Gardeners Question Time Tips

Dawlish Transition Gardener’s question time with Toby Buckland, Shirley Tamblyn and Jo Hooper

What is a good way to grow apple trees?
An interesting way is as a fruit hedge with a different variety every few feet.
Adam’s Apples can give advice on the varieties to grow.
Plants for the future: have good database for planting information.

Cox Orange Pippin are a good variety to grow but they can be prone to scab. In this area in the past cider apples were grown as this was not so much of a problem. One way to counteract this is to spray with seaweed foliar feed.

How do you get fruit trees off to a good start in containers?
50% John Innes and 50% multi purpose peat free compost will provide well for fruit trees in containers.
Blueberry bushes need acidic soil, and as with all berry crops don’t forget to net to protect from birds.
Most berry plants enjoy higher levels of rainfall to crop well.
Cranberries need acidic soil conditions and high levels of rainfall for a good September crop.

Growing food as a beginner – where should I start?
Grow veg. you like. Salad leaves like rocket are an easy place to start. Many veg. can be grown in containers if not much space is available; even carrots can be grown in pots.

It is a good idea to get children involved to spur the family on with crops like runner beans- pick young and tender,

Swap produce with other people to give more variety,

During hot weather a watering system is essential with rain butts, however even waste washing water can be used in times of drought.

Which food plants are particularly suited to growing in our local climate?
Brassicas are an ideal cliff top plant- cover with fleece to keep aphids off when young then harden off with full light access.
Chard is also a good tasty plant to grow.
Pak Choi and Joy Choi Chinese greens will thrive as long as the ground is moist.
Autumn planted cabbages appreciate a dressing of garden lime. It is always good to know the acidity level of your soil. West Country compost is very alkaline and can be used as a mulch for cabbages.

Peas are another food plant that love lots of water- it is essential to keep them moist as they do not like drought conditions. An easy way to grow them is in guttering with end stops. It is best to plant them in April or May. By moonlight is also said to be an auspicious planting time if trying out biodynamic gardening methods.

Beans grow well in a trench lined with compost with an organic mulch.

Sweet Potatoes- the easiest way is to grow them in a polytunnel. They like to have warm roots so grow through black plastic to warm the soil. You can order chits from nurseries or start your own off in an airing cupboard.

Potatoes are best grown from seed potatoes to avoid disease. They do not like frosts so plant out after that. They can also be grown successfully in tubs in a green house.

Jerusalem Artichokes are a dependable plant to grow. They are a useful soup ingredient, and a member of the sunflower family so they can be grown to a height of 7 to 8 feet to act as a windbreak. However they can be invasive.

When is the best time to plant?
There will be times of glut and famine depending on the weather and soil conditions. It is important to make a plan for successional crops. A crop of planted F1 seeds will all tend to mature at once. Plant in small quantities and different varieties. Be aware of the hungry gap after Christmas.

What sort of fertiliser would you recommend?
Seaweed collected from the beach is a useful natural fertiliser. Collect after a rain storm if possible as the longer it lies there the more salty it will be. It is especially good around brassicas, asparagus and under potato plants.

How to grow healthy courgettes?
If courgettes are rotten in the ends then the ground or the air has been too moist. Keep pests at bay with a dressing of seaweed. Prevent Club root by growing rhubarb alongside- due to the effects of its oxalic acid.

Garden Share rejuvenates Westcliff Primary School

Dawlish Transition have set up a garden share with Westcliff Primary School to rejuvenate their garden.

We started work on the 5th May when the garden looked like this:

and by the end of the day it looked like this and we even managed to salvage some raspberry plants

A couple of working visits later the plot is planted up with potatoes, onions, celeriac, runner beans, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, borage and chives.

We also moved the water butt and rigged up a plastic bottle to collect rain water from the green house roof.

If you would like to help out or want to know more about Garden Share  please email us at

Seedling Swap on Sat 26th May 2012, 9.30-11am

Dawlish Transition are holding a Seedling Swap on Saturday  26th May 2012, 9.30-11 am outside the URC, The Strand, Dawlish as part of  Delicious Dawlish - growing food anywhere and everywhere.

Bring along your spare vegetable seedlings to exchange or buy young food plants for sale at bargain prices.

“Delicious Dawlish” launch Thursday 8th March

Dawlish Transition “Delicious Dawlish” launch
Thursday 8th March, 7pm, The White Room, South Devon Inn, Strand Hill, Dawlish

We are holding a social and information evening to help everyone reduce costs by growing food in whatever space is available. Toby Buckland, well known as a presenter on BBC Garden Live and a local online garden nursery owner, will be talking about growing edible plants anywhere and everywhere. This will follow a short film about the successful “Incredible Edible Todmorden” initiative. The group is hoping that experienced and new gardeners will come along and be involved in a seed swap and put their gardening questions to Toby Buckland and a panel of local experts

Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the ‘Delicious Dawlish’ evening at the South Devon Inn on Thursday March 8th from 7pm. Places can be booked by calling 01626 862063. Entry costs just £1 per person, all welcome.

Home Energy Saving Exhibition - Sat October 15th

We are hosting a Home Energy Saving Exhibition at the Strand Centre (URC) on Saturday 15h October from 11am to 4pm.

The Teignbridge Affordable Warmth Home Energy Officer will be giving information about grants and low income loans to help with installing energy saving technologies such as loft insulation.

We have invited businesses who provide and install a range of sustainable and renewable heat capture systems and also businesses providing energy saving solutions for the domestic market.

Winning Renewable energy bids for Dawlish - YOUR help needed

 The short story - "Please just sign up as we need more members to win the bid"... 

The long story -We have registered Dawlish Transition as an energyshare group. Under this scheme we will be eligible to bid for funding to put in place community energy projects. This is funded by British Gas and supported by River Cottage and Friends of the Earth. In order to be eligible to apply for grant funding we need to gather as many supporters as possible before 30th June 2011, for a Community energy project. So it is important that you register as a member and supporter of the group, and drum up as much support as possible.
I have put forward the idea of making the Manor House more energy efficient by gaining funding to put in place the recommendations of the Save the Manor Group Report 2010- eg. provision of roof insulation, energy saving lighting, radiator heat controls etc. The roof may also be suitable for the installation of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity for use during sunshine hours. Everyone in Dawlish would benefit through reduced council costs and less energy use by community groups like us who hire the building.
You may have other Community schemes that could be put in place in well,
About Energyshare
energyshare is a community. It brings people together in person and online, to challenge the status quo and get more control over:
• Where your energy comes from
• How much you use
• How much you pay for it

Please follow next link to accept, sign-up, and join:

Dawlish Transition is a renewable energy community group on energyshare.
Once you've registered you could.... for the es fund
Hope to see you on soon!