BHAF E-Newsletter
A monthly (ish) newsletter from the Brighton and Hove Allotments Federation
Issue 23 - March 2010
Spring has Sprung!!
What's in your e-news this month?
- Tips section - the PAN tips are getting too big to attach so a new regular section will provide links to these and other handy monthly tips
- Site News (don't forget to give us YOUR site news for next month's issue!)
 - Preston Park being used to grow vegetables
- Musical vegetables
- Slug tip of the month
- Diary Dates (send in your dates - we'll tell our 600 + subscribers about your event)
Receiving this for the first time?? It may be because you have registered as a user on the BHAF website.  We hope you like reading it (if not you can unsubscribe below and we won't bother you again!!).  If you'd like to read some back issues go to, and if you have friends who would like to receive it they can sign up at
Finally - did you get your copy of Federation News - a paper newsletter sent annually to all allotment tenants?  If you didn't - dont worry you havent missed out - you can read it online here
Monthly Tips
Monthly PAN Tips to read the tips on the PAN page of the BHAF website click here (latest tips at the bottom)
Monthly Tips from the Harvest Project - click here
Above - Weald Memorial
Garden in March.  Watch
this space!
Site News
Lower Roedale - Now has tree cutting equipment for hire to RAGS members.  If you are finding that trees on your plot are casting too much shade or preventing you from cultivating, ask to borrow our equipment.  Its safe to use and you will be given full insruction.  Email to arrange to borrow it as the equipment is not kept on site. 
Ovingdean - All but 2 of the sheds on the Ovingdean site were broken into earlier this month (Thursday 11th March).  People at the site have done the right thing by informing the police and getting an incident number, as this means that the incident is listed as an unsolved crime - the more of those there are in a certain area, the more resources get allocated to that area (such as community officers).  Sadly all of us are at risk - its very difficult to makie an allotment site vandal proof.  However vigilance and busy sites are definitely a deterrent - and please don't keep valuables on site - burglars are usually looking for strimmers and rotavators that they can sell - take these home or they WILL be lost.
Portslade Allotments Society Summer show (August) - see diary dates 
Roedale Valley Come along to CARV on 3rd April to take part in a unique cross-generation gardening experience.  Help our most treasured and experienced gardeners with a few hours work to ensure they can keep gardening this season. In return they will pass on their years of experience.  If you are over 70 and would like some help with your plot OR if you are under 70 and can spare a few hours – come along! CARV (Community Allotment of Roedale Valley) is at plot 212 (near the Golf Course Car Park) from 10am to 4pm (lunch provided).  You don't have to come for the whole day - a couple of hours is all it needs. Please let us know you are coming so we can bring enough food - call Amos on 07786--487511.
RAGS Open Day (May) - see Diary Dates 
Tenantry Down Allotments Association and RAGS (Roedale Allotments and Gardens Society) both have their AGM on MONDAY 22nd March.  For times and locations, check out the diary dates, but if you are a tenant at these sites you should go along!
Weald Memorial Garden - Weald Allotments are building a Memorial Garden next to their shop to commemorate the lives of allotment holders who have died, or maybe just those who have left the area but still live on in our memories.  For many years the area had been an eyesore, but thanks to the work of a team of dedicated volunteers, the new garden is taking shape. More volunteers are always welcome (please telephone the shop on 01273 772684 or call in over the weekend) and we're also accepting donations of rose bushes in memory of allotment holders past. Please contact us before buying a rose, though, as there are some very vigorous varieties that require a lot of pruning and we'd rather not have to appoint a pruning volunteer!
Whitehawk Hill and Craven Vale - now has a Tenants Group.  The next meeting is at 10:30am on sunday 28th March. It will be held at the Whitehawk Food Project which is at the north end of the Craven Vale site. There is space under cover if it's raining on the day. Everyone is welcome , to discuss problems, share ideas about how to make the site better, swap seeds or seedlings if you've got any spare, or share expertise or questions.
All tenants - Council surveys expected to start in March. The ground is nice and diggable at the moment, and even if you don't dig, clearing and tidying, getting rid of any rubbish (including any last bits of carpet) and anything you are not using to grow with.   The council won't expect to see lots of things growing but they will expect the plot to be ready for planting.
All sites - We need YOUR news!!  If you would like this newsletter to tell our over 600 readers (growing every week) about your event, news or activity then email NOW.

