WYOG photo competition.

All of the entries are now on the web site under photo competition in the top navigation bar. Please take a look through and vote for your favourites in each category. Voting closes on 11th October and then we will award some prizes and certificates.

Organic September

In the face of climate change, diet related ill-health and widespread decline in wildlife, the need to change our food systems has never been greater. Organic September is a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of organic food and farming which include: supporting biodiversity and wildlife, helping to combat climate change, the highest standards of animal welfare, reduced exposure to pesticides, food as it should be, and food you can trust.Organic farming joins the dots between our own health and the health of our planet, our animals and our wildlife. Soil Association Certification certify over 70% of organic food in the UK, meaning that wherever you see the organic symbol, you can be sure that you’re buying food that contains fewer pesticides, no GM ingredients and with fewer additives and preservatives.

Jobs for this month

  • cut down asparagus fronds and mulch
  • its’ your last chance to sow salad leaves and try lettuce Valdor and May King
  • order and start to plant onion sets, shallots and garlic
  • keep picking beans and they will keep producing
  • plant skywalker cauliflower
  • spinach can be planted under glass
  • sow radish sora
  • sow pak choi
  • sow rucola salad rocket
  • order your new soft fruit canes and bushes
  • order and plant spring bulbs
  • move houseplants back indoors
  • sow wildflower seeds
  • Plant wildflower bulbs in the autumn is the easiest way to establish some of the earliest flowering wildflowers such as snowdrops, winter aconites and wood anemone

Potato Day

The committee are currently exploring options for selling potatoes in February as it looks increasing unlikely that we will be able to run our usual jam packed event. We are considering some form of advance ordering as well as limiting numbers to a safe level. If you have any thoughts do get in touch and share them valharris@phonecoop.coop as we need to order the potatoes in October.

The Seed Co-Operative.

Last year WYOG bought shares in the Seed Co-Operative and they have now issued their first shareholder newsletter to their 400 shareholders.

Good news in difficult times

One big positive we can take during these difficult times is that more people than ever are spending time growing their own fruit and vegetables. We experienced unprecedented demand for seed during the coronavirus lockdown, including increased sales to growers who experienced a huge uptake in organic veg box schemes.  Being small means we’re flexible – we were able adapt and keep operating when many seed companies had to close. The team had to work around the clock to process orders while observing social distancing. At times demand was so high that we had to close the online shop for a day or two just to keep up! Hopefully this new-found passion for gardening and organic food will continue long after this

We’ve achieved a huge amount with very little resource and all of the hard work we’ve put in over the last few years is now beginning to pay off. As we gear up for the next phase in our development as an organisation, we’re urgently in need of new members on our board. Being a board member is a fantastic way to get more involved in the development and strategic direction of the Seed Co-op. You do not need to be a ‘seed expert’ – in fact we’re actively encouraging people from other walks of life to join us. We’re currently undergoing a period of organisational development, so now is a perfect time to get more involved in the organisation. If you’re interested in learning more, please get touch with our society secretary, Tony Smith, at secretary@seedcooperative.org.uk.    Investment news The Seed Co-op requires significant investment to support future growth; a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to attract new investment and improve our profitability. 

Green manures

Thanks to the organic catalogue for this information.

Bare soil is one thing no organic gardener wants to see. Without plants, soil is prone to erosion and may be overtaken by pernicious weeds. For this reason, if you have an area out of action, then green manures are the ideal solution. The roots of green manures will help with soil structure and the additional drainage & foliage provides a habitat for important garden pest eaters like beetles. Some, like clover (legumes), fix nitrogen from bacteria and thus enrich the soil. When the time comes, usually before flowering, dig in your green manures, providing good organic material to the soil. An important note though: do this at least 4 to 5 weeks prior to growing any crops on the said soil – green manure will release chemicals as they rot that may inhibit germination.  ‘No dig’ methods, such as cutting down your green manure and leaving them to decay on the surface will also have a good impact and will disperse any build-up of slugs and snails. If you need a longer-term solution, consider perennial green manures like rye grass or clover, or for the really big projects, organic gardeners should look for annual green manures like mustard, trefoil and vicia.

