In December 2017 Aberdeen City Council issued an updated set of guidance notes for plotters called, “Managing your Allotment”. The new version contains updated information on, e.g. ponds, polytunnels and keeping bees. For your convenience, you will find a copy of this document under the Advice Tab at the top of our Homepage. Or you can follow this link.
Category: Advice (Page 2 of 5)
If you have been to the site recently, you will have noticed that a full 10 Tonne load of cow dung has been delivered to the Primary School Plot. This is for use in the Community Garden. Please do not use it for other purposes. However, another full load for use by plotters has been ordered and we expect delivery to the top of the site in the course of this month (January).
This second 10 Tonne load will be for the use of all GFAA plotters. In the first instance, please take only a barrow load or two for use on your plot. This is to make sure that everyone gets a fair allocation for a start. More may be available later in the year.
It’s time to declare war on New Zealand flatworms – total war. For me, they have replaced slugs as public enemy number one. Slugs only attack some of the crops we grow. NZ flatworms threaten to annihilate our earthworms. They are also as ugly as sin and ooze evil from every pore. There can only be one plotters’ response – EXTERMINATE!
Why so now? I suggest two reasons. Firstly, a recent Conversation Newsletter Article (link coming up below) spelt out the importance of earthworms for healthy soil and plants, and the environment generally: and we all know the threat NZ flatworms pose to our earthworms. In summary, the article says earthworms are:
- brilliant organic matter recyclers and wormcasts contain key nutrients
- tireless engineers improving soil structure and condition
- good indicators of soil health and toxicity levels
- a food source for many species, so adding to biodiversity
- expert restorers of damaged or neglected soils.
Earthworms are the good guys and our friend’s enemies are our enemies.
Secondly, research shows that some modern practices and tendencies in plot management seem to favour the NZ flatworm. For example, I have started to use plastic membranes and carpet as weed inhibitors and winter soil protectors and these are known to encourage flatworms.
It seems unlikely that we will ever be able to completely defeat and remove our flatworms. Recent Aberdeen University research reports (links below) show that flatworms are present on 70% of our plots and 90% of Slopefield’s plots are infested. However, there are lots of actions we can take to reduce flatworm numbers. This may tip the balance back in favour of our earthworms.
Actions against NZ flatworms include:
- removing clutter and flatworm refuges from our plots. These are flat stones, plastic, wood, carpet and fabric
- set up flatworm traps using the above and check them on a regular basis
- kill trapped flatworms with lemon juice or drowning in salt water in secure containers
- add organic matter to encourage earthworms
- use grass paths to support earthworms
- exercise strict bio-security to avoid spreading flatworms to new areas
When our plots were surveyed by researchers they found that flatworm refuges were found on many plots. Eighteen plots had a small number of refuges; 14 plots more than a small number; 14 had many refuges and only 1 was refuge-free. The number of flatworms found increased with the number of refuges and carpet was found to be the worst source of flatworms, followed by plastic, fabric, stones and wood in that order.
So what is to be done? In the first instance, I am going to stop using carpet to suppress weeds. I am going to do a big Spring tidy up, removing clutter. I am going to set my flatworm traps and check them regularly. I already keep a lemon squeezy on site. I should also replace my central slab path (built up over many years as free slabs became available) with a grass one, but this is a big job and a sore one.
So, I hope this can be a big focus for us over the year ahead. If you want to read more about the NZ flatworm threat and responses these links will help:
Remember, there is no need for GFAA members to fret about missing Black Friday bargains. Our membership of the Dobies Garden Club Scheme means that 40% discounts on seeds and 10% reductions on other purchases are available throughout the year and as often as you like – as long as you quote the GFAA Discount Code when ordering.
Copies of the Catalogue and Code are available in the Octagon. Please help yourselves.
GFAA has joined the Dobies Gardening Associations Group Scheme. (Please note: this is Dobies with one ‘b’ and not the Dobbies with the local gardening superstore – as owned by Tesco I hear.) Under this scheme, our plotters and volunteers ordering from Dobies will receive a 40% discount on seeds and 10% off other purchases.
Additionally, GFAA will benefit by a further 5-10% from all qualifying orders as a boost to our funds. At a time when we are seeking new ways of finding income sources to sustain our site maintenance activities, we are hopeful this scheme might make a significant contribution – if enough plotters take part.
Easy Ordering and delivery direct to your door
- GFAA members order personally, by phone, post or online.
- GFAA provides each member with a paper catalogue and order form – or use the online catalogue.
- Delivery is direct to the address of the person placing the order.
- The unique GFAA offer code drives the discount and must be quoted at the time an order is placed.
- Payment is with the order, by cheque, credit/debit card or PayPal.
- Top-up orders, of any value, can be made throughout the year and will benefit from the discount.
Whether ordering by post using the official order form, or by phone or online you must use the official GFAA order code to qualify for the discounts. You cannot claim the discount retrospectively after the event.
Copies of the Dobies Catalogue and the Order Form printed with the unique order code will be placed in the Octagon by this weekend. The padlock combination is the same as for all other GFAA locks. Please help yourselves to a personal copy of the catalogue and order form – Dobies have provided us with one copy per member. In case of difficulty please ask a Committee Member for help.
If you prefer to order online from the comfort of your sofa, please use the code from the printed order form or email Norman (gfaawebhelper[at]gmail.com) for the required code – remember, no code, no discount and no exceptions!
It is one of Dobies Terms and Conditions that we agree NOT to share the GFAA code with non-members. They state they will cancel our group membership if we do not respect this rule.
Thanks go to Len on Plot 74 for alerting us to this scheme.
So, here’s to many happy hours of catalogue browsing!