Archive for June, 2014

New grants for orchards

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Stirling-based environmental charity Forth Environment Link  has announced  two grant schemes  available for planting orchards, and the development of new business ideas that will help develop the orchard sector.  There are also two practical workshops in the near future which are open to all although priority is given to residents of the Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling areas.

The  Central Scotland Green Network Orchard Grant Scheme 2014 / 2015 should be suitable for applications from allotment groups, particularly groups with links to schools or other local organisations. The fund aims to encourage anyone with an interest in orchards – including communities, schools, public agencies and landowners – to plant and manage orchards, use them for learning or celebrations, or use the fruit more productively.

The scheme is open to all groups and individuals in the Central Scotland Green Network area, as long as they can demonstrate wider community involvement in the design, creation and management of the project, and can provide evidence of landowner approval.  Grants of between £100 and £500 are available for designing and creating new orchards, managing traditional and other existing orchards, enhancing orchard biodiversity, and developing orchards as a learning ground.  Click on the link above to learn more and for details on how to apply. The deadline for applications is September29 2014.

The Central Scotland Green Network Orchard Futures Fund 2014 /2015 is more oriented towards businesses but some allotment associations might be eligible. The fund will make a total of £15,000 available to encourage the development of new business ideas that will help develop the orchard sector.  Priority will be given to business ideas that seek to involve the wider community, in addition to generating economic and environmental benefits.  Specialist technical support from an orchard expert for orchard creation is available from the CSGN Orchard Futures Fund for successful applicants. The  deadline is midnight on Monday, 30 June 2014.

For details of the forthcoming workshops and information on how to apply please click on this link.


Allotments better for the soil than commercial agriculture

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

A group of academics from English universities have published a research paper which indicates that techniques of allotment cultivation are better for the soil than the techniques used in modern commercial agriculture.  In summary they have found that because of a desire to maximise yields, modern commercial agriculture has depleted the soil of nutrients. Compared with pastures and arable fields allotment soils have been found to have 32% more soil organic carbon, a 36% higher carbon to nitrogen ratio and 25% higher total nitrogen. These are considered to be important indicators of soil quality.

Maintenance and protection of the quality of our soil resource is essential for sustainable food production and for regulating and supporting ecosystem services upon which we depend.  Compared with commercial agriculture,  allotment gardeners are more likely to add manure to the soil and use composted bio-mass – either bought in or created on the allotment.  This study establishes, for the first time, that small-scale urban food production can occur without the penalty of soil degradation seen in conventional agriculture, and it is believed that this is because of the different techniques used.

Given the involvement of over 800 million people in urban agriculture globally, and its important contribution to food security, these findings suggest that to better protect soil functions, local, national and international urban planning and policy making should promote more urban own-growing in preference to further intensification of conventional agriculture to meet increasing food demand.

How to get rid of potato plants?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

A reader sent in this plea for help:
We moved into a house a year ago and the garden had been neglected for some time before we took over. We are presently planting grass but almost every day some old potato plants keep appearing all over the garden through the grass which is just sprouting. Can you advise us how to kill these plants off because we keep trying to get them out whole but usually the roots do not come up so they will keep appearing. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Any helpful thoughts on the subject (and I do not think that double digging the whole of their newly seeded lawn would count as helpful!) please click on the comments link at the bottom and share it with us.