GrowingSouthwark's Blog

Tidying up the Growing Cossall bed
February 5, 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: broad beans, cossall estate

So last week we spent a cold but sunny afternoon clearing parts of the raised bed ready for planting-I managed to pop some broad bean ‘beans’ in the ground before the snow fell-it was February after all!¬)

So we are looking to do a further session on Sunday 19th February at 2pm-do keep this date free in your diary and pop down to help out and lets plan our planting for the next year !¬)

Some inspiration from up norf!
December 31, 2011, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg……….

Incredible Todmorden

Read more:

Happy New Year to you all from the Growing Southwark team-watch this space for more info for 2012 and an overview of what we have been up to in 2011.

‘Help build a recycled plastic bottle greenhouse in a day’
January 15, 2011, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

plastic bottle greenhouse

Come and join us at the John Donne School
Saturday February 12th 2011

Bring along a clean, empty and label free 2 litre plastic bottle to help grow seedlings for the Growing Cossall raised bed and school community gardening project

Soup and sandwiches at 1pm
Supported by Growing Southwark via the Well London project.

Big Lunch this Sunday
July 17, 2010, 12:23 am
Filed under: cossall estate


this Sunday 18th July 2-6pm

‘sunny intervals!’ 

Bring a dish to share containing, if you can, an edible delight from the new ‘Growing Cossall-Cossall Estate Community Growing Project’ raised bed, herb bed or Kirkwood Road nature garden. 

Activities on the day:

– help make vegetable kebabs with halloumi cheese for the BBQ;

– make your own cheap, delicious salad to share;

– bring a clean, empty glass jar or small plastic bottle to make your own ‘herby’ salad dressing to share and take home;

– Make ‘wild’ African black eyed bean balls with Ceri from ‘Invisible Food’;

-make your own smoothie with the Smoothie bike;

– put your recipe on the recipe washing line; 

– help design new signs for the edible garden;

– fill in the gaps in the raised bed with additional planting and sow a pot of salad leaves, chard or herbs to take home.

If any adult would like to do a stint supervising the smoothie bike or on the BBQ then please let us know…if not just join in with all the events above!

Please remember all children are to be accompanied by a supervising adult.

Contact Lesley or Sarah at 

Or see for more ideas-lets make the Cossall Estate BigLunch fun for all!

Facilitated by Growing Southwark via Growing Cossall your Cossall Estate Community Growing project-supported by Well London and Southwark Council.

Re-using Chelsea-so where is all this free stuff ending up?
May 31, 2010, 8:01 pm
Filed under: chelsea, reuse

Growing Southwark/LCRN the facilitators of the ‘Re-use Chelsea’ project would like to keep a log and photos of where all the items from the ‘Re-use Scheme’ at Chelsea are ending up….The RHS Chelsea Flower Show was amazing this year and there are lots of wonderful materials available for distribution to non-funded growing groups across London:

So let’s start here from Ruskin Park Community Garden:

hi gardeners,
thanks so much to everyone who came yesterday! we planted up most of the vegetables from the eden project, finished digging the rest of the beds, and started sieving them. the garden is looking great and abundant – we have spinach, rocket, chard, tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, crown prince squash, broccoli, cabbage, cavolo nero, broad beans, corn, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, basil, coriander, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. and i’m probably forgetting something.
we have organised a watering rota – thanks to all who have signed up.
we’ll have a dig day wednesday 3-5pm so we can sieve enough of the beds to plant up the rest of the seedlings. i have a big box of seeds so we can then start growing from seed, and we have some jerusalem artichokes to plant. there’s a fair amount of interest in potatoes so i’ll get some as well.
all the best,
p.s. photos on

seed and plant swap in Peckham
May 24, 2010, 2:57 pm
Filed under: planting, swap, Uncategorized
Following last year’s roaring success we will be hosting another
Seed & Plant SWAP on Sunday 30th May
Got too many courgettes and not enough tomato seedlings?
Run out of space to plant any more beans?
Bought way too many seeds?
Then come along to the bookshop garden anytime after 11am and exchange your excess. Strictly a SWAP event no cash to change hands please!
131 bellenden road, SE15
ps – thanks to green-fingered Rix for the reminder!

