Toby Buckland has been chosen to front Gardeners World. He will join Carol Klein and Joe Swift (both Garden News writers) in September. He’s an organic gardener and his ethical garden at BBC Gardeners World Live won gold this year. All really good news for green gardening. With the team firmly behind the idea of creating a new direction in gardening it seems we’re back on the right path, following on from what Geoff Hamilton was doing all those years ago. Toby is a big Geoff Hamilton fan so I’m really looking forward to seeing what direction he’s going to take the programme in. It would be really great to see it go back to the sort of programmes Geoff Hamilton used to make – such as Paradise Gardens and the Ornamental Kitchen Garden. The new series, with Toby at the helm, starts in September.
Monthly Archives: August 2008
Emma, another gardening blogger and author has given me a brilliant blogger award. I’m one of several people she has chosen for the award, and the links she’s provided are really helpful. Check out her blog and the other award nominees at her site.
Its been raining for weeks now, and I’ve hardly been in the garden. Gardening in Wales is tough. With conditions like these you really have to plant for low maintenance, and for maximum wildlife enjoyment. Wildlife actually get more out of the garden than I do, so it makes sense to cater for them as well as myself. I’m also doing a lot of work on the house too, which needs a lot of time and energy. Not much time or opportunity for gardening at the moment. But the rain has stopped today so I will be getting into the garden to tidy up the damage the sheep have done and assess what I want to do with the garden for the rest of the year. I picked my first French beans yesterday, and although the harvest has been much reduced by the sheep there are at least a few beans to show for my efforts. The amazing survival story concerns the lettuce which has bounced back from the sheep shearing and has a healthy crop of leaves: well it is cut and come again I suppose. I haven’t been doing slug watch much and the result of my lack of action and the volume of rain is self evident. The snails have made a home for themselves in the foliage of my beans and there are little clusters of them on my calendula. Any courgettes I had coming have been eaten. The whole garden looks very messy so today its tidy up time. I think I’m going to lay down a green manure to over winter the soil and build up some fertility. Then I’ll think about putting in some permanent plantings for next year. It makes more sense with the climate and location of the garden. So for now rain stops: Play!
If you run a hospital, school, restaurant, hotel or even a small event and want to source fresh and ready made organic food you should check out a new edition of the Welsh Organic Trade Directory. It’s free to download from Organic Centre Wales and lists suppliers of fresh and processed food in Wales.
From time to time a book comes along that makes you question again what you believe in. The Truth About Organic Gardening by Jeff Gillman is such a book. Jeff Gillman is a professor of horticulture based in the US and has spent many years researching the benefits and drawbacks of organic and chemical gardening. Because he has studied both sides of the coin he is able to give a balanced run-through of the arguments in favour and against both methods. Using this approach he broadly comes down in favour of organic gardening when it comes down to its emphasis on bio-diversity, composting, inter-planting, green manures and various other cultural techniques developed to get round the need to use chemicals but is not so sure about pesticides – some of which are allowed under organic systems. He uses a rating developed through scientific study to rate pesticide treatments according to how dangerous they are to people, other non target animals and the general environment. Using this system he finds that many organic pesticides are just if not more dangerous than artificial chemical controls. Many of you will be aware of this already – and will know for example that the organic pesticide Derris has recently been banned. But for the starter gardener wishing to understand the pros and cons of both systems whilst learning how they both work The Truth About Organic Gardening is a very useful book. He concludes the book by suggesting that most gardeners will never need to use pesticides – organic or chemical – if they follow the basic rules of organic gardening. They will produce biodiverse gardens full of healthy plants. I certainly find that this is true. To my mind the greatest organic gardening writer is still former Gardeners World presenter Geoff Hamilton. He tested organic methods by directly contrasting them in test beds with other systems and found they worked much better. His book The Living Garden (written with garden ecologist Jennifer Owen) is a great introduction. It’s still available second hand from various outlets. Well worth getting hold of. His book on Organic Gardening is still in print. Buy this alongside The Truth About Organic Gardening and I think you’ll have a good combination of reads. If you want a slightly more holistic approach with all the other eco ideas thrown in the mix too then my book The Organic Garden is well worth a shout. There are still a few copies available on the internet if you look around and a paperback version will be available from next March. If you’re looking for the definitive reference guide then Garden Organic’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening is the one to get.
I think its important to know what happens to people in Britain when they congregate to protest. Henry David Thoreau said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. A few get it together to make their voices heard. And sometimes when they do they come up against intimidation, abuse and political brutality. Visit the Coal Hole and see all the TV coverage of this years Climate Camp in Kent to make up your own mind about whether the protestors were right to try and shut down the Kingsnorth Power Station.