My CS fellowship is based at North Edinburgh Arts, but I live in London. Our SURGE policy – Small, Upcycle, Recycle, Grow, Energy – is live, and as part of our plans (including our Big Lottery stage 2 grant application) I created a SURGE garden in my small walled garden. Here are photos from June 2011 to June 2012.
June 2011 – I plant seeds and source free containers
During a family reunion in Hawai’i in December 2009, I bought many packets of Kitazawa Seeds. http://www.kitazawaseed.com/index.html Kitazawa is America’s oldest Asian seed specialist (esta 1917), and their products are superb.
I planted Kitazawa seeds, locally sourced seeds (basil, marjoram), and a packet of free salad leaf seeds I was sent by the BBC. I had the best fortune with Kitazawa especially Ryokuho (Chinese Kale) which overwintered without any special care, and Chrysanthemum Greens. I wasn’t able to crop anything from my British seeds except for the BBC leaf greens which grew rather well.
I found my planters by scouring east London streets for rubbish left on the pavement. Best find was two new wood veneer CD cabinets. I removed the shelves, drilled drainage holes (love my power tools! and created two long planters. I found tubs, planters, a flat bottomed wire basket with legs, and small grow pots on garden walls, rubbish bins etc. I bought soil which I augmented with worm castings and my compost heap, and two dozen orange plastic plant pots, but otherwise I spent very little money.
I found this bench on the pavement and sawed off the ends because they were riddled with rot. Makes a perfect grow bench that I moved in and out of the flat when night weather dipped too low for seedlings to survive outside.
I am a vegetarian. One of my favorite foods is Scottish Pease Porridge. I garnished this serving with Tamari Sauce and my home mixed Furikake.
Roasted stuffed peppers baked in a really brilliant Japanese casserole pot. Wish I could remember the name of the village where they are made.
Beardy and Charlie try out the CD planter. They too are my found treasures. Lots of stray and feral cats in my area and I have rescued many – including a pregnant cat during the 2011 riots. Once her five kittens were old enough – all were successfully re-homed. Mum and two kittens went as a group to a good home. B & C are two of my core crew of four.
I crop my first Japanese leaves in early July and make a sandwich with beef tomato, Italian flat peach, roasted red pepper (with a black tail) and a nut cutlet. YUM!
My Japanese leaf crop thrives, and here I augment a vegetable stir fry with Ryokuho leaves.
By late July I can crop enough Japanese leaves to make a salad. Didn’t grow the tomatoes or avocado – those are purchased. I’ve sprinkled a seed mix on top. Extra virgin olive oil dressing.
My beautiful Japanese leaves are enhanced with a favourite – blueberries.
Here is a delicacy Michelin chefs would love to get their hands on – the delicate white flowers of the Ryokuho plant. They are delicious.
I cropped free wild blackberries from the roof of the flat roofed garage that abuts my walled garden. I found the wooden mat on the street – the things ppl throw away!
I gathered a basket of apples from the gutter of a street not far from me. Very good and fresh. Look at the next photo I took of the homeowner’s garden – a food recycling bin full of apples. Shameful waste!
Late August salad. By now I’m getting a good mix of different types of leaves.
Cute little caterpillar. I had quite a few baby white and monarch butterflies in my garden over the summer. I don’t use any toxic sprays inside my flat or in the garden. Quite a bit of leaf damage, but I’m ok with that and I don’t have the heart to kill anything either.
Still getting a reasonable amount of leaves – these are Japanese Chrysanthemum greens.
In the week of Christmas I cropped a multitude of flowers from my Ryokuho plants.
By February it’s cold enough to freeze water in the cat bowl, but my Ryokuho survive.
By March the yellow flower plant outside my window (no idea of the name) is in full bloom.
First crop from the overwintered Ryokuho plants. They are brilliant, hardy plants and delicious.
We are at the end of my 2011-2012 SURGE garden review. My roses thrived this year too, and here are a few on top of my desk in front of one of my favourite thrift store finds – a 1950s era paint by number – said to be the largest and most complex of the kits sold during the boom years of paint by numbers.
Posted by Denna Jones