August 2011 Allotment Diary

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Om Namah Shivaya

“Only though love and compassion is the protection and preservation of Nature possible. But both these qualities are fast diminishing in human beings. In order to feel real love and compassion, one must realise the oneness of the life force that sustains and is the substratum of the entire universe. This realisation can only be attained through a deep study of religion and the observance of spiritual principles.”

From ‘Man and Nature’ by AMMA

The End of Summer or the Beginning of Autumn?

August to many of us means summer holidays, but it is important in other respects that we may not always be conscious of. For farmers it marks the beginning of harvest. If you grow some of your own food it is also the beginning of harvest time. Animals also see this time of year as important, as they are beginning to fatten themselves up for the winter, on the fruits and nuts that are growing on trees and bushes. Animals don’t seem to waste any time doing what needs to be done. AMMA says that we shouldn’t waste time either, and always do what we need to do. Maybe we all need to “fatten ourselves” up on Spirituality!!!

Sherwood Forest

Here is a photo of the Major Oak at Sherwood Forest.

This is one of the oldest trees in Britain, and is believed to be 800 to 1000 years old. It seems hard to imagine something being alive for that length of time. Going to see a tree like this is like going to see a very wise old being, and places like Sherwood Forest do seem like a kind of temple. AMMA says that in bygone days in India people would have a shrine in a grove of trees around their home, where they used to perform worship. Perhaps its time to bring these kind of customs back. We think that this would be a good place for such a shrine.

Summer Solstice

In the past people would always celebrate important days of the year. The summer solstice was once a very important festival in this country, but it lost its popularity as people lost their connection with the land in the Industrial Revolution. Nowadays it seems to be making a comeback as a festival. We celebrated the Solstice in a local wood with some friends. We made a sacred circle of barley seeds, and then purified ourselves with smudge (herbs). We then asked the guardians of the 4 directions for help, and made a pledge of what we would try to do to help the earth over the coming year. We finished with singing and chanting, and dancing to sacred songs from different cultures. It was a lovely thing to do and we thoroughly recommend it as a way of connecting with Nature

Allotment News

Here is a current view of the allotment with lots of netting covering up young plants.

Everything is growing like crazy. The runner beans are at the top of their poles, fench beans and peas are looking good and in the case of the peas, we have just had our first ever meal of fresh raw garden peas in yoghurt and mint. Fabulous! The beetroot are almost ready for us to take baby beets. Some of the potatoes are nearly ready for us to begin lifting them, as they are starting to die back. The onions are coming to maturity, and we have just dug up our garlic and hung it in the greenhouse to dry. Kale and perpetual spinach both look great, and the seedlings of leeks and salsify are coming on nicely. The swede seedling seem to have been munched by slugs since the weather went a bit wet, so we are going to seed some up in the greenhouse, and plant them out later. One of the crops that hasn’t worked too well is sweetcorn. We grew the seedlings in toilet rolls tubes to make it easy to plant, but this seems to have restricted the roots and made them very slow to mature.

We have had great success with spring cabbages for the first time this year. We say great success. We actually planted 12 last autumn and 10 became slug dinner over the following few months. However, the 2 that were left have produced 10.5 pounds of large, lovely, dark green leaves, that we have thoroughly enjoyed eating. They are also being enjoyed by our local wood pigeons, who sit on their net to eat them!

We are starting to harvest courgettes, the photo below shows one of them, and the pumpkins and acorn squash have fruit. We are not 100% sure what the fruit of acorn squash actually looks like, but hopefully we will be able to show you soon. We have put butternut squash under a plastic cloche (a mini-greenhouse) and it seems very happy in there so far.

This is a good time to begin to work out storage space for the winter. Are your freezer drawers cleared? Do you have a place dry herbs, somewhere to store onions and garlic? Do you have jars for bottling and pickling? What about boxes of sand for carrots? It is good to do it now because soon there won’t be any time to think about it!!!

There is also still time to plant things this year in your garden or allotment. Lettuces can still be sown in August, as can spring cabbages over the next couple of months. The time for planting garlic is not quite here, but looming up in September, October and November.

It may at times seem like a daunting idea to grow some of your own food, but believe us when we say that if we can do it then anyone can!!! You just have to try, and accept there will be times when you get it wrong. AMMA says this should be our attitude in life, that mistakes do not squash us, but like a toddler learing to walk, we should get up and try again.

Happy Growing

Richard and Kaivalya

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