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Race against time

Race against time

Now’s the time to make the most of the last sunny days as frost returns to our veg patches.

Focus on crops that will enjoy a protective throw-over of ‘horticultural fleece’. This lightweight fabric holds back the colder weather to extend the harvest season by a good fortnight. Just long enough to hasten your would-be lunch…

Try fleece over French bean, runner bean, Chinese cabbage, pea, outdoor tomato, and marrow.
(Links open PDFs)

The extra warmth is especially useful for saving seed when this grace period helps ripen fruit. Read more at Garden Organic’s webpage for Heritage Seed Library.

Weigh down fleece with wooden batons or rocks.


Movable heating

Another way for getting ‘hot under the vegetable collar’, so to speak, is covering selected crops for a few weeks with ‘cloches’. These deflect heavy rain and nudge up the temperature for extra growth.

Use cloches made from recycled plastic bottles with their bottom cut off. Or how about durable tunnels made from plastic or wire hoops covered in thick transparent plastic.

Use to cover carrot, lettuce, salad onion, beetroot, kohl rabi, rocket, oriental salads, strawberry, autumn and winter salads, and annual spinach (Links open PDFs).

This delightful cloche protection can move around your patch to extend the harvest until the temperature and light level fall too low over winter.

Garden Organic’s growing resources

Click here to discover unusual crops (opens ‘Sowing New Seed’ project website)

Step by step growing activities…

Become a Garden Organic member…

What to do in the garden now

Lively growing blogs by volunteer Master Gardeners:
Warwickshire, North London, South London, Norfolk, and Lincolnshire

Article by Philip Turvil


Posted in Featured, Growing tips0 Comments

NEW! Master Gardener forum launches

NEW! Master Gardener forum launches

Exciting news! The launch of your very own Master Gardener forum.

An opportunity for you to share ideas and information with other Master Gardeners across the country!

It is live NOW, so please make your way to your local website to login (use your usual website login), or visit

Once you have logged in to the control panel, just click on the forum link and you are ready to join the discussion!

More details

Choose a specialist topic, such as ‘Schools’ or ‘What’s growing well?’. Or chat with other Master Gardeners in your own local network or any network!

Click here for top tips on how to use the forum (link opens PDF)

Prize draw!

Anyone who posts on the forum before the end of October 2012 will be entered into a free prize draw to win one of three sets of Growing cards (25 in a set) – so join in the discussion now!

The growing cards are new and exclusive, printed on quality A5 card, with handy growing instructions including planting, growing and eating tips! As an example……..

Many thanks and enjoy the forum!

Click here to get in touch with questions

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

Find us on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Garden Organic has launched exciting Facebook pages for every Master Gardener network.

Please visit your nearest page and ‘like’ us today for the latest growing tips and local events. There are case studies, news articles, and links with other growing groups.

We love keeping in touch with our enthusiastic volunteers and the householders they mentor to grow food, as well as workplaces, schools, event organisers, partners, and community groups. See you there! Many thanks.

County networks

Norfolk Master Gardeners or visit website
Warwickshire Master Gardeners or visit website
Lincolnshire Master Gardeners or visit website

London networks

North London Master Gardeners or visit website
South London Master Gardeners or visit website

There’s more!

Garden Organic Facebook or visit website
Photo collection by Garden Organic
Click here to visit Flickr to see wonderful images of new food growers with their volunteer mentors


Master Gardeners Forum
Join the discussion – new forum launching September 2012.
Look out for web links coming soon.

We welcome your ideas

Please click here to get in touch with Garden Organic’s Master Gardener team

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

Free growing resources relaunched

Free growing resources relaunched

Garden Organic is pleased to announce the re-launch of its online version of the ‘Food Growing Manual’ with Bronze, Silver and Gold booklets.

Each booklet is packed with information and practical advice to support growing skills in schools through the Food for Life Partnership awards programme.

The booklets are now available in easily accessible, individual pdf. chapters. What’s more, the booklets accompany step-by step activities, posters, and growing cards for individual crops.

