Monday, 10 December 2012

Marquee diassembly

The Allotments major asset, the Marquee, has been standing around all year. It has formed the basis for the central point of the social aspect of the society. But it is not really strong enough to withstand a harsh winter. Or even a typical winter... aka the rainy season.
So last Saturday it was time to drop it to the ground and pack it away for next year.



Thursday, 6 December 2012

Lets talk about soil

When I took over this plot, it was overgrown. But the chap who owned it before me certainly did one thing right. The soil quality is fantastic. Something I really want to keep. After all it is the soil which makes the whole thing work.

But people don't appreciate the value of it. Now is your chance to start doing something about it.

It is Global Soil Week. OK, it was. But that still doesn't mean you cannot be complacent. Learn about soil. Better yet. Learn how to make it. Composting is a vital part of the process. We have a compost bin at home. All of our organic waste goes into it and the Council then take it off to a big recycler and produce industrial tonnes of it. You cannot beat it. But people still abuse this process. There have been reports of people who have bought this compost and found plastic, metal and allsorts of rubbish in their compost. Garbage in. Garbage out. It applies to many things as well as the old meme in computing.

We have waste bays at the allotments. But all the council do is come along and scrape up everything and take it away. Why? Because people treat it simply as a bin. Why waste essential material like that. We really do need our own, industrial strength composting system on the allotments. Perhaps it's something I should propose for the future.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hangouts

It's been a little wet recently. So I haven't been down the plot. After all, I can't sieve mud. So I've been in my usual hangouts a bit. These are places I frequent on the Web. Places which have a good community of like minded people.

My first hangout is :
The Green Living Forum started life as a forum for discussing the TV program It's not easy being green. This followed the fortunes of a suburban family moving from the Midlands (Malvern) down to Cornwall to start a Green lifestyle. It rather hit home in a number of ways. Firstly, I used to work at the same place Dick Strawbridge used to work at in Malvern. Secondly, and more to the point, it's exactly what I want to do.

The second place I frequent is:
 Now Aquaponics is probably unfamiliar to you. What it is is using Fish to grow plants. The fish produce waste (Ammonia), which is broken down my bacteria into Nitrites and again into Nitrates, which is then consumed by plants as a fertiliser. The whole process is a circulatroy system using water as the main carrier. As such plants never need to be watered and benefit from the high availability of nutrients presented by the fish.
This has taken off big time in Australia. Mostly because it uses less water than conventional plant growing, yet is not as wasteful as hydroponics. And also because you can eat the fish as well as the veggies. There are a couple of companies here in the UK who have started doing this - most successfully too - such as Herbs from Wales.

The final place I hangout a lot is from a Dutch friend of mine:
JungleDragon is a photo forum dedicated to nature and wildlife. The photos that people upload are absolutely stunning. Don't believe me? have a look at some of their all-time greats.




Sunday, 18 November 2012

Pruning the Vine

So last week I put a plastic cover over the pile in an attempt to keep the rain off. It worked. But it didn't solve the initial problem of the fact that the soil was too wet. Of course having the cover on did keep a lot of the rain out, as evidenced by large puddles in the dips of the cover, but is also prevented the soil from drying.
There are still too many large claggy lumps to allow it to be worked properly. But one way or another I'm going to get those roots out.

So I need to turn my attention elsewhere if I'm to have a productive day down the plot. The only other work that needs doing is trying to sort out the mess known as the Grape Vine.
It's been left to run wild the past couple of years. Fortunately grapes will withstand serious prunage. Its also the right time of year to deal with it. So out with the secateurs.
A short while later and it's looking a lot clearer. I also pulled out as much of the dead bindweed as I could get. There is a huge metal guide buried in there which will take some serious cutting with a hacksaw to get out as the vine has grown through and around it. But for the meantime I can leave it in there.
Last thing to do today, is protect the rhubarb. Not having any straw I opted to an upturned bin.
It's not ideal. But hopefully it will do. Next year I want to enjoy the rhubarb again.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Water water everywhere...

