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August 2020 newsletter

From the Chairman: 


"As the summer wears on, with more sun and less rain than we are used to, I hope you will enjoy this newsletter from the Horticultural Society to keep you in touch with one another and our future plans. The Virtual Summer Show was a success, with nearly 80 entries, and some very impressive results from the Potato in a Bucket competition – how they do it is a mystery to me!
 
We continue to keep the situation under review, and will be restarting our activities as soon as it is safe to do so, but we do rather depend on decisions made by others – will gardens be open, can we make trips by coach, can we use the Village Hall for talks and what restrictions will apply when we can do any of these things?
 
Meanwhile I would ask you, including the large number of members who have joined us in the past couple of years, to consider whether you could contribute more to the Society’s work. John Routley has been Treasurer for many years, and deserves a rest, while we expect to have more vacancies on the Committee at the AGM (however we are able to hold it). The workload is not high, except for short periods, but we do need new members to come forward to renew our Committee and keep us going ahead. Please speak to any member of the Committee if you feel able to offer some of your time (when we resume activity) and help us move into the 'new normal'. No special skills are required, just a willingness to put something back in." - Robin Britton
In this issue:
  • Group visit to Mapperton House August 11th
  • Share people’s gardens in our next Zoom meeting
  • Success for virtual summer show
  • Super Spuds
  • Future meetings and events
  • Land for community seed nursery
  • Wondrous plants
  • Cucumber fridge pickle – recipe from Pam Corbin
  • Your contributions welcomed

Group visit to Mapperton House August 11th

There will be a group visit to Mapperton House on Tuesday August 11th. Tickets can be purchased via Jenny Harding (jennyhlyme@hotmail.co.uk; 07773 604137) at £10 each, or £8 if ten or more people purchase.
 
The gardens are open but not the house. The café is also open or you may take a picnic. Opening times 11-5. Please advise Jenny if you wish to visit by end of day on Friday 7 August. 
 
Although this is a group visit, people will need to travel by own car and observe social distancing.

 

Share people’s gardens in our next Zoom meeting

Our next Zoom meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 August at 7.30pm – please save the date in your diary. Members will be speaking about and showing some of their favourite plants and recent garden projects.  There will be time for Q&A after each speaker so that we can learn from each other. We will also intersperse the chats with a virtual tour of a sumptuous garden.
 
We already have some speakers lined up for the evening and would like a few more who would be willing to share aspects of their garden with others. All you would need to do is provide 2-4 photos illustrating your chosen topic. We would look for people to chat for around 3-6 minutes (depending on how many photos they have) and then answer questions from other members.
 
If anyone has been watching Gardeners’ World over the last few weeks, you’ll have seen the huge diversity of gardens and topics that have been sent in by the public; that’s the type of thing we’re aiming at.
 
Please send your name and a sentence about what you might like to share with others to tricia@thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk by Friday 7 August. We’ll then get back in touch with you with more information.
 
An email invitation will be sent to all members closer to the date of the meeting. For anyone who hasn’t used Zoom, we’ll run a practice session so you can get to understand how it works and be confident to join the meeting.

 

Success for our virtual summer show

Thank you to everyone who entered our first virtual summer show. It was a great success with nearly 80 entries from over 40 individuals.
 
Entries were received in ten classes with our popular potato in a bucket competition attracting more than 20 entries.  Rachel Sykes displayed the largest yield of potatoes, achieving 1.708kg from a single tuber – for Rachel’s growing tips see ‘Super Spuds’ story below. Society members in Barnes Meadow, Uplyme held their own informal competition with a miniature cup being awarded to Mike Jenkins for his 854g of potatoes.


 
Fruit, flowers and veg all featured excellent entries, and because the show was virtual, we even had entries from as far afield as Castle Cary in Somerset. People also got creative with their chocolate cakes, with a birthday celebration cake and a coronavirus cake!


 
The photography competition theme of 'Life during Lockdown' saw exhibits ranging from lush gardens and very large veg, through family get-togethers, to the cruise ships moored in Weymouth Bay.  Somewhat different was Anita Routley’s lockdown, which featured a 24-hour online board games session from noon on Saturday 30 May to noon on Sunday 31st. She played against friends and family from Lyme Regis, Newton Abbot, Aberdeen and Vancouver, Canada and raised more than £650 for Cancer Research UK. Anita is treasurer of the Lyme Regis branch of Cancer Research UK and donations can still be made by contacting her at anita.routley@sky.com.


 
All the entries can be viewed on the Summer Show 2020 page of our website. 

Special thanks are due to member Jools Woodhouse for the lovely poster she designed for us!

 

Super Spuds

Many of us enter the Potato in a Bucket competition each year and each year are left wondering what we need to do to get anything other than a mediocre result. So we’ve asked Rachel Sykes, who submitted the highest yield of any of the entries for our virtual summer flower and produce fair at 1.708kg.


 
Rachel modestly claimed it was beginner’s luck, saying: “It was my first go at entering anything to do with growing”.
 
When Rachel collected her tuber at the February meeting she was advised not to let it get cold. She took it indoors overnight and then it travelled with her to her mum’s house the next day, where it was planted into home-made compost. Rachel then took it back home and placed the bucket in her polytunnel. She continued to earth it up with home-made compost and used the occasional splash of home-made comfrey tea.
 
