Pies and Veg; Spring Bulbs and Cinnamon; Green’s Leaves

Following another highly successful Pie Night at the Dolaucothi Arms (thank you Dave and Esther) our speaker, Ivor Mace gave, us an excellent, amusing and informative talk at our meeting in March. Drawing on his 40 years experience he guided us through the trials and tribulations, joys and successes of growing vegetables. We picked up many tips and useful information on:

  • crop rotation to help reduce diseases such as Club root
  • when to dig different soil types
  • use of green manures
  • raised beds
  • most useful tools (draw hoe, fork, spade & dutch hoe)
  • sowing times and sowing tips
  • sequential planting
  • varieties of vegetables
  • pests and diseases

Sadly we needed much longer than the allotted 45 mins – 1 hour for Ivor to include detailed information on more than a couple of vegetable types. We will have to have him back for another session.

The club plant stall continues to do well – keep up the good work all of you who supply plants and those who buy them. There are many bargains and some unusual  plants to be had; and remember the proceeds go to club funds enabling us to have a wider range of speakers.

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After Ivor’s talk we had our new slot for member’s monthly tips. If you have a tip or item of information you think would be useful or you would just like to share please get in touch with Julian before the next meeting so that it can be included.

This month’s tips were:

1: Tenby Daffodils (From Julian)

Do we all know what they look like? And do we all grow them? They’re actually a species daffodil native to this part of the world, so not surprisingly grow very well here. They’re probably one of the most vigorous forms we grow, and reliably some of the earliest to flower – usually in time for St David’s day. This year we have masses of flowers from them. But my first tip taken from moving snowdrops in the green, is if you’ve got a vigorous form like Tenby, try moving them in the green – maybe 5 or 6 weeks after flowering. So long as you do it in damp/wet conditions, and then water them well in any dry conditions, they’ll survive and it’s much easier to get them where you want, between other bulbs and plants than buying in more dry bulbs in the autumn. They’ll probably sulk for a couple of years. But then be fine. Anyone who hasn’t got any, but would like some – more money for club funds, folks, come and have a word afterwards, and Julian can probably lose 30 or 40.  (So maybe 4 lots of 10?)

2: Cinnamon for gardeners. Elena found the following information and shared it with us:

Whenever I think of cinnamon, I immediately think of sweet treats around Christmas time. But cinnamon really is an incredibly healthy spice that has more uses than just adding flavour to your favourite desserts and drinks. Yep, some of the best chilis and grilled meat spice rubs that I’ve ever had contain cinnamon. And did you know that cinnamon is good for your heart health, your brain functions, and blood sugar regulation? Amazing stuff!

Maybe you already knew all that but here’s one that very few people know about: you can use cinnamon for gardening. “Huh? How can you possibly use cinnamon for gardening!?” Yes, I know it sounds completely crazy, but you really can use cinnamon to very legitimately help you with growing certain plants.

Have you ever heard of damping off disease? Perhaps you’ve never heard of it, but you may have seen it before… it’s a soil-borne fungus that looks like cotton and it grows on the stems of your seedlings. Infected plants might still germinate, however it’s only a matter of days before they become mushy, limp at the base, and die. Nasty stuff. But this is where cinnamon comes in…

As it turns out, cinnamon has anti-fungal properties so it’s a great solution to keeping your plants free of damping off disease. Just sprinkle the cinnamon on the soil (don’t worry if you get some on the leaves) and the wonderful spice will get to work protecting your babies.

3: Scilla bithynica.  The Turkish Squill (From Julian)

A bit like a smaller bluebell, but with flowers all round the stem, and a great nectar flower. Like bluebells it does well in moist shade, say under trees or shrubs and with us seems to produce lots of seed, though this will take a few years to grow to flowering size. Slugs and rabbits don’t seem to like it, and the great thing is the colour of the blue, and that it flowers for quite a bit longer than bluebells, and about 6 weeks earlier, so gives an extended season.  Well worth a try, and we got them from locally based John Shipton, who seems to be one of the few suppliers of this bulb (currently 5 bulbs for £9.50 + shipping. Click here for his website)

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There will be lots to discuss at our April meeting, the topic is “Choice Plants for Early Season Interest” by Paul Green.

There is so much to do in the garden at this time of year but Paul will help to get you going in the right direction with tips and advice so that you can focus your attention on what will do well during the spring. Paul’s nursery, Green’s Leaves, specialises in rather unusual plants which have been grown in the UK, making sure they are suitable for our cooler climate. Look at their website for more information www.greensleavesnursery.co.uk  and come along on 19th April as Paul will bring a selection of plants for sale. These are sure to be different from those found in most garden centres.

