August harvest and Piccalilli

Our mid-week potter yesterday produced a fantastic harvest. Loads of cucumbers hiding away at the back of the polytunnel, courgettes – some rather more marrows, plus beans, tomatoes squash, and a few peas.  Some friends old and new turned up to help water, harvest and plan for Saturdays bring and share picnic.

I took home some produce and made piccalilli. The most time-consuming part is preparing the vegetables. I ended up with a kilo and a half of courgette, cucumber, tomatoes, runner and French beans,  and some shallots (the only vegetables not from the garden).  They then had to be brined overnight in salt to remove excess moisture, then rinsed and drained.


Then into a vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, turmeric, and ginger spiced liquid to simmer for 5 minutes, which is then thickened by cornflour.


Finally into hot sterilised jars and then sealed. Not for this Saturdays pic-nic, as like  most pickles it needs at least 6 weeks before eating. Should be available at the Clapham fete on 3 September or at our Feast on 8 October.  Copies of the recipe will be available on Saturday 20/8 in case this inspires BBA members to have a go themselves!

July harvest and fresh food!

A major harvest now in progress – mounds of runner beans, courgettes and squashes, cucumbers and our first sweet corn, tomatoes and aubergines. We gathered in the produce

Lots of weeding around the beds targeting nettles which keep catching us out as we harvest. We let the docks grow on the site so we have a ready supply of dock leaves!

View image on Twitter

time for lunch cooking our courgettes, and aubergines. Plus a yummy recipe for runner beans Stir-fried green beans with onions and tomatoes Ingredients – 2 tblspns Olive Oil, 2 large red onions sliced, 1/2 tablespn Chinese 5 spice powder, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspn root ginger peeled and grated, 225g/8oz runner beans cut on the diagonal into 2 in/5cm lengths, 1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes, 75ml/2 1/2 fl oz water, 3 tablespns light soy sauce, Salt & black pepper. Method – Heat oil in wok or large frying pan and add the onions. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the Chinese 5-spice powder, garlic and ginger and cook for a further 1 min. Add the beans and stir-fry over a medium heat for 5 mins. Add the tomatoes and water and soy sauce and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick.

Plus salad made from our lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes,  the freshest ever potato salad with Dill, a gorgeous frittata,  olive bread and Davids’ thirst quenching gazpacho.  Nina and Santiago tried the sweetcorn and described it as the sweetest ever.

View image on Twitter

Pudding included Santiagos blueberry cupcakes. The blackcurrants from the Spinney Beds were ready and Diana had made blackcurrant tea bread, blackcurrant jam (come and buy at the feast in October), and blackcurrant compote. This was really tasty on freshly made wholemeal drop scones.

A lovely day, pottering, chatting, sharing good food and really enjoying the fruits of our labour. hard to believe it is just a year since the site was barren!

Soggy Saturday

After all that rain we turned up at the Community Garden to find we had to wade through a big puddle to get in.  We managed to sweep the water out into the road and down a drain – thankfully unblocked thanks to Neil and Charles. Plastic water bottles get everywhere!
Main tasks today were to harvest, harvest, harvest – heaps of broad beans, salad, beetroot and our first runner beans and peas.
Amrit tackled the polytunnel – wires put in to tie up the tomatoes and cucumbers. Tall canes removed or tied in as we worry about piercing the plastic by accident when moving canes.
Emily showed us how to take out side shoots on the tomatoes and a forest of tomato plants soon became orderly.  Some mangetout plants went in following topping up one of the beds by Charles and Dee weeded endlessly around the squash plants. We had some new visitors to the garden who we hope to see again.
Later that day I made a vegetable chilli using a huge courgette (more like a marrow!)  with a lovely salad from the garden.
Pronounced most acceptable by family!

Pop-up pickling, preserving & picnic


The community food growing space on Clapham Common’s Windmill Drive, was a hive of activity on Saturday 11 June. We gathered our first harvest of the season, and already we are getting a taste of what is to come.