The is only one job on the plot at the moment. Sieve the soil. Except it's been too wet. I can't force the soil to dry (cue mental image of extra large solar dryer frying the soil) but I can stop it getting wetter... sort of.

One of the pieces of rubbish I inherited when I took over the plot was a large piece of polyethylene sheet. It's split down the middle but on the whole it's pretty serviceable. So it's time to put it into action as a rain cover.
A few bits of wood to hold it in place, and next week I should have some nice dry(ish) soil to work with.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

More Stupidities

A little while back, I wrote about the "Authorities" trying to get people to stop growing vegetables. Well it seems like it's happening again.
Now I can understand some planning guidelines which can prevent eyesores and the lowering of market values, such as builders rubble and the like being dumped. But growing veggies?
Sorry, but I am completely perplexed by this.
Now obviously here in the UK we also have some laws. I've been researching into them. And it seems that there is absolutely no laws against growing food in your gardens. The only mandates are if you live in a gated community that has some kind of charter or covenant. But even then, thats only between house holders in that area. There doesn't appear to be anything at a Council or County level. I'll gladly accept details if you know otherwise.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

On Legalities and Pumpkin Festivals

Today was a busy day on the allotments. But not anything to do with the Plot.
For a while now we have been trying to get self management sorted out. Going self managed means that we can have our own say in what happens to the site and we won't be at the whim of the Council. The Council have decided that the allotment sites around the borough should pay a higher rent. At Martin Way is the largest allotment site in Merton then our rent increases would also be substantially larger. Going self managed we can by pass a lot of the Council red tape and get things sorted ourself.
But it hasn't been easy.
For one there is a legal of legal work that needs to be undertaken. The existing Allotment society (Merton Allotment and Garden Association) is the wrong structure. To be a legal entity we need to have a limited liability - hence we need to be incorporated as a Company. Except we don't want to pay all the extras that are associated with a company since we're not in this for a profit. So instead we will become and Industrial and Provident Society.
Now this sounds very fine, but as I said, there are a lot of legal things we have to sort out. First is the new constitution. Fortunately we're in luck here since the NSALG have a set of model rules we can use. These can be submitted to the FSA to get the ball up and running. However the model rules are quite old and don't suit how the Allotments are run. It's more suited to old fashioned industrial companies. They require a President to be elected for one. At the meeting to discuss the constitution a few weeks back, a lot of (pointless) argument was placed on this. So it has been decided to remove this post. Did I say that each change we do to the constitution costs us money? Ah well thats what (some of) the members want. It's all over now. But there are still dissenting voices.
So now we have a new society - Martin Way Allotment Gardens Association Limited. Or MAGA Ltd. for short. Yeah, we thought we'd keep it simple for the hard of thinking.
So now the legal stuff was out of the way, it's time for the bonfire, BBQ and pumpkin festival.
The bonfire was a roaring success.
As was the BBQ.
And the sparklers I bought (last seen as the fuse to the "bomb" cake I made for last year's Guy Fawkes bake off at work) cheered up the crowd.
(Our Chairwoman - and son)
(Other half and friend)
All in all it was quite a good evening. Once the dissenters left that is. There are some people who just want to cause trouble and don't contribute to the overall running of the allotments.
And as for the pumpkin festival, there was a judging of carved pumpkins. The bat (left front) and house (left back) were the two winners.
Maybe I should grow pumpkins next year?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Digging up roots

So now I have two big piles of "stuff" on the plot, I gradually have to start clearing it. Not as easy as you might think.
Last week we made a good start by sieving the soil. This week there is just myself, and it's been raining. The soil is like glue. Big claggy lumps of it. So sieving is well and truly out of the question. So instead I opt for simply digging through and pulling out the long couch grass roots by hand. Due to the digging by the mini digger the soil is pretty loose so I can easily grab hold of the roots and pull without fear of breaking them.
But even so, it's still back breakingly hard work. And I've barely touched the pile. Guess I'm going to be doing this until spring.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Clearing the Plot - Part 3