As the days got warmer, the potato bucket went out of the polytunnel during the day and back in at night.  Unfortunately, it then got struck by early blight and was left outdoors. As Rachel says: “I was amazed when I saw the size of the potatoes. I’d grown potatoes in bags before but they’d never been that successful. The potatoes were lovely and made two separate meals for five of us, plus some left over.”
 
Now everyone is in on the secret, we expect to see some bumper entries in next year’s competition. 

 

Future meetings and events

 
As Robin has said in his introduction, our ability to hold trips and talks over the coming months will depend upon other people’s decisions and government guidance.
 
In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep our members in touch and set up activities for people to get involved with. Hence we produce this newsletter each month, held our virtual summer flower and produce fair, trialled how we can use Zoom with our own version of Gardeners’ Question Time and nominated a common date for people to visit Forde Abbey so they might see other members there (at a suitable distance!). We have also arranged a group visit to Mapperton House (see earlier story).
 
We are hoping to plan a trip to Corscombe House, a private garden, on Tuesday September 15th. This is in early stages yet but we expect to travel in own cars rather than a coach. Further details to follow. For those members who receive this newsletter by post rather than email, please contact Tricia Boyd on 07767 26144 to express interest in principle so we can make sure you’re included on any information.
 
Each month we review whether we can hold any meetings or events. So far, we have not been able to revert to our original programme for the year but we are already booking missed talks for 2021. We are hoping to hold our Matthew Wilson talk in March 2021 so those of you who bought tickets for this year will be able to carry them over to next year. Several of our other lectures are also being rebooked and we’ll be able to let you have details of dates later in the year.
 
We’re also looking at other initiatives. In August we’re planning another Zoom meeting to share members’ gardens (see separate story). The committee is currently reviewing how best to hold our autumn show and we’re considering a Zoom gardening quiz in October.  If you have any suggestions for events and trips that might work during these unusual times, please contact Jo Benke-Smith at joanna.ulrhs@yahoo.com.

 

Land for community seed nursery


Might you be able to help? Following on from the runaway success of their Lyme Garden Growers initiative, Rikey and Paddy Austin are hoping to set up a Community Plant Nursery to help local families grow their own produce – which is good for both our mental and physical health as I’m sure you’d agree. People can be unwilling to go to the foodbank because of the stigma involved, but they may be happy to try growing their own at home.

So, do you have a suitable corner of about ½ acre where this could be set up (either on a long lease or purchased)? It will need to be in a convenient location as not everyone has transport, and ideally the Austins would like to live on site, preferably in a very low-impact way. If you, or anyone you know, can help with this lovely project, please speak to Rikey on 07729 191516. 

 

Wondrous plants


While many people anthropomorphise their pets, not so many ascribe human characteristics to their plants. However, one could be forgiven for doing so when you see amazing images like these.  For further examples of wondrous plants go to https://verocommunique.com/2016/09/09/flowers-that-even-darwin-cant-explain-mother-nature-never-fails-to-impress/

Below: Dancing Girls (Impatiens bequaertii), Hot Lips (Psychotria elata)  
 
  
 
 









 

Cucumber fridge pickle – recipe from Pam Corbin

 
With cucumbers growing at a rate of knots at the moment - a cucumber can grow 2cm or more a day! - this light easy pickle is an excellent way to use up a superabundance of them. It’s also an absolute favourite with whoever I give it to. This easy-going pickle is delicious with so many things, and great just forked from the jar. Enjoy!
 
Makes approx. 2 x 500ml jars
 
3 cucumbers (about 1kg)
1 medium onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tsp sea salt
125g granulated sugar
125ml cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp dill or fennel leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
 
Trim the cucumbers - there’s no need to peel them unless the skins are tough and rough.   Slice them very finely - the easiest way to do this is using the slicing blade on a food processor or a mandolin (with the guard on).  Put the cucumber and the onion in a bowl and toss in the salt, then shake the bowl to distribute it.  Cover the mixture with a piece of baking parchment weighted down with a plate and leave for a couple of hours for the cucumber to brine - cucumbers are 96% water and this light salting will draw the water and help to keep the cucumber crisp - so the longer the better.
 
Turn the cucumber into a colander or large sieve and leave to drain for 10-15 minutes or so.   Return the cucumber to the bowl, add the sugar, vinegar and the dill or fennel if using. Mix well to combine.
 
Spoon into sterilised jar, packing down so the vinegar covers the cucumber.  Leave for an hour or so before eating.  Store in the fridge for up to a month.
 
Pam’s recipes for this newsletter are taken from her latest book Pam the Jam: The Book of Preserves, Pam Corbin, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019. Pam has some copies of the book and is happy to sell a signed copy for £15.

 

Your contributions welcome!


Thank you to all of those who have sent contributions for this month’s newsletter – Annie Kobus, Celia Meadley, Lois Wakeman, Pam Corbin, Sue Brunner (as well as the virtual show exhibitors - see the website for credits!). If you have anything to contribute for future issues please email them to tricia@thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk or call on 07767 261444.
 
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