Wednesday, 8 April 2015

April 2014 Newsletter

Hello everyone,
Happy Easter Weekend 
Easter is traditionally the time to start getting your potatoes in the ground, but, with the weather we have been having, and the forecast for the weekend, this may not be the best time.  Not to worry, if you have to stay indoors you can sow seeds.
When you are sowing seeds, please sow some extra for the Annual Plant Sale on May 10th, and don't forget that we have extremely interesting and good value seeds available in the Shop, which will be open on Saturday as well as Sunday this Easter weekend (see below for more info from John and Sarah).

Holden Road Hedge
Another option for this weekend is hedge planting on Holden Road field.  We have purchased enough native hedging for about half of Holden Road field, and those who are ready to plant should get in touch with Les: 07957 388 033.  If you don't have a plot on Holden Road field, but are interested in this activity, you can get in touch too!  

WORK PARTY
Thank you to Mathew, Slawek, Les and Tasha, Marco, Ros, Janet, John, Jean, Brigid and Les who all took part in cutting back the main path through the site, filling 6 builder's bags with cuttings.
Most of the drivable roadway has been trimmed back, by the Work Parties in February and March, reducing obstruction and scratches.  Our site boundaries are everyone's responsibility, but if you are lucky enough to have a plot on the main drive, please do not rely on others to cut back your boundary hedge or bramble.  If you feel you don't have enough time, or are no longer able to do this, please discuss this with Les: 07957 388033.  

NEW WEBSITE
Thank you to Bradut, Akan and Brian who all answered our call for techie support.  
Brian is making a new website which will replace the Blog, and provide interesting and useful information both for those looking for a plot, and to members. 

WATER
The water will be turned back on soon, and any necessary repairs carried out.  Michael, the plumber, knows our site very well as he has done the work for many years.  Now that we are Self Managing, he is employed directly by us, not by the Council, so the full expense of our water system is carried by all of us.  
The plumbing to the last tap on Field 1 was broken and out of use for many years, and 15 people were having to use one tap.  Marco has dug a trench for new plumbing, with help from Les and Nighat, and a new tap will be plumbed in by Michael.  This will be a great help to the plot holders in this area.  Repairs to our water supply are labour intensive and expensive, so please avoid digging anywhere where the plumbing to taps is likely to be.  Do not dig around or near to water stands, and keep your boundary well clear of the plumbing line (straight line between the taps). 
If you see a dripping tap, or have any other plumbing concerns, please contact a Committee member urgently, so that the problem can be repaired as soon as possible, to avoid wasting our funds.   

SPRING RUBBISH COLLECTION  

Thank you to Ralph, who reported the furniture dumped outside the gate.   Anyone who sees rubbish dumped outside our site should report it to Barnet Council.  Ralph reported it online but you can also report it by calling :  020 8359 4600  Please put this number in your phone.  

If rubbish is dumped inside the site, please let a Committee member know as the Council will not remove it.  We pay for rubbish removal from our rents and it is a significant expense for us.



BONFIRES
We have had another complaint by a local resident, about a dangerous fire on our site.  This is being investigated.
Bonfires are allowed at any time until the end of April, but please try to avoid any further complaints.  Never put any plastics, glass, left over chemicals, fertilisers or weedkillers on your fire and never use petrol or paraffin to start it. 
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.

TREE SURGERY
The tree surgery which was planned for March, had to be postponed due to illness.  It will be rescheduled as soon as possible to reduce risk to nesting birds.

SHOP MESSAGE from Sarah and John
This Easter weekend the Trading Hut Shop will be open on both Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 12 noon.  Therefore, if you are intending to visit your plot this weekend then why not pop into the Shop and see what’s available to help you grow and obtain the best possible quality produce.

We still have stocks of multipurpose and organic compost as well as some popular fertilisers such as ‘Fish blood and Bone’,  ‘Growmore’ and organic ‘Pelleted Chicken Manure’ at very good prices.  However, we have now sold out of the branded bags of ‘Farmhouse Manure’ and ‘Topsoil’ so please let us know if you want us to order in some more.