Growing Southwark reaches London-wide. Well sort of!!
May 24, 2010, 2:15 pm
Filed under: green corners, Uncategorized

Growing Southwark nominated Foyles window for a green Corners award ( ….and so we kinda have our first newspaper coverage:

Applying for the resources being redistributed to London from the RHS Chelsea flower show as part of the ‘Re-use Chelsea’ project being coordinated by Growing Southwark and LCRN
May 22, 2010, 2:29 pm
Filed under: chelsea, reuse, Uncategorized

Are you part of a community group that is looking for material to start your growing project but can’t afford to buy new items? Then we may be able to help you. LCRN and Growing Southwark are working together with the Royal Horticultural Society to capture as much unwanted material from the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show as possible in order to redistribute to groups in need. With the help of dedicated volunteers, we will spend the week after the show ends to collect timber, compost, woodchip, bricks and plenty of other gardening material that would otherwise go to landfill. Then, from early June, the material will be offered for free to eligible community groups. The criteria are simple: your growing project must be open to the general public within your community and we will prioritise groups that have little or no funding; you will also need to arrange your own transport.

To find out more or to get a copy of the application form, please contact Edouard Guidon at LCRN on 020 7324 4703 or at or download it from here and email it to Edouard.RHS Chelsea material distribution form 2010

Help Growing Southwark Re-use the Chelsea Flower Show!
May 18, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: chelsea, reuse, Uncategorized

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Growing Southwark/LCRN Reuse Scheme has received a wonderful collection of Plants from The Eden Project also other exhibitors have donated bricks, mortar, sand and wood. We need help moving it all to our distribution point, in Peckham. If you have a van and can get to the Show Ground between 8am and 7pm on Friday 20th May, Saturday 21st,Sunday 22nd please call Lesley on 07972687930 If you can volunteer this weekend then again please call or email Lesley.

This is a non-funded project.

Natural pest control
May 17, 2010, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
collated by a lady at my allotments I thought I would pass this on to you.

Sprays (organic) for pest control

note: under UK and EC law is is illegal to use any preparation as a
pesticide that is not approved for such use. The information here is
for historical reference only and does not imply a recommendation for
use. If you disregard this warning and make any of the preparations you
do so entirely at your own risk.

Update 22 June 2008

A few years back there was news that a German research group had found
that milk diluted with water made a good fungicide. There were various
suggestions about the ratio some said 1 pint of milk to 8 pints of
water (1:8) while others advised 1 pint milk to 4 pints water (1:4). I
recently had some mildew on the main onion crop and used the 1:4
dilution (plus a very small amount of approved liquid detergent wetting
agent) to spray the soil as a nutrient additive. Unfortunately, because
the onions were quite closely spaced, a lot of the spray went on the
leaves of the onions and cured the mildew problem!

The information below is from “Organic Gardening” by Roy Lacey,
published by David & Charles, London, 1988, now out of print.


The insecticidal properties of ordinary soapy water should be more
widely known because it would undoubtedly save inorganic gardeners a
small fortune in poisonous sprays and save many helpful insects into
the bargain.

I’ve used nothing but soapy water as a spray on my roses for many
years and have never had more than minor trouble with aphids. Soft
soap, a pharmaceutical product used as a liquid in enemas, is a very
safe and very effective insecticide to control brassica whitefly and
cabbage white caterpillars. Dissolve 56g (20z) in 4.5 litres (1 gal)
hot water and use diluted when cool enough. Soft soap can be bought
from Garden Organic

Savona insecticidal soap is a relatively new product for the control
of aphids, whitefly, red spider mite and scale insects. It is perfectly
safe to human beings, mammals, bees, ladybirds and other predators and
is recommended for use in greenhouses before the introduction of
biological controls if there are high pest levels. It is diluted with
fifty parts of rain-water and is now widely available from garden shops.

Do NOT use washing up liquid as it contains many other chemicals which can damage


There are any number of recipes for home-made pesticides, many of them
handed down over the centuries (and some of doubtful efficacy).

For example, an old remedy to deter snails and slugs is to collect
as many as possible, morning and evening. Tip them into a bucket of
boiling water and let it stand for a few days until the smell becomes
fearsome, then strain off the liquid and use it to sprinkle round
vulnerable plants, such as the young growth of delphiniums, lettuce and
so on – but not on them. The remains of the slugs and snails can also
be scattered.

Bracken spray

Effective against blackfly on, for example, broad beans and runner beans but not
against cherry blackfly.

