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Garden Organic’s Master Gardener programme nominated for national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener programme nominated for national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Master Gardener Programme, run by the charity Garden Organic, will compete against two other projects from across England for the chance to be named winners of the Education and Learning category in the Local Food Recognition Awards 2013. The awards are organised by Local Food, a £59.8m scheme that distributes grants from the Big Lottery Fund to projects helping to make locally grown food accessible and affordable to communities

Since 2009, the Master Gardener project has received £674,254 in funding from Local Food to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network to encourage and mentor people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land. This has involved the recruitment of a co-ordination team based in Warwickshire, London and Norfolk, who have trained and supported 475 Master Gardeners who have given 18,500 hours to promote home food production.

The volunteers have impacted on the lives of 4,300 people in mentored ‘households’ and another 52,000 people through workshops and other support for local groups. The Local Food Recognition Awards are an opportunity to recognise, reward and celebrate some of the hundreds of outstanding community projects that Local Food has funded since the programme opened in 2008.

Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme Manager, said: “Garden Organic’s Master Gardeners have wide-reaching benefits beyond growing food. It’s also about lifestyle, community and improving the environment.

“We don’t want to just teach our Master Gardener volunteers the best way of growing a lettuce for lunch. We want to teach them how to pass this information on to others in the community, to share their passion and experience so that everyone is learning from each other and feeling the benefits.

“By working with volunteers in their communities, we’re showing that the initial challenges of growing your own food can be overcome. So if that first crop ends up slug eaten, rather than feel demoralised, people look for advice and support instead of giving up.”

Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said: “The Local Food Recognition Awards seek to celebrate the most outstanding community projects delivered with the help of Local Food funding.

“All our projects have made a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they are based, helping local people in all manner of different ways to access, grow, prepare and understand the benefits of fresh, healthy food, so to be shortlisted for an Award is a tremendous achievement. Many Local Food projects have gone beyond the original aims of the programme and are having much wider impacts in their communities, so our judges have a difficult but exciting task ahead in choosing the winners.”

All 500 Local Food projects were invited to enter the Awards in 4 categories – Small Grants, Community Food Growing, Education and Learning, and Enterprise. Shortlisted projects will be judged by an external panel in September, and the winners in each category will be unveiled in November at an event at The Lowry in Manchester. – ends –

For further information, please contact:

Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme Manager: Email here

Notes for Editors:

Garden Organic ( is the UK’s leading organic growing charity dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools. Using innovation and inspiration, the charity aims to get more people growing in the most sustainable way. Garden Organic delivers through renowned projects such as the Food for Life Partnership, the Master Composter and Master Gardener schemes, and the work of The Heritage Seed Library.

Volunteer Master Gardeners ( offer food growing advice to local people and communities. The volunteers are fully trained and supported by Garden Organic, the UK’s leading organic growing charity.

This three-year pilot programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, Sheepdrove Trust and local authorities in four areas: Warwickshire, Islington, South London and Norfolk. Garden Organic aim to develop and sustain these programme areas more nationally to follow the success of Garden Organic’s Master Composter network.

Local Food ( is a £59.8 million programme that distributes money from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to a variety of food-related projects to help make locally grown food accessible and affordable to communities. It was developed by a consortium of 17 national environmental organisations, and is managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT).
RSWT is a registered charity incorporated by Royal charter to promote conservation and manage environmental programmes throughout the UK. It has established management systems for holding and distributing funds totalling more than £20 million a year.

The Big Lottery Fund ( is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding. It is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, awarding over £4.4 billion to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since 2004.

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Lincolnshire Show 2013

Lincolnshire Show 2013

Our second Lincolnshire Show started with sun and smiles – and kept that way till the very end, when the clouds politely waited for people to leave before dumping a river of rain on people packing away.

Lincolnshire Master Gardeners were asked this year to arrange a display promoting growing food in unusual containers. This I think we did well. I’ll leave it up to you to decide!

Five Master Gardeners helped talk to hundreds of people about the benefits of growing their own food and advice and support was given to dozens of growers experiencing pests or diseases.

Children (and adults!) were encouraged to take home a paper-pot with a seed in it to grow on their windowsill, with several hundred taking up the offer.

I am now challenging the whole county of Lincolnshire to grow one pot of salad leaves this summer and get Lincolnshire growing it’s own!

