European Union Pesticide Authorisation – a helpful summary

wintergreensingreenhouseIn November 2017 the European Union (EU) agreed to grant a 5 year licence for the use of glyphosate* within the EU. This came after 18 months of debate between the agrochemical industry, which wanted a 15-year renewal of the licence for the use of glyphosate within the EU, and individuals, NGOs and environmental organisations who wanted the substance banned. The European Commission and those Member States that voted in favour of renewal chose to ignore the European Parliament and the 1,320,517 European citizens who signed a petition to ban glyphosate, reform the EU pesticide** approval process, and set mandatory targets to reduce pesticide use in the EU.

The European Parliament then set up a Special Committee on the authorisation procedure for pesticides. The first recommendations to address the issue have now been made. Possibly the most important recommendation is the proposal that the public should be granted access to the research submitted in order to authorise a pesticide.  Currently the data and information provided by the chemical companies (such as Bayer and Syngenta) is seen only by the authorisation body and is too often regarded by them as definitive. The new recommendation provides scientists and other specialists in the field a chance to analyse the data provided by manufacturers.

During this period of open access stakeholders will be able not only to comment on the findings, but also to provide additional existing data.  This allows for all relevant information to be taken into account – environmental impact, health studies etc. – which previously the authorisers have not been able to do.

The Committee also recommended that post-market evaluation should be strengthened.  This means follow-up research in real life use of the pesticide. It is hoped that they will launch an epidemiological study on the impact of pesticides on human health, for instance. Perhaps they will also look at the ‘cocktail effect’ of using a sequence of chemicals throughout the crops’ growing life.  Normally each chemical is approved in isolation – which is not how farmers and growers use them. The Belgian Greens MEP, Bart Staes said:

“We ask for full transparency with regard to the studies used for the assessment. To make them more independent and based on scientific evidence, to avoid conflicts of interests, to fully test active substances, to thoroughly test pesticide products, including the cumulative effects, and for stronger risk management measures.”

The recommendations were adopted with 23 votes to 5 and 1 abstention. The full EU House voted on the report during the plenary session of 14-17th January 2019, with a resounding majority for adoption of the report (For: 526 (79%), Against: 66 (10%), Abstain: 72 (11%)).

Notes:

*Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Round Up

**“Pesticide” is also used to describe herbicides, which includes glyphosate.

Article written by Mouse

See our article on local impact on ban here.

Brighton & Hove Allotment Federation Glyphosate debate

wasp on winter squash detailBrighton & Hove Allotment Federation (BHAF) held a site rep and members meeting on 23rd January. Part of this meeting was to look at whether a ban of the use of glyphosate could be proposed to Brighton & Hove City Council. Mark Carroll, Chair of BHAF reports back for BHOGG:

‘Although it appears that the majority of plot holders would like a ban on the use of glyphosate on allotments, there is a significant minority that do not think a ban is appropriate.

The reasons put forward are that it is a legal product which some people, perhaps elderly and less fit people, rely on to keep weeds at bay. A big problem for the site reps present at the meeting, who did not want a ban on its use, was that they felt it would be impossible to enforce a ban anyway. There are other products and mixtures available that will also kill plants, so how would a site rep know if it was definitely glyphosate that was used? It is true it would be difficult to ‘police’.

However there was agreement that careless use of glyphosate, which affected neighbouring plots should definitely be curtailed. It was agreed that there should be something included in the rules to this effect, and BHAF will work on this straight away.

Meanwhile, until glyphosate is banned, (and it seems increasingly likely it will be) we will continue to try and increase awareness of the dangers of its use. Not just the possible personal health issues of using it on your own plots but also of the serious negative effects to the wider environment and bio diversity which allotments provide.’

Over 80% of plot holders actively minimise the use of chemicals and aim for organic growing methods. So with this positive starting point, BHOGG and BHAF are committed to working together to promote organic gardening and help raise awareness about the harmful effects of using chemicals such as glyphosate.  Watch this space!

For more background on European Union’s debate around pesticides and glyphosate, read Mouse’s article.

Sri Lankan Leek & Potato Curry

There are a few hardy vegetables still out there to be harvested, and one of my favourites is the humble leek. It adds a wonderfully distinctive flavour to meals, yet stands through winter for year round use, unlike its rather more tender cousin, the onion.  This recipe provides some much welcome comfort food in the winter.

