AAA newsletter Archive
Hello Fellow Allotmenteers!
It's November already - the clocks have gone back, we're past the Autumn Equinox, the travelling fairs season is here, also the "bumping into" of fellow lottie loving growers down on the Cae Ffynnon Wîn site is getting ever more rare as the sunny days get fewer and fewer. It's still the "tidy-up and put things to bed" slot, but the chance of getting down there is something else! This is when I wish I did a bit more back during that nice dry spell in October!
Talking of that nice dry and frosty spell in October, here's a quote I came across the other week:
"Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden.... It is sad that Nature will play such tricks on us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart." (Nathaniel Hawthorne (born Nathaniel Hathorne; July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864) he was an American novelist and short story writer ).
I don't know when exactly he wrote it, but it's a good bet it was sometime in autumn or possibly early in May, with the devastation that frost - at that time of the year - usually brings (at least I assume that to be the case in Salem Massachusetts - where he was born and lived - incidentally his father, Nathaniel Hathorne, was a sea captain and descendent of John Hathorne, one of the judges in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 - but that's another story!). Either way, whenever frost comes, it is devastating for some of the more delicate plants.
On our allotments site Jack appeared on the night of the 24th of October this year, quite early compared to some years, especially over the last few years (last year excepted). On the crisp fresh & sunny morning of the 25th all that was left of my not so tough courgette, gourd & squash plants was the dead foliage where Jack had touched his finger tip like a white grim reaper - dead overnight. The nasturtiums, whilst slightly tougher were also doomed. By daylight their leaves had curled up and were looking a decidedly paler shade of green - walking dead.
The only positive thing to come out of such a hard frost, so early in autumn, is the usual aftermath of the frost on the broad leaf trees. It tends to turn them into a riot of gold, brown, red and yellow. It certainly started to do that but, I fear the party may have been spoilt by Jack's old friends, Ronnie Rain & Willy Wind :-) Instead of a long, dry and pretty autumn it appears to have just turned into another typical leaf swept, wet & gale-ridden Welsh November! :-(
Keeping in the literary groove for a little bit. I read a letter published in the Garden News this month headed "Gardener's Veg Poem is a Blueprint For Life". It had been contributed by a Carol Cason from Stroud in Gloucester. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me sharing it with you. She wrote:
"My 80 year old neighbour has this little proverb pinned up on the door of his shed. It always makes me smile, so I thought I would share it with other Garden News readers"
I thought that was lovely. It was just newspaper letter printed in the GN so I set about giving it a little facelift (that I think it deserves) & I've reproduced it here for you. If you would also like a copy for your shed door, or kitchen fridge (!) then I've also prepared it as a PDF file and loaded it on our web-site server. If you would like to download a copy to print out then you're welcome to do so just click HERE.
I think it would do many of our members a world of good to read it, digest what it says and contemplate on how it's content can be utilised for our Allotment Association.
If you come across any little gardening ditties, poems or quotes then please pass them on to me. I'm always on the lookout for such things, mostly to bulk up the quotes database that I have for our web-site. You'll notice that every time you load up our web-site in your browsers it comes up with anew quote. The more technically minded reader will have realised that to do that there has to be a store of these quotes somewhere - and there is. There's a database full of them that have had to have been collected and inputted into the DB (it's the way sad IT folk while away long winter nights!)
Mind you, as with most gardeners, there's always time to plan. As we seem to have a literary theme to this November newsletter here's another little poem for you:
CATALOGUES & SEEDS
Some things have a nicer feel to them in autumn and winter, browsing through catalogues and making up wish lists being foremost amongst them. Before you curl up in front of the fire with a seed catalogue and then hare off to order, don't forget that if you intend to place an order with Thompson & Morgan, that by ordering via their affiliate banner on our web-site you'll be generating a little bit of commission towards the upkeep of our web-site. Talking of which, we've just secured another sponsorship, this time with Blackmoor Nurseries. Blackmoor supply fruit trees and soft fruit plants & canes. they are very reasonably priced. If the weather holds up sometime this month I hope to get my fruit trees planted - November is the traditional month for those jobs - ironic really, you cut and prune trees and hedges down and also plant them at this time of the year. All my fruit stock will be coming from Blackmoor, so if you want to judge the quality pop over and have a peek after I've planted them.
