Posts Tagged ‘Veg Growing’
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 23 October 2012
One of our favourite cooks and foodie author is Nigel Slater, he of The Kitchen Diaries, Tender, Real Fast Cooking and his wonderful biography Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger. This recipe is an easy fail-safe supper or lunch dish – and ideal for using up any late summer gluts of tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and aubergine.
Nigel Slater’s vegetable patch stew
Serves 4, and preparation and cooking time is approx.1 hour.
The trick here is to avoid the temptation to cook this like a stew with all the ingredients lumped in together. It takes longer to cook them separately, but the individual attention allows each ingredient to keep its own character. You end up with layers of flavour rather than a casserole.
Large aubergine, halved and thinly sliced
3 halved and sliced courgettes
4 (orange and red) peppers
2 onions, peeled and roughly sliced
2 garlic peeled and crushed
Marjoram, parsley and thyme
3 medium, quartered tomatoes
12 or so cherry tomatoes
500ml jar or pack tomato passata or crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
- Heat a shallow layer of olive oil in a large, low sided pan and brown the aubergine on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Fry each of the other vegetables separately in the order above, adding more oil as necessary, until each is pale gold. Remove as each one is ready and set aside.
- When you reach the onions, cook in the same way along with the garlic but when cooked, don’t remove from the pan. Add the herbs, along with the tomatoes and allow to cook a little before transferring the cooked peppers back into pan.
- Add the passata and leave to simmer, with the lid on. When the sauce is reduced a little transfer the aubergine and courgettes back in to the pan along with the bay leaves and season.
- Taste – leave to simmer for a few more minutes. Stir gently with a handful of torn basil leaves and serve.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 31 March 2012
If you want to garden organically, save money, and – so important right now – save water, think seriously about composting your garden and household waste. Even in the smallest garden, using your own compost you can grow plants, fruit and vegetables without chemicals – and it’s free!
What you CAN compost:
- Pet manure and bedding
- Vegetable peelings
- Uncooked kitchen scraps, eggshells and fruit skins
- Dead flowers
- Hedge and grass clippings
- Coffee grounds and spent tea bags
- Wood ash
- Natural fibre fabrics
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Human hair
What you CANNOT compost:
- Plastic bags, foam and plastic packaging
- Medicines and chemicals
- Spray cans, metal cans
- Disposable nappies and synthetic fabrics
- Glass bottles
- Cooked food
- Heavy root material, branches and some straw-like grasses may take just too long to compost so are best left out
WHERE to make compost:
- You can buy a huge variety of types and sizes of compost bin, you can even just build a heap and cover it over with some polythene or cardboard – however a bin of some sort is neater and easier to manage.
- Site your bin in a sunny or semi-shaded position, and on bare earth or turf
- It should be easily accessible (maybe positioned so that you can access with a wheel-barrow), and have a lid or cover
HOW to make compost:
- Aim for a balance of materials, and aim to add to the bin in layers at regular intervals (every couple of days or so)
- Keep the material damp, but not over wet or it may not produce a very pleasant end product
- Turn occasionally – you may have a compost bin that turns on an axle, or use a special tool which you push into the compost, twist and pull out again, thus bringing the lower levels up to the surface – in this way you can also tell whether the lower layers have composted
- If you have two or more bins, you can rotate – fill one bin then turn it into the next bin, then start filling the bin you have just emptied – and so on…
The best compost is loose, rich, dark brown and earthy smelling – this can take from as little as two months to a year depending on conditions and content. It is ‘black gold’ and positively the best feed, mulch and soil conditioner you can create.
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Something to think about at this time of year is making a perennial vegetable bed; that means vegetables that will continue to grow year after year. Some examples are asparagus, globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, sea kale, cardoon, chicory and varieties of broccoli, and onion. Check out the internet or nursery/garden centre for crops available as ready grown plants or we like to grow plants from seed – that way you get a better choice and some more unusual varieties.
