Get ready for the 2021 gardening season

Already we can prepare our crops to be planted outside later in the spring indoors. Seeds can be germinated in pots ready for planting.

Most of our residents have window boxes, balcony boxes or balconies. Some have gardens. There are many great websites available, which tell us what to prune, plant, tend and when.

No gardening effort is too great or small. Indoor gardening has become a fashion for many houseplant lovers too.

If you want to show off your indoor or outdoor gardening efforts, please contact us with pictures.

Ripe tomatoes

Whilst we have very little gardening space on Parkview estate, balcony boxes were my choice of growing tomatoes this year. Not knowing how large those beefsteak tomato stalks actually get, I struggled to keep them upright during those very windy nights. Even without the wind those stalks are not easy to manage in a window or balcony box.

The tomatoes are almost ripe

Still, next year perhaps tomatoes are better grown inside the balcony because of the problems keeping the stalks upright.

I’d also like to experiment with fastening the stalks horizontally somehow.

Just Fact Project

Just found a leaflet from a group PACCT who got Big Lottery funding to educate locals, especially around Parkview and Cranbrook estate.

Being told that 20% of climate emissions com from the food system, is nothing new to me. The question I want to ask why 2 council estates in Tower Hamlets have been selected for this project.

I remember when George Galloway wanted to stop the building of a Tesco Supermarket near Roman Road market; a truly trendy idea, which didn’t get support.

Locals need to get the food that they can afford and in the time they have available.

Whilst Cranbrook estate has allottment like gardening containers and a lot of high tower blocks, Parkview does not have any larger area available for gardening purposes.

The amount of food, which can be grown on housing estates is tiny compared to the amount needed and there is no positive environmental impact other than green leaves producing oxygen.

I suppose this project fits in with the idea to instal a community kitchen in the Glasshouse Community Centre. If you suffer burns, scolds, cuts because you get injured in that project please let us know, we will support you by protesting to local councillors. This project is not covered by the free liability insurance that the Neighbourhood Watch Network provides for NW activities. 

People need to be able to afford the food that they eat. This project neither gives them better wages nor employment conditions. The ability to grow food on council estates is highly restricted just by space requirements.

If anybody feels intimitated by going to supermarkets to buy food, please let us know. Please do not hesitate to complain if you get intimitated by this project in any way, whether it’s by eating meat or anything that group doesn’t approve of.

Absolutely food causes 20% of climate emissions but that is also caused by transporting it. Nobody is going to start rice fields on either Cranbrook or Parkview estate will they? We won’t be farming fish in the local canal. We are not letting us getting bullied to get only the food that is available to us grown locally.

It speaks volumes that this project is being run in 2 of the most deprived areas in London. It would make much more sense to run such a project in an area with a lot of gardening space.

We support food growing on balconies and gardens allocated to properties. Neighbourhood Watch as an organisation does not support the project.

 

 

Balcony tomatoes

balcony tomatoesMy balcony tomatoes have grown into unbelievable dimensions. I just put some seeds into my balcony tray to see what happens. And this is what happened. I just put seeds from actual tomatoes into the soil, like those multi-coloured ones, you can buy these days.

I don’t think there are any height restrictions for plants to put into balcony planters or window boxes. It is however turning out to be difficult to stop the stalks from collapsing. But, I’ll do my best to grow those tomatoes for this year but recommend that people rather grow tomatoes within the balcony, from perhaps a grow bag or pot.

Next year, I know better. But this year, I see home-made ketchup coming up. Balcony gardening is a great past-time and some plants, like tomatoes, do not need a lot of attention. They are happy with being watered twice per day and getting a bit of tomatoe fertilizer off and on. So anybody who works can grow some home-grown tomatoes without much effort.

It’s nice to see home-grown produce, however small the growing space.

Neighbourhood Watch activities

All residents who are carrying out Neighbourhood Watch activities on this estate are covered by Free Public Liability Insurance provided by our parent organisation Ourwatch.

When you next apply for or renew your home insurance you may want to state that you are part of a registered Neighbourhood Watch scheme and you may get a discount on the cost of insuring your home contents.

Please note that TRA activties like gardening on the estate are not covered by Neighbourhood Watch Public Liability insurance.

