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Glasgow Allotments Forum Newsletter
Issue 5: February 2021
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On Line 'Potato Shop' report
Jan MacDonald

It's been wayyyyyy more successful than I thought it would be!!!!

I was quite conservative in my initial order in December. Adding to it through January has become increasingly difficult...... We deal mainly with 2 suppliers - JBA in Dumfries (the bulk of stock) and WCF in Perth. A bit like me they seem to operate 'just-in-time logistics'.   We are all so used to getting what we want in the supermarket, or on-line, but when dealing with 'growing' things that isn't always so simple. . . .Crop failures, poor quality stock (potatoes can look fine then quickly deteriorate with some diseases; yuk!).

Unfortunately we've had unexpected shortages with stock. It seems that most companies worked hard to complete their continental trade before 31st Dec. Brexit is causing the seed potato industry a great deal of angst - the order of Casablanca garlic is stuck in Holland due to border regulations.  When you look at the boxes, you realise how much is grown, if not packed, in Holland. Food for thought in our future buying of plants and bulbs etc. SKEA (Potato House) has lost some substantial orders that  weren't placed before the Dec 31st deadline - they will never make that up in UK seed potato orders; support them in a) buying seed and b) buying 'ware' potatoes from them. They are a great Scottish breeding & supply enterprise.  I have to add that seed potatoes are the 'ugly buggers' of the potato world - not given a brush-up or filtered for lumpy-bumpy bits, unlike 'ware' potatoes that are for eating and sold to shops & supermarkets - look much nicer!.

Unfortunately our deliveries have been problematic, but we're doing our best to keep abreast of the orders. Scott set up a marvellous 'GAF shop'; what a superstar! I've done my best to keep it all updated, but I'm no tech genius and in future a more robust stock system could be devised; hey.... it's a learning curve!!!

What has been really heart warming is the number of people who have said 'thank you'. Everyone collecting has been spot-on with obeying COVID rules as requested and so nice about it all, really heart-warming. Hopefully not too many mistakes or disappointments; always willing to get things sorted though: it can take a wee bit longer. Patience and understanding has been evident in bucket loads!

Have sympathy for suppliers working with all the new Brexit regulations, staff shortages due to isolation and illness and the need to social distance. Believe me everyone is doing their best. We all want folk to get the supplies they need for a great growing season - that's always been the message of 'Potato Day'

One thing for sure is that the ability to use Pollokshaws Hub as a delivery/ collection point has been nothing short of perfectly amazing for me. Perfect in every way and Fiona, & other staff  & volunteers have been sooooo helpful. Just amazing; can't thank them enough. And that's on top of all the amazing work they are always doing for the local community - an amazing local resource; brand new.

An Allotment Association Book Group
Alison Gardiner (Kelvinside AA)

 

Our Book Group blossomed into life in April 2019. Deciding that we wanted the company of fellow plot holders, on our own allotment, we turned down the offer of a room in our local library where the group was registered, in preference for gathering in our communal shed. Meeting every six weeks or so, on a Sunday between 5 and 6pm, we'd settle into a circle of chairs, scoffing home baking and hot drinks, and have an hour of conversation about a book with some connection to growing. That was fine in the summer months, but once Greenwich Mean Time meant our meetings were after sunset, we had a decision to make. Our stalwart readers didn’t want to give up their own venue, so we brought torches, blankets and mulled wine to keep it a real Allotment Book Group.

Inclusivity is one of our main aims, so we choose books from a wide range of genres in the hope that at some time, there will be something for everyone. We’ve had historical novels, classic literature, modern fiction, autobiography, children’s classics and ecology. One participant introduces a new plant featured in every book to his plot! Members of the group make suggestions for future reads, and we email the title and date for the next meeting to all plot holders, inviting along anyone who wants to come. Different books chime with different people - some come along to discuss a book they know and love; others are regular attenders, irrespective of the title. While most meetings have six to eight participants,20 plot holders have come along at least once - there’s no expectation that folk attend every meeting, or even that they’ve read the book! 

After a year of comfort in our shed, with ever more varied books and victuals, the pandemic swept in. We quickly moved our sessions to Zoom, and after some trepidation about how it would work, we’ve actually had more frequent meetings! We miss gathering on our allotment, the intimacy of our shed, the surprise of who is baking what, but we’ve managed to continue to feel connected to each other and to growing things. There have been many continued conversations over the plot paths about what we’ve discussed online. If you’d like to set up a Book Group in your allotment, or if you already have one and would like to share ideas, please email kelvinside.allotments@gmail.com and we can arrange to chat.


 


FebFest
Feb Fest had its last event this weekend.  In spite of serious pre-Fest worries the whole festival was an amazing success. We hope to give you a full report in the next newsletter.


Work on the plot
 
We are promised lovely weather this first week in March so the temptation to rush to the allotment may be overwhelming.  What can you do when you get there? Unless you were really on top of things last autumn there is always the opportunity to remove old perennial stems and dead leaves and generally tidy up.  Not to mention repairing the netting over your brassiccas in the hope that the pigeons won't eat all the crop.   But in Glasgow at the beginning of March the soil is likely to be too cold and wet to work on or put seeds in - even with cloches or other cover.   However there is plenty you can do indoors, particularly if you want to grow your own plants from seed, rather than buying plug plants from a garden centre.
 
For example if you are planning to grow tomatoes or courgettes from seed then you should definitely be thinking about getting them growing in pots pretty soon - they need as much growing season as they can get!  A sunny windowsill in your home should be an adequate environment - even better if you have a heated propagator.

Peas. beans and salad plants also will give you an earlier crop if you get them going now in pots.  In addition you will not suffer the anguish you feel when the mice eat half of the seeds before they even germinate.  In pots they will germinate happily without worrying too much about heat - they are tougher than the tomatoes and courgettes and they don't particularly suffer from being transplanted into the soil later.  If you have too many germinated pea seedlings, well pea shoots are currently THE trendy salad vegetable - and they taste good too.

In my personal experience root crops like beetroot, parsnip ... don't much like being transplanted.  You can advance the growing season a bit and possibly improve the germination rate when you do sow them by covering the area where you plan to grow them with horticultural fleece so that the soil warms up a wee bit.
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GAF Newsletter · Garnethill Multicultural Centre · 21 Rose Street · Glasgow, Lanarkshire G3 6RE · United Kingdom

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