Less Hot News
On Monday 27th March 2017 some 35 people attended Peter Williams'
talk on Wonderful Weeds. Some interesting background information on
Peter Williams can be found here. It was an excellent presentation from a
scientist to a lay group of gardeners and he explained the life cycle
of annual, biennial and perennial plants very well together with the
varying requirements for light, temperature stratification and dormancy
to achieve seed germination. Some seeds such as Goat Willow remain
viable for only a day whereas some of the poppies will still germinate
after hundreds of years. I also did not know that we only have female
Japanese knotweed in this country which is obviously a good thing in
order to reduce the spread of this attractive, though harmful, plant.
Similarly, I was unaware that the spread of 'wild' Rhododendrons should
really be blamed on Victorian shooting estate holders who desired to
improve vegetative ground cover in order to increase their populations
of game birds. Peter made reference to a book: Collins - The New
Naturalist Series - Weeds & Aliens, Sir Edward Salisbury, First
Edition 1961. I acquired a decent copy via Ebay.
On Monday 23rd February 2017 more than 35 people attended John Robinson's talk about his early life in the world of professional horticulture. John told us that he was persuaded to enter the world of horticulture by his father Dick who was also a well-known local horticulturalist. Dick Robinson also donated the Robinson Cup to EYDA when it was first formed back in the 1970s. John spent some 18 years learning and honing his horticultural skills starting as an apprentice lad with local nurseries and moving on to Hull Corporation and the Parks Department. At the age of 20, he went off to Merrist Wood Horticultural College in Surrey to learn arboriculture. After completing his studies there he got a job in Lancashire with a garden centre which lasted only a few weeks whilst the owner went on holiday. He then spent some time back home driving tractors before landing an instructor's job at Waltham Forest College where he stayed for some nine years. An informative and amusing talk which was full of personal anecdotes and local knowledge which appealed greatly to our audience. At the end of the talk, we were asked to guess the purpose of a number of gardening implements which John had collected or inherited over the years.John is one of our local members who has recently retired from his second career as a railway signalman which might possibly form the subject of another amusing and informative talk on a future occasion.
Our AGM was held at the Conservative Club, Beverley on Monday 30th January 2017 with 34 people attending. The Chairman advised us that Ron Bassett, a once staunch NVS member, exhibitor and supporter, had sadly died after a long illness. The AGM minutes from 2016 and the Officer reports which had been circulated ahead of the meeting via email or post were accepted en bloc. The current Committee was re-elected with the following additions. The new Newsletter Editor will be Lance Wardell and he takes over from Tony Featherstone who will continue as a Committee member. Anne Augustyns was elected as a new Committee member. A number of new or altered job roles were proposed but, in the absence of any volunteers, this issue will need to be discussed further by the Committee at its next meeting. The speaker and events list planned for 2017 was tabled and further suggestions for future speakers were invited from the floor. Our Annual Show will be held on Sunday 1st October 2017 in order to accommodate other planned NVS Show dates but the venue has yet to be agreed. It is unlikely that Coletta & Tyson will allow us to continue holding our Show within their Garden Centre and negotiations are currently ongoing with Cherry Lane Garden Centre, Hull Bridge Road, near Tickton.
At the close of formal business, there followed a short question and answer session including some of the questions asked at the 2016 NVS Judges' exam covering pests and diseases and the symptoms of their attack on various vegetables.
