DONNINGTON GARDENING CLUB  (www.donningtonhorticulturalsociety.co.uk)

Programme Notes 2018

Members were treated to a wonderful display of outstanding images of wildlife, mainly birds, from the British Isles and abroad by expert photographer Mike Read on Friday 2nd November at the Parish Hall. Mike explained in clear terms how he set up his camera and the use and effect of different focal length lenses. He also showed close-ups of flowers and fungi and admitted he often used his car as a "hide" if suddenly coming across a photo opportunity. He managed to get a wonderful shot of a large stag deer from is car. He left us with renewed enthusiasm to always carry a camera and to see a picture in whatever we were looking at.

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On Friday 5th October, Peter Barwick gave us a very informative and illustrated talk on Soft Fruits and All Aspects of Fruit Growing. Peter, who is now retired, has been a professional fruit grower all his life, having left school at 15. He managed farms in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire and then orchards for the remaining 21 years.

 

Peter said that the most important thing to do to ensure successful crops is to remove all perennial weeds before planting any fruit bushes. It can take up to 18 months to properly prepare the area using a mix of SBK and Glyphosate together watered on with a fine rose to work on the green tissues. Make sure to keep any watering cans that have been used for weed-killers well away from any others!

 

Strawberries and Raspberries catch potential viruses easily. Strawberry’ runners should not be shared with other growers as this will spread any viruses further. Purchase clean stock from nurseries or garden centres and take runners for the first 18 months only. Mypex membranes are very useful when growing Strawberries. Rain can pass through and it also keeps the weeds down. Summer and autumn’ Raspberries can suffer from Raspberry Beetle and Botritis in the summer, and do not like wet feet or very hot weather.

 

Black, Red and White Currants will grow happily on heavy soil. Regular pruning is essential or fruit will become smaller each year. Birds are their worst enemies and White Currants must be covered or in a cage as they are a favourite of the birds!

 

A mildew-free Gooseberry must be chosen and the tall varieties, grown as a cordon, make picking so much easier. Gooseberry Sawfly is very common and needs to be controlled by a systemic spray before the Sawflies appear in May to July. Blueberries need a Ph level of 5 to 5.5 and, for pollination purposes, more than one variety needs to be grown at the same time. Ericaceous compost is essential because of the very fine dense roots. Unfortunately, these roots are loved by Vine Weevil which need to be controlled by Nematodes in spring and autumn. Blackberry, Loganberry and Tayberry need to be trained up canes and tied firmly in. These fruit bushes are also prone to Raspberry Beetle and Botritis. Thorn-free varieties are available and are very kind to hands and arms when harvesting fruit!

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ON FRIDAY 3rd August our Club spent a highly informative and entertaining evening when Margaret Williams spoke to us on ‘Cookery & Preserves: what the Judges are looking for’.  Margaret is an ex-teacher and lecturer who first took part in her local Wensleydale Shows when very young, under the guidance of her mother. After four years training to become a Judge, she now judges all over the country including being a Great Taste Award judge. All her tips and advice were invaluable.

 

The most important rule of showing is not to poison the Judge! Do not include meat or fish in savoury baking, nor sauces with uncooked eggs as these dishes are usually prepared one or two days in advance, and are then sitting on a show table for several hours with potentially dire results! The poor Judge can become very ill after tasting such items.

 

Margaret covered a multitude of aspects including the point that Clubs should be very careful in the wording of recipes in schedules so that all recipes should be very clear. The actual sizes of tins and eggs, for instance, can produce a great difference in the final result, and also that recipes that are too expensive should not be included!  Exhibitors are advised to practice the recipes at least one to two times before the final show. It is also a good idea for Clubs to change the recipes in the schedules regularly so not just one person always wins with their favourite cake or preserve!

 

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AT OUR JULY monthly Meeting our Members were informed and entertained by Community Support Officer Richard Moorey of the Chichester Police Prevention Team, when he described in detail all the current scams both on computers and telephones, and also involving doorstep callers and postal deliveries. He emphasized that if people do have the misfortune to be taken in by one of these scams it is important not to feel foolish or stupid and keep it to themselves, but to report the matter to the local police straight away. It is vital not to be persuaded into any kind of conversation with any callers on the phone, nor at the door: under no circumstances should any personal details be given. Put the phone down or close the door at once. Also, do not open any unexpected email or attachment. Should you receive a visit from a policeman (or a policewoman) and you are not convinced of their authenticity, a quick 999 call will get their identity and their reason for calling verified.

 

Finally, remember that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!

 

All reports by Lawrence Holloway.