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16 June 2015

Gardening for Bristol's Business Green Week

Staff at Knowle West Media Centre took part in lunchtime gardening for Tuesday's 'Act Local' for Business Green Week. Head gardener Jez showed everyone the ropes and instructed people as to what were weeds for removal and the names of the different plants. Staff who would never normally pick up a hoe came out in force for a good cause.

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4 June 2015

Plant your perennials!

Urban gardens are real lifesavers for bees. City homemakers rarely see the need to put pesticides in their window boxes or raised beds, due to their small size, meaning bees in urban areas are on the boom, unlike in the countryside where gardens are sometimes polluted by winds delivering poisons from industrial sized farms. Now is the perfect time to plant out your perennials to encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Remember, where there are slugs and bugs and butterflies, there are birds and frogs and hedgehogs, so by encouraging the smaller insects into your garden you could end up with your very own living entertainment for summer evenings which means you can switch off Springwatch. KWMC's garden is in full bloom at the moment, but you don't need as much space as this to create your own oasis; a disused palette or just some shop bought pots or a hanging basket can provide ample space for some beautiful blooms. Don't forget, bees like blue, yellow and purple, but they cannot see red and they are warned off by black.
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7 May 2015

Quintessential English fair

Redland Fair has fast become an essential part of the Bristol calendar - with stalls, afternoon tea and a variety of music. Opened by the Ambling Band, the fair heralds spring and is a true celebration of the May bank holiday. Choirs, steel pan and Morris dancers have all been seen over the years. It's possible to stock up on plants, buy cakes or a range of vintage goods or clothes during the afternoon - or simply sit and chat on the green and soak in the atmosphere.
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8 March 2015

Christmas tree's finally gone:)

And Iitter bins makes great plant pots!
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12 May 2014

growing my own fruit!

the fruit trees and plants in my back garden are starting to blossom. i have strawberries, apples, cherries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, red currants, rhubarb, even blackberries in the field behind us which looks beautiful in the afternoon sun! i am hoping to buy some raspberry canes to add to our collection of berries and fruits! i always think that a good crumble or pie tastes better with lovely home grown fruit and veg!
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9 May 2014

Digging for victory

Admittedly there is nothing more in the war-time theme here other than the title - except perhaps for the fact that gardening was something my grandfather did during the war and passed on to my father who passed it onto me. I will be forever grateful of growing up in a home where having flowers to admire was equaled by having vegetables to enjoy all year around. Since moving to Bristol I have tried my hardest to maintain a kitchen garden, and fortunately given the space I have out back I have previously had a glass greenhouse and now several smaller polythene houses and tubs. When I first moved here I was delighted to find that the city was ostensibly a good place to think about growing your own food and buying locally grown and produced food (see image 4). I got on board and have been eating my own vegetables and herbs ever since including potatoes, carrots, mangetout, tomatoes, cucumbers (image 3), spring onions, radish, lettuce, courgette, turnips, as well as basil (green and purple), mint (English [image 1], spear, and chocolate), sage (green and pineapple), oregano (green and variegated), coriander, fennel, dill, Vietnamese coriander, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary. While shopping at a well-known supermarket I noticed that a polythene wrapped back of herbs was 90p for around 30g. An entire plant was £1.50 – I sprung for the whole plant, with a view to planting it somewhere in our herb patch. However, by this logic my entire garden will be a herb patch by the end of the summer, so how can I prioritise? What herbs are most useful or practical to grow? Although I enjoy gardening I tend to attack the job in much the same way as my cooking, read the instructions, and then just have a go. Either it works, or it doesn't. Admittedly, I won't be running a farm (well) anytime soon, but it tends to work fairly well for me, but herbs? The bane of my life! Some I plant one year and the seeds never emerge from the soil, the next year I plant up the same thing and it grows and spreads ferociously (c.f. this years bountiful coriander, image 2). In the end I've resolved to plant herbs where I can without worrying too much about, while keeping in mind those that are a little more sensitive. If there's any advice I can give (and take myself) moving forward: mint should always have it's own pot (like potatoes it dominates and strangles other plants); and basil emphatically does not grow as well on this continent as it does in the Americas, don't put it outside, definitely don't put it outside before July, in fact probably keep it inside and nurse it like a child. Images: 1 - Preparation for mint julep cocktails, and perhaps more importantly, mint julep cupcakes 2 - Still trialing macarons, these from Stokes Croft with the soft green backdrop of our herb patch behind 3 - Cucumber seedling, grown from seed with a propagation table and hardening off in the greenhouse 4 - Bristol Food Connections talk at the Canteen, Local Food: Pollyanna or panacea?

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