Grow Greener with Garthdee Field Allotments Association

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The Garden Jungle

This is the title of a newish book (2019) by Dave Goulson, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex. It’s subtitled, “Gardening to Save the Planet” and that pretty well tells you what to expect.

This is no dull textbook however. It’s a lively read and full of unexpected and practical ideas as well as lots of good humour.

I was surprised to read for example, that the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed the words, newt, acorn, minnow, kingfisher and dandelion. Why? Because these words are no longer considered relevant for children.

It seems to me this is a mistake on so many levels, it’s almost criminal.

Photo Credit: Phil on Plot 35

Amazon Link if you want to know more.

GFAA CCAF Benefits

Following our successful application for funding from the Community Climate Asset Fund (CCAF), we have been able to purchase a small wood chipping machine and ten rainwater storage tanks.

The wood-chipping machine has so far proved useful in our community garden where the prunings from the orchard have been converted into wood-chip. It’s a dinky little machine and will only accept single stalk branches with a diameter no more than two inches.

A number of our Volunteers have been trained in its use and have agreed to process suitable materials throughout the year ahead. This will reduce the amount of brush material we have to burnin site.

All ten rainwater tanks have been allocated to various plots on site with some being used to collect water from sheds or greenhouses and others just free-standing with an open collector arrangement using polythene sheet to capture the rainwater as the pictures show.

If further funding opportunities arise we would hope to acquire more rainwater tanks to meet demand

IBCs for Water Retention

Collecting rain water on our plots makes obvious sense. Some plants prefer rain water – blueberries for example. Having water on a plot is a time and effort saver. With conservation in mind, we ought to avoid using mains water if we can.

A system to capture rain water from a shed or greenhouse is the best way to passively fill an IBC or water butt. However, this may not always be possible or practical and if so, an arrangement like this can work well.

IBC Rain Water Collection

In this case pallet wood was used to create a rectangular frame sitting atop of the IBC and a sheet of polythene with a hole cut in it added to collect the rain. There’s enough polythene to drape into the IBC and the central weight keeps it in place in high winds (for months a brick served the same purpose). This arrangement has the disadvantage that water does not flow into the IBC until it rises above the lip of the container’s mouth.

This example has all of the hallmarks of my usual careful approach to fine woodworking, my high standards of engineering and my impeccable cleanliness, but in my defence it has worked well over five years or so – in that time the IBC has never been empty.

Construction excellence at every corner

You are welcome to come by and see it in place on Plot 81.

However, Gavin on Plot 7a has raised the bar with his new version of this solution which addresses the shortcomings of the above. Gavin is happy for you to come see the construction details.

Blue Skies Thinking – a ‘floor’ with a drain hole has been added
Plug perfect – held in place with a suspended weight and sealant
Storm-proofing restrainers

Gavin intends to add guttering and a downpipes to capture additional rain off his shed.

Update:

This video includes the suggestion that the whole top be cut off the IBC to achieve catch the rainwater and offers some larger scale options including using a pump.

This video offers ideas for using solar power to pump water from an IBC around an allotment.

If you have another ideas please let us have the details.

Tool Repair Service

Plotters will know that our Volunteer Squad does all sorts around our site and helping (in special circumstances) on individual plots.

I’m pleased to say that Gordon Bennett is turning his skills to tool repair and refurbishment on our behalf.

Better than new

If you have a special tool (hand tools only please, no power tools) in need of TLC, or a broken tool that could be repaired and put to community use, please have a word with any member of the Volunteer Squad (Anne, Plot 92a, Ron 65a or Norman Plot 81). We will be pleased to look at it.

Gordon goes hands on

New Allotments Strategy

Plotters may have noticed that the P&J ran a feature about the increased demand for city allotments and Aberdeen City Council’s new strategy to promote food growing in the city.

It was pleasing to see this further commitment by the Council to allotment and green spaces. GFAA works in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and is a keen supporter of the strategy. We were delighted that Garthdee Field featured in the article.

An extended version of the article is available online.

Leaves, wood chips and compost

We now have a good and growing stock of leaves, wood chips and compost on site, kindly provided free by The Council, local contractors and from Hazelhead Park. Plotters should feel free to collect as much as the like for use on their own plots.

I had an interesting conversation recently with Bruce (Plot 79) on the safe handling of these materials. Bruce believes he may have contracted a respiratory complaint from spores in the water vapour released when these materials are handled. A little internet research (Daily Mail Article: Gromicko Article) suggests caution is sensible when handling leaves, wood chips and compost (both homemade and commercial).

These seem sensible precautions:

Always wear dry, breathable gloves to avoid direct contact with the skin, and to protect yourself from injury while using gardening tools and implements.
Wear protective footwear that covers your skin adequately to avoid direct contact with compost. Do not wear them anywhere except outdoors.
When stirring and tilling the compost, which is required on a regular basis in order for it to process and break down, always wear a nose and mouth guard or dust mask to avoid inhaling the various spores that will become airborne during tilling and turning.
Avoid tilling on windy days.
Do not store compost in fully closed or airtight containers. Without any air, it can actually become combustible.
Wash your hands after dealing with compost. While this suggestion may sound obvious, many garden enthusiasts get so absorbed with their activities that they forget the potential dangers from poisoning.
If you develop a severe cough or infection of the skin (especially if there is an open sore or puncture wound), seek medical attention immediately. You may require antibiotics or a tetanus shot.

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