Archive for January, 2014

January

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

My leeksJanuary is usually the coldest  month of the year.  Coming on top of the  heavy rains that fell  just before Christmas this year,  it is well worth taking the time to look over the allotment and prioritise the jobs for the month. Top of the list must be to clean up the plot and dispose of all of the damaged and rotten crops. Don’t worry too much about soil preparation for now just concentrate on clearing the way for a February biltz. Weather permitting of course.
 Harvesting
 Continue to harvest brussel sprouts, cabbages, leeks and parsnips (if they haven’t been damaged by flood water!).  Check on any vegetables in store and discard any that have gone mouldy or rotten.
Sowing and Planting
 Patience is the watch word. The days are still too short and cold to think of sowing seeds  outdoors  in the open.  A few sowings of onions, lettuce, peas. broad beans, radish and early carrot can be made under protection towards the end of the month . The January sun can push the temperature quite high so give a little air to transplanted lettuce plants on warm days, closing down early in afternoon.
General
Pack some straw or fleece around celery to protect from any damaging frost but remove it on sunny days to let plants breathe. Draw the sod up around the stalks of cabbages and winter cauilflower to just under the first set of leaves. Check over brussel sprouts and broccoli and support them from being blown over in high winds. Take advantage of days when the soil is frozen hard to barrow and stack manure and compost close to where it will be dug in later on.

If you have any plants or seedlings ticking over in cold greenhouse cover them with several layers of newspaper on frosty nights. Rremove the newspaper on warm days. Seeds potatoes will be available from the end of the month. Order your seed potatoes and collect seed trays or wooden tomato trays ready to chit them.  On days when you can’t  work on the plot clean the shed, greenhouse, tools and linseed oil any wooden handles check that the watering can and buckets don’t leak and that the wheelbarrow doesn’t have a flat wheel.
Fruit
Towards the end of the month,  when the weather and soil conditions allow,  plant out soft fruit bushes.  Spray all fruit trees and bushes with garlic winter wash.  Do this on a fine day, do not spray in frosty conditions. It won’t hurt to hold the job over to the next month.

Help Shape Allotments in Scotland

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

If possible, before January 24th 2014 individual plotholders and allotment associations should comment on the government’s proposed changes to the allotment legislation. This will be part of a new and much bigger Community Empowerment Bill. It affects every plot-holder and would be plot holder in Scotland and could have serious repercussions for us all. It is very important that many people make their views known – it would be a shame if the allotment community seemed uninterested in a bill specifically designed to devolve power to community bodies.

The consultation on this bill can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/5740. On this page you will find an executive summary of the proposals and a link to downloadable documents which include the full consultation on the bill and questionnaire forms that you can use to express your own views. The proposals of the bill are explained in Chapters 3 – 6 of the consultation document. The issues relating specifically to allotments can be found in Chapter 4, section 4.3.

The SAGS committee feel that in general the proposals related to allotments are going in the right direction, but that some additional explanations and clarifications are required. We feel that there are five really important issues:

1.Section 172 Q61 Proposed definition of an allotment site and allotment plot.

  •  A standard plot size of 250 sq.m. should be in the definition. Many people will only want fractions of this, but those who can look after and cultivate a full plot should be able to acquire one.
  • Allotment sites on local authority or public owned land are deemed permanent and protected from closure. Any on land leased from a private land owner should be subject to a long term rolling lease and protected from closure.

2. Section 174 Q63: Proposed duty to provide allotments

We suggest that if the local authority is unable to meet the demand for allotments, there must be a strong and enforceable mechanism for making sure the steps are ‘reasonable’ and there are sound reasons why the law has not been implemented. And so add: “Any challenge to these reports will be referred to the relevant Scottish Government Minister.”

3. Section 176 Q65 Local Authority Duties to Manage Allotments

We welcome the duty to produce a food growing strategy and suggest that to show their commitment to providing allotment sites within a time frame local authorities should carry out a five yearly review of their Food Growing Strategy.

4. Section 176 Q65 Local Authority Powers to Manage Allotments

We strongly advise that allotment sites should be permanent. Therefore the power to use local authority land for temporary cultivation should apply to the temporary provision of growing spaces; this should have no impact upon the duty of a local authority to provide permanent allotment sites.

5. Section 179 Q68 Surplus produce

It should be clear that surplus produce should only be sold directly by the allotment association on a non-commercial basis, with all proceeds being invested back into the site. This is to avoid the commercialization of allotment sites.

The easiest way to send your views to the government is to go to the web page

https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/community-empowerment-unit/cerb/consult_view

Click on the link to the Online Survey.  You must fill in the ‘information about you’ section.  The allotment section questionnaire  is about half way down the list.  You can fill in just that section, or any of the other sections that you are interested in.  You will need to download the full consultation document (link as above) in order to make sense of the questions.