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Hello from London, UK

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Hello from London, UK

Post  madpiano on 1/5/2013, 10:04 am

Hello

I am new here and new to vegetable gardening, apart from watching my mum grow lots of stuff when I was a kid. I have a tiny garden (I think the average US balcony may be bigger than my garden) and it is north facing. Although my even smaller front garden makes up for that, as it is south facing and a sun trap.

I am going to try square foot gardening this year, but as I do not have any room in the flower beds (and they are in the shade anyway), I am going to do it with containers, so essentially a mix of both, container gardening and square foot gardening.

I have a small space on my decking that gets sun most of the day and I will make some use of the space out front, especially the window boxes.

My biggest headache is what to grow when, so I can harvest one thing and plant another.

Our climate here is relatively mild with about 3 weeks of frost towards the end of January (at the moment we have 11C / 51F), and long, cool, rainy summers. Last year was a total washout with no heat and lots of rain, which surprisingly my Rosemary absolutely loved and my Bay Tree has gone bonkers. Both were planted in this garden by my landlord for drought resistancy!

Anyways, I will go and read a bit around the forum and see what I can learn.

Cheers
Sabine
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  walshevak on 1/5/2013, 11:19 am

Does anyone remember the pictures of the townhouse in London that had the entire front yard, the back area, all windows had boxes and lots of veggies climbing up the walls pictured? I've been searching the internet and the forum trying to show madpiano what can be done with small spaces in London.

BTW, welcome madpiano.

Kay

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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  quiltbea on 1/5/2013, 11:50 am

Welcome madpiano. I'm an Anglophile and watch your Britcoms every Sat nite here on our Public TV Station. Love them. And of course, Downton Abbey.

As for growing, using pots is a great way to go. You can move them to reach more sun in most cases or inside if it gets too darn cold. I, myself, even with a nice SFG in the backyard, grow many things in pots. Even tomatoes, peppers, and last year eggplant (aubergine). This year I found a zucchini (courgette) that will grow in a pot and some bush cucumbers, so I'll be trying those as well.

Have you heard of Tiny Tim Tomato? I hear that can be grown indoors year round in a pot so I'm going to try that this year. I'd love to have tomatoes growing in winter here in Maine where the winters are long, cold and very snowy for 3 months of the year.

You can get a lot of fresh food from containers, so do it.
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  Lindacol on 1/5/2013, 12:34 pm

@walshevak wrote:Does anyone remember the pictures of the townhouse in London that had the entire front yard, the back area, all windows had boxes and lots of veggies climbing up the walls pictured? I've been searching the internet and the forum trying to show madpiano what can be done with small spaces in London.

BTW, welcome madpiano.

Kay

http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/my-growing-diary/
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  plantoid on 1/5/2013, 4:54 pm

Hi Sabine,
Welcome to the site .
To get a flavour of a small garden & pots I think there is one within the Europe section from about a year ago .
I see you are at Norwood do you avoid the frosts by being near the " Big smoke " ?

Sun gold are a delightful small ( large cherry type ) orange tomato that grow well in 600 mm deep pots , lettuces can be grown as cut and come again in pots as well as mixed leaf stuff , spring onions , radish and loads of herbs .
Ornamental cabbages can not only look good in pots you can eat them as well .
there is a new dwarf kale called kabuki it should do well in a decent sized pot so will some of the newer minature caulis .
check out carrots in the online seed stores like suttons , fothergill , dt brown and thompson & morgan. You can move a pot in or outside if the weather is good and grow almost a kilo iof carrots in a 12 inch deep pot

If you PM me your address I can let you have two or three heirloom runner beans , they will grow up string to a bed room window if you have that height available or they can be trained horizontal .
These seeds have consistantly given me several pounds of 24 inch long string free runner beans per plant .
They were planted in quality MM and given the odd feed of blood fish and bone meal once the beans had started to form they also have a long harvest season and produce massses of lovely red flowers. They are delicious , freeze well after a quick blanch and ice water chill and keep as fresh ones in the fridge for five or so days . cooked in stews etc they also hold up well .

You can also grow courgettes in pots but will have to feed with tomato feed once they flower .
I managed to get hold of 20 x 350 mm high by 300 mm across round cut flower tubs from out local Coop for nothing they make excellent tubs . You'll need to make a 20 mm drain hole in the side about 30 mm up from the bottom to let out excess water . The reason for the sideholevis that you'll get a shallow water reservior for plants to drink from on hot days instead of them being fulyy drained down from a bottom hole in the base of the pot.
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  quiltbea on 1/5/2013, 6:43 pm

plantoid,,,,,you are a fount of garden knowledge. I usually learn something new from you every now and then. Thanks.
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  madpiano on 1/5/2013, 8:02 pm

wow, many thanks for the long reply!!!!

Yes, I am in Norwood (so, I actually live in Croydon, but I try and keep that quiet!) - it's very built up here, so we don't get as much frost as Kent and Surrey. But it has been so warm here anyway this year so far. I think we may get a sharp frost at the end of the month though.... at least I hope so, as the slugs are still running about everywhere! (yes, mine are fast!)

