Category: Food

volunteer weeding the bean tunnel

Beans and Potatoes – plant, grow, eat and support growers.

Planting and growing beans and potatoes has always meant a lot to us in the Gardens

We try to keep some of the really old varieties going, but we have also wanted to encourage people – especially children – to feel confident about growing their own food.

In February and March schools and family visitors have great fun planting beans and volunteer weeding the bean tunnelwatching them grow; at home or in the Gardens. Many of these beans get planted up in our own gardens to make an annual Bean Tunnel.

Come summer the tunnel is a lush green place to crawl in, explore and peek out to the world. And what a revelation … those long green things hanging down are beans you can eat!

Potatoes

Everyone loves a potato. When we can, we grow some of the oldest varieties from 100 or even 300 years ago – a way of ensuring the biodiversity of our food stock is kept.

But also, potatoes are pretty easy – 1 potato planted, makes a whole plate of chips or mash!

hallmoor students celebrate the harvest

 

 

 

 

We usually have two weekly visiting groups from special schools and colleges: Hallmoor School and Trinity Specialist college. We are missing their input and they are missing their visits to the outdoors here. Our gardeners have been looking after their plot  while they’re away… potatoes and beans doing fine. Let’s hope they can harvest them later in the year.

What you can do

The bean tunnel is partially potted up, so hopefully in the summer people can see that. Why not encourage young ones in your household to plant some beans themselves. When you  visit us later they can compare how tall they have grown. Beans, sunflowers and peas are relatively easy now. Here’s a great ‘how to’  from Cbeebies. https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/makes/plant-pots?collection=national-gardening-week

 

Even if you are not growing potatoes yourself, you can help the farmers who are.

Good and safe food starts with the growers, but many small growers are struggling to keep up in the current times. Some local organisations have banded together to help. Slow Food Birmingham,  and two of groups we already work with, The Real Junk Food Project and The Active WellBeing Society,   have teamed up for a great project – can you help?

http://slowfoodbirmingham.co.uk/campaigns/?fbclid=IwAR2MmZqEt7m2WjZZ-mBPx4LwYdWRr0X4Dznww3HiVvtX-1sMFwyNP9GORZoThe potato project

Charlie, a farmer north of the city, had a field full of spuds and no prospect of selling them because of the drop in trade in the hospitality sector.

There are 10 tonnes of potatoes

Charlie needs to dig up the potatoes and find new customers fast or let them rot and add to the growing numbers of food that is wasted, before it can be eaten. It’s also important that the growers get a decent price for their work and that the potatoes get to the most vulnerable too.

The organisations above are matching up emergency food needs and the general public.  Click below to see how it works.

Buying, donating, paying forward and receiving spuds… all in one project.

If you can’t participate directly – do spread the word about what we can do to make the future of food security better.

http://slowfoodbirmingham.co.uk/campaigns/?fbclid=IwAR2MmZqEt7m2WjZZ-mBPx4LwYdWRr0X4Dznww3HiVvtX-1sMFwyNP9GORZo

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Dig for Victory

It is the bounden duty of those who have the smallest space to cultivate, to do so
intensively, that the brave may be fed and that the lifeline of the Atlantic be not unduly
strained

To mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Matthew Biggs looks into the origins and success of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign set up during WWII by the British Ministry of Agriculture.

Here below is his fascinating article sent from the Organic Gardening Catalogue 

Click on the link to the catalogue to find the full article

………………………

The 75th Anniversary of Digging for Victory – ‘Fighting on the Homefront’

“At 11.15 on Sunday 3rd September 1939, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war with Germany. With European ports closed, Britain’s supplies now had to come from across the Atlantic. But within hours, the Battle of the Atlantic also began, with the intention of starving Britain into submission.

In 1938, 55 million tons of food were imported by shipping and 90% of all onions from Europe – there was a vast chasm to fill. Now there was a war to be waged on the Home Front; the fight to feed the nation.

On 12th September 1939 a ‘leader’ in the London Evening Standard, by young journalist, Michael Foot, concluded with the phrase ‘Dig For Victory’. It rapidly became a rallying cry for all. There was an urgent need to educate the public and encourage them to ‘get gardening’.

