A monthly-ish newsletter
from the Brighton and Hove Allotments Association
Issue 41 - January 20112
- Monthly tips section - links to several handy lists of "things to do this month"
- Site news - if you don't see news from your site here its because no-one tells us - ask your site rep or association to keep us up to date!
- BHAF Website update - including Bridgette's latest Bulletin
- Seedy Sunday - one of the biggest events in the allotment year
- Message from the Fed Committee - COUNCIL RENT INCREASE PROPOSAL
- What have the Allotments Maintenance Team been up to? Keeping tabs on how your money is being spent
- Recipe of the month - Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy leeks and rocket pesto
- Tell your story to BBC1 - would you like to be in a documentary?
- Getting Started - Andrew's story
- Diary Dates - send in your dates, we'll tell our 1800 subscribers all about it!
FREE SEEDS - go to vegetableseeds.net website and tell us the name of the current Blue Peter Gardener who runs this site. Email me the answer - one lucky winner drawn from the hat will win 10 packs of seeds!
Wondering what to do on the plot this month? No need to wonder any more - check out our favourite monthly tips:
Keep the news coming please!
Coldean - We have four half plots vacant and have been so for a year, plus still have two limited mobility beds vacant with no one on the waiting list. Please can tenants put the word out to gardeners who can no longer take on a plot because of mobility problems but still want to grow in a 17x4 raised bed.
Ovingdean - apparently all is well there (aprt from a break-in by some cows!)
Tenantry Down - Have provided a lovely photo of one of the association's silver cups from times gone by, and very handsome it is too. It seems to be the only one where we have both the stand and the cup (there may have been a lid as well); the stand is made out of silver. It's value is not great, but it's a link with the association's past and there was a resolution passed at last year's AGM that it or one of its sisters should be brought along to all future Tenantry Down AGMs, just to remind us of who we were.
Whitehawk Hill - Windy weather damage. Tessa says: "I had five panes of glass broken in the pre-christmas gales when a large and heavy sheet of rigid plastic from another allotment became airbourne in the strong winds and landed on my greenhouse. Please can people think about these sort of things and tie things down or not leave them lying around. The sheet of plastic seemed much too big to have been lifted by the wind but when it is gusting to seventy miles an hour the wind is very powerful, lifting things up and turning them into frisbees. Checking for damage after a windy day or night not only means that you can make your shed or greenhouse safe for yourself but also means that bits that have come loose will not damage other peoples allotments."
Apparently such damage has been common all over the city - a message from the council recently reminded tenants of the dangers of collapsing sheds and structures: "Recent high winds have resulted in considerable damage to allotment sheds, fencing and glass houses across the city. Now that we have entered a period of calmer weather we would encourage all tenants to visit their allotment and ensure that all structures are intact and safe, both for you and for other allotment users. If your shed or fencing has collapsed or is collapsing it needs either re building or taking apart and disposing of. Broken or collapsing sheds will be liable to a dangerous structure notice, as will glass houses with broken or hanging glass. If you have any glass broken on the ground or hanging from structures then please gather this and wrap and bag and dispose of safely. When working with glass always wear thick gloves and knocking out glass from a distance with a stick and pick up glass from the ground."
More great new articles on the BHAF website this month! The easiest way to find all the newest pages is click here - the 20 latest pages all in one place. Otherwise just go to www.bhaf.org.uk regularly so you dont miss any!
Check out Bridgette's Bulletins - this month featuring gardening terminology, crop rotation, potatoes, wildlife and what to do in January
Other new pages include: Rhubarb - all you ever need to know and more; a feature on puckamuck (which apparently doesn't pong!); some offers from Brighton Community Compost Centre; and an update on the latest site reps meeting
Congratulations to Kay Sexton and Sally McGregor who have been accepted for the Agrciube trials. Read about the trials here, and find out more about Kay and Sally
I'd like to use this space to provide more feedback on the survey we did at the end of last year. We have made changes as suggested and are gradually responding to all comments where a response seemed appropriate. However some people did not give their contact details and I felt it was still important to respond:
One person said:
"Some sections that can be accessed are very old info I have read before. THe BHAF Newsletter irritated me the most with inaccurate info and the phone number to phone in comments never took calls. This has lowered my opinion of BHAF considerably."
I'd be really grateful if this person could let me know the sections that are out of date. I'd be happy to change them but as one person editing the whole thing I dont always know until people tell me. Also - please could you let me know which phone number you were trying to call - again if there is a mistake we really would like to put it right. This must have been very frustrating for you and we'd like to make sure no-one else has the same problem.
Another comment was:
"I appreciate it's existence and have no complaints - but purely for transparency purposes I believe allotment tenants should have the right to view the minutes of the allotment federation meetings and meetings with the council. I understand a small proportion of tenants rents are automatically paid to the federation so access to minutes should be straightforward. Thanks for your efforts as I understand everyone contributes in a voluntary capacity."