A winner will be announced soon for our Lincolnshire Show competition.

Everything including the sink...

Everything including the sink…

Just buy cream!

Just buy cream!

Which James did try to buy!

Which James did try to buy!

These ladies cooked for a care home and were excited to see how they could use these displays to encourage their clients to grow and eat more healthily.

Sarah Glendinning from Lincolnshire County Council Public Health inducts the next generation of food growers

C’mon Lincolnshire! Let’s get growing!

Our thanks go to Lincolnshire County Council for inviting us to the Lincolnshire Show to be in their Public Health marquee.

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Lincolnshire network expands

Lincolnshire network expands

Last weekend (1 & 2 June 2013) was not only the start of UK Volunteer Week, it was also the dates for the induction of 17 new Lincolnshire Master Gardeners.

Hill Holt Wood was the impressive back drop to a lively and enjoyable weekend. The result of which is 74 Master Gardeners across Lincolnshire, a network that is positively brimming with growing enthusiasm that they wish to share with non-food growers!

Even before the induction began, the network quickly clicked, and myself and Philip had a job to stop the gardeners talking about, well, gardening! It is always daunting pulling gardeners away from their gardens for a weekend. Especially a sunny weekend. Here’s how the course compares with their prior expectations…

Both Diane and Jennie thought the course was ‘much better than expected’
Steven thought it went one better ‘Very good – better than expected’!
Whilst Dave, himself an experienced horticultural trainer, found the course ‘above expectations’

Let’s see what we got up to…

A sun filled Saturday saw the inductees introduce themselves and their top tip. Some tips proved quite divisive within the group – gardening is a hotbed of opinion it seems!

We explored the role and how the volunteers can access their existing and new networks to help spread the healthy food growing message to a wider audience across Lincolnshire. The afternoon was led by Master Gardener Programme Manager, Philip Turvil, who delighted the volunteers with his energetic and enthusiastic delivery of the horticultural section of the day.

More details

On a very hot and sunny Sunday, Philip and I were joined by Master Gardener Heidi, who outlined her role in developing the Stamford Community Garden, and how utilising local media and networks can easily result in eager households to support and advise. Heidi also told of how her role as a Master Gardener has led to her delivering a free gardening course at Stamford College. Needless to say, the inductees were very impressed and chatted to Heidi throughout lunch.

Resident chef and gardener (what a perfect mix of skills for this Lincolnshire County Council Public Health programme!) Scott, took us all for a tour of the organic food garden, followed by a site analysis session by Philip.

Get involved

Lincolnshire is more than ready with its team of Master Gardeners to get the county growing more food, with less food miles.

Contact us now to be put in touch with your local Master Gardener and receive 12 months free support and advice.

The group discuss composting and all the good it does the food growing space


Emma, Jennie, Diane, Sarah and Hilary practice their paper pot rolling ready for events around the county.


Philip enthralls the group whilst photo-bombing my picture! (He wasn’t there when I clicked!)


Thanks to modern gadgetry, you can view more lovely photographs here.


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Spring Kitchen free April and May recipies

Spring Kitchen free April and May recipies

Spring Kitchen in Lincoln are producing seasonal recipe cards, available here as a pdf download.

April and May include Spinach and Cheese Tortillas, Coconut Curried Leeks, Carrot and Coriander Soup as well as how to make your own Pesto and what to do with it afterwards.

This is a great little resource – look out for the June’s recipes soon. Want to know how to cut costs further by growing your own carrots, leeks and coriander? Sign up for 12 months free advice and support growing you own food! Click below and like Spring Kitchen on Facebook to find out more about what they do in Lincoln.

Spring Kitchen Recipes April May (PDF download 203kB)

Spring Kitchen

12 months free growing advice

Grow food already? We’re looking for 20 new volunteers across Lincolnshire!

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Testing your soil

Testing your soil

Have you been struggling with a, or some, vegetables in your garden? Do you want to grow something that likes acidic soil but your not sure if you have that type of soil?

Rather than going and buying an all singing and dancing PH testing kit from your local hardware shop (do we still have any?!), try this neat solution from

In a nut shell:

>  Put samples of soil into two separate containers.
>  Add baking soda to the first container. If you see bubbles, your soil is acidic.
>  Add vinegar to the other container. If you see bubbles, your soil is alkaline.
>  If neither container bubbles, your soil is near to being PH neutral.

