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What’s Happening ?  

Last Updated: Friday 28th January 2022

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Don’t forget our AGM on Monday 31st January at Beverley Conservative Club commencing 7.30 pm. Note that car parking is now free provided that you sign in your vehicle registration using the machine on the wall just inside the Club’s main entrance.

On Tuesday 1st February the next NVS Zoom meeting on vegetable growing will be staged by National Vegetable Society. Click here for further details.

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The NVS are delighted to announce that our partners DT Brown and Marshalls are looking for volunteers from our NVS members, who would like to take part in seed trials around the country.

The NVS are delighted to announce that our partners DT Brown and Marshalls are looking for volunteers from our NVS members, who would like to take part in seed trials around the country.

This is NOT for show veg at all, but for every day veg growing and may contain seed such as beetroot, salad crops etc that you would normally grow throughout the Spring and Summer in your garden.

To that end, the NVS is looking for approximately 20 enthusiastic veg growers who would like to join in.  

You would be sent free packets of seeds to grow along with a questionnaire for you to take notes and where possible and take a few photos of your results,  from germination through to harvest and thus provide some of your valuable feedback ( good or bad) to our partners. 

If you would like to take part then email or phone our Sponsorship Trustee Gareth Cameron  on   garethcameron04@gmail.com   ( Tel 07935 117 397)     or our Chair, Sandra Hall  on  chair@nvsuk.org.uk  ( Tel 07917 690 292).

We look forward to hearing from you so that we can star you off with this exiting venture.

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I have updated the 2022/23 Programme of Events planned as far as July. You can see it here.

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Our last meeting of the year on 29th November 2021 featured Sarah Owen-Hughes who gave a presentation on The Secrets of Soil. The few who did attend enjoyed a truly professional performance. For those who missed it, we hope to arrange a repeat visit at a later date when perhaps even more people will be tempted to bring along some soil samples for testing.

For those of you with access to Facebook, Sarah produces a monthly podcast at Trowels and Tribulations. The link is here.

About half of soil volume is composed of solid particles and the rest is pore space filled by roughly half water and half air. Organic matter makes up only about 5% of soil. Understanding your soil composition helps with cultivation timings, application rates for fertilisers and lime, the choice of plants to grow, the soil improvement choices available as well as developing strategies to help reduce your workload. With reference to the Soil Triangle, soil testing seeks to establish the soil structure and texture ie the relative proportions of sand, silt and clay particles. Sarah also demonstrated a simple test which involved placing a small sample of soil in a jam jar with water, shaking the contents vigorously, waiting for the contents to settle and then visually estimating the relative quantities of the heavier sand, the medium silt and the lighter clay particles. A soil analysis laboratory such as our local Beverley Analytical Laboratories Ltd at Tickton would perform a more accurate version of this test by kiln drying a known weight of soil and then shaking it through a stack of three different mesh sieves and weighing the resulting quantities of sand, silt and clay components retained.

First commenced in the 1970’s, Cranfield University’s Land Information System (LandIS) has provided the basis and repository for holding the digital representation of the soils information collected for England and Wales over the past 60-70+ years. This soil portal provides you with a range of means to access this information.

Soil pH has an important influence on nutrient availability to growing plants. Further details from here. Extreme alkalinity and acidity will both lock up nutrients and severely impact their take-up by plants. Generally, a neutral pH of 7 is desirable but across the UK the natural pH varies between 6.5 to 8.

The Soil Association asserts that arable soils are degrading with some UK soils containing as little as 1-2% of organic matter. Increasing the organic matter content will improve the water-holding capacity of the soil, help to reduce surface run-off/floods, protect against droughts and soil erosion and stabilise yields of produce.

