Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Competition: Win a Year's Free RHS Membership!

To help celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity, The London Vegetable Garden has teamed up with The Royal Horticultural Society to offer one lucky winner a year's free membership!

In order to enter this fantastic competition, simply email us a photo of your garden and tell us in 100 words what you are doing to promote biodiversity in your garden. The winner will be chosen on {insert date} and in addition to a year's RHS membership, will get their picture featured on both the RHS website and the London Vegetable Garden.

Simply email londonvegetablegarden@yahoo.co.uk to enter.

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions

i) All entrants must submit a photograph of their garden and write in no more than 100 words about what they are doing to promote biodiversity in the photographed garden.
ii) In entering, the participant agrees that the RHS and the London Vegetable Garden has free use of all photographs and blurbs submitted and is able to use these as and how they please.
iii) The winner will be selected by Callum Saunders of the London Vegetable Garden on 23.04.10. His decision is final.
iv) The winner will receive one year's free membership to the RHS. The prize is supplied by the Royal Horticultural Society and is non-negotiable.
v) Offer is open to UK residents aged 18 and over.

Biodiversity on the Balcony, Patio, Porch...

For many, the concept of 'urban gardening' is limited to filling a flat with foliage, placing pots sporadically on the balcony, or even pottering around Kew Gardens one afternoon. As the London Vegetable Garden project prepares to celebrate its first birthday, I hope that many of these blinkered views have at the very least, been allayed; the simple truth however is that city dwellers remain unaware of just how much they can do, regardless of how much garden space they have.

You may not consider your humble balcony, porch or patio an 'ecosystem', but the small section of city concrete that houses washing lines, bicycles and cigarette stubs could very easily be transformed into an urban oasis that encourages plants and wildlife to grow. The reasoning behind this, aside from turning a bleak city space into a pleasant natural environment, is simple: the promotion of biodiversity.

It is no secret that on a global level, biodiversity (the variation of life within a certain ecosystem) is in decline. But did you know that this year is the International Year of Biodiversity? The Royal Horticultural Society is marking the IYB on May 22nd and aims to promote a collective effort that draws attention to this loss – as well as spurring us on to do something about it.

Whilst there are several things that those fortunate enough to have gardens can do to help mark the IYB, those with smaller spaces needn't think they are limited to smaller efforts. Here are simply a few of the things that the RHS recommends followers of the London Vegetable Garden can do to help promote biodiversity – and the best thing is, you don't need a sprawling garden on a country estate!

For those limited to a balcony (a category in which I currently include myself), there are several plants that attract bees – a campaign that is currently gaining some serious weight. For the more adventurous, a few bits of wood and some hollow bamboo canes are all that is needed to create a 'bee hotel' – simply click here to find out how to make one.

Urban gardeners with patios have slightly more free rein. Rotting wood is both home and food for an array of bugs, with log piles offering shelter in summer and frost-free hibernation in summer. Alternatively, compost caf├ęs are one of the most positive things anyone with a garden can do to reduce landfill and enrich their soil, as well as attracting wildlife in their own right – see how you can make one right here.

These are simply three ways in which urban gardeners can get involved with the International Year of Biodiversity and help to stop the worrying trend for declining biodiversity. For more details on the IYB and to see how you can get involved using your urban garden, patio or balcony, simply visit the dedicated page on The Royal Horticultural Website by clicking here.

Now check the following post to see how you can win a year's free membership to the RHS!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

London Vegetable Garden: The Next Chapter…


What with packing boxes for the move, re-arranging flights at the last minute for a wedding this weekend (thank you SO much British Airways), walking 17 miles for charity yesterday and generally being rushed off my feet at work, it’s been a busy few weeks!

In my previous blog post, I told you all how I was looking to try and find a small plot of land – be it an allotment or some garden space – to continue the London Vegetable Garden project and carry on the urban gardening bug!

Well, after weeks of appeals on Twitter, Facebook, gardening forums and blogs, as well as sticking up posters in local allotments (very guerrilla gardening style!), and after some promising leads, I have secured half of an allotment in the local vicinity!

First of all, it really has overwhelmed me how much opportunity is out there if you push hard enough. Although England’s bureaucratic local authorities seem determined to make it as hard as possible for people to grow their own produce in their local boroughs, the response of like-minded people has been truly touching indeed.

I’ve had two offers of people’s gardens and very nearly got somewhere with a plot on Channel 4’s ‘Landshare’ website. However, this week I received a phone call that I’d been longing to get and have been offered half of an allotment for the summer whilst the owners landscape their garden.

As you can imagine, I’m truly ecstatic to think about the opportunities this now brings – and also very aware at how genuinely lucky I am. Allotment waiting lists in some London boroughs top 40 years – making this more of a token statistic than a viable ‘waiting list’.

Anyway, the London Vegetable Garden blog has been a sparse place in recent months, but the securing of an allotment space means we’ll be getting stuck right back into amateur urban gardening issues next month! I’m thrilled to have the space to try growing things on a more serious scale now, and the blog will play a key role in this. The London Vegetable Garden (as it will remain – despite the move to Surrey!) will focus on:

i) Gardening progress – what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, tips and advice and learnings!
ii) Issues surrounding urban gardening, allotments, sharing land and local politics – I remain committed to getting more city dwellers out and gardening.

I hope to have an update, some more information (and possibly some photos!) after going to view the allotment on Monday. Until then, I’d just like to say a huge thank you to the local gardening community for their kind help, support and offers of garden space; your help and assistance has restored some of my faith in humanity and has allowed me to continue pursuing the organic odyssey that has captivated me so completely.

Watch this space!

The poster that secured my new allotment is featured at the top of the page!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Interview on The Ecologist Website


A while back, a journalist contact of mine interviewed me regarding urban gardening and my attempts to grow vegetables from the constraints of a tiny London balcony! You can read the full interview, in which Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, and I discuss the current trend for 'window food' by clicking here.

Monday, 1 March 2010

LAND NEEDED IN RICHMOND!!!

Well folks, it’s official – the London Vegetable Garden is, quite literally, moving on to pastures new!

After an incredibly enjoyable year attempting (and in some cases, succeeding!) to grow vegetables from the confines of a Hackney balcony, my better half and I are moving to Richmond.

Now, our new flat has no garden or balcony, but I am determined not to let this stop my progress and passion for gardening. The London Vegetable Garden will continue – providing I can find a share of an allotment space or the use of someone’s garden!

I have signed up to ‘Landshare’ – the Channel 4 website that aims to match landowners with vegetable growers – you can see my profile by clicking here.

As you can imagine, demand for allotments is higher than ever before, so it’s going to be a difficult goal to achieve. However, if anyone reading this knows anyone in or around Richmond with some spare allotment space, half a garden they wouldn’t mind giving up, or any green space at all, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!

I’m moving in April and ideally would love to secure a small space in March ready for April. If anyone fancies teaming up with the London Vegetable Garden and helping me to continue this great project, please spread the word! Know anyone in Richmond with an old garden or allotment? Tell them to get in touch!

If you want to discuss this with me in further detail, you can reach me in the following ways:

Email me!
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn

So please – help me to keep my organig odyssey alive!

Many thanks,

Callum

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