Everything is growing (or taking over) up on the community allotment. We’ve got tree spinach taller than people and marrows as big as dachshunds, so there’s plenty to share around.
About a dozen of us visited
Barcombe Organics, Mill Lane, Barcombe
for a couple of hours on Saturday morning 6th August. It was a beautiful English summer’s day with an opportunity to see how organic gardening was done on a 10-acre farm , much of which was under polytunnels. It was a delight to see how the soil was so fertile and springy through the use of effective rotation of crops, green manures, and home made compost while avoiding any compacting, Somehow there were no slugs! We learnt how over 400 organic veggie boxed were sold each week; it’s not surprising with such fabulous and varied crops grown.
After wonderful hospitality, tea and cakes we retreated to Carolin’s smallholding to enjoy a picnic in the shady woods. We paid homage to the wildlife pond, the trusty steed, and the three rare breed pigs while enjoying some of Sussex’s finest countryside and delightful hospitality. Eat your hearts out if you did not make it, you missed a day to remember.
Our celebration to welcome in the warm season on Sunday the 19th June was a terrific success!
We had a delicious array of picnic dishes, two barbecues blazing, and an unusually forgiving day of weather. We were delighted to welcome new members, and those more seasoned, to come together and enjoy the Weald Allotment. It’s been a lot of work, but our plots (now converged into one super plot) are looking superb.
Thanks to the 26 or so volunteers who came along to build fruit cages, strim, weed, and bring in a harvest of potatoes, broad beans, strawberries and more!
It was an intermittently lovely day, with the cold winds and clouds permeated by spells of sun shine.
Regardless of this we had a fantastic time, selling a huge number of plants to raise funds for our organisation. The team was on hand to provide advice and information to the public, and we were joined by the food partnership too.
Thanks to all those who came along to support us.
Growing Organic vegetables as a novice.
What you will need:
Seed Compost – New Horizon from Homebase is well reviewed
Seed Trays/Modules – with drainage holes and a tray to catch excess water
Lid – cling film or other plastic coverings also work
Water – rain water preferable due to pH variations in tap water
Organic Seeds – I used beetroot, kale and broccoli bought from Amazon
Labels – you can DIY with sticks, cellotape and paper. Or, 50 labelling sticks available from Poundland.
- Dampen the seed compost by mixing with some rain water in a bucket. Better to be on the dry side, I think mine was a bit soggy.
- Pour this compost into the seed tray but don’t push in as this will compact the soil – making harder work for the seeds
- Once the tray is full, tap against the table to settle the soil.
4. Labels your seed tray. Seedlings look almost identical, so if you don’t label them you wont stand a chance at knowing what’s growing where!
5. Make depressions in the soil for the seeds to sit. A good rule of thumb is that depth should be twice that of the seed. Broccoil and Kale are about 1cm deep.
6. Sprinkle seeds into the depressions – usually about 1-2 per module. I may have got a bit carried away with the kale here, as the seeds are tiny and managed to get away from me! This caused a lot of pricking out weaklings.
7. Sprinkle with a little more compost, just to cover the seeds.
8. Cover – cling film works fine if you don’t have a plastic lid.
9. Leave in a warm space, preferably near a window and wait for germination. This depends on the type of seed. For the seeds I used it is about 1-2 weeks.
(Open the vents to allow for air circulation)
The tray seemed too wet so I’ve uncovered this morning to prevent moisture problems – damping off etc. Putting lid back on tonight.
The Kale “Nero Di Toscana” is in the lead after only 3 days!
Several seedlings sprouted in each module. I have pinched out the weaker looking ones, leaving only one per module. This removes the competition for nutrients and space.
The kale and broccoli have come through, leaving only the beetroot which has a longer germination period.
Check the soil for moisture, rewater only if it drys out. Underwatering encourages strong roots which search for sustenance.
I will continue to keep the tray covered, rotating it daily to provide even light exposure.
What you will need:
Potting Compost/mix – mix your own, see details below.
Stick to stir
Pots – Biodegradable preferable
- You can move the seedlings to a larger container. Change container before roots become too established or they will be more prone to damage.
2. Use a potting mix/compost this time. This will provide the nutrients needed for growth.
I mixed my own, this can save money and provide a better result if done right.
- 1 part Coconut Coir – soak in water (as per instructions)
- 1 part perlite – I used organic rice husks
- Potting compost – Organic Vermi Compost – To eye
- Volcanic Rock Dust – Ebay (£4.99 per kg) – A couple handfuls
3. Fill most of the way.
4. Dig around your seedling to loosen it from the soil. Then, lift it by the leaves rather than the stem.
5. Place it in the pot and add more mix to secure it.
6. Harden off – Gradually acclimatise your seedling to the outdoors by bringing it outside for increasing intervals.
The seedlings are getting stronger, I’m bringing them out into the sun every day. They live indoors at night.
The beetroot has finally come through!
It looks like we’ll have our work cut out for us!
It’s cold, but a few of us are making a start on clearing junk and digging the beds.
First digging of the new beds is done. Apple trees are planted and the majority of the junk has been cleared. Good work volunteers!
Second digging of the community beds in South plot and the shed is cleared.
First earlies go in and measurements for the beds and paths are made.
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?
Individual beds were divided and paths laid in between.
Spring in Your Heels: City Gardening
Saturday April 16th 2-4pm @ Phoenix community centre garden. TBC.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free to all members or a suggested donation of £3.
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.
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?
(image courtesy of Organic Life Magazine)
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.