Tuesday, 18 March 2014

March Newsletter



Hello everyone,

Shop

The shop in the Trading Hut is open every Sunday from now til the end of October, from 10am – 12pm.  Thank you to all the plotholders who volunteered to unload the annual stock delivery this week on Thursday - if anyone else is around, it would still be good to have some more help to make this job go as quickly as possible.  

Popular items in stock include: seeds, composts, and fertilisers. 

Plant Sale

It's not too early to be sowing seeds for planting out as soon as the ground is a bit warmer.  You can be doing this in your Greenhouse, or on a sunny windowsill.  If the weather breaks early, you will be ready to go.   When you are sowing seeds, it would be great, if you sow an extra pot or two of everything, so that we've got lots of lovely plants to sell at the Annual Plant Sale on June 15th.


Path Representatives 

Most of the paths on site now have Path Representatives to ensure that each communal path is safe, cared for, and is improved where necessary.  Paths are the responsibility of everyone who uses them. To ensure that this goes smoothly, there should be at least two Path Representatives for each communal path on site.

To find out more about what is involved with being a Path Representative, please contact Brigid on the Allotment phone: 0754 6279631

There will be an Annual Award for best maintained path.


Volunteering

We had a very successful Work Party in February, in which we secured a lot more of our boundary, in a very short time. 

The next Volunteer Work Party will be on 22nd March from 10am.  We will be working to secure the boundary of Field 3.  Plot holders from this area are particularly requested to turn up for this event, as it is in all your interests that this area is made safe from outside trespass. 

If enough people turn up, it's hoped that we will be able to carry on working on Field 2, as well.  For full details, with pictures, of the dry hedging in Field 2 - and the lunch provided - please see Angela's article at the end of this newsletter.  

Please get in touch to let us know numbers in advance, if possible.  If you turn up on the day, there will be enough to go round.

Les Moore, Volunteer Co-ordinator : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk

Trees

Before we went to Self Management, Barnet Council agreed to carry out some essential tree work, and Gia, our Committee Secretary, is pursuing this with them. 

The Committee are currently drawing up a list of all tree work, to prioritise and formulate a long term plan for tree management.  The Committee has agreed a provisional annual budget for tree work, and is in the process of obtaining quotations from professional tree surgeons.


Bonfires:

Are allowed at any time until the end of April.  Beneficial animals such hedgehogs, grass snakes and slow worms, hibernate in piles of old wood etc, so make sure no one is inside before you light – also check that your neighbours are happy for you to have a bonfire – if not, leave it for another day. 


Wildlife

If you are turning your compost heap, or clearing long grass you may be lucky enough to spot a slow worm (these are lizards without legs) or a grass snake (a green snake).  Not everyone knows that these creatures do an enormous amount of good by eating slugs, and other pests.  The only type of snake which is dangerous to people in the UK, is the adder.  It has distinctive yellow and brown zigzag markings, and is not found in our area.  So, if you see a snake or slow worm, admire it and leave it to go about it's business.  It is illegal to kill, injure or sell any native British snake or lizard (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).

Other recent wildlife sightings of interest include Redwings and Fieldfares overwintering here before returning to Scandenavia for the Summer.

Have you seen any interesting or unusual wildlife on or around the site?  We would love to hear from you, and will add any photos and stories about sightings to the website in future.


Dumping

We hope that the problem with dumping (cat food tins and allotment rubbish) on disused plots on the boundary of Field 2 has finally been resolved, following the Volunteer Work Party. 

We have a good system for rubbish removal on our site, and there is no excuse for dumping anywhere.   The plot holder who dumped a broken glass window near the Tin Shed, at the top of Field 1, doesn't care whether anyone is injured by the glass, or about how our site looks  - please remember that if our site doesn't look good, we don't look good.  There will be another removal in April, in the meantime, either keep rubbish on your plot, or remove it yourself.

Jacquie's tip for March

Mid March is probably the best time to think about sowing seeds and planting out.

Communal fence making: an enjoyable morning’s work

On a gloriously sunny day in mid February 2014 some Association members gathered for a morning of communal work that helped improve our site’s boundary security using an age-old method that must go back many generations.  By coppicing the nearby trees within our site and picking up fallen branches we got all the materials we needed.


Under Les’s quiet guidance we put in dry fencing along some of the gaps in the wire ‘pig’ fencing that separates field two from the Dollis Brook green space.  John and Sean got stuck into increasing the height of a barrier that was put in last year so that by the end of the morning they’d gotten it to head height!

