Category Archives: Allotment

Autumn at our community allotment

As winter approaches we are still getting a great turn out on Sundays (11-1pm).  The weather has been kind, making it a very enjoyable time at the Weald Allotment site.  There is still plenty to do – pruning, collecting, preparing and, of course, eating!

The girls have been helping Viv prepare for Seedy Sunday (Sunday 4th February 2018 – more details are coming soon!) by collecting coriander seeds.

We had a lovely picnic to farewell Emma, who is moving up north –  best of luck for your new adventure Emma we will miss you!   Barbara’s delicious homemade cake was a winner once again (she cooked the chocolate beetroot cake we posted recently – any excuse for another slice!).

Harvests are still going strong – rocket, carrots and chard…

Next year we are replacing half the Lavender border – typically you should would renew plants after 7-10 years and these have been on the site for at least 10 years.  We removed the old plants, and the soil is being prepared for planting in March (spring is the best time as lavender can be damaged by frost if not well established).  Here is a handy guide if you want to know more about growing lavender.

Now is a good time to prune autumn fruiting raspberries – using the opportunity of being able to get close and personal to hand fork out the more persistent weeds. Top dress the nearby soil with a compost of well-rotted manure in the early spring. You can also plant out new roots or replant raspberry suckers now if the ground stays warm and has good drainage in organic soil.

Between November and February you are welcome to come to the allotment between 11am and 1pm on Sunday (weather permitting). The winter sessions are not overseen by co-ordinators, however, there are usually some regular hardy volunteers who will make you feel welcome. We have a poly tunnel where we can shelter if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse.

 

Summer at our community allotment

We had a fruitful summer at the allotment.  A bumper harvest meant that we were able to pick and donate over a ton of local, organic apples to Fareshare, who distribute food to vulnerable groups in Sussex.  A vital organisation ideally suited to distributing gluts of produce.

IMG_2226
Nikki  with Apples on their way to Fareshare
IMG_2247 (2)
Alan with heritage organic apples ranging from Ashmead’s Kernel to Rosemary Russet.
The lavender harvest

We were delighted to welcome our newest member Ivy!

Our summer culminated with the autumn equinox picnic.  Delicious delights from our summer harvest plus, of course, Barbara’s amazing baking (every week she brings something incredible for us to eat!).
Every Sunday our Organic Community Allotment welcomes new visitors between 11 and 1 pm.

‘Citizen Scientists’ volunteering opportunity

Phoenix Community Centre, Thursday 16th November,  7pm-9pm

Scientists from the University of Sussex will be talking about how pollinating insects are vital to the production of many of the foods we grow in our gardens and allotments.  Team Pollinate are looking for allotment growers in Brighton & Hove to volunteer to become ‘Citizen Scientists‘ and help us learn more about which insects are pollinating the food we grow. The data will help scientists understand more about pollinator behaviour and how best to protect these important insects.

Events are free to members, £3 donation to non-members

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

 

Seed Saving Workshop

Sunday September 18th at the Community allotment on The Weald.

img_20160918_113643
Ruth led us in a practical session.
img_20160918_120151
It was fun searching for seeds in the allotment.

img_20160918_112916

img_20160918_113605

Then, to harvest seeds with care.

img_20160918_122103
There are several different ways to collect the seeds. Tomatoes ^
img_20160918_115510
For marjoram we used a colander.
img_20160918_112901
We stored our seeds in paper bags to keep them dry.
img_20160918_114708
We used seed packets to label our seeds.

img_20160918_113809

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Brighton Time to Act week

Did you know that 15 – 21 November is Brighton Time to Act week?

Our friends over at Brighton CAN (Climate Action Network) are organising an amazing line up of events, including a special climate change -themed Allotment Sunday with us on the 22nd November between 11am and 1pm.

The network campaigns for divestment from polluting industries, the creation of a million climate jobs, against fracking and the continued burning of fossil fuels, and for the expansion of renewable energy, energy conservation, cheap and environmentally clean public transport, and a better and safer urban environment for cyclists and walkers.

We hope to see you on the 22nd… if you want to find out more about the events or the Climate Action Network, pop along to their information stall at the Jubilee Library from 12 – 18 November, or visit their website to find out where you can watch a film, make a flag, enjoy a pint or even cycle to Paris!

Brighton Climate Action Network

How did your garden grow?

Roundup from the annual Autumn Feast (as reported by Ruth)

Autumn’s darkening nights and misty mornings are  always a good time to  chat about the year in the fruit and vegetable garden so ten of us got together for a natter and to enjoy the rhubarb wine..

We agreed it had been a cold and windy year; too cold and dry in spring and too cold and wet in summer, so lots of crops just sulked. That said, there was a lot of variation depending on location  – shelter from wind is a big factor, especially with fruit and climbing beans.

