The Organic Gardening Podcast
The Organic Gardening Podcast
Garden Organic
Inspiration to help you garden the organic way, with advice, tips and interviews from the UK's leading organic gardening organisation, Garden Organic. Hosted by Fiona Taylor and Chris Collins.
S4 Ep5: A trip down memory lane to Barnsdale
In this month’s Organic Gardening Podcast, Chris Collins chats to Nick Hamilton – son of organic gardening pioneer Geoff Hamilton – and finds out more about his gardening journey and life at his beloved Barnsdale Gardens. We’ve always had a close relationship with the gardens and Nick, a former Garden Organic trustee, and shared many planting schemes and plant cuttings over the years. Our ‘Paradise Garden’ (now part of Coventry University), with its pergolas and pond, was built to commemorate Nick’s father and TV gardener Geoff.  More than 25 years ago, Nick had what seemed like an impossible task – taking over a collection of 30 or so organic gardens designed for television and turning them into a visitor attraction aimed at inspiring people to grow organically. In 2023, Barnsdale marked its 40th anniversary.  “I don't have any problem with people referring to me as the son of Geoff as I'm very proud to be his son. The gardens are his legacy…and still rolling on today,” says Nick. “I want to continue to show organic gardening is not complicated or difficult - it's easy! And because you're working in tandem with nature, nature helps you along the way.” Also in this episode… Chris and Fiona chat about our Every Garden Matters research paper – showing small steps in any size garden can have a positive impact on biodiversity. And from the postbag, we tackle how to safely dispose of laurel debris and old garden pesticides, and discuss whether we should feed birds all year round.
May 1
1 hr
S4 Ep4: April - How to grow pulses
Chris Collins chats to Josiah Meldrum, co-founder and owner of Hodemedods, about growing beans and pulses in the UK climate. Josiah explains how Hodemedods works with British farmers to supply pulses, such as lentils and chickpeas, in as sustainable way as possible and often using organic methods. He shares some varieties that can grow well in our gardens and how they grow more unusual crops such as chickpeas and lentils. He also shows how easy it is for British gardeners to overlook the multiple uses of beans. “People miss a trick in the UK when it comes to runner beans. We tend to think of them as something you harvest green, but the rest of the world don't do that: they also dry them,” says Josiah.  “In Poland, they've got a fantastic tradition of growing and harvesting these delicious white runner bean seeds…and in Greece, you'll have giant ‘Gigantes’. I would encourage everyone to save beans and eat them. The scarlet runners and the white seeded beans are absolutely delicious!” Also in this episode… Anton reveals how to grow ‘green chickpeas’, and whether it’s worth growing a crop of lentils. From the postbag, he discusses how to deal with moss on vegetable plots, and Chris and Fiona chat about the effects of the wet and windy spring. Many thanks to our sponsor Andermatt Garden, which offers high quality environmentally-sustainable products for the home and garden at andermattgarden.co.uk.
Apr 1
1 hr 2 min
S4 Ep3: March - The ultimate guide to composting
To celebrate Food Waste Action Week (18-24 March), Chris Collins and David Garrett join Fiona to bust the myths around composting. If you want to know how, why and what to compost this is a must-listen. David, our head of knowledge transfer at Garden Organic, shares the reasons he loves compost, and talks through the different composting systems at our organic demonstration garden, and how to use them. “We're producing kitchen waste at home so why not process it ourselves and produce compost? It's a circular economy in our own homes,” says David. “We're taking ownership of the waste and not relying on someone else to deal with it for us.” Also in this episode… Chris and Fiona chat about what to sow and plant now and how to care for winter ponds. 
Mar 5
55 min
S4 Ep2: February - The wonders of wetlands
Our CEO Fiona Taylor visits Slimbridge to chat to Simon Rose from the  Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) about ways to create similar habitats in your growing space.  With 75 per cent of wetlands in the UK lost in the last 300 years, Fiona explores the importance of urban bluescapes and bogs as a homes for wildlife. “Wetlands are really rich in wildlife – in fact 40 per cent of the world's species are reliant in some way on wetlands,” says Simon, who is Head of Experience Development at the WWT, which is based at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre in Gloucestershire. “But they also help prevent flooding and reduce carbon emissions. Wetlands are actually faster than rainforests at locking up carbon.” Simon and Fiona discuss ways you can mimic these diverse habitats in your own growing space. “Whenever you introduce water into the garden it's one of the best biodiversity boosters, and that could be anything from a bucket to half a barrel. Dig a hole, fill it with water, put some rocks and some plants in it and I guarantee that within weeks you’ll attract wildlife,” says Simon. “The sediment that settles on the bottom of a pond is another opportunity for carbon sequestration, even in a back garden setting.” Also in this episode… Chris Collins and Fiona chat about jobs you can be getting with this month, and Anton Rosenfeld delves into the postbag to help answer your questions. This month, they chew over using woodchip as a mulch, how to tackle rats, and ways to save money in the garden.
