With the approach of winter tasks in the vegetable garden will be coming fewer. There may still be some crops still to harvest, such as beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks, leaf chicory (endive (frisee), scarole and radicchio) and some of the more hardy ones like swiss chard and cavolo nero (black Tuscan kale) should carry on all through the winter. Mainly however it is a time for cleaning up and preparing for the next season.
December and January is the time for digging as starting earlier is likely to encourage the germination of weeds with a thick covering of weeds over the whole of the dug area by spring. Digging is however a controversial matter, with many gardening writers saying it is unnecessary and prone to cause injury to the back. I once heard a member of the BBC’s Gardening Question Time team say that the proudest achievement in his gardening year was to have done no digging at all! Personally, I think it is useful as long as your back is up to it, as the frost breaks up roughly dug ground, especially of lumpy London clay, in a wonderful way for the following season. It also enables the soil to be enriched and its texture improved by the digging in of well rotted compost or manure. If not done too early, it also suppresses the growth of weeds.
Some crops can be planted in November/December such as broad beans and garlic and left to overwinter. Individual cloves of garlic should be pushed into dug earth, about 6 inches apart, so that their tips are barely covered by the soil. The old saying is that they should be planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest, but they are usually ready to lift well before June.
If the vegetable plot is of any size, for example an allotment, it is a good idea to draw up a plan of what will be planted where, including planning for a second crop in the same year on previously cultivated ground. Early crops of broad beans, early potatoes, dwarf beans and peas will be harvested by about the end of July and their space can be lightly dug over and replanted with another crop for harvesting later in the year or during the winter, such as Swiss chard, cavolo nero and leaf chicory. Leaf chicory makes excellent winter salading; good varieties are Variegated Castelfranco, which produces a good head of light green leaves with red markings, and Sugar Loaf, which produces a head like a large cos lettuce but is much hardier. Leaf chicory is crisp and slightly bitter, very popular on the continent but much less so in Britain, though often bought, expensively by weight in packets in supermarkets under such names such as mixed Italian salad leaves. To give these late planted crops a good start, it is wise to sow them in seed pots in mid June, with the seedlings pricked out into seed trays as soon as they are large enough to handle. These will grow to small plants to be planted out in the garden as soon as the space comes available.
Winter salad plants need some protection from slugs, especially small recently hatched ones which crawl into the hearts and can reduce them to a lace-like condition. Blue slug pellets are another controversial issue and are widely believed to cause damage to birds and other wildlife though there in fact appears to be little evidence that this is so if they are applied in accordance with the instructions, that is to say spread thinly and not in heaps.
Avoid planting too much of any particular crop, particularly of things as prolific as runner beans as most of the crop can go to waste. Successional sowings every two or three weeks of things like lettuce, peas and dwarf beans should be made to avoid the whole crop becoming mature at the same time.
There is a severe shortage of allotments in Dulwich, of which there is a list with contact details in the Dulwich Society’s annual publication Dulwich Gardens open for Charity. Waiting times can be in excess of two years after going on to a waiting list. Newcomers to vegetable gardening can get some hands-on experience in the meantime by volunteering to participate in work sessions at the community Dulwich Vegetable Garden (DVG) behind Rosebery Lodge in Dulwich Park (details from
Dulwich Quilters by Ann Rutherford
This November it will be time for Dulwich Quilters biennial exhibition. The group has been active for nearly a quarter of a century and goes from strength to strength. We currently have 25 members which is the maximum we can manage as our twice monthly meetings are held in peoples’ homes. As well as sharing ideas amongst ourselves we have workshops with visiting tutors and interesting speakers to stimulate creativity. Our members not only exhibit locally but in national and international shows and competitions.
In the recent past we have made quilts for children in hospital and babies born in prison. These babies are allowed to stay with their mothers from 9 to 18 months, after which they must leave even if the mother remains in prison so it is nice for them to have a familiar cuddly quilt to take away with them. An article in the Independent 2008 stated that the number of women in prison had doubled in the past decade and babies born there was up to four a week!
A further prison connection is through Fine Cell Work, a charity which teaches needlework of various kinds to inmates in different prisons. In our case, several of our members have been teaching patchwork and quilting to men at Wandsworth. The skill level reached by these inmates is remarkable. At our show you can see a very beautiful king-size quilt, commissioned by one of us and based on a 1920s design known as Millie's quilt, incorporating appliqué and embroidery as well as piecing and quilting. It is truly amazing that this king-size quilt could have been made so immaculately in the confines of the cells. I couldn’t do it as well myself! If, by any chance, you go to the fantastic quilt show at the V&A, you will see another very interesting piece commissioned for this event, designed and made by the Wandsworth prisoners under the guidance of one or two of our members.