Our last meeting of the year was held on Monday 28th November 2016 when upwards of 40 people came to hear David Coop talk about 'What's happened to our composts'. Although originally billed as a representative of Westland Horticulture, David now works for Elsoms the seed specialists. It was amost interesting and entertaining talk which closed with a fun quiz and an even funnier story about Charlie Dimmock! Did you know that there are over 48 different types of compost, or more correctly 'growing media', and that, as a nation, we buy over 70 million bags of the stuff over the course of a year! Peat (particularly Irish sphagnum moss peat) is the normal base constituent of most composts but it is perfectly possible to use peat-free composts to produce similar results, although they may cost a little more to buy. A lumpy compost offers a good structure for growing plants to root in although it is unsuitable for sowing seeds in. Larger plants are hungrier than young seedlings and therefore need a compost with more nutrients. This is the reason why there are different types of growing media available for different stages of a plant's growth cycle as research clearly shows that one sizedoes not fit all! The various varieties of John Innes composts all contain, loam, peat, sand, grit and fertiliser but the only difference between them is the amount of fertiliser contained. John Innes ericaceous compost is merely John Innes #3 with the lime content removed. Caution was expressed over the use of green waste, often produced by local Councils,because of its lack of known provenance and variable content. At the start of the year it may be wet and sticky because it is derived primarily from lawn clippings whereas, at the end of the year, it may contain all sorts of rubbish including weed killer and weed seeds. It was pointed out that nettle seeds will survive any temperatures up to 90°C. The use of peat is a contentious issue for some because of the environmental impact and alleged loss of peat bog habitat but the Government's aim for the total elimination of peat-based composts by 2020 is a target and not a prescribed law.
On Monday 31st October 2016 David Thornton talked about Shallots. For those of you who were unable to attend this talk, a summary of the keypoints can be found on the Growing for Show page of the NVS website. David does not plant his shallots until about mid-January. The delay does not affect his end results and also helps to avoid the risk of rotting during the early dormancy period. He skims the edge of the root plate to encourage roots to form and dips the cut surface in Benlate or Rovral fungicide before planting in 4 inch pots filled with multipurpose compost augmented with molehill diggings. Do not overwater the bulbs. Pickling-sized shallots (less than 30mm in final diameter), are grown in pots throughout their life cycle and restricted in their water and nutrient supply, if necessary. Planting out takes place mid-March/early April depending on the weather conditions. The site needs to be open and sunny and dressed with a base fertiliser at 2oz/m². David uses Hydro complex 12,11,18. Alternatively, Blood, Fish and Bone with additional P and K will work as well. Top dress with calcium nitrate at 2oz/m² if the
season is wet in order to replace any leached nitrogen.Soft necks are
normally caused by a mildew fungus. White rot disease can be inhibited
by digging in a crop of green manure like mustard before planting out
the bulbs. White tip can be controlled by either culling (if severe) or spraying with fungicides such as Signum, Nativo and Rudis. Purple blotching on the skins is thought to be caused by a fungus and Amistar can be used as a control. Thrip damage can be prevented by spraying with Hallmark Zeon or Malathion. Bolting is normally associated with plant stress of some kind but a bolting rate of anything less than 10% ought to be regarded as acceptable. On a more positive note, slugs are not considered to be a major pest problem of shallots. About 4 to 5 weeks before intended harvest time, the clumps are reduced to leave four daughter shallots (as equally spaced apart as possible) and the old dried motherbulb skin is removed. Give a high K tomato feed to help the daughter bulbs overcome the stress of thinning and grow towards their final shape. Start looking to harvest the bulbs during the first week of June onwards. Sometimes it is better to harvest prematurely rather than too late in order to avoid misshapen specimens. It is claimed that the bulbs will grow in size and improve their shape after lifting as the dying leaves feed back their nutrients into the swollen leaf bases which is what the bulb is formed from. When showing shallots for best visual effect on the bench, choose a dish/container which is in a suitable proportion to the overall exhibit, don't overdo the raffia and try to make your bulbs all look the same height. Depending on the finished skin colour of the shallots, David also uses a matching colour of sand/vermiculite to stage his shallots upon.
Due to unforseen events, David Matthewman was unable to attend our September 19th 2016 meeting so, at short notice, Tony Featherstone and Paul Neve stepped in to give their talks on 'Small Spaces - Big Returns' and 'Judging the Any Other Vegetable Class' respectively. Both talks had been given in the past but many of the 30+ audience had perhaps not heard them before.
Tony gave some useful advice based on his experience of growing in raised beds in his garden now that he has given up his allotment.
Paul talked about the issues of judging vegetables staged in the Any Other Vegetable class, the 1 Flower/1 Vegetable class and, also, Baskets of Vegetables. This was a timely reminder for intending exhibitors at our DA Show on the following Sunday.