So now we have two huge piles of "stuff" in the middle of the plot. What do we do with it?
Sieve it of course. I don't know how many tons of earth and associate vegetative matter we have, but one thing is clear, it's going to take weeks to get through it.
I managed to persuade the Other Half to come down to the plot today to help out. She's never done that before. It's only ever been me. But she was justifiably proud of the sieved pile she made. She did the sieving, I did the shovelling and carting away of the rubbish.
But there is still a long way to go.
It's about time we started on the getting the wood for the beds. But I have a nasty feeling that we will have to put down a plant root proof membrane to prevent the couch grass growing back in via the bits under the soil. We have taken off the topsoil, but there are still the odd roots showing through here and there. Guess I'll start Googling and see what other people suggest.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Clearing the Plot - Part 2

Well it's been a while since my last post. Holidays, illness and family issues have prevented me from being around at some weekends. Besides which there is only so much you can do with an overgrown plot.
Cue the "Beast".
Yes, this is the beast. The only way to clear an overgrown plot is with something big and meaty. This is a Kubota 1.5 ton mini-digger. I decided to take a day off work and get this sorted. I opted for a week day because it's cheaper than a weekend rate. So at 7am this morning I was on-site (it was still dark), and a few minutes later the delivery driver phoned me to say he was here. After a few minutes instruction on how to use the beast I was let loose.
Let me tell you, it really made short work of the overgrown bind weed, brambles and couch grass. My original idea was to keep some of the plants that were nestled in the corners and along the edges (some raspberry canes and rose hips) but buried in amongst them were bindweed, metal poles, wooden planks (rotten), bindweed, plastic plant pots, netting, bindweed, grass, old carpet and metal trellis. Did I mention the bindweed? So instead I just let rip. The apple trees, grape vine, artichoke and rhubarb were obviously spared but everything else was fair game.
The only problem with ripping up all this vegetation is that it has to be disposed of. Fortunately the allotment disposal bay is pretty close. But the only problem is sorting out the rubbish and getting it over there. So I borrowed the wheel barrow from my next door neighbours and put it to good use. Of course I didn't realise just how much stuff there was. Some of the grass that I pulled up was in huge thick big mats.
So after my 20th wheel barrow, my arms and legs were beginning to fall off.
The only drawback I found with the digger is that you can only pull stuff towards you. Although there is a blade on it (see above photo) it is way to small to be of any practical use. Certainly not with the amount of stuff I was pulling up. So I had to do some very creative dancing around the plot with the beast so that I could get it all ripped up.
But I eventually started making serious headway into the jungle growth.
So finally I have a semi-cleared plot. Semi-cleared because although the plot is "cleared", I now have two huge mounds of soil and plant matter that will have to be dealt with over the next few weeks. I will have to lay out the beds as I need them and then sieve the soil to remove the bind weed roots and get everything prepared. Of course this will also take some creative juggling because the place I want to put a couple of the beds is right where those piles are. Ah well.




Saturday, 4 August 2012

Thieving buggers

So off I troop down to the allotment. There is a big bramble in the middle of the plot that needs some attention of the destructive kind. Today's plan is to deal with said bramble and to finish off the shed base. But no sooner do I arrive at the plot when I find this.
Yes that is, or should I say, was my rhubarb. Or what's left of it anyway.

But I did get some work done. I finished off the shed base.

Made a valiant attempt at dealing with the big bramble. Though the roots are going to have to wait until the digger comes in.

But in the meantime, these past few weeks of rain has done wonders for one crop. That being a good crop of slugs and snails. Meet a couple of large friends.


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Common sense prevails?

