Archive for July, 2014

July

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

July is usually one of the driest months so watering can be essential. To help with this, hoe regularly to break up the soil and remove weeds, water in the cool of morning or evening.

Harvest

onionsForHarvestingKeep up with harvesting of all crops because the alloment is now in full production. Lift early potatoes and carry on earthing up the rows.  Harvest garlic and shallots when the foliage begins to become yellow and strawlike. Pick the first of the early tomatoes.  July is the start of the globe artichoke season.  If your plant is into its second year  cut off the bud once it is big and swollen with some stalk attached. Lift autumn planted onions for immedate use.  Continue to pick rhubarb untill the end of the month and begin to harvest the main crop of strawberries. Start to pick plums, early pear and apples.

Sowing and Planting

RipeRedCurrantsNettedStart sowing the seeds of the over wintering crops of kale, spring cabbage, radicchio, chicory, spinach beet and hardy type of onion to mature in early summer of next year.  Now is the best time to sow the carrots to avoid attack from root fly. Continue with successional sowing of beetroot and lettuce. Plant out the last of your marrow, pumpkins, squashes, over wintering cabbages and leeks.  Cover with netting to help protect them from birds.

Pests and diseases

This is start of potato blight season, and if the weather is wet and humid in July then your crop is at risk from the blight. These should be sprayed from June onwards if a wet July is predicted ( crop rotation the following year is advisable). An infected plant will have a watery rot on the leaves, causing them to collapse – the infected matter should be binned or burned and not placed into your compost, as this will not kill the disease and it will re-occur the following year. The main pests are aphids, cabbage while butterfly caterpillars and pea moth, spray to control the aphids and pea moth with insecticidal soap bought from a garden centre .

Good News at Killandean Allotments Association

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Work has started on the land in Kirkton Campus leased  by Killandean Allotments Association from West Lothian Council.  It is envisaged that plots will be ready for renting by mid August.  This will be the first new allotment site opened in Livingston for 30 years.  The project will create 35 allotment plots and a community garden, thereby more than doubling the number of allotment plots available in Livingston.

The cost of initial site investigations and planning were covered by West Lothian council.  The actual creation of the allotment site including fencing, paths, sheds, community facilities, rainwater harvesting equipment and composting facilities has been made possible by a £100,000 grant from the Climate Challenge Fund

The Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society greatly welcomes the opening of the new site at Killingdon and the opportunities this will give to Livingston residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  We wish them every success and hope that it will encourage other residents in West Lothian to seek to have an allotment and ‘grow their own’.

For more information contact livigyo@gmail.com

Scotland a Good Food Nation?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The Scottish Government has just launched a discussion document: Becoming a Good Food Nation.  The motivation is two pronged:

  • Health – in  Richard Lochead’s forward we read that “…Scotland continues to have an uneasy relationship with food.  We have one of the poorest diet related health records globally….”
  • Economics – the main thrust of the document is about how can we encourage scottish consumers to buy from local commercial producers, and how can we support these producers to increase their business through export.

Grow your own does not feature in the document. Interestingly however, although allotments are only given a one word mention on p. 23, the attractive ‘signature’ picture on p.6 introducing the main body of the document is clearly one of an allotmenteer digging up his own beautiful allotment grown carrots.  So much more inspiring than the same operation performed by a mechanical harvester.

The government (and SAGS!)  would like as many people as possible to read the document and comment on the proposals by email.  The health of the Scottish nation and its relationship with our food should concern us all.  Many Scottish food companies are doing a wonderful job. It is unquestionable that the quality and variety of local food easily available has increased enormously in the last 10 or 20 years.  I for one am able to resist any temptation to eat tasteless strawberries during the winter because I know that with investment in poly tunnels the Scottish strawberries will be appearing by May and will continue to be available for months.

Topics for comment are suggested at the end of each section.  Sadly it does not seem to have occurred to the writers that possibly the reason why so many Scots avoid fruit and vegetables is because they have no idea how good they can taste when fresh and just out of the ground or just off the bush.  With grow your own opportunities in allotments and large gardens so scarce and farmers markets still rare (and quite expensive), many people only have access to the frequently under ripe and tasteless offers of the supermarkets –  produce picked days before arriving on the shelf after long journeys and varieties chosen for long shelf life and appearance rather than flavour.  So when you make your comments try to incorporate some positive wish for more encouragement for people to grow their own as well as encouraging local commercial producers.