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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday September 18th at the Community allotment on The Weald.
Then, to harvest seeds with care.
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!
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.
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…
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..
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?
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.
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.
(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.