On the evening of Monday 25th July 2016 we visited Howden Allotments site and spent a very enjoyable evening in their company followed by refreshments kindly provided by Pat and David Blee. Tony Featherstone, who judges their annual Allotment competition, gave the vote of thanks at the end of proceedings. It is always interesting to learn from others' activities and I have posted a few pictures on the Allotments page. Howden Allotments have their own dedicated website.
On Monday 27th June 2016 there was a visit to Martin and Jill Fish's Garden, Thorneycroft, Rainton, near Thirsk. This was a glorious afternoon and the weather and our hosts were very kind to us. Martin gave a brief talk followed by a conducted tour of his garden. We finished two hours later with tea and cakes served by Jill. Martin Fish has his own website.
On Monday 30th May 2016, Mick Poultney gave us an entertaining and informative talk on Composting. Mick maintains an ongoing diary of his activities called "Mick's Corner" on the main NVS website here. Mick is a firm believer in composting any suitable material to produce compost which can be applied as either a top dressing, or growing medium and claims that, with suitable attention to detail, preparation of raw material and plenty of worms, compost can be produced within three weeks. Things that he uses include leaves, kitchen/garden waste, worm casts, tea/coffee grounds, basalt rock dust, animal manures, straw, spent mushroom compost, spent hops and malt, top soil such as molehills, grass cuttings, seaweed, wine and beer dregs, softwood cuttings. He is a great believer in keeping the bacteria, fungi and worms happy and applies activators and sufficient water during the composting cycle. He does not compost hardwood cuttings because they take too long to break down, nor acidic materials such as citrus peelings and onions which the worms do not like. Mick uses lime in the form of eggshells to counteract any acidic conditions and adds carbon to the mix in the form of shredded toilet rolls, paper, egg boxes and the pages from old paperback books. Mick, who is Chairman of West Midlands DA, has produced an educational DVD covering composting and raised beds and can be contacted here. He is also a supporter of Perlka, Charge, Fishmix, Symbio micorrhiza and Flit Sprayer (the model he portrayed attaches to an empty 2L soft drink bottle and is available from various suppliers online for about £20 or less). Recyclenow explains more about home composting using plastic compost bins and reinforces many of the things that Mick covered in his talk. Details of composting bins and other services available in the East Riding can be found here.
On Monday 25th April 2016 Martin Ford came to talk to us about the benefits of Organic Gardening. He is a firm believer in avoiding unnecessary chemicals in the form of artificial fertilisers and pesticides on the grounds of personal health
and ecological well-being. Not all fungi are bad and cause diseases, it seems. Some help to break down organic matter in the soil while others help plants to take up soil-based nutrients. Many plants develop relationships with mycorrhizas which are beneficial fungi growing in association with plant roots, and exist by taking sugars from plants 'in exchange' for moisture and nutrients gathered from the soil by the fungal strands. The mycorrhizas greatly increase the absorptive area of a plant, acting as extensions to the root system.
Nature doesn't dig and Martin believes that over-digging destroys soil structure and that bare soil results in compaction through the action of rainwater. He recommends the growing of green manure and the use of square beds separated by paths which avoids the need for heavy digging, causes less damage to soil structure and increases crop yields. When using organic manures, make sure that they come from a trustworthy 'organic' origin. Green manures, especially those based on nitrogen-fixing legumes, are beneficial. Blood,fish and bone and pelleted poultry manures are also fast-acting and readily available. Bonemeal (phosphorus) and hoof and horn (nitrogen) tend to be slower-acting and more useful for flowering plants and shrubs than vegetables. Potassium can be delivered organically using diluted wood ash.
Martin also mentioned two new products shortly to become available to the market Biostim and Biolift. Further details can be obtained from here. He also mentioned Charge and Carbon Gold. Organic pest control is more problematic and relies more on keeping plants healthy and adopting a 'prevention is better than cure' policy. Martin mentioned the use of biological controls such as nematodes, the adjacent planting of certain flowering plants to attract pest predators, natural insecticides like pyrethrum, the use of physical barrier materials such as fleece and enviromesh, beer traps and copper tape deterrent for slugs and snails (apparently they receive an electric current whilst traversing copper!)
