Country & Garden: Cuttings

News From The Gardeners' World
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ELIZABETH KEEP has spent most of her working life breeding raspberries, currants, gooseberries and hybrid berries at the East Malling Research Station (now part of Horticulture Research International). "Much of the work involved breeding for resistance to pests and diseases," she writes. "We used the gooseberry as donor of strong resistance to the big bud (or gall) mite which is prevalent in blackcurrants. After many years' breeding work, the gall mite-resistant blackcurrants, `Foxendown' and `Farleigh', which carry a mite-resistance gene from the gooseberry, have been released to the industry by HRI. These varieties should escape reversion disease, since this is transmitted by the mite."

That is good news. But when will these disease-resistant blackcurrants be available to gardeners? On the gooseberry front, the tidings are better. Ms Keep also had a hand in producing a virtually spineless gooseberry, heavy cropping and resistant to mildew. It is called `Pax' and is available from the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Cott Road, Lostwithiel, Cornwall PL22 08W (01208 872668); Ken Muir, Honeypot Farm, Rectory Road, Weeley Heath, Essex CO16 9BJ (01225 830181); J Tweedie Fruit Trees, Maryfield Road Nursery, Maryfield, Nr Terregles, Dumfries DG2 9TH (01387 720880). All of these do mail order.

THE WHICHFORD Pottery is holding the first of its winter sales this weekend in the Palm Centre at Ham Central Nursery (next to Ham House), Ham, Richmond. The sale continues today and tomorrow (9am-5pm). Next weekend you can catch a similar sale at The Buildings, Broughton, nr Stockbridge, Hampshire (two miles west of Stockbridge off the A30). That sale starts on Friday 12 Nov and lasts until Sunday 14 Nov (9am-5pm).

THE LITTLE booklet, Gardening without Digging, was first published 50 years ago by a Yorkshire miner called Mr Guest. He was the youngest in a family of 14 children and turned his no-dig system into a creed. He preached what trendy gardeners now call permaculture. You put loads of compost on top of the soil and wait for worms to dig it in for you. It works, but you still need to chivvy the ground to make decent seedbeds, or dig up your potatoes. "Natural gardening", Mr Guest called it, and his methods will appeal to anyone who believes in organic principles. Copies of the booklet (pounds 4.95 plus 95p for p&p) are available from MBJ Publications, PO Box 23, Twickenham TW1 2SZ.