Remember I told you about Karl Tricamo and his troubles with the local Town Council? Well it seems that common sense has made an unexpected visit. It seems that the citation against his garden has been dismissed in a vote of 4 to 1.
The Chairman of the Board, Joe Schroeder, stated after the vote, "But I think that all of us on the board agreed that the garden is an eyesore. It goes against common sense, really, to put a garden in the front yard instead of the back." Personally I think the common sense decision is to allow people to grow whatever they want providing it's not hazardous in any way. That in my mind means poisonous, liable to cause damage to property or surroundings or liable to provide an obstruction or menace (blocking line-of-sight, or releasing pollen etc.) Within those limits the growing of veggies should certainly be allowed.
And it's not only Karl who has these issues. In another recent case, a couple in Canada, are also fighting to retain their front yard vegetable garden.

What do you think?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Rescuing the Tree

I have made mention in the past of some of the plants left behind on the plot. Well I haven't been down there for two weeks and when I returned, the constant rain had watered the bindweed giving it a spurt of growth that threatened to overwhelm the plot. Not only that, but there is still one or two brambles buried deep in the furthest reaches. All in all the combination was enough to bury the apple tree.
Yeah, it's in there somewhere.

Did I say bury? Yes I meant it. The tree was so overwhelmed that it was about ready to break under the weight. So it was time to embark on a rescue.
It took four solid hours of hacking at the tangled growth and 4 wheelbarrow trips (borrowed from a neighbour) to the shared rubbish bays to free the apple tree. Not only that but I found two other little trees in the very far corner. Trees I didn't know existed. When the time comes to level the plot, I will be mulching this area to prevent re-growth. But I will have to dig out the bramble roots which may cause a bit of an upset. Either that or I'll just have to keep hacking the runners off as they rear their ugly heads.
Half of the rubbish pile.

The tree in all it's glory.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Mad Hatters Tea Party

Every so often MAGA (Merton Allotment and Garden Association) will hold social events at the allotments. Today was the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Anybody could come along... so long as you wore a Mad Hat. Well anybody could come, except the weather wasn't having any of it. Rain. Rain. And more rain. Lucky we had a Marquee.
Rain makes a few puddles.

I spent last night slaving over a hot stove. I made two quiches, two loaves of bread and some toffee. One of the quiches was last night's dinner (well half of it). The rest went to the party. And a lot of other food was brought along by everybody else. So we were inundated by food of all sorts mostly of the sweet rather than the savoury nature. More food than people.
Laying out the food.

Party in full swing.

Everybody enjoying themselves.

And there were a few surprises. Fancy a slug biscuit?

Blog Roll: Treehugger



Every now and again, I will be introducing you to Green, Eco, or Sustainable style Blogs around the Internet that I read. Today it's time for:

Tree Hugger.


Why I read it:
Treehugger is a commercial news service that covers a wide range of topics with a green and eco stance. They cover technology (the area I work in) as well as design, food, global eco news and a wide variety of topics. Being a commercial service they have a number of journalists who provide the latest and greatest news.

Regularity of updates: Alarmingly regular.
We're not talking one or two updates a day here. We're talking one or two an hour. If you want to subscribe to this news service then you better get yourself a decent news reader (I use Netvibes).

What's Good:
There is always something to read. The articals provide lots of links to other places of interest. Even if you only go one click into an off link then you'll have a good range of interesting articles. Often I have ended up at new sites where I then spend an hour or more trawling through back articles for details and following stories.

What's Bad:
There is always something to read. Yes I said the same thing for good as well. The problem is that there is so much that by the time you've finished exploring the current news article and it's associated links you will find that something else has cropped up.

Go hug a tree.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Shed - Part 2

The weather has kept me out of the allotment. It doesn't know whether to rain or to be sunny. But it seems to be erring on the side of rain. But today the rain seemed to hold off for a while and patches of blue sky promised a decent time down the allotment.
I have been trying to get a base for the shed from either B&Q or Homebase. But to be quite honest I am disappointed with their setup. Their websites showed that they had a base for a 6ft x 4ft shed in stock (both of them) but when I went to them the article in question could not be found. Rather than wait for them to pull their fingers out I decided to make my own base. After all, how hard could it be?
The cleared space for the shed.

