Be savvy with gardening

We have mostly window box and balcony gardeners on Parkview with some residents having small gardens attached to properties.

For balcony* gardeners especially relevant is the planting of tomatoes and cucumber seeds. Our metal lattice balconies leant themselves for the growing of cucumbers who can climb up on the lattice. Tomatoes can be grown in grow bags or pots.

photo of cucumbers and tomatoes in wooden crates

Photo by Nuzul Arifa on Pexels.com

Cucumbers can still be sown out from seed as late as June (earliest when the frosts have gone).  Tomatoes can be sown as late as 2 months prior to the first frosts settling in.

There is nothing easier and cheaper than taking a few seeds from a tomatoe or a cucumber and planting it into your balcony or garden.

Whilst we now getting warmer and drier climates, I want to suggest to you that you can use recycled water to nourish your plants. Every shower or bath is water down the drain if you just pull the plug or let the water run down.

You can use bath water even with bubble bath or shampoo residue to water your plants, also the tumble dryer containers are ideal to water plants.

For security reasons I would strongly suggest that you always lock your balcony door after going outside. Please also ensure that your gardens are burglar proof. Keep windows on latches.

*Please note that communal balconies are unsuitable for growing vegetables.

 

Be savvy with recycling

recycling-paper-bagWe now have a lot of purple recycling bins on our estate, one per block entrance. The purple bins have slots at the top to input smaller items and the lid can be lifted for larger amounts and recycling bags.

Whilst putting recycling into pink recycling plastic bags may be beneficial as it is better to recycle using a plastic bag than not at all and also it can prevent a  spoiling of the whole container if somebody puts dirty recycling into the container like greasy pizza boxes, dirty nappies, I would recommend using paper bags to put recycling into the containers.

Many retailers now pack into paper bags. Amazon Fresh, Sainsbury’s Chop Chop and also our local volunteers deliver food in large paper bags.

For your information The Sainsbury’s Chop Chop service delivers within 60 minutes of ordering up to 20 items via their App, which can be downloaded. That’s just an extra service for those who have to self-isolate.

Perhaps those receiving food parcels in paper bags, can ask those delivering them to take them back for the recycling once they have been filled. Or in each block recylcing bags could be taken from people’s flats to the recycling containers via the dedicated volunteer services.

Those bags lend themselves to become recycling containers, to collect and carry our recycling until it reaches the purple bins.

User-friendly estate maintenance

I need to keep going on about the insufficient estate maintenance with respect to landscape services.

it is not the fault of the gardeners who come around cutting down the plants on instruction of Tower Hamlets or Tower Hamlets Homes; its the instructions they are working to, that worries me.

We need to make our estate liveable for our

Residents, who want a relaxing view on the estate

Maintenance personnel, who have to clean the paths and empty bins

Children who use the area to play or walk to school

Unfortunately just sawing any plant down to very short is not providing the effect needed.

For example at the back of Rosebery House there are plants growing, which actively hinder our bin collectors from actually doing their job because a tree is obstructing the path to and from the bin.

This overgrown shrub completely obstructs the bin collectors from bringing the bin containers to the bin lorry. The branches also damage windows and guttering.

There is also another large holly bush/tree, which is very near the entrance to the bin chambers and its growing across horizontally. Though it has been cut off at the top, the spreading has not been stopped. There is no point in having a plant that has razor-sharp leaves, which can injure playing children and hinder estate personnel.

The leaves of this holly bush are razor sharp.

I think we need responsible landscaping. Just the picture above shows lovely soft-leaved plants on the left of the picture, which are protruding but do not harm people and are easily cut back. But the Holly bush in the foreground only gets trimmed once a year and has razor-sharp leaves capable of hurting a child.

Progress ideas for Parkview estate

To make a real difference environmentally, it would be a great way forward to instal

  • solar panels on the roofs of our blocks
  • change existing gas central heating for ground heat
  • forbid all use of gas cookers in dwellings
  • Helping all residents to have induction cookers
  • plant the area around houses with environmentally friendly planting, which needs little maintenance but attracts butterflies, bees, insects and small mammals like hedgehogs.

I suppose it would save our residents money if they could benefit from solar panels on the roofs of our houses. And gas central heating is on the way out as generally gas is seen as not only dangerous but also not environmentally friendly to use.

Of course traffic stopping measures are already being taken and ways to promote walking and cycling are most welcome.

What I do not support is the way Extinction Rebellion uses our community centre for activities, which are not ground breaking, e.g. planning events that spray graffiti on roads and interfere with safety marking, plastering posters over buildings and stopping traffic, which in itself produces higher carbon emissions.

I understand that the bees on the roof idea has been scrapped, I thoroughly welcome that decision and suggest we use the roofs for solar panels instead.

landscaping

I’ve now received a formal reply from the Chief Executive’s Office from Tower Hamlets Council with regards to landscaping and maintenance of Parkview Estate and in particular the areas around Sankey and Rosebery House.

Chief Executive Will Tuckey has invited me to take part in an Estate Inspection walk and has agreed to cut down a shrub, which obviously obstructs access to essential maintenance areas but in principle has refused to further consider planting and maintenance policies.

The website of the Housing Ombudsman recommends that mediating action should be taken for 8 weeks after a decision and therefore I have contacted our Member of Parlimant Rushanara Ali to get a revision of the planting and maintenance policy on the estate.

Main points in contention

  • planting of large trees at 2 metres distance from houses prevents maintenance, obstructs views and causes damage to buildings and gutterings. Only dwarf trees are suitable for planting near houses.
  • Allowing tree saplings to grow around the houses and merely sawing them down to size once a year. Remove those hard bushes and trees.
  • Aim to get a planting scheme of child- and maintenance friendly flowering  or fruiting shrubs around the houses to encourage small mammals, butterflies, bugs and bees. The currnt thorny rosebushes and even thorny holly prevent gardening and the hard leaved bushes and shrubs do not encourage wildlife.
  • maintenance of fruit trees already planted, as who is going to pick up all that fruit and prevents it from rotting on the ground?

I’ll await a reply from Rushanara and if that does not come to a satisfactory conclusion will contact the Housing Ombudsman on the issues.

Don’t you agree that it would be worth asking the team from Springwatch or even Garden Rescue to have a look into the issue?

Parkview estate has a superb potential to become a model estate for inner city gardening.