Saturday 30 January 2010

Happiness Award!!!!

Thank you very much In My Kitchen for this lovely award. Visit her blog at the link I put above to read about all the things she gets up to in her kitchen.

blog award

I had this award passed on to me because my blog makes her happy.

There are a few rules with the award which are as follows;
I have to link her blog to me and I have done that above.
Next I am to list 10 things that make me happy.

Writing letters.
Being outdoors.
Creating things.
Learning new crafts.
Helping others.

Now all I have to do is pass the award on to some of my favourite bloggers...these would be;
The Dream...
Norfolk Kitchen...
Vanilla seven...

These are just a few of my favourite blogs that always make me smile!!!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

What is an 'Allotment'??

Well for most of us English people out there it seems like a pretty straightforward question but allotments are primarily a British thing and I was asked in one of my comments section what and allotment actually is.

So 'What is an allotment??'

In the UK, allotments are small parcels of land rented to individuals usually for the purpose of growing food crops. There is no set standard size but the most common plot is 10 rods, an ancient measurement equivalent to 302 square yards or 253 square metres.

Well that answers that question but I thought whilst I was covering this I would delve a little further into the history of allotments and provide a little more information about how and why they first came about!!

Where an allotment is situated is particularly important and it also makes a huge difference as to whether it is 'temporary' or 'statutory' since, under section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925, a local authority must seek permission from the Secretary of State before selling or changing the use of a 'statutory' site. The local authority must satisfy the Secretary of State that adequate provision has been made for allotment holders who are displaced by the sale of the site.

So what the cost??

Rental costs vary. This astounded me as I didn't realise it could cost sooo much for an allotment....but then at the same time I was astounded at how little my plot of land did cost. Some pay as little as £8.00 pa and others £80.00. The cost of a plot on my allotment is just £13 a year. This is just for the land. If you have a greenhouse or poly-tunnel...or if you wish to use a hosepipe then extra costs are added for the extra water that you use.//

Who owns the allotments??

Allotments are under the control of local councils (in our case the Parish Council). Allotments are allocated by Act of Parliament, and Councils have a legal obligation to provide the land. If Councils wish to use the land for other purposes, then they are supposed to provide land of similar quality in a suitable location. In practice pressures on Council finances means that many sites are sold for building development. This has already happened in the village over the hill from us, however our allotments are situated at the very edge of the village boundary and so I pray that this cannot happen to ours!!

When was the first allotment??

The history of allotments can be said to go back over a thousand years to when the Saxons would clear a field from woodland which would be held in common. However from reading up on it I think the true nature of allotments came about around 200 hundred years ago- they derive from the enclosure legislation of the 18th and 19th centuries - and the word 'allotment' originates from land being allotted to an individual under an enclosure award (Enclosures were put into place as the rich folk didn't like the commoners grazing their animals on common land!!).

Then in 1845 a very important Enclosure Acts was passed, this was 'he General Inclosure Act' which required that provision should be made for the landless poor in the form of 'field gardens' limited to a quarter of an acre. At this time, allotments were largely confined to rural areas.

As living changed and people moved around for jobs allotments changed and in the early Nineteenth Century the 'modern notion' of an allotment came into being. A lot of people from the country went to work and live in towns; there was a lot of poverty, and what the Victorians called "degeneracy" amongst the working classes. Allotments provided an alternative to drink and other unworthy pursuits for the poor. The spread of urban allotments was intensified by the growth of high-density housing, often without gardens.

And now??

Following a peak of 1,400,000 in 1943 there was a sharp decline in allotment provision to around 500,00 in the 1970s. By 1996 there were around 297,000 allotments plots available and, although definite figures do not appear available, since then the rate of decline appears to have decreased whilst at the same time there has again been an upsurge of interest in growing food crops. Many reasons can be given for this and everyone has their own theories but a lot of it is due to healthier living, organic growing, knowing what your eating and also the worry of G.M. crops turning up in our supermarkets. Also with the introduction of big supermarkets a large proportion of the smaller greengrocers selling local produce have been forced to close so quality has diminished of fruit and veg.

So what do I have??

I currently have half a plot on my local allotments as I only started out two years ago and was unsure of how well I would get on and also how much time I would need. Last year I found that I could have used more land to grow more stuff...and a wider variety too. I am waiting to see if I can have another half a plot but the situations on our local allotments have changed over the last couple of years and we are rapidly going from neglected plots to a waiting list!!

Keep your finger crossed for me readers!!!

This post was greatly helped by an excellent site which has lots of wonderful information which I read through for this post and goes into the history of allotments in great detail so if you want to know more feel free to go and check it out....but please remember to come back to me!!!!

Sunday 10 January 2010

Allotment foraging!!

Well Like pretty much everywhere else in England...we still have the snow. Nothing at all is happening in the garden or down the allotment due to this. My brussels are still growing as is my purple sprouting broccoli and although the latter is fine I have quite a poor show of brussels. They are there on the stalks but quite tiny and because of this I haven't harvested any yet and I know that plenty of other people have harvested lots so I am quite disappointed. I had the same with my brussels last year but I thought then it was due to the fact that they went in so late. This year I was right on time with the planting so if anyone has any suggestions I would be very grateful!!

Still waiting to see if I will get the extra land that I wanted...I don't know when I will find out about this but if I do get it I am seriously considering getting
a greenhouse...this means I will have plenty of room for my pepper plants and I would really like to have a go at growing melons too....probably honeydew but not sure yet...and of course I have to see if I get the extra half plot...keep your fingers crossed for me!!!!

O.K. The post is called allotment foraging because I did manage to get down the plot this week although I didn't go to do anything on the plot...just for a scrounge! With all the snow that we've been having I have been breaking my back with shoveling out of the way so earlier in the week my Dad and I went down for a root around and found a couple of decent sized bits of hardboard so armed with these and some broom handles we made some snow shovels...(at least my Dad did and I am very grateful to him for mine...Thanks Dad!)

snow shovel
My snow shovel!!

They aren't anything spectacular but they do the job nicely and cut the shoveling time down by two thirds!!! Today is a little warmer in my neck of the woods and we have actually got to just above freezing point. Whilst this means some of the snow is slowly melting it hasn't stopped the snow falling from the sky and now instead of everywhere being white and dry, it's slushy, mucky and wet...I am so sick of it...enough already with the snow....bring me summer!!!!

I guess I can't complain so much as we haven't had it as bad as some places but I am seriously sick of my house looking like a chinese laundry and I don't even want
to think about all the weeds that are being nicely insulated under all that snow! On the plus side, with all the shoveling of snow and ice that I've been doing, digging the allotment for planting isn't going to seem nearly as back breaking!!

Just to finish off...a photo of a thrush feeding in my garden!