The Soil Association suggests that there are seven ways for farmers (and gardeners) to improve their soils. 1Increase the amount of plant and animal matter (manures) going back into the soil. 2Undertake regular soil analysis and monitoring of soil organic matter levels. Responding positively to health checks has been shown to lead to improved crop yields of up to 15%. 3Encourage soil organisms – both those that build up soil and those that release nutrients. 4Cover up bare soil with continuous plant cover. Plant roots hold soils together, reducing erosion, and allowing air to penetrate in spaces around roots. Roots also encourage healthier soil communities through plant-fungal interactions. But benefits spread beyond the farmed area – huge gains can be seen in terms of biodiversity, carbon storage, flood and drought control,and water quality. Where appropriate use cover crops, green manures and under-sown crops, with the added benefit of improving soil fertility. 5Plant more trees, particularly on vulnerable, steep-sided fields or areas of rough grazing. 6Reduce soil compaction from machinery and livestock. Soil compaction is a major problem in the UK – it can lead to increased surface run-off as well as drought stress, fewer grazing days, poor root growth and reduced yields overall. 7Design crop rotations to improve soil health. Carefully design your crop rotations with more crop varieties and longer gaps before going back to the same crop. Put more emphasis on crops that help protect soils and that build soil organic matter such as legume catch crops. Grow crops with different rooting depths to take advantage of the soil’s varying nutrient profile.

The soil food web is an important concept to understand. The variety of life in our soils is amazing. Just one teaspoon of soil contains around 10,000 different species. This variety of life is essential to life on Earth and human prosperity. Whilst plants are essential in capturing the energy from the sun, it is the soil life which ensures the burial and breakdown of plant litter (old leaves and dead plants), releasing that energy for root uptake and transfer back to the plant. In this way, life in soil is an essential part of the web of life. The major groups of soil organisms include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods and earthworms, though there are many more. Further details can be seen here.

Mycorrhizal fungi, for example, help to bind the soil, tend to wrap around the roots of plants and can increase the active root surface by up to 700 times, thereby increasing the plants’ ability to take up water and nutrients from the soil. They are also said to assist in the establishment of new roses and apple trees in those sites from which old plants have been removed. Roots also exude waste products and sugars. These feed the mycorrhizae and attract the microbes needed to fix nitrogen, or decompose organic matter. A well-balanced arrangement of soil, air, water and organic matter creates a healthy network in which soil microbiota can survive. This also enables roots to put their energy into establishing, rather than spiralling around large air pores. Remember that fibrous roots take up water and nutrients, lateral and tap roots are mostly for anchorage.

Sarah’s final tips for us gardeners were mulch, mulch, mulch. Create as much organic matter in your soil as possible and minimise all forms of digging.

Sarah then analysed two samples of soil which had been brought by one of our audience members, using soil texture observations and a simple pH testing solution. Simple soil testing kits can be purchased online for £15-20.

Questions from the audience completed the evening. She said that garlic acted as an antiviral and was useful to deter lily beetle attack. The calcium provided by crushed egg shell was useful to worms. Aspirin dissolved in water could enhance the flavour of tomatoes. Seaweed extract contained lots of useful plant nutrients such as iron and iodine. Coir does not hold nutrients together like peat and leaf mould may offer a better long-term peat replacement in the future. Peat-free composts can be as good as peat-based composts provided the nutrient/fertiliser levels are sufficiently high. Sarah stressed that the popular John Innes composts have evolved commercially over the last 50 years so it could be some time before a really suitable peat-free compost replacement comes to market.

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An excellent first Zoom meeting on growing parsnips presented by Simon Smith current national champion. I noted at least 85 participants from across the whole of UK including at least three from EYDA.

The second Zoom meeting led by Ian Stocks covering short and long carrots was held on Tuesday 30th November and attracted 113 participants from across the country. the most recent one in January by Ian Sutherland about growing Dahlias was also very interesting and attended by at least 85 people nationwide.

Please note that the cost for non-NVS members is £2; NVS members can attend for free. You do not need a Zoom account in order to participate in these events. Simply book your ticket ahead of the event you have chosen from the EVENTS page on the NVS website and wait for the email to arrive from NVS which will contain a weblink. When you click on this link using your internet browser the link will take you straight to the online event where the meeting host will be waiting to admit you electronically.

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National Vegetable Society has published the following information on its Facebook page.