Picked, preserved and in a pickle




Head cook Diana working with Will and Conor

We picked gooseberries from the Spinney Beds and, with elderflowers foraged from the green waste site and a hint of rhubarb, Diana and the lads cooked up some delicious jam. Then with onions, raisins and green peppercorns Diana made chutney,


We look forward to using these at future picnics

Planting and sowing activities continued apace with our community gardener Emily Myers leading the harvesting, and helping children plant peas to shoot at home on their windowsills.


Building and filling also went on with Joseph and Amrit knocking up some brilliant signs for the beds to help recognition of the crops. Another raised bed also emerged – our chaps’ DIY skills know no bounds!

Amritmaking signs Amrits signs


They really do deserve the thumbs up!

And the project we are working with This is Clapham on, to brighten the local area up with sunflowers and calendulas, really needed lots of helpers. We managed to fill 20 large pots with the plants we have grown from seed and been looking after for the past two months. We have another 30 pots to fill before all the plants will be distributed around to make a brighter Clapham.

bigbidpots BIDsunflowers

Everyone was potty busy!

Then time for lunch. People had bought and made such scrummy things. Conor and Will used our broad beans to make minted pea and bean bruschetta. Our own courgettes were ribboned and sautéed with olive oil and lemon, homemade flatbread with rosemary from the garden, gooseberry salsa with some pan fried mackerel and a super salad made from lots of things from the garden… And there were seconds!


Many hands make delicious food!


Picnic-ture this!

It was fantastic day with new and old friends and supporters! And we plan to have lots more like it throughout the summer. If you would like to receive information about our gardening sessions and picnics, drop us an email: Or follow us on Twitter @bandstandbeds






Common People – Saturday 30 April

The bandstand at Clapham Common came alive on Saturday 30 April for Common People. This event organised by Bandstand Beds (but really David and Simon!) and supported by This is Clapham, was a lovely spring celebration. We had a typical April day of sunshine and threatened showers, which luckily managed to steer clear of us.

Local community groups supported the event with stalls, including the Friends of Clapham Common and The Clapham Society, who led a historical tour of the Common mid-afternoon. The Spinney talked about natural thinkers activities and their Satruday Mudlarks Club to parents and children, while Dr Bike was on hand to give advice on cycle safety and maintenance.

Most of all people gathered to hear music, spoken word and join in a free swing dance class!. singer1 band2

Music from Marcus Reeves accompanied by Adam Green and folk played by The Angel Band



People who’d been sitting listening soon whipped off their coats to join Swing Patrol’s free dance class

Our plant stall with our new flag banner shone in the sunshine. The herbs, beans and tomato plants proved very popular as well as bags of salad and kale freshly harvested from the polytunnel. Dee and Esmée performed some magic with their face painting again, and we joined in a delicious bring and share picnic.


Our plant stall proved to be really popular!


We were joined by Sue Sheenan and Wayne Trevor from Incredible Edible Lambeth Incredible Edible Lambeth. Wayne shared information about the Open Orchard Project and Sue introduced folk to the idea of creating Clapham Food Stories – and as you can see she also joined in with the The Spinney’s natural thinkers activities!


All in all Common People was a fantastic free event enjoyed by everyone. Come and see us on Saturday mornings at the community garden, or follow us on Twitter @bandstandbeds to find out when and where our next event will be.



April newsletter 2016

Easter Plant Parade

Our Easter Plant Parade on 26 March awoke to threats of blustery winds and rain — Storm Katie was heading out way! But undeterred, we set up our plant stall bringing our own brand of sunshine: daffodils and violas together with broad beans and bags of salad leaves harvested from the polytunnel.


Dee and David with our plants (above). Sowing with Ruth (below)

Pea shoot pic

Groundwork’s community gardener Ruth Arnott showed visitors how to plant dried marrowfat peas in recycled supermarket trays to grow into nutritious pea shoots on their window sills, in just a couple of weeks…

Uncommonly cold!

Jo and Dee were at the ready with the paints to decorate children’s faces but the cold weather meant there weren’t many takers. The Common was much less busy than usual showing how just many folk had gone away for Easter, and those left behind just weren’t braving the gusty winds.