Also, we're in the middle of negotiating a bulk seed purchase from one of the more popular seed merchants. If it comes off I'll order 17 catalogues and perhaps persuade you to join us in a bulk seed order to help keep your costs down. More about that in our next newsletter perhaps.
Do you recognise this glamorous lady? You should do - she's one of your plot neighbours. Mind you it's difficult to look this glamorous when you're weeding or pushing a barrow full of chippings! So you're forgiven for not spotting her straight away. Recognise her now? Yes - it's our very own Denise Smith! (Plot 15).
If you think Denise is just a pretty face in a photo you'd be very wrong, she's more than a pretty face, she's our allotments "super brain"! Nice to see that we have some "thinkers" and not just knuckle-scrapping "grunters" amongst our fellow allotmenteers (me included!).
She's just come back from recording some "Countdown" shows with Channel 4. She got through the selection prelim. rounds and qualified to appear on the actual TV show! She reckons she had a great time and met some lovely people, she also tells me "it is much easier when you're sitting at home doing it" Denise - that conundrum thing is almost impossible for me to do wherever I am!!
I'm not going to let any more cats out of the bag for now WATCH COUNTDOWN starting on the 2nd of December, when I say "starting" it gives you a clue that "Our Denise" wasn't a one show wonder! Well done "Dennis" !
SITE PARKING & TIPPING/ DUMPING AREAS
Sorry to put a bit of a downer on the fun of reading your newsletter, but I've received a little grumble or two from a couple of members regarding the site's parking area and the difficulty of passing parked cars with a wheelbarrow etc. Point taken - it has developed into a slight problem.
As you all know, the gravel covered area at the top of the site is for access and parking only for our members. Normally there's enough room for two cars to park side by side along the width of the top end of the site and still allow room for people to pass them. However that space has been somewhat reduced over the last month. The reason for that seems to be two fold. First, a few members (and I include myself here as a culprit) have stored some wood and other bits there that have mostly come from the site across the road. Also there are large rubble sacks full of soil dumped - rather awkwardly - on the parking area. Secondly loads of top soil have been delivered from somewhere. The soil has been tipped too far out into the parking area. I've had a word with the builder responsible for dumping the soil and he will try to bring his digger in to tidy it up. Whilst he's doing that we also hope to get him to make a better tipping area for us, but first that area needs to be levelled off below the parking area. When it's completed (all dependant on the weather of course) members should be able to have soil, manure etc. dumped over the edge of the parking area into tipping bays.
As we now have a combination lock on the main gate no one will be able to tip willy-nilly from now on - without an association member being with then. Unfortunately the soil dumped there at present is no better than the soil already on the site, so if someone had been there when it was tipped it could have been politely refused allowing room for better stuff. Now that it's there we can hardly ask for it to be removed, without risking an upset of the deliverer. All is not lost however, because that surplus clay soil can be utilised to make a flat base for the proposed tipping bays below the parking area. This is obviously a work in hand.
As for the rubble sacks of soil and the wood that's restricting the space - perhaps we can all make an effort to either tidy it up to make more room or if that is not possible move some of it on to our plots. Can I ask all those responsible to address this problem as soon as possible please? Thank you.
AAA SUBSCRIPTIONS ON-LINE
You'll be pleased to learn that we now have on-line banking services available to our members via the PayPal system. So, from now on, you'll be able to pay your Association "dues" to the AAA on-line. To access the page you'll need to login to the members area (assuming you've registered) and click on the button that looks like this:
You will then be able to pay your Plot Rent and Membership Fee in one go as a "subscription". This will greatly reduce the burden on our Treasurer Anne Lewis and of course it'll be much easier and more convenient for you - what could be easier than paying your dues from the comfort of your armchair? Without even having to venture outside your door - SIMPLES !
