Blogging ‘Live’ from the Malvern Spring Gardening Show

lush vegetables grown in simple raised wooden beds

a feast for the eyes; such lush vegetables grown in simple raised wooden beds

In my last post (end of April), I said I hoped to be blogging ‘live’ from the ‘RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show‘ – and here I am! The sun is shining and I’ve already taken a turn around some of the show gardens (much food for thought) and the many plant stalls and displays. Everyone is frantically busy putting the finishing touches to their stands; although the show gardens have already been assessed and judged, so the designers are somewhat at a loose end. There is a huge difference to the scene of three weeks ago – more to follow tomorrow.

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Fantastic ‘Countrytastic’, and Malvern Gardening Show preview

hot hazy sunshine Malvern Showground for an enjoyable hands-on countryside day out at the Three Counties Showground Malvern

hot hazy sunshine as families descend on the Malvern Showground for an enjoyable hands-on countryside day out at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern

Watching the happy faces of so many young children enjoying the activities at ‘Countrytastic’ on the Malvern Showground was a real treat; seeing families participating in all that was available on such a hot and sunny day. Seeds to sow; craft activities to try; understanding the farming year (with the NFU); food to make, taste and enjoy with the Slow Food UK; poultry pens and dozens of farm animals that children were encouraged to pet and even cuddle. Aimed mainly at the under tens, it was good to learn about the West Midlands Care Farming movement, which offers opportunities to young people aged 8-19 (included youth) who have found traditional classroom education a struggle.

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Your help URGENTLY needed


This is serious! There are two pieces of Parliamentary legislation currently under consideration, both of which will affect gardeners: allotments and wildlife protection / climate change. Please take a look at the following websites. We urge you to read and consider the implications, then if you wish, petition, email or whatever else is asked, to safeguard ourselves and our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Allotments: “The government has decided to undertake a ‘Review of statutory duties’ with the aim of reducing the burden on local authorities. However they are considering removing the statutory duty to provide sufficient number of allotments for people in the area who want one. This would have the effect of putting all allotments under threat. There is a consultation process but it closes on 25th April 2011 so you need to ACT NOW and let the politicians know that allotments are important and should be protected.” Written by John Harrison in his allotment diary. He urges you to email your comments before  next Wednesday to But if you don’t have time, sign the petition being organised by City Cottage.


Environment: On Monday, it was revealed that the government might scrap vital laws which protect wildlife and the countryside (the Wildlife and Countryside Act) and help to stop climate change (the Climate Change Act). “We need to work together to make sure our wildlife, our countryside and our planet are protected”, says the ‘people, power, change’ group, 38 Degrees. It only takes a few seconds to add your name to their petition. Just click here.

'The Therapeutic Garden' book

‘The Therapeutic Garden’


Writing personally, with tongue in cheek, and whilst acknowledging the severe lack of government funds (politics aside) – perhaps politicians don’t have time to garden! So probably they just don’t realise the benefits of growing our own food, being ‘green’; maybe as they “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels”, they have lost the home plot, the garden plot. And they are probably unaware that gardeners save NHS costs, for gardening aids health. As author Donald Norfolk (a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health) wrote in ‘The Therapeutic Garden’: “dedicated to my green-fingered patients, who inspired me to write this book when I noticed that their love of gardening seemed to imbue them with an above average level of cheerfulness, contentment and physical fitness.” The book is a collection of fascinating and illuminating essays and well worth reading, whether you are a politician or not. Copies can be obtained second-hand from Amazon. (Just enter author and title.)

As ordinary ‘Jo Public’, and a gardener, your opinion DOES count. The public’s petitioning to save the sell-off of Forestry Commission woodland worked (via 38 Degrees), and the Government reversed their decision.

Vegetables in Small Spaces

metre-wide beds, mostly two metres in length

an area of my garden, laid down to metre-wide beds, mostly two metres in length and packed with produce

Gardening by the “square  metre” is a simple, easy-to-follow concept that allows you to squeeze more produce into small spaces. Basically, you sow crops closer together – a higher density in any give area. Vegetables, salads, herbs and other edibles – whether annual or perennial – are planted in beds no more than  a metre (39 inches) wide. Beds can be square, but need not be; raised or at ground level. It’s not the length that is important, but the WIDTH. ‘Square-Metre Gardening’ is also a no-dig technique, once it’s set up, unless you neglect the beds! You can tend and reach produce from either side of any metre-wide bed; as plants are grown closer together, weeding is reduced and because you do not ever step on the growing area, soil is not compacted. Fertility is built up by the annual addition of compost. It’s a technique you can use in garden or allotment, and one I have followed for many years.

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‘Doing the Continental’

Twelve - a Tuscan Cookbook

‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’

My mention in last week’s e-newsletter of ‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’ – had me thinking of food, and reorganizing my potager plan to include ‘Continentals’. Some, already ordered (potatoes), are now planted; or sown in the greenhouse (peas). Others are awaiting their turn to be sown in my raised beds, as yet to be assembled – when I’ve finished preparing the 8ft x 8ft (2.5metre-squared) patch where they are to be installed. I’ve ordered seeds: french beans, sugar pod peas, courgette, pumpkin, corn salad, rocket, artichoke and edible flowers; and plants of fennel, squash, climbing french beans, aubergine and asparagus crowns, to regain time lost over my belated start.

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