Garthdee Allotments

the e-home of the Garthdee Field Allotments Association

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One Seed Forward

The splendid, One Seed Forward Project is getting ready for another bumper year.

Plotters wanting to know more or take part can check out the details on their website.

Therapeutic Gardening

Thanks go to Stuart who passed on this link.

With our collaborations with RGU and the Macmillan Cancer Charity, GFAA plotters’ are very aware of the gardening and working out of doors can help lift the spirit.  We were very pleased therefore to be contacted by Virgil Anderson from Houston, Texas, who found us via the web while researching an online article entitled, The Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening.

Virgil’s article makes very interesting reading, pointing up the advantages for people in recovery or survivors, “getting their hands dirty and growing and nurturing plants.”

Follow the link above or the one embedded in our Links page to find out more.

 

Manure Deliveries

Happy New Year Plotters,

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 BBQ Weather – apparently!

Oh boy.  I know it’s early in the year but I think we can be pretty sure that the 2018 Award for Most Intrepid Plotters will go to Sepi and Arshia after they were spotted this week enjoying their impromptu BBQ.   By the way, could somebody please organise a quick whip-round to get them both a pair of gloves?

A New Year Resolution

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!

Bruce on flatworm patrol

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.

Know your enemy

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:

Conversation Newsletter Article

GFAA Advice Notes

Report on GFAA Flatworm Study

Cheers!

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