But we did have a visit from Todmorden’s community food-growing activist Pam Warhurst, looking to develop the Clapham Edible Route – and Bandstand Beds community growing space is a key point on the route! Local councillor Nigel Hasleden joined in the discussion and we all enjoyed mugs of warming home-made soup, thanks to Jane and Diana, served up with wonderful sourdough bread from The Old Post Office Bakery on Landor Road.

ParadeGroupPicPam, Diana, David, Nigel, Jane and Jo

Despite the miserable weather, this was another jolly morning at the community gardening hub in the heart of Clapham. We merrily weeded, tidied up, fetched water and made plans for the future…

Keep it free!

Join us again on Saturday16 April from 10am to 1pm when we’ll be taking part in Capital Growth’s The Big Dig. Community Gardener Emily Myers will be leading the session at the garden on Windmill Drive, sowing seeds for this summer’s crops. We’ll also be sprucing up the beds beside La Baita and checking on the potatoes planted at the Spinney Beds earlier in the year.

On Saturday 30 April from midday to 6pm there will be a Common People event on the Bandstand. There’ll be bands, singers, dance and an open mic spot, plus food growing activities, Dr Bike cycle maintenance and much more… And it’s free and open to everyone!


DSCF4301 (2)

Salad days?

Winter Newsletter 2016

Last year was amazing for Bandstand Beds. We began 2015 with ambitious plans to work with London Borough of Lambeth to reclaim a corner of the green-waste depot (known as the dump) on Clapham Common, and transform it into a community food-growing garden. With the grant funding we raised enabled us to install a polytunnel, and buy gardening equipment needed on the site. Our members and volunteers met on Saturdays throughout the summer to build and fill raised beds and carry out other construction work on site. By the autumn the new garden was ready for planting and was officially opened by Cllr Jane Edbrooke at our Autumn Feast on Saturday 24 October.

The site is now up and running we already have our first crop of delicious, peppery, fresh winter salad to harvest. The raised beds in the tunnel are being used to give an early start to peas, Chinese leave and tomatoes which we will plant out once the frost danger has passed.

DSCF4320 (6)Leaf salad growing in the polytunnel

 Outside in the raised beds the garlic we panted in autumn is starting to sprout.  The broad beans the propagator are already about 50cm , once they get to about 1.2m we will pinch out the top shoot to encourage bushier growth and more beans . The trimmed shoots will be delicious gently steamed with some of our home-grown garlic and mint.  Broad beans contain good things including L-dopa (levodopa), which stimulates the brain to produce dopamine the chemical associated with happiness!  Beans are also nitrogen fixing, so they with enrich our soil too. What a great crop.

This year we again have big plans and want it to our best growing year yet. As well as our regular Saturday sessions, we will be holding formal garden sessions with a trained horticulturalist. The first of these will be on 27 February with Groundwork’s community gardener Ruth Arnott, who will be planting out potatoes at The Spinney beds as well sowing tomato and aubergine seeds in the polytunnel ready to plant out later in the year, along with the broad beans.

DSCF4333 (3)Broad bean in the cold frames Seed potatoes chitting (below)DSCF4351 (5)

Bandstand Beds Events

Our community events proved to be very ‘pop-up-ular’ last year, and in 2016 we plan to hold more pop-up bring ’n’ share picnics after Saturday gardening sessions. The first of these will be on Saturday 16 April when we’ll be taking part in Capital Growth’s The Big Dig. We are also planning bigger events to take place throughout the year…

Easter Plant Parade – Saturday 26 March

With a sense of spring in the air it’s the time when we all want to stock up on plants, so come on down to the community food-growing corner on Windmill Drive and pick up a pot or two. Ruth Arnott will be leading gardening activities, including sowing sunflowers, squash and windowsill herbs.

Common People – Saturday 30 April

A celebration of food-growing, with music, spoken word and dance on the Bandstand. There’ll be community stalls and lots of fun activities for everyone.

