plant potatoes

potato-plantLow maintenance and giving a yield. We usually have a few potatoes laying around the house, which are starting to sprout and would go into our bins. But, we can make some use of it and put them into our window boxes.

It’s just the right time of year.

Put a whole potatoe into the earth and watch it grow into a green leafy plant. Later in the year this will develop white flowers and some small round fruits.

potato-plant-growth-cycle-white-background

You can let the leaves hang over the balcony or window box. Just make sure you water regularly, especially when it gets hot in the summer.

It is very inexpensive and exciting for children, and adults alike, to watch the growing cycle and being able to eat the produce.

It also makes our window boxes green and pleasant.

Emergency measures needed over failure to collect rubbish

th-rubbishNot only have bin collectors gone on strike but also an action of vandalism of our bin lorries, stops rubbish being collected.

Whilst many are asked to self-isolate, not travel unless absolutely necessary, the only journey many will make is to deposit rubbish and recycling into bins.

How can this be allowed to go on when we have a pandemic forcing school closures and the cancellation of social gatherings?

We need the hygiene to also extent to our streets and not only our homes. Alhtough this picture is not from our estate, it is a general situation throughout the borough. I understand our own caretaker does his utmost to distribute rubbish through empty bin chambers, there is only so much room available.

Mayor, do something now.

Petula pendula Landscaping on Parkview

Betula pendula Finland.jpg
By Percita at FlickrFlickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

I have to make a correction to a previous post. I have been reliably informed that the trees in front of No. 2 Rosebery House and No. 1 Sankey House have actually been planted by Tower Hamlets Homes and are Silver Birches. Betula pendula

Silver Birches reach a height of 14 meters and need to be at least 10 meters away from any house. THH planted those trees 3 meter respectively 4 meters within the perimeters of the flats.

I assume they were planted as part of Tower Hamlets pledge to plant trees in the borough. However the residents in both Sankey and Rosebery House, who are affected by these trees will see the light influx extremely reduced. The roots of the trees may also cause structural damage to the houses.

I have made a formal complaint as there is little point in taking residents’ light away. The trees need to be planted in suitable positions and not just dropped in front of people’s flats so that LBTH can say they planted trees.

I keep you up-dated, because the council will have 4 weeks to answer and then a complaint has to go through stages before it can be taken to the ombudsman.

There is the remote possibility that either the council, as the responsible owner of the land and/or Tower Hamlets Homes want the foundations of Rosebery House to weaken to enable development of the block. Rosebery House is a low 3-storey block, surrounded by 5-storey blocks. It is a preservation area.

Previously suggestions were made to built in the football pitch, the area between Gatehouse school and Rosebery House, which were opposed.

Obviously the amount of deep-rooted trees that are allowed to grow, very near the foundations of the house and all around it, will have an effect on the foundations as we get increasingly dry summers, which will increase the potential damage to the house, see source. There are many THH managed properties in the borough and most of them are properly managed in respect of flora and fauna around them. So why do they systematically run down Rosebery House and increase the amount of trees around the block?

Of course they had the government grant for the external decoations but those trees, very near the building will do a lot of damage to it.

 

The TRA

I have to make a mention of the role of the TRA on the estate. Generally they run the Glasshouse. Previously the Miller family primarily ran the Glasshouse and as their business is related to hosting parties, of course the venue was used for many parties with loud amplified music.

A lot of locals liked the venue, I know of marriages, birthdays and all kinds of very happy celebrations taking part. The Millers are expert party hosts but unfortunately, the nature of the Glasshouse is that it is not sound-proof. Ray Miller has his own party company and you can still hire them, look up Ray’s parties, (so I believe) for parties at venues of your choice. Other local locations, which are more sound-proof, are the Tramshed or Cranbrook.

So the Millers left the venue and now we have another TRA. Though, I doubt that TRA is the correct expression, as there are no tenants involved any longer. The current (T)RA is mainly occupied with planting wild flowers, fruit bushes and trees and getting a beehive on one of the roofs. they work a lot togther with Hackney City Farm and increasingly Extinction Rebellion.

The farm is a great and much-loved asset to the area. I started a gardening project on this estate but the garden venue is very small and only very few people get the pleasure of using it, it is not widely appreciated. I just enjoy gardening my balcony and flower box. I do a little maintenance of plants around my flat, but think that landscape gardening should do the bulk of the work. I’ll do my best to post gardening tips for the flower pot gardener here.

A recent email received shows that the (T)RA are very much aware of problems caused by trees too near to buildings but they have done nothing to even complain about any structural issues on the estate. Problems caused by traffic were addressed by me through the Neighbourhood Watch connections. I had gates installed to stop fast bikers racing through the estate especially in mornings and mid-afternoon.

I left the committee of the (T)RA because I do not think it is efficient.

The Glasshouse is an important venue and dearly loved and must stay available for people to use. It started off as a laundry venue for the tenants when the estate was first built.

But, at the moment, the Glasshouse is occupied by a company at the ground-floor, who pay rent to the TRA and then Extinction Rebellion have it quite a lot. The sewing group, helps Extinction Rebellion sew props for their demos and they also meet there regularly.

I think that ordinary people who just want to hold social gathering without any political aim should also be allowed to use the Glasshouse. People just want to use the venue for occasions like birthdays, baby showers, other celebrations.  Some clubs also want to use it to provide sports like boxing, dancing etc. Unfortunately I was not able to have enough impact on this, as a member of the committee last year, so I have decided not to be part of the committee any longer.

The increasing use of Extinction Rebellion of the venue was introduced gradually and not many noticed it, they only now advertise themselves as friends of the Glasshouse and advertise the venue for meetings. The (T)RA also advertise climate talk meetings at the Glasshouse, which are in fact hosted by XR.

I think that a TRA, meaning Tenants and Residents Association truly needs to represent all tenants and residents and take up all issues on the estate. Any climate issues, must be addressed by individual change in behaviour and general governmental regulations. In practical terms our estate is mainly powerd by electricity and gas central heating. Perhaps and hopefully at some point that gas central heating will be replaced with more environmentally friendly options.

But, planting a few raspberry bushes and fruit trees, hardly makes up sustainability. It is more work than yield and you can get them easier in the local supermarkets. For the average working person, urban gardening is not the main focus.

If people want me to take up the issue of wanting to use the Glasshouse and they find, they cannot get enough support through the councillors, please get in touch. I have been dealing with issues on the estate since many years. The playground behind Mark House, I supported because when I saw young people climbing up the drain pipes and playing on rubbish chutes, I thought the playground improved the lives of younger people and their families.  Traffic is a big issue also and parking.

So, get in touch if you have issues that you feel cannot get addressed otherwise. I am politically neutral.

window box gardening

Most flats have at least one window or balcony box included with their dwelling. A lot of vegetables can be seeded outside from late March/April. To avoid squirrels and birds digging out seeds or seedlings, I have started to use chicken wire to protect my patch.

window box

Most local supermarkets sell all kinds of herb, vegetable and flower seeds. Thre are also seedstrips available for easy use. Give it a try.  It can be joyful to just grow some cauliflowers, cabbages, chillies or potatoes. If you need advice on planting in your window boxes please contact me.