Allotment Update

Not leaping ahead in magnificent bounds but ticking along slowly and making steady progress!

The onions are showing (I put in 50 Troy, which are being slow, and 50 Red Baron, which are slightly more enthusiastic), and some of the forage beans and field peas (or were they field beans and forage peas??) are up, though I thought the rooks had swiped the lot before I got them netted. Still no sign of the jerusalem artichokes showing their noses, the shallots are shy and the potatoes are still lurking underground.

Five fruit trees arrived in this morning’s post; three apples (James Grieve, Keswick Codlin and Red Falstaff) and two pears (Conference and Beurre Hardy); these need a few days of gentle hardening off before I plant them on the allotment, since they were raised way down south in Norfolk by Chris Bowers nursery, Whispering Trees. Excellent job packing them, chaps, they’re in splendid condition and survived the journey just fine!

All of the fruit trees will be grown as espaliers, with the lateral branches trained along horizontal wires. This did entail a bit of additional cost since the nursery had to select suitable young trees, and they’ll need careful pruning every year, but they should be very productive and have plenty of space to crop without getting too tall for the allotment. Understandably, the rules are that fruit trees should be of moderate height, not so tall that they shade other plots.

In the potting shed, I also have 22 parsnips sown in toilet roll tubes (helps reduce root disturbance when they’re planted out, though I always slit the tubes when I plant them out to avoid them inhibiting growth or nutrient/water uptake in any way), 64 tall peas (Lord Leicester), 90 dwarf peas (Hatif d’Annonay, which will be planted out partly here as sugar-snap peas and partly on the allotment as early podding peas) and about 250 leeks (Bleu de Solaise).

Experiments in sprouting fodder for the bunnies and chooks continue, without marked success as yet. I think I have cracked the watering regime but it’s still too cold for them to grow well yet – if I brought them in the house it would probably go better but I can’t think of a safe place inside to put them at the moment.

We had a frost here two nights ago (another reason to be unhurried with the fruit trees) but the frogs have plunged ahead and laid their spawn anyway. They used to spawn in early April when we first came up to Aberdeenshire 20 years ago…. now it’s late March.

And on the climate change side, the Met Office have released a report on what we can expect from the UK climate in the next few years, which seems to boil down to “anything and everything”!

The American Association for the Advancement of Science also recently released a report, entitled What We Know. I think they’ve said it better than I could so I’ll just cherry-pick the main headings and the final paragraph:

1.  Climate scientists agree: climate change is happening here and now.

2.  We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.

3. The sooner we act, the lower the risk and cost. And there is much we can do.

“As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do or must believe about the rising threat of climate change. But we consider it to be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action.”

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