The Royal Horticultural Society began lectures and demonstrations, a plethora of pamphlets, books and booklets were produced, Mr Middleton broadcast gardening advice on BBC radio at 2.00pm on Sunday afternoons and Lord Dedham, from the Ministry of Agriculture, announced the intention to create half a million allotments, raising the number to 1,330,000. All available land was to be used to feed the nation; stately home lawns, railway sidings, sports field’s, the moat at the Tower of London, lawns in front of the Albert Memorial, even a bomb crater in the grounds of Westminster Cathedral where all turned over to vegetables.

Everyone was encouraged to grow brassicas to replace vitamin rich citrus and bananas and to make their own compost heaps; the introduction of National Growmore in 1942 increased productivity in poorer conditions. They also began to wage war against another arch enemy – pests.

One vital crop was onions. In 1943, the Horticultural Committee of the Red Cross Agricultural Fund introduced a scheme to increase production by forming onion clubs of 12-20 members, who should aim to cultivate ¼ acre between them, to be sold to the NAAFI or Admiralty contractors, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. If every allotment holder in the country gave 7lbs, 5 000 tons of onions would be produced.

Despite the pressures, an American Professor who visited England, in 1942 was astounded by the health of the people and at the end of the war, the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign deemed a success.

Growing your own is still the only way to capture the flavour, freshness and natural goodness that kept Britain fighting fit until VE day. Let’s celebrate ‘Dig for Victory’ once again. Growing your own fruit and veg has many benefits – from saving money, reducing food waste and your environmental impact, to improving your physical and mental health through gentle outdoor exercise.”

 

Matthew Biggs trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been a professional gardener for over forty years and is a regular panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. He has guested on numerous TV and Radio programs and has written books on a range of horticultural subjects from houseplants to vegetables.

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#wegrowtogether plants

The sunny weather is again helping the fair weather gardeners amongst us to get out and pot on…

It you’re planning a proper weekend out – in the back garden/ allotment/ windowsill – here are some very useful links.

‘heir and a spare’

Don’t forget, if you do have any ‘spares’ or ‘extras’ in your propagation pots, do keep a few aside for us, please. If you can.

When we reopen, we’d be very grateful for any donations of plants for us to sell to the public – a way we can raise some funds to fill the hole that has appeared this year. Many thanks  (Ps we cannot take strawberry plants. Please keep your plants at home until we open – we cannot look after them at present. Many thanks

RHS and Garden Organic

The RHS is going all out to create the event of the season online this year. This week saw the launch of My Chelsea Garden, in conjunction with the BBC’s The One Show. It’s a national competition asking people to enter pictures of their garden in one of the following four categories: Back Garden, Front Garden, Indoor Garden (Houseplants, window sills, balconies, etc), and Kids’ Corner Garden.

The competition runs until 18 May so do feel free  to send in your pics using #mychelseagarden 

The RHS are also supporting local nurseries by promoting the Plants Near Me website – if you are looking for plants and gardens product, enter your postcode and see who is still selling- and often delivering.

Working with the earth

As always the national charity for organic growing, Garden Organic has an absolute wealth of advice and helpful information – you can access a lot of their information without being a member…

Here is the link to some great and timely podcasts https://audioboom.com/channels/4987940 

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Blossom picnics – Birmingham’s own Hanami

Spend the day under the blossom trees in the heritage orchards of the Historic Gardens.
With apple and pear blossoms instead of the traditional Japanese plum, this version of Hanami still echoes the tradition of enjoying the beauty of the flowers this Spring.
A picnic in the Gardens is always enjoyable, however, the orchards in full bloom also provide the perfect setting for your relaxing day out.

Traditional Japanese food by Pika Pika will be available on the day, with a selection of delicious sushi and curry available.

Bring your own food and drink too. Cafe open for light refreshments
Music and other activities likely! Take part in learning how to create beautiful origami creations.
Normal entrance fees

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Kale

This week I planted out 40 Kale plants in the Batty Langley vegetable garden that have been quietly growing along in the greenhouse since September. We are trying three varieties, ‘Red Russian’, ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Borecole – Green Curled Dwarf’.

Kale does well over the colder months, so will hopefully add some interest in the garden over the following darker months. As pigeons take a fancy to stripping the foliage off plants in the Brassica family, the precaution of placing net over the kale plants has been necessary to stop them becoming just tattered stems!