The bracken must be gathered when brown and brittle dry. Pulp the
leaves and store in paper bags until wanted. Using a graduated jar,
measure out 120cc (4fl oz) of the bracken and pour on 420cc (14fl oz)
of hot water, stir and allow to soak for twenty-four hours, strain,
then bottle into airtight jars and keep out of reach of children, of

For use as a spray, dilute 25cc (1 fl oz) to 4.5 litres (1 gal) of rainwater and
spray each day for three days.

Elder spray

This kills aphids, small caterpillars and is useful as a fungicide for
mildew and blackspot on roses. The toxic agent is hydro-cyanic acid, so
in preparing the spray use an old saucepan.

Gather 450g (1 lb) leaves and young stems of elder prefer-ably in
spring when the sap is rising. Place in the saucepan and add 3.3 litres
(6pt) water. Boil for half an hour, topping up as necessary. Strain
through old tights and use the liquid cold and undiluted. It will keep
for three months if bottled tightly while still hot.

Twigs of elder, cut in the spring and placed at intervals, inverted
V-wise, over early turnip rows, are said to ward off attack by flea

Horsetail tea

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a
pernicious weed which spreads by underground stems which may go down as
deep as ten feet, forming horizontal rhizome systems at intervals. This
makes it particularly difficult to control. If you have a horsetail
problem, there’s a bright side to it because an infusion of the weed
makes a good fungicide for control of mildew on straw-berries and other
crops, and checks rust on celery and celeriac.

Collect the horsetail, foliage, stems, rhizomes and all, and for
each 28g (1 oz) pour on 1.1 Litres (2pt) hot, not boiling, water, and
allow to stand for twenty-four hours. Strain off the ‘tea’ and use

Nettle spray

Bio-dynamic gardeners and growers have a very high regard for the
common stinging nettle, using the leaves in sprays of several kinds. As
well as using nettles as an activator on the compost heap (page 27) the
organic gardener can use them as a liquid manure and as an aphicide.

Gather 224g (l/2 lb) young nettles and soak in a bucket of water for
a week. Strain and use undiluted as a control of aphids on roses and
celery leaf miner. Add the mushy nettles to the compost heap.

Rhubarb spray

The oxalic acid in rhubarb leaves is a safe control agent for aphids,
particularly those on roses. Cut 450g (1 lb) rhubarb leaves, place in
an old saucepan with 1.1 litres (2pt) water and boil for half an hour,
topping up as necessary. When cool, add 1 dsp soap flakes dissolved in
275ml (l/2 pt) warm water. This acts as the wetting agent when added to
the strained rhubarb liquid. Stir the mixture thoroughly and use
undiluted as a spray.

Soap spray

Use the recipe above as an effective weapon against aphids on many crops.

Seaweed spray

The value of seaweed as a liquid manure is well known. Used as a foliar
feed on a wide range of vegetable crops, it also has an insecticidal
and fungicidal effect possibly because the alginates make the surface
of the foliage less attractive to pests and the spores of fungi.


The advice from the book quoted above is dated. As far as I know
none of the fungicides shown below are now approved for organic use.
Never use anything containing sulphur on cucumbers, marrows, courgettes
or any other squash as it will kill the plant. A few years back I heard that
horsetail tea was once used as a fungicide.

Bordeaux mixture

This was discovered in 1845, but not used as a fungicide until 1885
when it was found to control downy mildew . It is the most important
preventative of potato blight and is made from copper sulphate and
lime. Applied before the fungus spores of blight settle on the leaves,
the copper sulphate gradually releases small amounts of soluble copper
which kills the germinating spores. It is equally effective in
preventing blight attack on tomatoes outdoors.

Burgundy mixture

Substantially the same as Bordeaux mixture, but the lime is replaced by
washing soda. It can be used as a prevention against mildew on roses
and gooseberries by spraying the bushes in January.

Potassium permanganate

A combined pesticide and fungicide that offers some control over aphids
and powdery mildew on roses, delphiniums, chrysanthemums and other


Usually sold as flowers of sulphur or yellow sulphur, it is
also available as a brand-named spray for control of black spot on
roses, powdery mildew and scab on fruit vegetables and ornamentals. It
can harm parasitic wasps and predatory mites.

Also available as a combined insecticide and fungicide when mixed
with lime. It is used as a winter wash on fruit trees and is useful in
controlling big bud and other mites.


Used neat it is an effective winter wash for soft and top fruit. For
gooseberry mildew use 0.5 litre (1 pt) urine to 3.9 litres (7 pts) hot
water into which 84g (3oz) washing soda and 28g (1 oz) soap flakes have
been dissolved. Spray when cool.