Thanks for your kind words. Regarding the minutes - Site rep minutes are always (as soon as I get them) posted to the website - see this section - however I will make a request that all meetings of the Federation Committee and any other meetings between Federation and Council also have minutes added to the website. Thanks for the suggestion!
And finally - THANK YOU to the kind person (onecrazycossack) who alerted me to the fact that people who could only read the plain text-only version of this newsletter had received August's newsletter five months in a row! Oooops - I am so sorry about this glitch, I dont know how it happened but I have fixed it now. I dont see the plain text version so if it happens again please tell me asap and I'll send you the real one! There should always be a link at the top of the plain text version so that you can read the e-news online in full colour as well (again - let me know if this doesnt work)
Brighton's largest and longest established seed swap event, sponsored by local whole food co-op Infinity Foods, is back for its 11th year, on Sunday 5th February at Hove Town Hall. The event is from 10am to 4.30pm and was attended by over 1800 punters last year. Entry is just £2, children free, with all proceeds ploughed back into the event. It remains a volunteer organised and run event.
The full programme of speakers will include talks on seed saving from partners Heritage Seed Library and Millenium Seed Bank; Patrick Mulvaney talking about food sovereignty; beekeeping; planning your plot to ensure veg all year round and the launch of “seed circles”. Of course there will also be the ever-popular question time session to help those new to sowing and growing or wanting advice on everything from varieties to grow to improving the soil.
Hove Town Hall will also play host to a wide range of stalls in addition to the main event, the seed swap table. Expect specialist nurseries independent seed sellers, community groups, food activists and charities.
The emphasis will be on local organisations or those with a focus on sustainability, biodiversity and community grassroots activity.
Chairman of the organising committee, Alan Phillips, says Seedy Sunday is now an important part of the gardening year for many of those attending:
"We know that many gardeners and allotment holders view Seedy Sunday as their main annual opportunity to acquire new seed. Many will save seed from their own crops to bring along and swap, but of course if you've no seed to swap you can still enjoy the enormous range of seeds on offer, including some from the Millennium Seed Bank swap, by making a donation per pack. Seedy Sunday also raises awareness of the issues of biodiversity and food sovereignty as well as the benefits of growing and eating your own food. It's also an amazing community event with everyone from diehard organic types to complete newcomers looking to sow their first ever seeds coming along."
2012 AGM - don't forget the date - 20 March 2012 - put it in your diary - more info as we get it!
Council Budget Proposals.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, there is a proposal being considered within Brighton & Hove Councils to remove the public subsidy for allotment holders. We now have more details:
The annual rent for a standard plot of 125m² or 5 rods (what most people call a half plot) is proposed to rise to £55.40 (in two stages - £44.20 the first year and then £55.40 the second) - up from the current £33. The rent for 250m² or 10 rods or the old "full plot" is proposed to rise to £110.80 (again in two stages - up to £88.40 the first year, and then to £110.80 the second) - up from the current £66.
25% concessionary rate would still apply.
The explanation for this rise is that the proposal is to remove all subsidy for allotments - making them pay for themselves. The following figures were provided by Robert Walker, Head of Operations at Cityparks:
"This is based on actual income and expenditure in 2010-2011.I have set out below the allotment costs that we are aiming to cover by the proposed rent increase. For your information this includes the cost of the Allotment Officer [replacing Matt’s post] and the two manual staff who work on the allotments. It does not include the administrator, Ben or central costs, finance etc."
Total expenditure: £153,000. Current income £91,500 plus £61,500 proposed increase, total £153,000
These proposals have been discussed at length at the site reps meeting held on 18th January (full notes of this meeting are on the website). We think that the fact that the rises are now being proposed over two years instead of coming in full this year are a result of the Federation and others raising concerns about the scale and pace of the change. We are particularly grateful for members of the Tenantry Down Allotment Association for tseeking information from Councillor Pete West as well as Gillian Marston, Head of Infrastructure at the council to find out as much information as possible.
Read one tenants blog in the Argus
This month the Maintenance team were concentrating on major tree work on Tenantry Down and Roedale Valley. Tree work can only be carried out during the winter months to avoid disturbing nesting birds so there’s quite a backlog of tree work reported earlier in the year.
The team carried out tree felling and plot clearance on Weald for eight new learner plots.
There was also a large rubbish clearance from St. Louie Home.
The team continued with track repair work and fence repairs on Tenantry Down, which were started the previous month.
The team continued to respond to priority fence and padlock issues, and site water leaks when reported from other sites. These included fence repairs at Eastbrook and Roedale Valley..