Autumn Feast – Saturday 8 October

Our annual autumn feast will be held at the community food-growing corner on Windmill Drive. This year we are planning to link up with The Spinney nursery again, focussing on food-growing, healthy eating and natural thinker activities for kids.

Gardening for older people

We are currently working with Age UK Lambeth and the West Indian Ex-servicemen Association to set up weekday gardening activities for older people. If you, or someone you know, would like to become involved with community gardening on the Common, we’d love to hear from you – email

To find out more about Bandstand Beds visit, see
our Facebook page: facebook/bandstandbeds  or follow us on
Twitter @bandstandbeds

Compiled by Jane Clark with David Dandridge


Fruitful planting

On Saturday 21 November 2015 we arrived at the Clapham Common community garden Saturday with everyone raring to get going with our fruit tree planting, but there was a problem… Unfortunately the nursery we’d ordered the plum, pear and apple trees from had notified us at the last-minute that the trees couldn’t be sent out. In order to be dispatched bare root the trees needed to have gone into their dormant period, when the sap stops rising, but because of the recent mild weather this has been delayed. However, after Saturday’s icy wind and the recent cold snap they’ll be here soon!

Fortunately, the 50 native fruit trees donated by OVO energy, including rowan and crab apple, had arrived so there was still plenty to do. These were potted up or heeled in at The Spinney beds for future planting around the green-waste site, to improve the habitat for birds and bees.TarunCharles

Charles and Taurn potting up (above) and Amanda and Wayne
working at The Spinney (below) 


Finally, at the end of our busy morning’s work we were all pretty much frozen to the core, and it was a huge relief to get out of the chilling wind and into the shelter of the  polytunnel where we warmed ourselves up with cups of home-made pumpkin soup, mince pies and mulled wine heated up the old shipping container.


Cheers Amanda!

As well as enjoying the delicious home-cooked food it was a fantastic opportunity for the group to share gardening ideas for the future, especially with Wayne Trevor from Norwood Bzz Garage, who’d come over to help, and the Common’s new Park Manager, Joe Lewis, who is working on the improvements for the ‘the dump’. These include clearing defunct machinery that has lain idle for years, upgrading the recycling and composting and improving the wildlife habitat around the site. Tom Stannard from Age UK Lambeth had also dropped by to talk about our plans to set up gardening activities next spring for older people in the community. If this is something you would like to get involved in, email

Poly party

Warm at last!

All in all Saturday really did turn out to be a fun and fruitful morning, and we can’t wait to get back on site to plant our trees – when they do arrive!

Join us for some Christmas cheer…

On Tuesday 8 December we will be holding a meeting to discuss our planting plans and the development of the new community garden in 2016 – followed by drinks to celebrate the successes of our year!

The meeting starts at 7pm at the Metro Garden Restaurant & Bar Metro Garden Resaurant & Bar Drinks from 8pm. See you there!

Opening Feast – Come Rain or Shine

Come rain or shine…



And they did! Despite the poor weather an amazing amount of people came along to the Bandstand Beds Opening Feast for the new food-growing space on Clapham Common’s green-waste site on Saturday 24 October 2015. And while clouds loomed gloomily above there was buzz of excitement and celebration on the ground, captured beautifully in Lis Watkins’s drawing above (


Bandstand Beds’ Diana and David with Cllrs Edbrooke and Bray (l-r centre)

 Cllrs Jane Edbrooke and Linda Bray joined us early in the afternoon to take a look around the new community food garden, and were both impressed by the amount of hard work that has been put in by our members and volunteers to build the site. Later, after sampling some of the delicious home-cooked chilli on offer, Cllr Edbrooke said a few words to officially open the new food-growing space.


Once the afternoon kicked-off everyone discovered there was more to this feast than a bowl of chilli. Tasty veg soup and goat’s cheese & pumpkin pies had been donated by Metro Restaurant ( and there were some brilliant bakes from Tart (, topped off with some pimientos de Padrón freshly cooked by Amrit (above right) from his home grown peppers. For dessert, scrummy cake made with rhubarb we grew in our beds at The Spinney, a slightly indulgent trifle and, of course, fairy cakes at the bottom of the garden!

