Spring Ready

There’s never a dull moment at Bandstand, even during the winter months. There’s always something to keep our regular team of gardeners busy. From pruning to planting, generally prepping for the growing season ahead – and more!

As well as our community garden we also take care of the beds beside the café at the Bandstand and some fruit beds near the children’s playground. The latter growing space has been in need of some TLC for some time, so over the past few months BBA members have been focusing on making improvements to this area. To combat the bind weed invasion of the raspberries we cleared the bed completely, meticulously removing any signs of remaining root in an effort to stop it coming back – fingers crossed! We’ve replaced the raspberry bushes with rhubarb which will be easier to weed around.

With help from Lambeth Council, new raised beds have been installed, and in the coming weeks these will be planted with sunflowers and other food and pollinator friendly plants. We’ve already planted two plums trees and a Bramley apple. Lambeth is going to replace the fence around this area of growing space, so by the summer it should look loved and cared for.

A work in progress

There’s not much to harvest in our garden during the winter months. So, at one of our Saturday sessions at the beginning of February we decided to cultivate some oyster mushrooms, making use of the coffee grounds we collect from Pear Tree Café and some straw bales we have left over from the feast. To start, we drilled small holes in plastic buckets and sterilised the straw by pouring boiling water over it – then left it to cool. The straw was then layered in the buckets with the coffee grounds (already pasturised) and oyster mushroom spores on grain – right to the top of the bucket.

Layering the buckets

We then popped the lid on and left the buckets in the dark, in the shipping container, until white mycelium had formed. The buckets were then moved to the polytunnel and six weeks later we had a crop of beautiful mushrooms.


The warmer temperatures at the beginning of February may have helped the speed of growth for our mushrooms. It certainly tricked our frogs into believing spring had arrived at the garden, and they began to spawn.

February spawning

Luckily, although the temperature dropped quite severely during the latter part of February most of the spawn has developed into tadpoles.

Ace teamwork

As well as our gardening activities on Clapham Common our members often lend a lend a helping hand elsewhere in the community, and a charity we’re always happy to support is the Ace of Clubs. Following on from the successful volunteer session last spring, on Saturday 9 March we joined Ace again to help with their garden renovation project. During the morning, we helped clear two skip loads of garden waste and rubbish, and planted five fruit trees – two plum and three Bramley apple. A busy, rewarding and fun morning, and we look forward to linking up with the Ace of Clubs again soon.

Busy March morning

However, to properly leap into spring we will be joining Capital Growth’s Good to Grow Week 2024 with a seed sharing and sowing session at our community garden on Saturday 27 April. This is a free event and open to everyone.

If you are interested in growing food, connecting with nature and spending time with a friendly group of people, why not become a BBA member? For more information about taking part click on this link, and you can sign up for membership here.

Written by David Dandridge