Meanwhile Angela and Marcus started a new gap-filling bit of fencing, they located and cut straight lengths to make posts that Marcus then pounded into the ground in two rows about 18 inches apart.


Brigid, John and Sean joined them, collecting logs and branches to in-fill the space between the two rows. By inter-laying a good mix of large logs, to provide stability and strength, with thinner branches they created a surprisingly solid structure.


We hope to reduce the vandalism and theft we experience by making it more difficult for people to gain access to our plots. By clearing the area it should make it more attractive for someone to clear and cultivate plots along the boundary.


As Angela commented, “if it deters a few people and stops one greenhouse, poly-tunnel or shed being vandalised we will have made a difference for everyone”.
Les showed how to weave a living young sapling in to encourage it to grown into the fence making it even more robust, he explained his vision “my hope is to start with the dry fencing, then reduce the height of the boundary trees to encourage them to bush out at ground level to create a more impenetrable barrier”. 
Brigid also commented “it’s hard to believe, but this area used to be worked plots. By clearing some of the trees to make the fence we should make it more attractive for letting out, especially if we’ve made the boundary more secure.”

           




The two and a half hours whizzed by, so we packed up and headed back to the trading hut.


Everyone happily reviewed the morning’s work, relaxed and enjoyed some lovely food and drink (provided by the Association) while chatting about our morning’s achievements and how satisfying it was to do something together to help improve our allotments.


Angela Davey
25th February 2014

February Newsletter




Hello everyone, and a big welcome to our new plotholders from the 2013 Waiting List, who are making a great start, and are not put off by the rain! 
We still have a few half plots available, and some overgrown plots which need to be restored.  We would be very happy to hear from anyone with experience and/or enthusiasm to bring these plots back into use. 
When things get out of hand, there is a risk we may not ever get them back into use. Don’t let our site get overgrown and out of use.  If you are having difficulties maintaining your plot, get in touch with the Rent Overseer on: 0754 6279631
January Rubbish collection
Many thanks to everyone who took part in rubbish picking our main drive, the entrance to the site, and the bottom of Field 2.  Thanks to this work, the site is looking tidy and well maintained.
A reminder that you must not dump rubbish anywhere on site.  This includes organic matter which should be either composted or burnt.  If you have difficulty lighting a fire, why not ask a neighbour if you can add your burnable rubbish to their bonfire?
Bonfires: Are allowed at any time until the end of April.  Animals, including hedgehogs, hibernate in piles of old wood etc, so make sure no one is inside before you light – also check that your neighbours are happy for you to have a bonfire – if not, leave it for another day. 
Shop
The shop will reopen on 23rd February 2014 from 10am – 12pm.  For an updated list of seeds in stock, + prices, please see below. 
Introduction to Allotmenting and Q&A session
Les Moore will be in the Shop from 12pm on 23rd February to offer some advice to new plot holders, about getting started and getting our know our site conditions.  He will also be happy to try and answer any questions.
Volunteering
On Saturday 22nd February, there will be a working party to do hedging work.  We will meet at 10am.  Please get in touch if you want to take part, to let us know numbers so that we can buy enough refreshments.  There will be a lunch of sandwiches, beer and soft drinks.
Les Moore, Volunteer Co-ordinator : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk. 
The following seeds will be on sale in the Trading Hut every Sunday starting on 23rd February.  As mentioned in previous Newsletters these seeds are supplied by Kings Seeds and are of good quality.  The prices are generally  cheaper than those of equal quality available from elsewhere.


BEETROOT - Bolthardy -  60p

PERPETUAL SPINACH - 60p

BROAD BEANS - Dreadnaught - 70p

BRUSSEL SPROUTS - Cascade - £1.50

CABBAGE - Golden Acre - 60p

CABBAGE - Holland Late Winter White - £1

KALE - Dwarf Green Curled - 60p

CALABRESE - Marathon - £1.20

CARROTS - Chantanay - 70p

CARROTS - Autumn King - 70p

COURGETTE - Defender - £1

FRENCH BEANS - Tendergreen - 90p

LEEKS - Musselburgh - 60p

LETTUCE - Webbs Wonderful - 70p

PEAS - Early Onward - 90p

PEAS -  Onward - 90p

PEPPERS - Mixed - 70p

RADISH - Scarlet Globe - 70p

RUNNER BEANS - Prizetaker - £1

SQUASH - Metro F1 - £1.30

SQUASH - Butternut - 70p

SWEETCORN - Early Extra Sweet F1 - 80p

TOMATOES - Gardener's Delight - 70p

TOMATOES - Moneymaker - 70p "


Jacquie’s tip of the month:

Tips for February and March

Because the ground is so cold and wet it is not wise to try and plant or sow seeds.

