AAA newsletter Archive

 

October 2010 Newsletter

It's October - Autumn real! And time for another AAA Newsletter! If you weren't convinced last month you will be this month - especially when the clocks go back in a  week or so.

Time to get a lot of things done before it gets too miserable - this is definitely NOT the month to sit back and think "I'm finished for the season". But look on the bright side - you can still tit-bit off the raspberry bushes whilst going about your chores on the plot and there's always the seed catalogues in the evening - to keep you wishing and planning for next year! Don't forget that if you order from Thompson & Morgan OFF OUR WEB-SITE then it earns the AAA a small commission.

Our Newsletter is longer than usual this month - perhaps it reflects the change of growing season mood, with more time to do things other than dig around in the soil as the nights get longer as the dark comes along much earlier!

  Still Cropping?

Hard to believe isn't it? ANOTHER month has gone by - I don't know if it's me, but that last one seemed to REALLY fly  past me!

Not quite in the glut groove of last month are we? It's REALLY starting to slow down, and the produce seems to have got tired and tougher - especially the Runner Beans - they're starting to look sad.

I think most of our plot-holders are quite pleased with their beans this year. The weather has suited them - warm but not so hot as to cause bloom drop where the flowers drop off in hot weather - before the small beans start to form. And it's also been quite WET. Wet and warm suits runner beans and they've cropped their socks off on my plot.

It's also just right for a few nasties, hence another good year for Blight Spores and YES it struck Cae Ffynnon Wîn again this year, but quite late, so the damage should be relatively limited. I cut my haulms down to ground level as soon as I noticed it had struck and with the exception of a couple of tubers here and there (mostly Pink Fir Apple - they're particularly susceptible to blight  anyway) it only seems to have attacked the leaves.

On the runner bean front I did a little comparison trial of my own this year using my old favourite Armstrong and a variety I hadn't tried before - White Lady. As the name suggests a white flowering, mid green podded variety that's advertised as a heavy stringless cropper.

The Armstrong was out of the blocks like the proverbial hare before White Lady had woken up properly! At first glance I thought it would be no competition, but White Lady - like the tortoise just quietly kept going and by the end of the season it will have just pipped Armstrong in "height" and  "abundance of pods" departments. However the Armstrong pods are much longer and bigger (giving away it's "Enorma" heritage which in turn came from the world famous Stenner - THE show bench variety bred by Brython Stenner down in Penrhiwceiber - more about Brython in a future Newsletter perhaps) and amazingly it has a lot less strings than White Lady. Both are supposed to be stringless, but "stringless" is a by-word for "less stringy" than the old varieties, which were fine when picked young enough anyway - remember the old favourite - Scarlet Emperor? It could resemble eating a herring after it got to a certain age!

Armstrong IS stringless - regardless of how big or old it gets. White Lady is stringless to a point but I wouldn't say it was completely stringless.

On the taste front? White Lady is nice but as I've found over the years, Armstrong blows away most of the competition in the Taste Department!

Next year I'll put Armstrong up against something else and see how it fares - I'm eyeing up St. George a RHS winner - a descendant of the old Victorian heritage variety "Painted Lady". But for this year Armstrong is still the champ on my little lottie! We'll see how it fares against the competition come next season.

Goodies From Across The Road

Did you get a little share of the salvage that was going begging where Dafydd (Dai Daps) Phillips was demolishing the house and clearing the site across the lane from us? I hope you did and I hope it will be useful for you as you put it to good use in good old fashioned allotmenteer's traditional salvage and recycle style! You can't call yourself a fully fledged "lottie plotter" unless you've managed to build something for nothing out of someone else's cast-offs!


An Arachnologists Needed

Any spider experts out there among our members? Josie came across this giant spider in our garden at home. It's that time of the year isn't it? Well I recon it's the Common Garden Spider also called the Cross Back Spider (notice the outline of a cross on it's back?).

We need an expert opinion to settle what it is. No prizes for whoever comes up with the right answer! It just better be the Common garden Spider or I won't hear the end of it!


