Potato seed trials

As potato days around the country are cancelled so Alan Romans is offering seed potatoes which are part of the project he has been promoting for a few years now, trying to raise the next generation of blight resistors in association with the Sarvari Trust. He writes ‘I have combined 3 groups of parents to get 3 different sources of blight resistance over 3/4 years. My technique has greatly improved this season and I have thousands of seeds. I can cope with 100/200 of them at most. Nearly all of the progeny will have some blight resistance with a few having great resistance.

Most will be modern maincrop/ late maincrop ie not daylength dependent for tuberization (like eg Golden Wonder) and could have large yield potential.
To stand a fair chance of useful tubers in one season I would sow the seed in February like tomato seeds in a propagator and plant out as soon as conditions permit. Allow at least 12″ between plants if looking for size. I cram the seedlings as close together as I can to give me more to assess and am happy to get a few minitubers of the more promising to plant on in the following year. I am always impressed by how vigorous the little seedlings are.

My seed, so far, has been very good for one year but then loses much of its viability by year 2 – hence my apparent selfless generosity! It would be great if any members interested would join our very informal group and look out for commercial quality tubers coming from very blight resistant plants, which could be assessed at Bangor University in the future. Good but not essential – I am not getting any younger and the more my crosses get out there the more chance there is that something gets passed on. Regards, Alan Romans’
If you are interested in this project get in touch via mail@wyog.org

EU plans growth in organic farming to enhance biodiversity – a recent article in Farmers Weekly.

© Tim Scrivener© Tim Scrivener

The EU could set a target of one-quarter of agricultural land in Europe to be farmed organically by 2030, with an additional goal of reducing the use of chemical pesticides by 50%.
The plan to increase the amount of organic farming in Europe is understood to be included in the latest draft of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, scheduled to be published later this month.
The proposal to reduce the use of pesticides and nitrogen, while increasing the use of integrated pest management methods, has been included in a draft of a Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, which will sit alongside the biodiversity strategy.
According to Brussels insiders, the latest draft text of the plans suggests that transformative change is “urgently required” to reverse the trend of biodiversity losses.
It says organic farming is the “best-known and best-regulated agro-ecological practice”, but acknowledges there would also be a need for measures to increase demand for organic produce through a commission action plan.
The document also suggests that at least 10% of the agricultural area in use should be restored as high-diversity landscapes.

Organic progress

 Although there has been strong growth in organic farming in Europe over the past decade, the extent of the sector varies considerably across EU regions, so such a target would be a significant change.

Across the whole of the EU-28 in 2018, organic farming accounted for just 7.5% of the total used agricultural area, or 13.4m hectares.
According to Eurostat, the total organic area in the EU rose by 25% between 2012 and 2017.
The highest share of organic farming was reported in the Salzburg region of Austria, where about half (52%) of the total  agricultural area was used for organic farming in 2016 (the latest year for which regional data are available).
There were a further seven regions where organic farming accounted for upwards of one-quarter of total used agricultural area: Severozápad in the Czech Republic (30%), Norra Mellansverige in Sweden (29%), Calabria in Italy (29%), Mellersta Norrland in Sweden (28%), Burgenland in Austria (27%), Sicilia in Italy (26%), and Moravskoslezsko in the Czech Republic (25%).

Latest UK figures show that organic farming represents less than 3% of the total farmed area on agricultural holdings.

Next steps

Publication of the F2F and Biodiversity Strategy has already been pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most likely dates for publication at present are 20 or 29 May.

Online gardening workshops

Each one-hour presentation uses Zoom in full screen mode which is like having a speaker project onto a screen. It includes video, images, and sound as appropriate. There is a question and answer session at the end where participants can ask questions or go over specific points again.
There are three linked presentations covering composting, organic growing and microbed gardening.
Organic1, Thursday 19 November 2020 at 7.30pm Please email us to register your interest.
Understand why organic gardening is more sustainable, better for the environment and produces healthier and more productive soils. Suitable for beginners and those who want to learn about the latest soil management techniques.

