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The Voice - August 2020


Comment by Geoff

Geoff Juden

More and more people are proud of their gardens, whether it’s for growing vegetables, flowers or a mix of items.

After another year of planting, nurturing and watching them grow, there is joy in having a colourful display.

It’s important that this activity is allowed to prosper and encourage more to understand the benefits of gardening. By doing so, it means more people are creating a better environment for us all.

To those who are about to enjoy the produce they have grown, well done.

If you value having someone campaign on your behalf to protect the environment and having access to useful articles about gardening and local environmental matters, please make a donation to help us with the cost of maintaining The East London Garden Society.


Local Garden Initiative

Garden initiative

I frequently challenge local authorities on the methods they use to manage the urban environment and this needs to be done many times since they so often get it wrong. Once the urban environment has been destroyed, it is unlikely to return.

However, I must now applaud a local initiative in The London Borough of Waltham Forest. The East London Garden Society used to help organise an annual garden competition in that area until the chairman changed.

Unfortunately, the new chairman decided that a garden competition was not worthwhile, so the garden competition was no more.

Fortunately, a group of residents recognised the advantages of what the garden competition had achieved in bringing the community together, so they formed a new group. Cann Hall Beautiful Gardens Society is now offering an award for excellence.

The message from this is that we can achieve something together without involving local authorities. Sometimes it is the initiatives of others which bring the greatest change for all our benefit. It is a strong message to remember.

Geoff Juden
Chairman, The East London Garden Society


Annihilation of Insects

Wildflowers

Insects are rapidly being annihilated, risking ecosystem collapse with dire repercussions for humanity, according to a report urging major new targets to preserve these vital creatures and the environments which support them.

The country has lost ninety-seven per cent of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s and eighty-seven per cent of its wetlands. Both of these habitats supported a huge array of wildlife.

Compounding the destruction of these ecosystems is the fact that 16,900 tonnes of toxic chemicals in the form of pesticides are applied to the countryside every year, and that figure doesn’t include additional pesticides used in gardens across towns and cities, or those which go down the drain.

The report calls for ambitious new rules on pesticides that will put the UK ahead of the EU, which is considering plans to halve the overall use of pesticides by 2030.

The Wildlife Trusts are also calling for a national effort to provide more wildlife friendly planning, including making use of the quarter of a million miles of road verges as well as the land alongside train lines to create wildlife networks and corridors which promote biodiversity leading to the recovery of insects.

Craig Bennett, the chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:

“In my lifetime, forty-one per cent of wildlife species in the UK have suffered strong or moderate decreases in their numbers, and insects have suffered most.

"This has had a huge effect on the rest of the natural world. The vital role that insects perform is undermined and everything that depends on them suffers, from hedgehogs to nightingales, wildflowers to wetlands.

"Current trade deals threaten to make a bad situation worse. It’s up to the government to ensure we maintain our current environmental standards, not let them slip and jeopardise the wildlife we have left. The Agriculture Bill is a golden opportunity to set high standards in law and make sure insect-friendly farming practices are rewarded.

"We want to see an ambitious pesticide reduction target and at least thirty per cent of land being managed for nature so that insects can become abundant once more. We’re calling on everyone to act for insects and become an insect champion.

"In the UK alone we have more than 27,000 insect species; grasshoppers, bees, silverfish, caddisflies, beetles, dragonflies, mayflies, moths and many more. They are the dominant life form on Earth, living all around us, burrowing in the soil in our gardens and parks, buzzing from flower to flower in farmers’ fields, munching slowly through the leaves in our woodland.

"Insects are everywhere, performing vital roles such as pollinating wildflowers and crops, serving as a major food source for birds, bats, fish, reptiles and amphibians, recycling the nutrients in animal dung and cadavers, spreading seeds, aerating the soil, eating pests and so on.

"Whether as an individual, you ‘like’ insects or not, we need them. Without their help in recycling nutrients and keeping soil healthy, it would be much harder to grow crops, and the three quarters of our crops that require insect pollinators would produce little or nothing.

"If we get it right for insects, we get it right for everything else. Insects are the canaries in the coal mine; their collapse is an alarm bell that we must not ignore. Action is needed from every section of society. We all need to change this together.”


How to Prune Tomatoes

Tomato diagram

Tomatoes are one of the most popular, as well as the easiest plants to grow. The first plant that people usually choose is for a late Summer or Autumn bounty. Here are a few tips.

