Guerilla gardening

During this lovely summer in ‘Broke(n) Britain’, and we have to come to grips with the fact that the country is in more debt than post WWII, a fun phenomenon has taken hold – guerilla gardening! What it means is that people just garden anywhere in this overcrowded urban space (London). In our case, we started a veg garden outside our front gate, on a raised council-owned bed that was previously an overgrown dump for disposable nappies (which we all know they’re not), cigarette butts and discarded half-empty cans of strong lager (which at least acted as snail traps).

It took guerilla husband months to dig out the bush, dig it over, compost it and we planted from seed. (see pic attached) Now most meals at night include something from the garden – last night was spinach in the salad, strawberries fresh every day for breakfast, but we can’t WAIT for the potatoes (in the foreground in the pic) and the beans have just started flowering. It’s pathetically addictive, we know every new leaf. Here in the UK there aren’t too many “noonoos” munching on the plants – if you leave them alone, it all works out, the aphids and greenfly come, but the ladybirds eat those and so on up the food chain, the largest surviving predators are the snails, who as an armour-clad army are truly daunting. But the birds take care of those.

The lovely thing about our garden is that – partly because it is outside for all to see – has engaged the community. It is a window on the world for the little old lady across from us, who is too frail to leave her house, but can make it to the front door and if she leans on her stick and clings on I run back and forth with news of what’s new in the garden she can see. The little kids around here, previously shy, will come up to us and say “I like strawberries” casting their eyes pointedly at the latest red beauty. When we say “Go on, then!” they need no second invitation. It’s all about provenance.

The guerilla gardening thing is also for beautification and prettiness, so looking out of my 6th floor office window in vibrant but horribly dismal visually Elefant ‘n Castille, some midnight gardeners planted a flower bed on the round-about. So a couple of packets of Pound Shop wildflower seeds scattered at will result in something like this (see second pic) when you turn and look again. Other people plant trees on traffic islands. It’s an anarchic, unauthorised, go mad for guerilla gardening world.

Elsa

wildflower garden from seed

8 Responses to Guerilla gardening

  1. Sprig June 25, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Wow Elsa, looking good! What else is in your garden? Is that some sort of squash in the foreground?

  2. Elsa June 26, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    Yes the potatoes are on the far side of the photo (not the foreground) and in the foreground are courgettes, then beans and tomatoes, spinach and beets and then our impressive potato crop.

  3. Helen June 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    I’m keen to plant potatoes and was wondering whether you grew yours from seed potatoes or potatoes with eyes.
    Great job, Elas

  4. Helen June 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Sorry, didn’t check before I submitted. I meant Elsa.

  5. Elsa June 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Hi Helen, we had a trial run with the potatoes last year, we planted seed potatoes in strong plastic bags on our patio. We had sufficient success with that to be inspired this year to “go large” hence the big crop in the raised bed on the photo. So, in answer to your question – most of those are from bought seed potatoes, but we have a small ‘control’ group going from potatoes that had simply gone to seed. Will let you know the outcome in due course. We shd be harvesting the first lot soon (they’re in flower). Home grown potatoes are so tasty, they don’t even develop thick peel, just a little scrub is needed. Yummy!

  6. Nicola July 26, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Wow elsa, julle guerilla tuin is amazing. Kmap gedaan, ek is baie beindruk. En geinspireer om my agterplaas in ‘n groentetuin te omskep! Ronelle het gese^ ek moet hier loer, ek is haar suster.
    Beste wense vir heerlike etes uit jul tuin!
    Nicola

  7. Elsa July 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    Fab, ta, sal binnekort ‘n update pos : )

  8. Karen September 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Welldone Elsa and David looks impressive

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