Category Archives: Allotment

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

Enjoy the last picnic of the season!

…well, unless you’re a die-hard picnicker, that is! 
Sunday September 20th sees in the Autumn Equinox, and to celebrate we’ll be saving seeds and picnicking  with highly acclaimed cook Caroline from the Brighton Food Partnership, who’ll see what she can make from our crops.

Come along to our organic gardeners’ allotment plot from 11am til 2pm to prepare for autumn as well as setting aside the best of the seeds for next year.

Our organic allotment
Our organic allotment

Our famous knitted allotment!

Knit One, Plant One

This project, like the real allotment, just grew and grew, but unlike the real one, which is always extremely well disciplined, it got a bit out of hand.

It all started  in 2009 when the ‘Knit a Veg’ stall proved a great success, attracting knitters young and old to try their hand at creating a variety of produce, encouraged by allotment volunteer Helen Hudson, who had previously made a knitted veg window display for Terre à Terre restaurant.  Several group members were keen to form a knitting group to extend their skills, eat cake and have a laugh – rather like Sunday work afternoons on the allotment in fact!  The idea was not only to make something entertaining and good to look at, but something that would demonstrate the variety, productivity and beauty that’s possible on a well thought out allotment. In keeping with the spirit of organic gardening, most of the materials that were used were left overs, donated or found in charity shops.

Project leader and allotment volunteer Helen Hudson describes the project:

The design conforms to the actual layout of the beds, paths, pond, gravel and recreation areas.  We have allowed some artistic licence, but we’ve included as many of the types of veg, fruit, herbs, flowers and trees that are grown there as we could knit in the space. The more permanent plantings are in the positions they really occupy. Other areas have herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary and feverfew, while the long border below the pond has a variety of useful small trees and shrubs of which buddleia is shown.

“In keeping with good organic practice, the contents of the raised beds are rotated each season. We also thought it important to show how flowering plants are used as companion plants and to attract insects for pollinating and pest control, and judging by the size of the knitted bees, butterflies and ladybirds, and the health of the crops, it’s worked!

“We had a lot of fun making it and I learned more about the plants I’ve helped to grow by working out how to knit them. We found ourselves asking questions like ‘How many petals does a cosmos flower have? ‘Exactly what colour is a Turk’s Turban or a courgette flower?’ and ‘What’s the structure of a Brussels sprout plant?

Look out for the knitted allotment near you!

We’re happy to bring the knitted allotment out and about – it’s a real talking point and helps people appreciate the skill in plotting a real allotment too. At 6ft by 4ft, it suits a public space such as a gallery or community centre. It’s designed to be easily removed from a supporting frame, which is in sections to make transportation on a bike possible. If you’re interested, contact us!