Sunday, June 29

Bubbleshare problems

Due to the exceptionally high demand to view our Bubbleshare albums of crops affected by contaminated manure you may have difficulty accessing photo albums at the moment - sorry!
Bubbleshare albums are being converted to Picasa as soom as possible. Bubbleshare will cease to exist from Novemeber 11 2009

Goodbye to Shep 1992 -2008

Sadly Shep - Jan's family's dog - died today at the ripe old age of 16.
He will be missed by lots of us especially the children.

What a resilient lot we gardeners are!

June has also been a bit of a disappointment. We have had glimpses of what could be but it hasn't really materialised into anything that we could call summer. This has been a month of adversity. We have had heavy rain, cold nights, threat of frost, gale force winds etc etc. I suppose at least we have been able to cut back on the watering - more often than not we have been heavily watered ourselves when trying to garden in the rain. On top of the weather conspiring against us we have also, (along with other gardeners across the country) experienced the scourge of contaminated manure on about 30% of our plots. Some are more affected than others. Even amidst all of this most of us have managed to get our plots looking productive. On a positive note we have managed to replace another gate.

The June photoshoot took place yesterday whilst we had a gap in the periods of rain - hardly summer sunshine though! Click here for June diary and larger photos.

Friday, June 27

Some Good News!


Today a new pedestrian gate was installed at the top corner entrance. It may need a bit of tweaking but it is phase two completed in our security improvements. Anyone any idea of a funding stream that could help with providing disabled access? To read more about phase two plans click here.

Contaminated Manure - Is it just a UK problem?

I know that visitors from other countries are visiting our website - so it would be good to know if any other parts of the world are being affected through using manure that is contaminated by herbicide residues - or any other type of contamination for that matter - or is it just procedures in the UK that are letting us down?

Do you suspect that contamination has come via other sources - such as the use of potting compost? One visitor thinks this has happened to him.

Link to webpage click here

Thursday, June 26

Help from DOW

I have just had a long conversation with a representaive of DOW who I have to say was extremely informative and helpful. One point that is very important to make is that although aminopyralid which is manufactured by DOW will cause the symptoms that we have experienced, there are other companies manufacturing other products that will have the same effect. This means that if a faremer tells us that they don't use aminopyralid it does not mean that there is no chemical contamination. Wood shavings used for bedding horses may also have chemical residues that could cause the same effect. These may be industrial rather than agricultural. So if your supply is from a stable where horses graze chemical free pastureland this may not mean the manure is safe!

I asked some of the questions that have come up on our site and also in emails to me.

Answers to these questions are given on our web page. The page has lots of information so you will need to scroll down quite a way before reaching the infomation. Click here

The Dow person that I spoke to has said that he will check our website for accuracy and will get back to me if there are any mistakes, problems, additional information that we can add.

I just wish government agencies were as helpful. It appears that we allotment gardeners inhabit a grey area and no-one seems to know who should look into our problems.

Wednesday, June 25

More manure!

Just had an email from a plotter who has been told the problem on the sites obtaining manure from the same supplier, was as a result of using manure that was too fresh but he is not convinced.The manure came from an organic farm and they insist that it can't be herbicide related. He has commented that the manure didn't break down as manure normally does. This rang bells with me as the texture of our manure was not what we have normally experienced. Parts were claggy and in fact could be described as slimy. Anyone else notice anything like this? Where it was applied the soil texture was spoiled. Just wondering if there is any significance in this. Please keep information coming.

Tuesday, June 24

Listen out for us on Radio Leeds tomorrow

Radio Leeds visited to interview us about the manure problem this afternoon. The interviews will be broadcast during the breakfast show tomorrow!

Back to the manure problem.

Today I asked one of the manufacturers - now it would appear that there are a few - and PSD if they could tell us what the symptons were of hormonal herbicide damage in plants other than potatoes, tomatoes etc so we could decide whether plants were just growing poorly or have been affected by contaminated manure. I also asked that if in the 'unlikely event' that someone was affected by the herbicide what symptoms would there be. If we had this information then maybe we could at least monitor the situation and make the decision to eat or not to eat! (Now the advice is not to eat affected crops although they say we are unlikely to get any crops from affected plants anyway!)

