Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Scarcroft Christmas Card of Note

What a fantastic Christmas card!  Plotholder Chris Whittaker drew the card himself and it features himself, his wife Julia and their 11 grandchildren on Scarcroft Allotments.

Merry Christmas to all our plotholders and private gardeners.

More wonderful winter photos

These photos were taken by Sally Ann Hayes.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Seed Potato, Onion Set and Shallot and Peas and Beans Price List 2010

Below is our price list for potatoes, onion sets etc. and peas and beans. Requirements can be added to the Fothergill's Seed order form which is available from the shop or by e-mail.  To avoid possible disappointment, we would advise members to consider ordering their potato, onion and shallot requirements either by e-mail or at the shop.  (Those members who have already order potatoes please do not re-order unless additional quantities are required)


SEED POTATOES: Available end of JanuaryVariety Price per kg
Extra Early Rocket, Lady Christl £1-10
First Early Arran Pilot, Pentland Javelin, Red Duke of York £1-10
First Early Epicure £1-30
Second Early Maris Peer, Wilja, Kestrel, Charlotte £1-10
Maincrop Maris Piper, Desiree, Cara, Sante £1-10
Maincrop Pink Fir Apple £1-25
ONION SETS & SHALLOTS: Available end of January
Variety Price per kg
Onion Sets Turbo, Sturon £2-30
Onion Sets Red Baron £2-50
Shallots Golden Gourmet £3-20
Shallots Red Sun £3-65
Garlic Vigour ( 500 grms) £4-75
PEAS & BEANS: Available end of January
Variety Price / 100 grms
Pea (Early) Feltham First, Early Onward £0-75
Pea (Maincrop) Hurst Green Shaft, Kelvedon Wonder, Onward £0.75
Dwarf Bean Tendergreen £1-00
Broad Bean Aquadulce, Imperial Green Windsor £0-70
The Sutton £0-80
Runner Bean Enorma, Scarlet Emperor £1-15
Polestar £1-30

Even if you don't have the need to order anything at the moment it is worth popping in in January to see all the alterations that have been carried out to the interior of the shop.

Mike Oldfield and Tom Walters

A Christmas present with many happy returns

A good friend, Mo Dening, from the Midlands, was one of the many people to receive a Scarcoft and District Allotment Association 2009 calendar from me for Christmas last year.  ('Just what I always wanted', I imagined they thought). This year I received an incredible present in return.  Pictured below is her hand painted collage of all the photos included in the calendar.  I thought I would post it so that you can all see it and see all your individual images included. 

If you read this, thank you Mo, it's such a thoughtful and amazing present.

Caroline Bush

Got any winter shots you want to share?

If so, please send them to us at and we will post them on the blog.  Below are a selection of mine.

and finally....Sally, eager to help dig the parsnips.

Caroline Bush

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Allotment Party October 2009

Well, it was a great success.  Somewhere between 30 and 50 allotment holders and private gardens braved a chilly evening, to come along to the Golden Ball pub, which is far more than has attended any association event bar the AGM.  It was a excellent evening of witty banter and rivetting tales (well at least from the photo below Graham was enjoying Chris's story even if Sue wasn't).
(Graham Sanderson, Sue Skirrow, Chris Adams, Claire Pickard)
(Hugh MacPherson, Malcolm Hainsworth, Katy Brierley)
Not everyone could fit in to the room we had reserved and association members spilled across the whole pub.  Apologies to those who came later in the evening and found they couldn't get in to the main room at all.  In future we may need to go for a larger venue.

(Glennis Oldfield, Janice Walters and Cllr Tina Funnell)
(Sara Robin, Hugh MacPherson, Morwenna Christian, Simon Christian, Marianne Von Tucka, Andrew Burningham)
It has been suggested that this might become a regular event, perhaps happening monthly until the clocks go forward again.  If you think this is a good idea please let us know on the normal email address.  If we had a better idea of numbers we could go for a bigger venue.

Thanks to everyone who attended for making it a great night and the committee to all thier efforts with spreading the word and providing the buffet.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The endless waiting ....

It's 7.30 on Friday night, in a large side room of the Golden Ball, a real ale pub within the walls of the ancient city of York, the committee of the venerable Scarcroft and District Allotment Committee are sitting nervously sipping thier orange juices, thier party hats all pristine and jaunty, thier boots polished and their best seasonal sweaters on, but with a haunted look in their eyes...will anyone come to their party?  Would the vol au vents go untouched and the dips gradually crust over?  Would they be left making awkward small talk with thier fellow friendless committee members?

