Saturday 19 July 2008

Long overdue picture update

Well I have not blogged for ages, but due to popular demand, here are the pictures of how things are going on the plot....


Parsnips and Onions....

Fennel and Spring Onions...
This is my first succesful attempt at fennel, and i am not sure what i did right this time that i did not do before. Maybe it was the lovely weather we had in May - a distant memory now!

On the other hand my courgettes - which have not failed before are looking like a disaster...

My new blackberry, planted last year should provide some fruit. The gooseberry's next to it were stripped of their crop, as were others on the site. Not sure what happened - but some suspect that they are being sold on the market.

The front, with sweetcorn that has done well, I hope I get a crop from it. This year I tried the 3 bed system of corn, beans and pumpkins. The corn and the pumpkins are doing really well, but my beans are getting rather lost.

A view - with some healthy strawberries. Not so many as in other years, but still enough for the kids to say - "oh no not more strawberries"! and for a few pots of jam to be made.

Lots of weeds are growing, and now it is the summer holidays i wont be up to weed often, but i hope some crops will make it through ok. I also have onions, shallots, garlic, butternut squash, cucumbers, runner beans, swedes, carrots, raspberries, purple sprouting brocoli, and leeks. When i list it like that it sounds most hopeful!

Happy gardening!

Sunday 27 January 2008

Park and Ride on the Allotments Update!

I received an email today from Counsellor Martin who was reported in the Lancashire Evening Post as saying "We were looking at one of the allotments down there but it is very difficult to tell people they have to go because we want to build a park and ride"

He clarified the position to me
"What I said at Cabinet (as opposed to what the Post reports!) was I was aware that the Park and Ride at Portway was very popular but always full by 8.30am and we had looked all over for other sites, such as your allotments, but had discounted all the sites we had looked at for all your stated reasons and more and were still looking for some flat land in that area of Preston"

I think we will always have to be ready to promote and defend the allotments against all and any suggestions for their development.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

We spent today on the allotment doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. This provides valuable information to help the RSPB and others find out more about our garden birds. We chose one hour over the weekend and counted the number of birds that landed on the allotment. We had to be careful only to record the highest number of each species that we saw at any one time (not the total number that we saw - as some birds may visit several times over the hour)

I do not often sit for an hour just to watch the birds and it was interesting to see the interactions between them, and to see how many species visited our allotment.

We saw

1 Blackbird
1 Blue Tit
1 Chaffinch
1 Dunnock
3 Great Tits
2 Long tailed Tits
1 Magpie
2 Robins
Here is one in the distance, I wish I had taken my camera today....

2 Woodpigeons
2 Wrens
3 Bullfinches

and the bank voles too!

Saturday 26 January 2008

No Park and Ride for Allotment Site

The Lancashire Evening Post recently reported a park and ride plan for the Penwortham area, and one site being considered are the allotments on the A59

Allotment site on A59

In the article Coun Martin states "We were looking at one of the allotments down there but it is very difficult to tell people they have to go because we want to build a park and ride."

Read the whole article at Search continues for Park and Ride zone

These allotments are not suitable for any kind of development for a number of reasons.

Allotments have the full protection of the law with regards to their development. All allotments in Penwortham are statutory sites and this means they cannot be used for any purpose other than as allotments unless it can be proven that they are surplus to requirements. There are waiting lists for all the allotment sites in Penwortham.
Allotment law is complicated but the 1925 Allotments Act established Statutory Allotments, which a local authority could not sell or convert to other purposes without ministerial consent.
This provision was strengthened in 2002 when the Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 – Sport, Open Space and Recreation was changed and the criteria clarified by adding that

The allotment in question is not necessary and is surplus to requirements

The implications of disposal for other relevant policies, in particular development plan policies, have been taken into account.

In fact the Government clearly state that

“The Government's aim is to ensure that allotments are well managed, are considered as part of the overall green infrastructure, and are only disposed of where there is no demand for them and established criteria have been met. We are committed to working with local authorities to promote best practice and ensure quality and appropriate availability now and for future generations” Department of Communities and Local Government

It is clear from this that it is not sufficient to offer an alternative site to allotment holders and that as long as the allotments have 100% occupancy and a waiting list they cannot be disposed of under current legislation.