Both the above sent long replies but neither answered either of the two questions. Instead I was given the following information. Apparently rotovating or digging helps decomposition and will mean that soil recovers quicker. To do this we would need to remove crops affected or not wouldn't we? Apparently once the residue is released by the decaying straw etc. It remains in the soil for something like four weeks before it breaks down to mainly carbon dioxide and water, during which time it affects sensitive plants (remember everything except the grass family). Apparently it is difficult to check soil for contamination and it is suggested that we test the soil periodically by planting sensitve crops!

Apparently the aminopyralid could even have been applied in 2006 and been sitting around in heaps of sileage or manure so tracking the source is difficult. Also apparently the supply of manure to allotments is a grey area and doesn't seem to come within anyone's responsibility.

PSD suggest that "The supply of the manure will probably be covered by contract law and possibly also by consumer protection and trading standards legislation". But how do we find out who is responsible for poisoning our crops?

Our plot holders are devastated to see not only the fruits of all their hard work going to waste but they have also spent a considerable amount of money not only on seeds and plants but in one person's case bought a polytunnel that he has filled with tomatoes and every one are affected. We also have to pay rental for plots which in effect this year have been to some extent unusable. Also this is in conjunction with quickly rising costs of fresh fruit and vegetables and no-one seems to be able to decide who is responsible for this breakdown in the information chain. It seems that efficacy of weed management is being put ahead of public safety or some consumer interests.

Please keep any information that you find out coming. Only today two people emailed me to say their sites or gardens were suspected victims. Sandwell and Birminham councils have banned the use of horse manure on all of their allotments sites! One person even suspected a bag of compost. I'll keep updating the website click here with information. If you email me please let me know whether you give permission for the contents of your email to be published on the web. Photos of crops that have been confirmed to be affected (we have plenty of ones of tomatoes and potatoes thank you) would be also appreciated. To help others to diagnose problems.

So far it boils down to we should have asked a question that we didn't know we had to ask and the supplier should have answered the question not having the necessary information to give a correct answer. Make sense? - confused? - join the club. Please post a comment to let me know what you think.

Monday, June 23

Visit by Deputy Leader of Wakefield Council

A rose between two thorns? Councillor Denise Jeffery -Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Culture and Sport paid us a call and is seen here with two of the Assocation committee members Jan and Martyn.


Unfortunately Denise had to be whisked away to open something but had time to admire Pat and Joe's peas! Denise also left with some light bedtime reading all about Green Lane Allotments.

Saturday, June 21

Contaminated Manure

I am aware that anyone who hasn't visited the blog for a while may have problems following the unveiling saga of the conaminated manure. Just to sum up - well it isn't really a summary more of a novel - the events of the past few days have now been charted on our website Click here to read. All the links to the various sources of information are also linked from the website story.
So far very few people that I have contacted have got back t me but thanks to the Yorkshire Post for publishing and article today. Click here to read (Let us know if you read it by posting a comment in the comments area of this post).


Looks so innocent doesn't it but make sure you know the full history of any manure that you buy!

Friday, June 20

Update on the contaminated manure problem

As we push on with our publicity campaign - an article has now been placed on the Kitchen Garden magazine website Also an article will appear shortly in the Yorkshire Post.

I emailed the RHS to enquire what the possible effects were on fruit bushes and perennials and had this advice.

"I imagine, as with other types of weedkiller damage, that the more established fruit bushes and trees will survive. Once the contaminated manure is in the soil, the breakdown of aminopyralid is much faster so affected trees and shrubs are likely to show signs of growing out of the problem by the following season. Raspberries do tend to be more sensitive to hormonal weedkillers than other fruit so they may show the worst symptoms. Perennial plants may too look badly hit but I think it is worth leaving them in the ground until the following year to see if they show signs of recovery".

It may interest you to know that none of the government departments that I have emailed have made any response.

Wednesday, June 18

RHS advice

The RHS have now posted information about the problem of contaminated manure on their website.

Use the following links to read information although much has already been given on this blog.

If you have any contact with anyone who uses manure then please make them aware of the problem.

Tuesday, June 17

Contaminated manure continued.

The Pesticide Safety Directorate have issued a regulatory update relating to the problem that we are having which according to the RHS is as a result of spreading manure with herbicide residues. Click here to view.
Our problem seems to be worsening as more crops appear to be falling victim.
To help you try to determine whether you have been affected I have taken more photographs of what we think are affected crops. If we are unfortunate enough to have more crop victims I will add to the photos. At the moment it appears that the main victims are potatoes, tomatoes and beans, although we have a newly planted rhubarb that doesn't look to great! Please post a comment if you think you have been affected too.