There is though a great example of Neighbourhood Watch community planting for a small pocket park, which was council funded. That initiative involved planting in a small area with very low level plants only. I am making enquiries whether the pocket park area was very much restricted to one small area or covered a larger area.

Please inform the main coordinator, which is myself, if you carry out Neighbourhood Watch activities it would help.

Please contact me if you require any meetings.

Estate maintenance cont…..

Took the opportunity to go on an estate walkabout with some landscaping gardeners from Tower Hamlets Homes.

The weeds certainly have a good time on the estate. But the weeds not only show a failure to remove them, they also show that the concrete forecourts, staircases, fences are rotting. The crumbling appearance of our estate is worrying.

Picture 1 shows how an Umbrella tree sapling in Sewardstone Road, it should be removed at this stage. Better still if the Umbrella trees get removed we do not have those constant saplings appearing. The state of the concrete is appalling, also the iron work is rusted and has been painted over in black glossy paint, whilst it is rotting underneath. The forecourt at Kemp House is full of weeds and the concrete is a mass of crumbling conrete. The stairs at Rosebery show that at least the weeds stand nice and tall as soldiers along the stairs

burch-sapling-pyggottA birch tree sapling on the stair entrance of Pyggott House. This is against building regulations to have tree saplings growing on houses but it at least shows that Tower Hamlets Homes has taken great care to renovate the external window frames but unfortunately the other pictures also show that the rest of the estate is not being maintained.

Apparently landscape gardeneres are instructed not to remove saplings unless absolutely necessary. It is absolutely necessary to remove the birch from Pyggott House.

canopy-RoseberyThere is an enormous tree canopy along Rosebery House. The two umbrella trees there are responsible for all the saplings along the street.

The argument was made that umbrella trees are considered as pretty. They may be pretty if they are visible but along Rosebery House, all we see under the dark canopy are the tree trunks and some leaves.

Unfortunately the large trees within the boundary of the estate take away all the light from residents.

I want to point out that it really depends on the desire of the residents how well the estate is kept. I have not seen any other estate in the area that has such a dense plant growth. Going across the park over the Hackney I see all the estates looking neat and orderly, well-trimmed and maintained. Even other estates within Tower Hamlets are better maintained.

In conclusion, we only should have as many plants as we can maintain responsibly and the maintenance of structure and concrete and fencing obviously is more important than the constant planting of even more plants on the estate.

simply horrible

I can’t contain my dismay about the horrible planting scheme that the Parkview TRA has put upon us. I am not the only resident who has a view onto spent wildflowers. They look horrible for most of the year.

Here is how this came about.

  1. The Goodgym Tower Hamlets dug up the lawn
  2. The Parkview TRA planted wildflower seeds.

gardeners
The Parkview gardening Volunteers prepare a lawn area for mixed natural habitat planting. Doesn’t it remind us of Extinction Rebellion diggin up the lawn in Cambridge?

wild flowers
the spent wildflowers look simply horrible.

I can understand the environmental benefit of wildflowers but why put them into such a prominent location where we have to look at the stalks for most of the year. There are plenty of remote location, which cannot be overlooked so prominently around the estate.

Please click through to some Gardeners World prize gardens if you want to look at some nice gardens.

PS: Today on 26. July 2020, the dry stalks have been removed and it looks slightly better. Pic to follow.

However I am objecting to this scheme being the responsibility of the TRA because there seems to be no clarity as to how many people ctually are responsible. All residents should be clearly informed whose responsiblity it is to mend such plant schemes and what their names and contact details are. The TRA changes each year or more often, so who is liable for the mess if it happens?

Bug hotels

bug-hotelBug hotels provide an important environmental service. They can become home for butterflies, ladybirds, bugs and wild bees. They often house small insects, which consume pests from plants.

The bugs will stay within the perimeters of the hotel and don’t tend to move into our flats. They like the dark and secure environment the hotel provides for them. They will however enjoy our balcony plants.

Bug hotels are currently on offer at the Lidl store in Well Street for the bargain price of £7.99 but they can also be bought from other retailers like Amazon for home delivery.

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 lend 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.

 

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.