Tuesday, September 30

Back again to the manure saga

You may have noticed a lull in the postings this month. For a couple of weeks we have been on holiday in the Var region of France. More on that later.
Just before I went away the editor of the website >LIVING rang me to talk about the aminopyralid problem and true to his word he has placed an article on his website to help publicise the problem. To read his article click here

I also had a letter awaiting me from one of the MPs that I wrote to, Mary Creagh. Enclosed was a response from Phil Woolas.
In the letter Mr Woolas confirms that the 'The possibility that crops could be affected by contaminated manure was anticipated .......... As a result, the restriction that manure should not be applied to those sensitive crops was added to the label" He goes on to say. "Following label instructions is a legal requirement and failure to comply with the conditions of use is a prosecutable offence. I do not think it could reasonably have been foreseen that so many farmers would appear to have been unaware of the restriction, or to have disregarded it."

He also states that, "Farmers and distributors do not, in any case, hold large stocks because of the cost, and these products are thus only in the system to the extent that they have already been used in 2008. This may still have a potential impact on manure sold into 2009."

On testing he says, "Establishing whether manure or compost might be contaminated is indeed difficult. Sensitive chemical tests do exist for aminopyralid which are capable of detecting as little as 10 to 20 millionths of a gram of the substance in a kilogram of plant material, soil or manure. However, these tests are highly complex and expensive and some plant species, particularly legumes are sensitive to even lower levels. .... This means that chemical analysis is unlikely to be an affective way of monitoring residues."

On re-instating the product he says, "The investigation that is currently being undertaken by PSD will be looking at how the difficulties that have arisen for gardeners and allotment holders may be dealt with and prevented in the future before re-instating the product authorisation. Should DOW AgroSciences apply for use of aminopyralid on cereals, they will have to address all the appropriate data requirements, as well as any relating specifically to this issue."

On thing that struck me about his response was - if no-one is responsible for investigating misuse of the chemical then the fact that misuse is a prosecutable offence isn't really much help. No-one seems interested in finding out where misuse has occurred. Also some farmers, or indeed stable owners, use contractors to spray their fields so to just blame farmers seems a bit simplistic.

Also if it is accepted that manure bought in 2009, (I would say probably even into subsequent years), could be contaminated what is being done by government departments to publicise this among gardeners and allotment holders. We have found that trying to get publicity - especially TV coverage which would reach many more people - is a bit like getting blood from a stone.

To read a fuller account to Mr Woolas MP's response click here

Monday, September 15

September diary updated

The September diary has been updated click here to read more.

Sunday, September 14

Trading Secrets

We had a request from Ana Ospina - an artist who specialises in socially engaged practice and is currently working for Beam in Wakefield as part of the creative programme for the new Trinity Walk development,. She is working on a participative project to involve the local community and her work will form part of a workshop event on the 27th of September and a launch event in November. It will also feed into some permanent features. She has chosen to base her work on a modern reinterpretation of the Wakefield Mystery Cycle. The first stage of the project was to identify important groups or 'guilds' in Wakefield and find out some of their trade secrets. She came across our website during her internet based research and requested a visit. As a result she visited the Green Lane site on Saturday afternoon and spoke to several plotters, took photographs and filmed.
For anyone interested the first part of the project on 27 September from 10:00 - 15:00 will be held at the Elizabethan Gallery which is opposite the new market hall in Wakefield.

Friday, September 12

Aminopyralid Update from the Pesticide Safety Directorate.

The PSD have issued an update "Aminopyralid - Results of Analysis of Contaminated Manure, Soil, and Damaged Crops"
This can be accessed by clicking here.

This update ends with the following statement:
Next Steps
PSD will continue to investigate this matter and hold further discussions with the main data holder, Dow. This action will help to decide whether, and if so, under what conditions the suspension of aminopyralid products can be lifted.

Did any of our visitors take part in the analysis?

Wednesday, September 10

New Utilities

If you visit this blog regularly - why not become a follower by using the new utility on the sidebar. You can do this anonymously but it would be really good if you would tell us something about yourself. Also there is a new subscription utility.

September Diary

Although to be really honest we haven't been very active in September just yet due to the really wet weather I have started the September diary. Click here to read- I haven't managed any photographs yet. Each time we try to visit the plot we end up being either drenched to the skin or working in mud. Visits have been confined to gathering produce. I hope that the weather has been better where you are!

Saturday, September 6

Glut of Fruit?

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of apples or other fruits and you just don't know what to do with them - then you may want to try pressing!

Harrod Horticultural - one of our affiliated partners - offer a whole range of products that are associated with this.

Click here to browse their range

Monday, September 1

Black Crimea Tomato

Visitors to our blog will know that we like to grow vegetables in all sorts of colours. This year we have grown several varieties of tomato including Black Crimea which is shown below alongside a redder cousin so you can get some idea of the colour difference. At first it was quite difficult for us to decide when the fruit was actually ripe. Black Crimea is a heirloom variety. It is a beefsteak tomato with a fleshy interior that tastes good. Beefsteak tomatoes grow larger than other varieties and are great for slicing. Black Tomatoes are thought to have been taken home to Russia from Southern Ukraine by soldiers returning from the Crimean War.
If you fancy having a go at growing them next year they can be bought from this web site (that is if the link is still viable - otherwise Google Kokopelli.
We are going to try saving some seed and seeing if we can grow more tomatoes that way!