An enjoyable morning ended with the added bonus of a number of good plants remaining that will boost our produce to sell at the Food Festival at the end of May on Hove Lawns.
If you’re an existing member of the group, you may be confused about which website you should use for up-to-date information.
Our other website (www.bhogg.org) is still being kept up to date, but eventually we will move most of the information and the domain name over to this one.
So, for the meantime, you can check either – and in due course we’ll merge the two so it’s less confusing!
Spring Equinox: The Big Dig!
We had a great time, with over thirty of us enjoying good – but windy! – weather to transform our two organic community allotments on the Weald from their hibernating state to being ready for Spring.
Beds were dug, compost added, weeds removed, seeds sown and old wood burned.
Afterwards we relaxed with a BBQ and delicious home-made cakes.
If you missed out, put Sunday 21 June in your diary for our Summer solstice celebration!
You might wonder what exactly organic gardening is, or what we do that’s so different to any other gardener out there. The simple answer is that we don’t use synthetic fertilisers or pesticides on our plants.
But it’s a little more than that. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within nature, starting in the soil and including the water supply, and ending in people, wildlife and insects. We want to work in harmony with nature and to minimise and continually replenish any resources our gardens consume.
These are the basic principles of organic gardening:
Learn to love your soil
- Get to know your soil (whether it’s clay or chalk, for example) and its acidity level. This will help you to grow plants that suit the conditions you’ve got
- Keep your soil covered with plants and mulches to protect and nurture it
- Use additional organic fertilisers sparingly – too much can upset the natural balance
(Photo courtesy of Nature and more)
Plant – and weed – well
- Get the best out of plant nutrients (even weeds) by making compost. There are lots of guides on how to do this, and Brighton and Hove City Council will subsidise compost bins too.
- Switch it up! Move your crops from year to year to give the soil a chance to get back its nutrients – different plants take different things from the soil
- Think about including a nitrogen fixing ‘green manure crop’ (a crop that covers the ground and chokes out weeds) in your rotation
Create a diverse Ecosystem
- Being an organic gardener means having to accept a level of pests in the garden, to attract the predators
- Provide different habitats and shelters for wildlife – piles of leaves, long grass and ponds are great and will attract a variety of friends (and foes…)
- Grow a range of plants, fruits and vegetables to attract beneficial insects
- Grow a mixture of crop varieties (ie, not just one type of carrot) and plant ‘friendly’ plants nearby if you can
Avoid Pest and diseases – prevention is better than cure
- You can do this by choosing ‘resistant’ varieties of crops, and also saving seeds from strong and healthy plants to plant again next year
- Encourage air flow around plants by pruning and correct planting distances – no-one likes a crowd
- Work out what barriers will defend against (or confuse) your predators. This one is usually best learned by hard-won experience!
- Only use organically acceptable pesticides as a last resort, as you may kill off beneficial insects too or disrupt the natural ecosystem
Manage water carefully
- Collect as much rainwater as you can – using this on your garden will help your bills too
- Water the soil rather than the plant leaves – they’ll take what they need
- Water in the evening rather than on the heat of the day when it will evaporate more quickly (except tomatoes!).
- Try to sow or move plants just before rain is forecast
- Protect young plants from sun and drying winds… a good soaking once a week is better than a dribble of water every day
Use Untreated Wood
- Best practice is to grow your own wood. If that’s not an option (it isn’t for many!) then you can buy coppice products from local sustainable sources
- Recycled wood (including scaffolding boards) should be untreated, and railway sleepers should not have been treated with creosote
- Linseed oil can be used to preserve wood
Spotted this morning (from a bus!) on Lewes Road… who knew that gardening was so contentious!