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PLANTS FOR W WALES; TIPS; CHALLENGES; VISITS; PIE NIGHT and GROWING VEGETABLES

We had a hugely successful first meeting of the year on Wednesday 15th, with an excellent turnout including many new faces and some we hadn’t seen for a while plus a brilliant speaker in Joseph Atkin from Aberglasney.

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Joseph’s talk on plants for a West Wales garden was interesting, amusing and informative. He confirmed many of our views that we are fortunate to live in an environment that enables us to grow a great range of plants, particularly those native to China and the Himalayas – as long as we can control the slugs. He showed us some old favourite plants together with some lovely new ones, particularly some of the species lily family and gave us some very useful tips on propagating from seed and how he deals with slugs at Aberglasney.

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The club plant stall was well supplied with some excellent plants so very many thanks to those who brought plants and to those who bought them. The proceeds are an essential part of raising funds so that we can continue to enjoy a wider range of speakers each year.

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Julian, our new Chair, fortunately sailed through his first meeting without running aground. He introduced a new 5 minute slot for members to share any topical tips, plant favourites, etc with the rest of the club, kicking off with a couple of his own, and brought the club’s whiteboard into use to highlight some of the plants mentioned. Our club has an enormous font of knowledge and this is an opportunity for everyone to share in it, so if you have something you think would be of interest to other members, then do please get in touch with Julian well in advance of the next meeting so that it can be included in one of these slots.

Julian’s tips for February were:

  1. Jakoti hand shears. One of the most useful tools we’ve come across. They have a longer blade than secateurs, can be used with one hand easily and cut more in one go than conventional shears. They are also self sharpening. Available online for £30-£35.
  2. Three plants for February:

a) Cyclamen coum. Copes with anything the weather throws at it. Flowers from November through to March/April. Grows in free draining soil in semi shade. Maybe best on a slope – if you haven’t got a slope try making a sloping raised bed area, beneath a tree or large shrub.

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b) Galanthus x valentinei. A lovely vigorous snowdrop out in time for Valentine’s Day, which has appeared in our garden – we really don’t know if it’s a seedling cross, since we have no record of ever buying it. Best planted like most snowdrops beneath a deciduous shrub or tree.

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c) Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill. Heavenly scented flowers from December through March. Well drained soil, semi shade. If you can get hold of one on its own roots, it will sucker like a wild cherry and you’ll end up with plants eventually up to 7 feet tall, covered in these scented flowers for up to 2 months.

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MEMBER’S MEDLEY AND GROWING CHALLENGE

The club growing challenge this year is for members to grow something that they then incorporate into a dish that they bring to the meeting in August to share – along with an example of what they have grown or photos if that is not practicable. Members can then share their ideas, successes or failures and sample the results. It is hoped to hold the event at Gelli Uchaf or, if the weather is bad, in the Coronation Hall as normal. Thank you to Brenda for the idea for this year’s challenge.

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GARDEN VISIT

We are planning an all day trip over the border at the end of May/early June to see two gardens that come highly recommended. The first is Westonbury Mill Water Garden (click here), entry £6 and the 2nd is Hergest Croft (click here) entry £6.50. The plan is to go by car and meet up at the gardens, having lunch at one or the other – both have cafes. The timing should be excellent for Rhododendrons.

There will be a form for anyone interested to sign at the March meeting. If you would like to add your name but can’t make the meeting then let either Julian or Fiona know.

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CLUB GARDEN SAFARI (CRAWL)

In past years we have had some fun days visiting fellow members gardens and it has been suggested that we do it again this year. If anyone is interested in adding their garden to the list of those to be visited please get in touch with Julian or sign the form at the March meeting

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PIE NIGHT

We are planning on having another Pie Night get together at the Dolaucothi Arms before the next meeting. We will meet at 6pm to eat at 6.15pm. Dave and Esther kindly allow us to come early so that we can get to the meeting on time. In order to do this we need to let them know our pie choices in advance, so anyone who would like to join us needs to let Julian know by Friday March 3rd so that we can get menus out and choices in in time.

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So with Spring  just around the corner and if you’ve already enjoyed the cheerful sight of Snowdrops and Crocus recently, why not give some attention to the vegetable garden in coming weeks?
To get you started, we have invited Ivor Mace to give a talk on March 15th. Ivor has over 40 years of growing experience and has won prizes for his show onions and leeks. He’ll tell us about soil condition, pH levels and no doubt recommend varieties which should do well in your garden. There will be time for questions and answers at the end of Ivor’s talk so if you fancy having a go at growing a prize winner for your local horticultural show or would like to add some home-grown veggies to your dinner plate, then come along. Even if you don’t have space for a vegetable plot, a few container-grown plants will add vitamins and minerals to your diet and the whole family can enjoy eating what they’ve grown.
Join us on March 15th at 7.30pm, please note the later start time.