The planting activities organised by Jack from Groundwork, sieving compost and planting bulbs, were a huge hit with the kids. One little lad was enjoying himself so much that when his mum and dad said it was time to go home he burst into tears.

He did cheer up a little bit, however, when we said he could come back soon.

feast4 Jack (top left) had lots of enthusiastic little helpers for his bulb planting!




Along with all the planting, face painting and finger-licking food fun, the afternoon was also a fantastic opportunity to meet up with Pam Warhurst, founder of the Edible movement, and to chat about how we will be involved in the Clapham Food Route. Adrian Bascombe from Lambeth College spoke about us working with them, and how the college plans to build raised beds in the paddocks on Clapham South Side. Catering student will then use the fresh produce grown in the recipes they create.


Above l-r: Adrian, Pam, Ann Bodkin, Sue Sheehan, Dr Iain Boulton and David  


Above: Nina draws a winning ticket. 

Luckily, there was only one heavy shower all afternoon, but even that didn’t dampen people’s spirits as they sheltered in the polytunnel. And when the time finally arrived to round the day off some people were luckier still — especially Emily Wallace who had bought the winning ticket in our raffle and won a Christmas hamper! There were lots of other winners too who received fab prizes donated by local businesses*. There were happy faces all round, including the Bandstand Beds team when they made the final count up and realised we’d raised a staggering total of £285 from the raffle and cash kindly donated by people who attended the feast. Not half bad for a wet and windy afternoon in October! This money will be put towards funding our community food-growing projects and the running of Bandstand Beds.

* Special thanks to Sainsbury’s, Fitness First Lavender Hill, Groundwork, Clapham Flowers. Oliver Bonas, Tesco, Mark & Spencer, Clapham Picturehouse and Clapham Books for their generous raffle prize donations.

below Hamper donated by Sainsbury’s on Clapham High Street



See you at our next…

It was great to see so many people thoroughly enjoying themselves at this year’s community feast. But don’t worry if you couldn’t join us this time, there’s always the next event…

On Saturday 21 November we’ll be holding a Fruitful Planting event in the community food-growing corner of Clapham Common’s green-waste depot. We’ll have a variety of fruit trees to plant near the perimeter fence to help act as screening of the garden. The event will start at midday and, planting done, there’ll be tasty treats to eat and even a little mulled wine or fruit juice to warm your cockles. But do still remember to wear suitable seasonal outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear!

If you would like to find out more about our community food-growing and events, email or follow us on Twitter @bandstandbeds


Capital Growth: Urban Food Fortnight

Capital Growth: Urban Food Fortnight
As summer turns to autumn there’s a lot growing on in London. As part of Capital Growth: Urban Food Fortnight, London opened its doors to numerous gardening projects across the capital on Saturday 19 September 2015. This included our very own Bandstand Beds.

Setting off at Clapham North Station
setting off
The day was gloriously sunny with not a cloud in the sky and commenced with a guided tour of the Incredible Edible Clapham Route ( beginning at Clapham North Station and taking in food-growing spaces at the GP surgery on the High Street, roadside beds on Cresset Street and the gardens at Clapham Manor School and Edible. The final destination of the tour was the Clapham Common Growing corner of the green-waste depot on Windmill.

The Clapham Common Growing assembly
Here visitors could see a hive of activity as regular Bandstand Beds members were joined by an enthusiastic group of volunteers from The Challenge UK ( who joined in building more raised beds and assembling seating. This was followed by a hearty picnic including some made from home-grown produce from the Common.

A well-earned picnic!
There’s plenty of work still to be done on the new Clapham Common Growing community garden ahead of our next big event, on Saturday 24 October 2015. As well our annual feast, we are planning an official opening of the space with lots of fun activities for old and young, including fruit tree planting, face painting, back and neck massage and a prize draw — and not forgetting lots of tasty edible treats from our 2015 harvest. Starts midday until 4pm — free and everyone welcome!