Archive for June, 2008

New Allotment Group in Cambuslang

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Local residents in Cambuslang and Rutherglen with an interest in allotment gardening have come together to promote provision and interest in this activity by forming the Cambuslang allotment forum (CAF).

Currently South Lanarkshire council provide allotment plots in Rutherglen and East Kilbride, however both have lengthy waiting lists. The aim of CAF is to promote awareness of the need for increased allotment provision in Cambuslang and Rutherglen and to promote the benefits to health and well being that allotment gardening offers.

CAF seeks to work with interested residents and hopes to identify potential sites that might be utilised as allotment gardens in the local area; as well as working towards the securing of adequate provision of plots to meet demand. In a recent audit by the Scottish allotment garden association there are 3000 people on an allotment waiting list in Scotland*. CAF is open to all local residents who have an interest in allotments and would assure them of a warm welcome at our next meeting on Monday 29th June 2008 at 7.30pm.

CAF website

* page 16

Success in sight for Falkirk Allotment Society

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Falkirk Allotment Society is delighted that a feasability study is being carried out on the possibility of a pilot project for an allotment garden at Bantaskine Estate in Falkirk. They hope that this will be the first step to reintroducing allotments to Falkirk. Their web site has links to some press releases about the current situation, and will be updated when there is anything new to report.

SAGS at Gardening Scotland

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
The SAGS stall at Gardening Scotland was a great success. We had many queries about setting up allotment associations and how to get an allotment. We also distributed over 150 copies of our growing survey which will be used to demonstrate the value of allotments. The picture shows Peter Wright talking to a prospective plot holder at the recent Gardening Scotland Event at the Royal Showground Ingleston Edinburgh. Sam Murray our “Finding Scotlands Allotments” researcher in the background.

Should allotments be decreased in size?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Both the Allotments (Scotland) Act of 1922 and that of 1892, which still appear to be the relevant acts, give maximum sizes for allotments and allotment gardens, but neither actually seems to give a minimum size (although I am not a lawyer and I find them hard reading!) The first talks about ‘Allotment Gardens’ which must not be bigger than about 1/4 acre (that is what 40 poles seems to be):
The expression “allotment garden” means an area not exceeding forty poles which is wholly or mainly cultivated by the occupier for the production of vegetable crops for consumption by himself or his family and is not let to the occupier during his continuance in any office, appointment, or employment held under the landlord or let along with any dwellinghouse.

The second gives an upper limit of 1 acre for an ‘Allotment’ which seems to be a small holding rather than what we think of as an allotment (the tenant of an allotment under this rule is allowed to erect hen houses and other animal shelters).

Modern allotments are normally smaller than this – but most are sized with the aim that they are big enough that a family could be self sufficient in fruit and vegetables, and so in greater control of the inputs (pesticides, herbicides…) into their food. However with the new increase in demand for allotments, and the resulting huge waiting lists in some areas, several local authorities in England are developing ‘creative’ solutions. This essentially means they are chopping allotments into halves and quarters so that an area which was originally let to 1 gardener can now be let to up to 4 gardeners.

The obvious benefit is that more people get the opportunity to garden and to produce something for themselves. The down side is that if the allotment is too small the concept of self sufficiency has to go right out the window.

Some of the publicity on the web and in the papers extoll the virtues of ‘Window box gardening’. I grow herbs in tubs and window boxes (I’m proud of my basil this year!) –Basil on bathroom windowsill but I don’t see this as a good substitute for growing my beans and potatoes and spinach in the ground. Should allotment holders resist the splitting of allotments and campaign for an absolute minimum size to be set? If so how should that size be determined – land is an expensive and scarce resource in many of our cities, and it doesn’t seem fair that a few people should be able to rent a huge plot while others are left to the mercy of the supermarkets.

May at Lady Road

Monday, June 9th, 2008

When I looked at my diary for May I was amazed at the numbers of days we had the wind from the East, very dry and at times quite warm. On other East wind days we had the “haar” and the temperature barely rose into double figures. Water has been a major problem this month with only two really wet days and you do need some rain to keep your seeds going, but on the whole a good month for sowing and planting out.

I plant all my legumes on one section to keep to my crop rotation plan. I also grow sweet peas for home and the Annual Edinburgh Allotment Show. I have never won the sweet pea cup but one-day………. The sweet pea seeds were sown at the end of January and hardened off in March/April. An elaborate cane structure is erected using 8-foot vertical canes in four rows of 12, tied in across the top and between rows. Two rows of wigwam runner bean canes are added, and tied back with canes to the sweet peas. Finally I put in some diagonals to stiffen the structure. I know it is OTT but being an engineer by calling it has to be a sound construction.

I plant out on the inside of the canes so that I can hoe right up to the cane without damaging the plant.

I had 4 apple trees growing espaliered fashion at one side of my plot. They were bought 2 years ago last February as first year maiden whips from Adams Apples in the West Country. They come bare rooted so you have to get them in quick but it is much cheaper than pot trees. They are now at the third tier and all had flowers this year. However, “Claygate Pearmain” a nutty tasting sweet eater was looking very sad for itself. The leaves did not develop, some of the buds did not burst, and the blossom was minimal. I tried a foliar feed at fortnightly intervals but little improvement. One of our plot holders is a trained horticulturist and despite looking in all our books we could not find the cause or even more serious the cure. We came to the conclusion it was a viral infection and the tree had to come out and be burnt, before it affected the others. Any one any other ideas?. What do I plant in the space? How long should I wait?

I have horsetail in my plot. It comes from the railway line by the side of the site. I am told the railway engineers plant it to stabilise the embankments, what woe they bring to plot holders. However I am rapidly becoming an expert on horsetail eradication, watch this space for techniques both organic and “total war”.