Tips and advice
There is so much gardening information available on the internet, it can be a bit overwhelming, so here are our favourite sites and local resources.
These tips were developed as part of the Food Partnership's Harvest project which has been promoting and supporting food growing in Brighton & Hove since 2009.
Small space or beginner gardener
You can grow a surprising amount of food in containers on a windowsill or patio. Things like salad leaves or fresh herbs are very economical to grow and need very little space, or try tomatoes, strawberries or beans in a bigger pot.
Bigger space or more experienced gardener
For those who are growing a larger range of fruit and veg, we recommend the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website - their individual plant guides give you all the information you need in a simple and accessible format. They also have instructional videos and a handy month-by-month guide on what to do when. We can also offer help and advice to people who want to setup new community gardens.
Wildlife and food growing
Attracting wildlife into our growing spaces can help with a range of issues from pollination to pest control to improving our soil. Natural England has a good page on wildlife gardening tips, which includes a wonderful booklet called ‘Wildlife on Allotments’, whereas Wild About Gardens has monthly tips and a wealth of information that can be easily applied to any food growing space.
It can be tempting to spend a fortune in your local garden centre or online when you're starting out with growing. But there are lots of ways to save money and support local or charitable organisations in the process.
- The Organic Gardening Catalogue has a huge range of products and since they're run by Garden Organic, any profits are reinvested into the charity's work.
- Garden Organic also run the Heritage Seed Library which will send six rare varieties to members each year.
- Real Seeds are a family-run business which researches all its unusual varieties to ensure quality and they provide lots of information on saving your own seeds too.
- Some of the larger allotment sites in the city have shops which are open to non-plotholders and sell seeds and supplies at discounted prices (eg Weald in Hove, Roedale in Hollingdean and Moulescoomb Estate).
Materials and equipment: Local websites for reuse and recycling (eg Freegle, Gumtree, Friday Ad) are a great source for gardening materials, from compost bins and water butts to wood for raised beds or even sheds. The internet is full of ideas for building things from wooden pallets, which you can often find for free, or you can have quantities over 20 delivered by the Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project for £1 each.
Soil fertility: Many people don't realise how important good soil is for food growing. Many places in Brighton have chalky soil which will need lots of added compost and manure for plants to grow successfully. If you're buying compost bags at a garden centre, look out for 'peat free' and organic options. If you want to buy larger quantities of compost, local suppliers are KPS Composting and the Brighton Community Compost Centre. Or find out about how to make your own compost at home. Gardens also benefit from regular additions of horse manure, with some gardeners guarding their sources very closely, but if you ask around you should be able to find a local supplier.
Learning about growing:
- Our Harvest project compiled a set of monthly tips for local growers, based on our conditions here in Brighton & Hove.
- Brighton & Hove Organic Gardening Group (BHOGG) run a regular programme of gardening events, talks and workshops, plus their members receive a quarterly newsletter with useful tips.
- Brighton Permaculture Trust run courses on a range of topics including fruit tree planting and pruning, forest gardening and mushroom cultivation.
- Plumpton College has a campus in Stanmer Park where you can study for RHS qualifications in horticulture, plus a regular 'Flourish' course which provides a short, 5-week introduction to growing.
- Volunteering at a community garden is a great way to learn about growing. It's free and there are plots all over the city, open on various days and times.
- Other events and courses are listed in the What's On section of our website - including courses on growing and cooking run at community gardens across the city.