Microbed1, Thursday 7 January 2021 at 7.30pm Please email us to register your interest.
Microbed gardening – uses raised beds that are just one metre square, Colin pioneered this way of growing. He has been running trials over several years and continually producing amazing yields including over 14kg of potatoes and 10kg of onions. His current garden of about 16 square metres in on track to produce over 100Kg of food this year.
Compost2, Thursday 11 February 2021.  Please email us to register your interest.
Compost – Make compost in as little as 8 weeks. Learn how to use it to improve soil fertility and soil structure. Colin is a master composter in every sense and has been making hot compost for 30 years.
Colin Shaw has been an organic gardener for over 30 years. He has written articles for gardening magazines in the UK including Kitchen Garden and Gardeners World. He was a freelance photojournalist for many years working for professional horticulture magazines in the US and Australia. He wrote the chapter on soil in the HDRA Encyclopaedia of Organic Gardening and the Rodale Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Organic Gardening. He has also talked to many gardening clubs and societies.
More information can be found at http://www.organicgarden.org.uk/online-workshops/

There is no charge but we would appreciate a donation towards the cost of the Zoom account  funded by http://www.eyamgreengroup.org.uk and the http://www.organicgarden.org.uk  web site.

Potato Day 2021

Sadly we have had to cancel next year’s potato day as we cannot get a suitable venue to deal with pre-orders and collection. 

We can offer to order whole sacks for you and get them delivered to Northcliffe Allotments in Shipley, and then they can be collected from there or delivered by WYOG to you on 13th February. You can choose from the list from SKEA or WCF; WCF offer the option to have a sack which is already prepacked into 8 x 2.5k or 10 x2 k – so you could easily split one with other people. The cost would be the wholesale price plus 20% for delivery costs. The lists are below (scroll to the bottom of the page to find the print page button), but if you would prefer me to email you a copy then please just let me know. We would need your order, and second choice, by 18thNovember, and you would need to have paid by 25th Nov. Peter Taylor is dealing with all the order and monies and can offer any help you need. Contact him on sueandpetertaylor@yahoo.co.uk

WCF Order form 2020-21

First Early25kQuantity
Arran Pilot17.25 
Duke of York17.50 
Lady Christi21.00 
Maris Bard19.50 
Pentland Javelin17.00 
Red Duke of York17.50 
Sharpes Express17.50 
Organic Colleen23.00 
Second Early  
British Queen19.00 
Maris Peer16.50 
International Kidney19.00 
Pink Fir Apple22.50 
Main crop   
Golden Wonder20.00 
Kerrs Pink19.00 
King Edward16.50 
Maris Piper16.50 
Sarpo Mira22.50 
Vales Sovereign20.50 
Organic Pink Gypsy24.00 
Skea organic SeedPriceQuantity
First Early Varieties  
Maris Bard20.50 
Second Early/ salad types  
Maris Piper20.50 
Early maincrop  
Mary’s Rose20.50 
Sarpo Una20,50 
Main crop  
Pink Gypsy20.50 
Main crop reds  
Sarpo Axona20.50 
Sarpo Mira20.50 
Speciality and Heritage  
Arran Victory20.50 
Golden Wonder23.00 
Coloured flesh varieties  
Blue Annelise33.00 
Heidi Red33.00 
Highland Burgundy Red33.00 
Skea Non OrganicPriceQuantity
Sarpo family  
Blue Danube20.50 
SKEA Non OrganicPriceQuantity
Speciality and heritage varieties  
Arran Pilot20.50 
British Queen20.50 
Duke of York20.50 
Edzell Blue28.00 
Home Guard28.00 
International Kidney28.00 
Kerr’s Pink20.50 
Maris Piper23.00 
Pentland Javelin28.00 
Pink Fir Apple28.00 
Red Duke of York20.50 
Red King Edward20.50 
Sharpes Express23.00 
Yukon Gold20.50 
Coloured Flesh Variety  
Blue Congo23.00 
Highland Burgundy Red23.00 
Salad Blue23.00 
Shetland Black23.00 
Mayan Family  

Potato Day 2019

What a fantastic day…

Saturday saw one of our busiest Potato Days with queues out of the door (yes, in that weather!) and a packed hall once the doors were opened at 10am.

The first variety sold out in 14 minutes and another four were gone a few minutes later. Luckily there were lots more options for people to try, and again there was a lot of people trying growing potatoes for the first time.

Talks by potato expert Alan Romans and BBC Radio Leeds gardening expert Graham Porter were popular and well attended. As usual, the Wholegrain Café kept everybody well fed and watered throughout the day.

