Posts Tagged ‘Reused & Recycled’
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
As part of our Plants for Places course we recently visited the allotments at Tenantry Down to get some more inspiration for creative vegetable growing.
What a treat – the sun was warm and the allotments were stunning – so many of the Tenantry Down allotments are highly imaginative, creative spaces. Of course very much about growing vegetables and flowers in lots of different ways, but also about personal expression, being creative, recycling, contemplation and friendship. There were even some hens – much to our delight!
We especially loved the huge variety of structures and the emphasis on recycling – check the plastic bottle greenhouse in the making! Also note the seating made from hazel and from wood salvaged from pallets.
NOTE: If you would like to join us for the last session of our Plants for Places course on Wednesday June 19 – talking naturalistic gardening with grasses and perennials at the wonderful Marchants Hardy Plants nursery in Laughton (evening session starts 6.15pm and finishes at 9.15pm) – please contact us ASAP!
Photos by Jan Mulreany (thank you Jan!)
Posted by editor on Monday, 19 November 2012
Packing up for winter means cutting back, cleaning your pots, washing down the greenhouse, tidying your shed – and also sharpening and oiling your tools all ready for winter!
Ian Swain collects and restores garden tools. He started acquiring and restoring more traditional equipment over 15 years ago when, while studying at agricultural college, he simply found many modern tools and gardening items unsatisfactory in use, and aesthetically unappealing.
His recent workshop at The Garden House was a masterclass in good maintenance; Ian demonstrating all aspects of sharpening axes, loppers, shears, secateurs and spades. Ian explained in great detail the process for each different tool, each tool requiring careful assessment of the angle of the blade edge. Below info gives some of Ian’s key preparation pointers.
Safety comes first of course – Ian advises:
- Appropriate protective equipment, perhaps gloves and safety boots
- First Aid kit
- Adequate equipment to allow you to work without cutting corners, or yourself
- A quiet place to work free of distractions. Perhaps the job shouldn’t be done on site?
- If you are in your place of work then you need a Risk Assessment to show that you have considered these issues.
Some signs that sharpening is required are:
- The tool user is having to apply excessive force to the tool
- The item being cut is left ragged, or with parallel scratches on its cut face
- Chips can be seen on the blade edge
- If looked at head on the blade edge has bright spots that reflect light
Use the right tools for the job; sharpening devices could include:
- Carborundum stones
- Treadle whetstones
- Carpenters bench stones
- Slip stones
- Diamond stones/hones
- Japanese water stones
Most of these can be obtained in various grades from coarse to very fine. Costs vary from a few pounds to tens of pounds, depending on quality, size and shape. Many stones are fragile, and should always be kept in a padded box. Virtually all the sharpening materials should be used wet, because you are removing metal from blade, and water keeps things moving, and prevents the metal particles getting stuck in the rough abrasive. In addition it prevents metal dust being created. Spit does nicely when out on site!
Sit down somewhere quiet and out of the way. Support the tool (for heavy or large items) or the sharpening stone (light items like knives) as appropriate. Depending on what you are sharpening an appropriate support might be your thigh, a stump, a log or the fork of a tree. Improvise, but think through the consequences. A vice can be used to hold the tool, but then you must be vigilant that it stays firmly clamped, take care not to impale yourself, and never leave the tool unattended in the vice.
Wear your gloves, don’t get distracted – look at what you are doing! Unless just ‘touching up’ the tool you may need to start with a coarse abrasive, and use this to cut back the bevel until you have eliminated the damage (i.e. wear, chips, dents). Then refine the edge with a finer stone. Sharpen away from the edge if you value you fingertips. Don’t monitor progress by touching the blade edge.
When you have finished sharpening your tools wipe over the blades with 3-in-1 oil. Wooden handles can be rubbed over with boiled linseed oil.
