Monday, 19 November 2012

Autumn Social

We hope you can come and join us at our annual end of season social event at The Golden Ball, Friday 23rd November, 7.30pm onwards. Look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, 29 October 2012

York Get Growing! Courses

York Get Growing! have organised a wide range of free courses and sessions for Autumn and Winter 2012 -2013
For further information or to book a place 01904 644300
or see

Local History Event

There's an exciting Local History Event being held at Clements Hall, Nunthorpe Road.  This is a two day programme of free events Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd November from 11.30am onwards. On Friday at 3pm is a talk that may be of particular interest to gardeners and allotment holders, The History of Allotments in the Scarcroft area by Catherine Heinmeyer. 

Please see this link for more information

Friday, 19 October 2012

2013 Calendar

Look out for the Scarcroft and District Allotment Association 2013 Calendar

On sale in the Allotment Shop, Pextons and Frankie & Johnny's Cook Shop on Bishopthorpe Road from first week in November. Priced £5 
Yes! Only £5 how's that for solving Christmas gift ideas.
Limited number printed so don't delay.

Once again this community project would not be possible without the photographic contributions from Association members and the support from our local businesses.

In case of vandalism

Unfortunately there have been a number of incidents of vandalism on Scarcroft Allotments recently.

As a reminder to plot holders if you find any damage done on your plot, please call 
101, the police non-emergency number, and report it. 

Because few of the incidents that have happened have been reported, the site has been taken off the list of places for routine patrolling by the neighbourhood police team. 

If we report every incident, we’ll get routine police patrols again and that police presence does act as a deterrent!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

'Losing The Plot' performance

Mikron Theatre Company are returning to York with their hilarious play 'Losing the Plot', first seen by 100+ in an open air performance at Scarcroft allotments in May. No one who has, or has had, or wish they had an 
allotment should miss their best night out!
Read what the York Press review had to say...
The company has now clocked up over 60 sell-out performances around the country and happily for us are 
returning to York for a second performance on 18th September at Clements Hall, Bishophill 7.30pm 

Tickets can be purchased from Pextons Hardware, Bishopthorpe Road, 
Or send cheque payable to Mikron Theatre Company to: 
Willy Hoedeman
7 Howe Hill Close
YO26 4SN
Include a pre-addressed envelope and the tickets will be posted to you by return.
Any queries please E-mail 
or text 0797 486 7301

A special family rate will give you up to 5 tickets for the price of going to the movies! 
It's VERY teenager friendly, so bring a crowd of rowdies!
Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Bugs on Scarcroft Review

Despite Yorkshire being practically underwater on Friday 22nd June some hardy enthusiasts came to the very successful evening about small friends and foes on the allotments. Chris Malumphy from FERA was a very enthusiastic and knowlegeable visitor and told us lots about new invading pests which is his speciality, and helped us identify a number of insects and other invertebrates found on the site. Chris was impressed by how few pests we actually had, and suggested that the number of birds around was keeping down caterpillar numbers. 

We did find a few butterfly and moth caterpillars, Peacock caterpillars in particular. Peacock and related butterflies feed on nettles, a good reason to leave a few in a sunny position! Hopefully we will have some of these attractive butterflies on the site in a few weeks time.  More info

Peacock butterfly caterpillars on nettles

Mullein moth caterpillars on mullein

We also found the gardeners friend - the 7 spot ladybird and it was interesting to compare it to the Harlequin lady bird which we also found. Sadly it is possible that the introduced Harlequin lady bird will replace native ladybirds as it has in North America. We also delved briefly into the sex lives of aphids as we found some on sycamore and ragwort plants, both looked after by ants which tend the aphids and move them around so they can feed on the honeydew they produce. There were plenty of snails and slugs around although my new technique of putting sharp sand around my plants seems to be working!

