Plotholders can use hosepipes until further notice

In view of the continuing dry weather, the board decided to allow the use of hosepipes for the time being. This will make life considerably easier for all of us whose vegetables are still growing.

Furthermore, it was also decided that the board will review whether the regulation – that hosepipes must not be used after a certain date – should be changed.

If you have any views on this matter that should be considered in the review, please get in touch at communications@pointalls.org.



Invitation to BBQ

You are all invited to come along with food and drink and try out the new BBQ and picnic tables

From 12.00 noon the coals will be lit on the communal area (plots 3, 4 and 5)

Will happen in good weather meaning as long as it is not raining

Bring your own food to cook, bring your friends and meet other plotholders for a friendly chat

Everybody welcome!

 



Newsletter August 2019

Wishing our long-standing gardening colleague, John Waterhouse a very happy 90th birthday! All plotholders are united in wishing John very many years of growing his wonderfully tasty carrots (as well as all the other vegetables on his plot).

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BBQ available for general use

One of our board members found a great bargain in the sale and we acquired a new BBQ for general use. It is at the communal site – on plot numbers 3,4 and 5 – and ready for use by yourself. It is coal fired and we would ask you to clean up behind you and leave it as you found it.

We are restoring some very sturdy picnic tables with benches. These have been sourced at no cost and will be erected on the communal plot shortly. A new 7-foot bench is already in place.

No rubbish into green waste skip

You will have seen the recent email showing a photo of this blue wheelbarrow – see below. One of our plotholders fished it out of the green waste skip. Other rubbish was also detected in the skip.

It is absolutely not permitted to throw any rubbish whatsoever into the green waste skip.

As agreed with Barnet council, we are only allowed to throw in green plant material and tree prunings up to 60 cm in length and up to 2 cm in diameter (note this correction compared with previous incorrect information).

If anything else is found in the skip, we have to pay Barnet a penalty, adding further cost to this service.

Composting workshop on 28 September

Another opportunity to learn more about composting is coming your way. On Saturday 28 September, our site manager Paul Castignetti, will be holding a composting workshop for all members, old and new. It will be held at 11am outside the trading shed. Please take advantage of this opportunity to become sustainable and self-sufficient as a gardener.

Rent payment for 2020

This is a very early heads up to give you all plenty of opportunity to get ready – from next year we will no longer accept cash for annual rent and water charges. Instead we would ask you to transfer the money directly to Pointalls’ bank account. If that is not possible, you can also pay by cheque.

The reason is that nowadays – with bank branches an ever greater distance from our homes -, the bank charges us to pay cash into the account. And on top of that there are long queues before you even get the chance to pay anything in.

Regrettably, for these reasons we will have to ask you for a cheque or a transfer next year and we hope you understand why this has become necessary.

Book for you to read

A very useful book for allotment gardeners is Alan Buckingham’s ‘Allotment Month By Month’. It is most valuable for beginners but also a handy reference for experienced gardeners.

Absolutely worth the outlay of around £5 for a used edition on Amazon or £18 for a new one from Waterstone’s.

Results of site competitions in Barnet

This year’s Barnet Allotment Federation site competitions results have been announced. Although Pointalls did not enter the competitions we are pleased to share the results with you.

The best kept site competition has four categories based on the size and number of plots of each site. For comparison, Pointalls would be in the extra-large category.

Sites also put forward entrants for the best allotment plot competition and the three winners were from the following sites.

As Pointalls were previous winners of the Ted Green Memorial Award we again took part in the judging of this competition. This award is given annually for an outstanding community initiative by an allotment society that has benefited the society and/or the wider community.

Two entrants were of such high quality, matching the criteria required, that for the first time joint winners were declared: Cat Hill (East Barnet) and Bells Hill (Barnet).

Let us know whether you think Pointalls should or should not enter next year’s site competition. Simply email communications@pointalls.org.

Termination of tenancy

Unfortunately, we have recently had to terminate the tenancy of a plotholder because he did not follow the rules concerning cultivation of his allotment.

The site regulations state that plots must be “wholly or mainly cultivated by the plotholder for the production of vegetables or fruit crops”. This rule is a requirement in our lease with the council and is what defines an allotment in law.

After the tenancy was terminated, we hired a digger to clean up the plot so it can be let to a new plotholder to be used the way it is intended. All in all, the cleaning up of this plot cost us as a community a very significant amount of money. Over the past three years, the felling of two forest trees plus the grinding out of the stumps, the digger and the removal of rubbish from the site came to close to £1,000. This expenditure was necessary to bring the plot back to a condition that a new tenant could be asked to cope with.