Sara furtively checks her watch, still only 7.32, still time for a thirsty plot holder or two to arrive, even if it is only Hugh.  Mike O shifts on his bar stool, will Glenys be angry if he is back home by 8.15 carrying a 100 unused and unwanted paper plates and festive napkins?  He wonders if he could sell the surplus crisps in the hut.  Graham weeps silently as his homemade quiche congeals.  Tina anxiously adjusts the SADAA private party sign on the door and wonders if it gives off the wrong impression.  Clarie weighs up if anyone will notice if she slips out and joins the lively conversation at the bar in the next room.  The landlady makes the excuse of glass clearing in order to scowl at the wasted empty seats on a Friday night.  Malcolm nurses a pint of Pedigree and twitches uncomfortably in his best holeless jumper. Chris W dreams of Spain and proper fiestas and Heather dozes quietly in the corner, cuddling her wine glass.  Caroline mentally sketches out wishful fictional blog headlines 'Allotment Association Awarded ASBO After night of Alcohol driven Anarchy'.  Tom considers how much better allotment committees were in the old days when no one bothered with fancy new fangled allotment parties, he could be at home watching Strictly and twirling Janice round the living room.  'Bibamus, moriendum est' Chris A mutters grumpily to no one in particular.  And so they wait......

Monday, 16 November 2009

Skip to it

A green waste skip has been booked at Albemarle Road end of the Scarcroft Road site for this coming weekend, the 20th -23rd.

Please remember green waste only.

Claire Pickard (Scarcroft Site Secretary)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Seed ordering for 2010

Following the success of the packet seed ordering system last year we shall once again be offering a similar service, modified slightly in the light of experience.

This year packet seeds will only be available from the Mr. Fothergill’s range and will be limited to vegetables & herbs. (Flower seeds create problems with VAT)

Mr Fothergill’s discount list – This shows the range of packet seeds which are available at a 35% discount when ordered through the shop. (Paper copies of this list are available in the shop, electronic copies will be sent out to the email list).
 Mr Fothergill’s colour catalogue (now available in the shop) – All vegetable seeds shown in the catalogue are available to order. Any varieties in the catalogue that do not appear on the Mr Fothergill’s discount list will be subject to a 10% discount only on the prices shown. Unfortunately the supply of sundries, plants, potatoes & onion sets is not available from this catalogue. So far, Mr Fothergills have only given us 10 copies of the catalogue so if you would like to borrow one to make your selection from please bring it back to the shop once you have finished with it. Alternatively, you can browse on line at or order your own copy of the catalogue through their website.

 Mr Fothergill’s also supplies a limited selection of organic seeds.

 In addition to the Mr Fothergill’s packet seeds we will also have a range of peas and beans in bulk. Prices are less than half the cost of an equivalent packet even after discount.
  • Peas: Early Onward, Feltham First, Hurst Greenshaft, Kelvedon Wonder & Onward
  • Broad Beans: Aquadulce, The Sutton & Imperial Green Longpod
  • Dwarf Beans: Tendergreen
  • Runner Beans: Polestar & Scarlet Emperor
Why Mr Fothergill’s? We believe they offer a good quality seed with a good germination rate. However, main factor is that we only need to order 30 packets in each order to achieve their discount. Other suppliers only give a discount when you order a larger amount, which would not give us the flexibility of ordering in batches.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Keep taking photos

There isn't an allotment calendar planned for 2010 but there might be one for 2011.  When we did the 2009 one we had far more summer and early autumn submissions than for November to April.  If the committee produces a new one for 2011 the closing date for entries is likely to be in October. This means that this autumn and winter will be your last chance to take autumn and winter photos for a 2011 calendar, obvious really.  Also it was easier to use landscape pictures than those done in portrait format.
Happy snapping.