Nail galls on a Sycamore leaf caused by tiny Aceria mites

Chris asked us to keep an eye open for a fairly new pest the Asian long horn beetle which has been found in Kent and is very damaging to wood and woodlands. More info In future we may be contacted to look out for new pests as allotment sites could be a good place to spot them with lots of gardeners and a variety of crops.
Altogether a really interesting evening and many thanks to Chris and his son Daniel the most succesful bug hunter!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Millthorpe Art Exhibition

If you haven't already... 
then please check out the exhibition of allotment inspired art work from year 11 students of Millthorpe School. The display is on show on the side of Scarcroft hut until end of July.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Association Member Benefits - RHS Membership Offer

Scarcroft & District Allotment Association members can enjoy reduced membership fees for the Royal Horticultural Society.

Join the RHS as an individual member for just £35.70, a saving of 30%.

Further details and application forms for anyone interested are available in the Allotment Association's shop on Scarcroft.

Follow the link for details of the Association Shop and opening times:

And you can find out more about the RHS here:

Sunday, 29 April 2012

"Losing the Plot" on Scarcroft Allotments

Mikron Touring Theatre Company will be staging a free performance of their new show, ‘Losing the Plot’ at Scarcroft allotments at 7pm on Thursday 17th of May.

The producer, Peter Toon, is originally from York and is pleased to be bringing his unique theatre company to the City.

Mikron already have 60 venues booked for the 'Losing the Plot' tour, from Yorkshire down to Oxford and London.  But Scarcroft will be your nearest venue so don't miss this chance to see this great show.

The performance will start at 7pm. There are 40 seats available, or you can bring your own folding chairs if you don't have far to come.

If you are not bringing your own chairs, arrive early to be sure of a seat.

If the weather is less than summery, fear not - there will be gazebos aplenty to keep off any showers.

You can bring a picnic for the intermission, but soft drinks and simple snacks will be available on site for very reasonable prices.

As well as refreshments, there will also be "facilities" on site, for your enjoyment and relief at intermission time.

There is no admission charge for the performance.  However, the company will make a collection after the show so bring some change to show your appreciation.

There will be a 35 page full colour programme for sale, with play synopsis, lyrics of all the songs, and a quiz.

You may already have seen a poster on the notice board of your local allotment site, but meanwhile there’s a taste of the play here:

Losing the Plot is a play about Love, Life and Allotments.

The gardeners of Thistledale Allotments are a rag-bag bunch of diggers and dreamers. Strong personalities frequently clash over the best treatment for mealy bugs, and the annual 'Heaviest and Longest' competition is always a time when old feuds and new flirtations threaten to undermine the fragile peace.

Then Harvey from the Council pays them a visit and they realise that they must pull together, or forfeit their precious plot forever. But can they agree on a strategy? How will they convince Harvey of the vital role allotments have played in the life of the nation for centuries? What will they do when things inevitably get completely out of hand?

Told with a rollicking mix of old music hall tunes and brand new songs, Losing The Plot is a story of love - between people and the land; between people and people; and between people and their giant vegetables.

You can learn mote about Mikron and the work they do from their site:

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Archaeological Identification Event - 21st April

Archaeological Identification Day with “Bone” Jones
Saturday 21st April

Andrew “Bone” Jones, from the York Archaeological Trust, will be on the Scarcroft site on Saturday 21st April.

"Bone" will be available to identify any historic finds dug up from your own plots or gardens.

If the weather is nice we also hope to be able to venture out for some real-life archaeology on the Scarcroft site.

This should be a great event for adults and children alike.

We will be meeting at The Allotment Association's shop on Scarcroft at 14:00.

You can bring along any potential treasures for identification between 14:00 and 16:00.

Here's a little of what "Bone" has to say about his work and his passion for Archaeology, taken from the University of York website:

“Archaeology grabbed me as a fusion of practical activity and thinking about the meaning of your finds. And then there's the great joy of discovery. Introducing archaeology to children has been a big part of my life. It's too interesting just to leave it to academics! Everyone can relate to a find like a shoe or a sock - it brings the past to life. At the York Archaeological Trust we have an experiential, hands-on approach to education.”