Tulameen Raspberries
(c) Leah Pellegrini

A raspberry variety called Tulameen got a big thumbs up for flavour! In general though, fruit was rather disappointing,  due mainly to the cold windy weather at blossom time.

Ruth had a great cherry crop but as usual lost most of it to magpies that seem able to defeat all types of protection!There was the aforementioned excellent rhubarb wine too…[hic]

In terms of veg: spuds did well, as did some onions. White-rot was a big problem in places, although early harvesting before the rains came seemed to have been a good strategy and for garlic too. As a side note: If you did get rot, avoid using that bed for alliums for five years – there’s more info about white rot here.

Sue got great carrots in a large sunny window-box. and there were reasonable beetroots and parsnips. There was a shout-out to Brassicas, which did well where properly protected from their numerous pests. We all agreed, ‘Enviromesh’ works best…

Allotment - 5th Oct
(c) Laura Whitehead

Ruth’s summer broccoli [calabrese] was wonderfully prolific and she declared that she’d grownthe best red cabbages ever. Lots of people reported that sweetcorn was a bit underwhelming, and squash was useless but courgettes good (aren’t they always?!).

There was even some success with cucumbers and protected tomatoes, but of course, ripening was very delayed by the lack of our summer sun..

DSC_0111
(c) Organic Gardeners Brighton

A great time was had by all, and it was really useful to get together and share our successes and failings – we live and learn for another season.

If you’re a new gardener, don’t lose heart – it’s always a learning curve, and something will always go right. What’s gone well for you this year?

Autumn’s gardening tips #4: maintenance

As we descend from the milder summery autumn to Autumn-Proper (we know, we know, it’s not terribly scientific) it’s a good time to mend paths, fences, bed edging, and sheds. You’ll feel terribly smug come springtime, too.

TH - new old window

(c) Szczel

Is it raining? Think that’s an excuse? Oh no. Snuggle down in the shed with a flask and get those tools out: you can clean, sharpen and oil most gardening tools ready for the first flushes of growth (and enthusiasm!) next year.

Cleaning Garden Tools
(c) Lab Cat

Finally, if you’re feeling super keen – and maybe not every year – the greenhouse can be emptied out, sterilised with a sulphur candle and given a good clean out, scrubbing the staging down and cleaning the glass before insulating it. You can also get ahead by cleaning pots and seed-trays now.

clean greenhouse
(c) Extra-minty

Autumn’s gardening tips #3: compost like mad!

Feeling the turn in the air now? Do up your boots, throw on a jacket and get ready to compost!

First things first: do a final turn to the compost bins to let in more air.The semi-rotted stuff half filling the bins may be too wet or too dry to be ideal, so remake it like lasagne: into a new bin put a layer of dry then a layer of soggy and so on. If it’s all too wet add some crumpled cardboard or newspaper.

aerobic compost heap
(C) Jon Anderson

Keep it covered over winter, – even if it’s not perfect by early spring it can go into the spud and bean trenches. There will be plenty of spent crops to fill up the bins now; try to fill a whole bin in two days to cook it fast – activators such as chicken pellets or even human pee will help; turn the contents after about two weeks to reheat it

Covered compost heap
(C) Fennel and Fern

…and if all of that hasn’t worn you out, you can always get thinking about a Halloween pumpkin!

Autumn’s gardening tips #2: planting

Think your planting season is over? Think again! As well as spring bulbs, hardy annuals such as Calendula (pot marigold) and Nigella (love in a mist) can be sown now for early flowers…it’s always nice to have some colour to look forward to.

Calendula officinalis (Common Marigold/Botón de Oro)

You can also get going with veg: plant Japanese onion sets and garlic from mid-September, and also spring cabbage, but protect it from late butterflies and pigeons with fine netting over a frame.

Cabbages and Kohl rabi

If you’re feeling energised, you can also trim any hedges now to avoid doing it in spring. And don’t forget to start saving seeds – collect into paper bags and put to dry thoroughly; remember to label and date!

Hedges trimmed

If you missed last month’s seed saving workshop, more detail on seed saving can be found on the Seedy Sunday website.

Photo credits to Andy Wright, Priscilla Burcher and Julia Roberts (no not that one!)

Autumn’s gardening tips #1: harvest

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness so most fruits and vegetables need to be harvested to store or freeze, except the hardy winter ones which can stay where they are until needed.

Weed and clear beds before winter (sounds so easy, doesn’t it?)

Top Tip: while the soil is warm get organic matter into the ground the easy way: sow newly cleared beds with green manures – winter tares, phacelia, field beans, grazing rye…

Compost and well-rotted manure can be spread on moist soil now; cover with cardboard or black plastic (well weighed down) to prevent nutrient loss, and to provide winter feasting and shelter for worms and micro-organisms.

 Compost!

(c) NewUse Urban gardening