Sunday, August 31

August Diary is complete

Last day of August and, according to the Met office, summer is over. Their summer is June, July and August. Some parts of the country have had the wettest August since 1992 and the sunshine hours have been the lowest on record. It must be one of the only summers that we haven't had to water anything in the garden or on the plot. All this and we are advised to start growing drought tolerant plants! I hope that no-one has restyled their gardens this year with this advice in mind as I imagine they would have wasted their time and money.

August's photo album show the dull conditions - I was lucky to manage a day that was dry!

We have had a few new plot holders start work on plots this summer - they must wonder what they have let themselves in for! Anyway welcome belatedly to Denise & Martyn, Andy & Sarah, Mark & Catherine, Stephanie & Simon and Liam & Justine. Watch out as I will soon be coming round with my camera to add you to the rogues gallery.

Click here for the whole of the August diary

Thursday, August 28

Contaminated manure on our plot six months since application

It is now ten months since we had our manure delivered and six months since the manure was spread on our plot.
  • The potatoes that were affected badly by the contamination managed to grow through the problem and have a reasonable crop. Do we really want to eat them though? We have plenty more potatoes growing in beds that did not have manure applied so we are unlikely to need to eat the affected potatoes. However safe they are to eat the fact remains that herbicide residue is likely to have been absorbed into the tubers and one of the real advantages of growing your own is that you can avoid consuming unnecessary chemicals. They were planted as a soil improver anyway and in many ways we didn't expect much from them. So we have been lucky.

  • The affected runner beans never really grew properly and the one or two beans that actually developed are bent and twisted.

  • We planted some sweet peas in an area that had been manured and another area that hadn't. Initially both sets of sweet peas were equally good having lots of flowers with long stems and a wide colour range. After a month or so of growth the difference between the two is now significant. The lot planted in unmanured soil are continuing to produce good flowers. Those in the manured ground have small, short stemed flowers that all seem to have reverted to one colour. Each stem has two flags at the most.

  • About a couple of months ago we planted some tomato plants in both the manured and unmanured areas. all initially grew very well and produced fruit. About three weeks ago the ones in the manured area suddenly developed the ferny distortions and are obviously being damage by release of the herbicide.

  • We also sowed some pea seeds in the manured area. Two rows were planted about a 45 centimetres apart. One row is growing well and has developed peas. The other row is patchy with some of the plants being stunted and displaying cupped leaves. Few peas have set.

  • Clumps of dried manure seem to keep being washed to the surface of the manured plots so obviously the stuff has not fully decomposed and our problems are likely to continue. It is of concern that, maybe due to the poor summer, decomposition may be slow and therefore, could the contamination persist into next season?

Tuesday, August 26

Plotholders Guide has been updated

The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for government policy on allotments. The "Allotments: a plotholders' guide" - is published by DCLG for anyone who rents or is thinking of renting an allotment plot.
The guide covers all the subjects which will be of interest if you rent (or want to rent) an allotment.

You may have come across it before - we have had a previous post with a link to the guide - however, the guide has been updated fairly recently and so it may be worth checking whether you have the latest edition.

Click here to download a copy

Monday, August 25

August diary updated

The dreaded blight has struck! We have been on alert for it all year due to the excessive wet weather – the potatoes have a spray of dithane too. This week however the potatoes and tomatoes both in the greenhouse and outside have been struck. The tubers of the potatoes seem OK so far, although we are still digging them up. The tomatoes have been stripped off the plants in the plot greenhouse and the diseased ones disposed of so we will have to wait and see if the green fruits ripen and are any good. Fortunately we have some tomatoes in our garden greenhouse so maybe we will have more luck with them. It would be interesting to know if anyone on our site is blight free and what varieties they have grown or precautions they have taken!

In spite of the weather, blight and anything else that can be thrown at us we are managing to keep the table fully supplied.
Click here for the August 2008 diary page

Saturday, August 23

Visitor in the Pacific?

There is a little dot on our Clustrmap showing someone has visited us from the middle of the Pacific. Does anyone know where this dot is? Check the Clustrmap on the sidebar - I am intrigued!

Chippings bay fully operational!

The council delivered a load of wood chippings yesterday to fill the new bay. Sid who delivered them advised leaving a few days so the leaves rot down and the chippings dry a little. None of the content is conifer and I am told nothing untoward has been sprayed on them - they are mainly from trees being pruned in school grounds.
I have a direct telephone number for Sid now so any time we need more I will give him a ring. For the communal bay we will only accept chippings from the council so if anyone else, other than Sid, tries to deliver any please don't accept. Sid also has a key so can let himself in and out. Please help yourself but can you leave the edge of the bay reasonably tidy so chippings don't spread out onto the road area. Thanks
At this time the manure bay will not be used for obvious reasons - anyone wishing to obtain manure should source their own trusted supply and have it delivered to their own plot. In the meanwhile the manure bay will be used to house our can recycling collection.
For the whole story of the communal area development so far click here.
For the next stage Jan is edging the plot with scaffolding boards and will recover with the weed suppressant supplied to us by GeoFabrics of Stourton. This will be covered with chippings.
Spalding Plant and Bulb Company are supplying us with some daffodil and tulip bulbs for under the tree where hopefully we will have a raised bed!

