Seedy Sunday is two weeks away! Here’s some more information about what’s happening on the 3rd of February.

Venue: BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Rd, Hove, BN3 6EG. £3 entry, kids free!  10:30am-4pm

Who’s speaking at Seedy Sunday this year?

We have a mix of old and new faces in the Copper Café at BHASVIC covering some fascinating topics associated with plants and growing:

  • Opening our speaker programme are local herbalists Alice Bettany and Jessie Martelhof. Learn about the medicinal values of numerous common weeds and cottage garden herbs that you will no doubt already be familiar with. They will be talking about the history of their use, how to safely identify, dry and make them into herbal preparations. Take home a few simple recipe ideas which you can make yourself as food, medicine or cosmetics
  • The wonderful Kate Bradbury, author of The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, a story about Kate’s experience creating a wildlife garden in her Brighton backyard. Kate will discuss foodchains and habitat creation, especially in urban areas like Brighton
  • Our local Gardeners’ Question Time, with a panel of experts ready to take your questions
  • Adrian Ely from the University of Sussex, who spoke last year, is back again this year presenting the development of Bioleft, an open and collaborative system for seed innovation that has been developed by a group of organisations in Argentina.  Against a background of increasing patenting of seeds and genetic resources, Adrian outlines one of the responses that is emerging around the world: open source seed systems.
  • Our closing speakers, Pesticide Action Network UK will be launching their campaign to address the use of pesticides used right here on our doorstep in Brighton and Hove. These pesticides are unnecessary and there are plenty of non-chemical alternatives. Lots of councils have already banned these harmful chemicals and it’s time that Brighton & Hove did the same. Nick Mole, Policy Officer, Josie Cohen, Head of Policy and Campaigns, PAN UK, will be joined by Steve Peters, the award-winning gardener at The Level to discuss the ways in which he has managed to maintain this very public, green space without pesticides for a number of years now. Come and find out more about the campaign to end the use of pesticides in Brighton & Hove and how you can get involved.

What’s going on in the Children’s area?

We have some fun and creative activities for children to enjoy with their parents or caregivers, such as pebble painting, making seed packets and ‘seedy’ bookmarks. There will also be facepainting, and the chance to learn about and make Ecobricks, the new craze to hit Brighton! This brilliant idea involves packing non-recyclable plastic waste into plastic bottles including bags, labels, cling film, tape, sweet wrappers, yoghurt pots, etc. When it is cut small and packed tight it becomes weighty and can then be used to build small home and garden constructions with.

Be inspired for the gardening year at Seedy Sunday!

A round up of what’s happening @ Seedy Sunday, 3rd February

Seedy Sunday is less than a month away! Here’s a summary of what’s happening on the 3rd of February.

Venue: BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Rd, Hove, BN3 6EG. £3 entry, kids free!

The Seed Swap

At the heart of Seedy Sunday is the giant seed swap table. Bring seeds to swap saved from last year’s crops. Seed saving experts and gardeners will be on hand to offer all the advice you need to choose and grow your seeds. You can collect Seedy Sunday envelopes from Infinity Foods in Brighton.

No seeds to swap? Simply make a 50p donation at the seed table. We have already prepared over 2500 packets of seeds to get us started on the day!

Learn something new with a diverse range of speakers and talks

This year we have herbalists, gardeners, authors, university lecturers, and an international NGO speaking about weeds as medicine, wildlife gardening, sustainable food production, and pesticides.

We are also hosting a Local Gardeners’ Question Time featuring:

Joshua the Gardener – after the popularity of his ‘no dig’ talk last year and the queue of people waiting to ask him questions, we are delighted to have Joshua join the panel.  He has lots of advice to share about no dig gardening, organic gardening and design.

Chris Smith from Pennard Plants – another Seedy Sunday favourite. Pennard plants specialise in heritage and heirloom seeds and Chris is a gold medal Chelsea flower show winner, accomplished speaker and potato expert.

Ros Loftin is our seed saving expert and is the heart and soul of the seed swap since 2012.  A trained horticulturist, she has been saving seeds for the past 10 years, and each year brings between 20-30 different varieties of open-pollinated heritage tomatoes to swap on the seed table.

The panel with be chaired by our very own Alan Phillips!  He has been involved with Seedy Sunday since the beginning (back in 2002!), including serving 5 years as the Chair.  He is an integral part of Brighton & Hove’s vibrant organic gardening community, providing expert advice to many novice organic gardeners on our Community allotment.