On Monday 28th March 2016 (Easter Monday) an audience of more than 30 attended a very professional presentation by Mark Hall who talked about growing and showing Millennium Class vegetables covering potatoes, tomatoes, small onions, globe beetroot and stump-rooted carrots. There was a wealth of information provided on growing these particular vegetables so, for those who forgot to take their own notes, I have decided to add a special section to the Growing Hints page rather than take up space here. Suffice it to say that the dates and timings provided by Mark are what works for him, on his ground, in
his local environment in the West Midlands. Mark is also a strong advocate of keeping growing diaries which enable him to modify his sowing dates with respect to his anticipated Show dates and also allow comparisons to be made with his experiences of previous years.
On Monday 29th February 2016 an audience of nearly 40 were entertained by John Bailey - the Gadget Man. It was a most interesting and entertaining talk and he ably demonstrated a vast range of cutting implements and other tools some of which he had constructed himself to meet particular needs. Simple solutions such as how to protect your wheelbarrow's metal tube feet with old bicycle tyres and how to avoid splits and cracks by using a soldering iron to cut holes in plastic pots rather than a conventional drill and bit. There were lots of ideas suggested for future Christmas and birthday presents. The MaxTapener machine, which allows you to tie up plants without running out of fingers and thumbs, is available from Amazon for about £50. Ebay is selling them slightly cheaper but, even cheaper still, is the Douself machine which is available from Amazon for only £12.99 and free postage!
We held our Annual General Meeting at the Conservative Club on Monday 25th January 2016 which attracted an audience of 25 members and guests. The existing principal officers were re-elected en bloc, Roy Simpson stood down and Messrs. Brett, Smits and Wardell were appointed to serve on the Committee. Discussions were held on proposed promotional activities, refreshment provision at meetings for the coming year, speakers for 2017, the Plant Sale and the Annual Show. Unfortunately, after the main business had been concluded, there was very little time remaining for the planned general question/answer session.
We held our last meeting of the year at the Conservative Club on Monday 30th November 2015 when an audience of more than 40 members and guests welcomed Mike Kinnes from Kilham, near Driffield, who talked to us about Soil Structure and Improvement. He explained the features and benefits of the four basic soil types - clay, sand, organic and silt, and the interaction of top soil, sub soil and parent rock. He explained that vegetable and animal manures contained very little nutrient value but were useful for soil conditioning. The application of too much fertiliser, on the other hand, can poison micro-organisms and lock up other nutrients. Mike warned of the dangers associated with unknown provenance of local manure supplies and stressed the need to allow manures to compost thoroughly before use. Organic fertilisers are slower acting than their equivalent inorganic variants. Bonemeal, for example, will not release much phosphorus until several months after application whereas triple superphosphate will act within a few days. Mike cited results of taste tests conducted by researchers with potatoes which suggested that organically grown potatoes were tastier than those grown inorganically. Apparently, the science behind this shows that organically grown produce contains more fibrous material and smaller plant cells which retain their nutrients better. Brown spots on cauliflower curds and bitter pit markings on apples are apparently caused by boron deficiency. This can be remedied by the application of fritted trace elements. More details can be found on the Viresco website.
We held our second meeting at the Conservative Club on Monday 26th October 2015 when an audience of about 35 welcomed Martin Fish from North Yorkshire who talked to us about MY GARDENING LIFE - SO FAR! Martin gave us a very entertaining and informative presentation about his life over the last 40 years, starting from his position as apprentice gardener at his local Parks Department in Nottinghamshire, his nursery and garden design work through to local radio and TV presenter activities. He has also been closely involved with Garden News over many years. He started out by submitting occasional articles for which he got paid only if Garden News liked them! This evolved into the development of a dedicated Garden News garden on his own six acre site supported by weekly written articles in Garden News and, eventually, an invitation to sit on Garden News' panel of judges and 'Roadshow' team attending various flower shows around the UK. The personal flooding disaster of 2000 in no way dampened his spirits and within months he was up and running again combining radio and TV work, writing for and conducting growing trials for the RHS and carrying on his new trials garden project for Garden News where he was joined by his wife who completed nearly five years writing supporting recipe articles.The Garden News 'Roadshow' allowed him to visit many of the UK's top shows and, in 2008, he was persuaded to take on the Show Director role for North of England Horticultural Society's Harrogate Show. He was instrumental in introducing new features such as children's activities, cookery demonstrations and the Giant Vegetable Autumn classes but decided that the demands of being an 'office-based' Show Director did not suit his long term aims so he vacated this role in late 2013.Martin and his wife now live in North Yorkshire where they have a smaller garden but continue with their trials work, radio shows, judging and writing but now also entertain visitors to their garden which we are planning to visit in the summer of 2016.If you wish to find out more about his adventures, Martin has his own website and a dedicated Facebook page which you can 'follow'.