Sungold are top of my list. I have been working on the list all day, reading forums and reviews. Mine are all going outside, not pretty little roofs and no greenhouse. So I narrowed down my choice to:

Sungold F1 (not Select)
Gardener's Delight
Bloody Butcher
Hahms Gelbe Topftomate
Tumbler
Micro Tom (just for fun)

Does that sound about right?

Currently I am struggling with Lettuces....I am glad there are so many fancy versions, but I just want to grow plain old lettuce? No Iceberg (far too cheap in the shop), no mixes.... I think I may have a look at the seed choice at Lidl, this could be just the thing they have....
Same with Rocket - I just want a very plain version. Most definitely not a mild version, I want to grow it because it is peppery!! I had planned for all the rocket to go into cat food tins (yes, I sterilized them....cat food stinks!), one plant per tin. I guess Lettuce is too big for that?

Do Peas need a lot of sunshine? The plan was to grow Peas and once they were done to grow Beans after in those pots, but I realized that a) I shouldn't grow those 2 in the same spot and b) by the time the peas are finished, it will be too late for the beans. So the Beans will get the sunny spot next to the tomatoes (thinking about "Trail of tears"?). The spot that the peas then would get will not get an awful lot of sunshine, as soon as the trees are in full leaf and also I will need that wall later for the lettuces / herbs in the cat food tins. I may just give them a miss?

Carrots....I am not really wanting to grow these, as they are so cheap to buy. I really, really want to grow Radishes though, as I absolutely love them and they are so expensive (I spent about £8/week last year on them!). Again, that will be something to buy at Lidl. My mum has had really good luck with their radish seeds (although they may be different, considering my parents live in Germany).

Those flower buckets.....I don't live far from a florist!!! I will ask if I can have some. They are perfect as they are black (I already have 2 from when I bought flowers for people) and quite deep. Brilliant tip - otherwise I will ask the co-op.

I am still looking for a chilli plant. I want a small pretty one for the window box. I have gathered seeds from Scotch Bonnets and Indian Rocket which have gone into the airing cupboard to "hatch", but I believe these both make large plants that don't like full sun. I like the idea of those multicoloured ones? I can't really think of anything else to grow in that spot. The Nasturtiums will go on the side of the Bay Window, where it gets warm, but not full sunshine. Oregano and Basil might be a good idea for there? I don't really want to waste such a nice spot in my garden, although I guess there can be too ,much sunshine as well....
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  quiltbea on 1/6/2013, 12:38 pm

If you are going to grow in catfood tins, you could sow any green and harvest it as a microgreen, which just means harvest them when they get only a frew true leaves. Many folks here in the USA are starting to lean toward microgreens. Lots of choices and tastes available and not much room needed. Arugula (your rocket) is among them.
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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  plantoid on 1/6/2013, 5:31 pm

Aldi & Lidel do some decent cheap seeds .
You say carrots are cheap ......ahhaaa not fresh pulled ones that are so tender and sweet they are to die for.



Seeds keep them in folded over closed packets in a sealed jar with a few spoons of well oven dried rice or powdered milk to keep them dry . Keep the sealed jar in the fridge and most seeds will give you a couple of years out of the packet . Perhaps keep a list of your seeds ..saves you running out of them and having to make special journeys that could be better spent elswhere doing other more interesting things.

You can look up seed viability and suggested storage times on line to see what I mean .

Cos lettuce and little gem lettuce are fairly small ones with a slight bite to them that may do well in a 450 gramm or bigger tin don't forget to punch a drain hole in the low side near the base . We love Lollo Rosso and Saladbowl because they are light and lacy looking on a plate . Look in the gallery part of the site ..... that's my 19 inch salad bowl it had so many leaves taken off but still kept on giving more premium leaves .I think it was seven months old before it turned bitter and tried to run to seed ( I'd cut out the flower head growth more than once as well )

The only prob I see with small moggy food tins is that on a hot day a lettuce may well get very thirsty & droopy so standing the tins in a shallow tray and adding 10 mm of water to soak in via the drain hole may be needed IF we ever get some sun this year.
There are all sorts of raqdis from the small 20 mm marble sized ones to 100 mm peppery ones to 400 plus inch long white mooli as well as some new on the market chinese winter radishes .
Harvesting salad crops very early in the morning after a decent watering the night before gives you nice crisp salads ( and same goes for most other veg )

Peas can be left to fall over and tangle up or be grown up some sort of frame . I grew my peas from seed in vending machine cups two seeds per cup and in the last week of May planted 12 plants 130 mm tall in a zigzag line 80 mm between plants out in full sunshine they were grown up some old pig stick wire fencing . They grew very fast & strong ,d produced several pounds/ Kg of peas . Almost daily pickings gave us mange tout style sugarsnaps , those that I left to get bigger were eventually blanched and frozen .... I'm still eating them .
The peas that I grew in almost full shade were a little slower but also gave a large quantity of peas but not as many as those out in the full sun .

