Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 9, 2008

Urban agriculture and foxes (with pictures!)

While on the tour bus on Wednesday, I peered thru some trees and saw what looked like a row of sheds. Having read that allotment gardens often have gardeners’ tool sheds, I guessed that I’d found an allotment garden in Edinburgh. Next morning, just before my 24 hour tour bus pass expired, I hopped a tour bus for a ride back to the area. I almost missed the garden because it looked like a private (gated) park instead of urban farming. Despite the “Keep padlock locked” notice, the padlock was open so I took advantage of my good luck and let myself in. Below is the picturesque entrance to the Ferry Road Allotments.

Entrance to Ferry Road AllotmentsI found out that one of the gardeners is a horticulturist who works nearby at the Royal Botanic Garden and he maintains the entry with flowers. Nice, huh? I walked on into the garden and saw lots of allotments. In the picture below, those of you familiar with Edinburgh will recognize Arthur’s Seat in the background.

I saw a guy working in his greenhouse and went up and introduced myself. He was John Gilroy, now retired, who has been gardening this allotment for eight years. John GilroyWe chatted for a while about his gardening. He has a nice little greenhouse where he starts his onions before transplanting them outside. He showed me his tomatoes, which he grows only in the greenhouse, using grow bags and charcoal for warmth the first month. This was particularly interesting to me, as I’m trying to learn more about using greenhouses as a season extension technique. He also grows strawberries, potatoes and has a couple of small fruit trees, apple and pear. After harvest, the potatoes are stored in a small shed, where they keep cool over the winter. John GilroyHe used to garden a larger portion of the plot, but now grows just in the smaller plot, since he produces more food than he needs for himself, his wife and to share with his children. He must really like to garden, as he no longer lives in the area, and takes the bus 3 or 4 miles to get from home to the garden. That’s dedication in my book!

I asked about the fence around his plot and he said it was to keep the foxes out! He said they’ll come in and dig up the garden, maybe for the potatoes, maybe for the worms and other soil critters. I was surprised that there would be foxes in the city, but not nearly as surprised as I was a few minutes later when I spotted one of the foxes in a neighboring plot. Urban foxWith flying fingers I whipped out my camera so I could capture a picture of this cute critter before he ran off.

I continued exploring the allotments and ran into a woman and her father, Edna Monteith and Eddie Little. Eddie Little & Edna MonteithThey are first year gardeners here, sharing the plot with a friend. Demand for allotments is high and people often wait years for a plot. Their friend may have set a record, waiting 11 years to get this plot. They were starting to clear the plot of weeds and turning the soil. They’re collecting used lumber with which to build a pair of compost bins. I was very impressed with the quality of the soil–rich, dark, organic soil, about as perfect as you would want. It was much better than the clay so many of us deal with here in California. Take a look at the potatoes she was digging out and that beautiful soil !Beautiful soil



  1. Very nice. It’s great to have the photos.

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