You can find out more about the York Archaeological Trust here:

Hope to see you, and your artefacts, at Scarcroft on the 21st!

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Future of Urban Horticulture - Course Details

The University of York Centre for Lifelong Learning

What is the future of Urban Horticulture? - Urban Horticulture: Policy and the Future

11 week course starting Thurs 19 April 2012, 7-9pm
10 credits at Undergradate level 1
£107 full fee / £25 reduced fee (evidence required)

Local, ‘bottom-up’, community-based initiatives are only part of the solution to changing the global food system; ‘top-down’ support from policy-makers is vital.

In this module we will study different ‘policy instruments’ such as taxation, subsidies and education, and examine policymakers’ attitudes to urban horticulture both in the UK and globally, particularly in developing countries.

We will explore various approaches to changing policy in this area, such as transition towns, the Fair Trade and Trade Justice movements, and the ‘sustainable urban food policies’ being developed in many cities worldwide. Catherine Heinemeyer BSc MSc

Friday, 16 March 2012

Garden Organic Fact-sheet GS1: Growing from seed

Here is an example of a very useful Garden Organic fact-sheet, kindly forwarded by Sara.

Lots of other fact-sheets are available from Garden Organic if you are a member.

Their member’s area is a fantastic mine of information on organic growing see:

        Garden Organic Fact-Sheet GS1:  Growing From Seed

Growing your own plants from seed is easy and very satisfying even on the smallest scale. The sight of green shoots poking through dark compost arouses a feeling of parental pride in almost everybody.

Sowing seeds

There are three ways to start seeds off

directly outside - this is best for root vegetables, and possible for many other vegetables, and should be done when the soil is warm.

inside in pots - this gives a higher success rate, as you can take better care of your plantlets. Plants like tomatoes and courgettes which are damaged by frost can get off to an earlier start if sown inside first.

inside in modules - these only have to be transplanted once when they are transferred outside. This can be very handy if you have a distant allotment when you can get your plants established in the safety of your own back garden.

'Inside' could mean a light place in the house or shed, a conservatory or a greenhouse.

What you will need

Seed modules & paper pots – available from the Organic Gardening catalogue

a light place, not too hot, e.g. a North facing windowsill where your seeds can grow undisturbed

containers - well washed yoghurt pots are fine if you can't find a flowerpot

compost - buy a specially formulated seed compost from the garden centre or Organic Gardening Catalogue. This has been sterilised so what comes up is what you put in

What would you like to grow?

onions, cabbages and fennel are really easy to sow in modules.

tomatoes and marrows do better in pots

lettuce and other salad greens can be sown outside or in modules

peas and beans can be sown outside or in modules

don't bother trying to sow parsnips or carrots in small containers or modules because they hate being disturbed for transplanting

When to sow

Champion onion growers traditionally spend Boxing Day in the greenhouse sowing their best seeds but unless you really feel a need for football sized veg you don`t have to. Most seeds are sown much later! Follow the guidelines on the seed packet or view our website “What to do in the garden now” for a month-by-month guide.

A good time to start growing lettuce seeds on a windowsill inside, in the Midlands, would be early March. If in doubt, look out of the window first and think if you would be happy left outside there! Remember that your veglets will move outside quite soon and you don't want them to get too big before you plant.

How to sow

Seeds vary in size and shape a lot. Some are huge, like avocado seeds, while others are like fine dust such as rhodedendrons. Fortunately vegetable seeds fall between these extremes.

If the seeds are large enough to handle individually, like the little bullets of brassicas, try to space them out evenly around the container. Big seeds like beans can go two or three into a yoghurt pot. Pull out the weakest seedling to let just one live and grow up healthily. As a general rule cover the smaller seeds with as much soil as they are tall. Bigger seeds like peas can be pushed into the soil as far as the first joint of a middle finger.