In future, we will make sure that we act much earlier in cases where it looks as if a plotholder is allowing his or her plot to deteriorate.

With this in mind, we are now carrying out monthly inspections of the whole site between March and September. At these inspections, the focus is on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.

Of course, sometimes plotholders are in situations that make it hard or even impossible to keep on top of things. In this case, we will first remind them of their responsibilities but immediately talk to them to see how we can assist members who are struggling to cope. As always, prevention is better than a cure and early intervention is best.

Lastly, here are some photos taken when the plot in question was cleared up. They illustrate the sort of behaviour that is unacceptable – specifically non-cultivation and hoarding of rubbish that should not be on site.

Building of temporary structures

We would like to remind everyone that you need to apply for written permission before you build a temporary structure on your plot. This could be a shed, a greenhouse, a pergola or a BBQ area.

There are specific rules in the site regulations that govern these structures, including:

  • Only one shed and one greenhouse
  • All at least 60 cm away from paths
  • Maximum height of any structure 2.5 metres
  • Greenhouse max area is 3.7 x 2.4 metres
  • Shed max area is 2.4 x 1.8 metres

Over the next few weeks, we will further define the process that needs to be followed to obtain such written permissions. In the meantime, please continue to send your request to membership@pointalls.org for consideration of your plans by the board.

Enemy number one – bindweed

Walking around the site, you will see quite a lot of bindweed, an extremely invasive weed that is very hard to get rid of.

I had to dig out a bed of perfectly good raspberry bushes when they got overwhelmed by bindweed.

If you have a patch of bindweed on your plot, please cut it to the ground and do no let it flower and spread to neighbouring plots.



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Newsletter July 2019

Local horticultural show on 18 August

The horticultural show of the Barnet Allotment Federation will take place on Sunday 18 August. The show has moved to a new venue where there is plenty of parking. It will be held at the Martin Primary School in Plane Tree Walk, East Finchley, and is open to exhibitors and visitors.

Exhibition categories include vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, potted plants and home-made food items. Full details will soon be available including setting up times (for exhibitors on Saturday 17 August) and viewing and auction times. Look out for more information on our website and posters on site.

The exhibition opens at 12 noon and closes at 4.30pm. Prize giving and auction of exhibits is from 3pm. Admission is free for children and 50 pence for adults.

If you are interested in exhibiting, please contact communications@pointalls.org and we will send you full details.

Trip to Wisley – tell me if you are interested

This is a reminder to let me know if you are interested in joining a trip to Wisley in September. Entry to Wisley is free, so the only cost would be a small fee for the return bus journey.
At this point I know of three people who would like to come along – not enough for me to start organising this. Therefore, if you want to go, please let me know at communications@pointalls.org or I will sadly have to shelve this plan until next year.

Card reader now in place

All of you who prefer to use cards rather than cash will be very glad to hear that you can now splash out on manure and bamboo canes using your beloved card. A card reader has been installed and John Waterhouse is happy to use it for your purchases.

Please continue to support our trading shed and its keenly priced products as faithfully as you have done in the past. All profits generated go to making Pointalls an even better place to garden.

Fire to smoke out wasps created incident

Recently, a fire that was started by one of the allotment holders to smoke out a wasp nest, nearly developed into a serious fire. As you will all know, fires are not permitted on site, and this incident was particularly dangerous since the fire was left unattended and spread.

If you want to eradicate a wasps nest, we recommend one of the numerous powders and foams available at DIY shops and garden centres.

You might, however, consider whether such action is necessary. Wasps can be beneficial, particularly at this time of the year, in, for example, killing caterpillars which are attacking our brassicas, and they are useful pollinators. We should aim to work in harmony with animals that can aid our crop cultivation. Wasps are not particularly dangerous and will usually only sting when threatened. Furthermore, any nests will not survive the winter frosts.

Composting workshop well received

A group of very interested gardeners attended the composting workshop held by Paul Castignetti, our site manager, in early July.

Paul will be holding another session in about two months, just in time for the autumn clean-up that generates a good amount of composting material in any garden. We will let you know the new date as soon as possible.

