‘Sow and Grow’ Gardening Volunteer opportunity – Marlets in Hove

Want to make a difference?

‘Sow and Grow’ is a weekly gardening group for patients and carers which promotes a feeling of purpose and a sense of achievement, through tending, cultivating and harvesting plants. Our purpose built raised bedding area allows patients to connect with nature in a relaxing and accessible environment helping to improve general health and well-being with gentle exercise, fresh air and creativity. The group is also used as a safe space where patients can connect and develop friendships or chat about any concerns they may have with a trained nurse.

Where: Martlets Hospice, Wayfield Avenue, Hove, BN3 7LW

When: Every Thursday 10.30am-1.30pm

Usual minimum commitment: Three hours per week OR fortnight for a 6 month period from 12th April to 27th Sept 2018. Our preference is a weekly commitment but if you have the skills we are looking for, we would be interested in you volunteering on a fortnightly basis

 What you’ll be doing:

  • Greeting Day Service users and assisting with mobility
  • Helping to set up gardening equipment
  • Working with the group lead to coordinate gardening activities
  • Chatting to attendees and updating the group lead as appropriate
  • Serving refreshments during the break
  • Helping to clear up at the end of the session
  • Watering the flower beds

What’s in it for you:

  • Opportunity to be part of a friendly group
  • Making a positive difference to patients and carers by helping them to feel at home and enjoy the sessions
  • Introduction to basic horticultural skills – or if you are a gardener, a chance to share your knowledge with the group (gardening knowledge is not essential to this role)
  • Support and supervision in your role
  • Chance to enjoy the fresh air and the Martlets garden

  Your skills and abilities:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Empathetic nature and an understanding of palliative care (although some training can be given)
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Happy to get involved in gardening tasks (some lifting and moving will be required)
  • Good sense of humour


  • To attend fortnightly sessions ideally for the duration of the project (6 months)
  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing
  • To maintain confidentiality in accordance with Martlets guidelines
  • To attend a Martlets Welcome Day
  • To attend a half day training session on palliative care

Contact: People Services Team
Email: peopleservices@martlets.org.uk
Tel: 01273 718788

Growing, Gluts and Generosity

Kate Harrison’s talk on Growing, Gluts and Generosity posed some interesting questions around what we as gardeners can do to take responsibility for our own food production. We discussed sowing less, sowing successively, thinning out more boldly, choosing varieties with longer harvest seasons, or growing multiple varieties to stagger production. But despite these ideas, we will still be likely to have gluts during the year. Solutions to this could be inventive recipes, food fermentation (see Kate’s fermenting article from last month), gifting to friends & family or even composting.

There were some shocking figures around food waste, yet 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to afford a meal (source: Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations).

Fareshare, Food waste in the UK statistics, WRAP

Fortunately, many charities and organisations are working to ensure that the food waste meets the needs of those most vulnerable people struggling to afford to eat. FareShare (a national organisation) manages just 4% of the edible surplus food available, distributing food donated by supermarkets and food producers to frontline charities and community groups. Last year they provided enough food for nearly 25.8 million meals!

How FareShare Works

FareShare Sussex Impact

FareShare Sussex is based in Fairway Business Centre, Westergate Road in Moulsecoomb and is very happy to receive food donations from individuals.  This means for those months when you’re grown too much there is another option: you can bag it up and drop it off to the warehouse where volunteers and staff will be genuinely glad to see you.  Our community allotment volunteers delivered over a ton of apples to Fareshare in 2017.

To ensure your surplus stock is put to the best possible use, please contact:

Rachel Carless, FareShare Sussex Development Manager
Email: rachel@faresharesussex.org.uk
Tel: 01273 671 111

Review by Jenni, and special thanks to Kate Harrison for use of her FareShare slides.

AGM & Talk

AGM & Talk: Growing, Gluts & Generosity

NOTE CHANGE OF DATE: Thursday 22nd February, 7.30pm at the Phoenix Community Centre.

Ever wondered what to do about a glut of fruit or vegetables from your plot? Are you concerned about the growing problem of food waste while people still go hungry?