Preston Park being used to grow vegetables

The Harvest project is setting up demonstration vegetable gardens which will be sited in public spaces across the city - the first one is in Preston Park. The gardens will be visible and open to the public. As well as operating as a resource for existing and new growers they will attract and introduce people to the idea of growing food.
The fruit and vegetable garden in Preston Park was launched on 9 March 2010, and it is located behind the Rotunda Cafe, near the yew hedge. It will be a flourishing garden packed with colour, textures, scent and taste. It is five metres by five metres and will have raised beds and containers showing different planting styles. The garden will show the possibilities of growing your own produce, even in a small space.
Read all about the garden and how you can get involved here.
Musical vegetables
This was sent in by one of our readers - a song by the Beach Boys about vegetables 
Personally I wonder if they should have stuck to songs about surfing!!  But it made us wonder what other vegetable related music there was out there.  A quick whizz around Youtube and we found this - truly amazing!  The vegetable orchestra  - an orchestra - made of vegetables! Don't worry - no vegetables were wasted to make this music - the audience get to eat them in a veggie soup afterwards!
Thanks Carol for inspiring this surreal article
Planting potatoes
Last month we talked about chitting - this month its time to plant those potatoes.  You might not get them all in during March but if you dont start now you might be regretting it when things get really busy in April!  Traditionally Easter weekend is potato planting weekend (though of course Easter varies each year!).  Or if you plant them in a container inside your greenhouse you could have planted in January for some really early crops!!
  • Potatoes will grow in any ground that isn’t waterlogged. A sunny spot will encourage the leaves or ‘shaws’ to stay dry and therefore be less prone to attacks from blight. Potatoes are very greedy feeders, so the richer the soil the better.
  • Potatoes prefer acid soil, so at least a year (if not two) after liming is best.
  • Dig a trench about one spade's depth and width, putting the soil to one side. 
  • Spread compost along the trench – it doesn’t need to be as fine as you’d normally use. Well rotted muck is also ideal as the potatoes are very greedy but not too discriminating.  Wilted comfrey leaves are great too.   
  • With 1st Earlies, leave all the growing shoots on the seed potato, but remove all but 3 shoots on 2nd Earlies and Maincrop to ensure larger tubers.
  • Plant 'earlies' about 30cm / 12in apart from each other, in rows which are 60cm /  2ft apart.
  • Plant maincrop potatoes about 35cm / 15in apart, in rows which are 75cm / 2ft 6in apart.
  • Where you are planting more than one row, the rows should (ideally) run from North to South to allow each plant its full share of sun.
  • Handle your chitted tubers with care, gently setting them into the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being careful not to break the shoots.
  • Hand fill the trench over the potatoes trying to avoid damaging any sprouts. Cover the potatoes lightly with soil. Scatter bonemeal or similar long lasting fertiliser over the top soil and rake it in.
  • As soon as the shoots appear, earth up each plant by covering it with a ridge of soil so that the shoots are just buried.  You need to do this at regular intervals and by the end of the season each plant will have a small mound around it about 15cm (6in) high.
Slug tip of the month
When you got slugs galore - who you gonna call? Slugbusters!
Ok so they dont come along in a souped up old car, with hi-tech slug-killing machinery, but there are some organic slugbusters that you can "call" (or at least encourage into your garden!)
  • Dig a pond for frogs and toads (remember to make sure there are shallow areas for them to get in and out
  • position a bird bath and put food on a bird table - the birds will like a tasty slug for afters!
  • encourage hedgehogs - maybe bury a snuggly little hog-home in a corner of the garden
Diary Dates 
RAGS AGM - Monday 22nd March - 7pm for cheese and wine, meeting starts at 7.30pm.  St Richards Church (between Beal Crescent and the Crossway, Hollingdean - View on a map).   If you are a tenant of Roedale Valley or Lower Roedale come along (RAGS members only - but you can join on the night - only £2.50). Ask us questions, find out what we do for YOUR site - maybe even join the committee and get involved.
Tenantry Down Allotment Association AGM - Monday 22nd March 2010 - The Pub With No Name.
All allotment holders are invited down The Pub With No Name, 58 Southover St, for the Association's Annual General Meeting. Starts 7.30 in the upstairs meeting room. Locate pub in maps.
BHAF (Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation) AGM - March 24th 2010 (not 27th March as was previously published) - Hove Town Hall 6.30 for 7pm.  All Brighton and Hove allotment tenants welcome. Cheese and wine available!