There are many different green manures , all with specific purposes and times to sow and  dig in. Those that can be sown now are at the top of the list

Phacelia. A bushy plant with bright blue flowers which bees love. A hardy annual for sowing between March and September. Gives good ground cover and establishes quickly. Dig in at or before flowering to prevent self-seeding. If sown in patches around the garden, the flowers are an excellent attractant to beneficial insects and bees. Fits anywhere in rotation. 100g pack covers 45 sq m.

Ryegrass, annual ryegrass is less bulky than grazing rye but is easier to incorporate into the soil in spring. Suitable for sowing March/April or August/September. This hardy annual fits anywhere in rotation. 200g is sufficient for 20 square metres.

Hungarian grazing rye. One of the best green manures for winter use. Great for storing nutrients, improving soil structure and suppressing weeds. Continues to grow in cold weather. Sow in September or even into October in the South. A good cover crop to prevent nutrient leaching. Dig in during the spring. Hardy annual fits anywhere in a rotation. 112g for 7 sq.m.

Black oats. An excellent green manure for sowing from Apr-Sep. It is fast growing with good leaf cover to suppress weeds and deep roots to gather nutrients for the following crop and to improve soil aeration and structure. Its root secretions are also reputed to inhibit nematodes in the same way as Tagetes. It can stand light frost but will be killed by severe frost. Fits anywhere in your rotation. 100g covers 16 sqm.

Mustard. A very quick growing short-term green manure which may help to reduce wireworm in the soil. Dig in before it flowers. Sow March – September. Later sowings may be killed by frost. Leave frosted foliage as a protective cover. Treat as a brassica in your crop rotation as susceptible to club root. Enough for 45 sq.m.

Winter tares. Improves the fertility and texture of the soil and suppresses weeds. Best sown in either spring or autumn to provide a good supply of nitrogen for the following crop. A spring sowing can provide a good supply of nitrogen for your winter brassicas, dug in before they are planted out. A mass of attractive foliage smothers weeds. Hardy annual. Fits legume in rotation. 112g covers 7 sq. metres.

Alfalfa. Rich in calcium and the major elements. Very deep rooting bringing trace elements to the surface. Turn under in autumn or leave over winter. can be left for several years, cutting the foliage for use as a mulch. Unlikely to fix nitrogen in UK conditions.

Agricultural lupin. Nitrogen-fixing, with deep roots that break up and aerate the soil, pulling nutrients and minerals up to the surface to provide humus as they break down. Sow in the spring and cut back or dig in, in the autumn. Thrives in acid soils. Half-Hardy annual with white flowers, which fits as a legume in rotation. Cut down before flowering to avoid seeding. 112g covers around 9 sq m.

Crimson clover. A vigorous quick growing clover with wonderful red flowers which bees love. Sow April – September. Not normally winter hardy. Hardy annual fits with legume in rotation. 112g covers 35sq m.

Buckwheat. Sow April-August. Fast-growing foliage to suppress weeds and mop up available phosphate. A good source of calcium and its long roots extract nutrients from deep in the soil. Regrows if cut as it begins to flower. When left to flower it attracts hoverflies, whose larvae feed on aphids. Quick to decompose once dug in. Avoid wet or very dry soils. Crop rotation: fits anywhere.

Fenugreek. A quick grower for summer use, these absorb surplus soil nutrients so they are not washed away by rain. Attractive foliage which can also be eaten as a spicy green vegetable or used as a flavouring. Prefers well-drained soil. Crop rotation: fits after peas and beans. Sow March-August.

Persian clover. An annual for short-medium term use. Sow April-May or September. Will grow well on slightly acidic and clay soils. Good for no-dig as dies back naturally. Sufficient for 45 sq.m.

Red clover. Considered the best type for green manuring although it can suffer if sown too early or late in the year. Sow April – August. Hardy perennial. Fits with legumes in rotation. Does best in good soil. Cut back after flowering to encourage new growth. 112g covers 35 sq m. Cut regularly to encourage new growth and keep weeds down.

White clover. Strong growth to suppress weeds and produce large amounts of organic matter. Cut regularly to encourage new growth and keep weeds down. Can be left for years

Tubingen mix. An attractive annual mixture developed to improve bee forage in the summer and autumn. Contains: Phacelia, Buckwheat, Mustard, Dill, Coriander, calendula, Black Cumin, Oil Radish, Cornflower, Wild Mallow and Borage

All available from www.organiccatalogue.com