----- Original Message -----
From: AAA - Webmaster
To: AAA Mailing List
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:28 PM
Subject: AAA Web-site Newsletter - July 28th 2009
Been a funny old month hasn't it? Gone are the heady expectations kindled by the weathermen when they told us in spring we were going to have a scorcher of a summer! The only good thing to come out of it has been the peace of mind that we don't anymore have any anxiety at all about hand watering through a drought ravaged July! It's been a powerful growing month though, with warmth and wet, if it doesn't grow for you under these conditions then it's not worth you sowing or planting it next year.
On the down side there's been a population explosion of slugs - they've attacked everything in sight on my section of Jon's plot. I thought I'd get the upper hand with the Nemaslug treatment, but either the population growth has overcome the parasitic nematodes or I've been sold a version of the "King's new clothes"! At a tenner a throw for 40sq. metres treatment - that needs to be re-applied every six weeks - it's a big decision whether the second and third applications will be risked, it's a disappointment so far - and that's an under-statement. I won't be re-applying it (no good Cardi gets caught twice in the pocket department).
So what's the next line of attack? Well for me any toxic chemical use is out, if I want poison tainted veg I can buy plenty of it off the shelf at the local supermarket, with a lot less hard work. So Metaldehyde laced slug pellets are not an option (if you're not sure what they look like they're the little blue ones obtained very cheaply in most places). Even less of an option is it's more toxic stablemate, the cancer producing Methiocarb - a really nasty one - it's less important as a contact killer, acting more as a stomach poison when eaten. I think I'd prefer salad cream with my lettuce thanks! But I hear you ask "how can slug pellets affect what's in my crops?". Well, quite right, mature adults don't go about eating handfuls of slug pellets! However the consideration is: where does the Metaldehyde and Methiocarb go to when it gets washed into the soil?
Until about 18 months ago water companies could not analyse supplies for Metaldehyde. Now they can, and Bristol Water detected it for the first time - in the Sharpness Canal in 2007. Although amounts were well below health impact level they exceeded the 0.1parts per billion EU limit for any individual pesticide in drinking water. I don't know about you, but I don't like the sound of that!
If you'd like to know more about slugs and chemicals in slug pellets visit the Cardiff School of Biosciences page by clicking HERE. For info on water contamination click HERE. Or you can visit our dedicated section in the Members Area of our web-site:
Please note that this is NOT a shaming exercise for plot holders that use conventional slug pellets. Far be it for me to dictate what others should or should not use - it's a personal choice for the individual. I'm merely trying to present the facts as I happen to see them, so that everyone can make an informed decision for themselves.
So what next for moi and his slimy hordes? An interesting alternative could be Growing Success Advanced Slug Killer (also available from Wilkinson's stores I understand). Apparently It will only kill slugs and snails. There is no secondary poisoning of birds or hedgehogs etc. and the manufacturers say they are completely safe even if wildlife (or toddlers) eat the pellets - so long as the product has been used as directed. It is based on ferrous phosphate (iron phosphate - which is an organic compound) plus a bait, thus making it attractive to slugs and snails. Any bait not eaten breaks down rapidly to iron and phosphate nutrients as part of garden soil. WATCH THIS SPACE - I'll keep you posted!
I've not yet been able to dedicate much time or space for herbs on our web-site. It's a whole new world of subject matter in itself. However I have made a start, concentrating on the medicinal use of herbs (getting my inspiration from James Wong's book "Grow your own drugs" introduced to me by my son Alex), I'll put a permanent link to it on our "Books page" in the Members Area sometime in the next few weeks. For now just click on the graphic below to go to the first page I've prepared. I have to admit the page is a "stolen" page from James Wong's book but with hyperlinks inserted to go to the web-sites listed - have a peek, see what you think & let me know.
Tips 'n Tricks
It's getting there! Remember I mentioned this new page to you in a previous newsletter? It's now on-line. You can link to it from the navigation buttons on the left hand side of the Members Pages. It's growing slowly. Don't forget to send in any tips, tricks or hints you come across or know about so that we can bulk it out. Click on the button below to view it now (there's a VERY interesting bit in there about slug eradication in the soil that has been donated by John Davies from Hendy Gwyn ar Daf (Whitland) a retired Nurseryman who has been growing veg for over 50 years).
The horror word for potato growers! It's been the perfect conditions for blight over the last month (albeit a bit early for blight), with temperatures over 10 degrees C and a relative humidity level of over 90% on many occasions. This is called a "Smith Period" and is a danger time for blight - so keep your eyes "peeled"! You can get a blight alert text and/or e-mail to warn you when it's likely to strike. For more information go to: www.blightwatch.co.uk
Here's the chart for our area over the month of July
There have been 10 days in SA46 where the Smith Criteria was met during the 14 days of data below.
4 Full Smith Periods were recorded.
Monthly "To Dos" List
The August "To Dos" list is now live on the web-site. A tad early I know, but hey! If you still need the July list to go by on the 28th of the month - don't you think you may have missed the boat?!!!
There are some advantages to wet weather when you can't get down to the allotment - I have extra time to sneak for the web-site! I've been meaning to do it for a while and have finally got around to it - streaming video! (Eat your heart out YouTube! AAA can do that as well!).
As you know there's been a "Video Tutorials" section on our web-site for some time, but to date, you had to download the video clips before they could be played on your computers. Now the page has changed and you can stream the video clips instantly on the page. It's taken a bit of time (for the technically nerdish and curious amongst you - the clever bit is done on the server via some specialist software that's been set-up on there). As a consequence the video clips play within the page you're viewing. As yet the service has only been set-up to work on the "public" section of the site, the "members Area" still has the old system working, but that will soon change, so that by the time you get the next newsletter it should be all up and running. Want to see it? Click on the button below:
Talking of streaming video, did anyone see the programme on BBC4 last night called "Who killed the bees?" I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know some of you may think I'm caning the subject to death, but there really IS room for concern. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) this coming year, is expected to destroy 40% of the bee population in the UK. The UK's honey-bee population numbers have already fallen by 15-30% in the last two years - sobering facts.
If you missed it, you can view the whole programme again via the BBC's IPlayer service by clicking HERE. So if you have a good Broadband connection sit back and enjoy for the next hour.
After seeing it perhaps you'll be prompted to sign the petition that's highlighted on our web-site. The petition now has 634 signatories - is yours amongst them?
It's not too late to plant some summer cabbages in those gaps that must be appearing in your rows & beds. Planting good strong plants now will mean that you can stretch your summer cabbage crop all the way to November.
Our latest web-site sponsors (Grannell Nursery) inform me that they have a load of "greyhound" summer cabbage plants left (may also be available from our other sponsors - I have to say that so as not to appear biased!!). To contact Alan & Erika Davies simply click on their sponsor's card ad on the main page of our web-site, it also has their contact telephone No. on there..
Remember when you had school dinners and some of the kids used to leave the best till last? That's what I've done with this newsletter! Finally we have some real positive movement on our Phase 2 allotment site project. One contractor has been in to renew the sewage pipe that runs along our land from the residents site above us, and when I went down a few days ago I was gob-smacked to see that the Council contractors had started by "topping" all the overgrowth on the Phase 2 site in readiness for the drainage & preparation work. What a difference! You can now envisage exactly what the site will be like. It's excellent news - thanks to our committee for kicking it into life.
Well there ends this edition of the web-site newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I toiled preparing it for you! If any of you would like to make any contributions to the next edition don't be bashful in contacting me.
Kind Regards to you all - keep the green side up and the brown side down!