Archive for the ‘Vegetable Growing’ Category
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 1 March 2011
According to global news agency Reuters you can “Forget potted plants and privet hedges; a group of Buenos Aires artists want to make the Argentine capital a free-for-all kitchen garden, turning neglected parks and verges into verdant vegetable patches. Following in the footsteps of “guerrilla gardeners” who have been scattering flower seeds in vacant lots and roadsides in cities such as London and New York since the 1970s, the Articultores group is taking the concept a step further. Armed with vegetable seedlings and seed bombs — seeds packed with mud for throwing into neglected urban spaces, their goal is to provide organic food for city residents.”
Well if Brazil can do it, so can Brighton (and Hove, or wherever)! Join our Seed Bomb Workshop – on Saturday 26 March – and make seed bombs and seed smudges with Josie Jeffery, followed by a local mapped distribution walk.
Josie runs ‘seed freedom’ – www.seedfreedom.net - she recently published a book Seedbombs: Going Wild with Flowers (recently recommended by Alys Fowler in Gardens Illustrated magazine!) – and we love her enthusiasm for spreading the ecological word!
Take a wildflower seed mixture, glued together with a special mud mix, pressed and made into a ball ready to throw into a neglected area of your garden, allotment or urban corner. There’s no need to even dig a hole – with very little effort you can beautify almost any abandoned or seemingly inhospitable site.
Flowers grown from germinated seed bombs also encourage bees into these areas, and by encouraging more bees to our urban streets and gardens they will also be available to pollinate our food crops.
Join us, it’ll be a lot of fun – and you’ll be enhancing your environment at the same time! Check DIARY on this website for more info.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 30 January 2011
Seedy Sunday celebrates its 10-year anniversary – 10 years of swopping seeds, hunting down disappearing or heritage varieties of flowering plants and vegetables. It is the UK’s biggest community seed swap.
Seeds are provided by the people who have grown them – volunteers and other gardeners donate saved seeds which are bagged up before the event – the seeds come in all shapes and sizes, often with stories attached!
Open-pollinated, ‘heritage’ varieties are often no longer commercially available, but are naturally well adapted to local growing conditions – as well as being tasty and colourful. At the seed swap, experienced local growers are on hand to advise on the practicalities of seed saving and growing from seed, and there are films, displays and talks to inspire you to go home and get growing.
Also on offer – seed potatoes to info on recycling and wildlife, plants and bulbs – make this an ideal kick-start to spring!
And The Garden House will be there too, with seeds, bulbs and some wonderful dahlia varieties!
For more information on the Seedy Sunday campaign, go to www.seedysunday.org
Venue: Hove Centre, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, E. Sussex / 10am-4.30pm / £2 entrance
Posted by editor on Monday, 1 November 2010
Right now we’re jamming, pickling, bottling, – producing anything from creamy curds and chutneys to sparkling jellies and fruity jams. Many of us are using fruit and veg that we’ve grown in gardens and allotments or foraged from the hedgerows.
Applications for jam-making courses have soared. Preserving is a skill we’ve lost since the war as a result of having fridges and freezers. Before that preserving the bounties of our fruitful summer and autumn was a necessity. It was essential to stock up the larder for the leaner months when fresh food was scarce.
Today preserves may not be essential, but people are realising the satisfaction both in making them and in seeing them on the shelf. We think jam-making works like a sort of safety valve – putting us back in touch with the seasons and satisfying our ‘hunter gatherer’ instincts.
Scour the hedgerows in the lanes for berries, hips, haws and crab apples to make Hedgerow Jam. The hedgerows are abundant at the moment and it is a joy to collect berries for preserving.
This weekend we held our Preserves Workshop – below is one of the recipes we made. It is borrowed from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s book of preserves…
Hedgerow jelly (makes 7-8 x 225g jars)
- 1kg crab apples (or cooking apples)
- 1kg mixed hedgerow berries (see above)
- Around 900g granulated sugar
1. Pick over your fruit, removing stalks and rinsing if necessary. Don’t peel or core the apples as the peel and core are an excellent source of the naturally occurring gelling agent pectin. Just chop them roughly.
2. Place all the prepared fruit in a saucepan with 1.2 litres water. Bring gently to simmering point and simmer until the fruit is soft and pulpy.
3. Remove from the heat. Have ready a jelly bag or muslin cloth and turn the contents of the pan into it. Leave to drip overnight.