So I decided to get the basics from B&Q at New Malden since it was the closest supplier. The main problem is that the soil quality is excellent for growing. Meaning it's nice and soft. Not the ideal sort of thing for making a shed base. So I opted for fence posts.
The basics.

6 fence post supports, the kind you hammer in, will support 3 8ft fence posts. Across those will rest 5 5ft fence posts. The posts you hammer in needed a small amount of wood in them. So I bought an extra 5ft post to saw off small 7 inch sections.
The start of the frame.

I managed to hammer in the four corner posts and get everything position. Unfortunately dark skies loomed - the very same skies which caused the rain break at the Wimbledon Men's final. I had just about managed to get things covered up and all the tools back into the car before it started throwing it down. Ah well, at least I got some of it sorted.
Rain stops play.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Blog Roll: Down on the Allotment


Every now and again, I will be introducing you to Green, Eco, or Sustainable style Blogs around the Internet that I read. Today it's time for:

Down on the Allotment.


Why I read it:
Matron is a fellow London Allotment holder though she is based in Hillingdon.

Regularity of updates: Regular.
Although Matron is often away from the blog it is not without good reason. However she is a regular blogger and definitely worthwhile having on your feed reader list. Oh yeah, she's been blogging a long time.

What's Good:
Being a fellow London blogger, Matron comes across the same issues that I do. London soil is mostly clay which is tough on the plants. I'm lucky in that the previous tenant took a great deal of trouble to build up the soil quality but in general we face the same issues. Whether it's trips to somewhere or the latest picking from the plot, Matron is always good for a read.

What's Bad:
My only gripe is the layout that she uses. Like me, Matron uses Blogger.com at her blogging system. But she has changed the default layout (as i have too) to make things go her way. But she forgot about navigation. The only way of finding things are either by archives or search (if you know what you're looking for). Tags are possibly one of the better ways of finding out all about a single topic and I find them really useful.

Hope you like Dogs.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Raised Beds; Good or Bad?

Gardeners like nothing better than a good gossip. But one thing which is practically guaranteed to get the blood flowing is the ongoing discussion about raised beds.
They have good points, and bad points. This is a round up of the accepted issues for beds.


Bad Points:
  • Harbour pests and allow weeds to proliferate.
    As there is such a defined border, pests such as slugs and snails can tuck themselves away in the little crevices and then sneak out at night to munch on your goodies. Weeds (such as the dreaded bindweed) can insinuate themselves around the frames and make removing them a pain.

  • Wasted Space.
    You need a set of paths between your beds. Obviously these paths need to be maintained and managed. So much so that the will need to be wide enough to get through. But anything you put down as a path is not providing you food.

  • Cost.
    Definitely a biggie. They cost. End of story.

Good Points:
  • Clearly defined growing area.
    By having a fixed area you can clearly layout your plants to the optimum spacing. Maybe more so as you can take into account the fact that there will be better soil in the beds and perhaps you can get away with closer spacing.
  • Better soil quality.
    You don't tread in the beds. As such the soil suffers less compaction. Given that I intend to sieve my soil to remove the bindweed roots, there should be excellent soil in the beds.
  • Base for protection.
    The beds will have supports for canes and frames which will allow for cloches or netting as appropriate. Giving plants support or help as needed.

There are a couple of points where the bad options can be mitigated.
Firstly Wasted Space. If the beds are designed properly then the main walkway would only need to be wide enough for a wheelbarrow to get down. Nothing wrong there, as you will still need that space even if you didn't have raised beds. The space between the beds themselves only need to be wide enough to walk down for access. As such you wouldn't need much more than a few inches, perhaps 8" (20cm) at the most.
Secondly they can be productive... but not in the way you think. Taking a leaf from Onestraw Rob's blog, I intend to use wood chippings as the paths for a number of reasons. Water retention being one, the other is to grow fungi and mycelium.
It is likely that from a weed and pests point of view, I will have issues. Sort of. Weeds will possibly encroach. Hopefully at a slow rate due to the sieving of the soil. But slugs and snails should find the handy slates and tiles that I will be placing around the place a nice bolt hole. Pity that they will be placed right next to where I want the foxes to run and will easily be able to be nosed aside.



Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Shed - Part 1

There is only so many times you can get yelled at by the wife for storing the tools in the hallway and/or the car. So I need to have a good place where they can be locked up. Not only that, but putting a shed on the allotment means I can then start rain-water harvesting off the roof and perhaps install a solar dryer in it. All in all a welcome addition to the plot.
So I've decided that the shed should go next to the grape vine. It needs a good clear out of the surrounding weeds and grasses so that I have a nice level base to put it in. Not only that, but I intend the shed to be the future home of the foxes. So it will have to be installed properly.
First I need to clear a bit of space. The vine was previously staked but during the years of neglect it has fallen over and grown any old which way it pleases. It's going to take a ruthless bit of pruning to get it into a somewhat manageable state. Thats not too much of a problem though. it is well established, and should be able to handle a little rough and tumble.
So now I have an area cleared. The cheapest shed that I can find at B&Q is a 4ft x 6ft shed. So that is the space I have cleared. I will nip down there tomorrow to buy the base, and probably fit the rest of it next week. Though if I manage to get the base fitted early enough in the day, I may have time to re-visit to buy the rest. Either way, having a shed should be the first steps to really feeling that I really own the plot.
The first harvest. No, it's not my Rhubarb. This was donated by my neighbour who is over grown with the stuff. So tonight's dinner is veggie sausages, mash potato, beans, and stewed rhubarb for dessert. Looking forward to it. That is if the other half gets back from the tennis at a decent time.

Blog Roll: Onestraw Rob


Every now and again, I will be introducing you to Green, Eco, or Sustainable style Blogs around the Internet that I read. Today it's time for:

One Straw.


Why I read it:
I first came across Rob and his Straw when he started building his "midden". Now I love a good tinkering around, especially if it involves something out of the ordinary. Building something like that, which can heat water and turn into useful compost at the same time is pretty unusual. But Rob went away and just did it. Yes there were hiccups and issues, but the whole thing was an experiment.
But on top of that Rob does some damn good farming, albeit on a small scale. This is exactly the sort of thing which people should really learn about if they want to have a productive food garden. I have taken a lot of his ideas and will be incorporating them into my own small allotment.

Regularity of updates: Irregular.
When Rob is on a roll he can post on an almost daily basis. But there are times when he goes a couple of weeks without posting anything.

What's Good:
Everything. Not only does he deal with his own small plot, but he also deals with the local community. Especially when doing his community good, means he gets something for free. Such as when he collects their tree fellings, and then uses it to make his garden better.

What's Bad:
Rob at times seems to be a Jack of all Trades. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But there are times when I wish he would assume that everybody lives in the US and can live by his rules.

Be the change.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Blog Roll: Fast grow the weeds


Every now and again, I will be introducing you to Green, Eco, or Sustainable style Blogs around the Internet that I read. Today it's time for:

Fast Grow the Weeds.


Why I read it:
Goats, Bees, Chickens and Veggies. Basically all the things we want for a smallholding.But mostly real down to earth issues. They run a Community Supported Agriculture system providing food for local people.

Regularity of updates: As and when
Updates can be sporadic. But then thats the charm of the site.

What's Good:
The feeling of family and the passion for what they do. You can certainly feel it in the blog entries. They may be in another Country (heck another continent) but what they have are the exact same problews and issues that are found all over.

What's Bad:
The entries are a little rambling at times with no clear indication as to exactly why they are writing such things. But then again most blogs tend to be like that.

Yes the weeds do grow fast.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A State of Stupidity

I do not have a garden. I live in a ground floor flat right next to a busy road. No garden at all, although I do have a car parking space...where I park my car. Hence I applied for an allotment.
But had I a garden, I would want to grow food. It is the right of anybody who wants to know exactly where their food comes from to do this. People have done it for thousands of years. But when some people try it all they get is harassment and abuse.
Take the story of Karl Tricamo. Karl lives in Ferguson, Missouri in the USA. He decided to grow food and medicinal plants instead of a lawn. Yet the local council seem to think that this is against all reason and seem to be trying to throw all sorts of problems his way.