Remember if you think anything on your site needs attention from the allotments maintenance team, please let your site rep know. The site reps can then pass on your requests directly to us so repairs and works on your site can be arranged more efficiently.
Thanks to James Tanner from Ready Steady Cook on the BBC food website
For the Jerusalem artichoke soup
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g/7oz Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
75ml/2½fl oz white wine
300ml/½ pint vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
For the crisp leeks
150ml/5½fl oz vegetable oil, for shallow frying
¼ leek, finely sliced into matchsticks
For the rocket pesto
4 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
small handful fresh rocket leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup, heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and gently soften the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Add
the artichokes and thyme and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the stock and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the artichoke is tender, about five minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and finally stir in the yoghurt.
For the crisp leeks, heat the oil in a pan until a small cube of bread turns golden-brown in 30 seconds. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) When the oil is hot, carefully lower the leek into the hot oil, using a slotted spoon, and fry for about 30 seconds or until starting to turn golden-brown. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
For the rocket pesto, place the olive oil, lemon juice and rocket into a bowl. Using a hand-held blender, blend until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, pour the soup into a serving bowl, arrange the leeks on top and drizzle the pesto on top in a circle.
Wild Pictures have been commissioned by BBC1 to make a documentary about allotment life in the UK. We are looking to get to the heart of this quintessentially British institution and explore the stories that make allotments so interesting. Having spoken to a few allotment holders in the Brighton and Hove area it sounds like it could be a great place to do some filming and so we would love to hear from anyone with an interesting story.
Whatever your story it would be great to talk about your experiences.
If you have a story or just want more information then please call Harry on 0207 428 5620 or send him an email at email@example.com . Or if you are a site rep and would be willing to just show Harry around your site and introduce him to plotholders so he can just meet people and get to know your site, please get in touch. Not everyone has email and we dont want people to miss out on the chance to tell their story because they didn't hear about it.
Got a new plot? Have a look around you, see who seems to have a good plot and ask them how they got started. Everyone does it differently - depending on priorities (time consuming but cheap, more expensive but quicker, organic, non-organic, raised beds or not, the list goes on). To give you a variety of views, we thought we would ask a few people how they got started - beginning with Andrew Harris from Lower Roedale. If you would like to tell your story - send it in!
Andrew says: It seems to me that a lot of people get a plot and then give it up in the first year, so I've written a brief guide as to how I started. This is not written as a directive merely a guide to make getting started easier.
I got my plot in October 2009. It was very, very overgrown and literally full of brambles, bindweed, cow parsley and all manner of sturdy perennial weeds. It had not been cultivated for nearly 10 years and during that time the weeds had taken most of the goodness out of the soil.
1) SPRAY - I sprayed the plot about 4-6 times with glyphophosphate weedkiller to kill off the majority of the weeds. it took this many sprayings as I missed some and others seemed indestructible. If you want to be organic, you can skip this step but it may take you alot longer and require a lot more work to get a weed-free plot. For example, if you digging out bindweed and you pull out a nice long root but leave just two small bits of root then you have created two new bindweed plants.
2) STRIM - With any luck, you will now have a plot that it mostly weed-free but is now full of dead weeds. At this point I would recommend giving it a strim, if necessary, so that you can see what's what. N.B. Do not strim any brambles. Leave the stalks of the brambles sticking out of the ground so that you can see where the brambles are and hence where they need digging out. Brambles are very resistance to weedkiller. I found that even after many sprays, they still emerged the following year; so do dig them out.
3) DIG - Dig out the worst of the weeds. Cow parsley also seems fairly resistant to weedkiller so dig it out. If the ground is hard and it probably will be, using a fork is the most efficient tool. It breaks up the soil.
4) DIG AGAIN - Get that fork out again and dig over the whole plot. You can skip this step but at some point you have to dig. I didn't dig the first year but did dig it the following year as I was putting the crops in. When digging, dig short rows, so go widthways across the plot. Psychologically it breaks up an onerous task into something more manageable. You get a sense of achievement as each row is done. I reckon to dig a standard plot would take about 3-4 working days of 8 hours.
5) MANURE - This is the most important bit. Get plenty of manure delivered. For a standard plot, you'll need two tractor loads of manure at £40 per load. I get mine from a farm in Ditchling (Phone: 01273 843235). It is mixed manure of pig, cattle and horse. Don't baulk at the thought of £80 as it will save alot of time and effort in the long run. Spread manure thickly on top of soil. Spread it so it covers the soil to a depth of at least 4 inches. The manure has several functions: (a) it feeds the soil and hence the plants; (b) it attracts worms who do much of the breaking up of the soil for you; (c) it acts as a superb mulch by protecting and warming the soil; (d) it stops many weeds that are smothered by a heavy blanket of manure from emerging; also, (e) most importantly it stops the soil from drying out. The last few years it has barely rained from March to May when many crops are just starting off. I can honestly say that apart from watering in, on planting; I do not water my crops and do not need to because of that heavy mulch. So do spend that £80 and you will be richly rewarded, I hope.