To get started please take a look at

Garden Organic’s Food Growing Growing

Free resources

Bronze booklet, Silver and Gold booklet, Guidance booklet
Download in full or individual chapters. Booklets accompany activities

Gardening-related activities and games
Practical, step-by-step guides. Activities accompany booklets

Individual food growing instruction cards
Vegetables, herbs, fruit, edible flowers, green manures, glossary

Quick reference posters
12 exciting topics

Summary of activities, cards, posters, templates 

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free to read PDF files

  Food for Life Partnership logo   Big Lottery logoThis resource is produced by Garden Organic as part of the Food for Life Partnership and was funded by the Big Lottery Fund.


What next

Article by Catrina Fenton & Philip Turvil

Posted in Featured, Growing tips0 Comments

Have your say this September

Have your say this September

Garden Organic has sent out exciting questionnaires this week to the Master Gardeners and the lovely people they mentor to grow their own food.

We’re working with Coventry University to monitor and evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of the programme.

It’s very exciting with intriguing questions – and already intriguing findings from our autumn 2011 and spring 12 research. We’re announcing the findings in a few weeks…

Look out for your questionnaire in the post if:

  • you’re a householder registered by your Master Gardener between May 2011 and October 2011
  • a Master Gardener trained in autumn 2011.

We’re also planning interviews and discussion groups during September and October 2012.

Alona and Susan planting apple trees in Mayow Park

Find out more
Research overview and the pilot findings with Coventry University.

Get involved
Register for your 12 months free growing advice or become a Master Gardener

Latest news and case studies

Who’s who?

Master Gardeners

Volunteers recruited, trained, and supported by Garden Organic to mentor registered ‘householders’ – individuals, couples and families wanting to start growing food or grow more at home and on communal land.

Garden Organic

We’re the UK’s leading organic growing charity, dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools.

Coventry University

Researchers in the health, environmental and social impact of local food systems at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE) and the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS).


Posted in Case studies, Featured0 Comments

In pictures: London 2012 Local Leader case studies

In pictures: London 2012 Local Leader case studies

London 2012’s exciting ‘Local Leader’ campaign has captured the imagination of Garden Organic’s local champions after the West Midlands launch at Ryton Gardens in April 2012.

Local Leader and Master Gardener programme manager, Philip Turvil, invited over 1,000 of Garden Organic’s enthusiastic volunteers to take part in ‘Garden for the Games‘.

They joined thousands of people nationwide helping their communities celebrate the Olympic and Paralypmic Games.

With the Games starting on 27 July 2012, here are some case study highlights from Master Gardeners.

Top left image: ‘County in a Basket’ on tour at local events and talks

Local Leader Mo

“The bunting from our village Jubilee celebrations is staying up for the Games!

“I’ve suggested all sorts of flowers that locals could plant to help celebrate London 2012. I’m always talking gardening and growing to people, in shops, dance classes, keep fit, as well as the hairdresses, where the hairdressers and their clients push bits of greenery under my nose!

“We’re having a BBQ on the 12th August which will be Game themed and the Garden Club is visiting my gardens later in August, so I’ll see how many I can ‘convert’!”

Local Leader Mo with pupils from President Kennedy School, Gardening for the Games!

Local Leaders John and Sandy
Dunchurch Boughton C of E Junior School, Warwickshire

“We had enthusiastic pupils busy planting their Olympic Rings in car tyres lined with plastic.

“In the tyres from top left to right in the photo below are Ageratum (blue), Viola (black), and Nasturtium (red); then bottom left to right Tagetes (yellow) and Lettuce (green).”

Pupils with Local Leaders - teacher Tracy (left) and Master Gardener Sandy

Busy planting at Dunchurch Boughton C of E Junior School Gardening Club

Local Leader Susan

“I’ve spoken to lots of people about gardening for the Games, especially all the dog walkers and the women at the gym!

