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Downsizer Moderator

Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 41954
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 04 1:25 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

You can, but they just ignore it. (Blushing face requested by Benjamin)


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44229
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 04 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mrs Fiddlesticks

Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 04 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

jema wrote:
How much work do you find it to be? I am worried about having the time


Very much a variable answer to that one, Jema. Size of plot, condition, what you want to grow. There are the retired on the site that are there all day every day ( but I think thats just to escape the wife! )or the weekenders, who are there on a Saturday only. I try and get up there in the week, as well as one morning at the weekend, but the weather and mum duties sometimes conspire against me and I don't always manage it. In the spring I was probably doing 10-15 hours a week up there, planting etc, but some of that was setting up stuff like path building or shed painting. Bearing in mind we've only had it a year and it had nothing on it at all, so that was sort of capital outlay in terms of labour if you see what I mean, and doesn't need to be repeated.

It is a seasonal thing like MRutty says. It also depends on what you can use to get the job done. We've a rotavator now which cuts down the digging and produces a cared for plot in a couple of hours. One guy up there has inherited a whole wonderful range of petrol driven stuff like ploughs and even a hoe, so he can have an immaculate plot in no time. Very impressive.

I would say though that being up there is addictive!


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 100

PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 04 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Allotments should be a must have even if you have a large garden....

Mine costs 24 quid a year inluding the water rate. for about 70 quid of seed you can suply a familly of four all year round if you know what you are doing. Time wise the best way forward is to try an allocate 1 hour a day to it if not 2 or three at the weekend?

Fruit bushes - take cuttings and wait a couple of years


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 134
Location: Lancashire
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 04 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mine costs 23 per year., though it is one of the small plots on the site, priced accordingly.

I think someone mentioned that a full sized "standard" allotment was intended to provide enough vegetables for a family of four. That would seem to fit in with Mbeirnes suggestion of 70 worth of seeds.

I've not quite hit that level of produce this year, but with more work next year (and a running start) I hope to get closer to providing most of the veggies I need.


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44229
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 04 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

How big is a full sized allotment (in parts of an acre if possible)

Downsizer Moderator

Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 41954
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 04 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Standard size, inasmuch as there is one, is 15x30 yards.

Mrs Fiddlesticks

Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 04 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

ours is measured in poles! (I did look up what a pole was once, but can't find the book now)We think we have about 30 poles ( there are two mini allotments either end of our strip) and its 2.50 per 10 poles! So that's about 7.50 ( and there's 10% discount for OAPS!) We didn't have to pay for the 1st year as its overgrown. You must remember this is parish council owned. There have been allotments on the same sight since before the war. There is only water as an ammenity, no site hut or anything else that needs expensive maintenance.

Downsizer Moderator

Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

English Measurements
Recent discussions on alt.folklore.computers have reminded me just how funny and confusing the traditional English measures can be. Some of them still live on in the USA, while the English themselves are now safely ashore in the metric system.
Ounces, Pounds and Pints
Inches, Rods, Chains and Furlongs
Temperatures in Fahrenheit
Guineas, Pounds, Shillings, Pence and Farthings
www.sciencemadesimple.com/conversions.html - a serious tool
Ounces, Pounds and Pints
In current American usage, 8 ounces make a cup, 2 cups make a pint, two pints make a quart, 4 quarts make a gallon. A pint of water weighs a pound.
But in the British empire, it took 20 (fluid) ounces to make an imperial pint, making the Imperial gallon 25% bigger than the American gallon.

Thus, we have the common American claim that "a pint is a pound the world around" pitted against the English statement that "a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter".

But in England, it got a lot worse, because there were two different ounces! Precious metals and apothecary goods were sold in troy (or apothecary) ounces of 480 grains each, while everything else was traded in avoirdupois ounces of 437.5 grains each. Thus, the comforting fact that an ounce of gold (31.1 grams) weighs more than an ounce of feathers (28.35 grams). On the other hand, the troy pound has only 12 ounces, while the avoirdupois pound has 16 ounces, so a pound of gold (373 grams) weighs LESS than a pound of feathers (454 grams).

Larger measures: A hogshead (238 liters) is 7 firkins (US) or just under 6 firkins (British) and I have heard it said that this is also half a pipe, but I have not found a written reference to the measure of a pipe.

A barrel (British) appears to be anywhere from 31 gallons to 42 gallons, although the most common definition seems to be 36 gallons (164 liters).

An American barrel of dry measure is 105 dry quarts (116 liters), but a liquid barrel is 31.5 gallons (liquid) or 119 liters, unless the barrel contains petroleum, in which case it contains 42 (US) gallons or 159 liters.

The three different ounces:

a fluid ounce is 29.573 ml
a troy ounce is 31.1 g
an ounce avoirdupois is 28.35 g
There's also something called "dry measure" with units of pint, quart, peck and bushel for measuring quantities of fruits, grains, and whatnot. 1 pint dry is 0.551 l, while 1 pint liquid is 0.473 l.
Inches, Rods, Chains and Furlongs
An inch is the outer part of a man's thumb, 25.4 millimeter to be exact. 12 inches to a foot, two feet to a cubit or three feet to a yard.
A rod/pole is 5.5 yards (16.5 feet): The size of a big stick carried around by builders (hence the name).
Four rods make a chain (22 yards) - the distance between two (cricket) wickets. Ten chains make a furlong. A furlong square is ten acres. Eight furlongs make a mile.

A perch was originaly a big stick, but later became a volume. A perch was a pile of stone one rod long by one foot wide by one cubit high).

Temperatures in Fahrenheit
People raised with Celsius temperatures find the Fahrenheit temperature scale equally bizarre, and wonder how it came to be that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrentheit and boils at 212 degrees F; two oddball numbers. A correspondent to alt.folklore computer describes it as follows:
Fahrenheit's claim to fame was that he had a (proprietary) technique for making glass tubes with a constant inner bore. Thermometers that he made with that technique were exceptionally accurate. They still had to be calibrated, of course (it's deucedly hard to get exactly the right amount of liquid in the bulb), but once two marks were placed on the completed thermometer it was straightforward to interpolate other marks linearly in between, confident that because of the constant bore such marks would match the corresponding linearly interpolated temperatures.

Notice that both the position and spacing of the marks would vary from one thermometer to the next. It was tricky enough making each tube have a constant bore along its length. Making all the tubes coming out of the same factory have the same constant bore was too much to hope for. In any event the distance between marks still depends on the ratio of the volume of the bulb to the area of the bore, and he wasn't able to make that ratio so uniform.

It helps if the two reference temperatures differ by a power of two, because then interpolating the other marks is as simple as repeatedly halving the interval. He chose as his reference temperatures the temperature of melting ice and the temperature of his dog's rectum. (Poor mutt.) He assigned those temperatures the numbers 32 and 96, which differ by 64 degrees.

He started at 32 rather than 0 to better handle subfreezing temperatures. 32, also a power of two, simplified the task of adding the subfreezing temperature marks, and was enough to shift the range so that, as a fortuitous consequence, 0 would be "about as cold as it gets" and 100 would be "about as hot as it gets". "About", in both cases. 0 and 100 were not the reference temperatures; 32 and 96 were. He was thinking binary, not decimal.

-Ron Hunsinger - hnsngr@sirius.com

Guineas, Pounds, Shillings, Pence and Farthings
Prior to the currency reform around 1970, there were 12 pennies to the shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound, making 240 pennies to the pound. The halfpenny was also legal tender, and prior to about 1957 there was also a coin called a farthing, which was equal to a quarter of a penny.
The pound was abbreviated "L" for "Libra" (latin for a pound of silver). The shilling was abbreviated "s" for "solidus", and the penny was abbreviated "d" for "denarius".

After the reform, there were 100 (new) pence to a pound, but visitors were quite confused, because the old coins remained legal tender. For example, the old sixpence coin was now 2 1/2 (new) pence; to avoid confusion, the new pence were abbreviated "p" (for "pence"). As old coins wore out, new coins were minted in the same shape but imprinted with the decimal value.

How could a system as complicated as the 1/20/12 ratios have developed ? One source claims that the three units originally were unrelated.