The allotments in Penwortham are also on floodplain land. Environment Agency advice and the recently published Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for Central Lancashire identify the need to ensure ANY new developments are in Flood Zone 1 ideally, or Zone 2, not in Zone 3 which the allotments are. Concreting over floodplain will exacerbate flood risk to nearby communities as floodwater storage capacity will be reduced and surface water run off will be increased. Recent heavy rain across Britain has shown how important floodplain land is to the protection of communities.

Relieving traffic congestion in Preston is a good idea, but a park and ride site here will exacerbate traffic problems within Penwortham and could create worse traffic congestion on one of the busiest routes into and out of Preston. A site further towards the Hutton side of Penwortham would surely be a better location.

Finally, allotments have many benefits to the environment, which should not be lightly discarded. These include the benefits to the people that use the allotments – better health, both physical and mental, better diet, and more sustainable food production, including fewer travel miles for food, and benefits for the community around, including open green spaces and increased biodiversity. A biodiversity action plan was produced for Lancashire in 2007, which recognised the importance that wildlife can make to the quality of life in both rural and urban areas. Allotments are identified as important to this plan. Lancashire County Council aimed to promote lifestyle choices that can have a beneficial effect on allotment habitats and/ or associated species by ensuring that sustainable community plans at district level recognise the importance of allotments to the quality of life. Lancashire County Council Bap template for habitat action plans

For previous post on these allotmentsclick here

Write to your councillors now to ask for this site to be removed from all consideration for development.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Autumn Plot

Autumn is really underway now and most of my allotment is dug over and covered for the winter. Plastic, fleece or cardboard are all great to keep the soil weedfree, dry and crumbly. Some gardeners turn the soil and let it get well frosted, which kills bugs and diseases and helps to break down heavy soil. I may leave some of my beds uncovered and hope for frost too.

And a view of lots of cardboard!

Some plants look terrible, I hope they will recover. The strawberries still need some sorting out for next year

The pond is partly netted to catch leaves, I try to fish the rest out every now and then with a net.

Some things are growing though, and the garlic I planted a couple of weeks ago is already sprouting. It will be ready in July. You can plant it in February but I have found it does not grow so large when i do.

Last time I was on the plot I was watching the bank voles, coal tits, robins and dunnocks feeding from the bird feeders and ground. It was really peaceful and calm. The allotment in winter is a place for being close to nature and escaping the rat race just as much as in the summer. I am so lucky to have the allotment, and I know my fellow allotment holders feel the same. It is a shame that inspite of increased demand, and inspite of laws that encourage councils to increase the provision of allotments, the Central Lancashire Local Development Framework is concentrating almost entirely on building, commercial and economic development and not on green spaces or allotments.

Friday 19 October 2007

Peoples Plots. 1.

It is lovely to feel part of a community on the allotments, and i have been visiting other peoples plots now that the autumn digging is well underway. A newcomer to the plots is Sue and her family. She wanted to get an allotment, after looking after mine for a couple of weeks, and after pressure from her kids to grow more veg. (pester power working to great effect!)

she has a lovely pond...

And some well established fruit trees, always an advantage when taking over someone elses plot...

crab apples too..

Sue has enjoyed gardening since she was a kid, and remembers growing vegetables with her dad,

She, like so many of us, values the space, a green space, traffic free, no houses, loads of birds and other wildlife, to escape to.

Fresh food, (if the slugs dont get it, or the rabbits!) Feeling better from being outside, the exercise and going out on days you would normally stay in, but feeling better for it, all are advantages of having an allotment. And then there is the chance to let your artistic side free...

Friday 21 September 2007

Autumn Clearup

Well its that time of year again when the vegetables are nearly done and the beds need digging and weeding and covering ready for next year. I love this time of year, and feel especially close to the seasons and to the land when i am up on the plot in autumn.

The honeysuckle has grown so huge that it is pulling down the support frame and covering the apple tree nearby. I have pruned it hard back and hope it will recover. I have cuttings growing just in case!

Bonfires help to get rid of some of the trimmings, some can be composted and some have to go to the tip to be composted there.

Of course some crops are still doing well, autumn raspberries crop until the frost or December, whichever is first. Beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and cabbage are still there to be used. Leeks will be ready soon, as will my pumpkins, in time for halloween. The last apples can be used up in the next few weeks too.

Happy gardening!