visit to RHS Wisley

Last week Lansbury Gardeners made their first visit to RHS Wisley. We have recently become affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and as a result get to have a free visit once a year for up to 55 people.

It was a brilliant day. The sun shone - but it was not too hot and the gardens are spectacular. The first part of the visit was to the model vegetable garden to get more inspiration for our own small garden in Poplar. However, it was difficult to get there as people were bowled over by the beauty of the gardens and the many views on the way. People could then visit the garden at their leisure, enjoy the various cafes and also purchased plants in the vast plant centre.

The photo show Lucille one of our gardeners in the vegetable garden.

I think we will return.