Update on finances

With half of 2019 now over, you might like to know how the year is shaping up in terms of finances. The latest estimate from our treasurer Ruth Hendrick indicates that we are going to see a small surplus of around £1000 for the year as a whole. This is exactly what we are aiming for, namely that the income generated by rentals and the profits from the trading shed cover the costs of running the allotment, including skips, toilet hire, repairs, running the website, stationery, bank charges and insurance.

Separate from this, we have reserves in the bank of around £15,000 which are available for possible, well considered capital investments. If we were to decide to invest in a toilet, the funds would come out of these reserves. All in all, we are in a healthy financial situation and want to do everything to remain so in the future.

Call for Pointalls photos

We would like to call for entries to another round of the Pointalls photo competition. Any pictures of produce, gardening, tools, wildlife or atmospheric shots of the site at different times of the year are welcome. They will be judged by our website provider Cariad Marketing and the winners will be recorded in the newsletter and receive a prize. Entries are to be submitted to communications@pointalls.org from now until the end of the year – giving you a good few months to capture the perfect shot.

Furthermore, with the agreement of the photographers, we might like to use some of the photos to refresh our website next year. The website is a very useful method of communicating with the general public and establishes our existence in the digital world. It is the first point of contact for anybody thinking of taking up a plot. We measure the considerable interest that exists by counting the number of visitors that are visiting the website.

By the way, if any of you have any suggestions for amendments or additional information that should go on the website, please send an email to communications@pointalls.org. All feedback is highly appreciated.

And here is an entry to the photo competition to get us started….

Why it’s no longer gardening as usual

Already we are seeing changes to our climate – the earliest spring, the mildest winter, the wettest year, with new pests and diseases reported each year. An up to date book looks at the potential problems ahead and gives down-to-earth advice on how you can work towards a plot or garden that is resilient to climate change. This new nook guides you through:

  • Improving your soil and implementing water saving measures
  • Designing a plot/garden that can cope with extreme weather events, such as torrential rain, drought, storm force winds and more
  • Creating a resilient veg plot
  • Planning a climate-change orchard and flower garden

If you are interested in purchasing the climate change garden book we have arranged a specially discounted price of £12 including post and packing. Usual price is £17.99. All you need to do to order your copy is visit the website https://www.climatechangegarden.uk before the end of July and use the code AL12.



Newsletter June 2019

First plant sale a success

Despite only a very brief time to prepare for the plant sale, the result was pretty impressive. With your good custom, we raised £185 for our funds. Among the many suppliers of seedlings for the sale, particular thanks must go to Paul Castignetti who organised it all and provided plenty of tomatoes; and Geoff Kerton who contributed a great variety of vegetable seedlings. Next year we will get organised well in advance, boost the marketing effort and ask you all to contribute vegetable and flower plants. We will also hold the sale around mid-May, slightly earlier than this year, as that is the time of greatest demand for seedlings and plants. We noted that quite a few customers were after flowers – something we will have to keep in mind for next year.

 

Visit to Brook Farm Allotments

In May, four of our members visited Brook Farm Allotments in Whetstone which hosted a site maintenance workshop organised by Barnet Allotment Federation. The tour of this large site gave us an opportunity to admire their wide range of facilities including fencing solutions, roadways, security lighting, cameras, toilets and trading shed. Following the tour, the hosts chaired a site maintenance discussion in their pavilion building, giving us an insight into how other sites operate and plenty to think about for Pointalls in the future. Brook Farm, which has been self-managed for many years, has three sites with two in Whetstone plus a smaller site at Stanhope Road in Barnet.  It is also worth mentioning they were first-class hosts particularly in their provision of an excellent choice of food and refreshments.

Learn how to compost on 6 July at 11am

As you all know, we have been filling up quite a few skips with green waste. We want to remind everybody of the responsibilities and costs that are associated with these skips. As agreed with Barnet Council, we are only allowed to throw in green plant material plus tree pruning’s up to 60cm in length and up to 20cm in diameter.

If anything else is found in the skip, we have to pay Barnet a fixed penalty charge. Prohibited materials include soil, large branches, timber, plastic, paper and card and general waste. Each time we fill a skip it costs Pointalls £240. As you will appreciate, composting as much as possible of green waste ourselves is much better all round.

After a few months of breaking down, composting retains the goodness in our own plants for our own soil. Compost – also called ‘organic matter’ – is the best thing ever for successful growing. And it costs nothing.