If fleece or cloches are available they can be used to cover the ground which will help warm up the soil., then some planting  can be done.  Bear in mind that if plants grow enough to be put outside and the soil is still cold then any plants should then be protected from the weather.

Mid March is probably the best time to think about sowing seeds and planting out.

Potatoes should not be planted until mid April because if they shoot early and there is a frost the crop may be spoilt.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

January Newsletter

Hi everyone.  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Please accept our apologies for not posting a newsletter recently, and also for the delay to the rubbish collection, which was planned for the end of November.   These delays were, sadly, unavoidable.

AGM

There was a great turn-out for the AGM.  Minutes will be posted on the website.  Thank you to everyone who attended, contributed, voted, and especially to all those people who made new commitments to become more involved in the running of our site.

Many thanks and farewell to Angela, who has been a very hardworking, fair and thoughtful Secretary, and steered us through Self Management.  She stood down at the AGM, and will be missed.  

Gnia volunteered to take her place, with assistance from Adele Coetze and Julie Cecen.  You have already heard from Gnia, regarding the finalisation of Self Management.


Rubbish Collection

Winter is a great time to clean up your plot ready for Spring.  The rubbish collection will be on Sunday 26th January 2014.  There will have a working party on the 25th January to prepare for the rubbish collection and general site tidying in preparation for Spring.

In the event of snow the rubbish collection will be postponed.


Christmas trees

During site inspections it has been noted that fir trees and other conifers have been planted on some plots.  This is against allotment rules.  Conifers cause problems by making the soil acidic (ie not good for vegetables).  You will notice that there is usually very little or no growth below these trees.  

Please do not plant out your Christmas tree on your plot, and if you have a conifer of any type on your plot, cut it down if you are able, or get advice from the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Les Moore: 07957 388 033.  

If you have any questions about trees on your plot, please check the FAQs which will be added to the website soon.  You can also be sent a copy if you request it.

Bonfires

Are allowed at any time until the end of April.  Animals, including hedgehogs, hibernate in piles of old wood etc, so make sure no one is inside before you light – also check that your neighbours are happy for you to have a bonfire – if not, leave it for another day.


Volunteering

We are planning to do some work on our boundaries in February.  Several people have expressed an interest in getting involved in this (dead hedging and planting).  Please make contact with Les so that we can try to arrange a date which is best for most people. 

Les Moore, Volunteer Co-ordinator : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk

Planning ahead

Don't forget that Jacquie has ordered a great selection of seeds for the Shop, which will re-open in March.


Beetroot - Bolthardy
Perpetual Spinach
Broad Beans - Dreadnaught
Brussel Sprouts - Cascade
Cabbage - Golden Acre and Holland Winter White
Kale - Dwarf Green Curled
Calabrese - Marathon
Carrots - Chantanay and Autumn King
Courgette - Defender
French Beans - Tendergreen
Leeks - Musselburgh
Lettuce - Webbs Wonderful
Peas - Early Onward and Onward
Peppers - Mixed
Radish - Scarlet Globe
Runner Beans - Prizetaker
Squash - Meteor and Butternut
Sweetcorn - Early Extra Sweet

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Hi Everyone


Please take the time to read these important notices.


Water : the water will be turned off at the end of October.  

Please be careful not to go over the boundary of your plot, as this can result in damage to the water pipes.    

The water meter reading shows that we are continuing to use a lot of water, despite the change in the weather.  This means expensive bills.  We may not be able to find where the damage is, and if we can, plumbing work to the water system has to be paid for out of our rents.  This is a waste of our money.

The pipes run in a straight line, from the drive, direct to the taps.  If the end of your plot is in this area, the pipes are at risk, and you will need to make sure that the boundary is restored. 

If you think there may be a problem, please get in touch with Les and Georg, who will check it with you, and meet with the plumber.


Bonfires:  bonfires are allowed at any time during the winter, from October.  When lighting bonfires please be considerate of your neighbours, check that they don't mind, and check that no animals are living in your pile.  Avoid lighting fires which might get out of control, or smell bad, and do not burn plastics or carpet.   There will be another rubbish collection next month, for non burnable/ non compostable materials.