We held our first meeting at the Conservative Club on Monday 21st September 2015 when an audience of about 35 welcomed Adrian Reed from North Yorkshire who talked to us about Pests, Diseases and Disorders of Vegetables. Adrian also offered a pest spotter poster from Provado which is a registered trade name from Bayer Garden for their garden pesticides. If you missed a copy, you can download it from the Bayer Garden website. I got the impression that prevention of problems, for example by using enviromesh, growing in the right environmental conditions and using resistant strains of plants, is better than cure, especially since amateur gardeners are no longer able to access some of the commercial chemicals used by the farming community, due to health and safety and environmental concerns. Some of the simpler solutions I noted were 1) A spray mix of 7 parts milk to 1 part warm water to tackle mildew on cucurbits. Contrary to popular belief, mildew thrives in dry, not damp, conditions which is why gardeners attempting to grow cucumbers and tomatoes in the same greenhouse often encounter this problem. 2) A spray mix of 5ml of Domestos in 1 gallon of water as a general bactericide/bug killer. 3) A mix of 2 teaspoons of coffee per litre of water as a whitefly retardant. Adrian also suggested that diluting the pesticide to 25% of the manufacturer's recommended rate and augmenting the mix with sugar solution would both save on costs and improve effectiveness by increasing the 'stickability' of the chemicals to the plant tissue.
We had a packed house for our meeting on Monday 30th March which featured David Thornton giving us an illustrated talk on Fertilisers and Pests & Diseases. There was an awful lot of significant stuff said and I will select just a few of the many interesting facts that emerged.
Plants can only take up nutrients in liquid form so large-granule fertilisers will be slower acting than smaller particles or liquid feeds. Because of the leaching effect, we probably underfeed our plants with nitrogenous feeds; leafy plants such as brassicas, and even potatoes, need an awful lot more than you think. Peas on the other hand need no nitrogen feed because they make their own through nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their root nodules. David also thinks there is no advantage to be gained by storing farmyard manures until they are well-rotted; the nitrogenous components will simply leach out and be lost. You can feed using organic compounds only but David believes that some supplemental feeding with inorganic fertilisers, particularly nitrogen-rich ones, will be necessary to ensure sufficient nutrients are available to the plants.
pH determines the availability of some nutrients to plants depending on whether they prefer acidic or alkaline conditions. RH, or redox value, is a measure of pH and the ORP (oxygen reduction potential). Basically, low values indicate low soil oxygen which inhibits growth and high values may indicate too much oxygen which can cause humus to be destroyed.
PERLKA, which is a calcium cyanamide fertiliser, is reputed to have disinfectant qualities and, over several years use, has been shown to cure club root infected soil.
For onion growers, do not exceed the recommended doses of nitrogen feed because, if the leafy tops get too heavy and cause the necks to break, the bulbs will not usually increase very much further in size. You must keep the growing leaves vertical for as long as possible to enable the leaf bases to provide maximum bulb growth.
Blossom end rot in tomatoes is caused by calcium deficiency. This can be prevented by spraying calcium nitrate solution against the underside of the leaves because the stomata (or pores) are more numerous on the underside of the leaves compared to the upper surface which tends to be more waxy in order to help disperse rain water.
Be aware that unprotected and unshaded rain water butts may heat up significantly in sunny weather causing heavily-laden bacterial soups to develop within. A few drops of bleach added to each water butt can significantly reduce the danger.