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 white potatoes, in thin slices
  • 2 large leeks, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 250g cooked chick peas (or a standard tin, drained)
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 100g creamed coconut (dissolve in ½ pint hot water)
  • salt

ingredients

Method

  1. Grind up cumin seeds, coriander seeds and fennel seeds using a pestle & mortar or grinder.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add onion, garlic and ginger, frying until soft.
  3. Add the ground spice mix plus cinnamon, turmeric, chilli, curry leaves and salt then add the potatoes, leeks and chick peas and fry together for a few minutes.
  4. Pour on the dissolved creamed coconut and vinegar (ensuring there is enough liquid to cover the veg – add more if not)
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato is cooked through
  6. Serve with rice

cooking

Adapted from the World Food Café’s Kandi Leek & Potato Curry recipe.

 

One week until Seedy Sunday!

A big shout out to our fantastic range of exhibitors and stall holders this year:   All your familiar favourites will be there, including our lovely sponsors Infinity Foods with their organic seed potatoes and shallot sets, The Heritage Seed Library, The Seed Co-operative, Thomas Etty, Pennard Plants and Edulis Nursery.  

They are joined by some newcomers to Seedy Sunday 2019 including Solseed Landscapes, who offer organic edible and ecological landscaping services using permaculture design as their guiding principle;  the Sussex National Garden Scheme, who will be telling us about the Open Garden Scheme for 2019; and Vital Seeds, an independent seed company based in Devon selling open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seed for home-gardeners and small scale market growers.

We also have a wonderful line-up of speakers, with a great range of talks including Kate Bradbury, author of “The Wildlife Gardener” and our very own local Gardeners’ Question Time. The speaker line-up is here:

There’ll be some great activities for children with their parents or caregivers, including a fun new activity making Ecobricks; decorating seed envelopes, and face-painting.

Seedy Sunday is Sunday February 3rd and runs from 10.30 to 4.00pm. 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. See www.seedysunday.org for information on public transport.

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!

How to….Plant Garlic

8 harvestGarlic can be planted over a number of months from October to February, although the earlier you can plant, the longer the crop will have to mature (which can be handy if we have a poor summer). Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest, but you will find you probably need longer than this for larger garlic bulbs.

Garlic is available in 2 broad categories of soft or hard necked garlic. Soft-neck garlic is what you are most likely to buy in the shops as it stores well, but can have a milder taste. They tend to have mixed clove sizes in one bulb. Hard neck varieties are closer to wild garlic with the accompanying stronger taste, but doesn’t store for as long. These tend to have larger clove sizes. There is also Elephant ‘garlic’ to consider, which produces huge individual cloves, but this is technically a leek!

Whatever variety you decide on, buy your bulbs from an organic supplier and check that the bulb is firm and free from mould. Tempted to plant that sprouting garlic in the cupboard? You can plant garlic you’ve bought from the shop, but it potentially won’t have the disease resistance and vigour that seed bulb garlic will have.

Choose a position outdoors that will be sunny. Prepare the soil by adding some manure and forking this in well.  Make sure the soil is loose to a good depth – as deep as you can do easily by hand (unless your soil is very compact, then you either need to dig it over properly, or add a lot of organic material if you choose ‘no dig’). Draw the soil into raised rows allowing room to plant cloves 4 inches apart and at least 6 inches between rows.

2-create-a-mound.jpg

Break open the garlic bulb to access the individual cloves within.   Each clove will grow into a new bulb. Place the individual garlic gloves along the rows of soil to get the spacing right, then gently push them into the mound until the tip of the clove (pointy end) is even with the top of the soil. Draw up a little of the soil to cover the clove to a depth of around 1 inch.

5 plant bulbs detailPlace a physical barrier over the planted area to deter birds and other creatures from unearthing the bulbs. If this does happen, simply gently push the cloves back into the soil and draw soil up to cover them again.  There is no need to water the garlic in, and in fact, unless there is very little rain, there is no need to do anything else with the garlic except sit back and wait.

Harvest the crop when the top of the plant has gone from green to brown, dried out and looks dead. Lift the bulbs from beneath the soil and leave them somewhere dry and warm to ensure all moisture is removed. Store somewhere cool and well ventilated, and use as you would shop-bought garlic.

If you have a large crop and you can’t wait to taste it, you can harvest the bulb when it is ‘green’ – the top of the plant will still be green and growing, and the bulb will not have separated out into individual cloves. This can be used in cooking and gives a fresh, welcome treat to dishes in early summer.

There is a chance that in wet conditions the bulbs can get white rot. This is a fungal disease that rots the crop from the roots up and is very hard to control once it occurs. The best organic defence is to lift and burn infected plants and avoid planting garlic, onions or leeks (all from the allium plant family) for 7 years. This is hard to achieve in a small space, so attempting to avoid it initially is the best bet.

Try out these recipes to use your garlic in: Courgette pesto and Ema’s chilli, garlic & ginger sauce.

 

 

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