Thursday, August 21

Is this the ugliest tomato?

So which way is up?
This tomato was grown in our plot greenhouse. It's a beefsteak tomato variety called Black Crimea - this one certainly looks as though it has been in a war. The flesh and skin are a darker colour than usual so it can be tricky to tell when it is ripe. It tastes good though - much better than it looks!! Click here to view our strange fruit and veg album. All grown without the help of any herbicides!
Warning the page should carry an X rating!
If you have a photo that you would like to share then email a copy to us with a bit about where your contribution was grown.

Wednesday, August 20

Radio Leeds revisits

Radio Leeds will be featuring our the Contaminated Manure problem again on tomorrow morning's Breakfast Show.
The e-petition started by Paul Wyman is still active with over 1000 signatures. Click here to view and if you wish sign up.

Monday, August 18

August diary

The August diary has been updated. Click here

Saturday, August 16

Follow-up Gardeners' World

Following an RHS statement during last night's programme. I think some people may be under the misunderstanding that aminopyralid is washed out of soil within three weeks. Those of who have been affected know that this is not the case.
Just for clarification I'll try and briefly summarise what actually happens. On spraying, the aminopyralid binds to plant matter. This is incorporated into the manure/hay etc. When the manure/compost is mixed into the soil the plant matter gradually decomposes.
During decomposition the aminopyralid is released into the soil. It is then that it affects plants. Once released the aminopyralid breaks down into CO2 and water and it is this process that takes about three weeks.
However, the plant particles break down at different rates. Traces of aminopyralid may be in the soil for up to a year or more due to the rate of decomposition of all plant particles.
We have some tomato plants only now showing signs of distress having been planted in affected soil for months. This means that some aminopyralid is only now being released into the soil in ground that had manure applied in February. (This is really why I have little faith in testing soil samples).
If stored in a heap decomposition is slower as the plant material isn't subjected to soil bacteria and unless the heap is turned it will become anaerobic and no decomposition will take place or it will slow down. I hope I have explained that OK.

Gardeners' World

Our aminopyralid problem was featured on Gardeners' World last night which has resulted in more info on people affected. If you have been affected keep sending your details please.
GW had to cut out a lot of the content that they filmed during their visit as the programme last night had to fit in so much but I just hope it managed to reach some people who don't have internet access and haven't read anything in any newspapers. Please keep spreading the information among your gardening friends to try and prevent more of them becoming victims.

Friday, August 15

So can we trust organic labeling?

Several people have emailed us to say that they suspect that the source of their herbicide contamination has been commercially bagged organic products or manure from organic farms. Surely this is impossible or is it?

I looked up the definitions of organic material and organic gardening and found the following:

Organic Gardening:

  • The method of gardening utilizing only materials derived from living things. (i.e. composts and manures).
  • Plants grown without the use of chemical fertilizer or pesticides. Any fertilizers used consist of animal or vegetable matter.
  • A method of gardening that does not utilize chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
  • A form of gardening where only naturally occurring materials are used. Example: Manure


  • Being composed of, or containing matter related to living organisms.

That seemed to be sort of what I expected. OK herbicides aren’t actually mentioned but surely they will come under the same banner as pesticides. So it is impossible - organic products can't be the source of any herbicide contamination! Think again - click here to read what I have so far found out about 'organic' garden products.

Please add to the comments if you have any more information on this subject.

Thursday, August 14

Any challengers?

If no challengers come forward then Ron (plot 22) will be named the champion sunflower grower of Green Lane in both the tallest plant and largest flower categories.
Challengers - you have 'til Saturday afternoon!

Wednesday, August 13

Care needed when picking fruit!

August is a time when many fruits are ready for the picking. This year it seems that the wasps have managed to home in on the ripe fruits before we can meaning fruits have to be gathered with extreme caution! Our plum trees haven't really cropped very well this year so maybe there is a fruit shortage for wasps too.
So are wasps really ALL bad? Click here to read more.

Tuesday, August 12

Contaminated Manure - radio 4

Radio 4 covered the contaminated manure story in the iPM show on Saturday

To download or listen to the podcast click here

Visitors photographs

Two of our visitors are new to allotmenting and have sent photos of their plots.
Maggie took on her plot in Featherstone in June so her allotment days have just started. Click here to view her photos
Karl and young son Archie acquired their plot in Normanton at the end of March so they even managed to be productive this year. Click here to see their photos and Karl's journal of his first few months of allotmenting with three year old Archie.