We shall, as usual, be showing all new work of our own including pieces which are in response to a challenge - ‘to illustrate a well-known phrase or saying’. Other work stems from workshops we have enjoyed with visiting tutors, from large bold items to fabric postcards. We have a group quilt in which members have each decorated a hat shape according to their fancy. And of course there will be the usual wide range of individual work.
Our raffle prize this year is a brightly coloured embroidered hanging, made by members of Dulwich Quilters, with exotic animals, fish and birds. This is a real tour de force! The proceeds will all go to St. Christopher’s Hospice. People are already asking for tickets and they haven’t been printed yet! They will be available on the two days of the exhibition or before then from Ann Rutherford - 020 8693 3740
Dulwich Quilters Exhibition The Old Library, Dulwich College, November 6th and 7th, 10 am - 5. 00pm
A fascinating combination of 19th century Russian music and art kicks off the new season of Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society (DDFAS) lectures in October. Many of the artists and composers deserve to be better known in this country, as the lecture will demonstrate. It's unusual for DDFAS events to include a piano recital, but this one - entitled Frenzied Gaiety or Else Bitter Tears - will be different!
DDFAS is the Dulwich branch of NADFAS, a national organisation which encourages interest and appreciation of the arts. Members enjoy 10 illustrated evening lectures a year (in JAGS lecture theatre), study days and visits to places of artistic merit, all at very reasonable cost. Among the subjects in the new programme are the Arabs before Islam; painting and family life in 18th century England; Amish history and culture; Minoan art; spirituality in 20th century art; and Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Full details of DDFAS events can be found on the society's website, www.ddfas.org.uk or by contacting Carolyn Reeves on 020 8673 8499 or
Dulwich Symphony Orchestra Celebrates 60th Anniversary
The Dulwich Symphony Orchestra is the local orchestra with a professional conductor and leader. The players are, like me, amateur musicians, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages, and enjoy the satisfaction of working together to achieve a high standard.
We play a huge variety of orchestral music that is both musically satisfying and technically challenging, and some of it far from the usual amateur orchestra fare; for instance this coming season we are featuring music from Latin America, Russia and including three concertos for unusual instruments. The members are a really friendly bunch and people move around in their sections in order to get to know each other better, and play together better! New members are always welcome, both those with experience and those keen to learn. We do not hold auditions but if an enquiry matches a vacancy in the orchestra then we invite people to come along and play at a rehearsal before making a commitment to join us. At present we have vacancies for violins, violas, double basses, French horns and tuba, but here in London, where people are often moving in and out of an area, this can change in a very short time.
Apart from rehearsing for our three concerts each year we also have a blossoming outreach programme working to interest local children generally in music and hopefully taking up an instrument; currently we are working with the pupils at the Elmgreen School with our assistant conductor Lindsay Ryan. The DSO is also in the process of appointing a permanent conductor to succeed Julian Williamson who worked with the orchestra for 15 years and raised the orchestra to it's present high standard. The job description is on our website dulwichsymphonyorchestra.org.uk
At our next concert, on Saturday 27 November 2010, we will be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the orchestra. Leigh O'Hara, the Director of Music at James Allen's Girls' School, will be our guest conductor and the programme will include Huapango - Moncayo ;Clarinet concerto in A major- Mozart, Soloist: Boyan Ivanov : Symphony No 2 in E minor - Rachmaninov
All our concerts are at All Saints' Church, Lovelace Road, West Dulwich, SE21 8JY and start at 7.45pm. Ticket prices are £8, concessions £5 and children under 16 free, and include an interval drink.
Dulwich Society Trees Group Autumn Colour Visit
To Sheffield Park Gardens and Nymans
Wednesday October 27th 2010
Coach leaving the Dulwich Picture Gallery entrance at 9.00am, returning by 6pm
- Tel. No:
Cost £18 - cheques should be made out to The Dulwich Society
Admission to both gardens is free to National Trust members, otherwise £7.00 (Sheffield Park) £7.50 (Nymans) payable on entry
Please return this form to Stella Benwell
38 Dovercourt Road SE 22 8ST
(tel: 0208 693 1447)