On the subject of money. As we are a non-profit organisation (all money accumulated is ploughed back into the association - no one makes or takes money from us, apart from out of pocket expenses and other payments we have to make). Our income from membership and plot rents is under £5,000/ annum, so we are not therefore obliged to register as a charity with the Charities Commission. HOWEVER we can declare to Her Majesty's revenue & Customs (HMRC) that that we are a "not for profit" organisation, consequently we can accept donations from the public who want to support our allotment association. We may also be able to tap in to lottery funds etc.
Whilst our needs are not great, all income helps to offset the cost of leasing the land from Ceredigion County Council. The more we can offset, the less we have to charge our members for plot rent. I'm sure that is good news to everyone! Also of course, because we are a private allotment association we have to foot all costs for services on site (water etc.). Any money we can generate can enhance our on-site facilities and go towards the upkeep of the site (gardening power tools, storage buildings, flushing toilet facilities and easy access for disabled members etc.).
This is all in it's early stages, but everything is in place. To this end I have now set-up a donations service on our web-site, so anyone who is so inclined, can make a donation to us on-line - via our PayPal account. Personally I would love for you, the members, to pay the minimum possible for your plots - in keeping with the national averages that other allotment growers are paying (i.e. the ones who rent plots from a source that is not tied to a land lease license) - after all, this is traditionally a poor man's hobby, regardless of the fact that it is being embraced increasingly by professional middle class folk. But even so, the old resourceful, scavenging recycler, with a cloth cap image is being well preserved amongst these nouveau allotment gardeners - but isn't that half the fun of it all?!
It's still a thorn in our side when it rains. Someone was telling me that a fifth of the plots at the bottom end of the site (mine included) were under water earlier in the week. I didn't see it myself. The public footpath was also covered for a while. That is bad news, because we really thought that the problem was not that bad anymore. It isn't as bad as it used to be (thanks to the drains) BUT with water gushing on to the top end of the site from the Glanafon estate, obviously - regardless of how much drainage is done - the problem will remain to a larger degree. Also, when the river Aeron is in full flow during periods of rainwater floods, the water table rises, the stream backs up with water from the river and the main drain from our site that drains into the stream at the side of the site has nowhere to discharge it's water - until the river goes down again and the natural water table lowers.
We were going to contact John (the secretary) of the Glanafon Resident's Association to get the problem of water coming on to the site resolved as a matter of urgency some time ago. However John's wife was ill at the time with terminal cancer, so we didn't think it was the right time to burden him with any extra pressures. Sadly John's wife has now passed away. Out of respect we will not take it up with him until a reasonable length of time based on decency has elapsed. As soon as we can, we will as a committee, be sorting it out.
SO - NEXT YEAR YOU'LL MOSTLY BE GROWING . . . ?
(Excuse the "borrowing" from Harry Enfield/ Paul Whitehouse's gardeners sketches)
According to Dr. Everett Koop (a former Surgeon General) and also Health magazine, 10 of the most nutritious vegetables in the world are:
I've compiled below some information on the top 5 in the list.
You'll notice that Sweet Potatoes are 9th on the above list - not exactly the easiest things to grow outdoors in our "short summer" northern climate (sweet potatoes need a long sunny growing period), however, with a little coaxing or if you have a polytunnel handy, you should be handsomely rewarded. [more INFO]
Lima beans are a type of legume native to South America. These highly nutritious beans are known by a number of alternate monikers, including Haba beans, sugar beans, butter beans, Guffin beans, civet beans, Hibbert beans, Pallar beans, Sieva beans, Madagascar beans, and Burma beans. For people who prefer precision, the scientific name for lima beans is Phaseolus lunatus, and the beans come in two sizes, with larger beans believed to be native to the Andes, while smaller beans were cultivated in other parts of Mesoamerica. "Not a lot of people know that" !
