Archive for August, 2008

SAGS Trophies Awarded at Kibble Palace in Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

SAGs owns three trophies which are used to encourage allotments to improve their amenity and value to their local communities. Each year allotments from one city in Scotland can compete for these trophies, and this year it was the turn of the Glasgow allotments. The trophies were presented to the winning sites today during the Evergreen Glasgow Flower and Vegetable show in the Kibble Palace by Peter Wright, who is the SAGs Trophies convenor.

schoolkids.jpgChildren from Merrylee Primary and Our Lady of the Annunciation schools receive the Miller Cup from Peter.This cup was presented to SAGS in 1919 by Councillor James Miller and is awarded to the site with the best plot tended by local primary schools.The winning site was the Merrylee Plotholders Association.The judges said that they were most impressed by the standard of cultivation by the pupils, the integration of the gardening activity into the school curriculum and the support of the parents.

For details of how these schools engage their pupils with the allotments see here

Peter Handing Trophy to IanIan Welsh receives the Sir Robert Greig Memorial Trophy on behalf of Berridale Allotments Association.

This trophy was purchased by SAGS in 1950 in memory of Sir Robert who was chairman of SAGS during the 2nd world war and worked to increase the output of fruit and vegetables from allotments and gardens . The trophy is awarded to the site with the best overall quality and diversity of vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Shield.jpgRepresentatives from Merrylee Plotholders Association receive the Amenity Shield.

This shield was presented to SAGS in 1936 by Sir Daniel Stevenson, a former Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow to encourage and promote a higher standard of cultivation and general tidiness and appearance in our allotment areas so they may be considered an amenity to the District in which they are situated.

Bob Dorris MSP for Glasgow Tables Motion Supporting Allotments in South Lanarkshire

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Bob Doris MSP today pledged his support for Cambuslang Allotments Forum. The Forum is using National Allotment Week (11-17 August) to encourage local people to get involved and to highlight their search for land. In support of their efforts the SNP MSP for Glasgow has lodged a motion with the Scottish Parliament supporting the work of SAGS and of CAF and calling for South Lanarkshire to work actively to identify more sites for allotment gardens.

He said : “With an increased interest in what goes into the food we eat, more and more people are now opting to grow their own and this has resulted in long waiting lists for existing allotment sites.”

South Lanarkshire currently has only 2 allotment garden sites, one in Rutherglen and one in East Kilbride. According to Cambuslang Allotments Forum, the waiting lists are such that the last names on the list could wait 30 years for an allotment at current turnover levels.

Bob Doris called on South Lanarkshire Council to step up the hunt for suitable land saying that all attempts by local people to get fit and healthy and to grow fresh produce should be supported. The Allotments Forum is looking for South Lanarkshire people who would like an allotment to get in touch so that they can provide the Council with details of the extent of the demand. They can be contacted by telephone on 0141 583 2060 after 6pm or by email

July at Lady Road

Friday, August 8th, 2008

My sweet peas are producing gorgeous blooms on long straight stems. Every 4 days I pick a bunch and tie in the main stem. By the end of the month they had reached the top of the canes and it is time to layer them. First remove all the leaves on the stem from the root to within 1/3 metre of the top. Then carefully remove all the ties and lay the stem down inside the double row of canes until it reaches another cane. Gently bend the growing tip up the cane and tie in. The plants at the ends of the rows have to be turned back on themselves and this is quite tricky as you can crease the stem or even in extreme cases break it!! Once they are all tied in, hoe away all your footmarks and give them a good liquid feed to get them over the trauma.

July has been sunshine and showers ideally growing conditions but not good for onions as several have got mould. Even though I operate a 4-year cycle and note were the onions were planted 4 years ago, this type of mould can last up to 8 years in the soil and this season has been ideal for it to multiply.

The other problem I have with all this rain and sun is that my spinach has all run to seed. It was dug out and composted and the space filled with surplus leek seedlings.

Horsetail, last month I mentioned about eradication.

Know your enemy, their root system has storage nodules to tide the plant over lean years. They need photosynthesis to produce food for storage. The root system is extensive and they can regenerate from the smallest rootlet piece. There are 4 types of root.