Pumpkin Month

Nail yours down Sue Evans - because one the size of yours could be a hell of a temptation for the "Halloweeners"!

Talking of pumpkins and Halloween I've compiled quite a comprehensive little factoid for you below regarding this time of year - it's historic origins, how it effected (and still does to an extent) the rural crop growing communities (including garden plot growers of course). And how the growing year for tenants and labourers was enveloped around certain periods with their roots in ancient celebrations of pagans and early Christendom. It's quite lengthy, but if you're interested and persevere I think you'll enjoy it and find it worthwhile. So go and put the kettle on and enjoy it with a cuppa! Here it is:


Traditional Calendar Dates for Tenancies/ Employment and Ancient Celebrations.

With the advent of October we are approaching Calan Gaeaf (Welsh for celebration denoting the beginning of winter) or, if you're possibly from  another area of the UK we are just past Michaelmas Day - which you may be more familiar with. I thought it would be interesting to share a few facts with you about this time of the year and how it still influences many of the things we do to this day. Including traditional customs involving the timing incorporated into many of our land tenancy agreements etc.

Traditionally, in England and the English colonies, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which agricultural and other servants who worked the soil were hired, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes. That's the  summer solstice (the longest day of the year - June 21st), the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year - December 21st) the spring equinox (equal day & night - March 21st) and the autumn equinox (October the 21st).

The significance of quarter days is now limited, although leasehold payments and rents for business premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.

The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages:

"These have been the days when accounts had to be settled, days when magistrates paid their visits to outlying parts in order to determine outstanding cases and suits. There is a principle of justice enshrined in this institution: debts and unresolved conflicts must not be allowed to linger on. However complex the case, however difficult to settle the debt, a reckoning has to be made and publicly recorded; for it is one of the oldest legal principles of this country that justice delayed is injustice. Among the provisions that the barons wrested from the extortionate and unjust King John in Magna Carta (1215 CE), a safeguard for gentry like themselves and hungry peasants alike, was the promise that 'To none will we sell, or deny, or delay right or justice'. Days of assize ensure openness, assurance and timeliness of justice, justice not sold, not denied, not delayed" .

The English quarter days (were also observed in Wales and the Channel Islands). They are:

  • Lady Day (25th of March)
  • Midsummer Day (24th of June)
  • Michaelmas (29th of September)
  • Christmas (25th of December)

Lady Day was also the first day of the year in the British Empire (excluding Scotland) until 1752 (when it was harmonised with the Scottish practice of the 1st of January being New Year's Day). The British tax year still starts on 'Old' Lady Day (6 April which, under the Gregorian calendar, corresponded to the 25th of March under the Julian calendar). Also January 13th Hen Galan (Old New Year) still observed as a celebration in some parts of Wales

The cross-quarter days are four holidays falling in between the quarter days: Candlemas, May Day (1st May), Lammas, and All Hallows (1st November). The Scottish term days, which fulfil a similar role as days on which rents are paid, correspond more nearly to the cross-quarter days than to the English quarter days. As did the same activity in rural parts of Wales - Calan Mai & Calan Gaeaf which also use those two cross-quarter dates.

There is a mnemonic for remembering on which day of the month the first three quarter days fall (Christmas being easy to recall): The second digit of the day of the month equals the number of letters in the month's name; i.e. Lady Day is 25 March, and March has five letters; similarly June has four letters and September nine, so Midsummer Day and Michaelmas fall on the 24th and 29th. I don't know about you but I think I'd prefer just to remember them! It's seems the maths is more complicated than just remembering!

Local Customs in Wales

In Ceredigion and other parts of rural Wales there was a tradition of hiring farm labourers during the Ffair Galan (Autumn or 'end of harvest' Fairs).  This is around the time of Calan Gaeaf (see below) and  again is roughly equivalent to a cross-quarter day and marks the traditional period when tenancies changed hands, leases were due  or were renewed, also the rural workforce was paid (for their year's labour), it was also the time they were hired or changed employment and went with another master if they so wished or were released. Debts were also settled at this time at the end of the harvest season - similar to the legal activities that fell on Michaelmas day in England and it's colonies.