What to do

1. First, make sure your pots are clean (with holes in the bottom if it didn't start life as a flowerpot.). Check your compost is fine and friable, not too wet or too dry - and not last year's either! Even compost has best before dates and loses nutrients over time. Fill your container up to the top, press down very lightly and give it a tap to settle any air spaces. Using a handy straight edge, knock the top compost off level with the top of your container. Put a little water in a bucket and gently float your container(s) in it. As the compost becomes wet from below they will slowly sink. When the top starts to look wet, fish them out and stand them somewhere they can drain without getting in the way. Plant your seeds in a way appropriate to their size - check the seed packet for details.

2. Carefully stretch clingfilm over the top, or cover with a polythene bag secured with an elastic band. If you have some correctly sized pieces of glass, use these to cover the containers. This means the moisture in the compost won`t be lost from evaporation and you don`t need to water again until the seeds are through. Place the container on a windowsill where it will not have the sun shining directly on it or be right on top of a radiator.

3. In ten days or so, the soil will start to heave upwards and soon you will see the first little green tips of your seedlings forcing their way up to the light. Take off the clingfilm, polythene bag or glass and cautiously feel the compost with a finger. If the top is dry, stick your finger in a bit deeper and see if it feels damp further down. Use fresh tap water on your seedlings as rain water can contain micro organisms that cause “damping-off” - a fungal disease that will make your seedlings keel over and die.

4. As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle, if there are a lot in your container, move them on into individual pots or trays. Plants hate being overcrowded. If you only want a few plants pull up the weakest seedlings to give the rest some space. Push an old seed label carefully into the soil to loosen it and separate each plantlet by holding it with one leaf, not by the stem. If you have only one seedling in a pot, leave it in there until it has grown about four true leaves. When transplanting seedlings try to plant them down as far as you can, so the lowest leaves are just resting on the soil.

5. Plants grown on a windowsill often get leggy when they are looking for light. Try to remember to turn the container regularly. Seedlings need lots of light so you may need to change windowsills if they get too leggy.

6. As the plants grow, stand them outside on sunny mild days to get the full benefit of light and air. If a mild night is forecast and they seem to be growing well, leave them outside overnight. Gradually harden them off over about a week to ten days, before planting them outside. If a frost seems likely just after your plants have gone into the ground, don`t panic! Covering them with a few sheets of newspaper or a piece of horticultural fleece overnight will be sufficient protection against most spring frosts.

Sowing in modules

1. This method of sowing has become very popular commercially in the last few years. New module trays in various sizes are available from most garden centres but quite often secondhand module trays, which look like little plastic honeycombs, are available from nurseries at very low cost. If you use these make sure they are thoroughly washed and dried in the sun before filling them. The original recyclable module tray is the cardboard eggbox. Tap the seedlings out at planting time and put the soggy cardboard remnants on the compost heap. You can also try using old loo roll middles. Plants can be transplanted directly without removing them from the tubes, as these will rot down naturally in the soil.

2. Fill and water the tray as if you were sowing in a pot. Place a single seed in each pocket or module, and cover very lightly. For the larger seeds use bigger modules. Clingfilm, polythene or glass may help. If you are using a windowsill, the large trays that hold meat in supermarkets come in very useful for standing module trays on, once they have been well cleaned.

3. Watering modules needs more attention than pots - somehow one corner always seems to dry out quicker than the rest.

4. When the seedlings are starting to show several threads of white root at the bottom of their module (through the drainage hole in the case of plastic) it is time to move them out. If you're not sure if it's the right time, tap one out - it should have a network of roots holding the soil together.

5. Hardening off is the same procedure as for pot grown plants, but remember modules dry out quicker, can be more easily damaged by frost or wind and can be light enough to blow away. Modules aren`t difficult but they do need to be watched carefully and perhaps should not be attempted as the first thing you ever grow.

6. As the seedlings suffer less disturbance this way you can sow crops like celery and beetroot which normally resent root damage. Plantlets usually grow away faster provided they are not left in the modules for too long.

Sowing outside

Sowing outside is even easier.

