July 2011 Allotment Diary

Om Namah Shivaya

“Nature gives all her wealth to human beings. Just as Nature is dedicated in helping us, we too should be dedicated to helping Nature”

We went on holiday last week to the Lake District and were astounded by its beauty. Here is a view from the top of a (small) mountain.

Its amazing for such a little island how much wonderful landscape we have and how much of it is protected. We are very lucky as you hear and read about countries destroying their landscapes through felling, development, etc.. Not that this island is immune to these problems but there is a large number of people who make a fuss about things they don’t like happening in their favourite green spaces. AMMA talks very clearly about the need to protect and safeguard nature and how we are linked intrinsically to life other than humans.

One fine example of humans working with nature to create a wonderful partnership is the Osprey Project in the Lake District. We went there to check it out. Ospreys, for those who don’t know, are these huge fish eagles, wingspan 5 ½ feet, which were once more plentiful in the UK. For a number of reasons, mainly human, their numbers fell and in fact in the England became extinct and their strong hold in Scotland became very rare. They migrate to Africa and their migration route goes over the UK up to Scotland, so they flew over the Lake District. A bird protection agency (RSPB) and forest land managers (Forestry Commission) got together to attract these birds back to the Cumbria. They were successful and by building a nesting platform in the coniferous forest treetops the birds came back in 2001 after 150 years absence!!!!!!!! They have now made their own nest near the lakeside marsh. So we got to see them, though only through provided telescopes. Result.

We also bumped into the Red Squirrel. This also is a creature under threat and seen only in a few locations in the UK. Many people say that the bigger Grey Squirrel which someone introduced into the UK in the 1800s is the cause of the red squirrel’s rarity.

It certainly eats the same things, able to eat a lot more of it and is a better competitor for finite resources.

Red Squirrels live in big areas of coniferous forest, ones which are well managed rather then some of the plantations you see where they are squashed together like sardines, spindly and no light. They can eat 40,000 pine cones a year!!! They are smaller, shyer and too put it bluntly cuter then the greys. (Apologees for the blurred photo, the camera was on maximum zoom!!!)

Allotment News

The allotment is getting there. All this rain and sun has done wonders for all growing including plants we would rather not be there, often known as weeds! What to do? Dig, dig and more dig seems to help for a while. Trying to get all the roots out is nearly impossible with some plants so you get to a space where you have to accept them being there but not to let them take over and rule. A similar lesson that we all need to take on with our own mind and it’s patterns. Who would have thought weeding was so profound?

As I sit here I am eating some of our first strawberries and they are truly tasty. Our broad beans have produces some lovely beans that we eat raw and straight out of their furry pod. We are lucky.

Garlic is again producing windy flower stalks which we cut off and then chop up for salads or to cook with. The garlic can now put more energy into developing the bulbs. This unexpected crop comes at a time when we have run out of last year’s garlic.

The peas are displaying pretty purple flowers that soon will be purple pea pods but inside the peas will be green and sweet to eat raw. Runner beans are running up their poles and French beans are starting to look happier. As we have mentioned before many of the plants look very unhappy for a while after transplanting into the soil – they are having to adjust to their new conditions.

We have just seeded up our swedes and spinach and netted them with lovely old net curtains from someone’s house. They look very pretty especially since our neighbours have some equally attractive curtains on their plots.

We are right to net everything as the plants of broccoli and cauliflower we were given have been completely stripped by the overly fat wood pigeons. We now have them in the green house and hopefully they will recover to be planted and netted out in July (better late then never).

Our new tomato plant raised bed in the greenhouse seems to be working with the tomato plants looking the best ever. However it does not suit all and the cucumbers look awful. There will be no pickled gherkins this year. We will have to have another plan for these vegetables next year. There is already a chilli and the pepper plants are looking good as well. Can you ever have too many chillies?

July is nearly here and you can still do lots. Plant up some lettuce, main crop carrots, beets, perpetual spinach, spring cabbage.

And finally our pond project. Still green soup. We have plans to remove ½ of the water and replace it with pure rain water. Possibly the initial water we added had too many nutrients in it. There are tadpoles still and some frogs, they are probably troughing all their cousins!

Happy Growing

Richard and Kaivalya

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