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We need your thoughts!

We are starting our free popular growing and composting courses in the Elgin area as part of our Grow Elgin project, funded through the Scottish Climate Challenge.
We will be limiting numbers and working safely within government guidelines, and can offer online versions, too. Can you please help us by filling in our short survey to help us plan at what times we should run the courses?  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WDNCFFM

We’re hoping to offer composting and gardening on a budget courses shortly.

 

Hill of Towie Windfarm Community Benefit Fund open for applications & Coronavirus related applications

Deadline for applications Tuesday October 20th 2020

The Hill of Towie Windfarm Community Benefit Fund is now open for applications. Applicant groups in the fund area of benefit will be able to apply for grant funding to benefit the environment or social/community life in the area as usual.

For this round only, groups will also be able to apply for funding related to the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes funding for groups and organisations that are:

  • Providing support to people in the fund area that have been affected by Coronavirus and/or
  • Based in the area and in need of running costs (rent, utilities, insurance, staff or volunteer costs) because of the effects of Coronavirus and/or
  • Based in the area and in need of Coronavirus related equipment to allow them to safely resume or continue their activities e.g. disinfectant, PPE, Perspex screens

There is a separate, simple application form for those looking for Coronavirus related funding. See the Hill of Towie Community Benefit Grants webpage for details and a link to download the form. A map of the fund area of benefit is also available on the Grants page. If you have any questions, or are not sure if your group or idea is eligible, please contact REAP. You can leave a message on 01542 888070 or email info@reapscotland.org.uk and we will get back to you. The office is still closed to the public but we are working from home and available to provide support.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

It’s that time of year again, some energy providers have already opened up their WHD schemes and others are due to open shortly.  Take a look at the link below to see if you provider is a part of the scheme

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/energy-suppliers

If your supplier hasn’t opened their 2020/21 scheme yet, you may still be able to register for a notification when it does open.

If you haven’t already heard of the WHD scheme, it is a one-off credit to your electricity bill of £140 to help with winter heating costs, and is usually applied direct to your account by 31st March the following year.

If you think you may be eligible, check if your supplier is part of the scheme, and what their eligibility criteria are. As of April 2019, any supplier with 200,000 customers must offer WHD, but some of the smaller suppliers also participate.

Those who are eligible for the Core Group should receive their WHD without having to apply, but if you are eligible as part of the Broader Group the sooner you apply the better, as applications are dealt with on a first-come first-serve basis

Warm Home Discount Scheme

Warm Home Discount Schemes are starting to open now! If you are on a low income/benefits, check if you can apply to your energy provider to receive a credit of £140 on your electricity bill. It’s first come, first served so don’t delay! EON’s scheme has opened now and Utilita opens next week, others usually open in August and September. You can find out more here https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/warm-home-discount
If you receive the guarantee element of Pension Credit you should get this payment automatically – you are in the ‘Core Group’. If you didn’t get it last year, click the link to find out who you should contact.
If you receive other benefits, you are in the ‘Broader Group’ and need to apply each year. Each supplier sets their own rules about who can apply, and these rules might change from year to year. Click the link and you’ll find links to different energy suppliers. Only the bigger energy suppliers need to provide this discount.

Grow Elgin Bulletin

Bulletin 5 – late July 2020 

As we’re slowly starting to be involved in sessions with people again (hurray!) this will be the last bulletin for a wee while – though we plan to keep them going on a quarterly basis. So harvest all the goodness from this one – the usual mix of tips and info on videos, factsheets and web articles from REAP and others. Keep on Growing Your Own and have fun whilst doing it – it’s the way forward!

If you would like to download this bulletin to share with others please click here

Have fun, enjoy the summer and eat well, from all of us at REAP’s Grow Elgin project.   

  • Do check out our new factsheet about making beautiful rich liquid feed from comfrey – magic!
  • Want to know more about some of the beneficial insects in the garden? Of course you do! Make a start with another new factsheet. There’s even a chance to win salad seeds if you correctly answer a wee quiz question!
  • Did you know that we’ve taken over the old aviary in Cooper Park as a food growing space? Find out more
  • Just a reminder that’s there’s loads of downloads of all sorts of factsheets, leaflets and more on our website; and of course keep checking our Facebook posts.
  • We’re all aware of how many millions of discarded single-use plastic items are bobbing around the planet, including of course in the oceans; but you may not know that it is Plastic Free July – OK, it’s late July, but you can make a positive difference by still taking their challenge or find out loads more ideas on their website, what a great resource!
  • Thrive have produced gardening related fun activities and games for the school holidays here, including word searches, quizzes and scavenger hunts to keep the wee ones occupied.
  • BBC Gardener’s World website has some great free resources, such as garden projects for kids and allotment jobs for July.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW!!