Where a notice to vacate rented land was in force it was traditionally served so that it would not expire between May the 1st and November the 1st - thereby not depriving the tenant of his livelihood during the growing and harvesting season.


Calan Mai or Calan Haf (The beginning of Summer celebrated on  May 1st a so-called cross quarter day)

See also Calan Gaeaf  below (the end of the harvest and beginning of winter-  November 1st)

Although summer does not officially begin until June, May Day marks its beginning. May Day celebrations have been carried out in our country for centuries

The Romans celebrated the festival of Flora, goddess of fruit and flowers, which marked the beginning of summer. It was held annually from April 28th to May 3rd.

The first day of May in Wales is known as Calan Mai or sometimes Calan Haf, (the first day of summer), in the same way that the first of November is known as Calan Gaeaf, (the first day of winter). The celebrations always began the evening before. May Eve (Nos Calan Mai) being one of the ysprydnos or ‘spirit nights’ along with the evening before November 1st and St John’s Day (Nos Calan Gaeaf - October 31st) when all sorts of spirits and supernatural forces were abroad, and divination— usually with the aim of discovering who one’s sweetheart would be — was carried out.

Bonfires were lit on May Eve (Nos Calan Mai), in South Wales until almost the middle of the nineteenth century. 

With minor variations, Scottish records also mention all the customs described here: the nine men kindling the fire ritualistically, the eating of flat cakes, interaction with the fire by the one who receives the marked cake, and sacrifice of an animal.

  In Ireland Calan Mai is referred to as the Feast of Bealtaine and in latter times as Mary's day. Bonfires are lit to mark the coming of Summer and to banish the long nights of Winter.

Here is an excerpt from a lady who had a living memory of these celebrations in her village in south Wales:

    "The fire was done in this way: Nine men would turn their pockets inside out, and see that every piece of money and all metals were off their persons. Then the men went into the nearest woods and collected sticks of nine different kinds of trees. These were carried to the spot where the fire had to be built. There a circle was cut in the sod and the sticks were set crosswise. All around the circle the people stood and watched the proceedings. One of the men would then take two bits of oak and rub them together until a flame was kindled. This was applied to the sticks and soon a large fire was made. Sometimes two fires were set up, side by side. These fires, whether one or two, were called coelcerth or bonfire. Round cakes of oatmeal and brown meal were split in four and placed in a small flour-bag, and everybody present had to pick out a portion. The last bit in the bag fell to the lot of the bag-holder. Each person who chanced to pick up a piece of brown meal cake was compelled to leap three times over the flames, or to run thrice between the two fires, by which means the people thought they were sure to have a plentiful harvest. Shouts and screams of those who had to face the ordeal could be heard ever so far, and those who chanced to pick up the oatmeal portions sang and danced and clapped their hands in approval... As a rule, no danger attended these curious celebrations, but occasionally somebody’s clothes caught fire, which was quickly put out.

    The greatest fire of the year was the eve of May, or May 1, 2, or 3. The Midsummer fire was more for the harvest... I have also heard my grandfather and father say that in times gone by the people would throw a calf in the fire when there was any disease among the herds. The same would be done with a sheep if there was anything the matter with the flock. I can remember myself seeing cattle being driven between the fires ‘to stop the disease spreading’. When in later times it was not considered humane to drive the cattle between the fires, the herdsmen were accustomed to force the animals over the wood ashes to protect them against various ailments.... May fires were always started with the faggots of the previous year and midsummer from those of the last summer. It was unlucky to build a midsummer fire from May faggots. People carried the ashes left after these fires to their homes and a charred brand was not only effectual against pestilence but magical in its use. A few of the ashes placed in a person’s shoes protected the wearer from any great sorrow or woe."