Whitehawk Hill and Craven Vale Tenants Group Meeting - 10:30am on sunday 28th March, at the Whitehawk Food Project (at the north end of the Craven Vale site). All welcome - space under cover if it rains. 
Tenantry Down Allotment Association Pub Meeting - Monday 5th April 2010 (and the FIRST monday of every month) At the Pub With No Name, 58 Southover St. All allotment holders and everyone else are invited. Starts whenever. Locate pub in maps.
RAGS (Roedale Allotments and Gardens Society) committee meeting 12th April (and the SECOND Monday of every month) at 7.30pm in Laburnam Grove Common Room, Burstead Close, Hollingdean, BN1 7HX. View on a map.
Plant Portraits - 2 April to 24 September 2010 - BOOTH MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY - Free Admission. Botanical artists create images that convey a plant's technical form and structure as well as its beauty in ways that a photograph cannot.  Paintings include flowers, fruits, vegetables and fungi which invite the viewer to appreciate the finer qualities of nature's works of art.  The paintings are supplemented by magnificently illustrated botanical books and specimens from the Booth Museum.
Food Inc (film screening) 4 April, 11:00am, Duke of York Cinema. A screening of Robert Kenner’s most recent film, which is all about the devastating effects today’s globalised, industrialised food system has on animals, the environment, and the people working so hard to bring food to our tables. Not to be missed. Post screening discussion organised by Slow Food Brighton & Lewes to follow.
RAGS (Roedale Allotments and Gardens Society) will be holding their annual Open Day and plant sale on Saturday 22nd May.  All welcome - a great day out for the kids with fun games, smoothie bike, fire engine and face painting - and pretty good for the grown-ups too - raffle, plant sale, local produce and craft stalls.  And Goodie bags for everyone!!
Portslade Allotments Society 2010 Summer show - Saturday 28th August 2010 at the village centre, Windlesham Close, Portslade between 12 noon & 4pm.  If you would like to enter contact Alan Langridge ( or pop into the Portslade Allotments Society hut during opening hours.
HARVEST TRAINING COURSES – SEE BELOW - Call 01273 431 700 or visit for more information, course times and to book your place.  Where two prices are shown the lower is subsidised for people who can provide proof of benefits.
Seedbomb workshops - just £2.50  - various dates and locations - check website. A seed bomb is a little ball which consists of everything needed to grow a plant. The growing medium provides a good source of food and nutrients to give the seedlings a good start in life. Participants will learn about growing, get involved and make seed bombs to take home with them ready to plant later in the year. Booking is required. Children welcome!
Organic Gardening for Beginners, 4 April, 18 April, Moulsecoomb, £25/£5 A practical course covering basic composting, planting potatoes, seed sowing, and making natural fertilisers.
Sowing and Growing, 27 March, Portslade, £25/£5 Learn how to prepare your soil for growing, sow and plant seedlings, the basics of crop rotation and identifying pests and diseases. 
Growing in a Small Space, 10 April and 17 April, Whitehawk; 14 May and 22 May, Stanmer Organics, £25/£5 Learn how careful planning and providing the right growing conditions can produce a good range of crops even in a limited space.
Growing on a New Plot -  Saturday 10 & 24 April, 9.30am-1.30pm Whitehawk, £25/£5  Do you have an allotment or large garden and don’t know where to start?  This course is aimed at guiding people through their first growing season i.e. new plot holders and people growing veg for the first time.
Container Gardening, 19 May and 2 June, Hove, £15/£5 A short course on how grow a variety of easy and productive crops in containers. Each participant will take home their own freshly sown salad box.
BRIGHTON PERMACULTURE COURSES AND EVENTS – for full details and bookings please visit
INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE DESIGN8-9 May 2010 - NOW TAKING BOOKINGS A two-day course. This course will introduce the basics of permaculture and show how this approach can be applied.
PRACTICAL PERMACULTURE GARDENING Course 1: 27-28 March, Course 2: 2-3 October
MUSHROOM CULTIVATION 15-16 May - A two day course Grow shiitake, oyster mushrooms and other tasty fungi.
FOREST GARDENING Course 1: 26-27 June, Course 2: 3-4 July
SCYTHING 7-8 August - A two day course - Cut grass & weeds without a lawnmower or strimmer.
GOT ANY EVENTS OR COURSES? LET US KNOW! (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)
Best wishes and enjoy the smell of spring in the air!