6) COVER - If you can, buy a roll of weed-suppressing membrane. I got mine from plantsandmoredirect.co.uk. It's about £100 but will last for many years. Place this over the manure and weight down with many bricks etc or the winter winds will take it. This step is not vital as the manure is effectively acting as weed-suppressor. Alternatively you could put down your fabric as step 1, obviously a more organic approach, as a way of avoiding using weedkiller. However some of the more hardy perennial weeds may lurk underneath the fabric waiting to appear when the fabric is removed. Also for the "cover method" to be truly effective, it should remain in place for a year. Now that new plot holders have restrictions on when they have to make the plot cultivable, it may not be a suitable method.
7) PLANT - When planting, dig below the manure layer to the original soil and plant in there, carefully earthing up the manure around the plant or leave a little well around the plant like a moat to focus any watering directly onto the plant's roots.
1) Buy good quality tools. You will need a spade, a fork, a rake and I'd recommend a double-sided hoe or as it's also called a push/pull weeder. The latter is the tool that I use the most. It quickly and easily uproots or chops the head off most weeds. Look out for second-hand tools which are often very good quality having survived to this point intact and often very cheap. Have a look in the YMCA Shop at the tip on Old Shoreham Road or in Emmaus in Portslade.
2) Consider whether you need to buy a strimmer. They are about £100 but will save you alot of work in the long run.
3) Sow seeds in trays at home and transplant to allotment when big enough, e.g. sow onion seeds in January and transplant in March/April or sow tomatoes in February and transplant in May.
4) Order your seeds through the shop at Lower Roedale (or your nearest allotment society shop), they are very much cheaper than in garden centres. Poundstretcher on London Road also has cheap seeds.
5) Save your own seeds for the following year. Very easy to do.
6) I don't dig the manure in. I leave it on top and let the worms and elements do their work on breaking it down.
7) A heavy layer of manure lasts easily a year. I'd recommend though topping up the following years with just one load.
Moulsecoomb Forest Garden
SEEDY SUNDAY - 5th Feb 2012 - 10am - 4.30pm. Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove BN3 4AH. Brighton's annual seed swap is always a lively and popular event. Seedy Sunday is about sharing seeds, preserving heritage varieties and protecting biodiversity.
THE GARDEN HOUSE - all events at The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT
Spring and summer workshops on Plot #103 Weald Allotments. Limited to 6 participants to allow for maximum practical experience and problem solving. Meet at 11:00 at Weald Avenue Allotment Gate (workshop space available in bad weather). Each session includes time to explore a little of the allotment site and finishes at the WAG shop so people can buy seeds and supplies if they wish. Prior booking is essential as each session is limited to eight people. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place on a session. Workshops finish at 13:30 except writing sessions (see details below). While the site is largely wheelchair accessible, those with limited mobility are advised to arrange a site visit first, to ensure they are comfortable with the location. All workshops £3.00 per person – all money goes to Weald Allotment Gardeners (WAG) for upkeep of Weald Site.
NEW!!! BHOGG Workshops - Monthly practical sessions with prize winning organic gardener, Ruth Urbanowicz, followed by a general allotment work afternoon undertaking seasonal tasks. All welcome, no experience necessary. THESE SESSIONS ARE FREE TO BHOGG MEMBERS, OTHERS £5 OR 2 HOURS LABOUR ON THE ALLOTMENTS ON THE DAY. Please wear suitable clothing and bring your own lunch if you want to. Tea and coffee provided. Please contact Ruth in advance so she has some idea of numbers: 01273 681120 or email email@example.com. Venue: BHOGG Allotments, plots 238/239, Weald Allotments, Hove. Entrance is by the main gate at the top of Weald Avenue. Directions to the Weald Site. If gates locked on the day, please ring 07854 797362. NB These workshops will also be held at Plot 132, Roedale Valley Allotment Site by Hollingbury Golf Course. Ring Ruth for more info. (The dates for these are in brackets.)
OTHER BHOGG EVENTS
HARVEST TRAINING COURSES – SEE BELOW Call 01273 413700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries. There are subsidised prices for people who can provide proof of benefits - email Harvest to check for each course. Check out the Harvest website events page for more information.
BRIGHTON PERMACULTURE COURSES AND EVENTS SEE BELOW – for full details and bookings please visit Brighton Permaculture courses and events page:
GOT ANY EVENTS OR COURSES? LET US KNOW AND WE WILL POST THEM HERE AND IN THE WEBSITE (please give as much notice as possible - especially for events in the first half of the month, as the e-news may not go out til mid month)
Happy 2012 to you all!