Life in Crouch End, bikes, trying to be green and other randomness

Greene & co guide to Crouch End

Greene and Co Estate Agents recently opened a new branch in Crouch End, not that you might think that Crouch End needs any more estate agents. However, a couple of things have caught my eye. Firstly they produce an area guide that is available both online and in hard copy from a small box outside the office. They have also been distributing small canvass bags for shopping that zip up very small when you are not using them – handy!


Guerrilla gardening on Crouch Hill?

Guerrilla gardening on Crouch Hill – or some kind of odd council gardening? It is right on the border of Haringey and Islington so it is not really clear who is responsible…. i might slip some daffodil bulbs in late at night!

Crouch Hill

Crouch Hill

Asparagus, Broad beans and Garlic

Very little can be started off in the veggie plot at this time of year – but there are a few things that can get started, that like the cold and provide some winter joy. Asparagus isn’t one of them, but this is a good time of year to plant crowns of asparagus. These are young plants of one year, which can be transplanted live and replanted in another plot.  This is very much a long term effort. Although some tasty stems will grow next year, they must be left to add strength to the plants, meaning that in 2009 we should have a good crop of purple asparagus. In the mean time it is important to feed the plants as much as possible. I dug in lots of manure beneath the crowns before planting them – which should nourish the young shoots. I’m then going to inter-plant some broad-beans in the bed. As these are legumes, when they have died back in may/june their roots will be full of nitrogen, as they decay below ground this Nitrogen is released by bacteria into the soil.

There are other crops that are still in the soil that are overwintering are parsnips, cabbages, kale and broccoli. With some luck some of my Swiss Chard will survive too. I’m trying to overwinter some chilli plants and aubergines in little pots.

The best thing I’ve discovered so far for winter is garlic – i ordered a mixed set of planting garlic from the Isle of Wight garlic farm – from which I’ve planted about 80 cloves, each of which should end up as 80 bulbs between May and August. There are seven different varieties – so they should be ready to lift at different times. In the mean time they push up green shoots , not unlike leeks (same family!) which give some green to the bleak winter garden.

Onion Selling Frenchman

On Friday at around 5pm there was a man stood by a bicycle in crouch end outside Woolworths, on the bike were bunches on onions and shallots. There was a small notice on the bike saying “stop me and buy one” so i did. The man had a ridiculously thick French accent, which led me to think he wasn’t actually French, but regardless he has plaited bunches of shallots and pink sweet onions for sale for £2. I bought some shallots, and very nice they are too (here they are hanging in my kitchen). No one else i know has seen him there before – did anyone else stop and buy onions? I should have taken his picture, but it was Friday night, I wanted to get home….but Paul kindly has taken a picture and put it on his site!.Shallots



Kids have been wandering the streets in Halloween garb, there were fantastic fireworks at Alexandra Palace last night – this is the time of year when you get some amazing winter squash and pumpkins. There were some incredible huge examples at Borough Market on Saturday – some of these are the size of a small child!

The slums of Crouch End

How Crouch End is this? an article in the local rag bemoans the slums of Crouch End, that is the poorly kept flats above the boutiques and bijou shops. Its a bit rich seeing as apart from the Church, most of Crouch End is younger than the Crimean War, and most of “Old” crouch end post dates the real heritage (Crouch Hall, the Opera House, the Manor House to name but a few) which seems to have been pulled down to create housing for Victorian shop keepers.

Besides which there are worse examples. On top of Crouch Hill is a Victorian semi that has beautiful stained glass but appears to have been renovated for the last two years judging from the rubble and timber outside. Yet this debris is semi preferment and symptomatic of the general disrepair of the house. I keep spotting it off the W7, one day I’ll get off and get a decent picture.

Hummus is the cause of middle class angst

Areas of london are judged by their media consumption – a quick search on confirms that there are lots of people near me who read the Guardian. You could also argue that you can tell much from an area by the amount of space in the chiller cabinets of the local shops dedicated to Hummus. Or at least, that’s what I suddenly realised on the way home when i stopped in at Londis on Ferme Park Road. I was buying Milk – my eyes got drawn to a fridge with about 10 different varieties of Hummus, plus similar varieties sold by different brands. It has made me wonder – how bad is the hummus habit of the Crouch End middle class that it can support beetroot hummus? Ok so I made that one up – literally, I’m so far gone that my own habit means only homemade hummus can satisfy the cravings. Over the next few weeks I’m going to note how many different varieties there are on offer in different local outlets – prepare to be shocked!