‘Hive Mind’ letters to the editor – Summer Solstice 23

Jun 20, 2023

Do you have a question for the ‘hive mind’Do you have any answers to these questions? Do you have any top tips you want to share? Feel free to email the editor – editor@wwoof.org.uk

Work clothes for women

In our previous newsletter – Beltane edition – we put the question of where to buy work clothes, especially trousers, for women. Rebecca Hazell wrote:

“Your questions posed in the WWOOF newsletter couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time! I have tried and tried to buy work-style trousers for women (appropriate for gardeners, builders etc etc) for ages (happy to pay the price for new if I can find something that fits, is really up to the job – and is for women). No luck at all!

Last week I resorted to a pair of Peter Storm trousers for men from Go Outdoors. My 30″ short trousers are a perfect fit!

Hope other people can offer some suggestions on this.

I saw these advertised and thought they looked good – and then saw the price!


These are at least made in England for that price…


Photo: special thanks to Zoe Schaeffer

The best answers we’ve had so far mention that charity shops are the best place for bargains but not everyone is lucky enough to live near a good second hand supply so therefore one place for new work clothes for women seems to be Screwfix which have many branches and an online shop.

We’ve also heard from a host in Shropshire on the subject of work gloves. “I recommend Briers Ultimate Warmth thermal gardening gloves to all my WWOOFers and we often take a trip down to Homecare in Ludlow to buy some for them, as they do a proper size small (7) as well as medium and large. You can use them for brambles and nettles, no problem.”

Funky veg

Pamela says her boysenberries cropped well last year. These are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. These look wonderful! Do you have something a bit different you enjoy growing?

What to do with surplus harvest?

Pamela Woodroffe has recently become a member of OLIO which uses an app to help people share what they don’t need and save on waste. Pamela says: “I have an allotment and after I share any glut with friends and neighbours, I list on OLIO.”

Apple juice making at Redfield (photo: Taryn Field)

Members of WWOOF UK form a wide spectrum from those with tiny or no growing space to hosts with acres of land and literally tonnes of produce each year. We all have surplus food at times and so the Hive Mind is the place to share your top tips on sharing, preserving and processing the stuff that would otherwise go to the compost heap or the food waste bin.

Anyone for a cuppa flower petals?

Are you drinking your tea from a rose tinted glass? Did you know you can make tea from peony petals? Have you ever tried making a tea using flowers from your garden? If you’ve had experience of making teas from petals what are you top tips?

Photo: big thanks to Georgie Catling

Plastic fantastic? The trouble with mulch membrane

This young crow was found by Aimee from Peggy Farm and Forage. It had a piece of membrane wrapped around its leg along with some sheep wool which suggests it had been used to line a nest. The leg was infected and very swollen and the crow would definitely have died if not found. Thankfully it’s making a good recovery under the care of Aimee.

We’ve been using plastic membrane for over ten years and have grown increasingly concerned about it’s environmental impact. There must be hundreds of tons of this plastic in fields, in the ground and washing into rivers and out to see. We know there are biodegradable alternatives but they have their own issues.

Unlike plastic membrane which will last for many years (which is part of the problem), biodegradable membrane cannot be reused which requires a lot of energy and fuel as new membrane is constantly being produced and transported around the world. I’m not sure there is a fully eco friendly weed membrane.

We have decided to now use plastic membrane only to clear areas for new beds and then once the ground is free from weeds to use a weed burner to kill any self-seeded weeds that pop up.

These are the words of host Mark at Edible Garden Co. We’d like to offer this one up to the Hive Mind to see if any growers out there have alternatives to this issue of mulching and plastic use.

Many thanks to Mark Sheppard for sharing his thoughts on this matter and for photo permission.

Growing in small spaces

Do you have a method of growing food in a small area that works for you? Does anyone use any vertical growing methods? Success in pots? Does successional sowing work for you or do you use another way? We’d love to hear your stories and see your garden growing.

Here’s mine:

Host insurance

Hosts, who are you insured with?

Some new hosts often find it tricky to find and choose an insurance provider so they can safely welcome WWOOFers. There are a few different policies and providers to choose from, ranging from NFU’s combined insurance to John Lewis’ home insurance with extensions. But with new ethical providers such as Nature Save and Arma Karma there could be more to choose from.

If you could spare the time to let us know which provider you are with and the type of policy you have, we’d be very grateful (please include which type of host you are i.e. farm, smallholding, house & garden, croft, CIC etc.) Thank you!

Do you have a question for the ‘hive mind’Do you have any answers to these questions? Do you have any top tips you want to share? Feel free to email the editor – editor@wwoof.org.uk

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