Globe artichokes – fantastic plants that give great architectural value with their silver, jagged edged leaves, and also give you edible flowers. The artichoke is a really stunning plant – at The Garden House we use it as our logo and sell the seeds too. It is easy to grow from seed, it should then be planted in well-drained soil in the sunniest possible site as they are slightly frost tender. You may need to cover them with fleece during severe weather. It is possible to propagate them now so if you have a friend with an established plant ask them if you could have a cutting. All you need to do is to take a side shoot from the parent plant, use a knife and remove a side shoot far down as possible – preferably with a piece of root attached. Pot up your cutting and water it well and keep it well watered until it has settled down, cut down the leaves if they are really long, to about half to reduce water loss. The variety we like at the Garden House is Violetta de Chioggia - it produces fantastic heads to eat or to just enjoy in the border and is great for bees.
Cardoons – similar to artichokes, but they are grown for their edible leaf stalks not their flower heads. They are the wild parent of the artichoke and were very popular in the Victorian era. Cardoon plants can reach up to 2m (6½ft) and is usually grown as an ornamental. They must be picked when young, before spines develop. They require blanching, like celery, this means gathering all their leaves together and excluding light with black plastic or cardboard in later summer for two or three weeks. The midribs can then be steamed or boiled.
Asparagus – a real favourite and there are many wonderful varieties to try. ‘Gijnlim’ have masses of thin spears and have got a really good flavour, and ‘Violetto d’ Albenga’ is an Italian variety and has lovely purple spears. If you have prepared a bed for your asparagus now is a good time to plant them. Asparagus is expensive to buy in the shops but it is easy to grow and tastes delicious when freshly harvested. Once established, twelve plants will produce an average crop of 10kg (22lb) annually for twelve year or more. Try to buy one-year old crowns as these will establish quicker. Space the plants 38cm (15”) apart in row 1m (3ft) apart.
Chicory – can be treated as a perennial and the bitter leaves can be gathered early or late in the season, after any hearting rosette has been cut. It can grow to about 60cm (2ft).
Jerusalem artichokes – grow to 9ft and make a really good wind break; related to sunflower they are covered in bright yellow flowers. You can make delicious soup or roast their fat, knobbly tubers. To grow, plant the tubers 15cm (6”) deep and 30cm (12”) apart. Draw up the soil around the bottom half of the stems when they are 30cm (12”) tall to give them some support. In mid-summer cut most stems – leave a few so you can enjoy their flowers – back to about 5ft. Prune the plants to leave 8cm (3”) stumps above the ground when the foliage starts to turn yellow later in the year. You can harvest them between autumn and late winter.
Perennial onions – try something a bit different. The tree onion forms clumps of edible bulbs at the ends of the flowering stems that can be used like shallots, They also make offsets around the base of the plants which you can use instead of spring onions. Welsh onions are lovely and look a bit like chives but they can be pulled from the ground to use in salads.
Sea kale – we think that sea kale looks lovely, especially growing in a seaside city. It is an old Victorian vegetable and is hard to get hold of but you can grow it from seed. It appears in late winter when few other fresh vegetables are ready – this is because it is traditionally forced, like cardoon and rhubarb. It is another easy plant to grow from seed (it is illegal to harvest it from the wild).
Many of the perennial vegetables can be found at Delftland Nurseries, organicplants.co.uk or Victoriana Nursery Gardens victoriananursery.co.uk. You could also try the Real Seed Catalogue, realseeds.co.uk if you are looking for some unusual tubers to grow, and of course we have seeds at the Garden House.
Posted by editor on Friday, 9 March 2012
March is here and it’s time to get organised in your vegetable plot…
- Check, repair or replace any rotten raised-bed boards, and build new compost bins. Clean, sharpen and oil secateurs, loppers and shears.
- Set up more water butts – you may need them this year!
- Chit early-maturing potatoes such as Charlotte, Vivaldi, Red Duke of York, Maris Bard and Accord – egg boxes make good chitting trays, put the tubers with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards.
- When chitted (sprouted) you can carefully plant your early potatoes under cover in special vegetable bags, or even use an old compost bag.
- Plant out individual garlic cloves 10cm apart in prepared ground and cover with cloches or fleece.
- Plant onion sets in modular trays of compost, keep under cover to plant out later.
- Last chance to plant out bare-rooted fruit trees and summer fruiting raspberries.
- Plant out cold-stored strawberry runners, sowing seeds of alpine varieties or even pollinate strawberry flowers under glass.
- Sow in trays and modules in the greenhouse (for growing on in the greenhouse): tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and cucumbers.