Also on Nos Calan Mai or May Eve, the villagers would go gathering hawthorn (draenen wen, literally whitethorn) branches and flowers which they would then use to decorate the outside of their houses. It was unlucky to bring hawthorn blossoms into the house. In other parts of Wales it was the Mayflower (probably the cowslip, briallu Mair) that was gathered, or rowan (cerdinen) and birch (bedwen) twigs. These customs celebrated the new growth and fertility of the season.2

A custom which was still carried out in Anglesey and Caernarfon in the middle of the 19th century on May Eve, was that of gware gwr gwyllt (playing straw man) or crogi gwr gwellt (hanging a straw man). A man who had lost his sweetheart to another man would make a man out of straw and put it somewhere in the vicinity of where the girl lived. The straw man represented her new sweetheart and had a note pinned to it. Often the situation led to a fight between the two men at the May Fair.

Marie Trevelyan  recorded that an aged Welshman described to her a battle fought on Calan Mai in South Wales between Summer and Winter. The man representing Winter carried a stick of blackthorn (draenen ddu) and a shield that had pieces of wool stuck on it to represent snow. The man representing Summer was decorated with garlands of flowers and ribbons and carried a willow-wand which had spring flowers tied on it with ribbons. A mock battle took place in which the forces of Winter threw straw and dry underwood at the forces of Summer who retaliated with birch branches, willow (helygen) rods, and young ferns (rhedyn). Eventually the forces of Summer would win and a May King and Queen were chosen and crowned, after which there was feasting, dancing, games and drinking until the next morning.

May Day was the time that the twmpath chwarae was officially opened. The Welsh equivalent of the Irish ceili is a twmpath. Through the summer months in some Welsh villages, the people would gather on the twmpath chwarae, (literally, tump for playing), the village green, in the evenings to dance and play various sports. The green was usually situated on the top of a hill and a mound was made where the fiddler or harpist sat. Sometimes branches of oak decorated the mound and the people would dance in a circle around it.

Dawnsio haf, summer dancing, was a feature of the May Day celebration, as was carolau Mai, May carols, also known as carolau haf, summer carols or canu dan y pared, singing under the wall. The singers would visit families on May morning accompanied by a harpist or fiddler, to wish them the greetings of the season and give thanks to "the bountiful giver of all good gifts." If their singing was thought worthy, they would be rewarded with food, drink, and possibly money.

The drink that was imbibed at these festivities was usually metheglin or mead. Sometimes it was made of herbs, including woodruff, a sweet-smelling herb which was often put in wine in times past to make a man merry and act as a tonic for the heart and liver. Elderberry and rhubarb wines were popular and the men also liked various beers.


Calan Gaeaf

Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on the 1st of November. Traditionally Calan Gaeaf is many things in  old Celtic culture. It is the end of the productive year. The day of the ancestors; the start of winter. The cycle of the year begins again at Calan Gaeaf — it is a time of reflection, and a time of renewal. A time to plan what you want to accomplish in the coming year, to get ready and geared up over the coming winter months so that you can harvest again next autumn. It is the time to recognize ancestors— those who’ve gone before us into the next world, who can offer guidance, and who can still be felt in our daily lives.

The day most associated with magical goings on was Nos Calan Gaeaf (night of the eve of the first day of winter) on October 31st; and it is associated with many events in Welsh myths. There are many local stories of fairies, witches, hounds and the supernatural. The night before Calan Gaeaf is Nos Calan Gaeaf, it is an Ysbrydnos when spirits are abroad. People avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, since spirits are thought to gather there.

Calan Gaeaf is roughly equivalent to a cross-quarter day and marks the traditional period when tenancies changed hands, leases were due  or were renewed, also the rural workforce was paid, re-hired or changed from one master to another and of course debts were settled at the end of the harvest - similar to the legal activities that fell on Michelmas day in England and it's colonies. Where a notice to vacate rented land was in force it was traditionally served so that it would not expire between May the 1st (Calan Mai) and November the 1st (Calan Gaeaf) - thereby depriving the tenant of his livelihood during the growing and harvesting season.

It’s also a day of major change in the mythological cycles; according to Celtic Irish myth, Oengus mac ind-Og was born on Samhain in Irish (Calan Gaeaf in Wales).