To help us become better composters, Paul Castignetti, our site manager, will be holding a composting workshop for all members, old and new. It will be held on Saturday 6 July at 11am outside the trading shed.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to become sustainable and self-sufficient, all while reducing costs.

Something to celebrate

This is to give all a heads up about an important date, 15 August. On that day, John Waterhouse will be celebrating a very big birthday. Every one of us will want to congratulate him as we recall how much John has done for the allotment over the many years he has been growing his wonderful fruit and vegetable crops and managing our trading shed.

In case of the need for complaint

Just a reminder that we all have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of our allotment plots. If anything should happen that stops you from enjoying this right, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the board in confidence.

Temporary Toilets

We repeat this message for the benefit of our non email plotholders and anyone who may have overlooked our previous post.
We have a new development on site. Two chemical toilets have been delivered and located next to the existing organic toilet on plot 67P.

There have been exhaustive discussions about what we can do to improve toilet facilities on the allotment site. It is an issue close to many members’ hearts but also a big decision in terms of allotment funds as we could potentially spend several thousands of pounds of our reserves in providing new toilet and washroom facilities.

Opinions among our members’ vary widely – from saying no toilet is necessary at all, to asking for fully fitted EA compliant toilets for our less able plotholders.

The Board has decided to be cautious and gather more facts and opinions before making any decisions. Over the summer season, these two temporary toilets will be sited alongside the existing one. One toilet for women and one for men. They will also be cleaned and serviced every week.

This is a temporary solution that will give us time to prepare a survey that will ask members their opinions on the topic of toilets, amongst other things.

Health benefits of allotment gardening

There has been much press coverage of late telling us that gardening is good for us. Something we allotmenteers already know. Benefits quoted include the ‘uplifting and meditative effects of being surrounded by plants and landscapes which combine to create places that make hearts sing’.

Spending time in a garden and tending it is conducive to slowing the frenetic pace of modern life. We can reflect on the past while surrounded by signs of revival that engender a sense of optimism and encouragement. Gardens invite reflection and anticipation and through practical, often repetitive physical endeavours anchor and focus us firmly in the present moment as grass is mown, stems are pruned, vegetables harvested and fruit is picked.

Such mindfulness is valuable for maintaining emotional equilibrium and health and our physical condition is equally boosted by the actual ‘doing’ of gardening. We should be grateful to gardening, whether raking the soil, sowing seeds, weeding in the rain or gathering armfuls of nutritious produce. Gardening is not just an enjoyable hobby it really is good for you.

Tool hire halted

Having re-started the tool hire a few weeks ago, unfortunately, we have now been forced to halt it for good. Recently, we have had a number of instances when machinery was returned very badly damaged. In one recent case, petrol filled into a strimmer was so old and degraded that it ruined the carburettor. The cost of repairs has turned out to be prohibitive and we cannot justify continuing to use allotment funds for such repairs. Incidentally, many other allotment sites have come to the same conclusion for the same reasons.

Trip to RHS Wisley

As Pointalls are members of the Royal Horticultural Society we are allowed each year one admission free trip to any RHS location. If you are interested in a day out at the splendid Wisley gardens please let us know. Should there be sufficient demand we will go ahead and plan a visit.



New temporary toilet facilities

We have a new development on site. Two chemical toilets have been delivered and located next to the existing organic toilet on plot 67P.

There have been exhaustive discussions about what we can do to improve toilet facilities on the allotment site. It is an issue close to many members’ hearts but also a big decision in terms of allotment funds as we could potentially spend several thousands of pounds of ourreserves in providing new toilet and washroom facilities.

Opinions among our members' vary widely – from saying no toilet is necessary at all, to asking for fully fitted toilets fit for disabled users.

The Board has decided to be cautious and gather more facts and opinions before making any decisions. Over the summer season, these two temporary toilets will be sited alongside the existing one. One for women and one for men. They will also be cleaned and serviced every week.

This is a temporary solution that will give us time to prepare a survey that will ask members their opinions on the topic of toilets, amongst other things.

If you have any comments, we would like to hear from you. Please get in touch and either send an email to: communications@pointalls.org or leave a message by calling 07756190582



Newsletter May 2019

PLANT SALE ON 2ND JUNE

Pointalls will be holding a plant sale on Sunday 2nd June. The location is next to the trading shed and the Nursery Avenue gates will be open from 10am to 2pm.

All your friends, neighbours and everybody else are invited to stock up on plants and seedlings from our own production. It will be exactly the right time to plant out things like tomatoes, courgettes and beans as the risk of frost will have truly passed.