1 The mother lode at 1 metre depth. Old, brittle, used to pass nutrients around the network. Break it open and the internal structure is an hexagonal open frame

2 Water searchers going up and down from the mother lode, smooth sided and can punch holes through sandstone

3 Feeders and pioneers going up from the mother lode and operating in the upper soil where we plant our crops. These carry the storage nodules. They are the shock troops invading new areas, sending down water searchers, collecting food from our soil passing it down to the mother lode for distribution, and in time creating deep new mother lode roots.

4 Sun seekers, going up from the feeders to produce the brown fruiting horns in spring, the characteristic green christmas trees in summer, and using the sun for photo-synthesis

The outer green sheath of the leaves has a hard impervious surface which sheds weed killers.

War You have to remove the source of food and photo-synthesis

Total War. If you have an infested area, wait until the green “christmas trees” are up, then walk over them to bruise the outer sheath, spray with gysophate. Repeat the bruising and spraying at least three more times at three weekly intervals, during the growing season. This works, but you cannot plant anything in the infested area. Even then the odd mother lode may still survive the repeated doses of gysophate though the network, but you are now into a long-term war strategy.

Long Term War. Double dig your area and remove as much of the roots as possible. You will not remove it all but greatly reduce its vigour. Then as each “christmas tree” comes up remove ASAP; do not let it mature, as it will supply food to the root. Keep removing the green growth and as much of the root as possible for the next four years. The root then runs out of food supply and dies. This is long term war, not a one off battle.

Peas – Vegetable of the Month Recipes

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
Mange Tout Pea Plants I’ve let the vegetable of the month feature lapse for a while – my excuse is I was having problems with my camera! However my camera is back in business and I’ve picked peas for this month partly so I can rant on about the dearth of locally grown peas in Glasgow and partly because this year they are amazingly successful. I have abandoned Kelvedon Wonder peas this year, and concentrated on Ambassador. This variety is somewhat taller, so a bit more of a pain to tie up, but it has cropped brilliantly and produced the nicest peas I ever remember eating. Picking and eating your own peas is in itself, I reckon, a justification for all the hard work of an allotment – frozen peas do not have the same texture and shop bought pods just can’t compare for sweetness.The Mange Tout peas are also cropping heavily (the photo is a close up of my mange touts) and as they don’t freeze well I can clock up brownie points by giving them away to friends and neighbours. This brings me to the subject of my rant – why do we import mange tout peas from Kenya at this time of year when even I have the things growing almost like weeds. I am not a professional grower and not even very productive relative to my allotment neighbours so why are our local growers not cashing in on this easy to grow, relatively high value crop? Why do the (small number of) vegetable stalls in my local farmers market still concentrate on leeks and cabbages carrots and turnips, when if I can grow peas and beans and spinach and broccoli so, surely, could they. How can one expect the poor Scots to move to a healthier local vegetable rich diet when the only vegetables grown locally are, to be honest, the boring ones.

So – how do I cook them? Well actually the Ambassador peas are wonderful just eaten raw with your gin and tonic (or other poison), also you can kid yourself that the alcohol doesn’t harm you because of the vitamin C in the peas. Make your friends shell their own pea pods as they eat them. To cook them when they are still small just bring to the boil in a small amount of lightly salted water. Turn off and drain as soon as you notice they are boiling so that they stay a bit crisp – toss in a bit of butter for a touch of luxury. When they are a bit bigger i.e. absolutely filling the pod, there is a wonderful recipe from Elizabeth David where you stew them gently for 15 – 20 minutes in butter on a bed of lettuce and spring onion. The lettuce and onion mulches down to form a sort of sauce and the peas retain their texture and sweetness. The mange touts can be cooked similarly, and also are a great addition to a stir fry.
Instead of putting the shelled pods into the compost you can use them to make a delicious soup. Top and tail the pods (be careful to remove the stringy edge) and boil them in water, with flavouring herbs of your choice (savory is good) till tender. Blitz them in a blender with some of the cooking water, unless the pea pods are very young you might also like to sieve the puree to remove the bits of course inner skin.  This should produce a fairly thick puree which you can then dilute either with more of the cooking water or, better, with a ham or chicken stock. Add salt to taste and finish off with a dollop of cream.