We’ve recently tried out this french bean and tomato relish recipe by the brilliant Dan Lepard and can confirm it works a treat!
…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.
As if you needed another reason to get gardening, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
According to an article published on the Express newspaper website, experts are now advising British doctors to prescribe gardening to alleviate conditions such as dementia, stress and high blood pressure.
These “green prescriptions” as they are known, are also being advocated by various charities and healthcare organisations, as well as GPs themselves.
Of course, it’s not the first time that gardening has been linked to good health. Locally, The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership champion the benefits of getting out into the garden, and have had very promising feedback from volunteers about their experiences. The partnership also point to a number of scientific studies which demonstrate the benefits of gardening and community food growing for both mental and physical health.
As well as this, Brighton and Hove City Council have carried out surveys as part of the Allotment Strategy 2014-2024, which aims to make allotments enjoyable, inclusive, sustainable and affordable for the people of Brighton & Hove. Those answering the plot holders survey were asked to rate their overall health. The same question was asked in the 2012 health counts survey:
From these results, we can see that generally allotmenteers say they have better health compared with the general population.
“It would not be possible for me to put a price on the significance that having an allotment has had for me in terms of improvement to my physical and mental well-being. I am able to harvest a small but reasonably sized amount of produce from my small half plot-all delicious of-course! But the primary benefits are social and spiritual. I can’t imagine my life now, without having an allotment” – Plot holders survey response
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!
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!
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.
Learn to love your soil
(Photo courtesy of Nature and more)
Plant – and weed – well
Create a diverse Ecosystem
Avoid Pest and diseases – prevention is better than cure
Manage water carefully
Use Untreated Wood
It’s been such a mild autumn, lots of us have still got nasturtium plants hanging around! If you’re stuck for what to do with them and you like capers, here’s an idea…
(Photo courtesy of Inkberry Blue)
Poor Man’s Capers
Soak fresh, nasturtium green seeds in cold salted water for two days (half a tablespoon of salt to one pint of water).
Drain and soak in cold water for another day, then drain well and put in a glass jar.
Bring (pickling or white wine) vinegar to boiling point and use to cover the seeds. (Probably best to let it cool first!) Close the jar tightly and leave for a couple of days before eating – they’re nicest after about 2 weeks. Store for up to six months.
Variations on the above include adding the following to the vinegar: garlic, celery seeds, lemon zest, pickling spice and peppercorns.