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)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Third delivery of muck to Scarcroft

Due to popular demand a third delivery of muck has been made to Scarcroft.  As before it's cattle manure.  As before it's £1.50 a barrow.  As before please pay in the shop or if it is closed when you are around please put the money through the letter box with a note of your name and plot number.

Hob Moor vs Hospital Field vs Scarcroft Squash Wars

Oh dear, the pumpkin contest is on.  Graham Sanderson, of Scarcroft, started it with photos of his Carnival and Butternut Squash glut (posted 3/10/09).   Claire Whittle, then defended the honour of  Hospital Field with her impressively shaped Tromba de Alba (posted 10/10/09) .  But now, have they both been challenged by Malcolm Hainsworth, the site secretary of Hob Moor.  Malcolm's squashes are mostly hybrids, but the warty looking one on the chair in the foreground is Galleuse d' Essynes.

Does any one else want to take up the challenge?  Just e-mail us your pictures at

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Last Night's Committee Meeting

Last night we held a Scarcroft and District Allotment Association committee meeting in the Golden Ball pub.  A rough list of the matters discussed is below:
  • We followed up on our last meeting with Rachel Shaw, our local police and community support officer.  We worked out who was going to persue and implement each of the security measures discussed at the last meeting and what will go into the next edition of our magazine Dig This.
  • Each site secretary presented matters arising from each of their sites - waiting lists, problems, allocation of plots, skips etc
  • We discussed the shop and our financial positioin overall and promoting potatoes and seeds
  • We planned our end of season party in the Golden Ball on the Friday 20th November (all committee members who didn't attend were allocated lots of things to do)
  • We discussed what should go into the next edition of Dig This
  • We put in the diary the date of the next meeting and a site care day for February
  • We discussed the blog and had some training on how to put up posts on it
  • Graham noted a few issues to be taken to the next site secretaries meeting
That is about it.  Not a long meeting and with no big fights (not that we usually have big fights), so all in all a success.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

What happened at the Micklegate Ward meeting?

This post is a follow on from the one about the ward meeting posted at 9.31 on the 2nd October 2009.

Sara Robin attended this meeting and pointed out to the ward committee that we already do a seed swap and would be happy to keep doing them and to promote it through the allotment association if there was a demand. She also said that we didn't need the £50 but would be happy to have it if the ward wanted to give it to us. The initial suggestion came from D Carmichael, who is not an association member and who didn't attend the meeting. The next steps will be for the proposition to be voted on by a wider audience.

Laura Pott's suggestion for a community allotment on Scarcroft Green was also discussed. Laura was unable to attend but sent in an email to explain her suggestion further. Her email is quoted below:
" The proposal for a community orchard on the Green would work as a community development project that I would support, drawing in local schools, local groups such as The Stables project, youth and churches, and be linked to the St Clement's Centre too. I would be prepared to put the work in to initiate this, and to develop local events related to it. When suggestions for the ward are being considered, I would be grateful if these facts be included; without this being made explicit, it may well be seen as unrealistic."
Good luck to Laura with what sounds like a really interesting project.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Malcolm's tips

Malcolm Hainsworth, the Hob Moor site secretary, has a couple of things he wants the association membership to know about. 
Firstly, he would like to recommend a nice dwarf french drying bean to you Nombrils de Bonne Soeur, roughly translated as Nun's Belly Button.  They are picutred here.

Secondly, to recommemd his other passion, the Yorkshire Bach Choir.  They have two concerts coming up soon. On the 14th of November they are performing Music for the Chapels Royal and on the 19th of December they are doing Handel Messiah.

Aerial view of Scarcroft Allotments 1956

Can you see your plot?  I think the shop is the 'triangle' in the middle.  If you want to make the image bigger double click on it.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The site of Scarcroft Allotments in the 1890's

This cottage stood about 50 yards to the west of Scarcroft Road on what is now Scarcroft Hill. The grass foreground is now the site of Scarcroft allotments. The cottage was demolished prior to the development of Scarcroft Hill in the late 1890's.