Feb 2
57 min
S4 Ep1: January 2024 - An interview with the Seed Detective
Join Fiona Taylor as she chats to Adam Alexander, aka the Seed Detective.
Jan 1
48 min
S3 Ep12: December - Bring back the butterflies
Our guest this month is Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation, who shares some fascinating advice about how to support butterflies and caterpillars in your growing space. We chat to Butterfly Conservation’s urban butterfly project officer about the importance of attracting more butterflies and nighttime pollinators such as moths. And he provides some brilliant advice on things you can plant and do in your garden to help support pollinator populations. “Recent studies show more than 80 per cent of our UK butterfly species are in decline and a lot of our moths are in decline too,” says Anthony, who is based in Stirling. “If you want to boost butterfly numbers locally, you need to pack your garden with ‘caterpillar plants’.” Also in this episode… Chris, Emma and Fiona take time to reflect on their successes and failures this year, and Emma answers questions from the postbag including how to plant wildlife-friendly hedges, tackle leek moth and improve soil in greenhouses.
Dec 1, 2023
54 min
S3 Ep11: November - How the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is tackling climate change
In this month’s podcast, Chris hops across the border to visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to learn more about its conservation work. He chats to Kirsty Wilson, herbaceous supervisor at the botanic gardens, to discover more about its 350-year-old living collection of plants and its research projects. Kirsty, a presenter on BBC Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden, explains the steps the garden is taking to help fight climate change, including preserving struggling plants, using green and clean technology and biocontrols for pests.  “We're doing a lot of work conserving Scottish native flora, as well as plants that are dying out in the rest of the world,” says Kirsty. “It’s important to understand biodiversity and plant life – and the species that are struggling - so we can protect them…and raise awareness with governments.” Also in this episode… Chris and Fiona discuss the benefits of not being too tidy in the garden, and planting whips for hedging. From the postbag, we offer advice on what to do after tomato blight, ways to tackle invasive weeds and allium leaf miner.
Nov 15, 2023
48 min
S3 Ep10: October - Pam The Jam shares her preserving secrets
In this month’s podcast, we chat to Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin about making seasonal jams and chutneys from homegrown produce. As the UK's leading expert on preserving, Pam shares some of her best-kept preserving secrets in October’s Organic Gardening Podcast. Pam cemented her reputation as a preserving expert at Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage. And in her latest book, Pam the Jam: The Book of Preserves, she provides detailed instructions for making more than 100 of her favourite recipes from classic pickles to savoury jams. Fiona caught up with her at her home in the West Country to take a tour of her pretty garden, and find out why she loves to make the most of delicious garden fruit and vegetables. Also in this episode… Chris Collins and Anton discuss creating the right conditions for healthy grapevines, friendly ways to tackle box moth caterpillars, and box alternatives, and how to avoid plum tree rot.
Oct 10, 2023
48 min
S3 Ep9: September - Sustainability in action in Wales
In this month’s podcast, Fiona chats to environmentalist Jane Davidson – our new Vice President - about the impact of climate change on her life and her gardening. In a fascinating discussion for our September Organic Gardening Podcast, the former Welsh Government minister shares her organic gardening trials and triumphs in North Pembrokeshire, and the importance of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which she spearheaded. “We’ve lost 70 per cent of species in my lifetime…and we’re likely to exceed the crucial 1.5 degrees this year - and that's a massive wake-up call,” says Jane, who is Chair of Wales Net Zero 2035. “I'm absolutely passionate about the idea that if we teach young children about the value of nature, then we actually breed habits that can sustain forevermore. Also in this episode Fiona and Chris discuss the effect of this year’s changeable weather on their gardens and crops, looking at what’s done well and what hasn’t.  Chris shares insights into tomato blight, and how to bring a pop of autumn colour into your planting schemes. And from the postbag, Anton discusses harvesting carrots and parsnips and autumn seed sowing.
Sep 14, 2023
59 min
S3 Ep8: The gluts and the glory!
This month’s delicious Organic Gardening Podcast offers 50-minutes of organic gardening advice and growing stories from our experts at the height of the harvest. The August garden might be bursting at the seams but now’s a great time to be planning for next year. Chris and Fiona chat about growing potatoes for a Christmas crop and planting for the hunger gap in early spring. And discuss protecting your soil over autumn and winter with green manures. Also in this episode Fiona finds out more about gardening in Scotland with our new Vice President Pam Whittle CBE – including her tireless work as president of The Royal Caledonian Horticulture Society and why accessibility to gardening is key to public health. “Finding spaces where human beings and nature can coexist is crucial,” says Pam. “And, for me, it’s all about sharing knowledge, not just showing. People learn better when they can do it for themselves.” From the postbag, Emma and Chris chew over your gardening questions including what causes tomato leaf curl and how to regrow supermarket herbs. And you can discover more about a little weed called nipplewort.
Aug 4, 2023
55 min
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