There are also some interesting varieties of seeds on offer which you could perhaps consider planting and maybe contribute some of them to the forthcoming plant sale later in May.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Jacquie's tips for April
·         Potatoes - although it may be best to wait until mid April.  If they are planted sooner then make sure that the shoots are protected against frost.

·         Plant Onion and shallot sets

·         Sow lettuce, parsnip,turnip, beetroot, peas and beans - outdoors

·         Sow brassicas, celery and celeriac  - indoors


Try not to be in too much of a hurry to plant and sow seeds if the conditions are not right - nature always has her way of catching up!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

March 2015 Newsletter

Hello everyone, and Welcome to new plot holders, Aidan and Sabah.

The first Committee meeting of 2015 was on 1st March.  Minutes from meetings will be uploaded to the blog soon.

Help needed:  We really need a techie volunteer to help to update our website and show us how to upload documents (e.g. Committee Meeting Minutes), and put in security settings, so that we can choose what we share with the general public.  Please could anyone with knowledge and experience of building and running a website or blog, get in touch with Brigid on info@whetstoneallotments  Your help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Bonfires: A local resident attended the Committee Meeting to complain about the impact of large, allotment bonfires blowing smoke into the local area and causing inconvenience.  Please consider our residential neighbours when lighting fires.  On sunny days, many people will have windows and doors open, and laundry drying.  It is inconsiderate to them if you have fires which are excessively smokey.  

In some areas of London bonfires are banned due to residential lobbies.  To reduce the risk of further complaints, please keep your fires small and controlled, never use petrol or any other flammable liquid, and never burn plastics.  Avoid using very green or wet material, it will smoulder and smoke.  If it doesn't burn easily, your material is not ready to burn, let it dry out or perhaps it's better to make compost with 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. 
Volunteer Work Party News

Apologies to those who have been in touch to say that they thought the Volunteer Work Party on Saturday 28th February was cancelled.  We had a very low turn out of 5 people:  Jean; Marie; Marco; Brigid and Les.  None the less, we filled four large builders bags with vegetation from the road through the site (Field 2 area), and had a good lunch.  

There will be another Work Party on Saturday March 21st hopefully we will complete preparation of the path for Spring -  if enough people turn out this will be quick and easy work, with a satisfying result that we all benefit from, wherever our plots are on the site.  Some of you have complained about your cars getting scratched, and everyone is responsible for keeping our paths and boundaries in good order, as a condition of Self Management.

We will meet at 10am, on March 21st Refreshments will be provided to all who take part, at 12 noon  

If you have any questions, please contact : Les Moore : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk. 

Shop News

Please find attached a revised price list for the Shop - this replaces the one recently sent.  

All of the new stock is in apart from the seeds from Thomas Etty, which should be available from Sunday.  Please note that supplies of these specialist seeds are limited … so if you are keen to try them, you should call into the shop soon.


Compost deliveries
Some plot holders have been getting deliveries of manure from a local farmer, P, who charges £30.00 per tractor.  It appears to be quite fresh, so you will probably need to let it stand for a year or so.  Further information about using manure will be added to our website soon.  You can contact P on:  .  If you get a delivery, it is your responsibility to ensure that you sweep and rake the area after the delivery.

Alternatively, there are proprietary bags of manure for sale in the Shop.  There is also organic and non-organic compost, top soil, and bark chip (see attached list for details).


Plot available

A well kept plot on Field 3 will become available later this year, and will be offered to existing plot holders who want to move, before it is shown to people on the waiting list.  If you are interested to see the plot, please contact Les: 07957 388033


Jacquie's TIPS for March

ONIONS and SHALLOTS
 
Sets may be planted now.  Plant each set  allowing the noses to be exposed.  To avoid birds pulling them out, it may be wise to protect them with fleece or netting until they have shoots when they will have rooted and birds will not dislodge them.

BROAD BEANS

Can be sown direct now.

CHILLIES

Sow indoors now.
 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

February 2015 Newsletter


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. 


