February 2012 Allotment Diary

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“We must strive as much as possible to recycle and reuse waste, and thus create a world without waste – let that be our aim. Learning lessons in keeping our surroundings clean and in loving nature should start at home. We should make children aware of these things from childhood.”
Amma’s Message, Matruvani September 2011

Om Namah Shivaya

GreenFriends Event in Derby

As mentioned on the Amma Enews last month, there is a GreenFriends event in Derby on Sunday 5th February, from 10.30 am to 3.00 pm. We would like to encourage you to attend this event, which will be a chance to spend time with other Amma devotees doing a range of GreenFriends activities. This will be the first GreenFriends activity in the UK this year, and it would be nice to make it a success.The day will include Amma’s 108 names, a silent Mantra Meditation Walk in the beautiful Darley Park, feedback from the recycling team at Amma’s programme, and making paper bags from recycled newspaper for use in local shops. Lunch will be provided. Please contact Jane 07989 595483 jane_obyrne@yahoo.co.uk for more details. Also, if you read any broadsheet newspaper (e.g., The Daily Telegraph, Guardian) please bring copies with you for the paper-bag making.

Litter Picking

We are sure you have seen the amazing articles on the Amritapuri website, and in Matruvani, about the huge scale litter clearances by Amma’s children that have taken place recently. Just in case you have not then take a look at this.


You may think that there is nothing as bad as this in the UK, but actually if you look at most patches of green space where people go you will find litter, and in some places an awful lot. Amma says in the message above that it is important to keep our surroundings clean and to love nature. So having spent years feeling upset about seeing litter spoiling the beautiful places that we walk in, we have recently started going out with plastic bags and gloves in our backpacks just in case there is litter around, and more often than not there is. It is very easy to clear a small area of unsightly (and in the case of certain materials like glass, dangerous) litter, and you feel very good afterwards. You can also recycle it afterwards at home, or at your local recycling point.

The great thing about litter picking is that we can all do it; we don’t have to wait until we have formed a group, or to join a litter pick someone else organises. You can do it just when you go for a walk or you can dedicate 30 minutes on a weekend to do some. No sophisticated instruments are needed, only bags and gloves. It can be a small area of your local green space, which you go back when you can and clear a bit more. We are not expecting the same area covered by Amma’s children in India, unless you have 5000 friends. If you do, let’s go and do London!

You may get strange looks from people, but seeing you pick litter may also encourage others to do it, and also discourage those who are dropping litter. If you don’t want to do it yourself then why not get together with one or more friends. It is satisfying to look back and see where you have cleared litter. But always use gloves, and be careful about picking up broken glass or sharp metal.

Allotment Diary

No, the above photo does not show an invasion of Daleks! The Dalek-like objects are in fact black plastic compost bins, which we have acquired recently. We can recommend them for composting, as we have seen how weeds can break down completely in just a year inside them, rather than 2 years when you put them in a pile and cover them with a piece of carpet, which is what we have been doing. The next photo shows fresh weeds placed inside one of the Daleks.

And only a year later this is what you have.

We were very impressed, so much so that we bought 4 more of them!

Meanwhile the slow pace of winter allotment maintenance jobs continues. The boundary hedge is mostly cut (Sheffield allotments are unusual in the UK, in that on some sites they have a boundary hedge all around them. Ours is along 2 sides only). Some minor repairs are needed to the fence on the opposite side to the main hedge. We are also planning to clean out the inside of the greenhouse with a vinegar solution to kill any bugs or fungal infections that may be around, to make it more hygienic for the crops this year,

We have just seeded up some broad beans. These are a very hardy crop that can put up with very cold weather. We are seeding ours up now, for harvesting hopefully in June and July before the runner beans and French beans are ready.

We have mentioned salsify before. For those who don’t know, this is a root crop mainly grown in continental Europe. We plant it because it is so very hardy, which means that you can have it as a freshly picked vegetable all through the winter. Last winter our allotment recorded -15 C on a few days, and the salsify was hardly effected at all. Here is a photo to show you what it looks like.

Now it is true that these look a bit like mandrake root (fans of Harry Potter will know what mandrake is). But our soil has a lot of clay which doesn’t always drain well, and so roots may not grow very long, and it also has a lot of stones, which is why the roots split into several small roots instead of one big one. If you have more free draining soil that is free of stones, then the roots will be longer, and less mandrake like.

Richard and Kaivalya

Om Amriteswaryai Namaha

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