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What’s Happening ?  

Last Updated: Wednesday 6th October 2021

After a gap of two years because of Covid restrictions, we held an excellent Annual Show at Cherry Lane Garden Centre on Sunday 26th September 2021. A total of 21 exhibitors (including members of West Yorkshire DA) staged 190 exhibits which made a very impressive display on the day. This year, we dispensed with a formal prizegiving ceremony but the trophies were displayed alongside the appropriate winning exhibits for everyone to admire.

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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.

The key points to note are that, unless you are a BCC member or choose to park elsewhere, you are required to pay for parking using the machine near the road entrance. The prices appear to remain unchanged from 2020.

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.

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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Our first proper meeting since February 2020 attracted some 29 persons to John Smiles’ September 2021 talk on 50 years in Horticulture. Having retired fairly recently, his talk focused on his observations of practices at his agricultural workplace as well as his personal growing and showing experiences. He is a knowledgeable and witty speaker who is always popular with our audiences.

His last place of employment concentrated on growing strawberries and rhubarb under cover and he explained the demise of smaller growers and the economic realities of commercial growing for the retail trade.

He remarked that animal manure and green compost contained very little nutrients and that their chief value lay in their ability to improve soil humus content and water-retaining capacity. Fresh as opposed to well-rotted manure may actually remove nitrogen from the soil and should therefore be avoided if at all possible.

Commercial strawberries are grown hydrologically inside polytunnels on elevated benches using growbags containing a mixture of peat and coir, automatically watered with nutrient solution several times a day, sprayed regularly against pest attacks from red spider mite, thrips and aphids. He questioned the energy-saving and carbon-offset value of several current practices including coir importation from Asia but believed that many chemical sprays had now been developed to remain effective but less hazardous to non-target species than in former times. One notable exception is 2 4-D which is often combined with glyphosate and sold under the Kyleo brand name. Once considered a human health risk and subsequently banned, it is now available to tackle the increasing resistance shown to other herbicides by invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.

Hydroponics are used commercially to grow much of the produce we currently buy from our supermarket shelves. For example, 8kg of strawberries per year can normally be obtained from eight plants placed in one growbag which is a far greater yield than can be obtained by growing the same number of plants in the open ground. However, growing in enclosed polytunnels can lead to problems with such things as pests, diseases, pollination, excessive damp, water acidity levels (pH) and lack of trace elements unless appropriate measures are taken, usually with the aid of computer-controlled, automatic monitoring and application technology.

John is a keen and successful showman having won recently at the NVS National Championships. However, he stressed that it was not necessary to spend huge amounts of money in order to enjoy exhibiting at vegetable shows and to achieve success, especially at local and regional level. His advice was to target those shows within your reach and capability and to grow accordingly. He grows leeks and onions from his own saved stock plants but sprays the developing seed heads regularly against aphids, the main spreaders of virus dieseases. He advised against purchasing seedling plants such as leeks from growers with a history of supplying virus-infected plants since, in his view, a virus-infected plant would never produce a show-quality specimen.

In conclusion and perhaps mindful of our upcoming DA Show, he expressed the view that Show trophies were a nuisance to many exhibitors, particularly those who travelled regularly to numerous shows around the country. A controversial view perhaps but, nonetheless, food for thought and an idea worthy of further discussion by our Committee in due course!

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Our next meeting will be held on Monday 25th October 2021 at Beverley Conservative Club commencing 7.30pm when David Allison will present his new talk on Growing Fruit. Please note that there will be no meeting buffets provided for the rest of this year but we will review the situation at the January 2022 AGM.

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What you are wondering in September

Will there be any Shows to visit this year or will Coronavirus prevent this ?

Certainly, East Yorkshire DA Show will go ahead at Cherry Lane Garden Centre, Beverley on Sunday 26th September 2021.

Kirkbymoorside Horticultural Society Show is proceeding on Saturday 25th September 2021.

West Yorkshire DA Show is also planned for Saturday 25th September 2021.

Was Newby Hall a suitable venue for the Harrogate Autumn Show and will they improve the routing and signposting for next year?

Should we ditch all Show trophies as suggested by John Smiles at our September meeting?

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