Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Monday 18 February 2013

Cutting Edge Veg - Master Gardener training

On Saturday morning I got up early and set off ( in thick fog) to go to Garden Organic HQ at Ryton, for a Master Gardener Training day on the subject of Cutting Edge Veg. The course description looked really interesting and I was looking forward to the day ahead, despite the long drive through fog.

We were going to be introduced to vegetables from a wide range of cultures including India, East Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Many of these plants already have a proven track record of cultivation in the UK, having been grown by immigrant communities for decades on allotments and in gardens. The majority can be grown outside without a glasshouse.

The course would be looking at
  • The range and diversity of crops that can be grown in the UK
  • The best varieties and where to source growing material
  • Top tips for cultivation
  • Advice on preparation
  • Saving seed and propagation
Many of these crops have only recently become more widely known through Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project (http://www.sowingnewseeds.org.uk). This innovative venture has greatly widened people’s access to growing non-traditional crops.

I grow a fair number of more exotic herbs and veg, but am always willing to try something new and learn about new techniques.

I joined my fellow Master Gardeners ( all from Warwickshire) and we were welcomed by our co-ordinator Kate and by the co-ordinator of Sowing New Seeds, Anton Rosenfeld.  Anton is passionate about the growing, preparation and eating of food from a wide diversity of cultures. He has lived in South America, he has grown food crops for Caribbean and Indian communities, and on returning to the UK he was excited to see that people had managed to produce many of these crops successfully in our UK climate. The Sowing New Seeds project was the perfect opportunity to realise this interest.

We started with hot drinks ( very welcome as it was jolly cold outside!) and a game to see if we could identify any of the veg and herbs.

Anton with a Dudi ( apparently everyone takes a photo of him holding this veg up this - I cannot imagine why!)

The red and yellow dots meant we either did not know what this was, or were really unsure about it - only two people knew what it was.

The morning passed very quickly while we learnt about some of the background to the project, the seeds themselves, where they originated from and how they have been adapted by the growers all over the country to cope with the UK climate.

We had an excellent lunch (as always at Ryton) and then some time to ourselves -  as always I had a wander around the gardens

The wildflower meadow area in winter. I was relieved to see that even Ryton has wet, soggy soil and not much happening, at the moment - but the bare bones of the gardens are still very beautiful.

I want some more structural items in my garden  - I love this gate? pergola? whatever it is called it is beautiful.

We went back in for more interesting information on growing things like Turmeric, Ginger, Oca, and various herbs and then went outside again to plant some seeds.

We finished off the day by cleaning some Callaloo ( Amaranth) seeds from the seed heads - great fun but ow very spiky so wear gloves if you are doing this at home. These were seeds grown by Garden Organic as part of the project to distribute via the Heritage Seed Library - if you become a member you get to select six packets of seeds which are no longer commercially available and this year various "exotic" herbs and veg are included in the catalogue.

So, a very good day, I learnt lots of new things, had a good chat to some friends, made a few new ones and as always had a really good day out. I am looking forward to growing some of these plants for myself and spreading the word when I am Master Gardening

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