But if you missed it – don’t worry, there will be some leftovers for sale at Northcliffe Allotments Clubhouse in Shipley this Saturday the 16th, from 10 – 2pm. For more information contact allotmentval@phonecoop.coop

Organic varieties in capitals.  (EM) denotes early maincrop.
1st Earlies:
Belle de Fontenay (3kg)
2nd Earlies:
WCF: Divaa (7kg), Jazzy (6kg), Kestrel (1kg), Vivaldi (10kg).
BELMONDO (EM) (5kg), CAROLUS (EM)(3kg), DESIREE (EM) (1kg in poor condition), GOLDEN WONDER (4kg), ORLA (EM)(1kg).
Red Emmalie (EM)(1kg), Sarpo Blue Danube (10kg) (EM), Sarpo Kifli (EM)(2kg), Vales Sovereign (EM)(2kg), Violetta (6kg).

Important update on Ryton Organic Gardens

Ryton Gardens latest – 23 Feb 2018

Dear Local Group Member

In September last year we sent a letter, with The Organic Way magazine, to all members informing them of the Board of Trustees decision to explore options for our headquarters site at Ryton. We are looking to secure the long-term future of the charity and release the financial pressures from owning and managing the land and buildings.

As part of the exercise to understand what future options the organisation has, the site has been marketed by property advisors, with expressions of interest received from a number of different parties and for a variety of purposes.

At the moment these expressions of interest contain only headline information with minimal detail. The next step will be to meet with interested parties and begin discussions to understand the detail behind each one. This will be a complex and potentially lengthy process but as and when we have any further updates we will continue to publish them on our website.

The Board of Trustees will evaluate the options available on the merit of their ability to protect the future of the charity. They will be considering all elements of our charitable work to ensure we are in a position of strength to continue and expand the work which delivers the most charitable benefit, both to our members and our project beneficiaries.

As you will be aware, Garden Organic is a national charity with a mission to encourage people to grow organically. We have over 20,000 members across the UK who access information and advice from our website, magazines and newsletters, and through our outreach work. At our base at Ryton we have an organic demonstration garden open to the public, plus a number of buildings which we manage.

In recent years, it has become clear to the Trustees that the running costs of the full site at Ryton are limiting our ability to operate to our full potential. The site is expensive to run and means that we are unable to fund as many projects as we would like in other parts of the country where we believe we could make a real difference. In addition visitor numbers to the site have dropped as there are now many different inspirational sites across the country where organic gardening can be seen in practice.

We currently undertake some outreach work through our amazing volunteer Master Composters, Master Gardeners, Growing Buddies and Food Buddies to support individuals, community gardens, schools and horticultural therapy projects at grassroots level across the UK. Our Heritage Seed Library is also going from strength to strength, with the support of our volunteer Seed Guardians, and we are building partnerships with venues to showcase varieties with local and historical relevance. We would like to do much more of this outreach work, which spreads the organic message far and wide.

Garden Organic has had to evolve many different times since it began. It is this willingness to move forward that has allowed the organisation to continue for 60 years, and will put it in the best position to continue for 60 more.

I would be happy to attend one of your group’s forthcoming meetings, to explain the charity’s position in more detail and answer any questions you may have. If you would like to take up this offer please contact Trish Henderson at phenderson@gardenorganic.org.uk with potential dates. Please could you also share this message amongst your group’s members?


We will continue to provide updates via our website and The Organic Way, and any comments or questions on this can be submitted via email to questions@gardenorganic.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

James Campbell
Garden Organic CEO

Potato Day a roaring success

Potato Day 2018 was a roaring success, with crowds once again queuing patiently well before the doors opening, and the first variety to sell out going in just 11 minutes.

Talks from Riverford Organics and Plate2Plate compost kept people entertained, the Wholegrain Café kept people topped up with food and drink, and Veg on the Edge swapped seeds all day long. Stalls from West Riding Organics, Palestinian Solidarity Oil and the Vegan Society provided plenty of things to look at and buy. Once again, there were a range of fruit trees and bushes for sale.

There was a good deal of interest from local media, with radio spots on BBC Radio Leeds and BCB community radio, together with a great article in the T&A.

Thanks to all the volunteers who either helped in the kitchen or sold spuds, by the end of the day we were nearly sold out. There are a few varieties left and if you’re still after some you can get hold of them on the 24th of February, 1-3pm at the club house on Northcliffe allotments. To get to the club house park at the Cliffe Gardens entrance to Northcliffe Woods (off Bradford Road), walk up the steep tarmac road and onto the muddy track, keep going for a couple of hundred yards and the club house is on the right, at the top of the bottom set of allotments, it has a ramp and lots of pots etc outside. If you get to a car park and NEET then you have gone too far so come back down the track.