I suppose many of those interested in the Transition Towns movement will live in an urban environment- the clue being in the name – and the urban gardener faces particularchallenges. One can cope with a lack of space by using containers, byfinding an allotment or sharing with friends: lack of light, though, ismore difficult to deal with. As a general rule, fruits and roots areout: leaves will do well, as a shaded plant will develop more leaf totry to catch what light there is. Go for cabbage and lettuce, broccoli, chard and rhubarb- but don’t give up on everything else: if you get two or three hoursof sunlight, many things will survive, though the crop may be small.

The other limiting factor is, of course, soil moisture. If the shade iscaused by walls, the soil may well be damp (except right next to them). Painting the walls a light colour, or using some kind of reflector, canĀ  increase light levels.Failing that, damp shade will support a very decent herb garden -angelica, chervil, and chives; various mints, parsley, sorrel andwoodruff. (Which last has no culinary use I am aware of, but iswonderfully pretty). Under trees, the soil will obviously tend to bedry. Raised beds can help, and will warm more quickly in a late Spring,and are easier to weed. And if all else fails…yeah, mushrooms.

In June we should have plenty of sunshine, and no frost. (It says here). So plant out your runner beans and tomatoes, your maincrop peas and carrots...but be ready with a watering can, in case it is dry, and a hoe, in case it rains, and the weeds flourish.

At least we have had reasonable weather while the blossom is on the fruit trees: with luck, a very good year for apples, pears, and plums.

Jon Gunson, Transition Town Lewes.


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