FareShare Sussex is a Brighton-based charity working across the county to connect food that would normally go to waste with the people that need it. Learn more about how FareShare works, and find out ways you can help to reduce food waste while helping provide healthy food to those who need it.

Our speaker Kate Harrison is a BHOGG member and has gardened on the Weald allotment for 17 years. She is a member of the FareShare Sussex steering committee and is passionate about reducing food waste and helping more people eat healthy and nutritious food.

Come for the AGM, stay for the talk!

Fermenting vegetables with Kate Harrison

Why ferment vegetables?

I began my journey with fermenting because I wanted another way to preserve the glut of vegetables coming from my plot in the late Summer and early Autumn. I’d already been making jams, pickles and chutneys, and I wanted to try something new.

Fermenting vegetables is also known as ‘lacto-fermentation’, because it uses lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria are an example of the ‘good bacteria’ we hear so much about; they are good for your digestion and your gut health. They also help to preserve the good nutrients in your vegetables, such as Vitamin C, and break down some of the carbohydrates and proteins in food, making them easier to digest and absorb. Lactobacillus bacteria thrive in wet and salty conditions – the brine of your fermentation. They produce lactic acid, which is what gives all lacto-fermented foods that tangy sour fresh taste I find so delicious.

How to ferment vegetables?

Before trying my first fermentation, I went to a workshop run by Darren Ollerton of Alchemy Flow. In this workshop I discovered it was so easy, that I started my first ferment the next day. Darren is a fantastic educator and a great advocate for fermentation, and I recommend his website, his delicious products and his workshop. However, you do not need special training to make simple ferments like sauerkraut described below. It’s also much quicker than standing over a pan of bubbling chutney for hours on end – and the end result is sugar-free and more nutritious. Once you’ve tried this, you too will realise how simple it is, and you’ll start experimenting too!

Making sauerkraut

In its most basic form, sauerkraut is simply white cabbage, lacto-fermented with salt. Look for salt that has no added iodine, as it can interfere with the fermentation process. The lactobacillus bacteria is naturally present on the leaves of all vegetables – you are simply creating the salty conditions which encourage this good bacteria to grow, and which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.

Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt for one medium cabbage (about 2 kg). This is not a precise art, and you can taste it to check it’s not horribly salty. I always like to add some caraway seeds to enhance the taste, about one tablespoon per medium cabbage. Once you understand the basic principle, you can start to add other spices and ingredients such as layering it with chard leaves or beetroot tops, adding garlic or spring onion.

Finely shred the cabbage, and put it in a container with lots of space to get your hands in. I use a clean washing up bowl.

Sprinkle the salt onto the cabbage, and stir and massage it in with your hands. Leave it for a while – between 20 minutes to an hour. You’ll find the salt is drawing the liquid out of the cabbage, creating a brine. Keep massaging the cabbage and moving it around, so all the cabbage has contact with the salty solution.

Sprinkle the caraway seeds onto the cabbage and stir and massage again to mix thoroughly.

Get a large jar, or a couple of medium sized ones, and firmly pack the cabbage into the jar. If the jar is big enough, you can get your hand in to really push the cabbage down, packing it tightly so there are very few gaps. You could also use a spoon or a pestle to do this.  The cabbage should be sitting in its salty brine. If you don’t have enough brine, you can always add a 5% salt solution to top it up.

Weight the cabbage down so all is submerged. I use a smaller jar filled with water as a weighting device. You can also use a clean plastic bag filled with 5% brine (in case it leaks), packed into the neck of the jar.

Cover with a clean tea towel or muslin and leave at room temperature for several days. How long is up to you, and the temperature in the room. It could be ready in four days, or you could leave it for two weeks or more. The longer you leave it, the sourer it becomes – so taste it occasionally to check.  Refrigerating the ferment slows the process down dramatically, so once you have the taste you like, keep it in the fridge.

Enjoy it as a pickle on the side of your plate, as an accompaniment to sausage and mash, in soups or sandwiches – experiment!