Rents:  payments are due in October, and can be made every Sunday in October 10-12:00 + Saturday 19th October 12:00- 2pm.  

Thank you to everybody who has already paid, and to those people who have contacted to say that they will not be renewing their tenancies.   

We will be showing available plots from November, so please don't delay paying your rent.  We know it's easy to forget your cheque book or cash, so we will send a lot of reminders.  


AGM : This year's AGM will be on Sunday 17th November at 10:45am.  Everyone welcome.  More information, and an agenda, will be posted in November.  


Whetstone Stray Calendar  Unfortunately, due to printers delays, we were unable to get the calendar ready for sale in time.  The calendar will be produced for 2015.  Sadly, many of the lovely photos which were submitted were not high resolution, and therefore do not enlarge, so could not be used.   Thanks to Seb for all his hard work, and to all those who took part.  There is a proof copy in the Trading Hut.
 

Annual Show in September:  Congratulations to all who took part, whether or not you were a winner.  The Annual Show brings our community together and is a great allotment tradition.  It was great to see all the entries from children, and newer plot holders.  Many thanks to everyone who worked to make it a success.

We are setting up a group to review the Annual Show, and find out if we can make it even better, for example by adding new trophies.  If you want to take part, you can volunteer at the AGM.

Congratulations to this year's winner of Best New Allotment : Jon Stevenson (Field 2, Plot 65B).  Jon started allotmenting in 2012.  His plot is run on organic, permaculture principles, with very interesting and clever ways of saving and reducing the need to water, reducing pest damage, and attracting beneficial pollinators.  Jon has made adaptions to the small standard shed he inherited, and has included a pond in his half plot, where he is growing an abundance of produce.  Jon's plot can be seen from the path, so if you are passing, check it out.   This is a very good plot to pick up ideas if, like Jon, you have a busy life, and want to make the most of your time.  

Congratulations to this year's winners of Best Kept Plot :  Robero and Marina Signorini (Field 1, Plots 36 and 37) are well over 60, and have been growing vegetables all their lives.  They grow a huge range, and quantity, of top quality Italian varieties.  Their plots are a wonderful example of Italian expertise in cultivation.  These plots can also be seen from the path, so do stop to admire them, you may even be lucky enough to be around when they are cultivating.  We are so fortunate to have highly skilled people like the Signorini's around.  If you have the chance to talk to some of the older plot holders, make sure to ask questions, and learn from them.  They make it look easy because they know how to do it, so don't be shy.  

The Reception C children at Dwight School, had a school trip to Judy's allotment and found out about vegetables, including that pumpkins are real, and sunflowers are lots of colours!  What a wonderful world!  Keep enjoying it, and don't pack up too soon, just because it is getting a little colder.  You can plant garlic, onions, broad beans, and peas during November.  This is a good time to buy fleece and netting, and to start thinking about seeds for next year.  Jacquie has made the seed order for the shop (see below).  

Jacquie's tip for October

This is the time to scatter bone meal over the plot.  It is a slow release fertilizer and will slowly work into the ground over autumn and winter.  Bone meal is on sale in the Trading Hut with instructions on how to use it.

The following vegetable seeds will be available for sale in the Trading Hut from the first opening in the New Year - ie March 2014
 
It will be helpful to know that you will support the Association and purchase any seeds you want.  If there other seeds which are not listed please advise and if there are enough requests for such seeds then they will be added to the list.
 
These seeds are of good quality and cheaper than most suppliers.and many hold the RHS Garden Merit  They will be purchased from Kings Seeds - a well known supplier since 1888.
 
Beetroot - Bolthardy
Perpetual Spinach
Broad Beans - Dreadnaught
Brussel Sprouts - Cascade
Cabbage - Golden Acre and Holland Winter White
Kale - Dwarf Green Curled
Calabrese - Marathon
Carrots - Chantanay and Autumn King
Courgette - Defender
French Beans - Tendergreen
Leeks - Musselburgh
Lettuce - Webbs Wonderful
Peas - Early Onward and Onward
Peppers - Mixed
Radish - Scarlet Globe
Runner Beans - Prizetaker
Squash - Meteor and Butternut
Sweetcorn - Early Extra Sweet
Tomatoes - Gardener's Delight and Moneymaker