Welcome to The Wonky Prong, a community garden, on Crossfields Estate in Deptford. The Wonky Prong began in 2012 with the clearing of a an area covered in concrete blocks and Buddliea bushes and the construction of raised beds. Funded by Lewisham Homes but organised by Tim Wilson and and John Rhodes

LINK to other blog ?? OLD PHOTO of original site. http://thewonkyprong.blogspot.co.uk/

The history of gardening on Crossfield Estate goes much much further. Lewisham council were considering knocking the whole lot down in the 1970’s but then gave away tenancies to students and others (permanent tenancys, I can only imagine how present day students feel about that given they are so squeezed). Crossfields became party land, full of art and music. I missed the glory days, if any reader has a fuller story please send it in. The community spirit of those times led to 5 areas of the land between the buildings being fenced and turned into community gardens. They have been used to a greater or lesser extent to the present time. One became overgrown and is now a forest glade.

Sue Goddfrey kept one of the gardens and also led the effort to clear a vacant lot next to the estate to create a nature park. She aproached the council to have it made into a permanent park but they refused, keeping it as temporary open space. Sue died on the roads on her bike. A petition led to the nature park being made permanent and named the Sue Goddfrey Nature Park.

PHOTOS of nature park

I would have much rather seen her work rewarded in her lifetime and now when every last corner of vacant land in Deptford is being covered in huge blocks of flats, her achievement is even more significant.

PHOTO of construction behind nature park.

My role during the creation and early running of the Wonky Prong was minor, although, one warm day I helped Tim plant two plums trees, lifting paving stones digging out the holes, filling them with new topsoil, planting the trees and putting the paving stones back.

This year, for the first time, they were covered in plums. They stand on a footpath through the estate and lots of people ate plums.

PHOTO of plum trees in winter?

There is a third tree in the garden.

PHOTO of garden plum tree

I harvested that one and recommend plum crumble as being superior to both apple and rhubarb.

Isn’t nature strange. The tree with the heaviest crop and indeed the greatest growth had been nearly broken in half, the trunk bent at 90°. I put on a splint for a year and a metal pole next to it as a sort of protection and it grew away.

Plum Tree splint

After Tim left and John so sadly passed on, I was keen to maintain the garden and having retired I

had the time.

The garden Sue Goddfrey kept lies alongside the Wonky Prong. Sue’s family kept it for years but finally it become overgrown, During the first winter I tided the Wonky Prong and set about clearing this garden, uncovering the network of paths and beds Sue had created and rescuing a surprising number of plants and bulbs that had held out against the weeds. Now half of this garden is for vegetables and is all one with the Wonky Prong. Through an archway lies an ornamental garden. Pride of place is a bog garden constructed by Rob Shaw (Bob the Bass). He dug out a deep hole lined it with the proper liner, made holes in the bottom, (the idea is to have slow drainage keeping the soil wet but not waterlogged), put all the soil back and built a natty wooden surround. A Yellow Flag Iris that had been languishing in a stone sink and a tall graceful river weed with beautiful purple flower spikes

PHOTO Iris and weed (please identify)

suffering in a bucket were finally free and grew brilliantly.

PHOTOS Bob and the Bog

the focus has been on vegetables over the last couple of years, Paul Clayton has regularly helped


and JIM and Ciwa (SPELLING)

PHOTO Jim and Ciwa

constructed a further raised bed.

Slugs and snails account for a lot of, most of, all of, some things. Strange variabilities in seed germination lead to odd sproutings here and there, robust beetroots next to sagging micro carrots,

We are not the best gardeners. However, Gardeners Delight tomatoes are just that, sweetcorn cooked in the first twenty minutes is mmm, the first apples this year, the plums, parsnips and more.

During the summer I had the great good fortune to be invited to visit a community garden in Berlin which together with a, housing co-op in Zurich, an unmonastary in Greece and Deptford Creek is one of the pilot projects in an EU funded scheme linking networks of people and computers within communities.

MAZI PROJECT links and photos from Berlin.


I thought I was growing carots but it seems I grew a trip to Berlin. Wonderful place, loads of community activity and local support for conservation.

CHECK NAME Old Templehof Airfield, a huge open grassland within the city, was subject to a vote about its future and the people of Berlin voted to keep it for the skylarks!

Inspired by my visit, to stay in touch and maybe entertain or even inspire people to garden, I thought I’d start a blog about the Wonky Prong.

Towards the end of the summer, past most of the growing season, didn’t seem the best time to start.

Having cleared the beds of the stems, canes and other remnants of last years efforts and coinciding with the new year seems much better

PHOTOS of the garden now.

There is a Residents association on the estate which administers a small garden fund from Lewisham Homes. This Saturday I’m going to buy bags of well rotted manure with Maggie

in her car.

MAGGIE PHOTO? Is she chair, vice chair, under secretary or what.

(Local stables give it away by the trailer load but there isn’t anywhere to keep a huge pile of dung on the estate, I fear there would be complaints.) (I don’t know what Maggies car will be like if the bags burst)

There are three compost bins in the garden. One has produced a lovely rich compost, the others were filled more recently. This, together with the manure, will be dug in during the winter and add to the soil fertility.

Kind and generous neighbours contribute bags of rotting filth to the Wonky Prong, bringing organic waste, vegetable peelings, old tea bags, coffee grinds, dead flowers, etc. and never any other bits of rubbish mixed in. Lovely, most appreciated, as it makes great compost.

PHOTO compost bins.

The bins are going to be moved into a corner of the forest glade as they attract slugs and snails which have then been next to the vegetables. The borders of the garden are going to be kept clear, giving less hidey holes for the little beggars, I’ve started cutting back a huge bay tree, one stem will supply all we need, the tree has a multitude with damp ideal slug homes between.

Rotting filth is not the only gift left in the garden. People have often enquired if stuff gets pinched as everywhere in the garden is open. The opposite is generally true, flower pots, bundles of canes, old stone sinks (now planted and outside The Pink Palace, the estate community centre), garden tools including shears and a great pair of loppers, plant food, fertiliser, bags of compost, poor bedraggled plants in pots needing TLC, a set of galvanised buckets and more have all been left in the garden. Thank you to anyone who has donated.

Neighbours and passers by are welcome to fruit and veg but take very little, the sweetcorn being an exception this year but it was very good. The physical process of gardening and watching stuff grow are my reasons for working the Wonky Prong, edible results are an extra delightful bonus and sometimes even surprising.

PHOTO of parsnip

Part of the new super sewer under London (designed to work in storm conditions which currently result in the drains overflowing and sewage being discharged directly into the river) passes under Deptford. There were two possible sites to construct a huge vertical shaft down to the tunnel level. One immediately on the bank of the Thames with barges for the spoil (tons and tons of it) and the other on an open space, next to a school and the church, right in the heart of Deptford.

The usual Byzantine labyrinth of negotiation, somewhere between open accountability and a quiet word in the ear resulted in the choice of the centre of Deptford. As part of the campaign to get the riverside site chosen, a number of raised beds were built on the open space. Last summer they were unused so I seeded and planted them and grew beetroots, carrots, parsnips and spinach which is still cropping now in December. Potatoes appeared in one bed, growing from those left from a previous crop, and did well.

PHOTOS by the church