Photo:Looking across Roedale Valley allotments

Looking across Roedale Valley allotments

Photo by Simon Tobitt

Roedale Valley

By Simon Tobitt

The Roedale Valley allotment site is located in the valley to the east of the Ditchling Road, and south below the Hollingbury hill fort. Its entrances are off Golf Drive and at the north end there is a car park off the road to the golf course. The City Council lists 216 plots at this site, making it one of the largest in Brighton and Hove.

Ruth Urbanowicz on the valley site:
"It's a nice valley site. You don't feel like you're in town, it's very rural. It's surrounded by trees all down one side. You can see the sea in the distance, and you don't see much of Brighton at all. It actually does feel like being out in the country. So, I just love being there."

Ruth on the soil conditions:
"It's very stony soil. It needs a lot of organic matter in order to make it useful. There are two completely different soils in Brighton and Hove. Where I am [Roedale Valley] it's chalky, very thin soil, which is terribly well drained. Which means it's not a problem to dig, although I don't tend to dig much on it anyway as you don't need it. The soil is terribly drained. The drought that we've had this year - and I don't tend to water a lot - so the drought has meant some of my things haven't done terribly well."

And Sue Paskins:
"At the top [of the slope] the soil depth is very shallow, which as it's chalk underneath, means that if we get any sort of dry periods keeping the top watered is a nightmare. But hubby is terracing it very efficiently for me."

Sue on the climate:
"Well, we've got a small patio at home where we grow stuff, and that is much warmer than here. I'd sort of got the idea that in Brighton you planted things out right at the beginning of when they say. If they say you can plant something in May, you can plant it in May. But quite honestly here, you're better off leaving it until the end of May. It's amazingly exposed and awfully colder than it is down in the town centre. It's a couple of degrees cooler here - not once you get into the height of the summer - but its that little bit later to warm up, than it is down where we live right in the town centre."

Ruth on the valley community:
"It's nice, there's people that you wave to. There's often cries of "Hello Ron", "Hello Chris" across the valley. Yes, it's quite nice and friendly. We've got a very lively committee on Roedale Valley now, much younger than it used to be, and we had an open day there yesterday and lots of people came round and had a look. It feels as though it's got its feet firmly in the twenty first century - there's a website and all that kind of stuff."

Sue on rabbits, rabbits, rabbits...
"The annoyance of the rabbits - you see we've all got fences. Other than potatoes and leeks, they eat just about everything. You have to bury the fence in the ground; it has to be a couple of foot high; otherwise the rabbits will get in. A friend of mine, who's got a plot quite a way down, was saying how wonderful the wildlife [is] here. She loved the mornings: the rabbits were jumping around, and the fox was about, and even better that morning she'd seen a fox with a rabbit in its mouth [laughs]. I suppose the fox has to live. I don't think I'd like to see the fox actually catch them."

Andrew Webb contrasts Roedale Valley and Lower Roedale:
"They're quite similar - things will germinate much the same, temperatures are the same, things will be in flower round about the same time. There is a big difference in that Lower Roedale is very open, it's windier, it's an open hill site, whereas the [Roedale] valley, what with it not only being a valley, but bordered by trees all the way round its warmer with its own microclimate. There's less wind, which is very good for some things, but it means it's more susceptible to potato blight - that sort of thing can be more of a problem here [Roedale Valley]. Rabbits are more of a problem at Roedale Valley. They're only just starting to become a bit of a problem at Lower Roedale. I haven't netted my plot with chicken wire at Lower Roedale, but I have here at Roedale Valley, because if I didn't I'd just get everything eaten."

Added to the site on 04-01-06 
This page was added on 26/06/2006.

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