Southsea Green

Community Garden | Canoe Lake

Autumn Articles

Highbridge Farm sign

Highbridge Community Farm Visit

Thursday 29th November

A bunch of us visited Highbridge community farm near Eastleigh at the weekend – what an experience! Being in the country, they benefit from the generosity of a farmer neighbour who shares with them 20 acres or so of arable land, which enabled them to create a self-sufficient market garden. On a totally different scale to our community garden at Canoe Lake Park, which occupies the site of a short road created in the time of Henry VIII (checkout the Cowdray print).

The operating principles and ethos though are very similar, embracing green practices, sharing and community involvement together with engendering a can-do-it-together spirit among those who garden or volunteer there. Portsmouth, as we all know, is a very crowded city, so it is worth keeping on the lookout for any growing space opportunities around you – and keep an eye out for dig-for-victory initiatives alongside the D-Day anniversary commemorations next year where Southsea Green will be cultivating a special wartime plot for SE in Bloom in the community garden and nearby in the parkland at Canoe Lake

by Graham Newcombe

onions on the ground

Time to put the vegetable plot to bed for the winter!

Thursday 22nd November

Well not quite. You can have fresh veg all year round if you plan. Your sprouts, kale and leeks should now be well on the way to giving you those greens for your Christmas dinner. Keep the weeds out of the leeks, stake the Brussels and purple sprouting broccoli to stop them blowing over in the wind and cover them with netting or the pigeons will get there before you do! You can still sow broad beans and plant shallots, garlic and onion set if you are quick. Putting these in now instead of Spring will give you an earlier harvest and the chance to get an extra crop next year. Some beds will be empty.

Dig them roughly so that the weather will break down the clumps. Spread a layer of manure or home-made compost and let the worms do the rest. Lots of leaves around now. You can put them in back plastic sacks and have compost in a year or so. I prefer to put a layer in the compost bin or on the plot. Much quicker!

by Goff Gleadle

Weird shape trees

Where did the summer go?

Tuesday 13th November

We had such heat and the lawns turned brown. We wondered if they’d ever be the same again. Shrubs wilted, Roses flowered for a few days and were gone. Then came the rain, enough to rescue our favourites. We wondered if the soothsayers were right and global warming is coming sooner than forecast? Should we begin Mediterranean gardening and pave over our lawns? I hope not. I’d miss my cottage garden in its full glory!

Now we are in Autumn, and the trees look wonderful in all shades of yellow, rust and gold. Wild winds and rain will bring the rest of the leaves down. It may seem gloomy, but now is the time to plant out our early Spring bulbs and action the plans we worked out in the Spring. Time to order our tulips, daffodils and shrubs that we’ve seen at our friend’s or at stately homes.

I wish you happy planting for colourful hours in all your gardens, no matter how large or small. (Pat has been a Patron of Southsea Green for 7 years)

by Pat Brian

FoodCycle logo and title with fundraising dinner 2018

Tuesday 6th November

Our friends at FoodCycle Portsmouth are having a festive fundraising supper at St Jude's Church Southsea on 23rd November.

This beautiful church will be transformed into a grand cafe, and dinner will be served inside the church itself. Kenwood’s development chef, Sophie Meechan and FoodCycle volunteers, will be serving up a three-course meal with a bar, and live music. Gail Baird of Foodcycle welcomes solo diners, and groups to celebrate the festive season together and as she says, “support an important local charity that is doing invaluable work for some of our community’s most vulnerable people, whilst enjoying a great evening out”.

It all kicks off at 19.00. Tickets are £15 from Book yourself and your friends in now for a fabulous foody evening.

Meanwhile, if you’re passing our community garden at Canoe Lake or attending one of our family workshops in the lead up to Christmas, drop in some tins or long-life milk, or whatever you can spare to fill our big basket of goodies to help stock up the food-bank over Winter. Find out more at:

by Sue Stokes

Image of a brown Sparrow

Tuesday 30th October

So much as we try, sometimes things don’t work out. Our paths branch off and sometimes we have to say Goodbye to special friends. When sharing any space which is not yours alone, or when visiting someone else’s garden, if we only see our own point of view, how can we see things as others do, or understand how they feel, or respect a different view? Here’s a little bit of wisdom from my old friend Nigel Huggins, about how to share the space at the bottom of our community garden. He says we should tell the kids about the bluebells and the ivy and the nettles, fennel, dandelion. How the bluebell and dandelion help the early bees and insects.

How the ivy produces berries for Starling, Blackbird, and Thrush. How the nettle feeds the cabbage white butterfly. How the fig tree feeds birds and mice. Then tell them about what other plants and flowers can encourage other wildlife and ask them, how 'under the fig tree' should be?

