AAA newsletter Archive

MARCH  2011

Hello Fellow Allotmenteers & Friends,

It's a short newsletter at the end of this month I'm afraid - March is a particularly busy month and it's getting increasingly difficult to get a spare five minutes here or there for newsletter writing! If you're not particularly busy on your allotment and would like to provide a helping hand with a contribution or two - then feel free! Next month is going to be even more hectic - so if April gets skipped, you'll know why!


HE'S NOT "A RIGHT CHARLIE!" - CHARLES IS RIGHT (on this one at least!)

Prince Charles says organic allotments can save the environment

 

Gardeners are the key to saving the environment, according to the Prince of Wales, who has called on people to ?be the change they want to see? by growing organic fruit and vegetables wherever they can, from allotments to containers on balconies.

7:00AM GMT 24 Feb 2011

Louise GrayGardeners are the key to saving the environment, according to the Prince of Wales, who has called on people to “be the change they want to see” by growing organic fruit and vegetables wherever they can, from allotments to containers on balconies.

 

Prince Charles examines a hallmark he hammered in to a piece of silver as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall looks on during a visit to Goldsmiths Hall Photo: GETTY

The heir to the throne, who gardens 13 acres at his home Highgrove, insisted even a tiny patch of land can make a difference to the environment by sucking up carbon, providing food and creating habitat for birds and butterflies.

One of the country’s largest landowners said allotments are also important for community cohesion and teaching children about where food comes from.

"It is so encouraging to see the number of people starting to grow their own food, whether in their gardens, allotments or containers,” he said.

"Although this will not resolve the problem of food security, it does start the process of individuals thinking locally and encouraging local social networks, which are important for community cohesion." In a very personal account of his relationship with gardening, the Prince revealed that when he first decided to go organic people questioned “whether I was in my right mind or not”.


SEED POTATOES - A "Thank You" Gesture.

I recently received an e-mail from Iain Harbour from JBA Seed Potatoes up in Arran, Dumfries & Galloway. As most of you will have noticed, JBA is one of our web-site sponsors. Apparently they've had quite a bit of custom from traffic that's been relayed from the AAA web-site to their site. As a thank you gesture he's given me a 10% discount code that I can share with you as members of the AAA web-site who receive this newsletter.

Here is a copy of what he sent me:


 
JBA Seed Potatoes Growing Potatoes forum
Dear Gwilym (Aberaeron Allotment Association)

As a valued customer and an on-line website associate we are giving you a 10% discount code.

 I have set up a voucher with up to 10000 uses just for your members.

The voucher code is:

AAASPRING2011

you and your members will get 10% off until 12 noon on Saturday 9th April

If the newsletter goes out on Tuesday/wednesday that should give at least 10 days for the newsletter readers.

That should do the job for you. I will let you know if anyone uses it.

You can use this voucher on all JBA products apart from delivery costs.

You will be pleased to know that this has been our busiest year online and that your support has helped us to be recognised as the No.1 online seed potato supplier in the UK.

We have restocked the shop for you, so go on, treat yourself to a few extra potatoes or potato accessories that you may find of use.

This voucher can only been redeemed online.

Enjoy!

All the best

Iain

PS - Ready to Eat Potatoes

Visit the new 'Ready to Eat Potatoes' section on our website where you can get eating potatoes direct to your door from our farm stores.

All of our stock was harvested last year and stored in the ideal conditions. We do not use any chemicals on the potatoes and they are stored in temperature controlled sheds. The potatoes are not washed so they have a much longer storage life if you keep them in a cool dark place in your house that is frost free.

Potato Growing Questions Answered

Hopefully the weather will pick up soon and you will be able to start work on your ground. You may already have chitted your potatoes in advance and are desperate to plant them but just be aware that frosts could very easily nip the fresh leaf growth of the plants and set your potatoes back.

If you want any help then go to my new potato forum where you can ask all the questions that you need answered. This forum is becoming more and more popular with new members joining every day.

Simply go to www.growingpotatoes.co.uk and sign up and once you receive an email from us you can click it to activate your account. Please check your spam box if an email does not arrive.

JBA Seed Potatoes


So if any of you are last minute shoppers for some seed potatoes, or any other potato planting accessories then get cracking - the offer ends on the 9th of next month. For those of you who may have already ordered from JBA - SORRY - I didn't know that this was in the pipeline, otherwise I'd have told you to hold fire.

To use the redemption code to get your 10% discount you need to access JBA via the AAA web-site. Just click HERE if you want to do that now.

PLANTING YOUR SEED POTATOES

For those of you who are now busily preparing to plant your seed potatoes, here's a little guide for you - that may come in useful. The "old hands" will obviously be well aware of this - so don't think that Grandmother is being taught to suck eggs here!

You should use the following distances for your trenches (/ridges):

Building your Trench

First Earlies should be planted 10 - 12inches apart along your trenches; the space between trenches should be around 24 inches.

Second Earlies and Maincrops should be planted 15 inches apart with a space of 28 inches between the trenches.

Use the soil that you have already taken out of the trench and carefully scatter it on top of the potatoes until the trench is once again flat.

