making hay

We’re stuck in a time warp and the World is moving on around us. A covenant, agreed when Lord Zetland handed over the land to the people of Redcar, appears now, to be a little outdated. A set of rules, forbidding any structure above 4′ high, no lighting of fires …

brimming with broccoli

We’ve been at the allotment again on Saturday – clearing the last of the weeds left from 3yrs of neglect. We didn’t do this clearing the easy way – with a strimmer; oh no, muggins here had to do it by hand with a pair of shears and secateurs and …

cold frames – a poor man’s greenhouse

A quick look at the diary and we can see that we’re 18 weeks in, in our journey on Plot 36. It doesn’t seem so long to be honest, given the volume of the weeds removed and compost and manure brought onto site. I mustn’t forget the pallets either. The site resembles …

extreme composting – turning up the heat

Those of you interested in the concept of no-dig gardening, will have no doubt read, or at least heard of the work of Charles Dowding. Charles has written a number of extremely informative books on the subject and has a website which is an absolute mine of information, for those interested …

Recent Articles:

excited by organics

December 5, 2012 Chase Organics Comments Off

Chase Organics has a long history of supporting organic gardening. 

Major LH Chase began the story in 1912, inventing cloches to protect his lettuces from the dirt and soot of the city, in the 1940’s visitors flocked to the protected growing seed trials in Chertsey, Surrey and the first Chase Seed Catalogue was published in 1945. For over 20 years, Chase Organics have produced The Organic Gardening Catalogue in partnership with Garden Organic, supplying seeds and supplies for organic growing.


We talked with Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and the Organic Gardening catalogue

 ‘When I started at Chase in 1983 you couldn’t buy certified organic seed for love nor money, there simply wasn’t anybody growing it on a commercial scale.  



‘Back in those days, our range of seeds was much smaller and concentrated mainly on old vegetable varieties, well known for their flavour and their proven suitability for garden use.


 ’Many of those were in the first Chase seed catalogue in 1945 and are still in it today, however a large number have disappeared as our sales were a drop in the ocean compared with the volumes needed to “maintain” a seed variety.  And of course the seed we sold was different as it was untreated, not blue, orange or pink – the chemical companies would have you believe that nothing would grow without a big dollop of fungicide!

The 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue

The 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue


 ‘Gradually over the last 20 years, organically grown seed has become more widely available, and now forms the backbone of our seed range.  When selecting seeds, sourcing organic varieties is my priority as I’m conscious that every packet of seeds we sell helps support an organic grower somewhere in the world.



‘We still offer untreated seed where its inclusion can be justified.  This might be a variety with very specific disease resistance or harvest period, it may be one of the old favourites, or it just has something different about it, for instance, a compact plant that will be happy growing in a pot.




‘I get recommendations from customers and also from the gardeners at Garden Organic and I’ll take these on board too when making decisions.  Customers like to share their experiences of which varieties grow well and will recommend varieties to us or ask us to source an organic version.  It’s very rare for me to drop a seed variety from our range.  Keeping continuity with familiar names is very important.  Most changes are brought about by crop failures or decisions made further upstream yet they present an opportunity to find something new for people to try.

Leek Musselburgh

Leek Musselburgh



‘Leek Musselburgh, Parsnip Tender and True and Carrot Chantenay are all examples of old organic garden varieties that we’ve been stocking for many years that have become ‘tried and trusted’ best sellers with our customers. 


‘Known as ‘Scotch Flag’, Leek Musselburgh was introduced in 1822, a broad leaved tall leek variety that is both reliable and versatile.


Carrot Chantenay 2012

Carrot Chantenay 2012

Parsnip Tender and True, introduced in 1897 is one of the best flavoured parsnips and has great resistance to canker whilst the well- known Carrot Chantenay dates even further back to 1830. With short, wedge-shaped roots and its distinct deep orange colour, Chantenay remains one of the tastiest carrots around.’


 Michael speaks very passionately about this coming year ‘We’re always excited when the new seed catalogue is launched and we can highlight our new additions.  This year, our lettuce selection in particular boasts some lovely new organic varieties including the very unusual Lettuce Freckles, Cos Lettuce Little Leprechaun, Batavia Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson and Butterhead Lettuce Edox.

‘We’ve also got some exciting organic tomato varieties available including the large, vigorous Red Brandywine (1885), the attractive dark red and sweet-tasting Cerise, and the beautiful Black Cherry with its deep purple colour skin when mature.’

We’re inspired by the organic approach and now have some varieties from the 2013 catalogue, we look forward to trialling them on our vegetable plots in the Spring.



