Sunday 24 June 2012

Painting the Clouds With Sunshine

Guess what I've been up to today?

It has been so miserable lately with plenty of this:

Battered Tomato House
.. and this:
The Enemy
Today the skies are leaden once more, but during a dry spell this morning I picked some elderflower heads

and made up my Elderflower Champagne mix.

It will be a week before I bottle it up and another two weeks before it is ready, but I'm pretty euphoric today already because I got around to doing this this year! 

Now just to prove that you can grow strawberries in Scotland :

These are the first of my first earlies "Honeoye".  It's so nice to get strawberries before Wimbledon starts.   I have to admit there were some earlier - but the slugs got to them before I did.  I can see I will have to pick them half ripe and ripen them at home if I am to get any before the slugs and snails. I do hope the sun makes an appearance before my other three slightly later varieties all get gobbled up! That would be a repeat of last year.  But I'm shrugging off such feelings of desperation today. I'm about as optimistic about getting a strawberry crop this year as I am that the England football team will still be in the European Championships tomorrow!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Allotment Way of Life...

...under attack from within.

A recent commentator asked:  “What other hobby would cost £2 per week?” .  I have to say that renting an allotment is not the same as subscribing to satellite TV.  It’s a hobby which requires you to bring a lot more than your rent to the table.

Your contribution (over and above rent) includes shed, tools, seeds, soil improvers, ferlizers, canes, nets, fencing posts, chicken wire, weed killers, insecticides and barriers (slug pellets, thrip netting, brassica collars), watering devices (waterbut, cans, sprays, hose, sprinkler) transport costs (allotments are seldom at your back door)  … Oh, time and effort. Lots and lots of it.

Every new allotment holder starts out with the best of intentions but there are things that can interfere with your plans. You will most likely have to deal with some or all of the following:  bad weather, illness, family illness, other family events(happy and sad), work demands, transport failure.

The rewards are there: Fresh air, exercise, food, an otherwise unexperienced sense of peace and achievement. (What I call vegetable Karma). Some people value the social element above all else. 
The downside is that at times you will certainly be  cold, wet, dirty, experience crop failure and devastation by pests. be prepard for constant disappointment followed by theft, vandalism and the associated anxiety.  Neighbours can be a support, but they allocated to you randomly and  not necessarily compatible. No site is immune from the odd feud. A good allotment is a constant draw on your time. And then there’s the expense which eats into any return. You won't make a profit out of a patch that size (even if you were to ignore the rule about not being allowed to sell produce)

To all this add the fact that local authorities have recently decided that they can make money from allotments and are pressing to raise rents all over the country.  

My view is that it is unethical for the council to drive rents up just because there is excess demand,  to use allotment rental for capital expenditure either in leisure or other departments. They should be not for profit.  I also think it is an absolute disgrace that the representative body for Edinburgh allotment holders FEDAGA  lobbied the Council to put up the rents of its fee paying members. Lewis Carroll would have seen the absurdity in that. It’s a pity that no one is now speaking up for allotment holders’ interests anymore in Edinburgh.

Sunday 10 June 2012

FEDUPAGA - 8 Inspections this summer!!!!!!!!

Two new notices have appeared on the site noticeboard:

So it appears there will be eight inspections this summer.  As the first notice makes clear, this is at the behest of FEDEGA (Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Association. Every Edinburgh allotment holder  pays an annual subscription of £2:50.  In return FEDAGA runs the annual vegetable and flower show.  They also propose more inspections and came up with a scheme for "ramping up" the allotment rents to £100 per annum.

Who's side are the committee on? It's like the AA arguing for more speed traps and higher road tax!!!

I will be withdrawing my subscription next year. Although that may be hard as the Council collect it together with the rental.  Spot the connection?

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Happy Birthday to Me - Living In Cin (erator)

Sometimes it's nice just to get the right equipment: 

I did drop a few large hints (including buying the thing myself).

My very first post featured the mound that was the "fireplace" (in the foreground below).  Since then I have had a movable wire basket fireplace which sits on an offcut from granite kitchen worktop we had fitted, but this was disintegrating fast. So this is my self indulgent replacement.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

A bracing day off

Today I had a a day off from the plot and we climbed Schiehallion  - a wee mountain in Perthshire

Full detals - and my first internet portrait at: Schiehallion

Monday 4 June 2012

Happy Brassica Day

Here's a hundred brassica plants - cabbage (red & green), brussels, broccoli - that I planted out today. 

Not only did I plant them out, I watered them in, collared each with a tar paper collar, sprinkled them with slug pellets and netted them. They look a a bit bedraggled just now but they will pick up again. After that, dare I say it, I wouldn't mind if it rained.

So that's soft fruit, potatoes and brassicas taken care of. Next on the list carrots, alliums and beans.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Mounds of Joy

With the recent rain following on from the hot spell the potatoes have, at last, appeared here in Edinburgh.  This always makes me realise just how far we are behind the South. 

I've lost no time in mounding them. I am a big fan of potatoes and the mounding regime. The reason for this is that by doing so at least one part of the plot is weed free. Pretty soon the canopy will form to suppress an weeds that survive the mounding process.

This leaves me free to concentrate my efforts on weeding other areas (and even some sowing and planting).

As I get Monday as a holiday tomorrow will be brassica patch planting day.

I also need to net off the soft fruit before any ripens as otherwise the birds will get there before I do.

Here's a snap of a blackberry in flower.

Looks like a heavy crop.