Archive for August, 2009

Has made it into the Financial Times Westminster blog.  They are not impressed.

“The new food review by Defra promises much but offers little*. As far as I can make out, there is a lot of widescreen chin-stroking (sorry, moral leadership) about future food shortages and the need to get green but nothing remotely concrete – unless you count a new website “Food 2030″ for the public to write in with suggestions.

Instead we are left with loads of vague platitudes and some worthy suggestions.”

The article links to DEFRA’s document, which I’ll have a glance at.  Allotments and gardening made it onto Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon programme on Monday night (from 10 PM) which you can listen to on BBC iplayer.  Presenter Matthew Bannister got rather tiresome on the subject of sheds.  We allotmenting blokes only do it to hide into sheds to escape our womenfolk you see.  A line which may have been funny the first time it was used, but not the way Bannister flogged it.

UPDATE: I have read DEFRA’s document ‘One Year On’.  Possibly I missed it, but it appears that Britons who grow their own appear to have no role to play in future food security.  Possibly a cross-cutting stakeholdergroup is being considered, but nowhere did I see a line enouraging garden veg-growing and stating that allotment may have a modest role to play in providing food.

UPDATE2: the document has vanished. Your tax £s at work.


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Go read…

The tragic demise of an organic allotment over at Scattered Gardener.

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Aldi seeds…

I did an experiment with some very cheap Gardenline seeds from Aldi more from curiosity than anything else.  Both the Boltardy Beetroot and Spinach Beet did very well, although why you would eat Spinach Beet this side of starvation escapes me.  Cattle food.

The Gardenline tomato seeds did terribly, but maybe that is because I forgot to plant them.

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was one of my strategies to help the quality of the soil on No 16, especially since I had a limitless supply of peelings.  It seems to have worked, as the soil is much better than a year ago, but I am getting several crops of rogue potatoes that have sprouted from peelings that chitted and grew.  These rogue spuds all seem prone to blight.  Beware.

And don’t take up the offer of free manure if it’s not well rotted, or you will get a fantastic free crop of weeds too.

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Chichi bee home…

from the people who brought you the Eglu, the Beehaus, a modern plastic beehive.  Yours for £465.

It looks and sounds splendid but I suspect that your average allotment holder or urban gardener is going to balk at such a fat slice of the monthy pay cheque going on a hive.

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Hope for humble-bees

Allotmentality has long a Thing about bees and wants hives.  The surrounding allotment holders are Not Sure and there has ben Sucking Of Teeth at the idea that no 16 might be home to a hive.  Bees, after all, cannot be boiled and eaten.  Well I suppose they could, but it would a strange thing to do.

Last year there was something of a political fuss when it was revealed that although bees contribute massively to the economy by their busy pollination, and as Einstein pointed out, probably to our survival as a species, the government had neglected to invst in research as to why the bee population is collapsing.

So good to see that come next year (when there will probably be Conservative government – oh yes, Allotmentality calls the ’10 election for the Tories – bees with have a friend in the corridor of power if this blogpost by Clwyd West MP David Jones is anything to go by.

I’m going to have a hive at some point in the near future.  I trust Mr Jones will occasionally keep his eye on whether or not British agricultural science does right by our humble but important bees, both wild and housed by beekeepers.  No bee was  for comment this morning.

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Out they come…

you may remember the horrible onion crop from last year.  Being a noob alotmonaut we bunged in a load of onion seedlings and waited for the football-sized alliums that must inevably follow.  We got five weazened specimens that, when they’d been peeled, were into the new vegetable territory of negativeonion.  This year, after some almost obsessive soil conditioning, the results were better, especially the Japanese overwinter onions which were grown inside a whimsical fence made of hawthorn clippings.  The early potatoes came out pretty nicely too.


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