Archive for April, 2008

Choosing the right ingredients: The Future for Food in Scotland

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

A couple of months ago the Scottish Executive published a discussion document proposing a National Food Policy for Scotland. Its primary aims are to support the Scottish food industry, and encourage the sourcing of a healthy, local diet for the people of Scotland. The document is published on the web and can easily be accessed from this link. From here you can download the entire document, and also find out how to give your own opinions.

The ‘mission statement’ for the document is “Our vision for food in Scotland is that it should make the nation healthier, wealthier and smarter with production making communities stronger and consumption respecting the local and global environment.”

The document tends to concentrate on food production, processing and distribution as an industry, with the individual featuring merely as a consumer. SAGS would like the document to show some recognition of the role of individuals, as producers in their allotments and gardens, contributing to the health and smartness aspects, even if not generating much wealth! You can read our submission to the discussion document from this link.


Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

After the winter we still have broccoli, kale and leeks on the plot but then rejoice – the new shoots of our herbs appear. For the last two weeks we have feasted off salats – handfuls of herbs chopped finely together with a little oil and served on pasta, potatoes and root vegetables. Bliss – spring is here.
The young shoots of lovage have emerged in splendour – in summer they are hard to find among the old, tall branches but now they are abundant, tasty and tender. We have wild rocket, wild garlic, chives, Bucklers sorrel, French sorrel, marjoram, thyme, salad burnett, mint and young nettles (blanch these). We use them mixed all together, in different combinations or varied with additions of sprouting seeds such as alf alfa and fenugreek or young pea shoots that we grow on our windowsill.
These salats can be made all the year round but it is the young shoots in spring that are a cause for celebration.

March at Lady Road Allotments

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

It is still cold and wet. By the end of March last year I had planted my first early potatoes. I noticed that one brave soul has planted out, but their plot is at the top of the site, well drained and protected by the railway embankment. Must get them in this week though.

The onion seeds I started in January have hardened off and they can now go in. They will go in the plot where the winter cabbages and sprouts were. When I took over my two half plots six years ago, club root seemed to be every where, I started a four-year crop rotation and now the problem is greatly reduced. It is still there in patches. I use garden lime at a rate of one trowel full per sq. metre. Club root hates lime. As I dig out the last of the cabbages I always check the roots, strange, one plant can have club root and all the ones round be clean and healthy.

Last year I used a green manure for the first time. Field beans were planted in September where the potatoes had been. By mid November they were up and have survived the winter. The roots fix nitrogen in the soil and make it available for the next crop. I am getting two lots of advice on how to use this green manure. One says dig the lot in and plant on top, the other says hoe off the green tops, rake up and compost them, then plant between the rows of roots. I think I will try both methods and compare results at the end of the season.

Allotment Photography Exhibition Repeated

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Lucinda Withenshaw’s lovely and hugely successful exhibition of photographs of Edinburgh Allotments is to be shown again. Do take this opportunity to see, or even purchase, an artist’s eye view of your familiar allotment site.

This time the venue is:
Robyn Rowles Photography Gallery
23A Howe Street,
Edinburgh EH3 6TF

The exhibition runs from 2nd April – 12th May opening hours: Mon – Sat 9am-5pm Sun 11am-4pm

There will be a private view on Saturday 12th April from 5pm-8pm – All welcome

Alarm Bells for Bluebells

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Over recent years, the British Bluebell, otherwise known as the Wild Hyacinth, has declined in abundance and is now an endangered species. The UK, however, is home to about half the world’s population of British Bluebell, with Scotland being its most northerly habitat.

Native Bluebells are much better for our native wildlife than either of the other varieties. They have evolved with the rest of our biodiversity and many species are dependent on each other. Just as the Bluebell relies on mature broadleaf woodland to provide the habitat it needs, many species of insect use the bluebell as a source of nectar in an area of woodland often limited in flowers

So, Central Scotland Forest Trust is launching the ‘Alarm Bells for Bluebells’ campaign throughout 2008. CSFT want to build up a picture of how native, hybrid and Spanish Bluebells are faring across Scotland’s Central Belt, so that they can target action to help the native ones. They are encouraging people to get out into the woodlands to spot beds of Bluebells and record sightings on a Freepost card contained within their Bluebell leaflet or website and, hopefully, send in some photographs with the details.

In addition, CSFT will be running planting events, surveys and bulb give-aways (see our event calendar for dates and venues.)
For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Emilie Wadsworth on 01501 824791 or