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)

Grow Elgin – Bulletin

Bulletin 2 – early May 2020      

Welcome back to our second REAP Grow Elgin Bulletin. You’ll find more facts, tips and links to videos, webpages and Facebook posts, from REAP and others. We hope you get some ideas and inspiration to grow your own in these interesting times… And do let us know how you get on – photos always welcome for us to share on our website and Facebook to help inspire others.

Enjoy, stay safe and eat well!

  • Last week we had a video showing how to prepare your bed for sowing – well here’s the follow-up showing you all about how to sow outside.
  • Made your windowsill planter from last time? It’s not too late to sow the veggies that need starting inside, before being planted out in a few weeks’ time – check out our video.
  • Seeds but no compost? Sprout seeds in your kitchen and within days be scoffing super nutrient dense sprouts. All you need is an up-cycled plastic tray and a wee bit of kitchen roll, or a jar. Here’s our wee factsheet plus a more in-depth web article – there’ll be a video coming soon.
  • Keep checking out our Facebook posts – there are all sorts on there.
  • A tip for growing parsnips – germinate and grow seeds inside first: sprinkle some seeds into a reused plastic tray lined with kitchen paper and water; place on a windowsill and check the paper is damp every day; after 3 to 5 days seeds will germinate; then transfer germinated seed into wee pots carefully using a pencil point, having made a dent in the soil first. Wait till roots are coming out the bottom of the pot before transferring the whole pot into your prepared bed.
  • As this web article details, gardening is great for wellbeing, including boosting your immune system. And you don’t need to do a lot, it all helps. Yet another reason to grow your own…
  • Getting bored at home and fancy a wee DIY project repurposing an old wooden gate or pallet? Short on garden space but want to grow more? In this video a (Geordie) Forres grower shows you how to build a ‘vertical salad wall’ for pennies.
  • REAP Growing packs – we promised you some more information on these last time. So, new growers in Elgin, you can find out more here about free seeds and growing pack, plus help from us and a wee bit you can do to help us in exchange.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW

  • Plant tatties if you haven’t already
  • Harvest rhubarb – yum! Pull rather than cut the stems.
  • Sow peas into the warming soil, in a trench – a nice big seed for wee kids to sow.
  • Keep sowing salad seeds – just some at a time so they don’t all come ready at once.
  • Sow tender beans, courgettes, squash and more inside, for a gentle start.
  • It sure is sowing time! Sow chard, beetroot, carrots and other root crops direct into the soil (you could sow salad (spring) onions next to your carrots to deter carrot root fly).
  • Water as needed, especially seedlings – it’s best in the morning/evening to avoid full sun.

Getting Growing with Grow Elgin!

We’re looking for residents in Elgin to get involved in our food growing, composting and carbon saving project at REAP.

If you’ve not been involved in food growing before and would like to get going, we’d love to hear from you. We can help with a food growing pack with seeds for a small area. We’ll help with advice, too, and the chance to get involved in all sorts of growing and composting fun both during restrictions and after wards.

In return, we need you to fill in a questionnaire and a wee bit of paperwork. The kits are free if you join in.

Phone us on 01542 888070, email info@reapscotland.org.uk or contact us on Facebook to request a kit.

Edintore Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund – Coronavirus Grants

Grants of up to £500 are available to constituted groups and voluntary groups providing support to their communities during the Coronavirus pandemic. The fund is available to groups providing support within the fund area of benefit (see ‘Who can apply’ below). The deadline for applications is 31st May 2020.

Who can apply?
Applicants must be operating in the Edintore Coronavirus Fund Area of benefit, which covers Keith, Strathisla, Strathbogie, Dufftown & District, Cullen & Deskford, Buckie & District, Findochy and Portknockie. Applicants must be working to make life better for local people during the coronavirus outbreak, and working safely, following government advice.

Informal groups that do not have a constitution can apply, but need to provide details of 2 independent referees.

Eligible costs include e.g. buying essential supplies for households that are struggling financially, volunteer expenses, costs of leafleting or advertising the support you offer, equipment or materials you need to deliver support, befriending services, a contribution to running costs for this work etc. This is not an exhaustive list.

How to apply
Please email info@reapscotland.org.uk for an application form, giving the name of your group, where you are based and a brief outline of what support you are providing. Eligible applicants will be sent an short application form which can be completed and returned by email. The process is designed to be quick and simple and we aim to pay grants to successful applicants by bank transfer within a week. Groups can apply for costs already incurred from March 1st as well as for costs still to be paid.