There are many customs still observed in different parts of Wales. These include:

  • Coelcerth: Families build a fire and place stones with their names on it. The person whose stone is missing the next morning would die within the year.

  • Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta: Legend has it that a fearsome spirit called Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta took the form of a tail-less black sow and roamed the countryside with a headless woman. Children would rush home early.

  • Eiddiorwg Dalen: A few leaves of ground ivy is thought to give you the power to see hags. For prophetic dreams a boy should cut ten ivy leaves, throw away one and put the rest under his head before he sleeps. A girl should take a wild rose grown into a hoop, creep through it three times, cut it in silence, and go to bed with it under her pillow.

  • Teiliwr: In Glamorgan tailors were associated with witchcraft. They supposedly possessed the power to ‘bewitch’ anybody if they wished.


There is also another fascinating custom involving the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare in English). Although that tradition is reserved for calennig (new year celebrations) - historically celebrated later than Calan Gaeaf - on  the 13th of January. Some  communities in Wales  still stick with the Julian system instead of switching to the Gregorian calendar when it comes to this celebration (not going with the rest of Britain who adopted the Gregorian system in 1752). They still celebrate on January the 13th and not the 1st.

 

All of this shows how old these traditions are and how deeply they are etched into the psyche of the people. It is part of their ancient Celtic culture that still has an influence.

Perhaps deriving from an ancient rite for the Celtic goddess Rhiannon, the Mari Lwyd is associated with south-east Wales, in particular Glamorgan and Gwent, but was almost forgotten during the mid-20th century. Nowadays, some folk associations in Llantrisant, Llangynwyd, Cowbridge and elsewhere are trying to revive it.

The Mari Lwyd consists of a mare's skull fixed to the end of a wooden pole; white sheets are fastened to the base of the skull, concealing the pole and the person carrying the Mari. The eye sockets are often filled with green bottle-ends, or other coloured material. The lower jaw is sometimes spring-loaded, so that the Mari's 'operator' can snap it at passers-by. Coloured ribbons are usually fixed to the skull and to the reins (if any).

During the ceremony, the skull (sometimes made of wood) is carried through the streets of the village by a party that stands in front of every house to sing traditional songs. The singing sometimes consists of a rhyme contest (pwnco) between the Mari party and the inhabitants of the house, that challenge each other with verses.

The Mari Lwyd has become associated with a resurgent awareness of Welsh folk culture. For example, the town council of Aberystwyth (in Ceredigion, well outside the Mari Lwyd's traditional area) organised "The World's Largest Mari Lwyd" for the Millennium celebrations in 2000.


Lady Day

The English name for the Christian festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary on the 25th of March.

Until 1752 it was the beginning of the legal year in England, and it is still a quarter day (date for the payment of quarterly rates or dues).

This date in the Christian Calendar celebrates a major Christian Feast marking the Equinox. It is the first of the four traditional "quarter days", signalling the beginning of each quarter of the year and welcoming each of the four seasons. These holidays were communally celebrated during the "Age of Faith", reassigned from already established pagan festivities that preceded them. The other quarter days are Christmas on December 25, St John the Baptist's Day on June 24 and Michaelmas (see below) on September 29. For the sake of our interests in the horticultural circles we'll just deal with Lady Day & Michaelmas Day.

Lady Day was originally set at the Equinox by the Church in commemoration of the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of his mother, Mary (a.k.a. the Blessed Virgin Mary). Christians believe that this was the day when the archangel Gabriel was sent to announce to her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. The Equinox has been an immensely significant cause for celebration since prehistoric times, so it was the natural choice for the conception of the Redeemer, being exactly nine months before the date chosen for the birth of Jesus, December 25 (at the Solstice). In REALITY historians (from secular evidence of the period) place his actual birth nearer the time of Michaelmas than Christmas. At  the end of the harvest -   Jews were forced to travel to the towns of their birth to pay their taxes to the Romans - Jesus' family were from Bethlehem so they had to travel there from Nazareth. Christians never were particularly accurate with these things - choosing more often than not to "borrow" convenient dates that were more familiar amongst the pagans and therefore more  popular with them. The Romans were past masters at this kind of thing wherever they went!

