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August 2018

In this month's newsletter:

  • green drinks

  • September harvest supper

  • biochar

  • Old Sun Brow Apple Tree

  • allotment report

  • joybells apple tree


Green drinks

There is no theme to green drinks in August. Nevertheless, some of us will show up at The Mill at 8pm on Thursday 2 August for an informal chat. Please join us if you wish.

Summer barbecue

We enjoyed a relaxing sociable summer barbecue at Swan Barn Farm


September harvest supper

Our September green drinks will take the form of a harvest supper – a meal of shared dishes held in a lovely old barn close to the town. We will also have a discussion on preserving – making jams, jellies, pickles and other ways to preserve the harvest. You are invited to bring recipes to share or produce to taste or share. From 6.30pm Friday 21 September. (The Haslemere Food Festival is the following day.) More details will follow in the September newsletter. Bring friends and family. It is a free event, but you will need to register to get the venue details. You can register your interest now by emailing us at info@transitionhaslemere.org.uk

Biochar for your garden

You may already use National Trust charcoal on your barbecue. Now you could add the Trust's 'biochar' to your soil to improve its productivity. Biochar is a by-product of the charcoal making process – essentially the small debris left at the end of the process. It is claimed that adding biochar can improve soil health, filter and retain nutrients from percolating water, and store carbon. It was discovered in soil in the Amazon basin where indigenous people were producing exceptional crops from land containing biochar. The grander claims for biochar are disputed, particularly as a large-scale solution for mitigating climate change by storing carbon – you can read a full report here. If you want to try biochar for yourself – a locally produced by-product – contact Spike Brooker at spike.brooker@nationaltrust.org.uk, 01428 652359.


Tree of the month: Old Sun Brow Apple Tree

The Old Sun Brow Apple Tree (Malus domestica), shown up against the telegraph pole, about 7 metres tall and laden with fruit. Growing on a vigorous root stock, over the years The Old Sun Brow Apple has against the odds managed to compete with the other larger native oak and ash trees growing on the steep slopes of this small deciduous wood.

Thanks to Gareth Matthes for drawing our attention to the tree.

(The wood is the area that Waverley Borough Council has offered Haslemere in exchange for de-registering the Fairground common land in Wey Hill currently used as an informal car park and tarmacking it over and turning it into a paid-for parking area. The Planning Inspectorate for common land is reported to have received over 50 objections from local people about the proposal.)

Do you know of a special tree in Haslemere that we could feature in our newsletter? It could be special for botanical, historical, cultural or other reasons. If you do, tell us its location and what makes it special. Include a photo if you can. Email it to info@transitionhaslemere.org.uk


Summer at the allotment

Weather conditions have been challenging this month, the heat of the day making work less appealing than stopping for a drink and a sit down! The lack of rain has demanded that we visit in the evenings to water.

We have had some surprising successes, and we are still harvesting salads, beetroot, beans, lots of herbs, with a good crop of apples awaiting the autumn and, we hope, potatoes underground. There will be a potato harvesting party, with refreshments, at some point during the summer break.

Watch this space!

On the subject of potatoes, we saw the first signs of Late Blight on the leaves this week, and had to make a decision about measures in response to a problem exacerbated by the watering we have had to do. (Blight requires high humidity in order to spread – but watering is required to maximise the

crop.) Although Bordeaux mixture (a copper compound) has in the past been permitted for organic growers, the Soil Association now sees a move towards resistant varieties and changes in husbandry, rather than continue to use something which may persist in the soil and possibly harm soil organisms including earthworms. It seems Bordeaux mixture may soon be banned, so we

decided not to use it this year, but rather to cut off the tops now, to remove the risk of allowing the spores to form fully and possibly be carried in the air to other plots and crops (tomatoes are also

susceptible). Tops can be composted if covered by other material, or burned, and potato tubers should be left in the ground for three weeks until any spores on the soil surface have died. More information here:

Please watch your home crops for signs, as it is likely conditions for the spread of potato blight are being met now.

We are rapidly moving towards the completion of the raised beds, and are pleased with the results.

Finally the wildflower area is very colourful and continues to attract a huge number of pollinating insects. We have seen recently fledged robins and blackbirds, frogs, toads, and even, surprisingly, a common lizard, testifying to the value of these mixed and productive habitats for wildlife.

You can use this link to sign up for allotment updates.

Joybells – our new apple tree

Clive Davidson of Transition Haslemere hands over a cheque for £250 to Dave Elliott, National Trust head ranger for Black Down, to sponsor a new apple tree in the Swan Barn Farm orchard. We chose a joybells traitional variety. We raised the money selling secondhand books at the monthly farmers' market – turning books back into trees.

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