Volunteer Work Party On Saturday 28th February, there will be a working party on Holden Road to prepare for planting hedges on the boundary with the path.  We will meet at 10am, refreshments will be provided.  We look forward to seeing all Holden Road plot holders on the day. 

If you have any questions, please contact : Les Moore : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk. 


Barnet Allotments Federation (BAF) AGM

BAF is the organisation to which we pay our £2.00 'subs', with our annual rent.  BAF provides information, governance and oversight to all Barnet allotment sites.  The overall aim of BAF is 'a strong and sustainable allotment movement in Barnet, meeting the aspirations of all plot holders'.

BAF holds informative monthly meetings (every third Monday at 20:00).  Everyone is welcome to attend the BAF AGM at Rathbone Pavilion,Ryalls Court Road, Oakleigh Road North,London N20 0RY on Monday February 16th 2015, at 20:00.   Following the AGM, there will be a social evening and plant/seed swap.

BAF also have a very useful website: www.barnetallotments.org.uk

Sheds and other free stuff

There was a lot of interest in Georg's shed, and it has been taken.  It's always good to recycle useful stuff.  Anyone who is still looking for a shed might find one by registering online with your local Freecyle website:  uk.freecycle.org  Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of (for free) with people who can use them.  You can check if any sheds are being offered, and post a WANTED message to say that you want one, or anything else you need.      


Jacquie's TIPS for February

POTATOES

Now is the time to buy seed potatoes.  After purchase put them - eyes uppermost - in seed trays or egg boxes and allow them to chit ready for planting in March/April. It is wise to buy the seed potatoes now as your favorite varieties may sell quickly.

When laid out for chitting put them in a  frost free, cool and light place.


PLANTING BARE ROOTED FRUIT TREES

Provided the soils is right ie soft and friable,  bare rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted now.  This will give them time to settle before the growing season.




January 2015 Newsletter

Happy New Year everyone, let's hope the weather is good and the crops bountiful in 2015.

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 remain closed during January and February.  

The new Shop Managers, John and Sarah are busy planning for the new year, including the rota for shop keeping duties on Sundays from 10am - 12:00 (1st March - 15th November).  If anyone who is not already involved, would like to volunteer, please get in touch.  You will be paired with a Committee member with experience of running the shop, and it is a great way to get to know people, and the products in the shop.  

Volunteer Work Party in December

Many thanks to Janet, Mick, Nighat, Braduit, Marco, Brigid and Les.   This area of the site is now secure, and improvements were made to the hedge row, and the path.

First steps for Holden Road Field 

There will not be a Volunteer Work Party in January.  The next Work Party will be in February.  It is our intention that we will be planting hedgerow on Holden Road fence line in the Work Parties in Spring 2015. 

As discussed at the AGM, the fronts of plots on Holden Road field will be closed in with hedging, with gates at each of the water stands.  

In order to prepare for this, all Holden Road plot holders are asked to remove bramble and weeds from the fence line.  

If you've got any questions about the plans for Holden Road field, or what you need to do to prepare for the work, please get in touch with Les Moore : 07957 388033 / lesmooregardens@yahoo.co.uk. 

Tree work 

We are currently planning the tree works for 2015.  Some areas of necessary work have already been identified, if any plot holders have any concerns about trees on the site, they should get in touch as soon as possible, so that an assessment can be made, and we can prioritise work to be carried out.

Composting toilet

Following a visit to another Barnet allotment site, and investigation of the different options, we have identified the best option.  As the system needs to be in full sun, the toilet has to be sited in a different place than the old one, and will now be situated between the car park and the old shed.   

We are now close to submitting both the grant and planning permission.

Wildlife 

At this time of year, especially if it snows, it is easy to see tracks on the plots, such as Munkjac deer hoof prints, and foxes paw prints.


Tips for January

Try not to work on the soil when it is waterlogged or frozen, because it causes compaction and damages the soil structure.  


