planting so far this season

onion sets (sturon)
shallots (red sun)
1 double row of oregon sugarsnap peas
kale (red russian) intercropped on the peas
3 rhubarb plants transplanted
8 charlotte potatoes intercropped on the rhubarb
spinach (bloomdale) underplanted by the redcurrant
wild flower seeds in one of the edge beds
calabrese in 1/4 of a new raised bed
squared bed:
– lettuce mix x1
– beetroot (boltardy) x3
– spring onions (shimonita) x 1
– carrots (amsterdam early 3) x 1
leeks, carentan 2
kale, red russian



Not sure whether putting this kind of art on the allotment would be a good thing:

One of the things I like about being on the plot is the sound. There’s ambient traffic noise and an occasional siren from the prison, but apart fom that it’s mostly birds and wind in the trees. Mellow and contemplative. Quite different from day-to-day office, household and traffic noise.

More wind instruments at Luke Jerram’s Aeolian Harp page

Plans for the year

First thing to appear this year should be the rhubarb. I’ve got one newly-transplanted crown, one re-planted crown and two crowns that haven’t been touched. That is an awful lot of rhubarb! Perhaps I’ll try and force the smallest of the crowns, just to see what happens.

And there’s loads of soft fruit…

Here’s a plan for the vegetable beds:

planting plan for 2010 and beyond!

planting plan for 2010 and beyond!

Last year 4 people helped out, and I’m really grateful to them. Three of them say they want to continue helping out, so I’m looking forward to seeing them & having a bit of company on the plot. (The fourth was a neighbour, so I’m not angling to get more help from them!)

first warning of the season

Must be Spring. This morning I got the first warning letter of the year from the allotment officer, saying that parts of the plot are untidy and do I want a half plot. More than half the plot is in productive use and the untidy areas are being addressed. Also: I’ve got some great produce in both halves of the plot, so I wouldn’t know which half to give up. Looks like I’ll have to tidy up.

What this allotment is about…

Was talking to a friend of my partner who’s on the waiting list for an Edinburgh allotment. She might be interested in working on my plot and swapping her labour for some produce, so this post is an attempt to summarise what I’m trying to do…

  • To grow tasty food. I thought I had more recipes written up; will do more in future
  • To garden organically. I’m learning about composting and green manures, mulching, crop rotation etc. but I’m not going as far as buying only organic seeds. I buy manure from Gorgie City Farm & compost from Redhall so I don’t have 100% control over the inputs.
  • Use the plot as an experiment. The 2 years on the plot has been the first time I’ve grown food, so I know I’m learning and making mistakes. I don’t think I’ll ever stop tinkering and trying new stuff
  • That said, I’ve had most success with soft fruit. I have propagated 4 blackcurrant bushes and a few strawberry plants this year and I hope that they’ll take
  • Learn about permaculture. The plot is too small to seriously use permaculture or forest gardening techniques, but it’s a useful test bed and it’s getting me familiar with working outside. I have compiled some permaculture resources here
  • Understand climate change. Forecasts are that Summers will get hotter and Winters milder and wetter, so I want to garden productively on a small scale in spite of these changes, and learn techniques for their mitigation.
  • Teach my daughter where (some) food comes from. I also want to make it a place she enjoys playing ‘cos I want to be working on the plot when I’m not at my part-time day job

Spuds, spam and eating for victory

Spuds, spam and eating for victory: rationing in the second world war by Katherine Knight (ISBN 9780752441887) is another book I’ve borrowed from Edinburgh library.

The cover of the book shows an overflowing basket of vegetables

Part oral history, part archival studies and with some reproductions of the wartime images and leaflets, this book rattles through the issues around feeding Britain during the second world war. The book is well-written (if you don’t mind puns) and there’s an extensive bibliography and references. The case studies are important since the time when we’ll be able to get direct oral history about this period is coming to an end; and the necessity to make-do-and-mend is timely advice in this depression.

Katherine Knight has some evocative turns of phrase. As the war effort used agricultural land in the fens, other marginal land had to be used for agriculture:

war planes used the flat fields of peace, while potatoes climed the mountains to make up for the loss

Continue reading

Off the permaculture hook

Seems that google’s indexed better and I’ve been bumped to the second page of results for “permaculture edinburgh”, which allows some better stuff up front.

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Scotland has recently had its national conference (Oct 2008). The 2007 conference report is on the website, so I expect there’ll be this year’s soon. That page has links to a map of 37 Community Gardens across Scotland, which includes Gorgie City Farm, Redhall, Bridgend, and the Thistle Community Wildlife Garden in Edinburgh.

I should get in touch with Gorgie City Farm Gardening services and get some hard and soft landscaping done in our front garden. Emma Burnett (ECBA) appears to work there as Garden Project Worker.

Bah! I can’t find an RSS feed for FEDAGA.

More of that balsam…

Once you’ve got yr eye in, it’s relatively easy to spot flowering Himalayan Balsam from a bike: the plant is very tall and the colours are sufficiently different from fireweed — the other tall, pink-flowered plant that’s visible at this time of year. Shame, then, that I spotted a big stand on either side of Polwarth Bridge on the Union Canal.

British Waterways page on Himalayan Balsam. “It dies back in Autumn and leaves the bank vulnerable to erosion.”

It’s interesting because the SNH report on invasive species in 5 rivers in the Lothians notes that the plant has well-defined upstream and downstream limits. However, that’s not the context on the Union Canal which has no locks on its 30-or-so mile extent. Ewan Campbell, SNH, 0131 654 2466 is listed for further information on this project. Not found anything for BWS…

The girl has a watering can…

…and is much more helpful than when she was swinging a wee fork around. I think the broad beans can survive a dousing better than decapitation. However the poor strawberries got trodden upon; must build raised beds to keep the feet out.

It’s been very windy but the broad beans look OK. The onions are coming along nicely, and I’ll make something nice this weekend; probably onion tarts from Nigel Slater’s Appetite or white onion soup with chorizo from Paul Merret’s Using the plot.