At our February 2015 meeting Doug Stewart gave us a very informative and entertaining talk on Soft Fruit covering raspberries, apples, pears, peaches/nectarines, currants, strawberries, huckleberries and wineberries. Doug likes to feed his fruit plants with liquid Tomorite (or equivalent) only when they are growing in containers or pots, never in the open ground where he believes they should be able to extract enough nutrients from the soil. He also recommends Seasol, an Australian type of seaweed fertiliser. To combat the threat of aphids he thinks that garlic extract works well, as does Quassia which is extracted from a certain tree bark. Doug always believes in buying certified virus-free stock and advises people to exercise caution when buying from bargain outlets.
For those who forgot to take notes, here are some of the varieties Doug prefers: Raspberries - Glen May (summer), Leo (late summer), Polka (early autumn) and Autumn Bliss (autumn). Apples - Cox's Orange Pippin/Queen Cox, Egremont Russet and Ellison's Orange. Look for grafted rootstock MM106 (large trees) and MM27 for smaller ones. Pears - Doyenne du Comice (very sweet), Verdi, Conference and Beth. Peaches - Peregrine, Duke of York and Avalon Pride (leaf curl resistant). Red Currants - Junifer (July), Laxtons #1 (mid-season) and Redstart (end-season and resistant to disease). White Currants - White Versailles and White Pearl (late). Black Currants - Ben Gairn (early), Ben Sarek (mid-season) and Ben Tirran (late). Strawberries - Cambridge Favourite, Kiss and Symphony.
Our AGM and Gardeners' Question Time held on Monday 26th
January 2015 attracted a reasonably-sized audience of both members
and visitors. The Chairman reported that East Yorkshire DA is now
the second largest within the Northern Branch. Our move to Beverley
and improving contacts with local Allotment Groups and gardening
organisations had helped greatly in attracting new members.
Following the AGM, members and visitors were invited to seek answers
to their gardening questions in open forum. Topics raised covered
enviromesh, armillatox, potato blight, inactive allotments, raised beds,
coriander, pH testing, perennial aubergine plants, grafting tomatoes,
cucumbers, carrots and germinating carrots and parsnips.
There was a very large turnout for our final event of the year held on
Monday 24th November 2014
when David Metcalfe from Nelson, Lancs
explained how he grows Exhibition Onions
. David is the current NVS
National Onion champion and previous National Leek champion so
obviously knows his stuff! With the aid of slides he took us through his
annual cycle of tasks. The recipes for his potting and growing mixtures
(plus some of the other things he uses) can be accessed on the
David likes to grow organically as far as possible and I was interested to hear him say that he never uses tap water for growing vegetables because
the dissolved chlorine kills off useful as well as harmful bacteria. The way to get a good skin is to lift your onions at the end of July/early August whilst still showing some growth, remove the roots and chop the top to about six inches and let them dry out gradually in a cool location like a garage. This process can take five weeks or more to achieve properly for shows in September which is why you need to lift them well ahead of show date.
At our 27th October 2014 Meeting, John Smiles gave a most
interesting talk entitled “A year growing under glass” He took
us through the twelve months from erecting a new greenhouse
to winning first prize at Harrogate Show with the exhibits grown
Congratulations go to Yvonne Stone who was awarded the
NVS Silver Medal for outstanding service to the Society over
Our Annual Show was held at Coletta And Tyson's Garden Centre, Woodmansey on Sunday 29th September 2014. I have posted some photos and the list of trophy winners on a new page - Show Results 2014. Keith reported that the classes for local NVS members were not as well supported as he would have liked and, at their next meeting, the Committee will consider how best to improve this situation. Please note that you do not have to be a member of NVS to compete in this Show; only one class is reserved for NVS members.
Paul Neve presented an "Evening of Oral Flart" on Monday 30th September 2014. He explained the background to the subject title and gave an illustrated talk to an audience of more than 20 on general design and display principles which apply equally when staging flowers, vegetables or floral art exhibits. After the break he created three simple and topical floral art arrangements which were raffled off at the end of the evening.
