FEDAGA allotment show 2010

Just back from the FEDAGA allotment show. It’s a great piece of organisation and over a hundred people turned up, and there was a great buzz in the hall.

This morning we had to set up the produce between 8am and 9am. If I’d had my bike it would have been simple, but trying to get across town by bus was a bit fraught and so I reached the community centre with 20 minutes to set up. I also had 7 categories of produce (which is up from the 3 categories I exhibited in last year) and that took more time to register…

Peas, Greenshaft
Potatoes, Charlotte
Runner beans, Hestia (dwarf)
Shallots, Red sun
Onions, Sturon
Blackcurrant Jam
Rhubarb and ginger jam

Most of the other exhibitors were much higher quality so I didn’t expect to win anything, so I was pleasantly surprised to pick up a third place in the shallots. Am a little disappointed not to get anything form the (competitive) blackcurrant jam category because I think mine was quite delicious.

entry card for shallots category

She who knits certainly showed that she can knit, and won the cup for handicrafts. Congratulations to her! And perhaps next year she’ll spend a little bit more time at the allotment helping out ;-)

first and second place in the knitting category

big smiles from the winner!

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Spuds in Shandon

Today we had a look at the Charlottes in the potato bags. It’s great to see the spuds, but we didn’t get the yield as from the allotment, but then I think we’ve not given them enough water, nor earthed them up enough. I guess the ones planted in the ground can weather a two-week holiday better than in bags.

Looking for some spuds

small haul of Charlotte potatoes

There was half a bag of spent compost that we tipped out onto the veg bed. Probably won’t hvae many nutrients, but will add structure to the soil.

the remaining potato planter

top 10 weeds

Before I start my 5 minute hate, the good news: the first flowers on the strawberries are out and everything I’ve planted this year is coming along fine. But today, I saw my first potato leaf and that’s sent me off on one…

In the 3 years I’ve had this allotment I’ve not planted potatoes. I think they take up loads of space and are relatively cheap in the shops, so I’ve been concentrating on growing soft fruit and vegetables that are expensive, or don’t travel, or we didn’t get enough of in our organic veg box. So every year I’ve had potatoes springing up around the plot (and even managed to get a fair haul of potatoes) but I don’t want them! Half of them that I dig up are pink fir apple and these knobbly things have bits that break off readily.

Not sure that I can put the plants in any order of weediness. The first three are the most problematic.

  • grass
  • horsetail
  • potatoes
  • brambles – they scare me with their habit of rooting wherever they touch the ground
  • comfrey – if it just stayed in a nice patch I’d be happy, but the roots have strayed all over the plot. When I’m digging up the errant plants, I dread the crunch of roots breaking
  • nettles
  • creeping buttercup
  • sticky william (galium aparine and its many common names from plantlives.com)
  • raspberries – shallow roots have gone all over the West end of the plot.
  • dandelion

a kilo of windfall potatoes

Two years on the plot and I’ve never planted potatoes, but they still come up! I was digging over a bed for the last of the garlic and Winter onions, and got a few pink fir spuds and about a kilo of white ones. Tonight’s tea is going to be the last of Wednesday’s stew, mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage.

Spent this morning’s annual leave planting a dozen broad beans — an experiement with overwintering them — and preparing ground for manuring. Also transplanted 3 runaway strawberry plants close to the redcurrant bush, and am already dreaming of next year’s Summer Pudding.

It was cold with bouts of rain and a light fall of snow, and getting perennial weeds out of the beds (mostly grass roots and equisetum) was cold and dirty work. It’s not the middle of Winter yer and there’s still life on the plot: the weeds are still growing, A robin kept me company once I’d started to unearth worms and other minibeasts, and a tit was calling from the blackcurrants.

tatties and herring

Was at the Leith permaculture introductory session today. Lots of good stuff: a selection of permaculture books and magazines; watched three sections of Bill Mollison – Global Gardener (Urban) and saw interesting stuff about city garden in NYC and the designed houses in Village Homes, Davis, CA; shared and recieved some good vegan food; chatted with lots of people and promoted EdinburghLETS; learnt a bit about 12V electrics.

Tatties and Herring:

Bloke from Aberdeenshire with a mandolin played us Tatties and Herring. Fantastic song I’d not heard before, obviously from the Aberdeenshire region as it’s singing the praises of lads from the North over the lowlanders and English, and there are namechecks of a number of places throughout the North-East. Thread on mudcat.

More than I will ever want to know about phytosanitary conditions for potatoes.

12V electrics:

12V electrics often used in Kitchen lighting. Maybe there’s scope for putting a lot of it into the kitchen — obviously it won’t be all of the room since there’ll be an electric oven and a washing machine.
Gets me thinking … when we redo the room, what else can we incorporate to make it more efficient? I’ve still got a soft spot for a heat exchanger under the sink but I would have to do rough calculations as the to heat energy that’s available first.

Other stuff: