Garden Organic’s journey

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As we approach the launch of TTL’s partnership with Garden Organic, Sue, a TTL trustee recalls her involvement with organic gardening and Garden Organic over the years. In the 1960s and 70s, do you remember, there was a great mood about; “leave the cities,move to the country and get a small holding and become self reliant, grow your own veg, become vegetarian and keep animals”. If realistically you couldn’t go the whole hog, then growing what you could became the more realistic option. Fired up with “The Good Life” the weekly antics of the over enthusiastic Barbara and Tom Good, … more

A Pressing Need for Apples

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It’s not been the sunniest of summers, but with all the rain and a kind spring the apple harvest seems to be plentiful and slightly early this year. Some apples store better than others, mine only last a month or two in the shed.  A good way of making the most of your apples is to juice them. The juice can the be frozen and drunk at your leisure. If you fancy having a go at making some of your apples into juice then come along to the Growers’ Market on Leys Square with a bucket of apples  Saturday 5th September or … more

GIY blog – berry harvest

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Ah, July. The happy month of fruit harvests! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries,currants. The apples ripening on the tree. Even the Timperly Early rhubarb is happily producing its third crop of the year. Nothing is so blissful as pottering out on a sunny morning, picking a few sun-warm fruits and munching on them as you sip the say’s first caffeinated beverage of your choice. Only…About 3 months ago, following an investigative potter in the garden, I bounced into our kitchen and said, in a gleeful voice, “It’s going to be a good year for currants.” And my husband, instead of being … more

Ladybirds & blackfly

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At our GIY meeting today at Sarah’s house (thank you for the lovely tea Sarah!) we wandered on to her allotment lamenting the huge amount of blackfly which are devastating everyone’s  crops, especially beans. “Where are the ladybirds this year?” we asked each other. Well, they were all over Sarah’s broad beans!  It seems we have had a timely explosion of the ladybird population this week. On my runner beans this morning I found all 4 stages of the life cycle on one plant – eggs, larva, pupa and adults. In the photo with lots of ladybirds you can see … more

End of June on the GIY plot

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We’re just past the longest day and still no real summer to speak of.  It’s still very dry though, despite last night’s downpour. I’ve just planted out some leeks and the remaining oca (see photo) from their pots. The oca, which is also known as New Zealand yam, is the one with the trefoil leaf.  It belongs to the oxalis family, like wood sorrel.  In fact the leaves taste a bit like wood sorrel. I first came across it last year when Garden Organic asked members to do some trials to see how well it grew in this country.  The … more

May in the garden

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It’s been so busy this month I haven’t had time to write my blog! We have had one Growers’ Market and then, last weekend, the Food and Garden Festival, so I have been flat out, sowing, potting up, potting on etc, not to mention all the other jobs in the garden. The first photo is of my raised, turf-walled bed in the lawn, which I made two years ago. It was exhausted, so I replenished it with compost, manure and vermiculite, before dividing it into 6 sections as my version of the ‘square foot’ gardening I spoke of at my … more

Let’s get growing!

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The March Transition Tuesday was all about how to start growing your own fruit and veg in a small area and it’s worth summarising the key points here for the benefit of anyone who couldn’t attend but who might have budding aspirations to eat really locally. In the early days, homes in Letchworth were built with good sized gardens with the intention that they would be used for growing food to feed the family.  In many cases this local tradition has been forgotten, but here at TTL, we’d love to revive it.  Growing vegetables need not be difficult; start small … more

Grow It Yourself – February blog

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It’s time to sow seeds of tomatoes, chillis and peppers indoors to get them off to a flying start. Chillis especially take a long time to mature so they need to get a headstart.  They do need to be warm though to germinate.  I put mine in the airing cupboard, checking them daily and as soon as they appear they come out and onto a sunny window sill. This year I am experimenting to see if my home-made leaf mould is good enough as a seed compost, and comparing it with John Innes seed compost.  As you can see from … more

GIY blog – January 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes I know it’s only January but there are still things you gardeners can do. I have just pruned my gooseberries (feeling smug about that!).  If you’re wondering what to do with your own gooseberries, there’s a youTube guide below. I bought a book last Autumn called ‘The ten-minute gardener’s fruit-growing diary’ by Val Bourne,  published by Bantam Press. I have already started to follow its advice which says this is the month to take a long hard look at your fruit trees, so that’s what I’m doing. This is also the month to plant bare-rooted fruit … more

Keeping chickens to the highest welfare standards

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Among the various presentations at the 2014 Soil Association conference, I wanted to bring back and share Jessica Stokes’ study.(1)  She shared the emerging veterinary scientific thinking about mass chickens kept for their meat or egg production.  I hoped that by relaying my notes, her ideas might interest anyone keeping  chickens on a small scale. It turns out that in the years since World War II, veterinary thinking has moved an incredible distance; from an awareness written about by Ruth Harrison (2) that chickens often had  “a life not worth living” (3).  She wrote about “animal machines”.  She helped to … more