4. The next day, measure the juice – you will probably have about 1.2 litres (though this will depend on the berries used). For every 600ml juice, allow 450g sugar. Put the juice into a large pan and bring slowly to the boil. Add the sugar as it just comes to the boil and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly, without stirring, for 9–10 mins until setting point is reached. Test this by dropping a little jam onto a cold saucer. Allow to cool for a minute then push gently with your fingertip. If it has formed a skin and crinkles a little, it’s set.
5. Skim the jelly, pot and seal as quickly as possible.
Berries that can be eaten and were included in our hedgerow jelly include: sloes (Prunus spinosa), crab apples (Malus sp), hawthorn (Crateageous mongyna), rowan berries, medlars and quinces. Also the gorgeous orange berries of the sea buckthorn can be cooked and eaten.
Other autumn berries – not be eaten but which look fabulous in a vase – include Euonymus europaeus (common spindle), Ligustrum ovalifolium (Privet) with black berries, and Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose)…
We hope to run another preserves course early next year – we’ll let you know when!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 14 October 2010
On our recent travels around the Western Cape of South Africa with a group of GH friends and enthusiasts we visited a Rooibos tea plantation. Rooibos is a fynbos species, a scruffy little bush endemic to the Clanwilliam/Cederberg area from where it is processed, packaged and despatched worldwide.
Although in origin and cultivation completely unlike the tea we are more used to drinking, South African bush tea or red tea has so much going for it – it’s a delicious infusion packed with antioxidants and reassuringly caffeine-free.
Elandsberg Eco Tourism, run by Chris and Annette du Plessis, operates an independent Rooibos tea estate with its own processing plant. Chris talked us through the whole process of Rooibos cultivation – from propagation (we learnt that propagation from seed is certainly not an easy task!), to the processing of the plant, to the final packaging…
Aside from tea, all manner of useful products are now made using Rooibos as a key ingredient – soaps, body creams, therapeutic creams to ease muscular pain – even bread! Annette du Plessis made the tastiest Rooibos bread for our lunch – she was kind enough to email us the recipe below:
Annette’s Rooibos bread
- 875ml wholewheat flour
- 500ml bran
- 500ml oats
- 175ml sunflower seeds
- 125ml cake mix or raisins
- 2 sachets of Rooibos tea (we assume she means 2x tea bags)
- 5ml salt
- 10ml baking powder
- 500ml buttermilk
- 375ml milk
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix the latter two with buttermilk and shake up, then add to dry ingredients.
Rinse the buttermilk container with the milk and add to the mixture.
Mix well and divide into two bread-tins.
Sprinkle 2nd sachet of Rooibos tea evenly over the mixture in tins and bake for 1 hour.
Posted by editor on Friday, 24 September 2010
If you’re at all interested in apples – growing, eating, cooking, pressing – get yourself over to Stanmer Park, Brighton, this Sunday 26…
Check out the display of Sussex apples, buy a rare Sussex apple tree, or bring along your mystery apple for identification. Look out for cookery demos and orchard tours, watch traditional apple pressing and enjoy apples (of course!), cakes, cider and apple juice, or visit the tea garden.
The event has been organised by Action in Rural Sussex and Brighton Permaculture Trust as part of Local Fruit Futures - a three-year project to train over 1000 people in fruit tree planting and care and in fruit cookery, plant a further 36 small school and community orchards, propagate hundreds of Sussex variety apple trees, plant examples of all these apples at Stanmer Park orchard and make it more accessible, and produce two publications, based partly on research by the University of Sussex into the history of fruit growing in Sussex.
Open: 11am – 5pm
Location: By the farmhouse/orchard/church at stanmer park
Travel: Travel by public transport if you can. Bus 78 from Brighton. Trains to Falmer, a mile’s walk away.
Further details: www.permaculture.co.uk
Posted by editor on Sunday, 18 July 2010
What a treat – a week ago we welcomed Alys Fowler to The Garden House to lead our workshop on the ‘edible garden’. Alys, the well-known writer and horticulturalist, and Gardener’s World presenter, was as delightful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic as we expected her to be.
Her attitude is one of relaxed gardening, of going with the flow – as she says “Conceptually it’s a lot to get your head around, but you
don’t need to fight to make things grow.” She sees making gardening easy as the new way, especially for busy people who love their gardens but have other work/life priorities. “I’m aiming at people who don’t want to dedicate themselves to gardening, but who just want to get some food off their plot.”