“I think I’ve made a ripple with some sort of competition between the neighbours, especially since I did my front garden bed of red, white and blue flowers. It’s now a race every time the sun comes out! I really need that sun as the petunias are refusing to flower…

“My neighbour got involved after saying ‘as you put the Olympic torch in your garden, I felt I should make an effort too!’ I’ll confess my torch was never meant to be that, but after they said that, I could see the effect! I have white lobelia at the top, but I think I will have to swap it for some yellow flowers to get the ‘flame’ effect…”

Inspiring neighbours with red, white and blue flowers in Susan's front garden

Mascot: Wenlock celebrates

Tell your story: Click here to get in touch with Philip

See more: Visit our Flickr set of exciting images…

Read more: Olympic heroes at President Kennedy School

Get involved: Become a London 2012 Local Leader

News: London 2012 launch Local Leaders with Master Gardeners

Resources: Download Philip Turvil’s flower and vegetable growing guides produced with the enthusiastic team at LOCOG

Blog: Olympic Park tour with London 2012 update

Article by Philip Turvil

Posted in Case studies, Featured0 Comments

Garden Organic thanks volunteers at National Masters Conference

Garden Organic thanks volunteers at National Masters Conference

Garden Organic welcomed over 160 enthusiastic volunteers to the National Masters Conference at Ryton Gardens on the 30 June 2012.

Master Gardeners, Master Composters, and other wonderful champions came from across the UK to celebrate the ways they help people grow their own food and get composting.

Garden Organic’s Chief Executive Myles Bremner thanked every volunteer for their energetic and innovative outreach supporting people in their community.

We’re already thinking about next year’s conference on the 21st September 2013! Please click here to get in touch with your ideas.  In the meantime, this is what delegates said:

Very good choice of workshops. Too many good ones to pick!

Very efficient organisation. Lovely happy atmosphere.

Impressive control of weather!

Boosted my self-esteem in the role. Really inspirational

Thank you for the most brilliant and supportive day of education, resources and camaraderie.

Our huge thank to everyone involved in putting together this busy day – all the speakers, sponsors, technicians, workshop guides, organisers, and of course – volunteers from Garden Organic programmes and beyond.

Polly has her new book signed by BBC Blue Peter Gardener, Chris Collins

Preserving tips - every volunteer with a jar of long-lasting courgettes...

Garden Organic's Chief Executive Myles Bremner thanks the volunteers


Sun during outdoor fruit pruning workshop

Rain during our tea break!

Our official conference cakes! Olympic themed

Volunteers celebrate their graduation.

Please click here to see more conference photos (links to our Flickr set)

Story by Philip Turvil

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

More Master Gardeners win awards!

More Master Gardeners win awards!

Garden Organic has congratulated Master Gardeners for winning awards at the this year’s National Masters Conference at Ryton Gardens on the 30 June.

Independent judges looked through a record high for the number of nominations from fellow volunteers, as well as their mentored households and proud co-ordinators.

One judge said: “a pleasure and inspirational – FANTASTIC”

The awards were kindly presented by BBC Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins

Of course every volunteer is stunning. Every volunteer finds their own way to excite communities into growing and sharing food. In fact, the programme team like nothing more than chatting with Master Gardeners about successes and challenges. Thank you to everyone.

Please click here to read about the Master Gardener role and here for case studies

Visit the award-winning Master Composters too…

The Individual Master Gardener Achievement Award

This award was given to an individual Master Gardener who has gone beyond expectation in his/her promotional activities, either due to the amount of time or effort that they have devoted to their volunteering or the exceptional results that they have achieved.

3rd place: Mike Wohl – Islington Master Gardener
2nd place: Helen Kelly – Warwickshire Master Gardener
1ST PLACE: Anita Gracie – Islington Master Gardener

Anita Gracie

Anita is described as passionate about growing and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with other people.

She has done this engaging a wide range of people from all backgrounds and ages, from primary school children to elders in their 80s. A particular success has been encouraging Caribbean elders to get involved.

The Group Master Gardener Achievement Award

This award was given to a group of Master Gardeners that have shown how the whole can be more than the sum of its parts by forming an effective and cohesive group, which has helped to either improve the efficiency of a scheme or had a particularly significant impact locally.

3rd place: Flagship workshop, Norfolk Master Gardeners
2nd place: Warwickshire Master Gardeners
1ST PLACE: Shirley D’oyley & Sue Newcombe – Mablethorpe Community Garden – Lincolnshire Master Gardeners

Co-ordinator Rick collecting on behalf of Shirley & Sue

Against the odds, including having no running water on site, Shirley and Sue have worked wonders.

