Barking Grow Club

ONLINE: Our Garden

16 March – 31 August 2020

Streaming from the Company Drinks Garden
at the Outdoor Bowls Club in Barking Park

SUMMER IS HERE so Shaun and Alice will be continue to bring you the latest progress of our herbs and flowers, plus easy tips and activities you can follow at home in a garden, on a balcony or windowsill.

WEEK 8: MONDAY 18TH MAY – A MOMENT OF CALM

 

Thanks to the hard work of the Grow Club Team and some decent rain and sunshine, the garden is looking very alive and colourful right now. We’ve got our first showing of cosmos flowers dotted around the garden, some in the beds and some on the former bowling green. Our meadow is also looking very green with many different varieties of plants coming through.

The chamomile flowers are now ready to harvest and will continue to produce flowers over the coming weeks (see video below). The borage and calendula flowers are also blooming, and have been picked to dry and add to tea blends. We also have monster hops, mallow, and valerian all growing amazingly well, as is the mint in both our peppermint and chocolate mint beds. There’ll be plenty to do once we’re able to spend time in the garden together again.

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Wild and Well: Chamomile Harvest

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This week we did our first herb harvest of the year! We picked some chamomile, borage, and calendula as well as a bit of chocolate mint. Last year our chocolate mint bed got a little wild and overgrown, so Grow Club members spent a few sessions carefully removing all the plants, (and trying to remove all the roots!) and then selecting good sections to replant in rows. Some members took them home and have them growing on their windowsills or in their gardens.

We were relieved to see some nice new growth in early Spring this year, and then in the last few weeks the plants have absolutely shot forward. Hopefully if we stay on top of it, we will continue to get lots of lush growth for our teas.

If you are uncertain how to harvest chamomile then why not watch this short video. And if you would like any tips on harvesting other herbs, please let us know and we will try to help.

  • For this and other Herb Growing videos, check our Vimeo page

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WEEK 5: TUESDAY TUESDAY 12TH MAY – PICKING TOGETHER AGAIN

Wild and Well: Liquid Feed Tips

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We don’t just make tea for us humans! A Comfrey and/or Nettle tea (otherwise known as a liquid feed) is a great way to naturally provide extra nutrients for hungry plants – particularly useful when growing in containers as we do at Barking Grow Club. We’ve made a short video showing how you can do the same at home.

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Garden check in

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As we tip from Spring towards Summer, the garden is in FULL SWING. We really miss our volunteers, but as you can see from our Garden Tour Video, there will be plenty to do once we are able to meet in the garden again. We will post another video in a few weeks so that you can see how its growin’. We are excited to say we are now growing black peppermint, which has a fantastic flavour when dried for tea, and we are thrilled that both our meadow areas are coming along nicely.

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  • Click here to see our Garden Tour Video

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WEEK 4: TUESDAY 21ST APRIL: BE MORE SUNFLOWER

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Garden check in

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Whilst the public programme is on hold, Shaun and Alice have been been tending to the garden, (following all gov distancing guidelines.) making sure that it’s alive and kicking for when we can finally regroup there together.

 

We love this time of year, when shoots and buds are breaking through and things are putting on green growth faster than you can say ‘going picking’. This week we noticed the first flowers on our self seeded Borage plant – a fun bit of colour in our “NovelTea” blend plus, the flowers are plentiful once it gets going and the bees love it. Thanks to @MPGALondon and their Bulbs for London scheme we have been enjoying daffodils, crocus’ and hyacinth’s all Spring and now it’s the turn of these alliums which are just about to flower.

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Similarly, the willow hedge which we planted from willows donated by @CoreLandscapesLondon have made it through their first winter and have some lovely growth. There’s nothing like that particular lushness which you see on the first leaves of deciduous plants each year.

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We have really missed having our regular member’s enthusiasm and skills in the garden, but we hope that the photos will bring a little of the outside in. If there is any area in which you would particularly like to see “how’s it growin’”, then just ask and we will endeavour to take some photos next time we are there.

