Spring seed sowing – 16th March 2013

Seed sowing at Stirley – photo by Richard Aspinall.

Spring Seed Sowing
Saturday 16th March 2013
10am to 12 noon

Stirley Community Farm
off Ashes Lane (just below Castle Hill), Huddersfield

Help to kick start the growing season at the Stirley Community Farm veg beds by sowing the easiest and hardiest varieties for your garden, patio or allotment. This is a free event organised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. To book please call 01904 659570.

Seeds galore

pile of seed cataloguesAre you busily leafing through your seed catalogues at the moment, wondering what to grow next year?

Don’t forget that you’ll be able to pick up lots of seeds here in Newsome at our:

Seed Swap & Potato Day
Saturday 2nd March 2013

from 10am to 1pm
at Newsome Scout Hall.

Growing potatoes? We’ll have at least two dozen different varieties of seed potato on offer – and at just a few pence each, you can afford to try something new. We’ll start to list our potato varieties on our web site soon, including lots of varieties that have been recommended by Growing Newsome participants.

Growing vegetables from seed? We’ll have a bumper selection of Kings Seeds at our Seed Swap this year – you can either bring some spare seeds along to swap, or just pick up some seeds in exchange for a small donation.

Growing something special? Is there something in particular that you’d like to be able to find at our Seed Swap? If so, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to provide it. We’ve already been asked for Nasturtium seeds, Borlotto beans and Pumpkin seeds.

Please add your requests to the ‘Leave a Reply’ box on this page, or email your comments to: growingnewsome@gmail.com

Growing Newsome at Berry Brow Carnival 2012

Stall holders tipping rain off a tent at Berry Brow CarnivalUpdate (22nd June): Join us for an indoor Berry Brow Carnival this year at Newsome South Methodist Church, Birch Road, Berry Brow. The weather has not been kind, but rain has NOT stopped play. Please come along and show your support for this enduring community event. We really hope that we didn’t jinx things with our choice of picture…

We’re hoping for a dry day for this year’s Berry Brow Carnival, but it’s always fun (whatever the weather). Please come along and support this local event.

This year’s Carnival is:

Saturday 23rd June from 1pm

Berry Brow Recreation Ground

Newsome South Methodist Church

Growing Newsome and Stirley Farm are running a joint stall this year. We’ll have planting activities, crafts, plants and some fresh food for you to try. We’ll also have some local homemade produce on sale – come along to see what we’ve cooked up.

Also look out for the Reading Circle book stall just next door.

Join Growing Newsome at Stirley Farm

Planting potatoes at Stirley FarmThis year we’re holding a series of food growing get-togethers at  Stirley Farm, especially for residents of the Newsome Ward. These are informal practical sessions where local people can meet each other and learn something new at the same time. Everyone is welcome.

Throughout the year we will be preparing the ground and planting seeds, then tending the crops as they grow – and sampling the results.

Please come along to join other local food growers who are learning how to grow together.

You can join in at any time.



Growing Newsome at Stirley Farm:

Potato planting – Saturday 17th March, 1pm to 3pm
We will be planting seed potatoes in the veg beds at Stirley Farm.

Frantic sowing – Saturday 14th April, 1pm to 3pm
We’ll be doing lots of sowing and potting on in the veg beds at Stirley.

Summer sowing – Saturday 12th May, 10am to 12 noon
We’ll be sowing more seeds in the veg beds, for Summer cropping.

We hope to see you there. Just meet us in the farmyard at Stirley on the day.

Planting a row of potatoesOn foot, you can walk across the fields from the bend in Hall Bower Lane, or use any public footpath.

By bus, the 354 stops at the junction of Hall Bower Lane and Lady House Lane. The 341 stops on Ashes Lane, at the top of Cold Hill Lane.

By car, access to the farmyard is via a steep track off Ashes Lane.

Stirley Farm Family Salad Day – 3rd June 2011, 1pm to 3pm

The new vegetable beds at Stirley Farm are full of produce. You can get involved with:

harvesting salad

tasting the produce

sowing new seeds

learning how to grow your own salads at home.

Booking is essential – please call Kim on 07557 002113. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Organised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

To soak or not to soak?

We were in fine spirits for our planting session at Stirley Farm on the sunny morning of 16th April. Not even The Tool Safety Talk could deter us, although that perhaps doesn’t sound like a very exciting start. There were eight of us doing the planting (including Kim and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust volunteer Yvonne), which is enough people to create a small amount of havoc and risk poking someone’s eye out with a badly placed rake – so we heeded Kim’s advice to put the tools safely to one side whilst not in use and to not leave them pointing upwards where a stray foot might step on them. I confess to having my trowel turned over at least once during the morning…

What we planted

Broad Beans – Hangdown Green and Express Elanora


Oriental mixed leaves

(yet more) Potatoes

What we learnt

  • Kim soaks her peas and beans before planting to get them started off, but Monty Don doesn’t. This seems to be a cause of no small degree of controversy. Does soaking your peas overnight have any effect? If you have any thoughts on the subject please let us know…
  • Tasty oriental salad leaves are less likely to be eaten by slugs than lettuces are. They also don’t need as much water in the summer, so we should give them a try because they’re a more sustainable crop.
  • There’s a fantastic well on the farm – we learnt how to throw the bucket in on its side to fish out some water for our seeds.
  • Kim is on a mission to get us eating things which suit our climate, including the oriental salads but also leaf beet and other hardy crops (beware, this obsession may feature celeriac).
  • Salad crops often have very fine seeds, so you can ‘broadcast’ them (scatter them in a block) then cover them with a fine top dressing. Try to sieve some compost over the top of the seeds and then pat it down gently.
  • You should try to avoid too much bending and twisting of your back whilst preparing your soil. We tried some new tools including a tiller / miller and a push-pull weeder, which have long handles and can be used standing upright (whilst looking at the lovely view).
  • Yvonne keeps bees, and she’s going to be bringing some hives onto the farm. She’s also doing some great work at Batley Girls’ High School, which we look forward to hearing more about.

It was an interesting morning – we enjoyed meeting some new people and trying out some new tools. As someone who appreciates a proper bit of old stone, I was particularly delighted to be able to use the well. It’s also fascinating to hear about the many different methods that people have for growing things (soaked or otherwise). And Carole was particularly intrigued to find out that the strange spur-shaped thing she has at home is actually a tiller. We put it to good use on the community allotment the following day. We shall have a fine tilth yet.

Photos: Stirley Farm, 16th April 2011

Bonnie and Borecole

I joined Kim, David H and Hilary for a morning planting session at Stirley Farm on Thursday 7th April. There are lots of different things to be planted this month, so there’s plenty for everyone to do and plenty to learn. You can see a tiny glimpse of the M62 from the farm, but it’s a different world up there. We had a calm, instructive and (dare I say it) fun time doing our planting.

What we planted:

Potatoes – Bonnie (2nd early)
Onions – Florence Long Red (sets and seeds)
Shallots – Red Sun
Peas – purple podded
Kale  – Green and Red Curly

What we learnt:

  • A plank of wood with seed spacing measured out on it is very handy indeed.
  • Planting both onion seed and onion sets helps to spread the risk of something going wrong and means that you’re less likely to end up without any onions.
  • You should try not to stand on your veg beds after you’ve dug them over, because it’s bad to compact the soil.
  • Umbellifers (it’s a real word, honest) are a family of plants with umbrella-like flowers.
  • You can cover your seeds with fleece for a while after planting to help keep the birds off your shallots (and the mice off your peas).
  • Kale may or may not be different from Borecole.
  • There’s a reason why there are no Celeriac festivals.
  • Having no mains water is a disincentive to doing the washing up.
  • There’s a well on the farm (also no good for washing up).

We had a great time, were rewarded with a cup of tea in a clean cup and a chocolate biscuit, and we lingered so long that David missed his bus and I missed my dinner. In fact, we were still there when Sue arrived for the afternoon stint, and even then I didn’t really want to leave. But at least I was inspired to spend the afternoon in my garden.

If you’d like to take part in one of the planting sessions this April, there’s some more details here: April planting at Stirley Farm

Photos: Stirley Farm, 7th April 2011

Seed Swap – Saturday 26th March 2011

Growing Newsome Seed Swap

Saturday 26th March

10am to 12 noon

Newsome Scout Hall

Please come along to our Seed Swap to get together with other food growers, swap seeds and seedlings, get advice (or give advice) about growing your own food and find out what’s going on in the Newsome area.

This year’s Seed Swap features:

  • Seed and seedling stall – swap what you’ve brought or collect some seeds and seedlings in exchange for a small donation. Pick up some seed potatoes and shallots.
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust / Stirley Farm – Kim Warren (Food Education Officer) will be giving growing demonstrations and you can get a grow-bag delivered to your home to help you get started with growing your own salads.
  • 1,000 Fruit Trees – be part of this Kirklees Council project to plant 1,000 fruit trees in the Newsome Ward by giving a home to a tree. Get an apple tree to plant in your garden (along with stake, tie and planting instructions) in exchange for a £5 donation. The funds raised will be used to buy herb plants to create a ‘herb corridor’ along a footpath in Newsome.
  • Reading Circle book stall – with all sorts of books, plus you can pick up a copy of “A Life Like Other People’s” by Alan Bennett, as part of World Book Night.
  • Newsome Out to Play – find out about outdoor play activities for children in the Newsome Ward in the coming year as part of the “Play in the Community” programme.
  • Food growing advice – ask questions about food growing and find out about local projects.
  • Refreshments – tea and home made cakes on sale.

Bring along your seeds and seedlings to swap, or spare plant pots to donate to Growing Newsome – or just come and browse our stalls.

Children are welcome and admission is free.

Seed Swap leaflet (pdf)

1000 Fruit Trees Project (pdf)

Newsome’s young food growers on BBC Look North


Seed planting - photo: Rob Arthur Photography

Hillside Primary have got off to a fantastic start with their food growing in a day of special activities on 25th March 2010 that were filmed for BBC Look North. Weatherman Paul Hudson was at Hillside throughout the day, and the school will be featured on Look North during the week beginning 29th March.

Hillside is a particularly green school. The building is energy efficient, with solar panels, a biomass boiler, photovoltaic panels and a small educational wind turbine. The school grounds provide the opportunity for alternative learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom environment. There is a large nature area, a pond, raised beds and a greenhouse – places for children to learn, play and grow. 

Tree planting - photo: Rob Arthur Photography

Julian Faulkner from Kirklees Council’s Countryside Unit showed the children how to plant fruit trees at their new school. Hundreds more fruit trees will be planted across Newsome in the coming months, and Julian is co-ordinating the planting programme.

Members of Growing Newsome and Newsome Ward Timebanking helped the children with planting vegetable seeds in raised beds at the school. 

Special thanks to Janet, Cherry, Rob and Rachel for taking part and sharing their enthusiasm about community food growing.

Filming - photo: Rob Arthur Photography

We hope this will be just the first step for Hillside, and we want to support the school with their food growing activities in the coming years. We’re looking for volunteers who could spend some time at the school during the day to help the children with their food growing, and lend a hand with tending the crops throughout the growing year. If you’re interested in taking part, please contact us to find out more.

Paul Hudson’s blog

March into Spring

Ideas for March:

The long spell of cold weather and freezing nights has stopped many gardeners preparing their ground – which remains cold and often saturated – making it difficult to dig. Raised beds, if we have them, are draining more effectively, but the soil is still cold, preventing germination. Onions and shallots planted last month are not yet through; garlic planted in December is just getting going – a tiny sign of growth. What does this mean for March?

It means that February’s tips are still useful – the season is delayed. Onions and shallots can still be planted now. Potatoes of course have a long planting season depending on the type. If you haven’t started to chit your potatoes – getting the shoots going – start now.

The weather should turn milder as March proceeds – start digging – clear the ground of weeds – as the weather improves they will grow first! Add compost if it’s well rotted. Dig one row a spit deep (depth of the spade) then the second row and throw that up to make a trench. Put compost in the trench, and the next row goes over the compost. This lifts and breaks up the soil, helps it to dry and it will warm up more quickly.

If you have access to a greenhouse or have a very sunny porch or kitchen on the southern side of your home – you can start to sow beans – in particular broad beans. ‘The Sutton’ is a good dwarf variety. Start them in small pots of potting compost, one seed to a small pot; don’t overwater them (they will rot) don’t let them dry out (they will whither). A sunny window is best. If they get ‘stretched’ that is get ‘leggy’ and grow too tall, they are unlikely to recover. They do this searching for the light – so the need for a southern aspect – now the sun is rising in the sky!

Strong seedlings 2-3” high, can be planted out later in the month – 6-8” (150-200mm) apart and 9” apart in the rows – plant diagonally in the rows – as with the onion planting scheme in February’s tips. Do the same with dwarf French beans, of which there are many varieties. Look for different coloured varieties which look good on the plate – yellow – Golden Teepee or Concador; purple – Purple Teepee – or the exotic Borlotto bright red and flecked white!

There is a good calendar of times in the year to sow, plant and harvest vegetables available on the RHS website:

RHS veg planner (pdf)

February’s tips: Spring into Gardening

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