Thefts at Edgewell Allotments

A major theft of property from Edgewell Allotments has been reported to the local police who have visited the site. Goods taken include

  • 3 petrol hedge cutters
  • 1 petrol strimmer
  • 1 Rotovator
  • And a very large generator

We have checked and the insurance company will not cover sheds on allotments. With no electric on any of our sites, the wisest course of action (even though inconvenient) is to leave only non-valuable items on site. As hard as this is, it’s far worse to be broken into and to lose expensive tools.

Our treasurer is looking at other options and will let us know if there are any.

If you hear of any of these items “coming onto the market” please contact the police.

As an amendment to the above list, the generator has now been found but nothing else. Obviously there wasn’t the transport at the time.

Posted in General Information, Prudhoe Gardeners Association | Tagged

Scabby Potatoes

Potato ScabThere are two forms of scab that affect potatoes – common scab  and powdery scab. Both are pathogenic micro-organisms and cause rough, scabby patches. Scabs appear during summer and persist on harvested tubers throughout storage.

Common scab is most serious on potatoes, but also affects beetroot, radishes, swedes and turnips. Common scab is worse when soil conditions are dry when tubers form. Powdery scab is worse under wet conditions and also infects tomato roots.

Common scab shows as raised, rough patches of skin on the tuber surface. Powdery scab shows as irregular brown depressions containing masses of dusty brown spores on the surface of tubers.

To help prevent scab always choose your seed potatoes carefully. Do not plant those which show obvious signs of scab. Liming soil to prevent club root in brassicas makes the soil alkaline which may trigger common scab. You should also not allow the soil to dry out during tuber development so you need to water regularly in dry weather when the plants appear.

Powdery scab is worse in wet conditions which allow the spores that cause the disease to become prolific.

There is no chemical cure available to the allotment gardener so rotation, soil conditions and good standards of general cultivation are important.

Information taken from the RHS website. Read the Royal Horticultural website for complete details.

Posted in Vegetables | Tagged , , ,

Potato and Tomato Blight

Early Potato BlightWith the potato and tomato growing season now in full swing, it’s worth having knowledge of whether blight is active in your area.

A large amount of information is available from the Royal Horticultural Society. The Potato Council has some Fight Against Blight maps which will give you an idea whether there are cases of blight in your area. If you wish to register (free to all) then you will be able to access more information on blight on potatoes.

The Potato Council website is full of useful information on growing potatoes and has a specific area for gardeners.

Posted in General Information, Vegetables | Tagged , , ,

Using Carpets on Allotments

Carpet on an allotmentSome gardeners use carpet as a weed suppressant on their allotments. This is a practice that causes much discussion. Some allotment associations and councils directly controlling their allotments have banned the use of carpets altogether on their sites. This is from long experience of the effects of carpet on allotments, especially where a plot has been left uncultivated.

Carpet will not kill off weeds, it will suppress them and prevent seeds germinating. Roll it back after six months over winter and in spring the bindweed will reappear (as will nettles and docks) and dormant seeds will germinate. In summer roll a bit back and those white spaghetti strings running for yards are the bindweed (or nettles or rosebay willowherb) trying to find light. A Glyphosate chemical spray which kills the weeds but does not affect the soil is a much more efficient way of dealing with difficult weeds.

Having just cleared a patch very similar to the picture with carpet underneath it, I assure you that you will need strong muscles, patience, cunning, appropriate tools and a means of disposal.

Underneath the carpet it was slug heaven – very large, very many, very varied and of no interest to the local wild life. Though spray and strimming off had left it possible to prise the carpet off the soil – it was still a sodden, dead weed infested and heavy mass to be moved from the allotment. Imagine placing that in your car, or that of a kindly friend who has offered to help you, driving to the tip and throwing it in one of the skips. It will be very heavy even if drier, you will become dirty and so will the transport. You can lose friends that way. You certainly can’t take it away on the bus or on your bicycle.

Elsewhere, people have found that foam backed carpet is a specific nightmare as the foam physically degrades into little bits which are totally impossible to clear effectively. Foam is also likely to breakdown further, possibly chemically, after physically crumbling.

So – use black plastic or weed membrane by all means to suppress weeds until you have time to clear the area of ground in question. But do yourself a favour and ignore any offers of carpet. Wet black plastic or weed membrane is far easier to move, store and re-use than an overgrown carpet.

Posted in General Information, Weed control | Tagged , ,

Weeds on the allotment

gardenerA weed is technically just a plant in the wrong place. It could be an unwanted seedling from another plant, or something more pernicious and invasive that you really want to eradicate. However, while you’ll never be able to completely stop weeds from popping up, there are ways to ensure they have less places to grow.

Bare patches of soil will quickly be colonised by both annual and perennial weeds, so a well-stocked border is less likely to support a thriving population of these pesky plants. If you have gaps in your borders, plug them by planting ground covering plants or more vegetable crops

If you have bare soil you could mulch with a thick, 8cm (3in), layer of bark chippings, well-rotted manure or leaf mould in the spring. Not only will this prevent weeds from growing, but it will help to retain moisture in the soil.

If you do have an unused patch at the allotment, cover with plastic or weed suppressant material until you have time to plant the area.

Annual weed seeds can survive for years in the soil, waiting for the perfect conditions to grow. They germinate at lower temperatures than most garden plants and can grow and set seed very quickly. It’s important to recognise them at the seedling stage, so you can eliminate them without accidentally removing your flower or vegetable seedlings.

  • Remove annual weeds from bare patches of soil by hand or with a hoe, severing the tops from the roots, before they have a chance to produce seed and spread.
  • Use a hand fork to lever perennial weeds from the soil or use a special long handed weeding tool. It’s important to remove all the roots, as some weeds can regrow from any bits left behind.
  • Herbicides can also damage your crops so are best avoided unless absolutely necessary. Bindweed, which is a serious problem for some, sometimes winds itself into other plants and is best destroyed by painting the leaves with a herbicide gel, which will be taken down to the roots.
  • Couch grass will stray into borders and vegetable crops from grass paths. Spray the paths not the crops to get to the root of the problem. When you weed, any small piece left will grow again.
  • If you have couch grass in a growing border, attempt to clear when you are digging over in winter

Unfortunately in the long run, there is no substitute for regular weeding as often as possible on the allotment.

Posted in Seasonal Routine, Soil care, Weed control | Tagged , , , ,