Progression of the new plot on the Weald Allotment.

Start

It looks like we’ll have our work cut out for us!

Allotment start

March

It’s cold, but a few of us are making a start on clearing junk and digging the beds.

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3/04/1016

First digging of the new beds is done. Apple trees are planted and the majority of the junk has been cleared. Good work volunteers!

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10.04.2016

Second digging of the community beds in South plot and the shed is cleared.

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17.04.2016

First earlies go in and measurements for the beds and paths are made.

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24.04.2016

Paths have been layed and beds are dug and weeded a final time in South plot. Makeshift cloches (tents) set-up in North plot. Phew! Time for some vegetables?

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01.06.2016

Individual beds were divided and paths laid in between.

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Next Events

Spring in Your Heels: City Gardening

 Saturday April 16th 2-4pm @ Phoenix community centre garden. TBC.

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The practical sequel to our highly successful Spring Is In The Air: Organic Sowing & Growing presentation which was held on the 5th April.

How to sow and grow vegetables and flowers with Ruth Urbanowicz (our own RHS qualified gardening expert). We continue with the basics of sowing, pricking out and potting on, hardening off and planting out.

Take home a baby tomato plant and some flower seeds to put that new found knowledge to use!

To be held in the newly refurbished courtyard garden at Phoenix Community Centre (to be confirmed and weather permitting).

For more details or to confirm your place please e-mail ruthurbanowicz@live.co.uk.

Free to all members or a suggested donation of £3.

Special Branch

Our friends at Special branch in Stanmer are again able to offer half price trees at 50p each, from January to April. The Trees available this year are Dogwood, Guelder Rose, and Wayfaring trees. These plants would provide the backbone for an excellent wildlife hedge. 20+ box plants(90cm+) for sale at £3 per plant. Great for a windbreak.

Special Branch  are a not-for-profit organisation, run entirely by voluntary workers, guaranteeing local origin for all their plants.

http://www.specialbranchtrees.org.uk/

 

Free organic food?

We believe that organic fruit and veg should be accessible to everyone, and we’re also big believers in reducing waste, so we were really delighted to see this post crop up on our twitter feed recently (thanks, @OrganicLifeMag!).

Have you found any clever ways to save, extend or even grow new food from old?

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(image courtesy of Organic Life Magazine)

Starting to think about Christmas presents?

Our friends Finca Slow produce amazing olive oil from their heritage organic trees, which were bought as part of a derelive grove and are being renovated under permaculture principles.

Sue, a member of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group who went to stay at the grove, says “The olive oil is superb, especially the one from the heritage trees.  This is because they pick some olives green, when the taste is great but there is less oil, and blend it with those picked fully ripe when the taste is less good but they produce more oil…I’ve given some of these heritage packs for Christmas presents and they’ve gone down really well!”

Finca Slow are visiting Brighton at the moment and are hoping to establish us as a bit of a hub, so if you’re interested in buying delicious, sustainably produced olive oil as a gift – even for yourself! – please contact us.

Finca Slow olive oil: a great Christmas gift!
Finca Slow olive oil: a great Christmas gift!

Brighton Time to Act week

Did you know that 15 – 21 November is Brighton Time to Act week?

Our friends over at Brighton CAN (Climate Action Network) are organising an amazing line up of events, including a special climate change -themed Allotment Sunday with us on the 22nd November between 11am and 1pm.

The network campaigns for divestment from polluting industries, the creation of a million climate jobs, against fracking and the continued burning of fossil fuels, and for the expansion of renewable energy, energy conservation, cheap and environmentally clean public transport, and a better and safer urban environment for cyclists and walkers.

We hope to see you on the 22nd… if you want to find out more about the events or the Climate Action Network, pop along to their information stall at the Jubilee Library from 12 – 18 November, or visit their website to find out where you can watch a film, make a flag, enjoy a pint or even cycle to Paris!

Brighton Climate Action Network

How did your garden grow?

Roundup from the annual Autumn Feast (as reported by Ruth)

Autumn’s darkening nights and misty mornings are  always a good time to  chat about the year in the fruit and vegetable garden so ten of us got together for a natter and to enjoy the rhubarb wine..

We agreed it had been a cold and windy year; too cold and dry in spring and too cold and wet in summer, so lots of crops just sulked. That said, there was a lot of variation depending on location  – shelter from wind is a big factor, especially with fruit and climbing beans.

Tulameen Raspberries
(c) Leah Pellegrini

A raspberry variety called Tulameen got a big thumbs up for flavour! In general though, fruit was rather disappointing,  due mainly to the cold windy weather at blossom time.

Ruth had a great cherry crop but as usual lost most of it to magpies that seem able to defeat all types of protection!There was the aforementioned excellent rhubarb wine too…[hic]

In terms of veg: spuds did well, as did some onions. White-rot was a big problem in places, although early harvesting before the rains came seemed to have been a good strategy and for garlic too. As a side note: If you did get rot, avoid using that bed for alliums for five years – there’s more info about white rot here.

Sue got great carrots in a large sunny window-box. and there were reasonable beetroots and parsnips. There was a shout-out to Brassicas, which did well where properly protected from their numerous pests. We all agreed, ‘Enviromesh’ works best…

Allotment - 5th Oct
(c) Laura Whitehead

Ruth’s summer broccoli [calabrese] was wonderfully prolific and she declared that she’d grownthe best red cabbages ever. Lots of people reported that sweetcorn was a bit underwhelming, and squash was useless but courgettes good (aren’t they always?!).

There was even some success with cucumbers and protected tomatoes, but of course, ripening was very delayed by the lack of our summer sun..

DSC_0111
(c) Organic Gardeners Brighton

A great time was had by all, and it was really useful to get together and share our successes and failings – we live and learn for another season.

If you’re a new gardener, don’t lose heart – it’s always a learning curve, and something will always go right. What’s gone well for you this year?

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!