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Category — England

Jethro Tull’s most famous flautist swapped the excesses of life on the road for growing extremely hot chillies

Ian Anderson leaves his garden in Wiltshire to the pros, while he attends to his chillies.

Ian starts off his chillies in the swimming pool room, partly due to the conditions and partly because of the acoustics.

By Mark Diacono
The Telegraph
12 Apr 2014


“My chilli pepper adventures began with a salutary experience, courtesy of our Indian drummer, Ritchie Dharma, in 1967,” he says. “His mother cooked a powerful egg curry that sent me on the way to discovering the secret of the ‘hot’ behind hot curry.”

The natural chemical capsaicin is the villain, found in greatest concentration not in the seeds, but in the fleshy part of the chilli’s interior. It’s the active ingredient in pepper spray, used against bad guys, but Ian actually enjoys the effect:

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April 12, 2014   No Comments

A Little Piece of England – A Tale of Self-sufficiency – 35th Anniversary Edition


Why self-sufficiency now is as important as ever

A Little Piece of England
By John Jackson
Published by JJ Books
New hardback edition 2014
232 pages

Excerpt from the author’s blog post 14th March 2014:

It is with great pleasure that I look forward to the publication of JJ Books’ newest book – the hardback edition of ‘A Little Piece of England’.

It is thirty-five years since the book was first published as ‘A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net’, and even longer since I wrote it. I can still very clearly remember writing the book – something that I did in the winter of 1977 – mainly at the kitchen table when everyone else was in bed and the house was quiet, between midnight and two in the morning.

I and my family had found it immensely exciting and rewarding to work on developing our own smallholding, and the project took us further than any of us had anticipated. We learned a huge amount from it, and it has turned out to have had a lasting effect on all of us. I wanted to keep a record of the experiences our family shared – and I am very glad that I did.

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April 10, 2014   Comments Off

The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing


This study reviews current literature and highlights compelling case for commissioning of food growing by health service, with foreward by Professor Tim Lang.

By Garden Organic and Sustain
Gareth Davies, Maria Devereaux, Margi Lennartsson, Ulrich Schmutz, Sarah Williams
April 2014

Excerpt from Forward:

We can all benefit from gardening and community food-growing projects. It is widely recognised that regular contact with plants, animals and the natural environment can improve our physical health and mental well-being. When we grow food and flowers, we are engaging with the natural world at a pace that provides a welcome antidote to the stresses of modern life.

For the large number of people in our society – children and adults – who live with challenging physical or mental health problems, gardening and community food growing can be especially beneficial.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

Edible Perennial Gardening: Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces


By Anni Kelsey
Permanent Publications
April 15, 2014

Excerpt from review by Rory Prendergast in Permaculture UK:

Anni Kelsey’s first book Edible Perennial Gardening is receiving great reviews from some eminent people such as permaculture author, Patrick Whitefield, Agroforestry Research Trust founder, Martin Crawford and the edible forest gardener, Eric Toensmeier. Their feedback is in advance of the book’s launch at the Edible Garden Show (28th-30th March) in London where the author will be speaking. The book details the many ways to grow perennials in low-maintenance polycultures, an ideal method for small urban or rural gardeners to grow year round delicious, unusual edibles that look beautiful too.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

1736: Unearthing the History of Sheffield’s Allotments

Ralph Gosling’s Plan of Sheffield in the year 1736. See larger image here.

Gardeners professions: Button makers, Shoe makers, Cutlers, Bakers, Innkeepers, Widows, Clerk, Grocer, Schoolmaster, Husbandman, Gardener

Jane Withers, Adam J Smith
Furnace Park
Mar 17, 2014


As shown in the above map (the Cathedral is circled in red), urban gardens dominated Sheffield city centre (seen by the yellow arrows radiating from the Cathedral). Although the gardens illustrated in 1736 cannot be proved as allotments (very little documentation survives alluding to the use of these plots) it was thought that the total number of gardens shown could be in excess of 200.

These plots were popular with craftsmen of the time, whose green fingers itched with creativity and cultivation. The popularity of the city centre escapes grew, and by 1780, Flavell claims that there is evidence of between 1500 and 1800 allotments being leased within the city boundaries of Sheffield (see the ‘Further Reading’ section at the end of this post). This expansion could be accredited to the discovery of a more efficient crucible method for producing steel, thoroughly placing Sheffield on the industrial map and causing a need for an alternative past time, away from the grime and smoke of the industrial sites.

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March 27, 2014   Comments Off

London Primary School Expands Community Garden Project

Charlton Manor Primary School.

It will allow parents/carers to take their children to the farm and have access to a healthy meal with produce grown by school children.

Tim Baker, head master of local primary school, Charlton Manor, envisaged the concept of a community area for growing and cooking food at nearby Woodlands Farm. Tim is a pioneer when it comes to growing and eating healthy food in schools and his own school is an example to all schools on how to implement a seed to plate strategy. It is natural that he seeks to take this outlook out into the further community.

Woodlands Farm Trust

At Charlton Manor we have signed up with the Woodlands Farm Trust. We have our own allotment there that we are currently working on and the children visit regularly to work on the plot. The children can visit the animals and help out by looking after them.

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March 27, 2014   Comments Off

The Gardens of the British Working Class


The imperatives of the ordinary gardener long ago were to produce food and grow herbs for medicinal purposes.