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Our garden here at The Garden House is run on organic and recycling principles. So we love and admire gardens created to promote similar ideals.
At the Chelsea Flower Show last week one of our favourite gardens was Places of Change, brought together by the Eden Project in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Homeless Link.
Up to 50 homelessness charities took part, contributing to Eden’s second year at Chelsea, with more than 75 people working on the site at a time. All received vocational training in woodwork, planting and other horticultural skills that they can use to get employment in the future.
It featured five designated zones: crops and food; floristry and leisure; medicine and health; industry and manufacture – a metaphor for the hidden treasures that lie within communities and the most unexpected places.
The eclectic design included a greenhouse made using recycled bottles, plants grown in hostels around the country, trees donated from cemeteries in East London and sculptures made from old washing machines.
Another favourite garden run on recycling principles is a “pop up” community garden in Lewes (run by a group of local artists and gardeners – one of whom is our Garden House friend, Ella!). Here abandoned packing cases are reused as raised vegetable beds, and living willow woven into hideaways, thick fencing – and even a sofa!
Find this exciting and creative “guerilla” garden at the Old Fire Station, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PL. It will be open the weekend of 3rd/4th July as part of the Garden Gadabout - the open garden scheme that’s been running for over fifteen years in support of Sussex-based charity The Sussex Beacon (it started with a few supporters opening their gardens in Brighton to last year an event where over 70 gardens threw open their garden gates).
Garden Gadabout open gardens are spread far and wide from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between. Do make time to visit this and other gardens. Small or large – all are inspirational, creative - and real!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 25 April 2010
To introduce the annual Garden Gadabout, the organisers have put together a real treat – Question Time for Gardeners…
If you are wondering what to plant, considering growing your own vegetables or need to identify a pest or disease, then come along and join what promises to be a fun and enlightening evening. Thursday 13 May 7.30pm – 9.30pm.
The panel of horticultural experts is second to none:
- Graham Gough – who, supported by his partner Lucy Goffin, created the magical garden and nursery at Marchants Hardy Plants in Laughton, Sussex.
- Ed Ikin – head gardener at Nymans Garden and a strong advocate of biodynamics, planting according to the lunar calendar.
- Liz Dobbs – London-based gardening writer and editor of Gardens Monthly, whose books include Garden Makeovers and The Essential Garden.
- Julie Hollobone – is assistant editor of Gardens Monthly, a horticultural lecturer and author of an excellent book on propagation, Propagation Techniques.
- Robert Hill-Snook – head gardener at the Brighton Pavilion, and responsible for the restoration of the Regency gardens following organic and nature-assisted principles.
- Jim Miller – horticulturalist and lecturer at Brighton’s City College.
This event promises to be a great introduction to the Garden Gadabout – when, over two weekends in June/July, over 70 private gardens from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between throw open their garden gates in aid of the Sussex Beacon charity. www.sussexbeacon.org.uk/gadabout
Box Office: 01273 736222 / Box Office Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm www.theoldmarket.co.uk
13 May 7.30pm – 9.30pm / £6.00 (£4.50 Concessions)
Location: The Old Market, Upper Market Street, Hove BN3 1AS
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Pricking out seedlings, hardening off and sowing outdoors. There’s still time to sow more half-hardy annuals and vegetables. If you haven’t already, sow under glass courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, sweetcorn and greenhouse cucumbers. Outdoors, sow beetroot and turnips, peas and broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and chard amongst others. Continue to sow lettuce and salad leaves.
Seeds sown a few weeks ago should be sprouting now and ready for pricking out.
- Fill a seed tray with moist John Innes No 1 potting compost or similar.
- Firm the soil then mark out planting holes with a pencil or dibber, approx 1-1-1/2” (2.5-3.5cms) apart each way.
- Gently ease out a small clump of seedlings, with some of their compost (a small plastic plant label is ideal for this delicate task). Hold each seedling by one of its leaves and tease it away from the others (never handle by the stem).
- Lower the individual seedlings into their planting holes and firm the compost around each. Take care not to damage the roots.
- Label, then water with a fine mist sprayer. Place out of direct sunlight for a day or two, then move into the light. Keep the compost moist, but not wet.