Garden Organic have a pdf to download with further instructions on using a PH testing kit you can buy and how to test your soil composition – can you grow award-winning carrots in your peaty soil?!

Let us know what PH and type of soil you have, and where in Lincolnshire you are!

Seasonal growing tips
Catch up on Lincolnshire Master Gardener latest news
Become a Master Gardener
Get free food growing support!
Read more blogs here for top tips from Master Gardeners

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Sowing New Ideas

Sowing New Ideas

Lincolnshire Master Gardeners encountered exotic vegetables not often seen in the soils of Lincolnshire, yet ones that would be quite happy if treated nicely.

Dr Anton Rosenfeld, from Garden Organic’s Sewing New Seeds project came to the National Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford on a grey and dull February day to introduce a range of new vegetables to the Master Gardeners, who all took home their own tray of Haloon, an Indian leafy plant similar to cress. Vegetables from all across the globe have been found growing on allotments across the country thanks to generations of migrants.

“Well-planned and well-presented course with variety of activity. Inspired me to try some vegetables I have not grown before.” James, South Kesteven Master Gardener

Activities and quizes followed an interesting and fun exploration of new seeds to try growing and passing on to households and community gardens.

Find out more about what Lincolnshire Master Gardeners are doing in their blogs!

Sewing New Seeds training











Seed Swap – organised chaos!











Kevin handling callaloo seed heads. Callaloo is a leafy vegetable cooked in a similar way to spinach.

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Household Feedback

It’s always nice to hear from the people we support and helps us understand how it is we benefit them. This feedback is from a household living in North Kesteven:

I think everything has been really useful, I know we haven’t contacted you an awful lot but when we have you’ve always come back with suggestions really quickly and given us several different ideas to choose from. Unfortunately the allotment has been on the back burner for us a bit this year due to the weather and a few things within the family, but i still think that we’ve been able to pick up an awful lot of core things from you e.g. composting, manure, crop rotation etc that we’ll be able to use year in year out.

Your help was also indispensable when it came to trouble shooting (e.g. blight!) As, not having grown much before, we didn’t know what we were looking at or where to start. We were also really grateful for the way you popped down to the plot when we first signed up as it gave us a lot of confidence that the info you gave was suitable for our soil etc and not just something quoted from a book that we’d then have to try and interpret. As for the scheme in general I’m really glad we got to hear about it and joined.’

Find out more!


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Don’t miss a crop with our spring planting guide

Don’t miss a crop with our spring planting guide

Snow. Sunshine. More snow. The 2013 growing season is stylishly late, but sowing can’t wait any longer.

Yes, now is the time to wake up your seeds from their winter snooze.

Fresh from our time with lively Master Gardeners at spring shows and latest training, here’s Garden Organic’s summary of what to plant this spring. The links open PDF files.

So go on, dust of the trowel, hook out a seed tray, and pour on some crumbly organic peat-free compost. Ooooh, lovely.

MARCH – included since our growing season is delayed by cold weather

  • Protect spring shoots from slugs.
  • Dig in ‘green manure’ (plants grown for soil protection over-winter).
  • Finish digging over beds, if needed, adding or spreading compost/manure for your most nutrient-hungry crops.
  • Check structural supports of trained fruit, eg ‘cordon’ apples.
  • Boost growth of container plants by replacing top 5cm of soil with compost.
  • Reinvigorate crowded herbs by dividing clumps, eg chives.

APRIL – time to catch up between the showers

  • Start thinning rows of seedlings when large enough to handle.
  • Move seedlings into larger pots as they grow, eg tomato.
  • Protect fruit blossom from frosts with horticultural fleece.

MAY – nearly frost free. Full windowsills and glasshouses

  • Pull up soil around potato shoots to increase yield and prevent tubers going green (‘earthing-up’).
  • Conserve soil moisture by laying a 5cm thick compost ‘mulch’ around young trees.

Horticultural note:

Seeds are temperamental little chaps, sulking if too cold or too hot. So please vary your timing with local weather – sowing later in spring if growing higher up the UK, or a little earlier if living further south. And earlier if growing in an inner city or sheltered coastal spot.

Garden Organic’s growing resources

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How to grow your seed potatoes

How to grow your seed potatoes

Now is the time to celebrate the spud with Garden Organic’s National Potato day on the 26 and 27 January 2013 and other themed events this month around the UK.





Wake up your new seed-potatoes by ‘chitting’. This gives the keenest start.

  • Pop your seed-potatoes in a clean egg box ‘rose’ end up – the end with most buds.
  • Label the variety. Most spuds look similar to start with!
  • Put the egg box in a cool light place for four to six weeks.
  • The potatoes will grow sturdy green shoots ready to offer an earlier harvest.

Keen growers choosing choosing their seed potatoes at Ryton Gardens

Chitting tips

  • Keep your young spuds out of very bright sunlight – although not too dark, otherwise pale brittle shoots develop that easily break.
  • Chit potatoes that are already sprouting straight away. Otherwise leave in a cool, dark place until you are ready to chit them.
  • Plant your chitted spuds 15cm deep. Space ‘early’ varieties 30-50cm apart from mid-March for a June-July harvest. Space ‘maincrop’ varieties 35-70cm apart from April for a September-October harvest.

Potato growing advice

See below for potato growing instructions (scrolling PDF)
Click here for advice choosing varieties from Master Gardeners (opens webpage)
Click here to read about growing potatoes in containers (opens PDF)
Click here to read about growing potatoes no-dig (opens PDF)

Find out about Garden Organic’s National Potato day

Growing instructions for potato

Written by Philip Turvil, Project Manager for Master Gardener Programme

More growing advice

More about Master Gardener programme

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Ideal for new growers & households: Grow your own Veg course launches online

Ideal for new growers & households: Grow your own Veg course launches online

Working with leading on-line course providers Love to Learn, Garden Organic is excited to present a new way to learn the joys of growing your own Veg.

What’s more, every booking made through the Garden Organic web link ensures a 10% donation of the course fee goes to supporting the charities projects.

Recommended for householders mentored by Master Gardeners.


What is the course about?

Want to pick your own fresh peas and taste home-grown organic tomatoes? Start from the basics on growing your own vegetables in your own garden or allotment. Learn the important stages and cycles of growing veg, and acquire new skills for sowing and reaping a harvest of fresh, seasonal, organic veg.

Take the course now

Is this the right course for me?

You value the idea of healthy, seasonal, self-sufficient eating and want to start making a difference in an enjoyable, organic way.

Why should I choose this course?

· Learn to grow your own vegetables with this beginner’s course.
· From planning your plot to harvesting your results, Grow your Own Veg will teach you the basics of growing the most popular vegetables, with lots of practical advice and tips.
· Follow the easy step-by-step process featuring How-to videos with Bob Sherman, your expert tutor and Garden Organic’s Chief Horticultural Officer.

How will I learn?

· Start the course at any time of the year as there is always something to do or to plan.
· Get advice and tips from your tutor, Bob Sherman, Garden Organic’s Chief Horticultural Officer, and former presenter of Channel 4’s gardening programme ‘All Muck and Magic’.
· Work at your own pace to suit your gardening needs.
· Enjoy an estimated of 10 to 12 hours of online learning plus your gardening activities.
· Make your own notes in your personal workbook.
· Learn from the comfort of your own home, or out on your patch with a mobile device.

What will I study?

· Course Introduction
· Unit 1: Grow It Yourself
· Unit 2: Planning and Preparing
· Unit 3: Know Your Veg
· Unit 4: Late Winter/Early Spring
· Unit 5: Late Spring/Early Summer
· Unit 6: Late Summer/Early Autumn
· Unit 7: Late Autumn/Early Winter

Take the course now

About Love to Learn

Love to Learn is part of Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Pearson provides learning materials and services to people in over 70 countries and is home to Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and the Financial Times.

User reviews

“Bob is excellent, like a favourite uncle; good tips, I’d feel confident to start.”
“Very good starting point, it gives you confidence to get out and try it, very good instructions and record-keeping tips.”
“I like the bits you can’t do by using a book, the activities and immediate feedback.”
“It’s very clear, easy to follow, and the overall feeling is one of support “there’s not a ‘right or wrong’ tone to the course.”

Visit Garden Organic’s website

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