Once you understand the technique, you can try other things –  red cabbage sauerkraut, fermented runner beans and kimchi.


I promise you, making sauerkraut is easy! Here’s a few things to remember to prevent problems:

  • Keep hands, utensils and jars clean. No need for sterile jars, but wash with hot soapy water and rinse well
  • Not too much salt – this inhibits the fermentation process and tastes rubbish. If your mix tastes too salty, you could add a bit of water before starting the fermentation
  • Not too little salt – this will mean the cabbage will rot instead of fermenting. You’ll know by the smell, and the mould. If your cabbage looks mouldy, or you have any doubts about it, throw it away and start again. Rinse before adding to your compost bin, to remove the salt.
  • Be aware that fermentation creates a gas, carbon dioxide. This gas needs to escape during fermentation, so do not put a tight lid on your jar, or it may explode. It’s OK to use a lid once you’ve put your ferment in the fridge.

Find out more

Sauerkraut is just the beginning! Look online and you’ll find recipes for all sorts of vegetable ferments. You can also learn about kefir (fermented milk) and kombucha (fermented tea).

If you want to read more, in my opinion Sandor Katz is the best author on the topic: “Wild Fermentation” is the classic.

Kate Harrison is a BHOGG member and has gardened on the Weald allotment for 17 years. She is a member of the FareShare Sussex steering committee and is passionate about reducing food waste and helping more people eat healthy and nutritious food.


Seedy Sunday one week to go!

There is a wonderful line-up of speakers, with a great range of talks including practical gardening advice from Joshua the Gardener and Pennard Plants, to a panel discussion about policy and legislation around selling seeds. The full speaker programme is available here.

There is also a fantastic range of exhibitors and stall holders this year: Along with familiar favourites, we are welcoming some newcomers, such as the Old Tree Brewery, Native Hands, FareShare Sussex and the Woodland Trust.

There’ll be some great children’s activities, including making vegetable print bunting, decorating seed envelopes, and the chance to have a go on a flour grinding bicyle!

Click here for the full Seedy Sunday 2018 Programme telling you what’s on and where. Paper copies will also be available at the event.

Seedy Sunday will also be hosting the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time again, with a panel of the best brains in horticulture: Eric Robson, James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Anne Swithinbank. Tickets are available to Seedy Sunday visitors from 10.30am on the day – first come, first served.  The price will be £4 to cover the cost of hiring the main hall at BHASVIC; this is in addition to the £3 Seedy Sunday entrance fee.  Recording will start at 3.30pm.
Seedy Sunday is February 4th, and runs from 10.30 to 4pm. It’s at BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6EG.  See the map here.  Please note there is NO parking for the public on site.   Visit www.seedysunday.org for information on public transport.

Phoenix Urban Gardening events


Gardening Organically – Back To Basics – Wednesday 24th January, 7-9pm

Come along to hear BHOGG’s very own resident RHS qualified teacher talk about getting back to the basics.

Ruth Urbanowicz will explain the importance of the What? Why? and How? of gardening organically, and look at the history, context, and putting it into practice.

Free to paid up BHOGG members; £10/£5 donation non-members.

Meet at the Phoenix Community Centre, 2 Phoenix Place, Brighton BN2 9ND

Winter Greens Trial update

After the mayhem of Christmas & New Year, it was a pleasure to be able to escape to the allotment for a few hours last weekend. And even more pleasurable to witness what awaited me in the poly tunnel: a ready-to-harvest crop of wintergreens.

Ready for harvest

Despite the inclement weather, the transplanted seedlings have grown into strong, healthy plants that are now large enough to be picked. I took the ‘cut and come again’ approach as you would with lettuce at this stage. I am hopeful that this will encourage new growth and extend the picking season. I suspect that at some point I will uproot whole plants if they continue expanding at current rates.

The only plants not ready for harvest were the spinach. The first lot of seedlings only produced a couple of plants and these are very slow growing in comparison to the brassica varieties. Perhaps they will still do well a bit later on.