Careful when comparing notes on American sites that mention Lima beans - they can sometimes mean what we call Broad Beans (isn't life complicated sometimes?)!
I've also included some recipes for some of these "super foods". I hope you haven't forgotten our recipes page on our web-site. If you have, here's the little button to go there and also a link for you to send any recipes you have in to us.
OK here's the top 5:
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family (Brassicaceae – to be more specific). The green flower heads and the stalk of the plant are both edible. Broccoli plants are closely related to cauliflowers, although the plants have extremely different colours.
Broccoli contains high quantities of vitamin C, soluble fibres and the compound glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin in broccoli leads to anticancer compound sulforaphane.
Referring to the history of broccoli, the plant was first mentioned in France in 1560 (the name “broccoli” is Italian). 150 years later, in the UK, the plant was still unknown and was called “sprout colli-flower” or “Italian asparagus”.
During the centuries, broccoli has became a very popular vegetable. The plant is now mentioned in a lot of TV shows, cartoons. There even is a world contest for eating broccoli. The actual champion is Tom “Broccoli” Landers, who ate 1 pound of broccoli in 92 seconds. The secret, he says, is: “Just swallow, don’t bother to chew”.
Eating 100g of raw broccoli can give you (according to some sources):
So, by eating 100 g of broccoli, your body gathers two times more vitamin C as compared to oranges. Also, broccoli has only 0.37 g of fat, while chicken breast and steak have 7 g and 18 g, respectively. Broccoli has almost half of the total quantity of calcium in milk (in 100 g of milk there are 113 mg of calcium, while broccoli has 47 mg).
Although it might seem a little strange, broccoli is not seen only as a very healthy and nutritious food. There are a lot of delicious cakes that are made of broccoli. Here an example for you:
Preparation: the oven is first heated to 180ºC; butter a 25 cm loaf tin and line its base and sides with parchment paper; blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes, then drain well; beat the butter till it is very light and creamy, then beat in the sugar; add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix together the baking powder, turmeric, curry powder and salt, and fold into the mixture with the flour; mix well and spoon into the preferred thin; push the broccoli into the mixture; bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Spinach belongs to the Amaranthaceae family, native to central and south-western Asia. At the beginning, spinach was cultivated in Persia and in 647 arrived to China where it was called “the herb of Persia”.
In the past, spinach was considered to be one of the best sources of iron. In reality, 100 g of raw spinach has 2.7 mg of iron (about 22% of the daily recommended doze for adults), a very high concentration for a vegetable but not as high as people believed in the past.
Still, the quantity of iron made available by spinach for the human body depends on its absorption. Iron enters the body in two forms: heme and nonheme iron. All the iron in grains and vegetables and more than half of the iron in animal food sources is nonheme iron. Heme iron can be found only in meat and in smaller quantities.
Nonheme iron is absorbed much slower as compared to heme iron. Still, the absorption process is influenced by the presence of other elements, like: binders – fibre, enhancers – vitamin C, etc.
So, the good news is that consuming foods rich in vitamin C increases the absorption of iron. However, the bad news is that spinach contains high levels of oxalate, substance that binds with iron to form ferrous oxalate and remove iron from the body (consuming foods with high levels of oxalates will decrease substantially the quantity of iron absorbed by the human body).
A funny thing about spinach is that in 1870, Dr. E. von Wolf published an iron content in spinach that was ten times too high. The scientist misplaced a decimal point in his publication, transforming spinach into the most miraculous vegetable in the world! This lead to numerous stories, including the famous “Popey the sailor man”. Still, the truth was revealed in 1937 by a German chemist who corrected the mistake. How many of us still associate spinach with Popeye's antics and huge levels of iron?