Bring your kids along and tell us what you’d like to see…

by Sue Stokes

Pots of Jam image

Our Community Garden

Tuesday 23nd October

- It began with a conversation about provenance, and a place to belong. About homegrown food, and swapping tomatoes for runner beans, or sharing with those who don’t have much. From daydream on the prom; tiny hut selling local herbs and flowers, came a community co-op, then a community garden where we could grow flowers and veg, maybe even plant an orchard...

Veg plots fashioned by a hundred hands transformed the wasteland into a new landscape. Each peach, pear, plum, we planted alongside the old grass courts brought glimpses of boughs filled with fruits -incredible edibles, enough for everyone. Each day brought new life through the garden gates. This old wasteland had sparked something, yet to be imagined.

An urban oasis beside the lake, for sun-lovers; dog-walkers; taking aunty Flo out in her wheelchair. Rose gardens; model boats; bandstand music on the breeze; family picnics; tennis; crazy golf; model village, or paint a pebble and hide for someone to find, we sow the seeds of community here...

Come and make a mini scarecrow Saturday 27th Oct 1-3pm

by Sue Stokes

Red and white tent for Southsea Greenhouse on the beach

Tuesday 16th October

What is community? I returned to Portsmouth from London seeking a better work-life balance. Everyone knows it’s difficult to relocate and volunteering is an easy way to make new contacts, but where, there are so many worthy places? Southsea Greenhouse, as it was then, was recommended and I was thrown into a world of intelligent, funny, talented, creative, quirky people with community at the heart of what they do. I was there through the early years, joining others at the little red and white striped hut on the seafront, selling veggies and home-made produce to unsuspecting passers by. Happy, carefree days.

We graduated to a strip of land and made it our own. Years go by, faces change but the ethos remains the same with kindness and inclusivity remaining the abiding principles. More than just a garden, it is a place to share skills, values, information, resources, friendship and fun. As we edge towards the end of 2018, I can answer the question posed at the beginning, for me it is a place of welcome and we’d love to welcome you too.

by Peta Sampson

Scarecrows face

Scarecrows, Pumpkins and Things Halloweeny (Drop-in)

Free workshop for the nippers who get to make their own scarecrow

Sunday 27th October ~ 1-3pm Facebook event page »

Pots of Jam image

“Just Jam and Jerusalem”

Tuesday 9th October

Women’s interests are often trivialised in such phrases but my jam-making days are an important part of my life. Stirring the bubbling jam brings back memories of my mum and granny who were prolific and expert jam-makers and who taught me how to catch that illusive “setting point”. Jam-making is the culmination of a year of tending the fruit canes and bushes, of cutting back, watering, tying-in, tending and finally picking the bursting fruits. And it reflects what Southsea Green is all about – pure, unadulterated food; although I sometimes worry about the amount of sugar I add to the pan.

Adulterated food is nothing new. Sylvia Pankhurst was concerned about the huge quantities of “raspberry” jam being commercially produced using turnips or rhubarb. Women were working in terrible conditions making wooden “pips” to add to the “raspberry” jam to make it look like the real thing. An angry Mrs Pankhurst set up her own factory making jam from real fruit at affordable prices to create decent jobs for women - my kind of Woman.

by Terry Hall

City lights of Portsmouth

by Graham Newcombe

Tuesday 2nd October

So the growing season is pretty much over, days are getting cooler and shorter and the leaves on the trees are beginning to colour. You may find that the vegetable beds look well overgrown, certainly the beans, corn and brassicas plots at the community garden do. It may look daunting, but clearance is relatively simple when the soil is damp.

After harvesting any remaining produce use a light fork or brute strength to pull the remains up and put them in the compost bin to provide food for next year’s crops, but if you can leave a few areas to provide winter shelter for bugs and other wildlife. The vacant ground can be planted with winter crops, mainly roots but also sprouts, onions and the like. Under cover lettuce and other salads can be sown to be ready for christmas and early spring consumption.

This week we welcome our over 60s with the Over 60s Festival. All ages and abilities are welcome to our monthly Get Togethers and our gardening and craft skillshops.

Green City with canals of water

Green Cities

Tuesday 25th September

Garden bridges and green streets kind of figure in dreamlike arcadian places, where the beauty of nature meanders unobstructed by concrete and machine. Yes they do exist in enlightened cities, who hold onto their resistance to the march of urban empires with precious little housing that’s affordable for locals born, bred, or working here, so, class divide widens, and the air is filled with toxic fumes from cars chugging in and out of the city – Thank goodness we still have our beautiful green seaside refuge, our community garden at Canoe Lake, somewhere to grow flowers and food, or meet others with similar passions and ideas.

Portsmouth Friends of the Earth are inviting anyone interested in reclaiming their streets, to their public meeting, 'Streets for People', on Monday 15th October, 7.30 pm at the Discovery Centre, RC Cathedral, where you can share your ideas for making our streets safer and healthier.

Lots of councillors and officers will be there and Megan Streb from Sustrans.