Caline McIntosh told Sue O'Neill all about her garden:
Pots and Raised beds
- I find that pots are easiest for me, I also use large wooden boxes which form raised beds. I grow lots of vegetables, which I bring on from seed. I grow tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilli peppers and scotch bonnet peppers. These all do well even though it is not such a hot country as it is in the Caribbean. I also grow pumpkins, which get to a good size.
- Some things, like the scotch bonnet and chilli peppers, have to be started early as they take a long time to grow. I start these around the end of January, growing them indoors on windowsills and and on rooms upstairs where there is the best light. Other things don’t take so long. Tomatoes can be started in March.
- When the seedlings have grown enough they can be planted out. This is normally in May but possibly April if it is very warm. If the plants are put out too early they can get cold and be damaged. There are normally lots of seedlings so it is nice to share them. In normal times the excess plants would get shared around after church sometimes. I also grow flowers, which I tend to buy as bedding plants from garden centres. Even these can be shared, by taking cuttings. I really enjoy the sharing aspect of gardening.
Trial and error
- My gardening is done by trial and error. Sometimes the seeds are very good, other times you may plant lots but hardly get any. I always use organic soil to start the plants off. When roses have finished flowering they have to be trimmed right back as they always come back very abundantly. The roses always flower really well when they have been cut down low. It is a good feeling to see people stop and enjoy the roses as they pass, sniffing their scent and enjoying the beautiful sight.
Likes and dislikes
- I enjoy all aspects of gardening. Bending to fork the soil can be hard, so pots and raised beds are good for this. My only real dislike is for worms and slugs, but wearing gloves solves this problem!
Chris Eldridge writes about some of his gardening thoughts:
It is always a surprise and pleasure to see the first spring bulbs of the year, snowdrops, aconites, and in my case crocus tomasinianus coming up through a crack in the paving; this year mid-January. Crocus tomasinianus is an early-flowering species of crocus which naturalises by self-seeding.
- It is often difficult for gardeners to allow time to appreciate and relax in their own garden without feeling the need to get up and do something or to think of 101 gardening jobs. To focus the mind the same mental process is required as in meditation and, as Christians, we know how difficult that can be. I find relaxing is a lot easier in someone else’s garden! Please do remember that these days letting a garden go wild is to be commended.
is the time to plan the flower, fruit and vegetable garden for the coming year. When feeling active and the weather permits carry out tasks such as boundary maintenance and structural work on pavings, pergolas etc. It is also a good idea to clear up garden debris and seek out slugs and snails hibernating in pots or under plastic and, with the help of a heavy stone, send them to snail heaven without them knowing.
In the vegetable garden
I suggest let the worms, weather and soil organisms do the work for you rather than traditional digging. There is still time to spread well-rotted compost and for it to be integrated naturally without digging. Loosen soil with a fork if compressed or waterlogged.
An unusual tree
- In my garden I have a Persimmon, Diospyros kaki, a small specimen fruit tree which crops well. The leaves turn an attractive autumn colour and the abundant orange-coloured fruit sometimes called Kaki or Sharon fruit stay on the tree over Christmas and sometimes through into February. The birds enjoy them and in the cold winter of 2009/10 redwings and fieldfares came to feed on the fruit.
Andrew Black writes:
Some purple sprouting broccoli for lent. My wife Lesley sowed this at home in May, grew it in our garden then transplanted it to the allotment.
It grows over the winter; we have started to harvest it. Normally one does not eat the leaves, but during Lockdown 1 we used the leaves as spring greens.
Peckham Pot Pouri
If you are a Southwark Council tenant and would like to get your neighbours involved to create new food growing plots, the council can support you. The Council is committed to creating more opportunities for community gardening and food growing and is launching an Allotment Expansion Guarantee in 2021. For further information click here