June: What's on at Mobile Garden City Hi Everyone, June is upon us already! Here’s an update on activities coming up at Mobile Garden City during the next month. Gardening activities are suitable for all ages and levels of experience. Please wear closed-toe shoes and sensible clothes that you don't mind getting mucky. All equipment and tools ... Continue reading »
A network of active London-based community gardening projects supported by Make Grow Do local to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Type: Partnership Programme
Powered by: Groundwork
Map: Project Locations
The Orchard Project aims to create lush cities swathed in fruit and nut trees. We work in partnership with communities to plant, manage, restore and harvest orchards in urban areas to help us all to rediscover the pleasure of eating home-grown fruit. For the first five years, we focused our efforts in London; today we support, are inspired by, and share fruit-growing knowledge with orchard groups across Britain.View all
Today we prepared six beds for planting and learned about Phacelia from our Lead Gardener, Sean Gifford of Urban Sky Farmers. We broke up some of the Phacelia and dug it in as green manure, along with organic compost. I felt sad for the Mobile City bees, who had been enjoying its flowers. Sean appears in the headline picture, with the surviving Phacelia.Phacelia is a quick growing hardy annual green manure that germinates at low temperatures and can be sown from March until September. When planted in bare soil between crops, it prevents nitrates leaching into waterways, grows up to 1m in height and tolerates cold. In the Mobile Garden it has over-wintered. It suits most soil types but is particularly good in dry ones, so it grows successfully in our raised beds.Phacelia has beautiful scented purple/blue flowers with dense fern-like foliage. It smothers weeds and has an extensive root system that improves the soil structure. It self-seeds very easily, so if it is used as a green manure, dig it in before flowering or cut down and compost the foliage. It flowers from 6-8 weeks from sowing for a period of 6-8 weeks.Phacelia is listed as one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honeybees and is very attractive to hoverflies, which eat a lot of aphids, as well as bumblebees. A small patch can be left to flower, especially near to vegetables, to attract pollinating insects to the area, but don't have too many as the insects will feed on the Phacelia rather than the veg. It also makes an excellent cut flower and has a long vase-life with strong stems.Phacelia is part of the Hydrophyllaceae family, so it fits into any bed in a crop rotation plan.