This image and the one of Scarcroft in 1956 are both from

Saturday, 10 October 2009

More thefts at the top end of Scarcroft Allotments

This week, locked sheds were broken into and tools stolen from at least 2 plots at the top corner of Scarcroft site.  The thefts happened sometime between Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon.  The police have been informed and hopefully our local community support offficer Rachel Shaw will be watching the CCTV footage back, as that is the area covered by the CCTV.  If you have one of those plots and saw anyone you didn't know up there, acting suspiciously, over those days, please let Rachel Shaw know as it may help her know which bits of the footage to start with. Her e-mail address is:

The plots in question are near the Millthorpe School and the flats on Cogan Close, the plot numbers are 33 and 47.  There may be other thefts nearby that haven't been reported yet,  if you have also been affected please let the police know and get an incident number.  The more of a problem we are seen to have the more police resources will be allocated to the site.

Bees on Hospital Field

A Hospital Field bee, possibly one of Ruth Hodgins', photographed by Sally Hayes.

Claire blows her Tromba

Claire Whittle, from Hospital Field, with her summer squash, Tromba de Alba.  That's impressive!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Thefts on Scarcroft and Hospital Field

There have been a recent spate of thefts on Scarcroft and Hospital Field.

On Hospital Field, a tree was stripped of red apples and Ruth lost loads of plums.  On Scarcroft, leeks, potatos and cabbages were stolen from one plot and parsley plants and other leeks were just pulled up and left to wilt on the soil.  As the Scarcroft theft happened within the sight line of the new CCTV we may get some resolution on that event.

The affected Hospital Field tennants have asked that everyone on that site remembers to lock the gates, even to the extent of locking yourself in when you are on the plot as that means that anyone else there has got a key and is definitely a plot holder.  They know that this may cause some inconvenience for anyone who forgets their keys or has to balance a loaded bike by the gate but hopefully it will protect crops, as it is so disappointing to have waited all year for a crop only to have it stolen before you get a taste.

Overwintering Broad Beans Are In

Overwintering Broad Beans, Aquadulce, will be available in the shop from Saturday 10th of October.

They are £0.80 per 100 grms ( around 60-70 seeds).

Aquadulce is generally regarded as the best variety for over wintering.

Mike, from the shop, says...
  • Aquadulce can be sown anytime from now until December if conditions are suitable, in double rows with seeds spaced 9" (approx 23cm) apart and 2ft (approx 60cm) between separate rows.
  • Height: They tend to grow to a height of 36-40in (90-100cm).
  • With regard to pinching out, some recommend after four flower clusters others after first beans have set and others let them develop more as they are not as prone to blackfly as spring sown beans.

As you probably already know, freshly picked, small, young broad beans are packed full of vitamins A, C and E. They are also a good source of protein and fibre.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Knavesmire Primary School comes to visit

This Thursday, children from Knavesmire Primary School will be coming to visit Scarcroft Site.  They will be on Willy Hoedemann's Woodcraft Folk's plot to draw the sunflowers.  This has become an annual event for them.  We hope the weather stays fine and that they will share some of their drawings with us. 

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Ken is leaving us

Ken Baldwin has worked in the allotment shop, in its various guises, for the last 25 years and next Saturday the 10th of October will be his last day.  Ken has decided to move closer to his daughter in the dales, near Skipton.  We will all miss him and his seasoned advice. The hut will be a lesser place without him.  We wish him all the best in his new home.  If you want to give Ken your best, come in to the allotment shop on Scarcroft Road next Saturday between 1.30 and 3.30 pm.

Squash or pumpkin risotto

If you've grown squash or pumpkin this year, here's a recipe for a delicious, creamy risotto from Antonio Carluccio's book, vegetables.  If it's too small to read, just click on the image and it will appear much larger in a new window...

Don't forget to vote

Don't know if you've noticed but down the right hand column of this page there are 3 poll questions.  We will vary them every now and then but they give the committee the chance to see what association members think of different issues.  So when you visit this blog don't forget to check out the questions and vote.



Graham's Squash Glut

Now there's a glut to be proud of!  This is the association chairman, Graham Sanderson, with his impressive display of butternut squash (hunter) and winter squash (carnival). 

Do you have any photos of successes you want to share with your fellow allotment gardeners?  If so please send them in to the association e-mail address with some info on who you are and what the photo is of and we will be delighted to load them on to the blog.

