A great little video from Gabriel – a regular at our Sunday Allotment Sessions. The Team Pollinate Workshop is Sunday 22, 11-1pm at Weald Allotments.
Scientists at the University of Sussex are looking for growers in Brighton & Hove to help them learn more about food grown across the city.
Approximately one fifth of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, yet we know surprisingly little about how it is produced. That’s why citizen-science project, Team PollinATE, is working with growers in Brighton & Hove to collect data on which insects pollinate crops in urban areas, how much food small city growing spaces such as gardens and allotments can provide, and the most common pest control methods used by urban growers. The project has also partnered with scientists in India, who are working with urban growers in Kolkata to collect similar data and give a global view of urban food production.
The project launched in April last year, and already volunteers have collected lots of useful data. After attending a workshop on pollinator identification, throughout the summer of 2017 volunteers conducted quick pollinator counts in their growing spaces (surveying over 17, 000 flowers in total, and spotting 850 insects!), as well as keeping a diary of any pest control methods used. To help us quantify how much food people are producing across the city, some volunteers kept a record of the food they harvested, and by using our handy ‘Garden Shop Calculator’ could find out how much their produce was worth- on average volunteers grew an impressive £425 worth of food last year, with some volunteers ‘saving’ up to £900 by growing their own.
This year the project is open to anyone who grows their own food, be that in an allotment, garden, window box or community growing space. So, if you’d like to learn how to identify bees and other pollinators, why not visit our website and register yourself as a volunteer or come along to our next pollinator workshop at the BHOGG plot (11-1pm, Weald Allotments- all welcome!). You’ll receive a pack with more information on how to participate and monthly updates on the findings.
We had an excellent illustrated talk by Joshua on 8th March at the Phoenix Community Centre. Joshua was inspired to develop his raised bed veggie garden for his Down’s syndrome son. The soil was covered with cardboard, straw, manure, compost in a 2” deep layer, replenished every year, growing fab veg. Worms and micro-organisms do hate to be disturbed; mulching with whatever is available is great for soil structure, preventing weeds, evaporation and keeping roots happy.
If anyone would like to take on the challenge of testing out their own ‘no-dig’ system, we’d be really interested in hearing about your experience. We’d especially be keen to have a mini write up and pictures documenting your trial. Let us know by email: email@example.com.
Review by Ruth.
April should be a time when we really start to feel the warmth of Spring; we hope the weather catches up to that idea soon. Here’s our top tips for April:
1. Plant main-crop spuds – see the great “how to video” by Jenni
2. Plant onion sets (sets are baby onions rather than from seeds). For more information check out the RHS guide
3. Pot up seedlings sown last month
4. Sow tomatoes for growing outdoors
5. Sow leeks and broccoli in module trays
Traditionally, potatoes were planted on Good Friday. This, of course, is not a set date, but moves around the calendar by up to a month. I suspect it may have had more to do with Good Friday being a long standing common law holiday than it did with weather conditions, but links to the moon and gardening have always been exploited, so perhaps Good Friday signals an auspicious lunar time slot.
Whatever the reason, I find it a useful reminder of when to plant and I try to sow my potatoes around that date (and try to coincide with a mild spell followed by rain – potatoes are frost-sensitive). I have sown both my early and main crop potatoes, but if you haven’t done so yet and if you’re new to growing, click on the video below.
Article and video by Jenni – BHOGG Chairperson
Spring in the Air: Sowing and Growing Talk with Ruth Urbanowicz. Thursday 19th April, 7.30-9pm
Urban Organic Gardening Course: Transplanting Seedlings. Saturday 21st April, 2-4pm
For more details check out our What’s On page.
Things have been pretty quiet on the allotment over the winter. Still some hardy souls come along regularly enjoy the peace and tranquillity at the site. And we were treated with some spectacular scenes with the snow.
A gale-force rainy day compelled us to relocate our annual outdoor Winter Solstice celebration to the warmth and comfort of Alan’s house. Mulled wine was sipped, delicious soup and cakes were consumed and carols were sung while the rain pelted the window.
Now spring is here we are looking forward to the regular Sunday sessions 11-1pm at the Weald Allotment site. For more details about how to get there click here.
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
Tel: 01273 718788
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).
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!
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
Tel: 01273 671 111
Review by Jenni, and special thanks to Kate Harrison for use of her FareShare slides.
Do you ever have some bananas that become too brown for anyone to eat? Pop them in the freezer to use in smoothies. They add a lovely creamy texture and the sweetness of the bananas make for a delicious drink. I have many different smoothie recipes but this one is a firm favourite of my 6 year old – “it tastes like ice-cream!”
Ingredients – makes enough for 4 people
2-3 frozen bananas (allow 1/2 banana per person depending on size)
1-2 C frozen mango
1T chia seeds
200 ml of milk / dairy alternative (add more if you are not using Kefir)
200ml Kefir (optional)
Add milk/Kefir to the blender and chia seeds – leave for 5-10minutes for chia seeds to expand. Take frozen bananas from the freezer to soften slightly (note you do not want them to defrost). Peel and chop bananas, add along with frozen mango to the chia mixture and blend.
Texture should be quite thick, like soft ice-cream and we eat it with spoons. Once they defrost the become liquid, like normal smoothies.