There was a unit of currency called the shilling. It was used by big business and worth quite a bit (about a month's wages). Its value went up and down as the medium of exchage -- a month's work -- became rare or plentiful -- high employment or low employment.
There was another unit of currency called the penny. It was the general medium of exchange for a bulk item (baker's dozen of loaves, a month's rent, travel from Oxford to London). It was divided into quarters so you could buy a single loaf or a jug of milk.

Another unit was used by huge business: the banks, shipbuilders, those who dealt in metals or in entire shiploads of goods. It was equivalent to the cost of a pound of silver.

There were also groats and sovereigns. I'm not sure about them.

These all existed independently. If you were the kind of person who dealt in pounds, there was never any need for you to encounter a penny. If you paid rent of a shilling a month for your house, you could never thing of seeing a whole pound. The different units of currency had constantly-shifting exchange rates depending on demand-and-suppply. If three trading ships came in at the same month all laden with goods, the value of the pound would go up with respect to the shilling and penny.

Eventually there was so much interplay between the different currencies that it became necessary to fix the exchange rates to stop a rich man keeping all his wealth in pennies because he thought that the pound was going to go down. At about that time, a pound was worth about twenty shillings and a shilling was worth about twelve pennies, so that's how they fixed it.

The disparate systems did not bother ordinary people. No need to know what a shilling was until you were old enough to pay rent. No need to know what a pound was unless you were a clerk, in which case you were trained. More recently (i.e. when I went to school) it was a standard part of early schooling.

I really don't believe any of this, but it is an interesting theory.

Back to the facts. Certain items were traditionally billed in Guineas. A guinea is one pound and a shilling. I have heard it claimed that this originated in real estate transactions, where the pound went to the seller, while the shilling was the lawyer's commission for doing the paperwork.

Summary of English Money
two farthings made a halfpenny (ha'penny)
two halfpennies made a penny
three pennies made a thrupenny bit
a thrupenny bit and a penny made a groat
two thrupenny bits made a tanner
two tanners made a bob
two bob made a florin (a.k.a. a two bob bit)
two bob and a tanner made half a crown (a.k.a. half a dollar)
two half dollars made a crown
two crown made a ten bob note
two ten bob notes made a quid
twentyone bob made a guinea
- and those guys thought that "decimal money would be too complicated for ordinary people" to switch to ...
The Metric Reform
Around 1963, the Bristish government pushed through a general conversion to the metric system. personally remember a set of posters published by the Construction Industry Training Board, which I ordered through the mail after hearing them advertized on Radio Luxembourg. English born colleagues remember ditties they learned in school, such as "a litre of water's a pint and three quarters" or "two and a quarter pounds of jam weighs about a kilogram".

Mrs Fiddlesticks

Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 04 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Very interesting! I got the impression that the strips of land across our site were all 50 poles long with some half ones ( they must be 25 poles then) but if I times 30 poles by 16.5ft that comes out at an awful lot more than I think we have. Unless of course its a square measure. Our plot in standard measurement terms appears to be about 26ft across at its widest ( it tapers to about 20ft at the end) and is about 170ft long ( I think I have it in my head that its 120ft but OH thinks its the longer measurement of the two so we'll go with that) There are two ladies with about 10 poles at each end of our plot so thats where we get the 30 poles from.

I think I read somewhere that there is a sort of standard measurement for a full allotment strip.


Joined: 14 Nov 2004
Posts: 14
Location: The Fens but moving.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 04 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have had a funny year this year. Bumper crops of potatoes, cabbages, onions and garlic. Complete failure with blighty tomatoes. Runner beans and dwarf beans. Mine cost me 8 per annum but we have no water on tap. My ground is a sandy loam which is a joy to work but leaches out nutrients freely. I have experimented this year with pellited chicken sh**!!!/ manure. Great stuff I think. It has put life back in the poor soil.


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Woodford Green, Essex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 05 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I should look into getting one. I reckon I would have time for it if I got down there (where ever it is). might have a problem with taking the tools back and forth, but i'd be happy to cycle. I suppose this would be a good time of year to put my name down.


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 1578

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 05 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Put your name down, you can always turn down the offer when it comes up. I'm about to put my name down for a second plot

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