A world of discovery in the Market Place

Visit more than 50 stalls from specialist growers, seed merchants, charities and community groups and more.

Children’s activities galore!

As ever we have some fun and inspiring activities for children and their parents or caregivers. Making decorations, planting seeds and discovering how to make an ‘ecobrick’ from plastic waste, there’ll be plenty to keep young people interested on the day.

Infinity Foods and Cafe

A special thanks to Infinity Foods who generously sponsor us every year, display our posters and give away our seed envelopes in their shop on North Road, Brighton.  They run a fantastic stall on the day selling organic seed potatoes, and the award winning Infinity Cafe will be upstairs to serve teas, coffees, cakes and lunches.

Be inspired for the gardening year at Seedy Sunday!

Save our soil: Winter is a good time to think about nurturing our soil

FUNCTIONS of SOIL

  • Physical support for plants [anchorage]; rooting environment; holds air, water & nutrients essential to plant growth; houses organisms necessary for making soil suitable to support plants
  • Well­-structured soil both holds water & allows it to drain.

It may become compacted & waterlogged if walked on when wet: this stops air from being available to plant roots & soil organisms & they die.

Mulch protects soil surface, keeps it warm & moist, keeps weeds down & nourishes soil life & plants; apply to moist [not frozen] soil whenever you can.

Garden compost, leaf mould & farm-yard manure, mushroom compost, spent hops, composted bark/wood chips/prunings, municipal green waste, hay/straw, & worm compost are all good sources of organic matter & can be applied as a mulch.

Plants need a variety of mineral elements for healthy growth & development; soil with plenty of organic matter [ or clay] holds onto these in a form easily absorbed by the plant; lighter soils [not clay-based] lose some nutrients through LEACHING by rain: Nitrogen & potassium [K] are most vulnerable & may need replacing. Seaweed is a good source of trace minerals.

Humus is the end result of decaying plant & animal matter, broken down by soil organisms: worms, insects, fungi & bacteria. It can hold 90% of its weight in H2O; it attracts & holds nutrients available to plants & prevents leaching.  It binds mineral particles into crumbs, thus improving structure [pores > air, H2O]. It improves all soil types, & it encourages the presence of micro-organisms, worms etc.

Green manures: protect & feed soil, improve structure & provide habitat for predators; very good in winter [but too late to sow now], early spring & late summer when beds are empty.

Green Manu

Article By Ruth Urbanowicz

Save the date for Seedy Sunday! 3rd February 2019

Plans are underway for Seedy Sunday 2019!

Here’s a selection of some of the exciting things the Seedy Sunday team are working on:

  • Seed swap area with a huge variety of seeds
  • Seed saving experts offering advice
  • Market Place stalls with a range of plants, produce and community connections
  • Fascinating speakers from around the world
  • Tasty food and drink
  • Fun kids’ activities.

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

How To….Make a Wildlife Pond

10 Mature Pond

A pond is a really useful resource in a garden, providing a habitat for important beneficial insects, invertebrates and vertebrates, which are natural hunters of pests in the garden.

There are infinite versions of ponds, differing materials and a wide range of websites offering you support with how to make a pond.

We have done some reading and put ideas into practice to produce a short ‘how to’ guide on making your own wildlife pond. This is not a definitive guide, just offering you some practical tips in a step-by-step format.

Step One: Choosing your pond material

For our pond we chose a flexible PVC liner with protective underlay. Ideally a wildlife pond would be made from puddled clay, but that is a rare resource in chalky Brighton, so we opted for a liner from a professional supplier with a 5-year guarantee. Well protected from sunlight and sharp stones, there’s no reason the liner won’t last a lifetime. Other options include pre-formed plastic liners and rubber liners. Decide on what suits you best depending on the space available, how large you want it and what your budget is.

If, like us, you opt for a flexible liner, you need to work out what size to buy. Many online pond companies provide a calculator to work out this out depending on what size you want your finished pond.

Step Two: Choosing your pond site and size

1 Mark out site

Choose the place you want to put the pond and mark out the shape and size you have decided on. Using sand to mark the outline is helpful to visualise the final shape. As a general rule, you should choose a sunny site with no overhanging vegetation and the ground should be a level as possible.

A pond needs to be as large as you can accommodate (or afford), but make sure it is at least ½ metre deep to avoid it freezing solid in winter. The pond we made is 2 x 1 x 0.5 metres. Choosing an irregular shaped design is important for wildlife and looks attractive.