By Margaret Willes
Yale University Press
March 2014

This magnificently illustrated people’s history celebrates the extraordinary feats of cultivation by the working class in Britain, even if the land they toiled, planted, and loved was not their own. Spanning more than four centuries, from the earliest records of the laboring classes in the country to today, Margaret Willes’s research unearths lush gardens nurtured outside rough workers’ cottages and horticultural miracles performed in blackened yards, and reveals the ingenious, sometimes devious, methods employed by determined, obsessive, and eccentric workers to make their drab surroundings bloom.

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March 17, 2014   Comments Off

Gardening Thespians – Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh – 1941

“They had a piggery and six Guernsey cows. The whole gardens existed to support the house and they took produce back to their London home; milk, cream, strawberries, raspberries, soft fruits and flowers.”

By Zoltan Glass
Picture Post
People: Laurence Olivier; Vivien Leigh

1941: Actor Laurence Olivier (1907 – 1989) with his wife, actress Vivien Leigh (Vivian Mary Hartley, 1913 – 1967).

Excerpt from ‘Vivien Leigh was a dab hand with her roses’
By Faith Eckersall,
Dorest Echo, April 17, 2011

At the time he first saw her, Mike, who lives with his wife, Anne, in Colehill, didn’t know he would become one of Leigh’s gardeners, taken on by her estate manager at her home in Notley Abbey, a 12th century estate which was run by her brother-in-law, Dickie Olivier.

“After my dad died I’d had a brush with the law and I think it was decided that it might be a good idea if I had a little job,” says Mike.

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March 16, 2014   Comments Off

Fully-funded PhD exploring urban agriculture up for grabs

augSept1943Comic cover from Aug/Sept 1943.

“Food security: The Relevance and Potential of Urban Agriculture in the Global North”

The closing date for applications is 31 March 2014; shortlisted candidates will be notified during April 2014.

University of Salford, Manchester
Supervisors: Dr M.Adams (60%), Dr M.Hardman (30%), Prof P.James (10%)

Food security, the availability, access and utilisation of food, is a major political concern, particularly in cities. Urban Agriculture (UA) involves growing food in urban contexts and is credited to facilitate urban food security.

This studentship will:
• focus on how UA fits into current understandings of urban food security
• identify the potential of UA for supplying safe, fresh food to urban households

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March 14, 2014   Comments Off

1943 – Young Queen Elizabeth gardens

Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II, left) and her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose (1930 – 2002) working on their allotment in the grounds of Windsor Castle, 11th August 1943. They are taking part in the government’s ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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March 7, 2014   Comments Off

Kitchen Garden Estate


Traditional Country-House Techniques for The Modern Gardener or Smallholder

By Helene Gammack
National Trust

Peek behind the garden door at some of Britain’s grandest estates to discover the traditional crafts of growing, cooking, and self-sufficiency from past masters.

From “growing your own” and cooking with herbs to harvesting honey and keeping chickens, Britain’s great estates and country house gardens offer a wealth of inspiration to the modern gardener.

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March 4, 2014   Comments Off

Wild Bees Catch Honeybee Disease

A bumble bee biting open a stem of a flower in order to feed. Photo from Wiki.

Study suggests a honeybee disease might be spilling over into wild bee populations in the U.K.

By Kerry Grens
The Scientist
February 19, 2014


Deformed wing virus (DMV), a disease that affects commercial honeybees, can also infect wild bumblebees and shorten their life span, researchers report today (February 19) in Nature. Given the overlapping geographical distribution of the disease among honeybees and bumblebees in the U.K., the authors conclude that the virus is likely spilling over from commercial hives into wild populations.

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March 1, 2014   Comments Off

Cultivate London

westlondGetting her hands dirty: Amy joins Cultivate London general manager Adrienne Attorp and head grower Ben Simpkins at an urban farm in Hounslow, West London, a formerly derelict area turned over to food. Photo by Victor Frankowski.

‘You are never going to have the space you need to grow or to meet all of London’s food needs but it’s a good supplement,’ she says.

Metro UK
Feb 19, 2014


‘Unlike many rural farmers who have been facing serious flooding and wind damage as a result of the storms, we have actually been relatively lucky,’ says Attorp. ‘The high winds damaged one of our polytunnels slightly, but it was nothing serious. However, there are more storms on the way, so we will just have to react as needed. It’s really hard in the summer when it gets hot, too – you really don’t want to be sweating inside one of those tunnels. But we have a ball digging outside in the sunshine.’

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February 28, 2014   Comments Off

Edinburgh’s ‘The Grove Community Garden’


Susanne showed me the 75 plots

By Aunt Emily
Common Good Edinburgh
Feb 13, 2014


In the middle of Edinburgh, hidden behind a construction site is a secret garden, well I admit there’s a big sign outside. But it’s still pretty magical. Behind a blue gate in Fountainbridge, is this beautiful place. It’s The Grove Community Garden. I was expecting a few pots of soil and some dead plants but instead, it was bursting with life.

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February 24, 2014   Comments Off

WW1 Prison Camp became almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables

By the end of the war, the camp was almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, a far cry from the food poverty going on outside the walls. Click on image for larger version.

Gardening at Ruhleben in Berlin, a First World War prison camp

By Ed Cumming
The Telegraph
Feb 1, 2014


The 5,000 or so British men who found themselves in Germany when war broke out did not count themselves lucky at first. As potential enemy soldiers, they could not be allowed to go home. “What were four thousand Britishers doing in Germany when their country declared war? The answer – that none of them had the faintest idea of what was coming – is almost incomprehensible today,” wrote J Davidson Ketchum, a Canadian psychologist who was interned and wrote about the experience afterwards.

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February 8, 2014   Comments Off