Non-religious significance

In England, Lady Day was New Year's Day up to 1752 when, following the move from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, 1 January became the start of the year (as was already the case in Scotland). A vestige of this remains in the United Kingdom's tax year, which starts on 6 April, i.e. Lady Day adjusted for the lost days of the calendar change (until this change Lady Day had been used as the start of the legal year).  It appears that in England and Wales, (from at least the late 14th C)., New Year's Day was celebrated on 1 January as part of Yule. Just to add to the confusion, the ancient Celts in Wales and other parts of Britain had celebrated their New Year on January 13th and still do in many parts (Yr Hen Galan).

As a year-end and quarter day that conveniently did not fall within or between the seasons for ploughing and harvesting, Lady Day was a traditional day on which year-long contracts between landowners and tenant farmers would begin and end in England and nearby lands (although there were regional variations). Farmers' time of "entry" into new farms and onto new fields was often this day. As a result, farming families who were changing farms would travel from the old farm to the new one on Lady Day. After the calendar change, "Old Lady Day" (6 April), the former date of the Annunciation, largely assumed this role.

The logic of using Lady Day as the start of the year is that it roughly coincides with Equinox (when the length of day and night is equal); many ancient cultures still use this time as the start of the new year, for example, the Iranian new year. In some traditions it also reckons years A.D. from the moment of the Annunciation, which is considered to take place at the moment of the conception of Jesus at the Annunciation rather than at the moment of his birth at Christmas.

Out of interest

In Sweden, tradition holds that on March 25, one eats waffles. In Swedish, 'Our Lady' translates to 'Vår Fru'. This has later been contracted into 'Vårfru', and then, through language drift, into 'våffel', the Swedish word for waffle.

"Not a lot of people know that" !


MICHAELMAS 

Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael (no not our familiar Cockney friend above - he's just an addition I put in just in case you were starting to get bored)) and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year.  As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days;  it is one of the “quarter days”. 

There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year (Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December)).  They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes.  They were the four dates on which servants were hired, rents due or leases begun.  It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming.  It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid.  This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms.

St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels.  As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin - the edge into winter - the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months.  It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year.

Traditionally, in England, a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes:

“Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,

Want not for money all the year”.

Sometimes the day was also known as “Goose Day” and goose fairs were held.  Even now, the famous Nottingham Goose Fair is still held on or around the 3rd of October.  Part of the reason goose is eaten is that it was said that when Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Armada, she was dining on goose and resolved to eat it on Michaelmas Day.  Others followed suit.  It could also have developed through the role of Michaelmas Day as the debts were due; tenants requiring a delay in payment may have tried to persuade their landlords with gifts of geese!

In Scotland, St Michael’s Bannock, or Struan Micheil (a large scone-like cake) is also created.  This used to be made from cereals grown on the family’s land during the year, representing the fruits of the fields, and is cooked on a lamb skin, representing the fruit of the flocks.  The cereals are also moistened with sheep's milk, as sheep are deemed the most sacred of animals.  As the Struan is created by the eldest daughter of the family, the following is said:

“Progeny and prosperity of family, Mystery of Michael, Protection of the Trinity”

Through the celebration of the day in this way, the prosperity and wealth of the family is supported for the coming year.  The custom of celebrating Michaelmas Day as the last day of harvest was broken when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church; instead, it is Harvest Festival that is celebrated now.

St Michael is also the patron saint of horses and horsemen.  This could explain one of the ancient Scottish traditions that used to be practiced on Michaelmas Day.  Horse racing competitions in the local communities would be held and small prizes won.  However, with a twist, it was the only time at which a neighbour’s horse could be taken lawfully the night before and ridden for the entirety of the day, as long as the animal was returned safely!