- Start sowing hardy veg outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard. Don’t sow too many at once, leave some space for a second sowing to extend your season.
- For early veg, grow some of the hardy veg under cover in your greenhouse beds: radish, rocket, lettuce and salad leaves.
- Fork over your beds, clearing any weeds (don’t throw into compost bin!) – you could also warm your bare soil by covering with a sheet of polythene and pinning it down, just for a week or two before planting commences.
- Get your hazel or bamboo bean-pole structures in place – make sure they’re pushed well into the ground as they’ll be bearing a lot of weight once your beans start growing.
- It’s not too late to dig a compost trench for your runner beans. Dig a trench to about a spades depth, then fill with kitchen peelings and vegetable waste, rotten apples etc, also a bit of torn up old egg boxes or cardboard. Cover with soil to stop foxes scavenging. Leave to compost down until you plant your beans, around mid-May.
- While your beans and pea beds shouldn’t need any more feeding for now, you could enrich the other beds with garden well-rotted compost, manure or an organic fertilizer.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 4 March 2012
Hardy Annuals – are plants with a life cycle of one year that will tolerate the frost and can be sown without heat and will be fine to leave outside, though preferably with some shelter. Examples of these would be Nigella and Cornflowers. You can sow them in September/October or from now until end March. Some, such as sweet peas, are best grown in modules to avoid root disturbance. Most make great cut flowers.
Some vegetables have hardy varieties that are fine to leave outside in the cold weather – I have just picked some salad leaves, mizuna, mibuna, giant red mustard and pak choi that have been growing in the veg plot quite happily, unprotected, during all this cold weather. You can also get hardy broad beans, such as Aqua Dulce Claudia, and onion sets that will be fine outside during the winter.
There are also some lettuce varieties that do well outside. The following all survive in Brighton (if you live somewhere cooler and wetter, try these in pots or window boxes sheltered against your shed or grown in a greenhouse if you have one). Try ‘Green Oak Leaf’ – if you pick it carefully, just harvesting a few outside leaves at a time, you should be able to pick from six to eight weeks from sowing, right through the winter. Then, as spring begins, it really pushes out a ton of leaves from early March until at least the end of April. The same applies to the red-coloured ‘Cocarde’ which being red also keeps off the slugs and snails – for some reason they don’t seem to be attracted to red veg! The American variety, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, is a surprisingly hardy variety with a lovely texture and taste, and the famously winter-hardy lettuce ‘Valdor’ is soft, rounded, and delicious.
These should keep you in salads through the winter.
Half-hardy Annuals – are plants that will not tolerate the frost and need heat to germinate (around 20ºc). Their life cycle, at least in our climate and like the hardy annuals, is one year from germination to dying. These include veg plants such as tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, peppers, runner beans, courgettes, sweet corn, and many of the brassicas – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. There are also many half-hardy flowers, often used in containers or bedding such as Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia.
With half-hardy annuals the important thing is timing – some plants, for example chillies and Petunias, need a really long growing season and so, if you have a propagator, it is a good idea to sow them now. This will allow plenty of time for them to mature and you will be more likely to get good fruiting and flowering in the summer as they will have had maximum time to receive as much light and heat as possible.
Other plants, such as Cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet corn and courgettes, germinate and grow quickly, as do runner beans so leave these and sow them later on in March or April. They won’t be safe to plant outside until danger of frost has passed, around mid May in this part of the country, and so if you sow them too soon you will have a kitchen full of sprouting runner beans with nowhere to put them! The chillies and aubergines and other slow growing things, that you are sowing now will need to be kept somewhere frost free until mid May to – so bear that in mind and don’t sow too many seeds!
As with so much in the garden, planning is vitally important – be realistic about what you can manage – allowing for a few failures and some to give away.
At the Garden House we have seeds of many of the above for sale, so do contact us if you would like to purchase some.
We also have a workshop on Growing Your Own Cut Flowers on Saturday 21 April so do come along and learn how to make your own cutting garden.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 21 February 2012
We recently connected with a fantastic local initiative, the London Road Station Partnership – a group made up of neighbours living near the lovely nineteenth-century London Road station, just outside the centre of Brighton. Not only do we love them, we admire them too!