I have used two beds to grow the kale in, with 20 plants in each one, and to create a neat formal look the use of a tape measure was implemented to ensure even spacing.

The botanical name for kale is Brassica oleracea var. acephala, ‘Brassica’ being the genus consisting of cabbages, ‘oleracea’ meaning that the plant can be used as a vegetable and ‘acephala’ meaning ‘without a head’, i.e that the plant is loose leafed rather than with a head as many cultivated cabbages have. Kale has a long history as a food crop, being one of the most important green vegetables in Europe up until the end of the Middle Ages.

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Harvest…

The Gardens are blessed with 2 apple and pear orchards and espaliered fruit fences all planted with over 60 heritage varieties dating back to the 1500s.

Like many fruit growers we’ve had a mixed year.

Normally we are able to produce a goodly number of single variety fruit juices for sale to our visitors. A radical pruning of the trees last year combined with the weather, has meant the crop this year is almost non-existent. (don’t worry it’s all to the good,we hope for an even bigger crop next year.

Undaunted, our annual Apple day this year will turn its focus to the urban harvest within our local community and the abundance of crab apples and other apple trees on the public land hereabouts. On 15th October it will be ‘Bring a Bottle’ and ‘juice your own’ – our three donated apple presses will be hard at work all day.

Our large veg plot – in 18th century ‘stylee’ the Batty Langley,usually provides a good crop of Cardoons, Artichokes, Squashes and Rhubarb. This year our younger visitors also planted up a runner bean tunnel …their effort have been rewarded with a great crop.

Earlier in the year visitors also helped us plant some special heritage potato varieties.

Early potato varieties, reputedly planted by local hero Sir Matthew Boulton, were re-introduced in the Garden but we have yet to test the taste of the tiny Yam and Congo varieties..

A good crop of Arran Victory, the potato named to celebrate the end of the 1914-18 war, has also been harvested – so we have plenty of seed potatoes for 2018 commemorations.

Together with Highland Burgundy red and Salad Blue, we’re hoping to produce red, white a blue mash!

Come along to our Harvest day Sunday 15th October 2017, 12.30 -4.30

(dont foget bring your apples, some clean bottles… and hopefully after a little elbow grease on the apple presser you’ll take home your very own juicy drink :_)

More details soon

 

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Year 6 Summer Leavers Special (New)

Transition to ‘Big School’ can be a nervy time for many pupils. The Gardens’ education department is offering a fun day out for Year 6 with a purpose.

A Taste of KS3 History gets the kids out of the classroom into the open in 10 acres of open space. Our historic garden gives us the opportunity to touch on topics across the KeyStage3 curriculum.

Sessions during the day include The Black Death and early medecine (our medicinal herb borders show the real plants), ‘Dig for Victory’ in our veg. plot and the opportunity to play like a Victorian on our Archery Lawn. They’ll also be the chance to taste ‘knot biscuits’ (shortcake based recipe) and carrot cookies (wartime recipe).

A day aimed at looking forward with confidence. £4 per pupil

Booking now  for weekdays (not Wednesday)

contact admin@cbhgt.org.uk, 0121 749 4100

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Beak Holiday Monday

The rain wasn’t much good for anything today ….but cakes were munched, masks were found, pompom flowers were made (and will be all week) … but this little family loved being fed all those lovely grubs that wet weather brings…

Bad photo with phone, but didn’t want to get too close and frighten them off. come and see them tomorrow, they’re growing fast.

More family activities all week – 12-3pm

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Pop in for pop-up food and music…

A new series of gentle, relaxed afternoons where you can take full advantage of the Gardens for some ‘me-time’.
We’ve asked some of the best local or artisan food businesses to run a one day pop-up cafe in the Orangery at the Gardens.
This month (May 21st) you can try some truly luscious cakes made by Bakes and Bits.
They currently operate in the city centre but hail originally from Castle Bromwich.

To put the ‘cherry on the cake’ of your afternoon experience we are also offering aspiring local musicians a chance to entertain our visitors while they chill and chomp on their cupcakes. We may not have a bandstand.. but we’ll have handpicked buskers to bathe your ears.
Good prices, good food and good company ..

Usual Garden entry prices
PS – We are still offering music slots – contact us if you are interested in knowing more
(Sun May 21st, Sat June 17th , Sat. July 8th & Sun July 23rd)

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