January is a good time for any pruning work (fruit trees, fruit bushes, hedges), and its also a good time for staying indoors with next year's seed catalogues, and planning how your plot will look.
December 2014 Newsletter

AGM

If you haven't yet had time to read through the AGM minutes (sent last month), they will soon be on the Blog, together with the Reports, hopefully in time to read over the holiday period!  

The new Committee members will get together informally this month, and start planning for the year ahead.

Composting Toilet funding application

It was agreed at our AGM that a composting toilet, would improve our site, especially for people with disabilities, women, and children.  The AGM voted to purchase one, provided a minimum of 50% of the costs are obtained through fund raising.  The application to Awards 4 All (Lottery funding) has now been completed, pending final quotes, and we will update you on progress.

Autumn Rubbish Collection 

Two loads of rubbish were taken from our site on the wettest day of the year so far, in November.   Most of the rubbish was from newly rented plots, where there was an accumulation of rubbish from past plot holders.  We are very happy that the problem of dumping of cat food tins on Field 2 boundaries has finally been resolved.

The next rubbish collection will be in the Spring.  Please do everything you can to keep our site tidy.  Please don't bring things you think might be 'useful', because they end up being things we have to pay to get removed.   Keep the gate locked to stop others dumping rubbish on our site.

Welcome

A big welcome to our new plot holders:  Chris; Piero; Harold; Jan; Janet; Nighat and Kauser; Tasha; Jana and family; Lester; Tony; Simon; Claas and family; Magda and family; Tamamzer and family; Sabina; Henny and family; Maggie; and Peter.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

We are particularly pleased that we have two new bee-keepers on site, and that four plots that were not in use for many years, have now been let.


Bonfires

Bonfires are allowed at any time in December.  As ever, please be careful when lighting fires to ensure that there are no animals living there.  It is easier to light a small fire and feed material onto it, than to make a big pile which will be hard to get started.  


Work Party
The Work Party on Saturday November had a good turn out, and the dry hedge bordering the bottom of Field 2 and the Brook, is now completed.  Many thanks to: John, Dave, Matthew, Sean, Ros, Brigid, Les, late-arriver Marco (!), and welcome to new plot holder, Tasha, who is taking one of the plots, which this work has made possible.   The entire project, covering more than 100m, was completed in 5 Volunteer Work Parties, and involved about 45 individual plot holders, many of whom took part on more than one occasion.  The only costs involved were the catering.

Our next Volunteer Work Party will be held after Christmas, on Saturday, December.   This will be to seal a gap in the boundary at the bottom of Field 1.  This is not a big job, but it will be a great way to get back outside after Christmas, and as usual will be followed by lunch.
We will meet at 10:00am on Saturday December, outside the Trading Hut.  It helps to know how many people are coming for catering.  Please email, or call Les on 07957 388 033


Christmas Trees

If you are thinking of bringing a rooted Christmas tree to plant on your plot, DON'T.   Conifers rob the soil of nutrients and will eventually become a nuisance.  Please don't make us ask you to remove them.  


Jacquie's Tips 

PRUNING APPLE TREES

Winter pruning of apple trees should be carried out between now and the end of February.

PLANTING NEW FRUIT TREES AND BUSHES

Now is the time to plant new fruit trees and soft fruit bushes and fruit cane - eg apples, pears, red, white  black currants, gooseberries and raspberries.

GARLIC

There is an old tradition that says to plant garlic cloves on the shortest day of the year and to harvest on the longest day of the year.  But even if you can't do this job on December 21st, garlic should be planted during the Winter, because it needs frost to encourage good bulb formation.

GREASE BANDS

Now is a good time to put grease bands on the trunk of fruit trees to prevent winter moth from attacking trees in the spring when the blossom comes out.  The moth will find it's way into the flowers and damage the emerging fruit.

PROTECTING WINTER GROWN VEGETABLES

Any winter cultivated vegetables need protecting during the winter - not only from frosts but pigeons too.  If you use cloches, some ventilation will be necessary if there is a warm spell during the day.