Some of you lucky folks will be harvesting currants, raspberries and gooseberries – yum!

  • Keep harvesting peas, broad beans, salads, beetroot and more. And garlic and onions should now be ready, along with – if you timed it well – first courgettes and tomatoes. 
  • Early tatties should be ready; if they’re flowering they are! They’re best eaten fresh. Keep earthing (happing) up your main crop tatties for a bigger yield. 
  • It’s still prime weeding time – hoeing is quick and effective if there’s space between veggies. 
  • Soil drying out? Then mulch around plants (with e.g. garden compost or wet newspaper). 
  • Growing veg in containers? Give them a liquid feed – we love organic seaweed extract! 
  • Cut chives back to the ground and they’ll spring back with tasty new shoots super quickly. 
  • Keep sowing quick growing salads crops like rocket, radish and salad (spring) onions.
  • A good time to sow late season crops: orientals like pak choi and mizuna; salads like winter lettuce, lamb’s lettuce and winter purslane; even certain seed tatties for Christmas spuds!

And last but certainly not least, sit back and enjoy!

Grow Elgin Bulletin

Bulletin 4 – late June 2020

We’re still rocking these beauties out! Tips and info on videos, factsheets and web articles from REAP and others galore! Keep on Growing Your Own and have fun whilst doing it – that’s the key! And do tell us how it’s going – we’re happy to share on our website and Facebook to help inspire others.

Have fun, enjoy the season and eat well!

If you would like to download this bulletin to share with others please click here.

  • Our Salad Collection (ooh!) and Country Garden (aah!) growing packs are still available! New growers of Elgin – come get free seeds and support from us in taking your first steps here.
  • We have two (yes two!) new follow-on videos to May’s Sowing in Pots, Modules and Trays! Get your popcorn ready for Potting On and then Planting Out, where we complete the cycle for tender plants from seed to growing plant.
  • Taking cuttings is an ace way of creating new perennial plants and so cheap too! At this time of year we take softwood cuttings of newer growth, as another new video shows – it’s a hat-trick!
  • Nettles are so useful – they help our compost heap, make a lovely liquid feed, and they’re great for our health too, as we can drink and eat them! Check out the new factsheet.
  • More and more people are getting on their bikes now, which is fantastic for reducing carbon emissions. Our new wee Basic Bike Check factsheet will help keep you safe and pedalling.
  • Just a reminder that’s there’s loads of downloads of all sorts of factsheets, leaflets and more on our website; and of course keep checking our Facebook posts.
  • Cabbage white butterflies are now fluttering here, there and everywhere – they’ll lay their eggs on your cabbages, kale, pak choi, broccoli and even radish! Then when the green caterpillars hatch they’ll munch your leaves, the swines! There’s various things you can do, like netting or spraying eco-friendly solutions – we can also vouch that the fun suggestion here of making your own decoy butterflies to deter them works – a wee activity for the kids perhaps?
  • Remember of course that there’s food for free if you go foraging and know what to look out for – check out these resources by Wild Food UK, The Woodland Trust and Countryfile.
  • It’s well worth checking out the Cultivating Wellbeing in Gardens and Nature resource offered by Thrive. There’s a range of tasks and resources to help you connect to nature in a way that works for you, creating your own health and wellbeing plan – lovely!
WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW
  • Hopefully the harvest is now rolling in, broad beans, peas, salad, strawbs and more – yum!
  • Plant out any courgettes, squash and French beans left in pots (giving them a wee ‘lunch box’ of garden compost, manure pellets, seaweed feed etc.)
  • Keep sowing annual herbs like parsley, coriander and basil for on-going crops.
  • Time to plant out your wee kale, cabbage and broccoli plants in their final positions.
  • Weed little and often to keep on top of the weeds and stop them establishing.
  • There’s still time to sow carrots, chard, lettuces, radish and even French beans into your soil.

Cooper Park Community Beds

There are fruit bushes, veg and herbs available at the beds near the old aviary in Cooper Park. Please help yourself to what you can use. Bear in mind it’s a public space so follow guidance about coronavirus – keep a distance if others are there, wear gloves and/or wash or disinfect your hands after harvesting and wash everything before eating. Here’s our latest update:

Chives are thriving amongst the herbs and blackcurrant bushes in the raised beds. The bees are very busy around them. I counted 10 buzzing around.  You can eat the flowers of these plants, add the petals to brighten up a leafy salad. For the leaves just snip at the bottom of the stem to harvest, wash them and use a scissors to cut them into small pieces. Add to some diced steamed new tatties, cooled with some mayonnaise mixed through for a tattie salad.

 

The gooseberries are coming on well this year along with the strawberries and herbs in the raised bed. Be careful when they are ready to harvest there are thorns on the stems. Won’t be long now till they turn red, that’s when you know these ones are ready, you can then take a few handfuls and make a lovely gooseberry coulis  to drizzle on some natural yoghurt.

