Tag Archives: Brighton and Hove

Phoenix Urban Gardening events

Getting To Know Your Soil – January 20th, 2-4 pm

As part of the Urban Organic Gardening Course which runs weekly at the Phoenix Community Centre, Ruth Urbanowicz, qualified RHS gardening teacher, will be giving a talk all about soil.

Ruth will provide a fascinating insight into what soil is, how to get the best from it and the importance of composting, fertilising, mulching and digging (or not!).

This will be free to organic group members & local residents; £3 donation non-members

Gardening Organically – Back To Basics – Wednesday 24th January, 7-9pm

Come along to hear BHOGG’s very own resident RHS qualified teacher talk about getting back to the basics.

Ruth Urbanowicz will explain the importance of the What? Why? and How? of gardening organically, and look at the history, context, and putting it into practice.

Free to paid up BHOGG members; £10/£5 donation non-members.

Meet at the Phoenix Community Centre, 2 Phoenix Place, Brighton BN2 9ND

Saving seeds for the Seedy Sunday seed swap – 4 Feb. 2018

Our friends at Garden Organic have some great tips on seed saving.  

Which seeds can I swop?

  • Seeds from plants that do well in your garden, vegetable, flower, shrub, herbs… Ideally more unusual plants are sought after.
  • Seeds from healthy plants. They should be collected when ripe, as mature seeds contain more food which ensures vigour and viability (potential for a high germination rate). The larger the seed, the better.
  • Seeds that you have collected to preserve the genetic variety. It is best to save equal numbers of seeds from each healthy plant, rather than only saving seeds from the best plant. The latter is done if you want to develop your own varieties. Seedy Sunday is about preserving heirloom varieties .

How do I package the seeds?

  • Free envelopes are available from Infinity Foods in Brighton, or from the Seed Table on the day.
  • As a rough guideline, envelopes should contain enough seeds for a small crop, for example, a short row of peas, or beans, or a square metre of salads.  We advise 5 to 10 seeds per pack for tomatoes, 5 seeds for squashes, 20 to 25 seeds for peas and beans.
  • Labelling the pack should include name (common or Latin), variety (if applicable), year and place of collection. Example: Tomato – Rose de Berne – 2017 – Shoreham-by-sea.

What about F1 Hybrids?

  • We aim to avoid F1 Hybrids, because seeds saved from those plants do not subsequently breed true to type, and it takes a long time to get a stable variety from F1 plants. Therefore we do not use them as our starter stock, nor do we wish to swap them. If you have some F1 seeds, you can experiment with producing your own varieties, but it is a complex and lengthy process.

I do not have any seeds to swop. What can I do?

  • You can select any packets you want from the Seed Table, and give us a donation of 50p per pack instead. The money will be used to buy some fresh new starter stock for next year’s Seedy Sunday.
  • Each year, we replenish our basic starter stock with open pollinated varieties from reputable suppliers, the main one being Moles Seeds. Some seeds are organic. We avoid treated seeds.

 Do you have any tips for seed saving?

  • Some seeds need to be fermented before being dried, for example tomatoes. This process ensure germination. Keep them in a jar of water for a few days. Rinse well and dry.
  • All seeds to be dried should be thoroughly cleaned first, the chaff and the unviable seeds sieved or removed before proper drying. In the case of broad bean seeds, they should be visually inspected for holes, and later stored in a freezer in order to kill any possible insect infestation.
  • During ripening and drying on the plant, the seeds prepare for dormancy by converting sugars to more stable fats and starch. After that they can be safely dried and stored
  • Drying should be gradual and thorough, shady spot, airy, dry (20%-30% relative humidity), for a couple of weeks, and depends on the size of the seeds. One easy way is to place the seeds in a jar of dry rice for a fortnight. The rice will gradually dry up the seeds. Dry corn and beans will shatter when hit with a hammer.
  • Storing should be in dry, constant temperature and moisture, in an insect-free environment. You can store them in the fridge, or even a freezer, but gradually bring them back to room temperature before sowing.

Any more questions?

  • Some seeds can keep for several years, under favourable conditions, however, some, like parsnips, only keep for a year. So it is best to use seeds collected this year. Old seeds can always be used for a spot of guerilla gardening.
  • Best not to swop squashes and pumpkin seeds (Cucurbits), unless the plants have been well isolated, as they cross-fertilize very easily, being a promiscuous lot! Use new stock of seeds instead

For more information about Seedy Sunday click here.

Summer at our community allotment

We had a fruitful summer at the allotment.  A bumper harvest meant that we were able to pick and donate over a ton of local, organic apples to Fareshare, who distribute food to vulnerable groups in Sussex.  A vital organisation ideally suited to distributing gluts of produce.

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Nikki  with Apples on their way to Fareshare
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Alan with heritage organic apples ranging from Ashmead’s Kernel to Rosemary Russet.
The lavender harvest

We were delighted to welcome our newest member Ivy!

Our summer culminated with the autumn equinox picnic.  Delicious delights from our summer harvest plus, of course, Barbara’s amazing baking (every week she brings something incredible for us to eat!).
Every Sunday our Organic Community Allotment welcomes new visitors between 11 and 1 pm.

Fungal Forage

Fungal Forage in the Forest: An autumn foraging workshop with Vera Zakharov

Sun Oct 15th 12-3 Stanmer Park

We will wander with Vera in the woods. She will show us which fungi are ok to pick, and which are not.  Whether they are poisonous or whether they are part of a fragile ecological web needing to be conserved, not disturbed.

Meet at Stamner house. Wear study shoes bring a mac and picnic.

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..

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(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?

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