Category Archives: organic

Review: No Dig Gardening Talk by Joshua the Gardener

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:  bhogg.org@gmail.com.

Review by Ruth.

April: Top 5 tips

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

How to grow…. potatoes

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

No dig gardening talk with Joshua the Gardener. March 8th

No dig gardening, talk by Joshua the Gardener, March 8th, 730-9pm.  Phoenix Community Centre.  Free to Bhogg members, non-members £5

Joshua the gardener was very popular at Seedy Sunday, with a huge line of people waiting to ask him questions after his talk.  We are delighted to have him come talk to us at the Phoenix Community centre in a few weeks.

His talk is based around growing vegetables without the need to cultivate the soil so, no digging, forking or tilling. The no dig gardening method was made popular by Charles Dowding and having featured on gardeners world a few weeks back it is going through a rapid rise in popularity.  It’s a process of adding organic matter in layers and growing almost immediately. Healthier plants, healthier soil and bigger yields.

The talk covers all aspects of how to get started, sowing and harvesting as well as design points. The talk currently is around 60 minutes with plenty of time for Q&A at the end.

 

 

Seedy Sunday one week to go!

There is a wonderful line-up of speakers, with a great range of talks including practical gardening advice from Joshua the Gardener and Pennard Plants, to a panel discussion about policy and legislation around selling seeds. The full speaker programme is available here.

There is also a fantastic range of exhibitors and stall holders this year: Along with familiar favourites, we are welcoming some newcomers, such as the Old Tree Brewery, Native Hands, FareShare Sussex and the Woodland Trust.

There’ll be some great children’s activities, including making vegetable print bunting, decorating seed envelopes, and the chance to have a go on a flour grinding bicyle!


Click here for the full Seedy Sunday 2018 Programme telling you what’s on and where. Paper copies will also be available at the event.

Seedy Sunday will also be hosting the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time again, with a panel of the best brains in horticulture: Eric Robson, James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Anne Swithinbank. Tickets are available to Seedy Sunday visitors from 10.30am on the day – first come, first served.  The price will be £4 to cover the cost of hiring the main hall at BHASVIC; this is in addition to the £3 Seedy Sunday entrance fee.  Recording will start at 3.30pm.
Seedy Sunday is February 4th, and runs from 10.30 to 4pm. It’s at BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6EG.  See the map here.  Please note there is NO parking for the public on site.   Visit www.seedysunday.org for information on public transport.

Phoenix Urban Gardening events

 

Gardening Organically – Back To Basics – Wednesday 24th January, 7-9pm

Come along to hear BHOGG’s very own resident RHS qualified teacher talk about getting back to the basics.

Ruth Urbanowicz will explain the importance of the What? Why? and How? of gardening organically, and look at the history, context, and putting it into practice.

Free to paid up BHOGG members; £10/£5 donation non-members.

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

Winter Greens Trial update

After the mayhem of Christmas & New Year, it was a pleasure to be able to escape to the allotment for a few hours last weekend. And even more pleasurable to witness what awaited me in the poly tunnel: a ready-to-harvest crop of wintergreens.

Ready for harvest

Despite the inclement weather, the transplanted seedlings have grown into strong, healthy plants that are now large enough to be picked. I took the ‘cut and come again’ approach as you would with lettuce at this stage. I am hopeful that this will encourage new growth and extend the picking season. I suspect that at some point I will uproot whole plants if they continue expanding at current rates.

The only plants not ready for harvest were the spinach. The first lot of seedlings only produced a couple of plants and these are very slow growing in comparison to the brassica varieties. Perhaps they will still do well a bit later on.

I only harvested from the plants with the largest leaves, but could have taken a couple from each for a larger haul. With the Mizuna I took a small clump. The harvest (clockwise from top left) is: Mizuna, Pak Choi, Fuyuna and Choy Sum (flower heads).

First harvest

I only wanted to lightly cook the greens, and as there wasn’t enough to make a main dish, I fried them in a hot wok in a little seasame oil, sprinkling tamari over them in the final moments of cooking. I then added them to a bowl of hot, spicy celery and potato soup (because its still winter and its too cold for salad!).

Stir fry

Any type of vegetable soup will work – perhaps make the most of the opportunity to showcase your fresh winter greens by using up some of those left over root veggies you have: potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips. You can also add a little cheese after serving; we used vegan blue ‘cheese’, which complimented the soup perfectly. Alternatively, the greens would be a perfect addition to a stir-fry or as a steamed vegetable accompaniment.

Russ’s winter greens trial update

At the end of October I thinned out the seedlings as ruthlessly as I could. This meant removing around half to make plenty of room for the remaining plants to continue growing. I always feel a sense of brutality at pulling up perfectly healthy plants, but we made the most of the thinned out seedlings as a delicious addition to a bowl of hot noodles. In particular the brassica seedlings will thank me for this activity, as brassicas are notoriously fussy about not having their roots disturbed too much and disliking competition from neighbouring roots.

Russ3

In fact, next time I would consider sowing directly into a seed bed of well sieved soil in the poly, rather than having to transplant the seedlings. The brassica’s above ground healthy looks belie their pathetic, weedy looking root system. I worry that they can’t support their top-heavy heads, but they have survived the transplant so far.

Even with minimal trips to the poly tunnel this month the capillary matting worked really well, and there’s been some bright days allowing the seedlings to put on some growth, particularly the Mizuna which you can see in the foreground of the picture of transplanted seedlings.

Russ1

I was able to plant out the seedlings at the weekend, ensuring the soil they were planted into was finely raked and moist. The poly tunnel has been well manured over the growing season and is relatively fertile. I have added some organic slug pellets, which I know are under scrutiny as to whether they are truly organic, but as they are being used undercover, I hope that any contaminated pests will not be accessed by birds or wildlife.

I will continue my infrequent visits to the seedlings to water and check for pest damage, although in the first few days of transplanting I will make sure they are watered every 2-3 days. Once they have had a chance to establish themselves, I may also make a further thinning out – if I can bear it!

 

Russ’s Winter Greens Trial in his allotment poly tunnel.

I have had a poly tunnel on my plot for a couple of years but have never tried growing over winter. I have had really successful crops of tomatoes and chillies over the summer but I am keen to see if my poly can be equally productive during winter. I chose 5 plants to try out: Mizuna, Spinach, Pak Choi, Choy Sum, Chop Suey Greens.

The seedlings are currently looking very happy, although the spinach had a very poor germination rate leaving me with only 3 seedlings. The seeds were sown in organic seed compost in a bright shed and then placed out into the poly once they germinated. I am using a capillary matting technique to ensure the seedlings are kept moist from below, as I don’t visit the allotment as frequently this time of year. My next step will be to thin out the seedlings and wait until they have 2 sets of ‘true’ leaves before planting them into the ground in the poly.

I’ll post an update so you can see how I’m getting on, or join me in trialling growing winter greens yourself.  If you’ve already had experience growing over winter, then comment with any advice to share.