Please bring along and donate your spare plants and cash as the success of the sale depends on us all. Paul Castignetti (plot 37) is your man as he is organising the event. All funds raised will be used to help make Pointalls an even better place to garden.

Please contribute surplus seedlings and spread the word amongst your friends. Also, any volunteer helpers are most welcome on the day.

BEWARE SCHOOLCHILDREN ABOUT!

Get ready for the kids. On Friday 24th May at 10am a group of little ones will come and visit Pointalls for a fact-finding tour.

The year-5 school children from St. Theresa’s school will be shown around by Laura (plot 9/10) accompanied by Rosa and Daniel from plot 74, whose daughter is in the class.

If you happen to be on site, don’t be shy and give the children your best gardening tips.

NEW BOARD STARTS WORK

At its first meeting last week, the new board of 11 members has found plenty of work on the to-do list. You can find all our names on the website, notice board, trading shed and listed below. Any time you see any of us, please stop to give feedback or just have a chat.

We are working to fulfil our promises to you: establish open meetings for plotholders under the heading ‘Have Your Say’, organise social events, workshops and plant sales, continue the deliveries of woodchip, compost and green waste recycling skips, review site security, improve toilet facilities and investigate new sources of income.

There is a lot to do but the job is made lighter by being spread across more people. In making decisions, we completely rely on your opinions and are planning a new membership survey. In the meantime, feedback is most welcome any time, either in person or in any other way.

Board members in order of plot number:

Plot 9/10: Laura de Benedetti

Plot 14/15: Derek McMaster

Plot 14A: Peter Johnson

Plot 29: Chetin Malyali

Plot 29A: Graham Jardine

Plot 31/44A: Brigitte Ascher

Plot 37: Paul Castignetti

Plot 38: Jo Keller

Plot 76: John Waterhouse

Plot 106: Paul Hendrick

Plot 106A: Ruth Hendrick

FRESH FACE FOR COMMUNICATIONS

A new function of newsletter editor was established at the first board meeting and I found myself volunteering for it. It suits my experience but is an interesting departure as in the past I have focused mostly on writing about the super-dry subjects of stock markets and investment funds.

Broadly, I am aiming to produce a newsletter a month to keep you informed without overloading your inbox.

In order to keep the content relevant, I rely on your help. Please contact me with new ideas for initiatives, gardening tips or anything that you think would interest our membership.

My name is Brigitte Ascher at communications@pointalls.org and I work on plots 31 and 44A, right next to the roadways.

A FEW GARDENING TIPS FOR THE WEEKS AHEAD

  • Keep harvests coming all summer with successional sowings of lettuce and spinach
  • Plant out sweetcorn
  • Sow carrot seeds
  • Early potatoes should be ready to harvest later in June
  • Pick over pea and broad bean plants every couple of days
  • Harden off, then plant out French beans or sow seed straight into the ground
  • Short of space? Grow radishes and beetroot in large pots
  • Avoid empty veggie beds. After harvesting new potatoes sow/plant salad crops or sweetcorn and after broad beans are finished plant dwarf beans or mangetout
  • Cabbage root fly can be a serious pest for brassicas such as cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, weakening the plants and causing cauliflowers to produce small heads.  We recommend Vitax cabbage collars which are available at the trading shed. Price £2.30 for a pack of 30 collars. Simple to use. After planting, slide cabbage collars round the stem. As well as protecting your plants, the collars keep the soil around the plant warm and moist to encourage rapid plant establishment

STOP PRESS

Good news – our stock of top soil in 25kg bags will be replenished on Wednesday this week.



Annual General Meeting 9 th May – Poll Result

We would like to thank all who participated in the meeting, both the vocal minority who attended in person and the silent majority who participated through the proxy voting system. Together you made up a participation level of 73% of the total membership. The new Board will no doubt be encouraged by the 3 to 1 majority you gave them of those participating and will continue the task of developing and improving our site services and facilities for the benefit of all our members.

Full details of the results of the poll conducted at the end of our AGM have been sent to all Pointalls members.



Annual General Meeting

Just a reminder that the Annual General Meeting of the company will be held at 8pm on Thursday 9 th May 2019. The venue is St. Pauls Church, 50 Long Lane, Finchley, London N3 2PU and the meeting will take place in the historic hall which is at the rear of the worship area.

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