Not all types of tomatoes need to be pruned. If you are growing ‘determinate’ tomatoes, you don't want to prune. Because ‘determinate’ plants develop all of their fruit at one time and pruning may cause you to sacrifice tomatoes for no reason.

If you're growing ‘indeterminate’ tomatoes, which produce fruit regularly over the course of a season, pruning is essential. This helps keep the commonly huge vines in control, and it encourages the plant to produce several large tomatoes instead of lots of foliage and many smaller tomatoes.

Tomato pruning isn't a required chore, no matter which type of tomato you're growing. If you're not concerned about growing large fruit or trying to keep the plants under control, you don't need to worry about pruning.

If you decide to prune, it's a simple process. Look for the tomato suckers, which grow in the V space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If left, these suckers will eventually grow into full-sized branches, adding lots of foliage and, eventually, a few fruits. This will result in a tomato plant that quickly outgrows its space.

To prune, you simply remove these suckers. Suckers under two inches long can simply be pinched off with your fingers, but with larger suckers, use a pair of clean pruners, disinfecting them as you move from plant to plant to protect against spreading diseases. Whenever possible, remove the suckers when they are small. Removing large amounts of foliage at one time can stress the plant.

Branches that are low-hanging and touching the ground should either be staked or removed, leaves touching the ground can be susceptible to bacteria, fungi, and viral, so remove.

Pruning can be done whilst watering or weeding. The result will be healthier tomato plants and bigger fruit with little effort.


Tree Protection List

Tree cartoon

The East London Garden Society frequently challenges local authorities and large organisations on the necessity to fell trees, whether they be mature, ancient or those in general, for development without a care for the environment.

Tree Protection Orders provide no protection against progress. To save the tree canopy of London there needs to be a widely known tree protection list. To start this, all protected trees and veteran trees should be listed. Once a list is established, we can all protect our urban environment by protecting our trees and our own lives.

The East London Garden Society asks the wider community for their views on this. Let us have your views on how trees are a valuable part of our own existence, provide a micro world for nature and benefit humanity for the better. Email chairman@elgs.org.uk


Avocado

Avocado

The oldest discovery of an avocado pit comes from Coxcatlan Cave, Mexico, dating from around 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Other caves in the Tehuacan Valley from around the same time period also show early evidence for the presence and consumption of avocado. There is evidence for avocado use at Norte Chico civilization sites in Peru by at least 3,200 years ago and at Caballo Muerto in Peru from around 3,800 to 4,500 years ago.

The native, undomesticated variety is known as a criollo, and is small, with dark black skin, and contains a large seed. It probably coevolved with the now extinct megafauna. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America, likely beginning as early as 5,000 BC. A water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to AD 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan.

The first detailed account that unequivocally describes the avocado was given by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in 1526. The first written record in English of the use of the word 'avocado' was by Hans Sloane, who coined the term, in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants.

Read More

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Avocado Tea

Bev, an east ender, has an Avocado tree that was grown from cast away Avocado Seeds. She has found the Avocado is beneficial in many ways.

Bev

Avocado leaves are usually consumed as a tea. To make this tea, follow these steps:

Avocado tea

Drink one to two cups per day regularly. Besides making the avocado leaves into a tea, you can use them to add flavour to your soup and stew.

Avocado has many medical benefits, including the following:

Lower Blood Pressure

The antioxidants in avocado leaves can also help relax blood vessels. While this won’t bring down your LDL, or “bad cholesterol” it can provide some lowering of your blood pressure. To see results, it is recommended that the tea should be taken three times or more per week.

Reduce Convulsions From Seizures
A seizure is the result of a neurological imbalance from too much activity in the brain’s nerve areas. Researchers have noted that the avocado leaf extract works to improve the transmission of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.

Improve Digestive Health
These compounds play a role in balancing the acidity of the stomach, which reduces the chance of ulcers. Ulcers are a common occurrence in individuals who experience high levels of stress.

Lower Blood Glucose

Like many teas, the antioxidants and phytochemicals in avocado tea assist your body in burning fat and glucose. As a result, avocado tea is highly recommended for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Treat Asthma Symptoms

The phytochemical compounds in avocado leaves instil relaxing and calmness in many parts of the body and mind. This can result in easing headaches, muscle soreness, and even asthma. Avocado tea can ease the stiffness in the respiratory muscles that are causing uncomfortable asthma symptoms.


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