1. Choose a day when you feel happy outside without a coat - this will usually be a fair indication that the soil is warm enough. Make sure that the place you want to sow is free of weeds.

2. Rake the soil gently free of stones and lumpy mud; this is what is called a fine tilth.

3. Some plants need more room than others, so look at the instructions on the packet. Draw a shallow line in the earth with a stick or the edge of a hoe for larger seeds like peas and beans. Beans and peas are often set in a double row so they can support each other as they grow. Mark the top and bottom of your line with a stick so you can find it again!

4. Sowing the seed is the same as in a pot, but sprinkle them lightly and rake over just enough to cover them. If the soil is very dry, water where you are sowing really well, then cover the seeds with dry soil. Peas are usually spaced about a thumb joint apart, broad beans about 8cm/3" apart. French beans go a little wider apart.

5. Look for your seedlings - some will come up fast, like cabbages, and others are very slow, especially parsnips. It is a good idea to sow radish and parsnip seed in the same spot because not only will it remind you where the parsnips are but the radishes will be ready to eat by the time the parsnips are starting to emerge.

6. In very hot weather lettuce seed goes to sleep, so if it hasn't come up, don't worry because it probably will germinate as soon as the weather changes. Your seedlings may need thinning out if they are growing very close together.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scarcroft Site Care Day

Scarcroft Site Care Day

Sunday 18th March from 2-4pm

Dear Scarcroft allotmenteers

Here are some details about the resheduled Scarcroft site Care Afternoon.

The site Care Afternoon will now be held on the Scarcroft site, in order to do some cleaning and tidying for the coming season.

When: Sunday 18th March from 2-4pm.

Where: We will meet at the Shop/Hut at 2pm, if you come later have a look around the site for the work parties!

What we plan to do;
A litter pick all over the site but particularly along the public paths.
Put a narrow layer of woodchip in the centre of the public path at the back of Scarcroft Hill and Wentworth Rd where it has got really muddy in the last few weeks. Also on any other paths which are getting muddy.
Cut back any branches which are going across the paths but nothing drastic as birds will be planning their nest sites.

Do bring work gloves, secateurs, wheelbarrows and shovels if you have them.

We will have some spare gloves, litter pickers and black bags and there are a couple of wheelbarrows in the Hut.

Please dont take any of the woodchips for your own plot until after the 18th March so we can be sure we have enough.

Do email Sara on with any other jobs you have noticed which would make the allotments more attractive or secure.

Hot drinks, biscuits and chat available at 3.45 pm in the Hut!

Looking forward to seeing you on the 18th.
All good wishes

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Conference - Future Growing, Composts for Gardeners

Here are some details of a conference in February that may be of interest to allotment gardeners and others

Future Growing Composts for Gardeners
Keynote Speaker: Christine Walkden
Plantswoman, Horticulturist, Writer and Broadcaster

Chairman Mr David Allison - National Vegetable Society

Gardeners are having mixed success with seedling and growing composts.

Gardening Gurus disagree on which is the best compost to use, being quite vociferous in their criticisms of each other in the press.

The issues have arisen mainly because of reduction in the use of peat and its replacement with other materials such as wood, coir and municipal green composts.

These composts have very different watering and nutrient management requirements but there is very little information given to gardeners.

The selection of a product in a garden centre is confusing and as often the compost areas are dominated by special offer posters rather than advice. There are no accreditation labels for guidance.

Many gardening publications are continuously reporting erratic and confusing test results, quite often for the same product. Product names change more often than some men change their socks!!

We are having a conference at STC, where you can discuss these issues with our scientists, who have been doing trials over many years. They will show you their latest trials and discuss best management practice with you.

We also have some manufacturers to tell you how they are developing new products and details of how you may be able to identify accredited products in the future.

Christine Walkden will be on the trials tour to comment and answer your individual questions.

Date February 16th
9.15am -4.30 pm

Stockbridge Technology Centre

FREE admission, lunch and refreshments.

Book your place with Ann Black 01757268275 or Ann Black (

Further details on