We’ll layer some of the stems for propagating so we can share in the autumn. Some of the hardwood cuttings that were taken in March have rooted so they’ll be ready to share too.

 

 

New annual bed:

Two rows of salad tatties, cabbage, kale, turnip and onion all planted in the park.

Protected by willow hoops and jute twine.

You can just see the old aviary in the back ground. That has been filled with tomatoes, French beans, onions, courgette, cucumber, peppers and lots more.

Are you seeing double??

Our Energy Advisers are working hard to make sure we can provide you with the right support and advice, saving you money.

 A recent case has shown that some energy customers with electric central heating could be due a refund.

 If you have electric heating with two electricity meters and have switched provider, check your bill now to make sure you are not paying two daily standing charges. Those with two meters most likely switched from SSE  ‘Total Heating Total Control’ (THTC) tariff.

 One of REAP’s Energy Advisers persuaded our client’s energy provider to seek clarity from the regulator, Ofgem about this. Ofgem found the rules have been misinterpreted. The energy provider should not have been charging two standing charges and should refund all of their affected customers. This is great news! ALL energy companies who were charging two daily standing charges for this meter set up will now have to change their Terms & Conditions and refund all those who have been wrongly charged. 

The background to this is regulation changes in 2016 which encouraged competition in the market for those on ‘dynamic’ or ‘exotic’ meters such as THTC.  Customers had two meters, one to provide lower cost electric central heating via storage heaters, and one for standard supply such as lights and sockets.

Some energy providers started offering an alternative tariff with a single rate for electricity, priced between the low rate and standard rate of THTC. In some cases, two standing charges have been applied. The standing charge is the cost of having access to the supply, usage charges are paid on top.

If you think you have been wrongly charged, please get in contact with your energy supplier. If you live in Moray and need additional support with this, please get in touch with us.

Grow Elgin Bulletin

Bulletin 3 – late May 2020

Here we are again with our third bulletin. You’ll find more links to videos, factsheets and web articles from REAP and others, plus tips. We hope you find some interesting inspiration to Grow Your Own and maybe do it differently. We always love to hear how you’re getting on – We’d love to share your photos and tales on our website and Facebook to help inspire others.

If you would like to download this bulletin to share with others please click here

Enjoy, stay safe and eat well!

  • REAP Growing packs are going fast! Remember that new growers in the Elgin area can get free seeds and support from us in taking their first steps to ‘grow your own’. There’s just a few growing packs left and the growing season waits for no (wo)man – get yours here.
  • You can even make a lovely wee planter for your windowsill from an old tetra-pak milk or juice carton – it’s a nice quick project for the little ones; check out our new factsheet.
  • Kids love worms, and so do all of us at REAP – a gardener’s best friend! You can make a mini-wormery from an old plastic drinks bottle to feed them and observe how they behave – educational and fun! Here’s another new factsheet.
  • Wee tip – no need to buy new plastic labels for sowing or planting: reuse old milk bottles or tetra-pak cartons cut into strips or keep ice cream lolly sticks. Sand paper is good for roughing up the surface to write on – we find pencil is generally best. Or use pebbles with acrylic paint or suitable pens. And here’s loads more lovely creative ideas.
  • Plastic eh? Did you know there are about 500 million plastic pots in circulation?! At REAP we try to reduce our plastic use in the garden, as I’m sure many of you do, to help save the planet. Not sure where to start or wanting more cunning ideas? Check out these resources from the Royal Horticultural Society or Gardening Without Plastic. And we recommend this book through our friends at Trellis, the therapeutic gardening organisation for Scotland – really useful.
  • Talking of therapeutic gardening, we do hope you are finding growing and being in nature beneficial to your wellbeing. Identifying trees in the park or on walks can be great fun and a welcome distraction from anxiety and low mood, plus being nurturing time connecting with nature and good learning for all. The Woodland Trust have some great resources, including Tree ID for kids, a tree ID phone app and some fun nature activities to do at home with the kids.
  • Remember the importance of tasty food to health, wellbeing and enjoyment – check out our recipe for Baby Leeks and Cheese on Toast – mm! There’s loads of downloads of all sorts of factsheets, leaflets and more on our website and of course keep checking our Facebook posts.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW

  • Support peas and broad beans – use dead branches/twigs or canes, plus natural twine
  • Sow climbing runner/french beans direct in the soil, making them a tall robust structure first
  • ‘Pot on’ courgettes/pumpkins into bigger pots but keep them coddled for a while longer
  • Plant out young kale and cabbage plants – they’ll need netting from birds and beasties
  • Keep sowing lettuce, rocket, radish, spinach and chard – little and often!
  • (Seeds closer together for baby leaves, further apart for full sized plants – check the packet)