Through their local Residents’ Association (DRARA), these friends and neighbours got together with Southern Railway in April 2011 to set up a station community partnership. They now garden on two small plots on either side of the station building. In one, growing shade-tolerant ornamental plants and in the other, edible plants in raised beds.
The Garden House was delighted to contribute a couple of attractive planters to enhance the plot as it develops. They even blogged about us! Click here.
Meeting regularly to work on the gardens, usually on a TUESDAY between 3pm and 5.30pm, they’ve said they’d be delighted to welcome anybody who’s interested in community gardening, particularly if you live nearby. To check out the daily Workdays diary of tasks, click here.
The LRSP are also hoping to develop displays showing aspects of the history of London Road Station and residents’ memories of it. To find our more or get involved, you can contact LRSP at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their blog.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 18 February 2012
Horticulture-speak can be a bit mystifying if you’re new to gardening and vegetable growing, so we thought we’d explain a few of the terms you’re most likely to come across:
Intercropping - This growing method is where quick maturing plants are grown in between long-term crops – for example sow a row of radishes next to your parsnips, lettuces or spring onions in between rows of brassicas.
Catch cropping - This is when a quickly maturing crop is grown in the interval between harvesting one main crop and sowing or planting another. Suitable plants for this would be spring onions, radishes and lettuces.
Cut and come again - A range of leafy vegetables can be grown as ‘cut and come again’. This term describes a method of harvesting the young leaves as-and-when when you need them. Harvesting little and often prevents plants from maturing and ensures several harvests of small, tender, mild-flavoured leaves over a long period of time. You can grow many of these all year round, although you may require a heated propagator, windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel. I like to grow ‘cut and come again’ leaves in the greenhouse in the winter so that they are available if you want a quick bowl of salad.
Amaranth, basil, beetroot, chicory, coriander, chard, corn salad, dandelion, endive, komatsuma, land cress, leaf celery, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley, purslane, radicchio, red kale, rocket, sorrel and spinach are all suitable and you can mix these together and grow them in polystyrene boxes if you have seed left over from the summer.
Vegetables usually grown for their roots such as beetroot, radish and turnip also have leaves that are tasty when harvested young.
Cropping squares - This is a method used to grow sweet corn. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks rather than rows, 45cm (18in) apart each way.
Successional sowing - This is a way of avoiding gluts and shortages of produce. By planning and sowing seed little and often in batches, it is possible to ensure plants are ready to harvest in succession throughout the growing period. Quick-maturing vegetables, including carrots, French beans, peas, salads and spinach, are best sown regularly in small batches. This will produce a continuous, fresh supply of these crops. For plants that are prone to bolting, such as coriander, rocket and spinach, successional sowing is especially crucial.
You may choose to grow some longer-fruiting crops such as courgettes, cucumbers, runner beans and sweetcorn in two batches to ensure you have plants well into autumn. Choose a assortment of cultivars for nonstop cropping. Quick-maturing ones such as lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and carrot ‘Adelaide’ are ideal for successional sowings, but later-maturing, main-crop cultivars are also useful and, once mature, often remain in good condition for longer. Successional sowings are usually made at fortnightly intervals, but this may vary depending on environmental conditions. In practice, this means that lettuce may only need to be sown every three weeks in early spring, increasing to once a week in warm, and moist summer weather.
Plants that do not need to be successionally sown include those which produce fruits over a long period such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes; those which store well, such as onions and pumpkins; and winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and leeks that need a long season to mature and can then be left in the ground to be picked in stages.
Earthing-up - The drawing up of soil around plants, usually with a draw hoe or drag fork. It is carried out on potato crops to prevent greening of tubers and blight infection; also used on brassicas to prevent wind-rock, on leeks and celery to blanch the stems, and in layering and stooling of fruit-tree rootstocks, to encourage the formation of roots on the earthed-up shoots.
Cloche - A low portable unit constructed of glass or rigid-plastic panes on a wire frame; used for the protection of plants and to advance growth. The term is also applied to plastic film stretched over wire hoops, a construction alternative known as a low continuous polythene tunnel.
Forcing - Forcing is a method by which a plant’s leafy growth, flowering or fruiting is speeded up using a change of temperature and exclusion of light to encourage or ‘force’ the plant into growth. In the case of rhubarb or chicory this entails covering the bulbs or crowns with a large pot, dustbin or decorative rhubarb forcer. Plug any holes to exclude light.