Thanks to both of them for taking the trouble to send us their photos and accompanying text. This year hasn't been the best year to dip toes into the 'grow your own' world let's hope they have many more prouctive years to come!

We have lots of visitors from the USA - so what about one of you sending us some infomation about your plot?

Monday, August 11

August Diary

August's diary has been updated.

Click here to read

Sunday, August 10

Ron - Champion Sunflower Grower!

Ron on plot 22 is the winner of the tallest sunflower competition.

If no challengers come forward he will also be named winner of the largest sunflower head. Remember the plants judged must have been grown from competition seed! Ron says that the measurers judged the sunflower to be 2.44m or 8 feet tall but it looks taller than that to me - can we have confirmation of this please?

Ron's prize is a luxury week in the Bahamas with Molly or maybe we will have to think again as Molly hasn't a passport.

Saturday, August 9

Calke Abbey

One fine day, (yes we did have one), in July we visited Calke Abbey. There, along with other attractions, we visited the walled kitchen garden. If there is another fine day some time this summer, we think it is well worth a visit. The National Trust have given permission for us to use the photographs taken during our visit on our web site and blog click here to visit our web site to read more and view a larger album

Please note that these photos may not be used for any other purpose.

Tuesday, August 5

Awards for All say ...."No"

I am afraid our application for an Awards for All grant to fund a secure fence was turned down - so it's back to the drawing board.
The letter that I received said:
"On this occasion there have been more applications than money available, and we have had to make choices about which projects to fund. We did this by considering how well the project meets our aims and priorities".

Anybody any other ideas? It seems a shame that applications aren't carried forward to another date as the only way is to reapply is to try and sort of guess which time of year there may be less applications.

It seems that the bottom line (not just with Awards for All) is that fences are not by their very nature inclusive and funders prefer projects that are accessible rather than those that try and exclude people (even thieves and vandals). The other problem is that gardening isn't a sport nor does it belong to the arts - both areas also fairly popular with funders.

Purple peas?

As you can't have failed to notice if you have visited our blog before, vegetables on the plots at Green Lane have developed all manner of strange growing habits this year – mainly strange shaped leaves courtesy of the heaps of manure suspected to be laced with hormonal herbicide residue that we unwittinglyly spread on our soil.

You could be forgiven for thinking our peas had also fallen victim and had, had their hormones interfered with in some bizarre way. It’s not their shape though that is out of the ordinary but the colour. People generally expect their tomatoes and beetroot to be red, their carrots to be orange, and their peas to be green. Not on our plot! We have yellow carrots, white and yellow beetroot, all manner of coloured tomatoes and peas in purple pods.

Click here to read more

Monday, August 4

Flipping Heck ....It's August!!!

The August diary has now started - how did we get to August this quickly?


Click here to read

Sunday, August 3

Real Team Work!

Another step forward in sorting out the communal plot. This in spite of a setback when a mountain of wood chippings were dumped on the part of the plot that we had previously cleared. A phone call later and the chippings were removed but in the process much of the weed suppressant was ripped up. Another phone call was needed and GEOfabrics Limited, Skelton Grange Road, Stourton, Leeds LS10 1RZ agreed to help out by providing us with more fabric. Andy on plot 44 offered to collect the fabric for us and did so with Jan's help. Today Jan, Tracy plot 51 and Paul plot 48 lined the storage bays. Now we just need to get the council to deliver us a load of chippings to fill the chippings bay. The manure bay is not as straightforward as we are reluctant to fill this with manure since our experiences with contaminated manure so for the moment that bay may house the can collection.


Now the rest of the plot needs sorting out AGAIN.

Thanks to all involed in the work and a special thanks to GEOfabrics Limited for helping us out!

Click here for the rest of the story so far.

Odette's back!

Odette - one of our regular French visitors - has sent some more photos of her garden taken last month. I know lots of people enjoyed looking at the last lot so click here to visit Odette's garden again. Odette tells us that the weather in Castres has been disappointing too but is getting better and better. Her vegetables are a little bit late but now it's hot and everything is growing up at last.

The photo below is a taster. Merci Odette!

Last year Odette also sent us (well I think she sent her husband out on a mission) some photos of an allotments site in Castres click here . Castres, where Odette lives, is one of Wakefield's twin towns. We'd love some photos from other parts of the world too so if you live in another part of the world why not send us some photos and a bit of information about your garden or vegetable plot too. Just email to the link on the sidebar! It's easy.

Saturday, August 2

Yorkshire Post follow-up on the aminopyralid problem

The Yorkshire Post carried a follow-up to their report on our problems with herbicide contamination this week. To read the article click here
The publicity given to this problem is obviously alerting people to the problem as we have had a couple of visits from nearby allotment holders and gardeners asking for more detail.

Friday, August 1

Wakefield Council Website & Allotments

You may be interested in viewing this page that I stumbled upon when browsing the Internet. To be honest I didn't know it was there! Click here