Grow and Eat

02/07/2020 at 5:03 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Water | Leave a comment
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I have been growing more fresh fruit and vegetables this year in my backyard farm in Balsall Heath. The yard is concrete, but composting all my garden and kitchen waste I have filled 20 re-used containers, as my “fields”.  Rain from the roof is diverted to a 750 litre water butt, to keep them moist.

The period of ‘virus lockdown’ has had many of us investing in growing more at home. For me that has meant using the principles of stacking and companion planting to be able to grow and eat the following; potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, sunflowers, pak choi, cabbage, kale, watercress, broad beans, runner beans, mangetout peas, mint, thyme, sage, basil, raspberries, loganberries, strawberries and rhubarb. I have even had surplus plants and produce to give away.

Something fresh  to pick every day, as a result of my 10 minute gardening outside the back door. The front garden is down to flowering plants, to reward passers-by for walking instead of driving, and for the bees.

Thank you to all the gardeners for your efforts. Congratulations especially to ‘Moseley in Bloom’ for going online with their Open Gardens tour              John Newson


Fruiting bodies

02/12/2019 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

In the depths of winter on 1st December, nine people pruned the apple trees at Balsall Heath City Farm to get a better crop next summer. We had a classroom session with Rob Tilling of Let’s Grow Together,  then all went outside and learned practically on the trees: we got into a group snipping away to help the trees avoid damage or disease and to bear the right number of good fruit. The day built our knowledge and confidence to take our pruning into gardens in the area. Balsall Heath Orchard !

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My Backyard Farm

27/08/2019 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

How to get fresh food without even going to the shop ? This summer I have expanded the growing space in my concrete backyard in Balsall Heath, with two large containers full of compost that I made from my garden and kitchen waste. Water in a rain butt is filled up from the gutters.

Crops that I have picked include; lettuce, tomatoes, broad and runner beans, mangetout peas, carrots, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, potatoes, rhubarb, mint, strawberries, rocket and chard. Just pick what i want that day. It is a pleasure not a chore, which others are doing in the area. I know because we swap surpluses and ideas. A standard allotment is too large for most people, but the opportunity for 10 minute growing, outside the back door, is there for many more of us.                      John Newson bhiop[at]






Plants for your Garden

17/04/2019 at 11:22 am | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

Balsall Heaths’s own garden centre is open to the public and stocked with plants at reasonable prices every day, from Easter. Despite some rumours of difficulties, Balsall Heath Forum has invested and bought in a wide range and they are selling well. I saw tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and strawberries – why buy them from the supermarket when you could be growing your own with even a small yard or containers ?  Lovely hanging baskets and bedding plants to give colour and cheer up the neighbourhood.

Well worth a visit… just off Ladypool Road in St Paul’s Road, (next to Clifton Primary School).


Chance to learn to prune fruit trees

15/01/2019 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

postponed from 16th January to 30th January.

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Another Chance to Prune Fruit Trees

08/01/2019 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

You can learn this practical skill on Wednesday January 16th for 9.30 start at Balsall Heath City Farm, Clifton Road, B12 8NN.  

Pruning will help fruit trees to make plenty of blossom and fruit . Morning session for men and women. Free of charge with everything provided.  Tutor is Rob Tilling of Let’s Grow Together. Great feedback from the session before Christmas.

Let us know if you are coming BHIOP[at]

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Time to Plant

14/05/2018 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens | Leave a comment

Mid May is a wonderful time to plant fruit and vegetables in your Balsall Heath garden. In fact, I have a concrete back yard, but am still able to grow in containers. Down at the BH Garden centre, which is run by BH Forum in St Pauls Road, I saw  a lot of plants on sale at reasonable prices today. Fruit trees including apples, figs, peaches, even oranges (worth a try). Young tomato plants, squash, sweet corn, cucumber and courgette. Even if only one or two fruits make it to harvest, then you have got your money back, and they taste much better than something in plastic from the supermarket. It is good to make use of the patches of ground we do have and encourage any neighbours whose garden is neglected.

Balsall Heath Garden Centre is open most days including weekends at 82 St Pauls Road, near Ladypool Road, tel 0121 446 6183. They can offer local delivery.

Garden Centre

Oranges and Lemons

02/05/2017 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Trees | Leave a comment

People were delighted to see citrus fruit growing on bushes for sale at the Community Garden Centre in Balsall Heath at a Grow It weekend, which took place over 29th and 30th April. The event was supported by Balsall Heath Is Our Planet and 175 people attended.

“We are trying to stock some more unusual fruit and vegetables, as well as flowers”. Said Sanjay who works there. “Gardeners may like to try them out, given that they have already been given a flying start”.

The community garden centre supports the work of Balsall Heath Forum. It is open every day, being located at 82 St Pauls Road, close to Ladypool Road, tel 0121 446 6183. They offer local delivery.


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