Click here to view larger album
The problem has raised a lot of questions which I would be grateful if anyone reading this can help answer.

  1. The manufacturer states that any manure resulting from sileage treated with the herbicide should not be used in horticulture. How is it that this information seems to rely upon word of mouth to pass down the supply line? Or am I mistaken.
  2. If no-one can confirm that affected crops are safe to eat then why aren't the regulations regarding it's use more stringent?
  3. If no-one can confirm that affected crops are safe to eat then is the milk and meat from livestock that is fed the affected sileage safe?
  4. What effect does the herbicide residue have of beneficial insects such as bees and ladybirds - or for that matter on any insect?

If you are in the know and can answer any of my questions please use the comments area to provide us with answers. At the moment plot holders see their hard work and not insubstantial amount of money coming to nothing - we need some sort of reassurance.

Monday, June 16

Dodgy Muck! RHS information

Whilst browsing the web for information about problem manure, (see earlier posts), I came across a request on the RHS blog, (click here to view), asking anyone who had felt that they had suffered crop damage due to using contaminated manure to email them. I did this and pointed them to the photos on this blog. I very quickly received a reply confirming that the potato distortion was classic hormone type weedkiller damage. They went on to say that in the last two years a new herbicide has been introduced which binds to the lignin in straw and grass, so that when the muck rots it is released and harms crops. The RHS think this new herbicide is implicated in many of the cases that they have encountered– read more here:
The label of the herbicide specifically states that manure from beasts fed or bedded on treated crops should not be used for horticultural crops – so something has badly slipped. The Pesticide Safety Directorate is on the case.

They go on to say that the weedkiller in the soil should dissipate by next year, but in stacks of contaminated manure it may take two or more years to decay. Any left-over manure should be returned to sender if possible for spreading on grass or corn. The RHS Press Office is to issue a press release shortly and also information about the problem will be placed on the RHS website - click here to view. Thanks to the RHS for their speedy response.
The damage so far on our plots appears to be to potatoes (although some runner beans in the offending area on our plot appear to be suffering), and it is patchy i.e. not all land where the manure was spread has affected potatoes as yet. Click here to view photos of affected potatoes. Some of us have noted that the damaged crops are growing on the piece of land where the manure was stacked and wonder if this means that the rain has washed the substance through the stack so that the concentration in this area is heavier than elsewhere.
This has really knocked our confidence in using more manure. The farmer supplying manure won't necessarily know what herbicide has been used of the sileage or bedding that he buys so how would we be able to ensure that we didn't fall victim to dodgy muck again? Please let us know if you have suffered something similar by posting a comment.

Sunday, June 15

June Diary has been updated

Anyone any idea what happened to summer? – Last weekend was lovely but this week has been a disappointment to us and no doubt to the plants too. We have managed to get some work done outside though as this week's diary entry shows. Click here to read.

One highlighted of the week has been to gather our first two punnets of strawberries - they were delicious.

Friday, June 13

Herbicide contaminated manure

Click here to read information related to the earlier posting on the strange growth in potatoes growing on our allotment site.
Has anyone else noticed any strange or poor growth associated with beds that have been manured?

Doddington Hall and Gardens

This week we had a day out at Doddington Hall and Gardens. I have uploaded a sample of the photographs that we took during the visit on our website. To view click here. Doddington Hall's grounds has a variety of garden areas including a two acre walled kitchen garden.

Thursday, June 12

June diary has been started

Well it was actually started on Sunday but I have only just got round to adding a photo. Any idea which fruit this flower belongs to?

Click here to find out.

Wednesday, June 11

Harrod Horticultural End of Season Sale

Click here to browse

Strange potato growth - any ideas?

Any idea what this is? The photos are of potato leaves. Some of our plot holders have noticed that this is happening to potatoes that are growing in ground that was manured at the end of last season. It is mainly affecting top growth. Please help out by posting suggestions in the comments area. Hope that it isn't a virus!

Tuesday, June 10

They did it!


The bays were completed last night. Thanks for your hard work lads! Even down to having the signs - that were arranged by Pat - being erected so that people can be in no doubt as to what should be stored in the bays. They still are not ready for use as we need to line the bases with weed suppressant. Click here

BBQ in the sun

The sun shone on the BBQ on Sunday. Thanks to Alastair for arranging it all and sorry to those of you who couldn't make the date - hope that you can next time!

Click here - if you dare - for larger photographs

Monday, June 9

Storage bays - Almost there!