Planning for sweet peas

Photo by John Brierley
For those of you who are very organised, you may like a reminder that sweet peas can be planted now and overwintered in a green house or cold frame.
  • Sow in Oct/Nov into rootrainers or long thin pots. Push 2 well spaced seeds about 2.5cm below the compost surface.
  • When roots fill rootrainers, pot on two seedlings into a 2 litre pot. Pinch out the tips when plants have 3 or 4 pairs of leaves. Over-winter undercover in a light, cool place.
  • Plant out - 2 plants to a vertical - in a mild spell in March.
  • Tie them in every week to encourage straight stems.
  • (Can also be sown in Mar/April and planted out in April/May)
  • Flowers: Autumn sown in late May. Spring sown in earlysummer. Keep picking as often as you can.
Close your eyes and smell the bouquet floating across your plot.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Time to order your seed potatoes from the shop

We have an amazing list of seed potatoes for you to choose from.  If you want to choose from the full list or be sure that we have in the varieties you want we need you to place an order as soon as possible.  We will still have some seed potatoes for any member to walk up and buy in the spring but this will be a much more limited range, basically the best sellers, and even then we have been known to sell out.  So, if you want to be sure to get exactly the variety you want in the quantities you want, you need to order now.

Order deadline: As soon as possible, but definitely before Monday November 26th

Order process: 
  • For the potatoes marked in red, you can order in kilos (1 kg or more) 
  • For the potatoes not marked in red, you can order in 2.5kg nets (however if you have a particular request for a smaller amount of one of these varieties not marked in red please let us know as another member might like to split a bag)
  • e-mail your order to or tell  the shop staff during normal opening hours, that is Saturday 13-30hrs to 15-30hrs and Sunday 10-00hrs to 13-00hrs.
  • We don't know exact prices yet, they vary according to how much we order.  With only a couple of exceptions, namely, Epicure & Ulster Prince, we expect prices to be similar to last year.  The ones we buy in bulk (ie the ones marked in red) are likely to be £1-10 per kg, (except Epicure & Pink Fir Apple at £1-40 to £1-50 per kg). 
  • All other varieties are available to order in 2.5 kg nets priced around £3-50, however, if there is sufficient demand for a particular variety then this could also be purchased in bulk with a subsequent price reduction. If you do not require the full 2.5 kg, please let us know as there maybe other members who would like to split a bag.

Help choosing:
  • If you want any help choosing or recommendations please ask in the Shop.  If you just want information on what the different varieties are like we recommned the British Potato Variety Database or the Potato Council . Just follow either of these links:

Below is the full list of seed potatoes which will be available for the coming season.
First earlies:
  • Arran Pilot
  • Home Guard
  • Pentland Javelin
  • Ulster Prince
  • Ulster Sceptre
  • Sharpes Express
  • Duke of York
  • Maris Bard
  • Foremost
  • Epicure 
  • Dunluce
  • Rocket 
  • Premier
  • Winston 
  • Red Duke of York
  • Swift
  • International Kidney
  • Lady Christl
Second Earlies

  • Maris Peer
  • Catriona
  • Wilja
  • Estima
  • Nadine
  • Stroma
  • Marfona
  • Balmoral
  • Kestrel
  • Charlotte
  • Saxon
  • Nicola
  • Osprey
  • Carlingford
  • Bonnie
  • Pixie
  • British Queen

Main Crop
  • Pentland Crown
  • Pentland Dell
  • Pentland Squire
  • Majestic
  • Maris Piper
  • Desiree
  • King Edward
  • Romano
  • Cara
  • Golden Wonder
  • Stemster
  • Kerrs Pink
  • Pink Fir Apple
  • Record
  • Sante
  • Edzell Blue
  • Valor
  • Maxine
  • Navan
  • Picasso
  • Celine
  • Argos
  • Harmony
  • Markies
  • Blue Belle
  • Camelot
  • Orla
Don't forget to order as soon as possible and definitely before the 26th of November 2009.


Tom Walters (Shop Manager and Scarcroft Plotholder) and Mike Oldfield (Treasurer and Hospital Field Plotholder)

Prickly Hedges

If you are considering planting a prickly hedge around your plot to increase plot security, we would like to draw your attention to a collection of hedgerow plants sold by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).

They have put together a collection of those species commonly found in the wild. 50 plants will create a double hedge 10m long or 24m if planted in a single line.

The hedgerow collection contains  - 50 bare rooted trees. size 40 -60 cm  £23.80
  • 25 Hawthorn
  • 5 Blackthorn  
  • 5 Hazel
  • 5 Field Maple
  • 5 Dog Rose
  • 5 Guelder Rose

Planting a mix of vaieties like these have the advantage of   sustaining and attracting a variety of wildlife, which single species hedges like beech do not.

