Apologies for the absence of posts over the last few weeks and herewith a quick catch-up:
- The Celebration this year went off well – everyone who came seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a pleasure giving out the various awards. People enjoyed listening to Plotholders’ Question time, especially accompanied by sitting down to tea and cake. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to making the event a success.
- We have had two enquiries for advice and support from newly formed allotment associations in the Greater Glasgow area which is encouraging. We were able to put both groups in touch with Alister Smith at Croftburn who has recently been involved in the business of setting up a new committee and agreeing a constitution.
- The September Workshop resulted in developing a strategy for drawing together committee members from allotments across Glasgow to discuss current and future issues in regard to the role and management of the City’s sites. We expect to issue invitations in all three areas of the city in January and to have a report for you all ready in March.
- Two representatives from GAF will be attending a short life working group producing a Training Handbook for people new to food growing.
Don’t forget that it is our AGM on Thursday Nov 7th . See all the details here in the attached flyer AGM 2019 Flyer
Veg of the Month – Winter Squash and Pumpkin
At the third attempt of sowing courgettes we thought we might try growing squash and pumpkin as a possible substitute. We planted them out in the hotbed. The pumpkin is the more compact plant of the two and tends not to wander and putting straw underneath each gourd provides some protection. The winter squash has multiple stems and wanders everywhere. You can decide whether you want it to along the ground, or fences producing fruit on several stems or to train them up a trellis and prune secondary growth. Once squash begin to appear on plants growing along a fence or a trellis, provide support by tying each one to the structure with some strong twine.
By late summer the squash was in vigorous growth trailing along the fence, with a few flowers but the fruit were only the size of tennis balls. Not that promising. The pumpkin had one bright orange fruit, also the size of a tennis ball. The plants seemed to doolittle and dally over the summer. However perseverance seems to be the name of the game. Squashes can take between to 3 to 5 months to grow fully. The first frost killed off the foliage revealing one bright orange pumpkin the size of a football and five squash of equal size. They all passed the ‘tap’ test –to see if there is a hollow sound which indicates that the pumpkin or squash has ripened.
Winter squash and pumpkins have a much thicker skin than marrows, so these varieties are good for storage. Indeed they can be stored for several months, sometimes years! Like the marrow, pumpkin and squash are versatile vegetables and can be used in a variety of dishes both savoury and sweet. Pumpkin pie as a dessert is a staple dish in the USA. Pumpkin combines well with apple. It also makes a great ingredient in pasta dishes. When you cut open a pumpkin or squash remove the seeds from the stringy pulp, then washed, dried and tossed in olive oil and salt the two halves can be roasted.
Sow seeds in pots in mid to late spring indoors and let them germinate. The plants may well outgrow their pots, if so transfer them into larger pots. Harden off the plants once the threat of frost is over. Plant them out using cloches or large plastic bottles (a way of recycling) to protect the plants. Although each plant has female and male flowers there needs to be cross-pollination from another plant to set fruit so once the plants are established remove the covers to encourage pollinating insects.
Marrows, squash and pumpkins all benefit from a well composted ground, regular watering and some kind of liquid fertiliser feed. We used a liquid comfrey manure made from comfrey leaves harvested from the plot and left to rot down in a barrel of water. Some well-rotted compost can act as a mulch which helps to retain moisture as well as acting as a valuable source of nutrients.