On 30th June 2014 a group of about 35 visited the Pocklington Allotments site on The Mile, just outside town to the north. This site consists of about 160 allotments all of which seem to be
fully taken with a waiting list in operation. Half plots cost £20
per year which includes water rates. There is running water
provided but no hosepipes are allowed. I was told that you are allowed to erect up to 25% of your allotment area with
'permanent' structures like greenhouses and sheds. If you
erect guttering to these structures, you are then provided with a
huge cubic water butt (free of charge) to which you can attach a hosepipe to water all parts of your allotment. This is a lovely
open site with two road entrances which provide individual car
parking spaces and a few left over for visitors.
At the May 2014 meeting David and Olive Peel presented a talk
on The Allotment - The Story So Far and highlighting their activities in their greenhouses and 200 square yard allotment. David focuses on potatoes
and grows approximately 150 bags on the allotment whereas Olive has her
own vegetable raised bed and specialises in miniature roses.
In the space of five years they have progressed from relative obscurity to
National Potato Champions in 2011. They have also achieved notable
success at Harrogate and several NVS National Championships.
In 2013, they were invited to appear on BBC2's Gardeners' World.
David believes in growing vegetables quickly and considers that the faster they grow, the more tender they will be when fully grown. Perhaps his success with potatoes, French and Runner Beans proves his point!
There was a further big attendance for our April 2014 meeting when
Peter Booker presented his talk on Pinks and Carnations. Peter is an active breeder, exhibitor and judge and provided us with a slide
show and lots of practical growing hints. It would seem that, unlike
chrysanthemums, flowering time cannot be calculated with much
precision so, for exhibition purposes, you need to grow a lot of
plants in order to maximise your chances of getting sufficient numbers
There was a good turnout for our March 2014 meeting when Tony Featherstone
presented his talk Smalll Spaces - Big Returns. Tony has a small allotment but
utilises his garden space to a maximum to produce flowers, fruit and vegetables
sufficient for his needs. he has constructed three raised beds and also uses a
variety of containers for growing various things. Tony has produced a leaflet on
this subject which you can buy from him for 30p which merely covers the paper
and printer ink costs. If you have an email address, he will send it to you for
Just a few interesting gems I picked up were - use a hot soldering iron
rather than a drill for creating holes in plastic pots and place them in the lower
sides to assist drainage rather than through the bottom. Car boots and private householders' skips (seek permission first otherwise it's considered theft) are
useful sources for plastic tubing and growing containers. And perhaps the most importantly of all, don't bother growing stuff for food that you can buy cheaper
from the shops!
Dream Team eventually hauled out as winners with
Our February 2014 Meeting took the form of a Quiz in
which three teams of four competed for the honours.
Two+Two in second place and Propagators third.
Dream Team also won in 2013 under their A Team moniker.
Our Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 27th January 2014. Keith Abel was elected as Chairman with Yvonne Stone stepping down to the position of Vice-Chair. Trevor Barningham takes over as Secretary from Keith and Roy Simpson was appointed to serve on the Committee. Joan Abel was appointed as our second DA representative on the Northern Branch Committee. The full list of Committee Members to serve for the coming year will appear on the updated Committee page in due course.
Mike Abel has organised a full programme of events for the coming year which will appear on the Programme 2014/5 page in due course. Monthly meetings will commence promptly at 7.30 pm; members and guests are kindly requested to obtain drinks and to be seated by this time.
It was agreed that the Mini Show competition usually incorporated within each monthly meeting would be discontinued in 2014. The prize winners for the 2013/14 series of Mini Show competitions were First - Janet Abel, Second - Joan Abel and Third - Peter Medley.
It was also agreed, in principle, to provide support to the local branch of Groundwork a national charitable organisation established to encourage and support self sufficiency amongst local needy communities. Keith Abel undertook to investigate how best this support might be offered by our DA.
The annual DA Show is provisionally planned for Sunday 28th September 2014 at Coletta & Tyson's Outlet Garden Centre
December, being the Christmas holiday season, is traditionally devoid of any planned activities.
Our November 2013 Meeting was attended by about 40 or so members and visitors. Our speaker was David Metcalfe (National Leek and Onion champion 2013) from Nelson, Lancashire who gave us a very exhaustive slide show on the benefits of Growing with Straw. David showed us various 'chemicals' at the start of the meeting:
Garlic Wonder Concentrate - available from LBS Horticulture. David reckons it is useful for deterring carrot fly under mesh covers.