Hugh MacPherson (Scarcroft) has bought from them before and reports that they are excellent quality and stayed alive.  

Oh course if you do plant a hedge on your allotment, please discuss it with your adjoining plot holders first and maintain it so that it does not grow to a height of more than 1.5m at the absolute maximum.  According to your tennancy agreement all hedges should be kept to a height of 1.5m.  It would be a shame to plant a prickly hedge to increase security and then grow it to such a height that it created a further problem by creating 'secret' areas of the site that then become a target for vandalism and rough sleepers.

Visit their website to buy and to get planting instructions.
Tel: 01302 388 883 (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm)

Needless to say hedge planting would probably not be popular on Hospital Field or more open parts of the Hob Moor or Scarcroft sites.  If in doubt consult your neighbours and your site secretary.

Sara Robin, Scarcroft.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Onions and Broad Beans

The mild onset of Autumn in York has brought a flurry of activity on the allotments near the city centre.  Over-wintering onions are going in, planted in neat rows with labels for different varieties, spacing varied depending on size required for the pot.

A tractor load of manure delivered last week has completely disappeared within days, barrowed feverishly away by plot holders scurrying like so many ants.   One hopes they all paid their dues with the same speed.

Garlic, that exotic cousin of the humble onion is already in, but could be planted later as it is a bit more hardy despite of its southern origins.

Finally broad beans, a bit of a gamble this far north, is best planted now for an early start in Spring.  Any that fail can be replaced after Winter.

By contrast, in our little plot in the Alpujarra mountains in southern Spain, onions and garlic are usually planted in the Spring, in furrows for the all important irrigation.  Water is the key here.  Often too much in Yorkshire, always infrequent in Andalucia.

There are other contrasts too, other than the obviously greater quotient of sunshine.  Garlic in a Spanish market will cost about 3 Euros for 50 plants ready to put in.  At an English garden centre, £3 (almost equivalent these days) will buy you a single bulb of six or seven cloves.  This year we have also tried some cloves from Normandy, courtesy of Mike from the allotment shop.

Despite being at an elevation of 1000 metres, lettuce is sown in Autumn in the Alpujarras, and seldom fails.  The village is a community of subsistence farmers who tend groves of olives and almonds, figs and oranges.  In between the cash crops, growing your own veg is the norm, and is a major interest with the village elders.

The locals are good-natruredly amused by our efforts at is what to them second nature, though we get endlessly patronised about our rather sporadic weeding.
"This is a plant, these are weeds.  In Inglaterra do you not pull out the weeds?"
Well, yes, but we are on holiday, our grandchildren to see, so many mountains to walk, so much painting and photography."
Juan is not impressed.  " Rise at dawn, work until 11.00, come back and work again in the evening when it is cooler."
Pedro is bemused by our lawn mower.  "What is this machine for?"  "It cuts grass."  "No the grass is rubbish, it should be ploughed out three times a year."  "But we like grass - it is green..."
"It is Autumn, collect your almonds, prune the trees, oranges will be ready in November, and you can plant lettuce - and broad beans!"
Ah yes, beans.  "Will they survive the Winter?"
"Maybe, maybe no, it is the will of God."

Mmm... Yorkshire and Andalucia, some things are not so different then?

Chris Whittaker (Scarcroft)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Experiment with Bird Food

The allotment shop now sells premium wild bird seed mix.  It will be £1 a kilo. You can buy any quantity you like.  If it sells well we will get more and different types.  We suspect that there may be alot of bird enthusiasts amongst our association membership.   If that's you please use the shop to top up your bird feeders and let the shop folk know if the birds round by you like it and what other types you might want the shop to sell. 

Stock Purchasing Field Trip

Allotment shop managers from all over Yorkshire were invited to an open day at Acorn Garden Supplies in Bingley.  Tom Walters (hut manager), Mike Oldfield (treasurer) and Caroline Bush went to see what they had that would be good to sell in our shop.  We came away with, amongst other things, 100m of black weed suppressing thick fabric and 25kg of bird seed and a good idea of their prices for later deliveries. 
The trip was not without its perks, Acorn kindly provided its allotment customers with a meal of pie and peas in a local transport cafe.  As you can see below, this went down very well indeed.

Caroline Bush (Scarcroft)