Work on the storage bays is progressing well - thanks to Jan, Phil (plot 49) and Paul (plot 38).

The only blot on the horizon is that someone doesn't really appreciate what the bays are for and has already dumped something in one of the bays - please don't!

The bays are to be used for wood chippings and horse/cow manure ONLY!

three men at work

Sunday, June 8

Work continues on the communal plot.

Lenny' and Jan have now finished erecting the posts for the storage bays. One side panel has been attached as this needed cutting to size due to the irregular shape of the plot. Jan now has the job of completely the task with any willing helpers that he can muster. The inside of the bays will be lined with weed suppressant membrane.
Once completed we hope to plant one or two shrubs under the pussy willow tree - just to make it look nice!
The side adjacent to the roadway will be edged using scaffolding boards to prevent the chippings from slipping away. Once this is completed we will think about constructing the raised beds. Ideally we would like a type of gazebo (anyone know where we can get a decent sized one very cheaply?) on the plot to provide shelter for meetings or gatherings during times when the weather is too wet or (ever the optimist - well I was until this week anyway) too sunny. By the way Jan - don't forget to pop up Pat's signs!!!


Click here for the story so far

Saturday, June 7

Allotment Associations

I'd really like to make contact with other Allotment Associations that operate on council run sites in the UK so we can compare experiences of things such as:

  1. The focus of Association activity
  2. The level of support that is provided by your local council
  3. Barriers that prevent your Association following your aims
  4. Funding
  5. Attitudes of plot holders towards your group
  6. What it is that makes your Association successful
  7. Any other issues that are worth sharing.

Please use the email link if you wish to make direct contact or maybe you could post something in the comments area of the this post so we can share thoughts generally.

I am interested in the experiences of any UK Association but would be particluarly interested to make contact with those based in Wakefield.

Friday, June 6

Did you know your seeds?

seeds mix

In April I posted a sort of quiz asking if you could identify seeds from a set of photographs and I promised the answers a month later --- Oops! Well better later than never.
Click on the comments box for the answers. If you haven't had a go yet click here to view a larger version of the photos.
The answers and photos are also available as a PDF file on the website

Thursday, June 5

Goji Berries - the best thing since sliced bread or not?

We have all heard tales of the new wonder berry and many of us may be tempted to have a go at growing our own crops. However, anyone considering growng Goji berry plants should click here and read the article on the DEFRA website before going any further. The plants can carry a disease that affects potatoes and tomatoes and by introducing them you could be triggering long term problems for fellow growers. Even purchases from a reputable supplier may be affected.

Wednesday, June 4

Work on the Communal Plot


Yesterday work finally started on the storage bays on our communal plot. We have taken some time to make sure that we were choosing and sourcing materials that were going to give us best value for money and yet would provide a long lasting solution. On Monday Earnshaws delivered the fence posts and the day after construction started. Thanks to Chris Olenczyn for providing his work free of charge and also Paul on plot 38 for looking after Jack Olenczyn whilst his 'dad' was at work. The plot was so waterlogged that Chris didn't need to mix the post mix with any water at all. The holes that he dug were completely filled with water - is the water table so high? Also sorry that you didn't get your tea til late Chris - blame your dad!! Click here for the full story of progress on the communal plot. Once the bays are completed we need to move attention to the raised beds - ideally I would like these to be worked by some of the children. If you can help by constructing beds, providing top soil or have a child who would like to garden a bed then please let Sue know as soon as possible. If you are a company who can donate materials or plants also please get in touch by using the email link on the sidebar

Meeting with Allotments' Officer Update

It was good that so many of the Green Lane plot holders (29) turned out on a horrible night (although the rain did actually stop and it kept dry throughout the meeting) to attend yesterday's meeting. The Allotments Officer confirmed the requirement that all gates were kept locked at all times but we didn't have time to consider the proposals for a new "code of conduct". A follow-up meeting will be set up to concentrate on that item. Can I make it absolutely clear that this document is open for negotiation and will not be put in place without a majority agreement. Please keep a look out for the date of the meeting and do make every effort to attend so that you can give your views. At least take time to read the proposals which were posted out to each plot holder by the council and make sure that you let me know your views.

Sunday, June 1

May diary completed

May's diary is now completed - click here - to read but be warned it is rather long.

collage 4

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails?

frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails

Here at Green Lane we have our fair share of all of the above, although some are more welcome than others. Click here to read about which are welcome among the cabbages and which less so!