Most of Ian’s stock of restored tools harks from the mid 20th century, but he does occasionally have Victorian and Edwardian items. Their quality and design is often exceptional, and is unlikely to be repeated by modern items. Look out for Ian at various plant and garden fairs in Sussex through the year – and we look forward to welcoming him again to The Garden House! www.theluddite.com
Posted by editor on Sunday, 14 October 2012
Is it possible to have too many watering cans? I have been looking for the perfect watering can for years and here it is!
It’s simple bright green and plastic (above) – certainly not the most attractive, but so far it’s the most efficient! It pours really well and doesn’t leak – and there’s a knob on the top where you can keep your rose so you don’t lose it – clever. It’s by Decco, holds 10 ltrs and cost £6.94 (a bargain!).
As you can see from all these photos, we’ve been buying and trying many over the years and have accumulated a vast array of all shapes, colours, sizes and efficiency. All have memories attached – some were inherited or acquired, some were given by friends, but most just found their way here and stayed!
Those of you who have visited The Garden House will know we’ve a large garden and what seems like hundreds of pots to water, and when the weather turns dry – as it has so often over this strange year between the downpours – we have to do loads of hand-watering! This is often down to the wonderful ‘Friday Group’, a group of regular Friday morning volunteers who learn as they work in the garden tackling all tasks with humour, enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy.
If you have photos of your favourite watering can and can tell us a bit about it (how, where, why!), email it to us and we’ll post an update. Email: email@example.com
Posted by editor on Saturday, 31 March 2012
If you want to garden organically, save money, and – so important right now – save water, think seriously about composting your garden and household waste. Even in the smallest garden, using your own compost you can grow plants, fruit and vegetables without chemicals – and it’s free!
What you CAN compost:
- Pet manure and bedding
- Vegetable peelings
- Uncooked kitchen scraps, eggshells and fruit skins
- Dead flowers
- Hedge and grass clippings
- Coffee grounds and spent tea bags
- Wood ash
- Natural fibre fabrics
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Human hair
What you CANNOT compost:
- Plastic bags, foam and plastic packaging
- Medicines and chemicals
- Spray cans, metal cans
- Disposable nappies and synthetic fabrics
- Glass bottles
- Cooked food
- Heavy root material, branches and some straw-like grasses may take just too long to compost so are best left out
WHERE to make compost:
- You can buy a huge variety of types and sizes of compost bin, you can even just build a heap and cover it over with some polythene or cardboard – however a bin of some sort is neater and easier to manage.
- Site your bin in a sunny or semi-shaded position, and on bare earth or turf
- It should be easily accessible (maybe positioned so that you can access with a wheel-barrow), and have a lid or cover
HOW to make compost:
- Aim for a balance of materials, and aim to add to the bin in layers at regular intervals (every couple of days or so)
- Keep the material damp, but not over wet or it may not produce a very pleasant end product
- Turn occasionally – you may have a compost bin that turns on an axle, or use a special tool which you push into the compost, twist and pull out again, thus bringing the lower levels up to the surface – in this way you can also tell whether the lower layers have composted
- If you have two or more bins, you can rotate – fill one bin then turn it into the next bin, then start filling the bin you have just emptied – and so on…
The best compost is loose, rich, dark brown and earthy smelling – this can take from as little as two months to a year depending on conditions and content. It is ‘black gold’ and positively the best feed, mulch and soil conditioner you can create.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 4 September 2011
The first signs of autumn are upon us. Somehow the air just smells different, and rain aside, September and October are just about my favourite months in the garden. Although there is much in flower (in fact a wonderful time of year for all those late flowering perennials), things are gradually closing down.
Having had a fairly lazy summer in the garden – my ‘to do’ list for the next few weeks is getting longer and longer…
The vegetable garden needs clearing of the almost finished runner beans, courgette and squash plants are tired and sprawling, the onions have been pulled and although this season’s tomatoes have been excellent I can see I’ll only have another week or so of cropping. We’ve eaten the plums and pears, made jars and jars of crab-apple jelly, and now the apple trees are weighed down with fruit and I’m trying to work out how to preserve them (luckily I’ve just found a Sarah Raven recipe for Apple & Mint Compote that looks delicious, so will get cooking tomorrow).