You'll need to find the last frost date in your area I think that there is a sticky with the info at the top of the Europe threads in the main menu.
My adjudged last frost date in the lists the last week of May but in truth it was mid April . I sowed even earlier indoors , underglas and also outside .. some plants got trashed but some also survived.
So when you findout yours don't go and sow all your seeds in one go too early just do a few four or five days apart so if they get frosted you'll still have some seeds to restart with and if they don't get frosted you'll have a decent sucessional system growing to see you through the year.
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Frost dates

Post  Frenchbean on 5/1/2013, 4:01 pm

Hi Plantoid, I've not been on here for quite a while. I get very confused with frost dates as it is meant to be mid april here in Lewisham, London. However it the first of may and there was a frost last night!

Welcome to our friend in Croydon - erm whats wrong with Croydon?

I am loosing a lot of veggies due to the unruly cat next door. He crawled into my veg trugs and sat on my seedlings and he's done his business all over my garden.

Plantoid can you please suggest tiny cabbages, cauliflower and kale for the sq foot garden.
Also I've been trying to work out how many poached egg plants to grow per sq ft. I was told 16 but surely thats too any, what do you think

Pleasae could you also give us a quick break down of what should be in the garden now, thank you Frenchbean Very Happy





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Re: Hello from London, UK

Post  plantoid on 5/16/2013, 7:07 pm

French Bean I've been neglecting the Europe threads... sorry .

Look for " all year round cauli " and sow at three per square foot over three squares this will keep them small and tight , perhaps asaps use some thick cardboard or some cut up estate agent for sale signs Laughing to make a 9 inch wall around the squares to containe the cauli use bamboo caneds to support/ retain the walls in place.
Growing good cauli is not as easy as it sounds they are very particular as to what they will grow well in .
Horror of horrors.... they prefer slightly compacted soil affraid & like plenty of well rotted manure rather than a balanced compost found in MM , don't fork the ground over when planting oiut tread it down and gently make the correct sized hole slip the plant in and then tread it back down .

Small cabbages .... I know of none .... however .... perhaps grow one or two of the more larger " ball headed cabbages " and just keep cutting off a couple of the outer leaves from each plant for coooking . ( helps kep pests down as well ).

Come the start of late summer , cut the head off the cabbage and make an inch deep cross cut in the stalk ,this will usually produce four small ball headed cabbages , when you harvest these split each part of the previous split once again for some early season next yrar greens . Do sprinkle some compost around the stalk and gently scratch it in as they are greedy feeders and need the extra nutrients for good growth .

Kale good if it is a dwarf curly kale grown in pots and then transplanted when 2 to 3 inches high .
Again like the cabbages take a few leaves off three or four plants for a meal and they will keep growing till May next year . When if they are like mine they will flower and still produce a viable amount of tastey greenery .

Don't worry about starting seeds a bit late this year as the season is about a month behind outside of the " Big Smoke " & other big cities. Your ave temp seems to always be thre degrees centigrade higher than the rest of the UK

May 21 is a reasonable last frost date , keep an eye on the BBC weather forecast in the early evenings as it's usually updated at 18.00 ..if it indicated a night temp of less than 4 oC slip an old bed sheet over your tender plants like toms , marows , french and runner beans as they don't like temps much be low 5 oC for more tha a few hours.
Ice starts to form at 3 oC and becomes solid at 0 oC so at 3 oC , ice crystals will start to form in the tender plants and cause cell damage.

Covering with the cloth on the ground and anchored with bricks or pop bottles full of waqter will hold the air warmed by the soil , keep it still and make an insulated pocket that is slightly warmer than the air temp outside the sheet .

I've no experienc of poached egg plants ..is that some type of marrow that looks like a poached egg ... maybe called patty pan ???

Cats in the beds loads os 18 inch tall bambpop canes or sticks gently piushed inthe out side of the beds , one every 6 inches or so and then tie some black cotton thread to the stick to cris cross the area . once a cat encounters it and can't see it they tend to go and crap & pee else where.
Once domesticated cats start toileting in your beds unless you take steps to prevent them they will always return to their " Miden " ( communal toilet ) Ferral cats usually don't cover up their droppings as they don't feel inferior to humans or other domestic cats .

There are some battery operated PIR activated self contained spray units that spray water every time they are activated ... cats absolutly hate them , they are fairly expensive but are very very effective .
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Frost dates

Post  Frenchbean on 5/18/2013, 6:01 am

plantoid, my dear friend thank you. Ive put 21 may in my diary (Hopefully frost dates are the same every year?). Great advise as always. Don't know what I'd do without you Embarassed Its so nice to get the right advise no matter where we all are in the world.

Poached egg plants my friend are bee attracting ground cover plants . that look like poached eggs. Thank god they don't smell like them rock on rofl

Went to home base and bought some curly kale and some tomatoes and peppers as mine died thinking So hopefully I'll have more luck with these

Im also planting a SFG at nursery and the children are very, very excited about it. I am really hoping this takes off. Im sure I will be able to get up the excitement and pleasure the children are getting from 'growing their own'

Thanks againFrenchBean

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Re: Hello from London, UK walshevak on 1/5/2013

Post  Frenchbean on 5/18/2013, 6:06 am

The garden balcony your talking about is Mark Riddle-Smith Iam on a gardening online course with him. Everyone needs to check out Vertical gardening on his website

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Re: Hello from London, UK

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