Commercial forcing is carried out in specially designed greenhouses or sheds, often with additional bottom heat. In the domestic garden forcing is usually improvised in greenhouses and frames, or achieved with the use of forcing pots to cover individual plants.
Specially prepared bulbs, such as hyacinths, can be forced to provide a steady supply of bulb flowers from late December through April. The bulbs must be planted and kept in a cold dark place until the first signs of growth.
Heeling in - If you don’t have time to plant your bare-rooted shrubs or trees immediately it is perfectly safe to ‘heel them in’ until you have time to deal with them. Remove any packaging and soak the roots of the plant in water for several hours, dig a trench that is deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. After you dig the trench, lay the plant in the trench with the plant at an angle so that the canopy is just above the trench and the roots are in the trench. Fill in the trench and if necessary apply a mulch.
Soil improver - Any substance dug in to improve soil structure. This is generally organic matter, such as farmyard manure, garden compost, mushroom compost or leaf mould, but could be an inert substance such as lime or gypsum.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 2 February 2012
Seedy Sundays now include Seedy Saturdays too and are attracting more and more people. Primarily the event is about swapping seeds but they have grown and now make for a great family day out with workshops for adults and children and the opportunity to meet people interested in gardening, local food production, climate change and sustainability.
Lewes: Saturday 4 February 10am-3pm at Lewes Town Hall. Free for children, 50p for adults. All day workshops include: making paper plant pots, willow weaving, bug trays, children’s craft and art workshop – and lots more. www.lewes.gov.uk/business/9729.asp
Lewes talks include:
- 10.30 – Brighton Permaculture Trust
- 11am – James Greyson, making a Biochar cooker for soil improver while brewing a cup of tea
- 11.45 – Millennium Seed Bank, Kew at Wakehurst Place – practical talk about seeds
- 12.30 – Peter May, Sussex Apples and Good Fruit Tree Health – bring photos of diseased branches to get accurate advice
Hove: Sunday 5 February 10am – 4.30pm at Hove Town Hall, Norton Road BN3 4AH. Free for children, £2 for adults. Come and enjoy more than 50 stalls, lots of talks, demonstrations and children’s activities as well as the community seed-swap. Bring seeds to swap (in labelled envelopes, please) or make a 50p donation per packet. www.seedysunday.org
Hove talks include:
- 11am – Crop varieties – why do gardens matter? Bob Sherman, Chief Horticultural Officer, Garden Organic
- 11.40 – Seeds of Activism – campaigning for the seeds, agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty of the world’s majority food providers. Patrick Mulvany, Chair, UK Food Group
- 12.15 – How to dry seeds from your garden and keep them alive. Vanessa Sutcliffe, Training Specialist, Millennium Seed Bank
Posted by editor on Thursday, 19 January 2012
Plan out your vegetable plot on paper before working out what seed you want to order from the catalogues, so you don’t over order or end up with two much of the same things.
DIARY NOTE: Seedy Sunday takes place on takes place on Sunday 5th February at Hove Town Hall, Norton Road BN3 4AH, 10am – 4.30pm. Entry is just £2, children free. It’s a great opportunity to buy heritage and other seeds, onion sets, and potatoes for chitting.
This is also a good time to think about crop rotation.
Crop Rotation - The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the allotment each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs. Pests and diseases tend to be crop specific – for example carrots don’t suffer from potato blight and club root only affects brassicas!
Crop rotation is used in allotment plots and gardens usually for annual vegetable crops. Perennial vegetables, those that come up every year (such as rhubarb, asparagus and artichokes, both globe and Jerusalem) can remain in the same bed.
Some annual crops such as cucurbits (courgettes, pumpkins, squashes, marrows and cucumbers), French and runner beans, salads (endive, lettuce and chicory) and sweetcorn can be grown wherever there is space – this is because they don’t tend to suffer from as many serious pests and diseases as brassicas, roots, legumes and potatoes. Just try to avoid growing them on the same piece of ground year after year.
Different crops have different nutrient requirements - Changing the plot that you grow crops on each year reduces the chance of particular soil deficiencies developing as the balance of nutrients removed from the soil tends to even out over time. For example; legumes have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil using nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, brassicas on the other hand need nitrogen to produce green leafy growth, the part we eat – and so it makes sense to grow brassicas on the plot that was used to grow legumes last year.
