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Glasgow Allotments Forum Newsletter
Issue 8: May 2021

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GAF Zoom Presentation: Soils and Biodiversity
Thursday June 3, 7.00 - 8.00 pm
Could the way we cultivate our soil contribute to Glasgow's Soil reduction targets?  Join in, ask your questions, get advice.

Dr Lorna Dawson, Principal Soil Scientist, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen
Mark Hanlon, Project Support Officer, Food and Climate Action Team
Sandy Paterson, Assistant Manager (Food Growing), Neighbourhoods, Regeneration & Sustainability, Glasgow City Council (TBC)

Register online through the GAF web site to attend


Dig or No-dig is the latest talking point among plot-holders, what do you do? Last year GAF had talks from Charles Dowding the No-dig guru, from Graham Bell on permaculture and forest gardening and a talk from Dalefoot composts who supply peat free bracken, sheep wool and comfrey composts. To follow this up on June 3rd there is a panel discussion on how we change the soil by our cultivation, composting and planting. We hope this will lead into a ‘summer of soil’ with visits and workshops on different allotment sites in Glasgow.

The panel discussion on June 3rd will be led by Dr Lorna Dawson from the Hutton Institute. She has generated a series of soil posters which fit with the Higher Geography curriculum and have learned a lot. I knew a bit about soil composition but now I’m realising how important it is, not only as a source of food for my produce, but as a living organism connecting with all the other plants and wildlife as well. The discussion on June 3rd with Lorna, Sandy Paterson from Glasgow City Council and Mark Hanlon from Glasgow Community Growers Forum will be stimulating and I hope the audience will ask lots of questions about fertilisers, pesticides and composts which affect our soil and our produce as well as the effect the soil has on biodiversity and carbon reduction.

In 2022 World Congress of Soil Scientists (WCSS) is coming to Glasgow. WCSS is held every 4 years in different countries and attended by over 3,000 soil scientists from around the globe. The theme for 2022 is Soil Science – crossing boundaries, changing society focusing on the link between soil and society. Perhaps we could offer a tour round some allotment sites in Glasgow and hear about how other cultivators interact with their soils.? If you are interested in discussing this further please get in touch with us at GAF.

Judy Wilkinson


Bugwatch needs help finding flatworms

Everyone has heard of the New Zealand flatworm - an invasive species that wraps itself around innocent British earthworms and sucks the life out of them.  However not everyone knows that there are in fact at least 18 species of flatworm now resident in Britain.  A couple are native British but most are invasive (the worm in the photo above is a Brazilian flat worm)  and are often brought in with imported pot plants. 

All flatworms prey on earth worms and land snails. These invertebrates  are essential for soil health as they aerate and fertilise the earth, maintaining its structure and supporting plant growth.

The charity Bugwatch, was established about 20 years ago to 'fly the flag' for invertebrates i.e. insects and 'creepy crawlies'. They are currently running a campaign Potwatch, to establish how imported pot plants can inadvertently introduce invasive species, and thereby risk damage to native invertebrate species.  They are asking for help from all over the country and would like as many people as possible to take part in a survey to establish the distribution of flatworms. 

You can get more information and find out how to get involved by clicking here to get to their web site.

May: Frost and Fruit
Jenny Reeves

The months of April and May this year have been a punishing experience for our fruit trees. The cherry that had over four kilos of fruit last year never really bloomed. The flower buds simply collapsed as soon as they ‘opened’. The same was true for the two young damson trees (in the photo below) which should have come into fruit this year. Even the apple trees, which are usually safe from frost, lost most of their flowers.


I am already into doctoring the damsons, spraying them with a mix of soap and water against the aphids which are making the leaves curl. I have also bound their trunks with sticky tape to discourage the black ants which are climbing up and down the way farming the sugary residue that the aphids produce.

Things look a bit better for the soft fruit harvest. The strawberries have recovered with a flush of new flowers that have not been blackened by frost like the earliest blooms were. The raspberry canes are re-sprouting after their first leaves were ‘burnt’ by the cold.

The black and red currants seem to have been largely unaffected by the cold so hopefully they’ll give us a good crop. The gooseberry bushes we planted last year as rooted cuttings are now showing strong growth which bodes well for the future.


Despite the setback, we’ve had some compensation with our first croppings of rhubarb

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GAF Newsletter · Garnethill Multicultural Centre · 21 Rose Street · Glasgow, Lanarkshire G3 6RE · United Kingdom

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