Monthly Archives: April 2012

Urban Agriculture on Brownfields

I was going to post this to Facebook, but I thought I’d take into consideration those friends of my who already are spammed by my interests and articles far too much and go ahead and put this on my website. I doubt anyone will click the link any ways.

Within the last 5 years there’s been a tremendous push for urban agriculture and production.  There’s new community gardens, orchards and allotments popping up everywhere. While this is obviously a positive thing, in the back of my mind I’m really concerned about the uptake of contaminants by the plants which may find their way into the food. I honestly don’t know much at all about the way plant uptake metals, minerals or other substances, but I think it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration. It worries me to see happy kids chomping away on fruit just picked from a community garden and I see a large auto depot or some dilapidated factory in the back ground. Has a full soil survey been done on that property? More than likely not as these soil tests are really expensive.

I guess the EPA is in agreeance with me as they have put out some preliminary guidelines on the subject in the last year and a half.  You can read them here. That’s what I’ve found myself doing recently.

This isn’t meant to frighten anyone. Hopefully I haven’t done that. I just want people to be cognizant of risks to growing crops in a city, especially on previous brownfield sites.

On a related note, I planted a load of seeds last weekend.  Tomatoes, peas, lettuce, and courgettes. I didn’t test the soil. If I get lead poisoning from my raised beds here in sunny (that’s a joke) I will let you know.

I’m ready for summer and hopefully being able to harvest some crops in a couple months!

Pots and beds planted with goodness

Pots and beds planted with goodness

Categories: Garden, I'm 29 | Leave a comment

Easter Monday

Cloudy days.....

Today I’m not so sure about a lot of things. Probably due to being under-employed. And it’s been very cloudy and rainy in the last week. Plus it’s the end of a holiday weekend. Yes, indeed all of this has left me far to contemplative for my own good.  I think I need to get back in to meditation. It really did help me sort my brain out a bit and not to feel so meh. And I swear every year about this time I have a dip in life and come out shining in another 4 or 5 weeks. So perhaps I just need to keep on course and know things will be better soon enough.  I also think I need to go on a long holiday somewhere new and beautiful. I need to get off this island that is for sure. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

In other less-meh newsI had a nice Easter cookout with my roommate. I’ve been showered with the culinary delights of Poland and Lithuania over the last few months. And much to my happiness it’s all been pretty delicious. My Polish roommate yesterday made kebabs (which he kept telling me were not called kebabs) out of mushrooms, onions, chicken/beef and pickles. Yeah, pickles. Rando, but

Polish kebab

actually spectacularly delicious on a kebab. He also had some sort of nice sauce on it all.  My contribution was some cumberland sausages and potatoes with garlic and onions wrapped in foil. The potatoes I was planning to share, but my roommate proceeded to dump all of them onto the bbq when they were done. He managed to salvage about half them, the half I got to eat.  I won’t hold it against him for too long. But it was a good day of food on Easter. I’m glad I was able to salvage an appetite by the end of the day. Saturday night was a bit cray and Sunday morning was a bit rough. But I’m still here. Today I am focused on re-hydrating to regular levels.

This week I’m going to be gardening for work. Boo. Mega boo. I’m really not looking forward to doing it. For something I was so very passionate about for a long time, I am no longer passionate. Perhaps it’s my pay rate and my underused skills and qualifications which nag at me. I worked last Thursday hauling bags of compost around a garden. Wet, big bags of compost. In the back of my brain, while I struggled to lug the 60lb bags of compost from one location to the next I thought “didn’t I get a Masters degree so I wouldn’t have to do this anymore?” Unforch the current economic conditions say “no, you will haul bags for minuscule wages.”

Neat place to be working. Although I'd rather be relaxing there instead.

So great. Let’s hope some happy, desirable job pops up soon. The only upside to doing gardening in London is some of the pretty fantastic locations I get to work. It’s the only bright bit for me.  Before hauling compost I was mowing at a property along the Thames by Wandsworth Bridge.  That was kind of nice. And the location of compost moving was a cool private square in Westminster.

I think that’s all I have to offer you this week. I want some better submissions for questions for me to answer. I think I only got one decent one (THANK YOU MARY) and the rest of you are just jackasses. I can answer one right now from my sister Kris: I won’t be moving to Greenwood anytime soon. Soz. Please submit some good questions and I will be happy to answer soon. I have been horrible at writing much lately and I need to turn that around. Now is the time.

Ok, kids. Have a good week.  TTYL

Categories: Garden, I'm 29 | Leave a comment

BKLPAG Part 4: Beddington Park

Carew Manor

I don’t think I could have chosen a finer week to become unemployed.  The weather has been great as we change from Winter to Spring this week. And to celebrate (?) my freedom from work (hopefully just very very temporary) I treated myself to a bicycle tour of an unexplored part of London. I checked out the London Parks & Garden Trust website for some inspiration. They have created several bicycle and walking routes throughout London, which make their way through notable parks. Perfect for me. So the one I chose went through the London Borough of Sutton, which is a just a couple miles to the Southwest of where I live.

The route took me through many of the towns, which are stops after mine on the train. It was nice to finally have a picture to a name.  I took off Tuesday morning, the 1stday of Spring heading south. The route, said it

Church and yews in the churchyard

was about 8.5 miles, which didn’t feel like much since I’ve been doing a lot more than that on my commute to work. The first park that I visited, which is the park I’ll be highlighting, was Beddington Park.  Beddington Park used to be a deer park as part of the Carew Estate.  The London Parks and Garden Trust website said the Carews arrived in the area in the 14th century. Deer parks used to be fashionable back in the day for those aristocrats who couldn’t be bothered to travel far from home to partake in some hunting.  Good for them and a long term win for me and the others enjoying the park these days.  Part of the park included a church built in the 19th century, I do believe. Though judging by the amount of very mature yews in the church yard, there’s been a church there for much longer than that. Yews (Taxus baccata) are often found in church yards. You can read more about their significance here.

Gnarly old limes. I'm guessing about 130-150 years old? Probably planted not long after the church was built.

After checking out the old manor house, which is now a school, and the church I headed up North along the cycle path. It lead to a pretty phenomenal avenue of old lime (Tilia europea) trees. They had obviously been pollarded in a  previous life but have not been touched in a long time. I’m not sure what the maintenance plan is for these guys, but I didn’t really see many downed branches as I expected. It also could be that they just did maintenance in the park.  Who knows. Either way there’s some sweet limes with gnarly growth and severe dieback in the top. I will have to go back in the summer and see how the trees end up flushing out leaves.

After admiring the limes for a bit, I continued north to the rest of my bike adventure. The bike path went a long ways along the River Wandle. I had never seen much of River Wandle before, but it’s pretty nice. It goes north from here and dumps into the Thames somewhere in the Putney area of London.  Beddington Park: worth a visit! My next installment will be about the final park I visited on my bike ride.  It’s great to get out and explore new parts of the city and find hidden gems of awesome in the parks and gardens of this city.

A closer shot of one of the limes. That's some engineering on the tree's part to hold that large branch out like that for such a long time. Good job tree.

A yew shading the resting place of some people.

River Wandle


Categories: 20 London Parks and Gardens, I'm 29, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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