Weed control - Some crops, like potatoes and squashes, with dense foliage or large leaves, suppress weeds, thereby reducing maintenance and weed problems in following crops. Onions, on the other hand, are not good at suppressing weeds due to their lack of foliage and so it is a good idea to follow onions on from potatoes.
Why not try the ‘three sisters’ system – a North American idea where you grow squashes on the ground to provide shade and suppress weeds, sweetcorn or sunflowers as a support for pole beans to grow up – this enables you to grow three crops on one plot, in a relatively small space.
Pest and disease control - Soil pests and diseases tend to attack specific plant families over and over again. This can be a real problem for the commercial grower, just because some of the serious diseases such as clubroot can remain in the soil for up to thirty years! If you rotate your crops this means that pests tend to become less of a problem as the spores or eggs of the pest won’t be able to build up when in the soil. White onion rot tends to be a real problem on allotments and crop rotation can help to avoid this.
If you are new to your allotment divide it into sections of equal size (depending on how much of each crop you want to grow), plus an extra section for perennial crops, such as rhubarb and asparagus.
The following groups should be used in the rotation scheme:
Brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, kohl-rabi, oriental greens, radish – swedes and turnips are brassicas too, just look at the flowers on them and you can see why many people think they are roots.
Legumes: Peas, broad beans (French and runner beans suffer from fewer soil problems and can be grown wherever there is space).
Onions: Onions, garlic, shallots, leeks.
Potato family: Potato, tomato, (pepper and aubergine suffer from fewer problems and can be grown anywhere in the rotation).
Roots: Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsley, parsnip and all other root crops.
Move each section of the plot a step forward every year so that, for example, brassicas follow legumes, onions and roots, legumes, onions and roots follow potatoes and potatoes follow brassicas.
Here is a traditional three-year rotation plan where potatoes and brassicas are important crops:
Plot 1: Potatoes
Plot 2: Legumes, onions and roots
Plot 3: Brassicas
Plot 1: Legumes, onions and roots
Plot 2: Brassicas
Plot 3: Potatoes
Plot 1: Brassicas
Plot 2: Potatoes
Plot 3: Legumes, onions and roots
If you have the space you can practise a four-year rotation, this is when potatoes and brassicas are not as important, but more legumes (which take up a lot of space) and onion-type crops are required:
Plot 1: Legumes
Plot 2: Brassicas
Plot 3: Potatoes
Plot 4: Onions and roots
Plot 1: Brassicas
Plot 2: Potatoes
Plot 3: Onions and roots
Plot 4: Legumes
Plot 1: Potatoes
Plot 2: Onions and roots
Plot 3: Legumes
Plot 4: Brassicas
Plot 1: Onions and roots
Plot 2: Legumes
Plot 3: Brassicas
Plot 4: Potatoes
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 2 August 2011
This photo was sent into us by Juley, who attended one of our Garden House practical gardening courses. We can’t claim all the glory of course (our amazing horticultural teaching skills!), but we did think it was a magnificent crop, and just goes to show what you can achieve when ‘growing your own’!
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 22 June 2011
If nothing gives you more pleasure than checking out other people’s gardens, then the Garden Gadabout is for you! Two weekends – 25th/26th June, and 2nd/3rd July – over 70 local gardens around the Brighton & Hove (and many beyond!) will be opening their garden gates for charity.
The gardens are wonderfully varied, giving inspiration at every turn – from the smallest courtyard to large ‘wild’ gardens and allotments – each with its own unique mix of planting and hard landscaping ideas.
The Garden House will be open on the first weekend only, 25th/26th June. There’ll be plants and seeds for sale, fresh eggs from our hens, a tombola – and a whole lot more! Our garden is a unique and imaginatively restored old market garden, extending behind other houses to make a very large space filled with vegetables, flowers and many decorative ideas using recycled materials. We’ll also be offering lunches, wine and soft drinks – so make a date, bring some friends and come along! Find us at 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT (side gate!).
For info on all the gardens and downloadable guides, go to www.gardengadabout.org.uk
Carole Klein, patron of the Garden Gadabout, says: “I’m thrilled to be patron of The Sussex Beacon’s Garden Gadabout once again. This year over 70 gorgeous gardens and community spaces will be opening across the two weekends, and there’s a wealth of wonders to discover. As well as scrumptious lunches and teas, many of the gardens this year will be offering something a little bit extra to make your visit even more special.
