One day, I will be the organ grinder – Part Two

[continued from Part One]

For me, one of the best elements of the HDRA is the Organic Gardening Catalogue. Now, you don’t have to be an HDRA member to get the catalogue, but if you are, you get a 10% discount. (The Aberdonian in me lives forever.)

Produced in conjunction with Chase Organics, the Organic Gardening Catalogue offers a mouth-watering range of organic seed – flowers, vegetables and herbs, along with seed potatoes, onion sets, and a range of micro-propagated plants. Within this stock list lurk many old and almost forgotten varieties of vegetables, with their traditional disease resistance and flavour. Yes, all those good, tasty veggies your granny used to grow, but which are out of favour today because they are not uniform and pleasing to the undiscerning eye, and do not conform to the rigid standards of the supermarkets. In other words, they don’t have the right shape, or the right colour, or the right size. B*gger the taste – supermarkets don’t care what they taste like.

Talking about conformity, it is a sad reflection on our government’s obsessions with bureaucracy and centralisation, that due to the incomprehensible dictates of Brussels, not only can the Organic Gardening Catalogue offer certain items for supply within the UK only, they are also barred from selling certain organic heritage varieties within the UK, although they can be sold elsewhere within the EU.



Is a lobotomy a prerequisite of becoming an MEP?

The Organic Gardening Catalogue is also online at

And finally, if you want some down to earth advice on organic growing . . . keep reading this column . . . no, subscribe to Organic Gardening, an excellent monthly magazine which I can only describe as the organic equivalent of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, only better.

For example, the August issue featured, among a host of other tasty treats, articles on organic answers to pond problems, a beginner’s guide to crop rotation, organic ornamental plants from Peru, interviews with traditional allotment gardeners, scented herbs, and an introduction to bio-dynamics. Not to mention the raising of serious questions about GM crop trials.

Owned, published and edited in Shetland by Gaby Bartai Bevan, Organic Gardening sadly does not yet have a website. But the editor can be contacted by email at, and the subscriptions dept at

Though I’m busy with clients’ gardens, I still have time for my own. This is almost the end of the first growing season in yet another new garden I have started from scratch. Even here, in the far north, I expect my sprouts, kale, winter caulis, winter cabbage, parsnips, beetroot and carrots to stand well into the New Year. And my modest freezer is bulging with broad beans, runner beans, peas, caulis, broccoli and spinach. Not to mention enough vegetable soups to feed the five thousand, should they ever become stranded in a Caithness snowdrift within a small radius of my kitchen.

And I haven’t used a single, solitary chemical spray of any sort whatsoever.

My dexterity at squashing caterpillars between thumb and forefinger is rapidly becoming the talk of the county.

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About Mike Clark

Mike discovered the joys of horticulture when, as a small child, he overheard a neighbour say she'd dropped a sixpence in the tattie patch. He has been digging ever since, with the tenacity of a true Scot, hoping one day to find a fiver. Despite now running his own landscape gardening business, Mike claims to be permanently broke, due in part to his quest for fame resulting in writing gardening columns for free. He likes trees, Jack Russells, and 12 year old Glen Ord, but not necessarily in that order. Gifts of any of these can be sent c/o, but he would like to point out that the third item is by far the easiest and cheapest to post. One of the highlights of his life was winning a toilet brush in a raffle. He persevered with it for ages, but he's back on the paper now... Mike approaches gardening and writing with exactly the same formula. Throw in plenty of manure, and something good will eventually spring up.

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