A green-fingered west London resident shares his passion
As part of a storytelling project with Hamlett Films, W12 Together resident Kumaran Palaniandy has been using photography to capture his love of gardening. Here, he shares some tips on how to garden all year round in London and why growing produce is a great way to bring people together.
Living off the land, the rivers and the sea, was a way of life when I was a young child. I grew up on a big rubber plantation in Malacca, Malaysia where my parents worked. Since land there was readily available, my father did a lot of vegetable gardening, and he kept chickens for eggs and meat. We also fished in the rivers and sourced most of our food locally.
I take my inspiration from plant life in both the UK and Malaysia.”
Vegetable growing and gardening has stayed with me since my childhood. Having said that, it is generally quite easy to get things to grow in tropical countries. It is a different scenario in the UK where the seasons can vary dramatically.
I have now been living in the UK for the last twenty years, and have had to learn more about growing with the seasonal changes we have here. I have attended a few gardening courses to learn more, one was conducted by Hammersmith Community Gardens Association. I was also invited by Big Local Board to chair the open spaces committee and through them did a gardening course at Trafford Hall in Cheshire.
Those courses taught me a lot, and I would now like to share this knowledge and experience with others.
For the beginners out there, gardening can, in short, be divided into two categories, vegetable gardening and growing flowers. Whichever you choose there are a few basic things I recommend you need to do to be successful.
It gives me great pleasure to make things grow and to live according to the rhythm of the seasons in the middle of a city.”
First of all you must have a place to grow your plants, in a plot of land either in the front of your house or flat or in the back of your house. For those who have no land, you can still grow in pots, troughs or grow bags.
The other requirements are water and sunlight, which I am sure most of you would know. To grow plants, you will need seeds, seedlings or cuttings depending on the plant. Seeds or seedlings can be bought from supermarkets or seed suppliers.
Whether growing vegetables or flowers, sowing the seeds is the first step in the process. The seedlings is the second stage and planting them is the third. The plants must be watered and either manure or soil added until the plants reach maturity. Then you can harvest the vegetables or cut the flowers.
Time is of essence as some plants need a short time from seeding to maturity as others may need a longer period.
I also enjoy the harvest, and my family use the vegetables for cooking.”
If you use organic seeds, you get vegetables which are tastier and sweeter, and flowers in their natural colours. Supermarket vegetables and flowers are often genetically modified or sprayed to improve the impression of them.
Today I grow many different vegetables outside my apartment in London. I take my inspiration from plant life in both the UK and Malaysia. It gives me great pleasure to make things grow and to live according to the rhythm of the seasons in the middle of the capital city.
I also enjoy the harvest, and my family use the vegetables for cooking. We can’t eat it all, so we often give away produce to friends and neighbours.
I would like to share my gardening enthusiasm with more people – come and join me in the joy of gardening!