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The Wild + Well sunflowers have arrived

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Check out our video update from the sunflowers posted at our last Wild+Well Family Gardening Club in February, link below.

At our first Family Wild + Well session this year, the group sowed sunflower seeds. Thank you to you all who took part! These seeds were a donation from one of the Thursday Group volunteers, who had saved them from sunflowers in their own garden.

Now they are strong enough, they have found a home at the Company Drinks garden, and this week you can see a short video of Alice planting them out into a bed prepared by the Barking Grow Club.

We love the invisible trail that connects spaces through sharing seeds and cuttings! Watch this space for photos of the sunflowers as they grow and tips for growing your own at home…

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  • Check out our video on the Wild+Well Sunflowers

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  • See our Garden Blog for all the latest stories and links

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  • If you want to share with us your own Home Growing or Growing Tips, or if you are one of the regular Grow Club members, and want to find out how a particular plant or area is getting on, email Alice.
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  • See our Garden Blog for more detailed updates, all the latest stories, photos of the plants and useful links..

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WEEK 3 : FRIDAY 7th APRIL : FAMILIES’ EASTER SPECIAL

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Fun for all the family – Egg Hunt!

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We invite you and the members of your family to see how quickly you can find the 16 Easter Eggs and 1 Easter Bunny hidden in this photo of our Grow Club Garden……

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Bug Hotel check in

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Last year, with the help of some brilliant volunteers we created Bug-ingham Palace…. our Barking Bug Habitat in the garden at Company Drinks. We constructed it in layers of pallets, and filled each layer with; pine cones, twigs, bamboo, and plant stems bundled together, pieces of broken garden pots, and small rotting logs. We then made a simple green roof, in which we planted drought tolerant crassulas, and wildflowers.

The purpose of the habitat is to encourage insects and invertebrates into the garden, so that we create a balanced ecosystem. It provides them habitat and somewhere to lay their eggs. Some key players who we hope to see an increased number of in the garden this year are solitary bees, ground beetles, lady birds and hoverflies.

  • We recommend this great post from Red Ted Art on building your own Bug Hotel, you can even build mini-hotels and hang them from a balcony!
  • If you want to share with us your own Bug Habitat progress, tag us on social media  @goingpicking or send photos and ideas to Alice
  • See our Garden Blog for all the latest stories, photos and links

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WEEK 2: FRIDAY 3rd APRIL

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Composting 

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The compost is the heart of the garden. This week we’re sharing a short video as an insight into the final stage of that magical process, where Shaun demonstrates sieving the compost to get the fine, crumbly, lovely organic matter, with which we then plant out new herbs and shrubs and top dress our container beds.

If you look closely you can see it is teeming with worms, and we hope that there are millions of beings too small for the eyes to see, too. We grow organically and don’t use any pesticides or herbicides as we follow the principle of feeding the soil life, not the plants, to end up with the best herbs for our teas.
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  • Check out our online video for an Introduction to the Company Compost
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  • If you want to share with us your own composting progress, tag us on social media  @goingpicking or send photos and ideas to Alice

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WEEK 1: MONDAY 30th MARCH

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Garden check in

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The Barking Grow Club volunteer sessions might be on pause, but the garden certainly hasn’t stopped growing! This week we’ve been giving our seedlings, which we began sowing in February, a little more room.

The Cosmos, Nasturtium, Sunflowers (and more) are not part of our herbal tea range but provide forage for pollinators as well as bringing more colour to the garden.

Over the coming weeks we will have more videos showing simple gardening techniques that you can try at home – garden, balcony or windowsill.

  • Check our Vimeo for a tutorial: Potting on overgrown seedlings.
  • If you would like to share with us your own Potting progress, tag us on social media @goingpicking, or send photos and ideas to alice@companydrinks.info.

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Do you need any help or support?

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The council, in partnership with BD Collective, have launched a Citizens Alliance Network (CAN), to support vulnerable people during these difficult times. If you, or anyone you know, needs help or support, you can find out more on the CAN website.

Please contact us via email if you have any questions about our activities or concerns about the situation and how it might be affecting you in Barking & Dagenham.