Seeds need to be collected, and seeds need to be sown. The flowerbeds are still colourful and abundant with big blowsy dahlias, neat little zinnias, verbena bonariensis, persicaria and many other late-flowering perennials. So we’ll have another few weeks of fresh flowers for the house, but then they’ll have to be cleared and dahlia tubers lifted (a real palaver, but the ones I left in the ground last year did not survive, so it has to be done).
Earlier today at the Sussex Prairies Garden’s open day (rain, sun, wind, a typical approaching-autumn day!), temptation was all around. The various specialist nurseries all had great plants for sale – it’s so worthwhile seeking out specialist nurseries in your local area, their knowledge, helpfulness and beautifully raised young plants just make buying such a pleasure (even when there really, really is no room left in your garden!). So, even though there really, really is no room left in my garden (!), I bought three Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’, three stunning dark magenta Lobelia ‘tania’, a delightful Japanese Toad Lily (Tricyrtis formosana), a light mauve Physostegia virgina variegata, and some pretty white-flowered garlic chive plants (allium tuberosum) for the veg patch.
The Garden House stall caught everyone’s notice, with its display of herbs and preserves, mosaics by Sue Samways, and posters highlighting all the GH autumn workshops and courses, and the events for 2012 – including an evening talk with Fergus Garrett, a spring visit to Woolbeding Gardens at Midhurst, and a four-day trip to see Beth Chatto’s garden, the gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage in Norfolk (inspiration at every turn!), and the truly wonderful Woottens of Wenhaston nursery!
Whilst at Sussex Prairies I also bought a beautiful old spade (a ladies border spade) restored to its almost original glory by Michael Ristic whose stall was a treasure-trove of pre-loved garden tools. It feels quite unique and nothing like the garden-centre variety. Hopefully it will also last a lot longer too (I managed to break two border forks this year!) and encourage me to get going, lifting and dividing!
And the spring bulb catalogues have arrived – another sign that autumn is definitely here. As always the catalogues look so tempting, and it’s sensible to try and do your planning and ordering sooner rather than later. I noticed that several of September’s garden magazines have inspirational photos of spring pots, showing varieties of narcissi and tulips mixed with various other bulbs, winter-flowering pansies and evergreens – useful if you’re feeling stuck for ideas and new combinations.
So…whilst enjoying the last of late summer, and contemplating an abundant autumn, I also find myself happily looking forward to next spring – what joy!
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 22 June 2011
If nothing gives you more pleasure than checking out other people’s gardens, then the Garden Gadabout is for you! Two weekends – 25th/26th June, and 2nd/3rd July – over 70 local gardens around the Brighton & Hove (and many beyond!) will be opening their garden gates for charity.
The gardens are wonderfully varied, giving inspiration at every turn – from the smallest courtyard to large ‘wild’ gardens and allotments – each with its own unique mix of planting and hard landscaping ideas.
The Garden House will be open on the first weekend only, 25th/26th June. There’ll be plants and seeds for sale, fresh eggs from our hens, a tombola – and a whole lot more! Our garden is a unique and imaginatively restored old market garden, extending behind other houses to make a very large space filled with vegetables, flowers and many decorative ideas using recycled materials. We’ll also be offering lunches, wine and soft drinks – so make a date, bring some friends and come along! Find us at 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT (side gate!).
For info on all the gardens and downloadable guides, go to www.gardengadabout.org.uk
Carole Klein, patron of the Garden Gadabout, says: “I’m thrilled to be patron of The Sussex Beacon’s Garden Gadabout once again. This year over 70 gorgeous gardens and community spaces will be opening across the two weekends, and there’s a wealth of wonders to discover. As well as scrumptious lunches and teas, many of the gardens this year will be offering something a little bit extra to make your visit even more special.
