Archive for July, 2008

SAGS conference and AGM

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

The SAGS conference was a great success this year. The morning session was chaired by Aileen Campbell MSP who gave a report from the Scottish Parliament which inspired us to hope that the social, health and economic benefits of allotments are finally gaining recognition among our rulers. The highlight of the morning was a talk by Dr Richard Wiltshire who gave a thought provoking account of the way that allotments and community gardens might meet social goals, such as helping with demographic change.

The first event after lunch was the presentation to our retiring Vice President Gilbert Clark MBE in recognition of his many years of service to the allotment community in Scotland. We then heard reports from groups around the country involved in setting up – or in some cases trying hard to set up in spite of local authority antagonism – new allotment sites around the country. We then separated into workshop groups depending on our particular interests, and had fascinating discussions of issues surrounding allotment management.

Aileen Campbell presents Gilbert Clark with his award for long service.
Mandy Fooks and Peter Wright look on. Picture taken by Jennifer Cook.

Aileen Campbell MSP gives her report from parliament

June at Lady Road Allotments

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Compared to May June has been the opposite in terms of rain. Barely a day has gone by without rainfall of some kind

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”,