Bug Clear - available from many stockists and manufactured by Scotts Miracle-Gro Company - contains natural permethrins.
Growing Success - Slug Killer - organically-based and does not contain metaldehyde. Widely available.
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer - produced by Bayer - available in concentrate and ready-to-use forms. Widely available.
Plant Vitality Plus - said to be excellent for red spider mite control - widely available from hydroponic shops and Ebay.
Domestic Fly spray - used by David as a general knock-down insecticide in his polytunnels. No particular brand was said to perform better than any other.
He also mentioned Dalefoot Compost which is used by top potato growers for bag-grown exhibition potatoes. This compost is a mixture of bracken and sheep's wool. The bracken provides potash while the wool breaks down slowly to release nitrogen. According to the company's website, wool is used in the rhubarb growing community.
At the September 2013 Meeting more than 40 members and guests welcomed Dr Derek Maitland who gave us a splendid presentation on growing and showing Dahlias. I feel that he has more to tell us on this subject and I hope that we can get him back again in the future. The National Dahlia Society has its own website and sells various publications about growing and showing dahlias.
August, being the summer holiday season, is traditionally devoid of any planned activities.
A packed house welcomed 'Westie' David Allison to our July 2013 Meeting. David is currently NVS National Vice-Chairman as well as National Editor. He provided us with a fabulous talk on a huge variety of soft fruit, including a few vegetables that are botanically fruit as well as rhubarb which, though normally eaten as a dessert, is usually shown and judged as a vegetable! This talk was particularly well-timed seasonally because David managed to bring lots of different examples of real fruit from his own garden and allotment.
A sizeable party of visitors attended the Albert Cottage Allotments site on Kenilworth Avenue on the evening of Monday 24th June 2013. Fortunately, the weather was kind and we were able to walk about with ease. Afterwards, we were entertained in 'The Hut' and treated to a spread of home-made delights and lots of tea. The trading hut now features a lending library and is open for trade on Saturday and Sunday mornings and the price of all commodities is considerably cheaper than you will find in your local shop or supermarket.
Compared with previous months, the May 2013 Meeting attracted a disappointingly low number of 12 visitors for the talk on Driffield Flour Mill by Stuart Bradshaw.
A packed house for our April 2013 Meeting saw a talk on Kitchen Vegetables given by Graham Wagstaffe assisted by his wife Jane. Turnout was even greater than last month and the change in location has clearly had a hugely beneficial effect on visitor numbers. Graham explained how he managed to cultivate a a 100 square feet plot of club root-ridden ground in his garden and maintain a year round supply of fresh vegetables for the family's needs. Clearly you need the right varieties which are designed to be grown with short spacing and most of the major national seed suppliers now offer suitable varieties of 'mini veg'. He grows his vegetables under 'Enviromesh' the whole year through. Though initially expensive, he claims that it is long lasting and will pay for itself in a few years and, better still, you do not need to spray against pests. The mesh has a shade factor of only 7% and allows rainwater or watering can irrigation to pass through easily. To overcome attack by club root, he grows most of his brassicas in 5 or 6 inch pots initailly before planting them out. This provides each plant with a large rootball surrounded by sterile compost which offers some defence against attack from the fungal spores in the soil.
The March 2013 Meeting was the first to be held at our new home in The Catholic Club, Beverley. This appears to be a splendid establishment equipped with a downstairs bar and a large upstairs meeting room offering plenty of space and seating for our needs. The Council (not to be confused with the Station) carpark opposite the venue is free after 6pm and is only a short walk away. Graeme Watson's talk on carrots attracted over 30 visitors, including some potential new members who were attending one of our meetings for the very first time. Although Graeme grows carrots mainly for showing at the very highest level there were plenty of learning points for all types of grower. It is clear that you need either a lot of luck or a lot of carrots in order to find a perfect set,as well as an awful lot of sand! Also, the importance of external protection from the elements and pests in the form of covers or fleece was evident. Climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns may make this protection even more essential in the future. On a sadder note, David Drayton, a long standing friend of the Association, speaker and flower judge passed away recently.