Autumn’s gardening tips #2: planting

Think your planting season is over? Think again! As well as spring bulbs, hardy annuals such as Calendula (pot marigold) and Nigella (love in a mist) can be sown now for early flowers…it’s always nice to have some colour to look forward to.

Calendula officinalis (Common Marigold/Botón de Oro)

You can also get going with veg: plant Japanese onion sets and garlic from mid-September, and also spring cabbage, but protect it from late butterflies and pigeons with fine netting over a frame.

Cabbages and Kohl rabi

If you’re feeling energised, you can also trim any hedges now to avoid doing it in spring. And don’t forget to start saving seeds – collect into paper bags and put to dry thoroughly; remember to label and date!

Hedges trimmed

If you missed last month’s seed saving workshop, more detail on seed saving can be found on the Seedy Sunday website.

Photo credits to Andy Wright, Priscilla Burcher and Julia Roberts (no not that one!)

Autumn’s gardening tips #1: harvest

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness so most fruits and vegetables need to be harvested to store or freeze, except the hardy winter ones which can stay where they are until needed.

Weed and clear beds before winter (sounds so easy, doesn’t it?)

Top Tip: while the soil is warm get organic matter into the ground the easy way: sow newly cleared beds with green manures – winter tares, phacelia, field beans, grazing rye…

Compost and well-rotted manure can be spread on moist soil now; cover with cardboard or black plastic (well weighed down) to prevent nutrient loss, and to provide winter feasting and shelter for worms and micro-organisms.

 Compost!

(c) NewUse Urban gardening

Enjoy the last picnic of the season!

…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.

Our organic allotment
Our organic allotment

Garden your way to good health

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:

Capture

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

Green fingers and rosy cheeks

  • If you don’t have a garden of your own, there are plenty of community gardens in and around Brighton and Hove. For details on getting involved in a community garden, contact The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, by emailing info@bhfood.org.uk
  • One of these community gardens is of course yours truly – The Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group. We are always on the lookout for volunteers to join us on our allotment. Whether you are a seasoned expert or have never gardened before, we would love for you to be part of our community. Just email Alan Phillips – alan@alanphillips.org for more information.

The Express article: ‘Gardening, key to longer life’, can be viewed here, while the full results of the Brighton & Hove
Allotment Strategy can be viewed here.

Seedling swap!

Our popular seedling swap is a highlight of Brighton and Hove’s (suprisingly packed!) organic gardening calendar.
Almost 40 people came to enjoy the swap and the picnic, set in the apple blossom of Alan’s allotment last Sunday (10 May). There were a wide variety of hundreds of home grown organic seedlings to swap or make a donation with fellow green fingered enthusiasts.
Allotment pathway
The organic seedlings – some were small plants – ranged from cucumber and courgettes  to the beans and butternuts. There was  a bounty of brassicas , hersb, saland and root veg… and rows of tomatoes of every kind – from small yellow currants to large red Italians!
It was lovely to see old members and new members, ranging from past chairperson Jenni to Barbara, Debbie, Marina and Tom, who have starter beds on the BHOGG allotment nearby.

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.

Which website?

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!