There’s nothing quite like being a part of making things grow, watching and waiting for the changes that unfold day to day, season to season. The Gadabout is a great opportunity to gather ideas from all sorts of spaces. From bold and stunning contemporary designs, to quiet havens of wildlife – of all shapes and sizes. I’m a passionate enthusiast of sharing our green spaces, it’s just so inspiring to discover what other people have lovingly created. So take a good browse amongst these pages and plan your visit, not forgetting of course where to stop for teas, cake and lunch.
The Garden Gadabout also fulfils an important role in raising essential funds for The Sussex Beacon, enabling them to continue their work, meeting the changing needs of men and women living with HIV. This year the funds raised by the Garden Gadabout are more important than ever, as new diagnosis of HIV continue to increase and fundraising becomes even tougher.
A big thanks goes to all the lovely gardeners who open and share their gardens, to all the volunteers who help them, and to all of you who come along and enjoy this wonderful event.
So go on….get Gadding!”
Posted by editor on Sunday, 5 June 2011
As we’re all too aware here in the south-east, water is in really short supply and hosepipe bans almost inevitable. To be effective, it’s important to water your vegetables when they need it most – so we thought a guide to which vegetables need water and when, would be most useful!
Broad beans and peas need lots of water at flowering time in order for pods to set, and again two weeks after flowering begins. As young plants, avoid too much water as this can encourage leafy growth and reduce the yield. Runner beans need constant moisture for pods to set, whereas French beans are less sensitive to some dryness.
Celery, celeriac and Florence fennel need water during growth. Periods of drought stress are very damaging and should be avoided – it can lead to bolting or poor quality crops.
Courgettes need constant moisture all the way through to harvest. Marrows, pumpkin and winter squash benefit from watering but, in practice, often produce fair fruits from minimal watering. Trailing types need less water as their spreading habit conserves moisture and the stems root where they touch the ground.
Aubergines, sweet corn and tomatoes all need watering well to aid establishment and also at throughout the flowering and fruiting period.
Cabbages, chards, lettuce and all salad crops need water at every stage of growth. If water is especially short, make sure that you soak the ground around cabbages and lettuces when hearts begin to form.
Carrots, beetroot and parsnips require watering before the soil becomes dry, for example, if there are 14 days without rain.
Onions, shallots and leeks need only to be watered when they are establishing, and in very dry spells.
Potatoes benefit from being watered every 10-14 days once the tubers are marble-size (more often if growing in potato-bags).
Radishes need to be watered every week in dry spells.
So, remember – by really focussing on your plants individual watering needs, you will save time – and save water!
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 Sunday, 26 December 2010
“No passionate gardener, even though distracted by the prospect of Christmas family gatherings, will have their minds totally divorced from what’s going on out there. Where shall they get their inspiration? Of course, we rely on the successes of others – I do that myself – yet what we are offered of a practical nature is minimal. So, the actual practice of gardening (taking cuttings, how to dig, how to prune, and suchlike) becomes increasingly neglected. If teachers themselves are uninterested in practice, there will soon be no one to teach the skills required for good hands-on gardening, and they will atrophy and be lost.
There is, thank goodness, a public demand for these skills, yet the actual demonstration of them (in contrast to books about them, which are never so immediate), and the opportunity to try them out for oneself, is increasingly rare.
…when meeting examples of the new generation, I am sometimes enormously encouraged. Genius and inspiration are inevitably in short supply, but those who have it keep coming along. Some are passionate about plants from the start.
…but there are others, scarcely less valuable, who, having started off in the wrong direction and decided that the rat race is not for them, switch careers (at considerable material deprivation to themselves) and become passionate gardeners and careerists in gardening, when verging on middle age. They bring to gardening an unstoppable dense of direction, intelligently applied. And they keep coming along.
But the hands-on skills still need cherishing, their value recognised and rewarded as they deserve.” Taken from Christopher Lloyd’s book Cuttings (a wonderful book – a favourite of ours – full of musings, knowledge and marvellous insights into gardening at Great Dixter).
