I’d love to garden but…

Gardening is therapeutic, helps you live longer* and is easy to do. It doesn’t take much effort once the hard work is done, and you don’t have to know much as it’s the perfect “learn on the job” hobby. God knows I’m learning all the time!
*Subject to age and health.

So you’ll like to get started and

You have a garden of your own
Brilliant, sorted!

You don’t have a garden
You don’t need to have a garden to grow some of your favourite herbs or salad leaves in pots on your windowsill. It doesn’t take much maintenance apart from the odd bit of watering and talking to them (if that’s your thing}. Go for Terracotta pots as they look tons better than the ordinary plastic ones.
700 Basil Seeds on Ebay for £1.70 inc postage
Cut-again salad leaves seeds from Suttons.co.uk £1.69

You live in a high-rise flat
If you’ve got a balcony, chuck out that old sofa, give the space a good hose down and grow some Flowers in tubs, Tomato’s or Peppers in  growbags, Herbs in a hanging basket or some Spuds in an old plastic dustbin. Simple! Once they’re in it’s just a case of watering and feeding.

When we lived in a flat, on our balcony was a cat litter tray, two old-school striped council deck-chairs and a battered bikers jacket with a rusty Meteors badge on the lapel, found outside the squat where King Kurt used to live. The rubbish that collects on balconies eh?

You’ve only got a dreary concrete yard where you keep the bins
Whitewash the walls so any light which it does get, will be reflected around, get a couple of growbags or make a wooden raised bed and take it from there. Cheer yourself and the binmen up with tubs with flowers hanging down on higher surfaces, plants with scented flowers or a hanging basket with a variety of herbs in it. I’m not the greatest lover of hanging baskets as it reminds me of the outside of a 70’s seaside Bed & Breakfast, but I found one in a skip the other month and after a little bit of a cleaning and the addition of  an old loo chain, it doesn’t look too bad now.

You have no garden, back yard or windowsill!
Start a garden-share with someone local (stick a card up in the local post office or garden centre) or a use a scheme like http://www.landshare.net

Have a look around your area, maybe there’s an old person who’d like their front garden tidied up in exchange for a plot to grow some veg and you could also give them a share of the harvest. You’ll get a fair few cups of tea and some conversation thrown in and they’ll get a bit of company into the bargain.

What about somewhere local like an old folks home, a shop or a church that might have a plot at the back that they don’t bother with. You can keep it tidy and grow a bit of Veg for yourself and even get the residents involved. Less work for yourself as well!

Someone might even have just a front garden going spare so you could do the Gardening “no, no” of growing “edibles” in it. Oh the shame, what will the neighbours say? Why don’t people grow Veg in their front gardens, who set the rules?

Why not be a real life “Guerilla Gardener” using that bit of land around the tree in the front of your house/flat. I don’t think the local council would begrudge you that, that’s if they ever found out.

So there you go, you’re ready to start cultivating!

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Old punks never die, they just stand at the back

Charlie Harper of the UK Subs is 67 this year, how good is that? What do you reckon the other pensioners think of him when he pops into his allotment to fork up some turnips for tea or when he goes to the local post office to pick up his pension? “Get your hair cut” or “bring back national service” gets bawled at him I bet.

Decades ago in Coventry, the UK Subs played in a pub called The Hand and Heart, a small venue that held about 50 people with the band playing at one end and the bar at the other. The gig turned out to be mayhem with punks invading the stage, equipment nicked and someone even sang “Annie’s Song” by John Denver over one of their classics when Charlie Harper went for a pogo in the crowd and/or to get himself a pint at the bar mid-song.

Years later, when I was living in London on my way to Euston train station, I spotted Charlie at Clapham tube and went over and said “Alright Charlie! I saw you in Coventry at The Hand and Heart years ago” “yeah great gig, great gig” he replied, to which I added “but it turned into a riot Charlie”, “yeah great gig, great gig” he kept on saying while chuckling to himself. He asked me what I was up to and I told him I was going up to the Midlands to visit my Mum, to which he replied “Yeah, you got to love your Mum, mate” and then trotted on down the road in his spray painted leather jacket. Brilliant! Happy Birthday Charlie, here’s to another 67 years!

It was easy, it was cheap…

This bi-weekly blog is about the art of Gardening and making the most of what you’ve got in terms of budget and tools.

Gardening is simple and anyone can do it. DJ Andrew Weatherall grows his own Radishes and David “Ram Jam” Rodigan is an avid Sweet Pea enthusiast so I’ve been told.

Talking about Reggae, in the 1970’s Bob Marley was owed some money by the producer Lee Perry so he decided to pay him a visit to get what was his. On arrival at The Upsetter’s house, the very angry Marley was stopped in his tracks by the sight of broken 7” records planted in pots in the front garden. He laughed so much he forgot about the debt and ended up writing another song with Perry. The power of Gardening eh?

You don’t need much to start; a space to grow, some basic tools and a bit of spare time, all combined with a bit of patience (which I lack sometimes, more about that later). As Bob Flowerdew, Gardener and recycler extraordinaire said, “It’s the perfect hobby to save you money. While you’re out Gardening, you’re not shopping and spending money and when you’re finished, you’re too knackered to go out down the pub or to a restaurant”. Too right!

The reason I garden is to save money growing my own fruit and veg but at the same time I love losing myself in the joys of the soil and it takes my mind off the bills and endless lists that constantly go through my mind.

I’ve always been interested in the hobby since I was kid as my dad was a keen Chrysanthemum grower. As I got older, I discovered Punk and being in a band so kept the Gardening past a secret, until I moved to London in my early Twenties and got as job as a Gardener with Westminster City Council. This is where I learnt the art of working the soil from experienced Horticulturists, alongside other skills from the chancers and skivers there. It was also at Westminster where I had chance meetings with Johnny Rotten, Glen Matlock and the Mutant Waste Company (but more about them and the council as the blog progresses). Then I put my Gardening past behind to become a student of Graphic Design.

While I was doing my design degree I got myself a Gardening round to supplement my modest grant from Lambeth Council. So on a Saturday morning a bit worse for wear after mad nights out at balearic tinged clubs unbeknown to the little old ladies who employed me, I’d “tip around with a hoe” as they used to say in the council.

Time passed, I got married and had a couple of kids. A few years ago we all moved into a house where there were shedloads of work to be done. Outside in the garden, mummified underpants littered the undergrowth that was once the lawn. Something had to be done about it but we had no spare cash. This is where the blog comes in. All the tips and tricks I’d learnt over the years will be aired alongside stories about the council and the Punk Kicking dance.

It was easy, it was cheap, GO AND DO IT!