Best Plot Southern Area Winners

Pictured here are the winners of the City of York's Best Plot Competition 2009 for the Southern area, Sammy and Ming Kee standing in front of their plot on Scarcroft Road site.  Their plot is always an inspiration. They have almost entirely cleared their plot for the winter already.  I wish I was that well organised!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fruit Tree Specialist

If you, like me, have had fruit tree envy this year you may be interested to know that there is a copy of the Winter Season Fruit List 2009/2010, from R V Roger in the hut.  R V Roger Ltd are fruit specialist nurserymen based in Pickering.  Their range of field-grown fruit trees is one of the best in the country, including many traditional varieties which are becoming quite rare.  They do a whole range of root stock and espallier, cordons etc.  They gave me some good advice as to which varieties would be good for an allotment.  They also deliver.

Micklegate Ward Funds

I noticed in the October issue of Your Ward for Micklegate Ward, that there is a proposal for ward funds (£50) to be set aside for a seed swap.  The money would be spent on 'covering the costs for posters and to advertise in the allotment newsletter and to help facilitate the event'.  Has anyone out there heard anything about this?  As far as I am aware the proposal hasn't come from the allotment committee so I am presuming when it refers to allotment newsletter they mean the council one that is sent out to all plot holders but not neccessarily to all local residents.  I know that if there is interest in a seed swap the association committee would probably be happy to promote it through the members newsletter and put posters up for free.  We are a not for profit organisation, so if we make anything in the shop it gets saved for future needs, ploughed back in to covering the expenses of the shop (all the folk who work there are unpaid volunteers), keeping prices low and funding the newsletter and promotion of events.  Also for the last 3 years we have held a seed swap at the AGM, it hasn't been very well attended, but that might be more to do with the AGM.  However, a widely promoted seed swap might have far more appeal. 

Would you be interested in attending a seed swap?  If so, please comment on this 'post' and/or vote on the questionnaire/poll to the right of your screen.

There are also quite a few other suggestions for the allocations of funds that might be of interest to allotment and private gardeners including planting fruit trees around the area and organising a free bee keeping course.

If you want to attend the ward meeting it will be held at Millthorpe School, Nunthorpe Avenue on the thursday 8th October from 7pm

Agenda for Ward Meeting
  1. 7pm Surgery.Your chance to meet your: Ward Councillors, Neighbourhood Management officer, Safer Neighbourhood Team, Street Environment Officer , Representatives from Housing Services and Planning and Sustainable Development.
  2. 7.30pm Main Meeting - Introduction and Minutes
  3. Education for the local community - Representatives from Learning, Culture and Children’s Services will tell you about: The new children’s centre at Knavesmire School,Early years provision, the consultation on admissions policy, Primary school provision, addressing the places issue
  4. Terry's Site Development - Richard Beal and Katherine Atkinson (Planning and Sustainable Development) will outline the planning process and discuss the latest proposals for the site. Grantside and the Planning Panel will also attend
  5. Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour - Housing Services would like your views to inform the development of a strategy for dealing with anti-social behaviour.
  6. Proposed Schemes for 2010/11 - this is the bit
  7. Have Your Say - Your opportunity to discuss issues and concerns

 PS. they will also be giving away low energy light bulbs and timer switches.


The Big Wildlife Garden

Natural England have a new campaign that they want us to know about.  The information they provide about attracting wildlife to your plot or garden is relevant to everyone who is interested.  The mechanisms they have for earning points for your garden and sharing ideas and pictures is aimed more at children, but looks fun nonetheless.

Be a part of England’s newest nature reserve!

The Big Wildlife Garden can help you turn your garden into an oasis for plants and animals.

Register for free and find out everything you need to know to get birds, butterflies, frogs and toads migrating to your back yard. It doesn’t matter if you have a tiny patio, a huge lawn or a school playing field; your garden could become part of England’s biggest new wildlife reserve. So register your garden today and get green fingers for wildlife!
Once you have registered your garden you can earn points for everything you do to encourage wildlife and track your progress towards our Bronze, Silver, Gold and Green award levels. You will also be able to share ideas and pictures with other members of the Garden and keep your own online wildlife diary.

The blog is live

Previously only seen by a select few our allotment blog is now open to the world. Please feel free to post any comments or thoughts below.

Great steaming piles of it....

More muck has been delivered to the carpark by the allotment shop on Scarcroft Road.  As before it's £1.50 a barrow.  As before if you want to pay when no one is around please put your money through the letter box on the front of the shop, ideally in an envelope with your name and plot number on it.