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The Dawn Chorus Trials Garden and Nursery and our “Grow-How, helping to grow” project

September 2, 2015

The Dawn Chorus ” Grow-How: helping to grow” project was established in 1985. We aim to share best practice in growing organic heritage plants, including wild flowers, food crops and native trees and shrubs. Summer times are busy. 30 heritage vegetable varieties, 25 heritage fruit varieties, 30 wildflower varieties & 35 native tree & shrub varieties can be propagated & grown on in the Dawn Chorus trials garden to distribute & use for educational purposes & as part of our learning/skills development initiative. Lincolnshire Snake Beans grow well, they produced seed for the UN” Year of the Pulse” project 2016. Heritage vegetable plants are given to local schools and nurseries for children’s educational activities. Our “Grow How: helping to grow” project, developed social media tools that have been take up by people looking for practical solutions.

Below: we have been growing heritage lettuce “Stoke” from our own seed for twenty years. We have experimented with growing Gerkins for pickles.



We create wild life habitats and showcase beneficial gardens. Hedgehog feeding & monitoring is continuous with groups of hedgehogs being fed & catalyzing publicity for the wider community to be involved in hedgehog welfare. Biological records are maintained, eg: a hummingbird hawk moth recorded on red valerian, became a popular social media post. Volunteers and children have compared designs of insect hotels and pictures have been put on to social media to draw attention to the project.

We think that organic practice is important. 80% of flowering plants, including food plants, are pollinated by bees, yet pesticides are decimating our beneficial insect population. Just think, a single wheat grain treated with neonicotinoid, the most widely used pesticide on the planet, will kill a song bird.

People often ask us about garden manure. Herbicides in farmyard manure & in some horse manure (picked up from pasture grazing & hay) can  contain aminopyralid – a hormone-type herbicide which goes under several trade names. It kills most vegetables & fruits if it gets in to compost or soil & it lasts in soil for many years. Remember also that herbicides & insecticides in most manure makes compost non organic. People using well rotted manure made into compost that has stood for over a year are finding gardens destroyed by residue from  herbicides, whilst pesticides kill beneficial insects, worms & soil biodiversity; they are not biodegradable & persist in soil causing damage for years.

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We plan Summers filled with fun, bringing people and communities together. This resource project feeds into social, therapeutic and educational activities that share and develop skills for employability and enrich peoples lives and wellbeing. The programmes increase the confidence and achievements of vulnerable people and promote mindfulness and healthy diet whilst offering people “a change of scene” by getting them out into nature and encouraging green gym activities. Our working partner John, said: “healthy earth creates healthy life”. Below: children’s activities, fun  cress growing and pea-pod play.

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We usually have a riot of seedlings and cuttings in propagation. The abundance of energy in the sprouting seedlings encapsulates the potential of green economy and sustainable communities. We work alone and in partnership to deliver environmental learning. This Dawn Chorus project is much in demand in the communities: stimulating organic horticultural and nature conservation activities; inspiring healthy food growing; developing understanding of the issues surrounding pollinating insects and soil and water conservation and saving heritage seeds.

Below: seedlings of heritage cress; globe artichokes and Indian mustard.





We have grown large leaved sorrel with seed provided by the Real Seed Company, so when our volunteers visited Burtom Agness walled garden on a field trip in 2019, we were delighted to find this crop.

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