Members' Experiments

Each year we organise several citizen science experiments that our members can participate in. Over the years, these experiments have played an important part in informing the way we growing organically today. Experiments vary in complexity and time required, from more involved experiments trying out a new crop to a simple online survey. The necessary instructions, seeds (where appropriate) and record sheets are usually sent out in the spring and the results are returned to us by Christmas. We collate them and publish the findings in our magazine, The Organic Way – they may also be presented at conferences and used in the development of more detailed research studies.

Common themes of experiments include novel crops, comparisons of varieties, gardening techniques and wildlife surveys. Most of this work is supported by our members but some experiments are run in collaboration with universities or commercial companies.

2017 - currently in progress

  1. Survey of novel and non-food uses of plants
  2. Blooms for Bees bedding plants
  3. Testing tomatillos as a novel crop

2016

  1. Growing field beans for human consumption
  2. Can Persian clover be used as a no-dig green manure?
  3. A survey of vegetable growing and seed saving

2015

  1. Compostable packaging - how well does it live up to its claim?
  2. Can buckwheat be used to control couch grass?
  3. What is the best time to sow mustard seeds?

2013

  1. Nitrogen fixation by different legumes
  2. Amaranth as a novel crop
  3. Cut and come again leeks
  4. A survey of bumblebees (in association with Coventry University)

2012

  1. Growing wheat at home
  2. Shark’s fin melon as a novel crop
  3. Blight resistant tomatoes

2011

  1. Blight resistant tomato varieties
  2. Mango ginger as a novel crop
  3. Feeding plants in pots

2010

  1. Melcourt Growbark as an ingredient in seed growing media
  2. Tree spinach as a novel crop
  3. A survey of butterflies in the garden
  4. Slug Lady cardboard barriers
  5. An invertebrate survey of compost (in association with Plymouth University)

2009

  1. Quinoa as a novel crop
  2. Comparing old and new varieties of peas
  3. A survey of garden slugs and snails

2008 (50th Anniversary year)

  1. Evaluating Russian comfrey
  2. Comparison of old and new varieties of tomato and lettuce
  3. The potential of winter salads
  4. A survey of garden bees
  5. The ecological footprint of gardening

2007

  1. Chickpeas as a novel crop
  2. Edible flowers
  3. The ecological footprinting of gardens and allotments
  4. A survey of garden spiders
  5. A survey of garden frogs and birds (in association with Froglife, RSPB and BTO)

2006

  1. Carrot flavour test
  2. Summer cover crops
  3. Seaweed for controlling rose black spot
  4. Using plants with seed heads to encourage birds in the garden

2005

  1. Organic box scheme study - prices and availability
  2. Comparison of onions from sets or seeds
  3. Soya as a novel crop
  4. Evaluating flowers attractive to predators and parasites of pests