They have encourage families into growing on the site, including encourage children from the travelling community to grow there too. They have clocked up over 120 volunteering hours in 12 months. They have both constantly done over and above what is expected!

The Master Gardener Innovation Award

This award recognises innovation by either an individual or a group within the Master Gardener programme. Innovative ideas come in many forms, but the judges will look particularly favourably upon those ideas that have the potential to be replicated across other schemes.

2nd place: Keith Wellsted – Warwickshire Master Gardener
1ST PLACE: Nigel Boldero – Norfolk Master Gardener

Nigel Boldero

Nigel became a Master Gardener in September 2011 and has already registered over 34 hours and spoken to over 150 people.

He wins this award for his regular email to his households, to which he attaches factsheets, links to useful sites suited to their specific goals and topical stories from the Master Gardener website. It is a simple but very effective way of getting information to his households.

The ‘Masters’ Award

This award recognises exceptional achievement by a volunteer – possibly supporting both the Master Composter and Master Gardener programmes or simply acting as an inspiration to others through their efforts in either scheme. Someone who has already been nominated for the Achievement Award can also be put forward for this award.

3rd place: Malcolm Nobbs – Buckinghamshire Master Composter
2nd place: John & Sandy Young – Warwickshire Master Composters & Master Gardeners
1ST PLACE: Kate Daly – South London Master Gardener

Kate Daly

As a Master Gardener Kate has been helping at Streatham Common Community Garden) since 2011. They said “she is always so willing to help us out – attending meetings, gardening days and running sessions”. She is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She goes beyond the call of duty – doing research for us, picking up plants and compost, and sharing information.

The group added: “Her patience and kind-heartedness must also be noted – as with most groups just starting out, we have been a bit of a shambles at times – but she has stuck by us!” The garden group now have 170 people signed up and Kate will be instrumental in getting them all growing!.

Read more about Kate

Click here to read more about Garden Organic’s National Masters Conference 2012

Support Garden Organic by joining as a member

Posted in Case studies, Featured0 Comments

25 new School Master volunteers

25 new School Master volunteers

Volunteer Master Gardeners and Master Composters from across Garden Organic networks came to specialist schools training at Ryton Gardens on the 26 May 2012.

This exciting day looked at working with teachers and young people – what crops do and don’t work in schools, and how to start and sustain school food gardening. Volunteers also prepared presentations, assemblies, and group activities to demonstrate to the group.

The day was led by Rosie Grant and Ruth Hepworth from Garden Organic’s Food for Life Partnership education team.

Please click here to Garden Organic’s free resources for schools with the Food for Life Partnership – including courses for school professionals

Click here to see photos from this training and 2011 course

25 Master Gardeners and Master Composters

Swapping opinions

Mmmm, what crops when?

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

We’re here to help! Now 400 Master Gardeners

We’re here to help! Now 400 Master Gardeners

86 new Master Gardeners are helping people grow food after five training weekends from March to May 2012.

There are now 400 active volunteers since Garden Organic begun the programme in April 2010.

There are Master Gardener networks in North London, South London, Norfolk and Warwickshire thanks to the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme and in Lincolnshire thanks to the NHS.

Click here to read about our future areas.

We’ve recorded an amazing 10,500 hours so far by Master Gardeners with 34,000 food growing conversations and 3,300 people regularly supported. Ongoing research by Coventry University indicates lasting behavioural change…

Please click here for more figures and here for case studies about households and communities.

Each volunteer has individual support from our locally-based co-ordinators – and there’s more to do! Watch out for announcements as the lively networks keep developing.

Please click through to local news stories:

New North London Master Gardeners

Come on in! Warwickshire volunteers

Say ‘Seeds’: big smiles from South London

New Norfolk Master Gardeners are no April fools

New spring recruits in Lincolnshire!

Visit our Flickr photo collection

Many thanks

Philip, Kate, Gabbie, Fiona, Rick, Susan
The Master Gardener Programme Team

Get involved with the Master Gardeners Programme

Find out more about the UK’s leading organic growing charity Garden Organic

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

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We’re creating a model to establish custom networks of volunteer Master Gardeners in more UK areas. More information available here.

Photos on flickr