Your help URGENTLY needed

allotments

This is serious! There are two pieces of Parliamentary legislation currently under consideration, both of which will affect gardeners: allotments and wildlife protection / climate change. Please take a look at the following websites. We urge you to read and consider the implications, then if you wish, petition, email or whatever else is asked, to safeguard ourselves and our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Allotments: “The government has decided to undertake a ‘Review of statutory duties’ with the aim of reducing the burden on local authorities. However they are considering removing the statutory duty to provide sufficient number of allotments for people in the area who want one. This would have the effect of putting all allotments under threat. There is a consultation process but it closes on 25th April 2011 so you need to ACT NOW and let the politicians know that allotments are important and should be protected.” Written by John Harrison in his allotment diary. He urges you to email your comments before  next Wednesday to burdens@communities.gsi.gov.uk. But if you don’t have time, sign the petition being organised by City Cottage.

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Environment: On Monday, it was revealed that the government might scrap vital laws which protect wildlife and the countryside (the Wildlife and Countryside Act) and help to stop climate change (the Climate Change Act). “We need to work together to make sure our wildlife, our countryside and our planet are protected”, says the ‘people, power, change’ group, 38 Degrees. It only takes a few seconds to add your name to their petition. Just click here.

'The Therapeutic Garden' book

‘The Therapeutic Garden’

 

Writing personally, with tongue in cheek, and whilst acknowledging the severe lack of government funds (politics aside) – perhaps politicians don’t have time to garden! So probably they just don’t realise the benefits of growing our own food, being ‘green’; maybe as they “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels”, they have lost the home plot, the garden plot. And they are probably unaware that gardeners save NHS costs, for gardening aids health. As author Donald Norfolk (a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health) wrote in ‘The Therapeutic Garden’: “dedicated to my green-fingered patients, who inspired me to write this book when I noticed that their love of gardening seemed to imbue them with an above average level of cheerfulness, contentment and physical fitness.” The book is a collection of fascinating and illuminating essays and well worth reading, whether you are a politician or not. Copies can be obtained second-hand from Amazon. (Just enter author and title.)

As ordinary ‘Jo Public’, and a gardener, your opinion DOES count. The public’s petitioning to save the sell-off of Forestry Commission woodland worked (via 38 Degrees), and the Government reversed their decision.

Vegetables in Small Spaces

metre-wide beds, mostly two metres in length

an area of my garden, laid down to metre-wide beds, mostly two metres in length and packed with produce

Gardening by the “square  metre” is a simple, easy-to-follow concept that allows you to squeeze more produce into small spaces. Basically, you sow crops closer together – a higher density in any give area. Vegetables, salads, herbs and other edibles – whether annual or perennial – are planted in beds no more than  a metre (39 inches) wide. Beds can be square, but need not be; raised or at ground level. It’s not the length that is important, but the WIDTH. ‘Square-Metre Gardening’ is also a no-dig technique, once it’s set up, unless you neglect the beds! You can tend and reach produce from either side of any metre-wide bed; as plants are grown closer together, weeding is reduced and because you do not ever step on the growing area, soil is not compacted. Fertility is built up by the annual addition of compost. It’s a technique you can use in garden or allotment, and one I have followed for many years.

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‘Doing the Continental’

Twelve - a Tuscan Cookbook

‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’

My mention in last week’s e-newsletter of ‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’ – had me thinking of food, and reorganizing my potager plan to include ‘Continentals’. Some, already ordered (potatoes), are now planted; or sown in the greenhouse (peas). Others are awaiting their turn to be sown in my raised beds, as yet to be assembled – when I’ve finished preparing the 8ft x 8ft (2.5metre-squared) patch where they are to be installed. I’ve ordered seeds: french beans, sugar pod peas, courgette, pumpkin, corn salad, rocket, artichoke and edible flowers; and plants of fennel, squash, climbing french beans, aubergine and asparagus crowns, to regain time lost over my belated start.

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March Miscellany

NSALG - The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners

NSALG – The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners – had much of interest on their stall at TEGS. They cover the whole of the UK (apart from Northern Ireland) and issue a quarterly magazine to members

A bit of a mixture for this last March blog post – ranging from my fascinating visit to the first ‘Edible Garden Show’: very busy, where I discovered a rhubarb forcer and offer you a recipe for using it (the rhubarb, not the forcer!), to working in the garden, progress in my potager and the imminent start of BST. I was just one of over 10,800 visitors who converged on Stoneleigh near Coventry last weekend. Apart from assessing all the stands, I was able to gather much useful information from vendors and organisations which will feature in forthcoming blog posts over the next couple of months. Even if you couldn’t attend, you can still listen to ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ which was recorded from the showground on the opening day with Eric Robson and the GQT panel – Anne Swithinbank, Pippa Greenwood and Bob Flowerdew. The programme will be broadcast this Friday, March 25th and again on Sunday, March 27th.

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Strategy for a Productive Garden

hauling out long-neglected clematis

In my ‘potager-to-be’, hauling out long-neglected clematis (see my Potager Progress diary pages below)

Planning a new garden or allotment, or taking over – and reclaiming – an old one? Then it’s sensible to adopt a strategy to get you growing and cropping as speedily as time and weather allows. Maybe you are adapting an existing garden to allow space to grow more vegetables, salads and fruit; an ‘edible’ plot no matter what the starting point. Will you have one large plot or a number of raised beds? Whatever the circumstances, allow yourself a little time to assess the space available and its present condition: overgrown and weedy, full of builders’ rubble, or herbaceous flower borders or shrubberies that you wish to convert.

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