Category Archives: Phoenix

Save our soil: Winter is a good time to think about nurturing our soil

FUNCTIONS of SOIL

  • Physical support for plants [anchorage]; rooting environment; holds air, water & nutrients essential to plant growth; houses organisms necessary for making soil suitable to support plants
  • Well­-structured soil both holds water & allows it to drain.

It may become compacted & waterlogged if walked on when wet: this stops air from being available to plant roots & soil organisms & they die.

Mulch protects soil surface, keeps it warm & moist, keeps weeds down & nourishes soil life & plants; apply to moist [not frozen] soil whenever you can.

Garden compost, leaf mould & farm-yard manure, mushroom compost, spent hops, composted bark/wood chips/prunings, municipal green waste, hay/straw, & worm compost are all good sources of organic matter & can be applied as a mulch.

Plants need a variety of mineral elements for healthy growth & development; soil with plenty of organic matter [ or clay] holds onto these in a form easily absorbed by the plant; lighter soils [not clay-based] lose some nutrients through LEACHING by rain: Nitrogen & potassium [K] are most vulnerable & may need replacing. Seaweed is a good source of trace minerals.

Humus is the end result of decaying plant & animal matter, broken down by soil organisms: worms, insects, fungi & bacteria. It can hold 90% of its weight in H2O; it attracts & holds nutrients available to plants & prevents leaching.  It binds mineral particles into crumbs, thus improving structure [pores > air, H2O]. It improves all soil types, & it encourages the presence of micro-organisms, worms etc.

Green manures: protect & feed soil, improve structure & provide habitat for predators; very good in winter [but too late to sow now], early spring & late summer when beds are empty.

Green Manu

Article By Ruth Urbanowicz

Ruth’s top tips for July & August: Yielding

  1. Keep on top of weeding and watering.  It’s hot and dry out there so water well once a week.  Water at the base of the plant and try and avoid waterting during the heat of the day.

  2. Harvest beans, peas, courgettes, cucumbers etc. regularly to ensure on-going production

  3. Lift early spuds and use the beds to either plant out leeks and winter brassicas or sow with green manure; lift garlic and autumn planted onions

  4. Sow lettuce, beetroot, chard, oriental greens, rocket, carrots Feed tomatoes and peppers with an organic seaweed tomato feed or diluted comfrey liquid; spray everything with diluted liquid seaweed

  5. Summer prune trained apple and pear trees and cherries and plums in late August.

Ruth’s top tips for June

1. Plant out seedlings such as beans, courgettes, sweet-corn.

2. Sow successional salads, dwarf beans, peas.

3. Feed with seaweed meal and organic potassium, homemade comfrey and nettle liquid or organic tomato feed.

4. Water well once a week in dry spells (little and often causes shallow roots).

5. Harvest first early potatoes, broad beans, salad crops.

Want to know more about planting out and successional planting?  Ruth will be running her Urban Gardening Courses: Planting Out and Successional Growing.  Saturday 2nd June for Planting Out & Saturday 16th June for Successional Growing.  Both 2-4pm at Phoenix Community Centre.

Free for BHOGG members and local Phoenix area residents, £3 donation for non-members.

 

Phoenix Urban Organic Gardening Club

Join us on the third Saturday of each month: 2-4pm.  Phoenix Community Centre, 2 Phoenix Pl, Brighton BN2 9ND

Events:

2017 Dec 16 –  What is Companion Planting all about? And gardening for wildlife

2018:

Jan 20 – Get to know your soil, plus composting & mulching

Feb 17 – Time to sow & grow; how to grow veg from seed

Free to Bhogg members and local residents.  £3 donation non-members.

‘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.