growing things

Tidying up the garden for the winter

At the weekend I hoicked out the tomatoes (getting a fair crop of green tomatoes in the process), courgettes, gone-to-seed lettuce, and a bundle of unexpected carrots, to clear some space before winter.

I also dug over the compost and found huge bundles of happy worms and woodlice doing their thing in there. (I should really have taken a photo, shouldn’t I?) I felt a bit bad upsetting them all in order to extract some of the lovely dark compost-y compost from the bottom of the pile. There was enough to spread over a single bed; hopefully by the spring there’ll be another bed’s worth as well. There’s something very satisfying about compost; all that waste turned into lovely rich stuff to help your plants grow. It just looks productive.

Winter lettuce is doing nicely and needs thinning soon; chard also doing well; pak choi suffering from slug/snail depradations.

I also planted one whole bed and an extra row of broad beans, and two rows of snow peas. By getting the beans in now, they have a chance to get going in the spring before the ants and the aphids move in. Which also means that after the first crop in the spring, I may as well hoick them out again as by then the ants and aphids have overrun the plants. That, in turn, means I can plant nearly as many as I like since by the time I want to put other things in, they’ll be out. Succession sowing is also very satisfying!


Canal paths and cargo trikes

Last week I took the Christiania (without baby) over to Three Mills to pick up a stack of recycled scaffolding board. Contrary to the doubt of the chap who loaded them up (“they’re really heavy, you know, will you be able to get them home on that?”) the Christiania dealt admirably with the load. But I noticed something about roads and paths.

On the way there, I took the path along the Limehouse Canal. I thought this would be pleasant, especially on a slow-moving trike, and it looked more direct than the road.

In practice, what I found was a rough-surfaced (sand/gravel) path, heavily cambered towards the river. On the trike, with its slight tendency to drift down the camber, this makes for difficult riding. (The bike path along Cable St, while tarmacced, also has an awkward and variable camber which is harder going on a trike, but at least there I’d go into the kerb not the canal if I lost concentration.)

Even worse were the mini-‘steps’ (lines of stones on their ends sticking out of the path, possibly to give better grip for pedestrians but extending across the whole path leaving either no, or very little, smooth part for bikes) at intervals. There was no warning of these. I just suddenly found myself bouncing alarmingly over them with no option to avoid. I was genuinely worried I might damage the trike (happily it’s tougher than that), and if I’d had L in the box he’d have been proper upset.

But wait! There’s more. A very steep bridge over the canal, which advises cyclists to ‘get off and push’. Fine, it’s a steep bridge, I wouldn’t want to build a new one; but again, there are mini-steps all the way up and down to bump the bike, or in this case the 35kg trike, over, and no smooth part to help you along.

This path should be great both for leisure cyclists and for actually going somewhere. But the stone bumps would put me off taking a regular bike on it, or going for a ride there with a young child on a bike; and given all of the above issues it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever take the trike (especially with L in) there again. It’s a desperate shame. This is exactly the sort of path that should be a lovely ride, happily shareable by cyclists and pedestrians and enjoyable for both.

I took the road back — a longer route, and with 30+ kg of scaff board in the box — and knocked 10 minutes off the journey. Bah.


Baby & trike: the next stage!

I’ve just realised that I have nearly no photos of L in the trike over the last 6 months; perhaps because we just use it as a transport option without thinking to take a photo.

However! As of this week, L-transporting in the trike has gone from this:

Red cargo trike box with rain cover, baby in car seat inside

to this:

Baby sitting up on box seat of a cargo bike, smiling at the camera and playing with a book

He seemed very happy to be making a more upright journey, and much less bothered by the bumps. (Which makes sense; sitting in a bumpy thing is more comfortable than lying down in a bumpy thing.) It is kind of terrifyingly old, though — a whole 7.5 months, no less. Scary.


River of Flowers

I came across River of Flowers recently: a project aiming to plant and encourage urban wildflower meadows to help the flow of pollinators across London. (It’s now spread to elsewhere in the world.)

As someone who’s trying to create her own little wildflower meadow in the back garden (all 12 or so sq m of it), I found this a lovely idea. Unfortunately it looks like signup on their London map is just for parks, allotments, gardens etc, but browsing those is fun too. There’s also a list of urban meadow partners, and mention of an Urban Meadows Kit to encourage people to grow mini-meadows in their front gardens, though it looks like that isn’t available right now.

There’s also some information on helping pollinators, which reminded me of a talk I was at this week, on solitary bees. I already knew that they are deeply fascinating creatures, but now I am even more convinced of it! There’s much more info via the Bees, Wasps, and Ants Recording Society, including basic info and more detailed information sheets. We already have a nice pile of dead wood at the bottom of the garden to provide insect-housing; I’m now intending to make some more solitary bee homes this winter. And to visit Roots and Shoots over in SW London to see their awesome Trellick Bee Tower. All hail the bees!

(More on helping bees in another post….)