In British folklore, Old Michaelmas Day, 10th October, is the last day that blackberries should be picked.  It is said that on this day, when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven, he fell from the skies, straight onto a blackberry bush.  He then cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, spat and stamped on them and made them unfit for consumption!  And so the Irish proverb goes:

“On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on blackberries”.

Out of interest

The Michaelmas Daisy

The Michaelmas Daisy, which flowers late in the growing season between late August and early October, provides colour and warmth to gardens at a time when the majority of flowers are coming to an end.  As suggested by the saying below, the daisy is probably associated with this celebration because, as mentioned previously, St Michael is celebrated as a protector from darkness and evil, just as the daisy fights against the advancing gloom of Autumn and Winter. 

“The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,

Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.

And seems the last of flowers that stood,

Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”

(The Feast of St. Simon and Jude is 28 October)

The act of giving a Michaelmas Daisy symbolises saying farewell, perhaps in the same way as Michaelmas Day is seen to say farewell to the productive year and welcome in the new cycle.

Another little snippet for you: In Welsh the Michaelmas Daisy is often called "Ffarwel Hâf" translated it means " Farewell Summer"!

Which brings me to something I would like your feedback on. To make things easier and more efficient for our Secretary and Treasurer, it would be a lot more convenient to have our plot tenancy rents made due all together - at a specific time. Also a set date for Annual General Meetings could be set in the same way.

Anyone wishing to become an associate member and go on our waiting list for a plot in the middle of the year could initially pay a pro-rata amount up to the following new season's official start on May Day. Thereafter all membership fees and rents etc would be due on that day annually. In the same way any notices to relinquish a plot or where a notice to vacate is served on any plot-holders the notice would have to be served to expire on or before the 1st of May. that way notices don't interfere with the growing and cropping season, and any new tenant would be able to occupy his/ her plot on the first of May for a new season.

My suggestion is, what if we make the 1st of May the beginning of our allotment year  i.e. a recognised cross-quarter day for the payment of  our membership and plot rent for a year to Aberaeron Allotment Association. Then how about the other traditional cross-quarterly date of November the 1st for our AGM?

This way everyone would remember when things are due and it would make things more efficient from an administration point of view.

Also of course, we would be prolonging an old tradition amongst the gardening and agricultural growing fraternity that goes back many centuries.

If you have any objections then please get in touch. If I don't hear from you then we'll assume you are happy with the arrangement. If we hear from 8 or more people we'll put it on the agenda for discussion at our next General Business Meeting of all members. Is that OK with you everyone?


Recipes

Thanks for your Spicy Courgette Soup Tig! Folks if you haven't tasted it then believe me it's one to die for! My first encounter with this soup was when Tig brought it down to me on the lottie - in a toddler's feeding bottle. I don't know whether she suspects I may be going senile and need one of these things so that I don't dribble down my front - I don't know. She insists that the only thing to hand at the time was her grandson's plastic feeder . . .  hmmm . . . sounds suspicious to me! So that's another use I can put courgettes to so I'll mark it off my list!!

 

Here's the recipe:

For those of you who may have forgotten or possibly not found the recipes section of our web-site please click on the button below:

 

I'm always on the lookout for recipes to add to our recipes page. So if you have a favourite recipe you'd like to share just go to our recipes page and click on the "Submit Recipe" button:

 

And whilst we're on the subject - here's one from Josie (my personal food processing unit) that's suited to this time of the year, and it'll help solve your courgette glut! :

ENJOY!


BEEKEEPING

Quite a few in our ranks have expressed an interest in keeping bees. Personally I'd love to see bees on out allotments site - perhaps we can have a little chat with someone in the Council to see if they would be willing to give us a concession to put a few bee-hives on the Japanese Knotweed exclusion zone strip. It would certainly be better than having it overgrown with weeds that seed and spread on to our plots.