I only harvested from the plants with the largest leaves, but could have taken a couple from each for a larger haul. With the Mizuna I took a small clump. The harvest (clockwise from top left) is: Mizuna, Pak Choi, Fuyuna and Choy Sum (flower heads).

First harvest

I only wanted to lightly cook the greens, and as there wasn’t enough to make a main dish, I fried them in a hot wok in a little seasame oil, sprinkling tamari over them in the final moments of cooking. I then added them to a bowl of hot, spicy celery and potato soup (because its still winter and its too cold for salad!).

Stir fry

Any type of vegetable soup will work – perhaps make the most of the opportunity to showcase your fresh winter greens by using up some of those left over root veggies you have: potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips. You can also add a little cheese after serving; we used vegan blue ‘cheese’, which complimented the soup perfectly. Alternatively, the greens would be a perfect addition to a stir-fry or as a steamed vegetable accompaniment.

Gardener’s Question Time Returns to Seedy Sunday


With less than a month to go here is a round-up of what’s happening on 4th February.

Venue: BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Rd, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6EG

Gardener’s Question Time Returns to Seedy Sunday

Once again, we are also hosting BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time with a panel of the best brains in horticulture. Bob Flowerdew, James Wong, Anne Swithinbank and Eric Robson. Tickets available from 10.30am on the day – first come, first served. Price £4.


A Host of Interesting Talks

We have a great line-up of speakers talking about no-dig gardening, butterflies and the biosphere, the Brighton and Hove citizen science pollinator project, potatoes and the latest in seed regulation and policy.

The Giant Seed Swap

At the heart of Seedy Sunday is the giant seed swap table. Bring seeds to swap that you have saved from last year’s crops. No seeds to swap? Simply make a donation at the seed table. Volunteer seed saving experts and gardeners will be on hand to offer all the advice you need to choose and grow your seeds.

A World of Discovery in the Market Place

Visit more than 50 stalls from growers, seed merchants, charities and community groups and more.
For more information visit seedysunday.org


Phoenix Urban Organic Gardening Club

Join us on the third Saturday of each month: 2-4pm.  Phoenix Community Centre, 2 Phoenix Pl, Brighton BN2 9ND


2017 Dec 16 –  What is Companion Planting all about? And gardening for wildlife


Jan 20 – Get to know your soil, plus composting & mulching

Feb 17 – Time to sow & grow; how to grow veg from seed

Free to Bhogg members and local residents.  £3 donation non-members.

Roasted winter veggies with satay sauce.

This is my favourite winter recipe – so hearty and delicious – it never fails to impress. It’s a great way to use up veggies, and the satay sauce is just divine.


Usually whatever is in the fridge that needs to be used up.

A mix of root vegetables – beetroot, potatoes, parsnips, carrots
Garlic, onion, leeks, celery, zucchini, red pepper
A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary / thyme
Pinch of salt and olive oil

Satay Sauce

½ tablespoon peanut oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy)
1 can coconut milk


Cooking time is approx. 40 mins.  Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Chop the root veggies and add garlic, onions, a dash of olive oil, salt, fresh herbs – pop in the oven.  While these are cooking cut up the rest of the vegetables.


Veggies 1

After 10 minutes add the rest of the vegetables except broccoli (if you are using). Broccoli – I always add this about 10-15 minutes from the end so not to over cook.

While the vegetables are cooking make the satay sauce.

Satay sauce

The satay sauce is a community recipe posted by Ashy on nigella.com.  Because I like a bit of spice I swap out the chilly flakes for fresh chillies (those fiery little green ones if you like it hot!).   And if you want a gluten-free option just swap the soy sauce for tamari (add a couple of extra teaspoons depending on taste).


Heat the oil in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and chilli over a moderate heat until onion is soft.  Add the sugar and stir until slightly caramelised.  Add the soy sauce and peanut butter and stir through.  Add a little coconut milk at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

Once the veggies are cooked pour over the satay sauce.  Enjoy!


Special thanks to Lisa Barber for the headline photo.