Once the plants start to grow through, you should earth them up. Earthing up is best done with a garden hoe: the aim is to form a peaked ridge with the loose soil at the edge of the trench to prevent your potatoes turning green which would make them inedible. This may be required two or three times in a season.

If you have problems with slugs, now is the time add slug pellets to the trench (following the recommended dosage). In July/August, you can use Nemaslug, which are nematodes designed to attack slugs and stop the problem.


FAVOURITE QUESTIONS

When I'm down on my plot, probably the most common questions I get asked by my fellow allotmenteers are:

  1. "how far apart should I sow . . . ?"

  2. "how far apart should my rows be for . . . ?"

  3. "how deep should I plant . . . ?"

I don't mind in the least answering these questions, but seeing as so many seem unable to memorise - but need - this information (twelve months gives you lots of time to forget things), I've compiled a "Veg. Sowing/ Planting Guide" for you. I hope it will be helpful - perhaps you could copy and print it (for pinning to the back of your shed door - if you have one, or if you intend to build one sometime)! Here it is:

 

My Recommended Vegetable Seed Sowing/Planting Guide

Sorry it's in "old currency" - it's my age - imperial measurements are what come naturally to me. You younger (mono metric) gardeners, click HERE for an on-line conversion calculator!

Crop Time to Plant Outdoors Plant Distance Seeds Required Ready to Use

(After approx.)

Between Rows In the Row Row
Asparagus Mar-Apr 5-6' 18-24" ½ oz/20' 2nd Spring
Beans, Bush May and June 2-3' 3-4" 6 oz/50' 50-70 days
Beans, Runner May and June 18" 9" 6 oz/45 hills 70-90 days
Beans, Lima May-June 2-4' 6-8" 6 oz/30 hills 90-130 days
Beets, Table Mar-July 14-20" 2-4" ½ oz/50' 45-60 days
Broccoli Mar-Aug 24-30" 14-18" ½ oz/750 plants 70-120 days
Brussel Sprouts Apr-June 30-36" 18-24" ½ oz/1000 plants 90-120 days
Cabbage, Early Feb-Apr 30-36" 16-24" ½ oz/1000 plants 90-110 days
Cabbage, Late May and June 36-42" 24-30" ½ oz/1000 plants 110-120 days
Carrots Mar-July 12-24" 2-3" ½ oz/100' 65-90 days
Cauliflower Mar-June 3-4' 24-30" ½ oz/750 plants 60-80 days
Celery April-July 18-36" 6-10" ½ oz/4000 plants 120-150 days
Chicory Mar-May, Sept 16-20" 6-8" ½ oz/100' 90-120 days
Chives April and May 12-18" 4-6" ½ oz/100' 125-150 days
Sweet Corn May-June 3' 6" 4 oz/100' 60-100 days
Cress Mar-May, Sept 12-18" 4-6" ½ oz/125' 45-60 days
Cucumber May-July 4-6' 10-12" ½ oz/25 hills 50-75 days
Egg Plant May 24-30" 18-24" ½ oz/750 plants 80-100 days
Endive May and June 18-20" 10-12" ½ oz/150' 90-100 days
Herbs, Annual March and April 20-24" 10-12" ½ oz/100-300' 125-150 days
Herbs, Perennial April-June 20-24" 10-12" ½ oz/100-300' Next Season
Kale Mar and April, Aug 18-24" 12-18" ½ oz/1000 plants 55-60 days
Kohl Rabi March-May 16-24" 6-8" ½ oz/150' 50-70 days
Leek May-June 14-20" 4-6" ½ oz/75' 120-150 days
Lettuce, Leaf March-Sept 12-18" 4-6" ½ oz/100' 40-70 days
Lettuce, Head Mar-Aug 12-16" 12-14" ½ oz/1500 plants 70-90 days
Muskmelon May-June 6-8' 4-6' ½ oz/20 hills 90-150 days
Watermelon May and June 8-12' 6-10' ½ oz/12 hills 85-120 days
Mustard Mar-May, Sept 12-18" 2-3" ½ oz/300' 40-70 days
Okra April and May 2½-3' 18-24" ½ oz/125 plants 50-70 days
Onion, Seed April and May 12-18" 2-4" ½ oz/100' 90-120 days
Onion, Sets Oct-May 12-18" 2-3" 1#/50' 50-70 days
Parsley Mar-May, Sept 18-24" 12-16" ½ oz/125' 65-90 days
Parsnip April-June 15-20" 2-4" ½ oz/150' 95-110 days
Peas, Dwarf Mar-June, Sept 18-24" 2-3" 6 oz/50' 60-75 days
Peas, Tall Mar-June, Sept 3' 2-3" 6 oz/50' 70-90 days
Pepper May and June 18-24" 14-16" ½ oz/750 plants 75-85 days
Potatoes   24-36" 14-18"    
1st Early March - April 24" 10 - 12"   90 days
2nd Early & Main Crop April - June 28 - 30" 15"   150 days
Pumpkin May-July 8-12' 6-8' ½ oz/15 hills 90-120 days
Radish March, Sept 12-18" 1-2" ½ oz/50' 20-75 days
Rhubarb March-June 30-36" 16-24" ½ oz/125' 3rd year
Rutabaga May and June 18-24" 6-8" ½ oz/200' 90-120 days
Salsify March-May 18-24" 2-4" ½ oz/60' 120-150 days
Spinach Mar-May, Sept 12-18" 3-6" ½ oz/50' 45-60 days
Squash, Bush May-June 5' 5' ½ oz/15 hills 55-70 days
Squash, Winter May-July 10-12' 8-10' ½ oz/7 hills 90-125 days
Swiss Chard Mar-July 12-18" 4-8" ½ oz/75' 45-60 days
Tomato May-June 3-4' 2-3' ½ oz/1500' 70-100 days
Turnip Mar-Aug 12-15" 3-4" ½ oz/200' 45-90 days
Crop Time to Plant Outdoors Plant Distance Seeds Required Ready to Use
Between Rows In the Row Row

We also have a "Planting Guide" on our web-site. Look for this button on our Home page (or click on it now) :

When I have a little more time I'll explain to you how gardeners - in time honoured fashion - use various parts of their bodies to quickly measure things (within quite close approximations & certainly accurately enough for what you need on your allotment plot) - assuming you haven't got a tape or a gauging rod handy.

A little something for you to look forward to in a future newsletter - no time this month I'm afraid. What's making it even more of a rush for me is that I'm building myself a polytunnel (at the wrong time I may add - it should have been done months ago, but the winter weather & periods of being unwell put pay to that). Consequently it's now clashing with soil preparation and sowing times!  Ah well - one of these days I'll be able to hit the ground running in spring - instead of trying to multi-task! You all know how poor we the testosterone-laden of the species are at multi-tasking (as I'm regularly reminded) !


MEETINGS

We've had not one but TWO Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs) since the last Newsletter! Most organisations like ours have an EGM when an urgent specific subject arises or there's a need to resolve an emergency - between scheduled OGMs (Ordinary General meetings).

Normally EGMs are either called by the committee of an organisation when there's an urgent need for all members to get together, or a meeting is triggered when a majority (usually 75% or more) of the membership requests one for a specific reason, it's normally a rare occurrence.

The AAA, being a little different,  requested a meeting to reaffirm Cause 7 in it's current Rules of Association, another EGM was then arranged to sort out our Tenancy Agreement between the various Plot-holders and the Association - that turned into a ratification meeting to accept the new agreement - and NOW we have yet another meeting to distribute the new Tenancy Agreements to the Plot-holders, issue invoices for annual membership fees, rents and last season's water usage. Quite an exhaustive period of meetings! Most organisations like ours have regular OGMs (usually once a quarter), an Annual General Meetings (AGM) once a year and any EGMs are usually far and few between. Perhaps a bit of clarity in this department will prevail when the first draft of our Constitution is circulated. That is another job that's eating into my precious time at present.

Phillip our Secretary will contact you shortly with the date, venue and time of our next meeting. It is IMPERATIVE that ALL members attend because the new Tenancy Agreements and invoices will be issued in this one. Anyone failing to turn up will have to collect their Tenancy Agreement from our secretary and will have to separately settle their dues with Anne our Treasurer. This will obviously make things a bit more awkward, so it's best if we get it over with in one go when we next meet. That's why it's in everyone's interest to attend - if at all possible.


DID YOU KNOW?

The Welsh name for Tomato is "Afal Cariad" this is identical to the French name for the same fruit - Pomme d'Amour (French for "love apple"). What on earth is the connection?

Researchers determined that Aztecs developed the tomato, as we know it. When the first conquistadors arrived in Mexico, the red fruit attracted their attention and intrigued their taste buds. In the 1600’s, they shipped some to Europe, but at first tomato failed to enthuse the palates of Europeans. Then in a genial strike some “marketing guru” decided to label tomato as an aphrodisiac and named it "poma amoris", the French in turn called it "pomme d’amour". Of course it took off.

By contrast, American colonists thought tomatoes to be poisonous because of the plant’s relation to the deadly nightshade family! In fact it's leaves are slightly poisonous as are the leaves of it's cousins the potato and the dahlia (the tuber of the dahlia is also poisonous as is the greened tubers of potatoes). Like many other plants in the nightshade family, tomato leaves and stems contain atropine and other tropane alkaloids that can be quite toxic if ingested. The ripe fruit does not contain these compounds. Tomato leaves in the form of a tea have been linked to at least one death, but the levels of tomatine are generally too small to be dangerous

"Not a lot of people know that" !


CONTRIBUTING

Well that's it for this edition.

If any of you would like to contribute to our newsletter, either with a story, information on plants/ pests & diseases, news, tips or just a recipe. Then please contact me at any time. All relevant material received will be published.

Or you can click on this e-mail address to open a Form-Mail page that links to my personal e-mail account.

Keep up the hard slog!

Keep healthy, happy & friendly doing so!

Kind Regards,

G

 

Gwilym

Aberaeron Allotment Association Chair

AAA and Gardeners Chat-Shed Webmaster

 

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QUOTE: Gardening is a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity. - John Evelyn