We at The Garden House wholeheartedly agree with Christopher Lloyd’s thinking – and will be running several courses in 2011 that teach practical gardening – fun, inspiring, hands-on and rich in horticultural knowledge!
- Second Time Gardener 8-week course; starts 2 February
- Garden DIY Workshop; 5 February
- Garden Design with Peter Thurman; starts 7 February
- First Time Gardener 10-week course; starts 21 March
- Growing Vegetables 6-week course; starts 30 March
And there will be more hands-on courses and workshops throughout the year - check in DIARY for more details!
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 Monday, 28 June 2010
Taken from the writings of our London friends at The Women’s Room blog: www.thewomensroom.typepad.com/the_womens_room/
I don’t go to therapy, instead I garden. It keeps me calm, I can work through all my issues and have imaginary arguments in the greenhouse where no one can hear me and I always win. The plants respond well to the attention and there are weeks when I spend more time nurturing my seedlings than my family.
The other advantage of gardening is meeting other gardeners, who are all too willing to share their interest in growing things and often give you stuff, in the form of cuttings and bits of leaf to identify. This weekend we went to the Garden Gadabout in a very sunny Brighton where we met some fabulous enthusiasts eager to share their green spaces.
We saw a number of interesting trends…..
- The new shed - everyone’s got a fancy room-in-the-garden shed, with sofas/internet connection/curtains
- Vegetables in raised beds – everywhere but everywhere
- Potatoes in bags/containers – apparently easy and prolific
- Beech sticks as wigwams for climbers (prettier than bamboo)
- Chickens – who have their own fancy coups if they’re lucky
- Seating areas – loads of them everywhere
- Recycled boxes/tins/sacks are the new pots
- Mosaics – from small to complex, black and white or multi coloured
- Creating your own seed packets and hand drawing the floral fronts
- Cakes – it seems all gardeners can cook cakes and make excellent lemonade
Here are some of the photos taken this weekend…
…and don’t forget the Garden Gadabout (private gardens opening in aid of the charity Susssex Beacon) is happening again weekend 3rd/4th July.
Note from GG coordinator Bridgette Saunders: “As usual The Sussex Beacon’s garden will be opening Saturday 3rd July. Come and visit us and see the changes that have taken place. You’ll receive a warm welcome and have the opportunity to visit the gardens of this unique centre. There will be stalls, a tombola and of course cream teas to buy and enjoy whilst relaxing in tranquil surroundings. All the funds raised from The Garden Gadabout come directly to The Sussex Beacon.”
Check their website for details www.gardengadabout.org.uk
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, 18 February 2010
Join us on our visit to South Africa, 1-10 October 2010. Spring – when the Cape is covered with field upon field of flowers in bloom – is a wonderful time for gardening enthusiasts to visit…
Key aspects of the visit are highlighted below, for full details: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ten-day trip
- Direct flights to Cape Town (overnight)
- Four nights at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa (www.vineyard.co.za a beautiful hotel set in its own glorious gardens)
- One night at the Paternoster Lodge (www.paternoster-lodge.co.za)
- One night staying at Clanwilliam, staying at St DuBarrys Guest House or Clanwilliam Lodge
- Two nights at the Aquila Private Game Reserve (www.aquilasafari.com)
Travelling at all times with horticulture specialists, and an experienced and registered local guide.
We will also have a specialist field guide walking us through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
- Cape Town orientation tour – includes cable car to Table Top Mountain, District Six and Museum, Company Gardens
- Peninsula tour – includes a guided tour of the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Winelands tour – includes a visit to KWV Emporium for a cellar tour and tastings!
- Community tour of the Cape Flats – visiting the community food gardens at Langa Township
- Drive up the West Coast through Namaqualand’s amazing wildflower fields, to visit the West Coast National Park
- Visit to Elandberg Eco Reserve for a Rooibos Tea Tour
- Visit the Rock Art trails and the Wine Estate in the Matzikamma
- Evening game drive at Aquila Private Game Reserve
- Morning game drive at Aquila Private Game Reserve
Just a brief summary of this exciting Garden House tour, 1-10 October 2010. Contact us for the full details email@example.com . All costs are included, bar a few meal times when you are free to wander and make your own local choices.
We do hope you’ll be inspired to join us!
Article image by Daan Loth - Image © DaanL aka Daan Loth 2009
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