FALLEN LEAVES

You can still be collecting fallen leaves, to put into bin bags, punch some holes in the bags with a fork, and then store in a out-of the-way place, for a year or more, after which you will have a bags of fantastic leaf mould.



Friday, 21 November 2014

November Newsletter

November 2014 Newsletter

AGM

The AGM is on Sunday, 16th November at 10:45am.  Please try to ensure that you come.  We have been fully Self Managing for one year, and have made a good start on improving our site to maintain it for the future.  We now need to agree our short and long term priorities in order to meet the expectations and requirements.  The main issues for all sites are : boundaries; water; toilets; roads and paths; trees; funding; making links with the local community.  

The AGM is an opportunity to find out more about how our site is run, and share your views on the issues that matter to you, and get involved. 

Rents

Thank you to everyone who paid their rent on time last month.   Paying on time, every October, helps our site to run smoothly and efficiently, and greatly reduces the amount of work for the volunteers.  

Welcome

A big welcome to anyone receiving their first newsletter.  We have already started letting some of the plots which have become vacant this year, and there will be more new faces in the weeks to come.   The AGM is a great way to get to know your neighbours.

Bonfires

Bonfires are allowed at any time in November.  As ever, please be careful when lighting fires to ensure that there are no animals living there.  It's always better to light a small fire and feed material onto it, than to make a big pile and then set fire to it.  

Rubbish Collection

The Autumn rubbish collection will take place on Sunday, 23rd November.  This collection is only for materials which cannot be composted or burnt.  We can have bonfires at any time in November, making it the ideal month to clean up.  You will get information about what to do on the day of rubbish collection in an email.   In the meantime, please respect our site by keeping your rubbish on your plot.

Work Party
The Work Party on Saturday 18th October had a good turn out.  Many thanks to: Raphael, Angela, Alison, Marie, Brigid, Les, Mike, Aaron, Marco and Les.  Mike commented that it was better than a workout at the gym!

Our next Green Work Out (Volunteer Work Party) will be held on Saturday, 22nd November.   We hope to complete the dry hedging at the bottom of Field 2, Path 1, which will secure our boundary to the brook in this area.  It would be great to see those who have been on Work Parties previously, and we look forward to seeing some more  new faces.  We spend a couple of hours doing some good fun work and learning some new skills, and then have a nice lunch together.     
We will meet at 10:00am on Saturday 22nd November, outside the Trading Hut.  It helps to know how many people are coming for catering.  Please call Les on 07957 388 033

Shop

The shop is open in the Trading Hut on Sundays from 10am – 12pm, until the AGM.  


Jacquie's Tips 

Back by popular demand!  Jacquie has retired from our site, but has kindly offered to continue writing her tips for us all.  Many thanks to Jacquie. (re: tip on Blackberries, if you are not growing these to eat, Winter is a good time to dig them out).

ONIONS

When planting onion sets it is a good idea to set them on a base of sand (about a desert spoon full) under each set to prevent root rot.  Sand should be horticultural sand.

BROAD BEANS

Broad beams can be sown now while the soil is still warm.  The reason for doing this now is that they will not generally be attacked by black fly in the summer.  Growing them now will allow the stems to harden and be less tender later on.  Don't forget to cover the area with netting otherwise the pigeons will enjoy a winter feast.

BLACKBERRIES

Now is the time to prune blackberries.  Cut back to within 6 inches from the ground those branches which have fruited and tie in the new shoots ready for next season. 

BONE MEAL

Now is a good time to scatter bone meal .  It is a slow acting fertiliser and will slowly work its way into the soil during the winter months ready for next season.  Do not use fertilisersl such as growmore and fish blood and bone until the spring.  

LIME

Spread lime over areas where brassicas are to be planted next spring .  This helps to 'sweeten' the soil and combats club root.  Do not put on areas where potatoes will be planted.

BEANS 

This crop will have finished so when digging them up cut off the roots and dig into the area where this vegetable is to grow next season.  Roots of beans contain nitrogen and are a useful
source of feed.




