Positive news from the plot
By: Steve Ott
One of the major perks of this job is that I get to go out and about and to meet people who love gardening and kitchen gardening in particular. On a number of occasions this summer I’ve spent many happy hours at Wisley Gardens, private gardens and several National Trust properties including Gunby Hall, the subject of my feature starting on page 52. Just recently the family and I went to Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire and spent several very pleasant hours walking around the grounds there and in particular the wonderful walled garden.
What has struck me is the dedication of all concerned and the love for what the gardeners do on a day to day basis. But more than that is the fact that all these large gardens, which years ago would have had a staff of dozens to call upon and which are now down to two or three permanent members, depend heavily on a small army of volunteers to keep the beds planted and the weeds weeded. At Wimpole one of the highlights was the volunteers’ allotment which took up one large chunk of the walled garden and which was packed with produce.
One of the highlights at Gunby was meeting and chatting to the volunteers there who elected to spend their holidays at the garden each year tending to the plot. How refreshing after weeks of news of riots and analysis about what’s wrong with society today. I’m just wondering how I can persuade a similar group of dedicated people to come and tend to my poor plot for me. Any offers?
There is more positive gardening-based news starting on page 72 from KG regular Helen Babbs who pays a visit to Anna Baker Cresswell, a lady dedicated to helping soldiers traumatised by conflicts in Afghanistan and elsewhere through growing crops. And as proof that allotment gardening continues to thrive, if proof were needed, we have news of a new movement called Grow It Yourself, which is currently sweeping Ireland and looks set to spread elsewhere (see page 84).
The season may be slowing down gradually now but there is no time to rest on our laurels as there is plenty of work to be done in preparing and planning for 2012. In fact there are already sowings to be made this month for early crops next May and June as Andrew Tokely explains in his back to basics feature on peas starting on page 20. Lots more on jobs for October can be found starting on page 10, so what with that and the harvesting you have no excuse not to keep busy! But there is more.
In his feature this month our resident organic gardening expert Bob Flowerdew explains how to attract more beneficial insects to your plot and also the benefits you can hope to reap by doing so, while on page 44 veg expert Joyce Russell has all you need to know to grow great beet (see also our seasonal recipes starting on page 98).
This is just a taster of the goodies in store in a packed issue this month. Do make time to sit down and enjoy it!
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• Next issue on sale: September 3, 2015