Besides iron, spinach is also a good source of calcium. Calcium absorption, as iron absorption, is influenced by oxalate. The body can only absorb about 5% of the total quantity of calcium in spinach.
Spinach also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidants and folic acid. The most important nutrients in spinach (100 g), are presented below:
Caution: reheating spinach may cause the formation of poisonous compounds that are especially harmful to infants younger than six months.
The nutrients in spinach are very important for red blood cell formation, growth and cell division and protein metabolism. It also contains lutein, a very important antioxidant for eye, skin and cardiovascular health. Vitamin C and vitamin A plus the folic acid and fibre help the body fight cancer, especially colon, lung and breast cancer. Spinach also protects the body against heart diseases and against age related memory loss (flavonoids).
One of the
best dishes, using spinach, is Spinach Soufflé. Here’s how to
How to prepare: preheat oven to 175º C; whisk together egg, milk, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper; fold in spinach; bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
3. Brussels sprouts
The Brussels sprout is part of the cabbage family and it is cultivated for its small leafy green heads, much like miniature cabbages.
The name of the Brussels sprout comes from the capital of Belgium: Brussels, as it was first cultivated in this country. Today, this vegetable is cultivated mainly throughout Europe and the United States.
sprouts are the most hated vegetable in the UK (according to a
survey conducted in the UK in 2002). The main reason for this
dissatisfaction with Brussels sprouts is that, when overcooked, the
vegetable releases sulphurous compounds that give it an unpleasant
smell. Thus, Brussels sprout has become a symbol for all vegetables
hated by children.
100 grams of raw Brussels sprout contains 43 kcal and 0.30 g of fat. The most important nutrients found in this amount of raw Brussels sprout are:
The phytochemicals in Brussels sprout, like beta Carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin help the natural defence system of the body.
Brussels sprouts are particularly good for pregnant women, due to its high amount of folic acid. This nutrient is a B-vitamin needed during the cellular division, as it is essential in DNA synthesis.
It is known that Brussels sprouts’ glucosinolates help prevent colon cancer. In a study, animals were given water supplemented with Brussels sprouts. As a result the development of pre-cancerous cells was reduced by 41-52% in the colon and 27-67% in the liver. Also, the pre-cancerous lesions in the liver were reduced by 85-91%.
There are many ways to cook Brussels sprouts, but it is best to quickly steam or boil it in order to preserve its nutritional value. The main problem when cooking Brussels sprouts is to avoid overcooking in order to prevent the release of bad smells (caused by sulphurous compounds) and loss of nutritious elements.
When cooking Brussels sprouts, there might be an unbalance caused by the fact that leaves cook faster than the core. Many believe that by cutting the base of the stem in a cross shape will result in a more even cooking. However, there are some people who think that this leaches the flavours and breaks the leaves and the Brussels sprouts.
Usually, this vegetable should not be cooked for more than 10 minutes, when steaming, braising or boiling.
4. Lima beans
Very popular in the United States, Lima beans are part of the fabaceae family. Their place of origin is uncertain, but it is believed that they came from the South American country of Peru (the capital of Peru is Lima, from witch this vegetable gets its name) or Guatemala.
The seeds of Lima beans usually have a green or cream colour, with a sweet potato-like taste and a grainy, but creamy texture. Among the many varieties of Lima beans, the most common is the Fordhok, also known as butter-beans. Lima beans are very high in molybdenum, tryptophan, dietary fibre and manganese. Also, this vegetable is a good source of folate, potassium, and iron. As we can see in the following list, Lima beans contain a series of nutrients, very helpful to the body. For example, in 100 g of lima beans you can find the followings:
Like any other beans, Lima beans are very rich in dietary fibre. Due to this nutrient, this vegetable lowers the cholesterol and prevents blood glucose (blood sugar) from rising to high. This is very useful for diabetics or people suffering of hypoglycemia.