October Newsletter

October 2014 Newsletter

*** Rent payment ***

Our annual rents are payable this month.   Rents must be paid in person, by cheque or cash.   You can pay your rent and renew your tenancy every Sunday in October, in the Trading Hut from 10am - 12:00 and on Saturday October 18th from 2-4pm.  If you are not able to come in to pay your rent on these days, you must get in touch to let us know.  

Frog Life Work Shop

The Work Shop run by Froglife was a great success.   The facilitator was very impressed with the amount and diversity of good habitat on our site, he was particularly impressed with one of the larger ponds, on Roz Daniel's plot.  Larger ponds are good for toads, but he told us even the smallest pond can support frogs and newts.  He gave a very informative talk about the habits and requirements of the reptiles likely to be found here, and the ways they are of benefit on an allotment site, particularly eating pests.  As well as ponds, log piles and compost heaps are great places for reptiles to live in.  

Unfortunately, Froglife won't be able to repeat the Work Shop on our site, because of funding issues, but he left posters and information in the Trading Hut.

Bonfires

Bonfires are allowed any day in October but only after 4pm.  As ever, please be careful when lighting fires to ensure that there are no animals living there.  It's always better to light a small fire and feed material onto it, than to make a big pile and then set fire to it.  Some people have asked about learning how to light bonfires  - if enough people are interested we will hold a Bonfire Workshop in November. 

Rubbish Collection

The Autumn rubbish collection will take place in November.  We can have bonfires at any time in November, making it the ideal month to clean up.  In the meantime, please keep your rubbish on your plots.  Recently there have been several incidents of dumping at the top of Holden Road field.  Please stop doing this.

Work Party
The Work Party on Saturday 27th September was a very enjoyable experience with 20 adults and two children taking part.  Many thanks to: Adele; Alison; Ann; Barbara and daughter; Brigid; Dan and daughter; Elsa; Ian; Kate; Marco; Marie; Nick; Raphael; Rebecca; Rick; Roz; Sean; Siobhan, and Slavek.  The main task was completing the dry hedging at the boundary to the brook in this area, in doing this we used a lot of the dead wood in the area, clearing disused plots, and letting in more light to the adjacent plots.  The 1st path on Field 2 was also cleared down to the last usable plot, which was previously accessed by walking across Plot 9.  All plots must have safe, fully accessible paths to and around them.  Please check your own to make sure that there are no obstacles or hazards, such as overhanging plants, which may lead to people walking on plots instead of paths.  
Our next Work Party will be held on Saturday 18th October.  We will continue dry hedging, to secure our boundary to the brook.  It would be great to see those who have been on Work Parties previously, and we look forward to seeing some new faces.  We spend a couple of hours doing some good fun work and learning some new skills, and then have a nice lunch together.     
We will meet at 10:00am on Saturday 18th October, outside the Trading Hut.  It helps to know how many people are coming for catering.  Please call Les on 07957 388 033

Tree Surgery

We have recently had the first of our tree works carried out, this entailed felling some large trees next to the footpath on Holden Road Field.  Although no one likes seeing nice trees cut down, under our Self Management responsibilities, we have to be meticulous about safety particularly in areas accessible to the public.  It has also resulted in much more light in this area, and the possibility of renting a plot which was previously unusable.   If you want any of the wood, please get in touch with Les.

Wildlife

Thank you to Siobhan and Rik for sharing their photo of a hedgehog on their plot, and for Alice for her pictures of frogs and slow worms.  We hope to have these pictures uploaded soon, together with the pictures from September's Work Party.  

AGM

The AGM is on 16th November at 10:45am.  Please put this date in your diary. The AGM is an opportunity to find out more about how our site is run, and share your views on the issues that matter to you.


Shop

The shop is open in the Trading Hut on Sundays from 10am – 12pm.  

Tips 

As well as planting onion sets and shallots, now is the time to be cleaning away old foliage on plants which are going to stand through the winter, such as chard, strawberries, and brassicas, to prevent rotting when the weather finally does become wet.  It's also a good idea to prepare for the Winter, by making sure you have enough fleece, netting and ground cover, before the shop closes in November.