COLUMN: Donnachadh McCarthy

News Desk (17 December, 2015) Columnists

"I am a lazy edible gardener!"

I am a lazy edible gardener!  I want my little garden in Peckham to provide me with lots of free healthy organic food but I do not want to do lots of work!

So over the years I have planted lots of different fruit trees and bushes.  As you can get fruit trees with dwarf roots which prevent the trees from growing too big, they are great for small inner city gardens.

But you do not have to have a garden yourself to grow fruit in Southwark.  The Urban Orchard Project works with local people to plant fruit trees and mini-orchards in council estates, local parks and waste open spaces.  They have planted a mini-orchard for example in Nursery Row Park in Walworth working with the local Friends of the Park group.  You can get in touch with them via www.theurbanorchardproject.

The Wells Way Triangle RTA also funded their local green group to plant a ribbon orchard in their streets, using little pockets of green space here and there to plant individual fruit trees and shrubs. Britain imports over 85% of its fruit, much of it having to travel thousands of miles and much of it from very drought ridden countries.  They therefore come with a huge water and carbon footprint. For example, a litre of orange juice can take a 1,000 litres of water to create. So planting fruit trees is a double win – it creates lots of local fresh healthy food and simultaneously reduces environmental destruction.

I have so far planted apple, pear, plum and damson trees in my garden and also have some strawberry, raspberries, redcurrant, blackcurrant, blackberry, purple and golden gooseberry shrubs.  Many of these reproduce really easily.  So after a couple of years you will be able to produce lovely easy to create edible gifts for your friends or community, that will give them fresh fruit for years.

Planting time for fruit trees and shrubs is between now and Spring.  Good quality organic fruit trees and shrubs can be got from the organic charity www.gardenorganic.

So why not suggest to your local Residents and Tenants Association at their next meeting that they create a community orchard in 2016?  Let’s make Southwark into a beautiful orchard garden!

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Donnachadh McCarthy