Hi All – I hope everyone is coping with these winter nights. In order to help them fly by we have a programme of Zoom talks arranged for 2021/2022. To book a space please go to the particular event listed on the events page of the National Vegetable Society website that you wish to join and book a ticket. Further joining instructions on how to participate in the actual zoom event will be emailed at an appropriate time to your chosen email address.

The talks planned so far are: 16th November 2021 Growing Exhibition Parsnips by Simon Smith, 30th November 2021 The Long and Short of Growing Carrots by Ian Stocks,14th December 2021 How to grow using Coir by Gareth Hopcroft, 4th January 2022 Growing vegetables the Irish Way by Raymond Higgins, 18th January 2022 An alternative to veg – Growing Dahlias by Ian Sutherland, 1st February 2022 Its Sow Simple by Emily Plumb, 15th February 2022 All about Marshalls Seeds by Malcolm Catlin, 1st March 2022 Who would judge vegetables by Jim Williams, 15th March 2022 Potatoes My Way by Alistair Gray, 29th March 2022 To be confirmed

In theory, you do not need to have a Zoom account or download any special software, the weblink that is emailed to you should take you straight to the presentation where the host will let you in to the meeting. If you wish to participate actively and ask questions etc, you will need a microphone, earpiece/headphones and a camera. In the case of a laptop computer, most of these features are already built into the machine.

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Our next meeting and the first meeting of 2022 will be our AGM which will be held on Monday 31st January 2022 at Beverley Conservative Club commencing 7.30pm

Please note that the car parking arrangements at BCC have changed. EYDA members and guests are now able to park on the premises for free provided that they sign in with their vehicle registration as soon as they enter the Club’s entrance door. There is a wall-mounted device into which you type your registration number but please wait for a confirmation sign to light up on the screen otherwise you could receive a fine for illegal parking from the company that operates the car park. Further details can be seen here.

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What you are wondering in December

Am I going to participate in the NVS Zoom talks planned between now and March 2023?

Should we ditch all Show trophies as suggested by John Smiles at our September meeting? This is to be an item on the agenda for our AGM in January.

Attendance at our last few meetings has been less than half what it was before the start of the pandemic. Will our audience numbers improve or is the threat of Covid still too much of a deterrent, or is there some other reason?

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In view of the national Coronavirus rule relaxations announced for post-19 July, Sue and I visited the Club in order to familiarise ourselves with the latest arrangements for visitors and the relevant house rules that might apply to us. I have outlined the principal changes below and have posted a few photos to show the current internal seating plan.

I have also updated the car parking arrangements which can be seen here.

The Music Room as viewed from the front entrance door, showing the new decor and seating/table arrangement.

The pool table floats on a wheeled trolley base and can be moved to the side of the stage in order to leave the room clear.

The Music Room and Committee Room (in the background) as viewed from the stage area, showing the new decor and seating/table arrangement.

Gaining front door entrance to the Club using a numerical password no longer applies. BCC members have been provided with individual cards which can be scanned to open the internal entrance door automatically. For our meetings, the Club Manager has agreed to keep this door unlocked between 7pm and 8pm to allow us to enter unhindered. Exit from the premises at the end of the evening will be gained by pressing the green electronic release door button only. Do not attempt to push the door open manually.

All visitors are required to either scan the QR code to their left upon entering the premises using their smart phone NHS Covid App, or to register their presence by completing a paper form available at the bar.

There are two hand sanitiser stations available, one near the front entrance and the other in the corridor leading to the toilets. There are no house rules regarding the wearing of face coverings and maintaining fixed social distancing but, given the nature of this environment, it is recommended that you practise common sense in connection with both of these behaviours. In view of the new Omicron variant of Coronavirus this situation might change.

Bar service, rather than table service, will now be available. To avoid queuing congestion, you will be required to order your drinks at one position and pick up your order at a second position which will both be clearly marked. Access to the Snooker Room is not available unless you have a BCC member’s card to scan the entrance door from the corridor.

Of course, the rules may change over time but this is the current information available. Those of you with Facebook accounts can also find the relevant BCC page which may show any further rule updates.

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