Friday, 24 August 2012

Rossendale Council - the Sequel

Following my last blog post on the subject of the letter I received from Rossendale Council, the Lancashire Telegraph got in touch about running the story.  It took them a few days to get some information out of the Council as they generally avoid answering phones, as I mentioned last time.  I did get an email from the chap at the Council who had gone on holiday after sending the letters, eventually, though it was fairly general and nondescipt.   He did try hard to play nice, still, no apology, no clarification and no answers to my questions.  No surprise there.

But yesterday the Telegraph finally got a response from the Council on the subject.  Apparently, this inspection was 'run of the mill'.  Hmm, not sure you can describe the first inspection since 2003 as 'run of the mill', but OK, let's move on to the next statement.  Letters were sent to 4 people.  Now that was interesting, so yesterday afternoon I had a brief wander round the allotment site to look for uncultivated plots or those which had fewer vegetables growing on them than I did (for the record, I had 11 types of fruit or vegetables not counting the apple trees).  I stopped counting at 9 un- or undercultivated plots.  Some of these plots are completely uncultivated and covered in plastic, others have a couple of things growing but a good selection of weeds as well.  NONE of them had as much growing as I did.  I actually didn't go round all the plots and I wouldn't want to criticise other gardeners as this has been a terrible gardening year, I've lost a lot of plants and so have many others.  That was one of my points to the Council, it's unfair to judge people in such an appalling season.  But 9 and only 4 letters?

On reading the paper this morning I was interested to find this statement from the Council: "The (allotment) society and council are concerned about plots that have fallen into disrepair or look like they have been unworked.  In these instances the council agrees with the society which plot owners to write to requesting that the plot is worked."  Oh dear.  So if anyone from the Council is reading this, and I know that you have read my last post, let me just leave you with this thought.  If there are at least 9 other plots worked less than mine, just what selection criteria were used to decide to send a letter to me and 3 others?  I do hope the selection criteria were lawful, and in line with the Council's statutory obligations.  For example, I do hope the fact that I have chosen not to join the allotment society (it's not obligatory) was not one of those criteria, though I can think of a few other possible explanations as well.  

That's my final word on the subject for now, on with the gardening!

 This is a patch of weeds interspersed with cabbages, and it neatly encapsulates the problem many gardeners have had this year.  We've not had dry soil here since May 2011, and it means that the weeds and the grass just keep on growing.  This bed was weeded when we netted it two weeks ago, and in that time the weeds have outpaced the cabbages.
 So yesterday it was time to get the chickweed, docks, grass, rosebay willowherb and other assorted unwanted plants out.  Not an easy job as the net is below head height so you end up bent over the whole time!  We have naughty pair of woodpigeons on the plot who have been helping themselves to our fruit and veg this summer, and they had stripped all the cabbages to some extent.  Netting them has not only protected them from the cabbage butterflies but also from the birds.  At top and left are purple sprouting broccoli plants which I also managed to germinate successfully during the monsoons.
 Last year I grew a few green peppers for the first time and decided to have another go this year.  The weather has been worse than last year and they have spent a lot of time under cover to try to keep them warm, but there are two little peppers formed as you can see in this photo.
 It's also been a bad year for peas and beans, but we finally have the first runner beans set.  The variety is White Emergo, I have been growing this for some years now and it always does fairly well, though I did lose a few plants early on.
 The marrows are one crop which have done extremely well, they seem to like the wet conditions.  I have about 8 now set, and put tiles underneath them just to prevent rotting from the wet ground, we had torrential rain here earlier this week, which resulted in flash floods, so anything I can do to keep the fruits a bit drier will help.
Now this is interesting.  It should be a pumpkin.  This year I used some saved seed from previous pumpkins rather than bought seed as the weather was atrocious and I didn't want to risk wasting the seeds early in the season.  To my surprise they germinated, grew into standard pumpkin-like plants and have now flowered.  But this fruit, while light green and pumpkin-like on the surface, seems to have developed an elongated shape more like a marrow instead of being round.  I have another one just the same, so I'm wondering if the marrows and pumpkins crossed last year when flowering?  I will post further pictures of what I am tentatively naming my "mampkin" as it develops, will be interesting to see what it turns into eventually.

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