Yes edible front gardens are unusual. Before people switched to un-leaded petrol it would have been unthinkable to eat food grown next to a road due to toxins, lead poisoning and other nasties. But these days it's not too much of a worry. It Karl's case it's even less of a worry. He lives in a cul-de-sac.
I think the main part here is that most people are too far removed from reality to realise exactly what is occurring these days. We have been fed a constant diet of "Economic Growth must continue" so much that it is now ingrained. Ask a child where does bacon come from, and you'll probably get an answer of "the supermarket". The food system is in crisis and people just want to buy more and more cheaper stuff which has a powerful knock on effect. Look at all the steps "celebrity" chef's do to make people wake up. Hugh's Fish Fight and Chicken Run, Jimmy's battle with the Supermarkets and Jamie's attempts for School Dinners. Being a veggie myself, my food costs are already lower. But everybody can choose healthier options just by applying a modicum of common sense. Of course, the only issue is that Common Sense does not appear to be very common.

And the sad part is that Karl is not alone. There are other people in other areas who have similar issues. Such as Ron Finley of Los Angeles, California, and  Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan. Having an allotment is seen as a common activity here in the UK. Same in Japan. But in the US, such concepts are almost unheard of. So to grow your own food for yourself and your family on your own land is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact I would encourage everybody to do it.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Shop Duty

Martin Way Allotments have a shop on site where members can buy discounted goodies such as seeds, fertiliser, garden canes and compost. The shop is normally open for two hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. However, at the request of some members, we are currently experimenting with afternoon opening hours on a Sunday.

Yesterday I did a two hour stint in the morning and again in the afternoon. Whilst we took approximately the same amount of monies each time, the number of people we had in the afternoon was a lot lower. In fact most of the afternoon's takings actually came from people who are involved in the running of the shop. Despite a vocal few wanting an afternoon opening, I do not really see the need for it. The amount of time needed does not really justify the usage.
The shop is affectionately known as "Ken's Shop". Inside there is a plaque with the story of Ken Entwistle who is responsible for the shop in it's current form.

Back on the plot, after a week away the bins that were stuffed with grass cuttings had all shrunk and compacted down. Good room for more.
But I am still finding more and more rubbish under all the weeds.
I think I will have to hire a mini digger to level the site. If I rip up one half of the site and dump the soil and what not onto the other half, I can lay out the plot as I want it (Shed, Greenhouse etc.) then sieve he soil back into the beds where I want it. This will allow me to remove all the bindweed roots out which should make life easier in the long run.




Saturday, 16 June 2012

Blog Roll: Farm in my Pocket

Every now and again, I will be introducing you to Green, Eco, or Sustainable style Blogs around the Internet that I read. Today it's time for:

Farm in my Pocket.


Why I read it:
Well apart from the style of writing, the main point is that they give very well written informational articles. This is not so much a blog site per sé, but more of a guide to small scale farming. It may not all be applicable to farming an allotment (ie. raising animals), but a lot of their articles certainly are. For example they have a good list of articles surround topics such as compost and various vegetables. There is a distinct lack of comments on many of their articles, which suggests that they may not be reaching the audience level that they should. But so long as they put out a decent list articles, then I will certainly be reading.

Regularity of updates: Weekly
On the whole they tend to do weekly updates. Their articles are long and well rounded with lots of photos so the length of them make up for their lack of a daily read.

What's Good:
The quality of information for one. This is somebody who is dealing with these matters on an almost daily basis and takes the time to write up their findings.

What's Bad:
Lack of response. As I said, there are few comments. However when there have been comments, especially with questions, there have been no follow ups or replies. This has a tendency to drive people away or at least leave people wondering if their comments have actually been seen in the first place.

Oh yes, they have an article all about growing on an allotment. Now perhaps they could do one about clearing said allotment? Oh wait. They did.