The trace mineral, molybdenum, found in Lima beans is a component of the sulphite oxidase. This substance is an enzyme that detoxifies sulphites. Sulphites are preservatives used in salads that may cause rapid heartbeats, headaches or disorientation. People may have sensitivity to sulphites because of insufficient sulphite oxidase. 86.5% of the daily requirement of molybdenum can be provided by a cup of Lima beans.
According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, foods that are high in fibre, such as Lima beans can prevent heart disease. A study performed in America (for 19 years) concluded that eating 21 grams of fibre daily, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease by 12% and cardiovascular disease by 11% as compared to eating only 5 grams of fibre every day.
The folate in Lima beans also has cardiovascular benefits by reducing the levels of amino acid called homocysteine. High quantities of homocysteine in blood can cause heart attacks, strokes or peripheral vascular diseases. It is known that eating the total daily requirement of folate lowers the risk of heart attacks by 10%.
Besides fibre and folate, Lima beans have another nutrient that helps the heart: magnesium. This keeps the veins and arteries relaxed and smoothens the flow of blood through the body. Deficiency of magnesium is often associated with heart attacks. A cup of lima beans can offer 20.2% of the daily value of required magnesium.
Combined with whole grain, like brown rice or whole wheat pasta, Lima beans offer about the same quantity of protein as meat or other foods high in calories or fat that could increase your cholesterol level. In fact, a cup of Lima beans has 29.3% of the daily requirement of protein (14.7 grams).
Like Lima beans, peas are part of the fabaceae family. Peas come in many forms, each one having a delicious sweaty flavour, a smooth texture and lots of vitamins and minerals. The most common variety of Peas, are the Green Peas (also known as Garden Peas).
Peas have a very old and interesting history. It seems that Chinese were the first ones to taste this delicious vegetable in year 2000 BC. Through time, peas spread in Asia and Europe. Also, there are mentions of peas in the Bible and evidence that proves that this vegetable was worshipped in Egypt, Greece and Rome. The great producers of today’s peas are the United States, Great Britain, China, Hungary and India.
Peas are quite famous in the genetics community. In the year 1866, the monk and biologist Gregor Mendel published his ideas on heredity. By a selective cross-breeding on common pea plants, Mendel came to conclude his observations in two principles: the principle of segregation and the principle of independent assortment. These two principles of inheritance are today’s modern science of genetics.
Green peas are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, dietary fibre, vitamin B1 and folate. Here is the nutritional profile of 100 grams of raw green peas:
The high amount of vitamin K1 from green peas makes them very important for your bone health. This vitamin activates a protein called osteocalcin. Without this protein, the absorption of calcium in the bone would not be possible.
In addition to the upper mentioned effects of green peas on calcium absorption, this vegetable is rich in folic acid and vitamin B6 that work together to reduce the levels of homocysteine. Besides affecting the cardiovascular health, this amino acid can conduct to poor bones and osteoporosis by obstructing collagen cross-linking.
peas are an excellent way to increase your energy. The vitamins B1,
B2, B3 and B6 from green peas are necessary for the metabolism of
carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The iron is necessary for blood
cells. Deficiency of iron can result in anaemia, fatigue or a week
That's it for another month Folks. As usual you are all invited to make contributions to our future newsletters. If there's anything you want to include, or something you would like to write - as a contribution - then you're very welcome to get in touch with me at any time (recipes included).
It is especially important to keep the bond going between members during these long winter months, when we won't be meeting each other at work on our allotments. Quite a depressing thought really! However a newsletter is often the glue that keeps the individual "bits" together, or at least it can keep us in touch with what's happening.
Anyway, take care, keep busy and keep on enjoying your allotments in an atmosphere of friendliness, co-operation and community spirit.
So I'll close with another little poem - as poems have been a bit of a feature n this month's newsletter, here it is:
Take care everyone, and all the best to you all!