You can contact Michael and his team at Chase Organics Ltd on 01932 253666, alternatively you can visit their Organic Gardening Catalogue website by clicking here



Wordless Wednesday – branded

December 4, 2012 Wordless Wednesday Comments Off
























donated compost – goes quickly

December 3, 2012 News Comments Off

Formula 1 ace Jody Scheckter donates organic compost to Whitchurch allotments by Emily Roberts, Chief Reporter


TWO tractor loads of organic compost were delivered to allotment holders in Whitchurch.


Jody Scheckter, owner of Laverstoke Park Farm near Overton, offered the compost as a gift to the town after judging an allotment competition earlier in the year.

Whitchurch Town Councillor Mike Kean said: “It’s a good gesture from him. When he came to present the awards, I think he was quite impressed with the site and the soil.”


Allotment holders unload the compost

Allotment holders unload the compost

The allotment sites are in Bloswood Lane and Winchester Road.

via Formula 1 ace Jody Scheckter donates organic compost to Whitchurch allotments (From Basingstoke Gazette).

getting a taste for growing veg

December 3, 2012 Planters, Seed Trays Comments Off

Hello, my name is Cheryl Wakley and I work for Potty Innovations as a graphic designer.

I’m also known as the ‘Virgin Gardener’ on our blog, because, despite lacking any interest in gardening at the time was tasked by my colleagues to delve into my own vegetable growing journey when I bought my first home not so long ago.




Delve I did and I can honestly say that since then I have come to really enjoy vegetable growing as a hobby and love the taste of my own home-grown produce.








Potty innovations are all about embracing the adventure of gardening, but making it a little simpler. We are a UK manufacturer and designer of planters, containers, compost bin and seed trays which are lightweight and have excellent insulation properties. All of our products are manufactured from expanded polystyrene, a material which is fully recyclable.


EPS Seed Trays

If you are looking for trays for sowing seeds, expanded polystyrene seed trays are a good choice for their durability and insulation properties.

 We have a range of expanded polystyrene seed trays, the first of which comes in white in either trays of 12 or 24 cells, each of which can be broken in half into two trays for convenience.

Whether growing in the greenhouse or in the conservatory, EPS seed trays are ideal for the germination and growth of seedlings prior to planting out and the insulation properties of the material ensure delicate roots are protected from temperature extremes – especially useful in this chilly weather!  


 This second range of seed trays come in trays of 6 cells and are much deeper with an extra 25mm of space, these are manufactured in a unique ‘speckled’ effect.




When the time comes for replanting, all seed trays have plug holes for easy removal.








Raised Bed Kits

As well as seed trays we also manufacture raised beds, which are great for those who want a small vegetable patch in the garden without too much set-up time. Our ‘Cultivation Station’ is also manufactured from expanded polystyrene in a higher, stronger density than the seed trays but can be assembled in minutes by simply sliding the planters together.




When I started my growing exploits, I had a Cultivation Station in my garden and it has served me really well. It was really easy to set up and I loved the fact that I could pick up the whole thing (without soil of course) and move it around as I was pretty indecisive as to where I wanted my raised bed at the time!




The unique design of the Cultivation Station raised bed allows for a wide range of shapes and sizes to accommodate large or small gardens or even patios.




Ideal for growing vegetables, the central area is useful for growing deeper rooted veg and the perimeter planter sections for other vegetables, herbs and salads as well as for companion planting – these defined sections are also ideal for easy crop rotation





Thank you for reading this and please visit Potty Innovations  for more information on our product range.

Five-a-day Gratin

December 1, 2012 Mark Willis, Recipes Comments Off


Have you got lots of nice Parsnips at present?

Have you got a Butternut Squash “just hanging around”?

One of those drop-dead ugly Celeriac thingies?

And you must have a few onions and potatoes somewhere, surely…?


Well, why don’t you have a go at making this delicious and hugely-satisfying multi-vegetable gratin?



Here’s the recipe:-     

 Five-a-day Gratin   (serves 2)

Ingredients. (NB: quantities are not critical. Use as much veg as you think you are likely to eat!)

  • Half a Celeriac
  • Half a Butternut Squash
  • Two small Turnips
  • Two small Parsnips
  • Two medium-sized Onions
  • Three medium-sized Potatoes
  • Two cloves of Garlic
  • One 240ml tub of cream (or cream-substitute such as Elmlea Light)
  • 25g Butter



  • Peel the veg and slice them thinly
  • Crush the garlic into a large mixing-bowl, add the cream and plenty of black pepper (+ salt if desired)
  • Add the veg and mix thoroughly in order to coat it all with the seasoned cream
  • Tip ingredients into a deep oven-proof dish, and press down firmly
  • Add a layer of sliced potato, and dot it with small knobs of butter
  • Bake in the oven at 160C for about an hour, or until the veg is tender
  • If the top layer of potato has not gone a golden-brown colour by now, put the oven up to maximum temperature for a few minutes (watching carefully- don’t let it burn!)
  • Serve


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