Step Three: Digging Out the Pond in Layers

Decide on how you want to place the layers of the pond. A good way to think about it is like an upside down fried egg – the deepest point of the pond need only be relatively small with shallower layers towards the edges. Make sure one edge is very shallow to allow pond fauna to access the water.

One website recommended using vertical (rather than sloping) edges, using a back filling technique over the liner with sub soil. This is possible where you have dug deep enough to hit subsoil – we didn’t go that low for this project. We did dig vertical sides except for our sloping ‘shore’ (seen in the lower part of the picture).

Take care with digging out the soil – plan to do the work over a few days so you don’t injure yourself, or get some friends to help share the work. Also think about where you want to move the excavated soil to – it can be a surprising amount even from a small hole. Keep back a small amount of soil to use to bury the edges of the liner under at the end.

Step Four: Lining the Pond and Filling it

Place the liner protector over the dug out space and carefully mould it to the shape of the pond as closely as possible. Overlay with the liner and do the same. DO NOT CUT THE LINERS YET!

Fill the pond using tap water; this is recommended as it is less nutrient rich than rain water and will help keep out unwanted growth as the pond establishes.

Take care as the weight of the water allows the liner to make contact with the soil – make sure excess liner is carefully pleated and folded to make good contact with the soil. Keep adjusting as it fills.

Step Five: Trimming the Lining and Finishing off

8 trim liner

Once the pond is filled with water, you can trim and bury the edges. Trim about 30cms from the edge all around the pond. You can secure the liner by placing some of the reserved soil you dug out over the edges. It’s important to shade plastic liners from sunlight and you can use off cuts of the pond liner to cover up where it may be exposed.

Wildlife ponds benefit from a range of materials being placed around and near the pond. We used some paving slabs on one side to provide some shade over the pond and weight to anchor the liner. Don’t use slabs all the way around – they get very hot in the sun and small aquatic fauna entering and exiting the water can die from the heat exposure. We used small rocks and stones around the shallow ‘shore’ edge to create a wetland area, and a habitat pile of cut wood to provide damp, dark environment for toads, frogs and newts. Characterful decayed wood was also used to add interest to the overall effect.

9-finising-touches.jpg

Step Six: Adding Plants

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Now you can introduce some water plants to the pond. Make sure you choose these carefully, going for native options and ensuring they won’t get too big for the pond resulting in having to clear the pond of overgrown vegetation. Choose plants for differing water depths, but make sure you have at least one oxygenator and that around 70% of the water surface will be covered by vegetation. This prevents too much nitrogen building up causing algal blooms and other unwanted growth.

Step Seven: Trouble shooting

The pond is likely to go a murky green a few days after filling and planting. Don’t panic, it will soon turn clear once everything has settled down. However, even with the best will in the world, it is likely that you will get unwanted visitors such as duck weed or the dreaded blanket weed. Pull out what you can as it arises and try using barley straw – a packet of straw which magically suppresses overgrowth of blanket weed and other algae without upsetting any of your wanted plants and animals.

Damselflies mating

Sit back and enjoy watching the visitors arrive: water boatmen, pond skaters, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, caddis flies, water beetles, toads, frogs, newts, and even birds looking for a bath!

For more information, look online, and check out our favourite pond expert: @petethepond

October’s Top Tips

 

Onion Bulbs.jpg

1. Plant spring cabbage, broad beans, garlic & onions.  And why not try sowing some winter greens if you have a sheltered spot or poly to use. Check out last year’s winter greens trial.

2. Plant bulbs & spring bedding (wallflowers, forget-me-nots)

3. Divide rhubarb crowns (see community noticeboard for some crowns going spare)

4. Clear beds & mulch with compost; put old vegetation into emptied compost bins

5. Trim hedges; cut down tired vegetation; protect ponds from falling leaves with netting

Autumn Wild Knowledge Walk led by Vera Zakharov

Toadstool

Sunday 21st October, 12pm to 2pm, Stanmer Park, meet outside of Stanmer House at 12 noon.

Come and discover the diverse and beautiful ecosystems thriving on our city’s doorstep at Stanmer Park. We will focus on edible mushrooms and plants, but will consider more broadly how species work together in a woodland setting, and explore foraging as a mindful practice and entry into caring for our natural environment.

Please note that due to the size and sensitivity of the woodland we will abstain from picking mushrooms, focusing instead on identification and broader knowledge development. Foraging is weather-dependent; please dress suitably for all eventualities. Children and dogs welcomed.

Free to BHOGG members; £10 for non-members or join for £10 on the day.