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.