Once established – four to eight weeks after pricking out – harden off young plants.
- Move the tray or pot to a sheltered spot outdoors in fine weather, bringing back indoors at night.
- After a week or so, leave outside permanently, but protect from harsh weather and shelter at night.
- A cold frame is an ideal place to harden off young plants. For the first few days, open the frame slightly, during the day only. Increase ventilation gradually, until by late spring the cold frame is completely open.
All hardy annuals and most half-hardy annuals can be sown directly outdoors.
- Prepare the soil: In autumn, work in some compost or well-rotted manure. Come spring, as soon as the soil is reasonably dry, break up the soil further, sprinkle in a good general-purpose fertilizer, then rake thoroughly creating a fine, crumbly tilth.
- In dry weather moisten the soil a day or two before sowing, then again two or three days after sowing.
- Sowing in drills: Make shallow drills approx 1-1.5cms deep (for planting distances check the seed packet carefully). Sow thinly to avoid too much thinning later. Cover seeds by running the tip of the hoe along the ridge of the drill, then tamp down to lightly firm the soil.
- Once seedlings appear, start to thin out the weaker seedlings.
- Sowing in borders: Prepare a sketch plan of your desired layout, and mark out the sowing areas with a trail of sand or the edge of a hoe.
- Scatter seeds over the area, then rake over gently.
- As with sowing in drills, water the area in advance then again a few days after sowing if the weather remains very dry.
The Garden House sells many hardy and half-hardy seeds – see SHOP on this website for more details. Our seed packets are beautifully illustrated by Brighton illustrator Vicky Sharman – see PICTURES on this website to view the individual seed packets.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 8 April 2010
Simple, affordable and productive – now is the time to get seed sowing! The only successful means of propagating annual plants is from seed. Most perennials also grow well from seed, however cuttings or division are usually quicker methods of growing these plants.
Hardy annuals – amongst others consider Ammi majus, Cornflower Black Ball, Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, Eschscholzia californica, Marigold Indian Prince, Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’ and Sweet Pea Matucana – these do not need heat, so a cold greenhouse is fine.
You can also sow Verbena bonariensis and Nicotiana mutabilis Marshmallow now, but only if you have a propagator or heated greenhouse as these need heat to germinate.
Half hardy annuals – like Cleome Helen Campbell, Sunflower Earthwalker, Cosmos Sensation Mixed, Erigeron karvinskianus and Zinnia Envy can also be sown now until early May.
And don’t forget salad seeds – fast growing and ideal for sowing every fortnight are Lettuce Freckles, Lettuce Marvel of Four Seasons, Lettuce Red Salad Bowl…
Raise seedlings indoors:
By sowing under cover in a cold greenhouse or on a warm window-sill, plants can be brought to flower a few weeks earlier.
- Scrub out your pots and seed trays and rinse thoroughly
- Use specially formulated seed compost (never use potting composts which contain fertilizer that might burn delicate seedling roots
- Sow seeds thinly over the surface – generally sow seeds at a depth equal to their thickness – very small seeds need only a fine covering of soil, larger seeds can be planted deeper
- Very small seeds can be mixed with a little sand before sowing – this makes them easier to see and spread evenly
- Sweet peas prefer minimal disturbance so we sow seeds singly in cardboard toilet roll ‘pots’ – once germinated and 4-5” tall, they can be planted outdoors in their toilet rolls – these soon disintegrate
- Water the compost from below, standing the tray in water until the surface of the compost appears wet, then remove the tray
- Don’t forget to label your seeds!
- Cover with glass or polythene (wipe daily to remove condensation), or newspaper (for warmth without the condensation)
- Stand container in a warm place (possibly an airing cupboard) checking daily until the first seed leaves appear, then remove the cover and move container into the light, maybe on a bright window-sill
- As soon as the first true leaves have developed, the seedlings are ready for pricking out
In a few days time, look out for our Sowing Seeds: Part 2 – pricking out seedlings, hardening off and sowing outdoors.
The Garden House sells packets of all the above seeds, and many more – see SHOP on this website for more details. Our seed packets are beautifully illustrated by Brighton illustrator and Garden House friend Vicky Sharman – see PICTURES on this website to view the individual seed packets.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 20 March 2010
We’re delighted to welcome Alys Fowler to The Garden House on Saturday 10 July. Alys, the well-known writer and horticulturalist, and Gardener’s World presenter, will lead a workshop on the ‘edible garden’.
“I want a beautifully productive garden that weaves together flowers, fruit and vegetables in a way that mimics natural systems, – so that nature and I can get along peacefully together”
Alys’ philosophy chimes perfectly with ours at The Garden House – it will be great to hear her ideas on how to grow flowers and vegetables together – ideas and practical demonstrations on how to achieve success in our own back garden or allotment.
It promises to be a very special day here at the Garden House! Do book early as places will be limited. Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.
Alys started gardening in her early teens and after leaving school trained at the Royal Horticultural Society, the New York Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She started working at BBC Gardeners’ World as a horticultural researcher, appeared at the Gardeners’ World Live show last summer and is currently filming the new series of Gardeners’ World.
She writes for all those who are interested in transforming unexpected spaces, like urban locations, into thriving gardens.
In her new book, The Edible Garden (BBC Books, £18.99), which coincides with a six-part BBC television series starting early April, Alys shows how to grow flowers and vegetables in any back garden, without worrying too much about the rights and wrongs of what you may be doing.
“I would argue that what I’m doing is really, really old school. Veg and flowers growing together is the ancient way of doing agriculture, it’s the traditional cottage garden.” (quote: 13 March www.telegraph.co.uk )
Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.
Posted by editor on Monday, 8 March 2010
Everyone’s talking about growing your own veg these days, and a new initiative in Brighton and Hove aims to get more local residents growing by showing what is possible right on their doorstep!
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership’s Harvest project has been working with the City Council to start a demonstration fruit and vegetable garden in Preston Park. The garden will be packed with colour, textures, scent and taste, visible and open to the public with raised beds and containers showing different planting styles.
As well as operating as a resource for existing and new growers, the idea is that it will attract and introduce people to the idea of growing food and show the possibilities of growing their own produce, even in a small space. Local residents will help setup the garden, manage it and take home some of the harvest!
The Food Partnership is inviting local residents, gardeners, park rangers and councillors to celebrate the inaugural dig of the plot. Should be fun! If you are interested do come along – Tuesday 9th March, next to the Rotunda Cafe, Preston Park, at 4-4.30pm.
If you would like to volunteer and/or have tools that you can donate to the project, Harvest would love to hear from you. Contact: 01273 431700 or email: email@example.com
Posted by editor on Thursday, 25 February 2010
The weather is warming up and soon we will be able to get into our gardens and allotments. For some of us this will involve preparing new beds by digging – hard work but therapeutic. I love this evocative poem by Seamus Heaney as he relishes the picture of his father digging.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.
Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.
My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 4 February 2010
We just love it when we see children being inspired to garden and grow! Top of our current list of inspirational children’s ‘gardening’ books is The Giant Carrot, a collaboration between Allan Manham and Penny Dann.
Penny is a well-known and highly talented children’s illustrator – she also lives in Brighton, and happens to be a great friend of The Garden House! You may recognise her name from her very successful Secret Fairy book series which sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. www.pennydann.co.uk
Penny will be signing books, reading excerpts and doing the odd drawing if asked (definitely ask!) at the Book Nook in Hove on Saturday 13 February at 11am.
The Book Nook, First Avenue, 1 St Johns Place, Hove, BN3 2FJ / 01273 911 988 / www.booknookuk.com
The Giant Carrot is published by Orchard Books, and is also available to order on www.amazon.com.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Allotments are not only functional places to grow vegetables, they are also peaceful havens in which you can relax, meet friends and exchange produce and tips.
Bridgette Saunders is an experienced horticulturalist, planstwoman and lecturer. She runs courses on allotment gardening from her home in Brighton and teaches at City College, Brighton and Hove, where she enjoys inspiring her students to grow a variety of plants, both edible and ornamental.
Bridgette’s book Allotment Gardening, published this month, deals with all aspects of the allotment ‘experience’. How to plan and design your allotment, whatever its size and aspect; considering the soil quality; what fruit, vegetables and flowers to plant; how to tackle pests, diseases and predators; and most importantly, what to do when – the seasonal calendar.
The history of allotments is also covered: the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the war years, the subsequent decline of allotment-keeping in the 1960s and 70s, and the extraordinary rise in popularity in recent years.
Allotment Gardening is beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by Rhoda Nottridge.
Published: 22 October 2009
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd