The Fryern Ladies’ Probus Club learned about why cucumbers need to be stroked and the idea behind raised bed gardens during its latest meeting at The Roundabout Hotel in West Chiltington.
On Thursday, August 1, the group welcomed Barry Newman for a talk on horticulture which was thoroughly enjoyed despite there not being very many keen gardeners in the group.
Barry is a well-known grower, exhibitor, lecturer and judge (with former horticultural training) and is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s fruit, vegetable and herb committee.
He is also a South and South East in Bloom judge and former chairman of The National Vegetable Society.
Russ Fry, of the Fryern Ladies’ Probus Club, said: “Barry’s love of horticulture stems from a very young age when he used to help his dad dig up potatoes.
“He associated the potatoes with treasure and he was more than prepared to share this treasure with us subsequently enthralling us over the next hour.
“We thoroughly enjoyed Barry’s talk especially when it came to stroking cucumbers to persuade them to be straight – fortunately no Victorians were present as they were offended by curly cues.
“Runner beans went through similar torture as did elongated carrots, leeks and parsnips – all for show!
“So if you are keen on growing vegetables – or indeed not – this is the man to listen to.”
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The talk was accompanied with many illustrations of competition displays of ‘exaggerated vegetables’ and examples of raised bed gardens.
Russ added: “The idea behind these beds is that the height can ease access to the gardener plus the crops can be rotated and harvested easily.
“We even saw an example of raised beds in a tennis court – the new owners preferred home produced foods to tennis – very sensible and why not?
“Allotments have increased in popularity, as people are more aware of the health benefits of grow your own, and today’s technology has produced vast greenhouses, again with raised beds to allow the convenience of picking fruit and vegetables like strawberries and tomatoes, at a more convenient height.
“Fertigation is also used which is the injection of fertilizers, used for soil amendments, water amendments and other water-soluble products into an irrigation system.
“Fertigation is also related to chemigation which is the injection of chemicals into an irrigation system – advanced procedures indeed.
“Different coloured lights are also used at particular times of the day to promote growth and we even saw the latest produced apple – totally pink on the inside and tasting like pink grapefruit but so far without a legitimate name!
“We thoroughly enjoyed Barry’s visit and Sue Borrett thanked him for such an amusing learning curve.”
The club’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, September 5, where the group will hear Madeleine Salvetti talk about mistresses and their influences on history.