Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy Christmas and if you’re going away remember to switch everything off.

Check out this video. The coolest Energy Saving video ever. I’m loving it! Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you soon. Thanks for visiting and for making a contribution.

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The Organic Garden available at discount and free postage from CAT Mail Order

The Organic Garden (written by Chloe Ward and I) is now available at £8.99 plus free postage up until Christmas from CAT Mail Order – www.cat.org.uk/shopping or 01654 705959. A big saving on the £17.99 cover price. It is not available anywhere else until March when a new edition in paperback is published by Collins.

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Comfrey: Past, Present and Future and other Lawrence Hills books now available

You can now get a print on demand version of Lawrence Hills‘ classic book on Comfrey and Its Uses. Its published by Faber on December 11th and is available through their website. You can also get other Lawrence Hills’ books – Down to Earth Gardening and Grow Your Own Fruit and Vegetables. All previously out of print. These are all great books with I think some useful if forgotten organic information.

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Keep up to date with Yalding

You may remember back in the spring I ran some stories about Yalding Organic Gardens in Kent. Now you can keep up to date with news about whats happening with the gardens at http://www.yaldingorganicgardens.info/. Remember to keep visiting and maintain support for these beautiful gardens.

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And Emily loved him

It’s a sad day on a blue crated moon somewhere in space. The soup dragon is crying into his ladle. And on a Welsh hillside a little stream train has nothing to toot toot about. He has lost his voice. And somewhere in a small shop in a little street in England a certain Professor Yaffle can be heard to say ridiculous, ridiculous. And however hard they try there are some things the mice on the mouse organ just can’t fix. Yesterday Oliver Postgate passed away and now that Bagpuss has gone to sleep I wonder whether all his friends will too. I loved Oliver Postgate – as many people of my generation did – somewhat irrationally probably as I never met the man. But he was a hero, a passionate advocate for the environment and for peace and love and a teller of lovable, meaningful stories. In a strange sort of way he was probably one of the most influential people of his day. Even in later years he used the money he had made from his stories to post full page adverts in national newspapers telling people the truth about global warming. His autobiography Seeing Things is a joy to read and an inspiration. It actually appears to be out of print as Amazon is only stocking the second hand editions at £38. I hope the publishers print a new edition. In tribute to Oliver Postage join me, take a few moments out of your day and watch…

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Guia para la elaboracion del compost

I’m happy to announce the arrival of the Spanish translation of The Little Book of Compost. It’s published by Tutor in Spain www.edicionestutor.com. Tomando prestada una frase de Bart Simpson: Mola!

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Last Weeks Garden News Article – in full.

Last week’s Garden News article in full!

With only three Allan Shepherd columns left until Christmas, the end of the year and sadly the end of my time at Garden News I thought I’d use my remaining features to provide a round up of my favourite organic books, ethical products and seasonal activities to keep you going through the coming year. There won’t be an organic column next year so I feel like I need to fill your stocking with something that will last a while!

For Christmas this year I’m asking santa to enrol me as a member of Garden Organics’ Heritage Seed Library. On Boxing Day I’ll get to chose up to six packets of seed from over 200 unique varieties that are only available to members. These seeds are no longer to be had commercially because their owners could not afford to register them on the National Seed List. Instead they have been made available to gardeners free of charge through the HSL. This does not mean that they are inferior seed stock; far from it. Some are more flavoursome and colourful than varieties grown commercially and many carry interesting histories. Perhaps just as importantly, all help to increase the diversity of crops grown in Britain, with many specifically suited to local climatic and soil conditions. I’ll be looking out for the Welsh ones!

Like all organic seeds HSL seeds are free from Genetic Modification – something that is important to me and may become more important to you over the next few years. In Britain Genetically Modified (GM) crops are currently only grown in field scale trials, where they have to be monitored by law to see if they contaminate other crops near by. There are moves afoot in the gardening industry to introduce GM crops to gardens but as yet there is no certainty whether this is safe or even in the best interest of gardeners.

In some agricultural scenarios GM seeds are designed to be grown with chemicals made by the same company. The farmer is reliant on the company for both seed and pesticide. And even then the seed can only be used once. GM seeds are not designed to be saved but to be grown by the farmer under licence from the company. Farmers do not have the right to save seed from their GM crop. Whereas a Heritage Seed Library seed can be saved and used indefinitely by the gardener and allowed to morph and change over many years, perhaps evolving over time into a new stronger variety, a GM seed is a fixed and patented invention designed to stay the same.

To me, membership of the Heritage Seed Library will not only be great fun – what could be better than picking out new varieties of seeds to order on boxing day – but it will also be a constant reminder that in gardening diversity = strength. Can we sign up for a better future? To borrow Barack Obama’s phrase: Yes We Can!

Recommended Reading
Back Garden Seed Saving, Sue Stickland

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