If you are not sure if you are eligible or your costs are eligible please email info@reapscotland.org.uk or call 01542 888070 for an informal discussion (or leave a message and we will call you back).

Grow Elgin – Bulletin

Bulletin 1 – early April 2020  

Welcome to the first REAP Grow Elgin Bulletin! We’ll be publishing regularly in these interesting times – we aim to give you wee ideas and inspiration to keep or start growing your own food (and composting) at home, even with limited resources, and even if you don’t have a garden!

There’s a mixture of standalone facts and tips, plus links to videos, webpages and Facebook posts, both from REAP and many other canny folk out there. If you find things here useful, let us know how you get on – photos are always welcome and we will share them on our website and Facebook to inspire others.

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

Enjoy and stay safe and well!

  • Nature waits for no (wo)man – we’re now right in the busy spring growing season. It’s a good time to start first outside sowings outside of certain veggie seeds – first thing of course is prepping your veg beds. Check out our super quick video by clicking here.
  • Hungry Gap?! Not for all though – you might still have veggies ready to eat right now in your garden. Our Dorothy does – check out Facebook posts here of her photos, plus ones of spring growth at Cooper Park, to bring joy to your heart (and a hunger pang to your belly perhaps…).
  • Got some seeds and a wee bit of compost? Finding it hard to get outside at the moment or just wanting to start off more tender crops like tomatoes or courgettes inside? Here’s something to do with the kids – make yourself a windowsill planter!
  • Can’t make it far at the moment? Don’t let that stop you! This blog by local naturalist Dan Puplett has great tips for nature connection for wellbeing, from inside your window or in your garden!
  • The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has some lovely accessible resources – check them out.
  • REAP Growing packs: if you live in the Elgin area and would like to get growing, we are offering a Grow Your Own kit to get you started; they’ll be great for getting started at home with children. We need to reach new people through our project, so the kits are mainly for new growers. However, even if you’ve been involved with Grow Elgin before, you can get some free seeds by introducing a friend in Elgin new to growing when they get their pack. There’ll be more information on this in our next bulletin – or call us on 01542 888070 and leave a message.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW

  • Sow seeds direct outside e.g. salad leaves, spinach and carrot. Need tips? Our factsheet might help.
  • Chit seed potatoes (if you haven’t already) so they’re best ready to plant later this month
  • Get into your compost bin/heap and use the free compost in your veg beds – see our factsheets.
  • Listen to relaxing birdsong – and read more about it from the RSPB.

 

 

Growing tatties in a bag

You can grow tatties in a bag anywhere, minimum mess and a lovely harvest. Use a compost bag, sturdy old shopper or any other strong bag you have. Kids love digging for buried treasure when harvest time comes. Now is a good time to get planting. Gardeners’ World has a short step-by-step guide here.

You can ‘chit’ your tatties to get a faster and better crop – this means leaving them somewhere cool and light for a few weeks to start sprouting. Gardeners’ World has more information here. You can grow them without chitting though, so if you’ve run out of time, it’s still worth planting them.

Covid Energy advice

REAP are still here to help

As the situation around COVID-19 keeps developing, we’d like to reassure you that we’re still here to help with energy advice and worries. Our team is working from home and we’re not offering home visits for the time being, but we can still help with free and impartial advice about managing fuel bills, keeping warm and referring people to other help locally where we can.

Contacting us for help

If you or anyone you know is worried about their energy bills or struggling to stay warm at home, please continue to refer them to us as normal. We won’t be able to offer them a home visit, but can respond if you phone us or email. Please be aware this may take a day or two during the week and longer at weekends or on Fridays:

Ring our land line 01542 88 8070. If we can’t answer your call, please leave a message with your phone number clearly stated in the message and we’ll get back to you. We will call you back from staff mobile phones, not from the landline.

Email info@reapscotland.org.uk. Emails will be forwarded to our energy advice staff for attention – we’ll email you back unless you give us a phone number to call if that is preferable to you.

Home Energy Scotland are still running their free advice line too – call 0808 808 2282

See our Coronavirus info page for information on

  • Support for people on pre-payment meters
  • Saving energy when you’re stuck at home
  • General Coronavirus advice
  • Coronavirus scams and fraud

Take care and keep warm, best wishes REAP