Manchester Drive Forest Garden Project

The purpose of this blog is to document the development of the forest garden project that I have been setting up at Manchester Drive allotment site in Leigh on Sea, Essex, as well as any other random permacultural (or not) rambling thoughts that might happen to stray from my brain. I hope you enjoy it or better still, feel inspired to start your own edible food forest!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No more brambles (for now...)

Debby and I went down to the forest garden today and made a final assault on the brambles, and have at last cleared the entire plot! Not that they won't be back (and I wouldn't want to totally eradicate them as they yield beautiful blackberries as well as being a wildlife habitat), however it does feel good to have the upper hand at least for a while, and hopefully from now on we'll at least be able to keep on top of them. Having the mattock to hack out the roots is a great help.

I also managed to start tree planting, getting in two bullaces and two guelder roses before it got too dark to continue. Ron was also down there today tending his forest garden next door, and I was able to scrouge lots of grass cuttings that I put around the new plantings as a mulch. With luck and if the weather holds I'll be able to get down there again before the end of the week to get the remaining trees in that I recently purchased from BTCV. The other selection of wild fruit plants that I bought from Kore nursery are doing well in the greenhouse at home. They look healthy even though currently dormant, but are rather small for directly planting out just yet, and would get swamped by the wild plants at the plot. I think I'll grow them on for another year...

Also the first little spears of the spring's daffodils that I planted last autumn and the year before are just visible, although I also managed to accidentally dig some up as well, which wasn't very clever.

Yet again I managed to forget the camera, so no fresh pics as yet!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Guerrilla Gardening on BBC Southern Counties

I've just done a live interview over the phone with Charlie Crocker for BBC Southern Counties Radio, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Solent, BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Berkshire which went out across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire about Guerrilla Gardening, which was fun although nerve racking! Thank you to the charming Lydia who sorted it out...

Talk about things that come back to haunt you... my status as a 'Guerrilla Gardening Guru' stems back to 1989 when I was asked to write an article for Green Anarchist magazine about allotments and guerrilla gardening- you can read it here if you want- consequently this got recycled a few years later by some Reclaim the Streets folks for a spoof newspaper they put together around the events of mayday 2000, then Grauniard journalist Lucy Seigel mentioned me in her book Green Living in the Urban Jungle. She also gave our Permaculture Courses a plug in the Observer which was nice, but does seem to have set me up as being some sort of authority on the subject! I even got described as the 'original UK Guerrilla gardener', although I think that honour should perhaps be reserved for Gerard Winstanley and the 1649 Diggers of St Georges Hill. However, Guerrilla Gardening and land squatting does have a long and venerable tradition, and hopefully our small efforts at Moon Corner, a previously unloved and littered spot in Leigh on Sea not too far from the Grand Hotel that was cleared by local people and made into a beautiful micro-community garden are a worthy footnote in that history (or should that be herstory as, apart from the Woodcraft Folk kids who got involved, the majority of the volunteers who cleared, planted and made the beautiful mosaic on the floor were women...). Not quite as high profile as The Land Is Ours squatting of the site of the old Wandsworth Guiness Brewery in 1996 , or indeed of Winston's Green mohican, but at least its lasted 12 years now...

Want to get started in guerrilla gardening? Start small- I once found a handful of left over onion sets in my pocket when waiting for a train- I pushed these into the soil of a flower bed by the bench, hey presto, a few months later, free onions!

Or for further inspiration check out my co-guest Richard's website at

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Camp Bling!

At last made it to Camp Bling, the protest camp set up on the site of the Saxon burial ground that Southend Borough Council wants to destroy, along with a good section of Priory Park and many beautiful mature horse chestnut trees, in order to widen a road that will save drivers about 3 minutes journey time (and I can vouch for this, I frequently drive a Southend Borough Council minibus along this stretch during rush hour when its at its most congested, and it only evr takes about 5 minutes to get free of the traffic jam...) I'd gone along to our friend Andrea's new years eve party, but as Bling is just around the corner we ended up going there to see in the new year, and partying til about 4 in the morning to Future Sounds of London and Thin Lizzy and everything musical in between... And I also nearly got my bike stolen by passing local chav-types, thanks to Olly for rescuing it! my head is suffering today though.... So no trip to the forest garden for more bramble clearance as semi-planned ... No snow either, whatever happened to the 'real winter weather' we were threatened/promised???

Anyway, camp bling is an amazing place, some brilliant structures, the main communal house/bender thingy is really roomy, warm and comfortable inside, here's more about it at their 'Blingblog'. I'm going to try to get there a bit more often, and if i remember drop of a few Permaculture books and magazines...