There’s nothing quite like being a part of making things grow, watching and waiting for the changes that unfold day to day, season to season. The Gadabout is a great opportunity to gather ideas from all sorts of spaces. From bold and stunning contemporary designs, to quiet havens of wildlife – of all shapes and sizes. I’m a passionate enthusiast of sharing our green spaces, it’s just so inspiring to discover what other people have lovingly created. So take a good browse amongst these pages and plan your visit, not forgetting of course where to stop for teas, cake and lunch.
The Garden Gadabout also fulfils an important role in raising essential funds for The Sussex Beacon, enabling them to continue their work, meeting the changing needs of men and women living with HIV. This year the funds raised by the Garden Gadabout are more important than ever, as new diagnosis of HIV continue to increase and fundraising becomes even tougher.
A big thanks goes to all the lovely gardeners who open and share their gardens, to all the volunteers who help them, and to all of you who come along and enjoy this wonderful event.
So go on….get Gadding!”
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Our garden here at The Garden House is run on organic and recycling principles. So we love and admire gardens created to promote similar ideals.
At the Chelsea Flower Show last week one of our favourite gardens was Places of Change, brought together by the Eden Project in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Homeless Link.
Up to 50 homelessness charities took part, contributing to Eden’s second year at Chelsea, with more than 75 people working on the site at a time. All received vocational training in woodwork, planting and other horticultural skills that they can use to get employment in the future.
It featured five designated zones: crops and food; floristry and leisure; medicine and health; industry and manufacture – a metaphor for the hidden treasures that lie within communities and the most unexpected places.
The eclectic design included a greenhouse made using recycled bottles, plants grown in hostels around the country, trees donated from cemeteries in East London and sculptures made from old washing machines.
Another favourite garden run on recycling principles is a “pop up” community garden in Lewes (run by a group of local artists and gardeners – one of whom is our Garden House friend, Ella!). Here abandoned packing cases are reused as raised vegetable beds, and living willow woven into hideaways, thick fencing – and even a sofa!
Find this exciting and creative “guerilla” garden at the Old Fire Station, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PL. It will be open the weekend of 3rd/4th July as part of the Garden Gadabout - the open garden scheme that’s been running for over fifteen years in support of Sussex-based charity The Sussex Beacon (it started with a few supporters opening their gardens in Brighton to last year an event where over 70 gardens threw open their garden gates).
Garden Gadabout open gardens are spread far and wide from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between. Do make time to visit this and other gardens. Small or large – all are inspirational, creative - and real!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 20 March 2010
We’re delighted to welcome Alys Fowler to The Garden House on Saturday 10 July. Alys, the well-known writer and horticulturalist, and Gardener’s World presenter, will lead a workshop on the ‘edible garden’.
“I want a beautifully productive garden that weaves together flowers, fruit and vegetables in a way that mimics natural systems, – so that nature and I can get along peacefully together”
Alys’ philosophy chimes perfectly with ours at The Garden House – it will be great to hear her ideas on how to grow flowers and vegetables together – ideas and practical demonstrations on how to achieve success in our own back garden or allotment.
It promises to be a very special day here at the Garden House! Do book early as places will be limited. Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.
Alys started gardening in her early teens and after leaving school trained at the Royal Horticultural Society, the New York Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She started working at BBC Gardeners’ World as a horticultural researcher, appeared at the Gardeners’ World Live show last summer and is currently filming the new series of Gardeners’ World.
She writes for all those who are interested in transforming unexpected spaces, like urban locations, into thriving gardens.
In her new book, The Edible Garden (BBC Books, £18.99), which coincides with a six-part BBC television series starting early April, Alys shows how to grow flowers and vegetables in any back garden, without worrying too much about the rights and wrongs of what you may be doing.
“I would argue that what I’m doing is really, really old school. Veg and flowers growing together is the ancient way of doing agriculture, it’s the traditional cottage garden.” (quote: 13 March www.telegraph.co.uk )
Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.