If you'd like more information here is the Welsh Bee Keepers Association (WBKA) web-site: http://www.wbka.com/

And here is a list of their committee members with their contact details:

President: Dinah Sweet
tel: 029 20869242
e-mail:
president@wbka.com

Chairman: Valerie Forsyth
tel: 01545 561634
e-mail: chair@wbka.com

Vice Chairman: Tom Pegg
tel: 01437 563392
e-mail: depchair@wbka.com

Secretary: Lynfa Davies
tel: 01970 890208
e-mail: secretary@wbka.com

Treasurer: Jane Jamison
tel:
e-mail: treasurer@wbka.com

Technical Officer: Wally Shaw
tel: 01248 430811
e-mail:

Minutes Secretary: Claire Miller

Below is a list of their Associate Members in Ceredigion.

Aberystwyth

Ann Ovens, Tan-y-Cae, Nr Talybont, Ceredigion, SY24 5OL

 01970 832359

 

 Gwenynwyr Cymraeg Ceredigion

W I Griffiths, Llain Deg, Comins Coch, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BG

 01970 623334

 

Lampeter and DistrictGordon Lumby, Gwynfryn, Brynteg, Llanybydder, SA40 9UX

  01570 480571

 

 Teifiside

John Page, The Old Tannery, Pontsian, Llandysul, Ceredigion, SA44 2AN

 

01545 590515

 

If I can get enough of you interested then I'm sure we could arrange to get one of them to visit us and give us a talk about the subject. I've been considering doing something like this over the winter months - especially when we have a General Business Meeting for all members. What nicer way to end our meeting than to double up with an evening in the company of a horticulturalist/ gardener/ apiarist etc.


Constitution and Tenancy Agreement Documents
We have now completed the work on our new Tenancy Agreement document. It is currently being vetted by a legal professional (free of charge I hasten to add) who will approve the contents and/ or advise us of any changes that may be necessary. This new Tenancy Agreement is a more robust and comprehensive document than the current agreement. This will benefit and legally better protect both parties involved. I hope to get it back from the lawyer by our next meeting. If not, I will circulate it to you all to have a look at as soon as it comes off the press as it were.

I don't know if you were aware, but up until now the AAA did not have a written Constitution. The only guideline document we had was a Rules of Association which of course is not a constitution document, ours was just a page and a half long and contained about 370 words! Hardly an adequate document for an Allotment Association with 17 plot-holders.

Consequently we have been working on a full Constitution following model rule guidelines provided by the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardens (NSALG) to whom we are affiliated as a member Association. The NSALG provides legal advise to it's member associations and provides guidelines for legal document publication. Whilst it provides guidelines it does not of course provide the actual documents as these are obviously customised to the needs of the individual associations. To this end we've been compiling our Constitution for some months now. We have also researched no less than 14 separate, independent allotment association constitutions as well as consulting the NSALG's model constitution rules document for unregistered associations. The constitutions we have studied for our own publication have been from:

  • BMAA Constitution
  • Bridgend Allotments Association
  • Colchester Avenue Allotment Association Constitution
  • Eynsham Allotments Handbook
  • Falkirk AA Constitution
  • Fleckney Allotments Association Constitution
  • Garnock Valley AA Constitution
  • Gravelpit Allotments Association Constitution
  • Hempland Lane Allotments Constitution
  • Moorside AA Constitution
  • PAA handbook
  • Tommy Field Allotments Association Constitution
  • Undy & Magor Allotments Association Constitution
  • Wester hailer Allotments Association Constitution.

When we finalise the first draft we'll vet it as a committee. Once we are happy with the content we'll circulate it for consultation amongst all our members. Then, after a reasonable period of consultation, a final draft will be prepared and an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) will be convened. That meeting will be to adopt and ratify the new Constitution document. Once it has been approved by the members any future changes will only be possible if an EGM is called by the General Management Committee or one is triggered by a request from 75% of the membership.


Well I think that's about it for October. Don't forget we have a General business Meeting for all members on Tues. the 19th of this month. You'll be contacted with the details, agenda, minutes of last meeting etc. in the next couple of days.
 
I hope you enjoy this rather mammoth edition, but hey, with so much less daylight hours how else will you fill your time!
Happy Reading & Happy Digging!
 
My Fondest Regards To You All