Sprout No. 27 November 2019

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Seed saving, swapping and suppliers

Allotment holders obviously use quite a lot of seeds, so having a variety of sources for them is always useful.  New plot holders may wonder where other folk are getting their seeds from so here are a few pointers.  There are three basic ways of getting seeds:

  • Saving seeds from your own plants
  • Swapping seeds with other gardeners,
  • Buying seeds from shops and seed merchants

Saving your own seed is a great, low cost way of getting seeds for next year.  The important things to remember when saving your own seeds are:

  • Don’t try to save seeds from “F1” hybrids – due to the genetics involved you’ll find that the crops grown next year from saved F1 seeds aren’t likely to be the same as the plants you’ve saved them from this year,
  • Make sure that the seeds are mature before saving them.  How to tell this varies from plant to plant, but usually it means that seed pods and cases are turning dry and brown.  Tying paper (not plastic) bags over seed heads on plants can help catch seeds the become ready when you’re not actually standing there next to the plant!
  • Store saved seeds in a dry, cool (though preferably not frosty) place.  Old manilla envelopes can be cut up and turned into little seed packets which will help stop moisture from rotting seeds.  The moisture retaining gel packs that you get in some consumer goods are also useful for keeping moisture from rotting seeds, especially if you also store the seed packs in tins (which is a good way to stop mice from nibbling through your seed stash!).

Swapping seeds with other gardeners lets you pass on excess seeds (we all buy too many sometimes!) or try different varieties.  The Association sometimes runs seed and plant swapping mornings in the Spring to let members swap their seeds and excess seedlings – any packets of seeds can be donated and/or taken including full or partially used commercial packets, self-saved seeds or old packets that might be out of date.  Folk have also swapped flowers as well as veg!  Other groups in the area such as Transition Stratford also run seed and plant swaps so its worth keeping an eye out for them.

If you do want to buy new seeds there are now a large number of potential sources, ranging from high street shops to specialised mail order companies.  Some useful sources ATAGA members have used in the past are listed below.

  • Local garden centres such as Wyevale, Stratford Garden Centre or Charlecote Garden Store often have special offers, especially in the Autumn when they want to clear out old stock. Sometimes packets of brand name seeds can be picked up for considerably less than half price or at flat rates such as 50p per packet.
  • Cheap veg seeds are sometimes available from high street shops such as The Works, Robert Dyas, Wilkinsons, Poundland or Pound Stretchers.  You don’t necessarily get much choice on varieties, but if you just want “carrots” or “cabbage” they can be a good buy.
  • The main mail order seed companies are Kings, Suttons, Mr Fothergills and Marshalls.  All of these have a large range of different veg (and flower) seeds, and also sell seed potatoes and fruit trees/bushes.  The sometimes run bulk buying offers as well.
  • Some of the smaller Internet/mail order companies that folks on the site have used include The Organic Gardening Catalogue, The Real Seed Catalogue and Victoriana Nursery Gardens.  These companies provide access to more specialist seeds and plants than the mainstream companies – worth a look once you’ve got the basics of veg growing under your belt.

Also consider joining the Heritage Seed Library, run by Garden Organic at Ryton Gardens (just outside Coventry).  The HSL membership gets you some a couple of seed saving newsletters a year and access to their collection of “heirloom” seeds that are no longer available commercially.  Every member gets to select 6 veg varieties each year (plus usually a “bonus” seed pack based on whatever they have an excess of) and these seeds are all “open pollinating” varieties which means that once you’ve grown the plants you can definitely save seeds from.

If you have a favourite source of seeds, why not pop in a comment below?

Sprout 29

Sprout Issues 28

Site Improvements

Landscapers have cleared the roadside verge, to the right of the allotment entrance. It is hoped that in the future this can to be maintained by mowing.

They have also cleared the brambles in front of A1, making a better area for parking.

They have also cleared inside and along our boundary fence to the left of the entrance gate and have ground out the tree stumps next to plot C02S.

Plots C10 & C11

Following the completion of the BBC filming the boundaries of C10 and C11 have been posted so it can be brought into use.

The fence will allow a path for general access alongside C10. This is not intended for cars. It will also ensure access to the water pipes that ran through that area.

The fencing will also allow for a path to continue to the gate on the side of C12N at least for the foreseeable future.

Parking for C10 and C11 plots will be provided at the area in front of the plots as per adjacent plots.

The Lettings Officer has already circulated an email regarding the heaps and mounds that are in the process of being removed. There will then be no availability for general parking or bonfires.

More Photographs from Working Party

A very good turnout with around 10 Members and Trustees. Over 20 meters of Ivy, Brambles and rough undergrowth were cut back. New posts were put in and barbed wire re-strung to better define the site boundary.

In addition to the above the team cleared the corner between rows B and C to allow vehicle access to the row C area.

Plans are afoot to also improve the roadside adjacent to the allotment side on the opposite to the newly cleared area.

Thanks again to all those that took part.





Recent Working Party – Thank You to ALL

Thank you to all Association Members who attended the Working Party, more details will be given in the next edition of Sprout. The day started at 10:00 for H&S reasons with the felling of some of the small trees before the majority of the Working Party arrived as planned. The work wound down by about 15:00 with the bonfire smouldering nicely.

The before photograph……….


The after photograph……..



The team also cleared behind plot B02 widening the pathway and potentially allowing better access to C Plots.


Once again a big THANK YOU to ALL Involved.


Authentic American Pumpkin Pie

IMG_0719Autumn (the fall), the end of the growing season, harvest festivals, Haloween and US Thanksgiving all blend to give the “Pumpkin Season”. Pies are traditionally made from “Pie Pumpkins” which measure about 150mm (6″) in diameter and are not the Pumpkins that are used for Halloween lanterns. So use up some of your smaller Pumpkins for this authentic recipe.

Pumpkins are a native plant to North America and were exported to France and from there to Tudor England. Originally hollowed out Pumpkins were filled with fruit and spices and put into a fire to cook and the contents eaten directly from the shell or scraped out onto a bowl.

Many recipes use pulped and canned Pumpkin but this recipe uses the fruit itself.

Ingredients – (Serves 16 portions)

For the filling:-

  • 500g pumpkin, cooked and pureed.
  • 1 can, 410g tin evaporated milk.
  • 2 eggs, beaten.
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

For the pastry:-

  • 350g plain flour.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 200g butter.
  • 125ml cold water.

Method –

Preparation time: 30 minutes – Cooking time 1hour 10 minutes.

  1. Preheat oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Halve the washed pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and stringy portions. Cut pumpkin into chunks. In a saucepan over medium heat, cover the pumpkin with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well, cool and remove the peel.
  3. Return the pumpkin to the saucepan and mash with potatoes masher, use 500 g for this recipe and set aside the remainder.
  4. Prepare the pastry by mixing together the flour and salt. Rub butter into the flour and add 1 tablespoon of the cold water to the mixture at a time, mix and repeat until the pastry is moist enough to hold together.
  5. With lightly floured hands, shape the pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll the pastry to a 3mm thickness. Transfer to a 20 cm to 23 cm pie dish, gently pressing the pastry  into the bottom. Cut off any excess pastry hanging over the edge of the pie dish and pinch the pastry securely around the lip of the dish.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the pumpkin paste with the evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt using a hand mixer.Mix well. Pour into the prepared pie dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Serve when cold with whipped cream, dusted with cinnamon.

Source: Wikipedia & allrecipies.


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