Newsletter September 2020
Seed Potatoes & Onion Sets
It’s that time of the year again when we will be promoting next seasons seed potatoes and onion sets. Later this week you will receive full details and prices of available varieties. As a result of coronavirus restrictions and to protect the health and wellbeing of our allotment community we are making a few changes to the ordering and payment processes.
We now have in stock Solabiol Greasebands which is an easy to use pest barrier especially for fruit trees. Greasebands are a useful addition to the popular Agralan traps (used in spring/summer) which can be applied in autumn/winter to save your fruit trees from climbing and crawling insects, winter moths and caterpillars. Each pack costs £5.50 and contains 1.75 metres of greased band and a roll of cord.
New Price List
A new price list for September has now been published. A few product specifications and prices have changed as well as incorporating new products introduced this year. You can download a copy by visiting our website www.pointalls.org, click on the allotment information page, click trading shed dropdown and click price list or pick up a copy at the trading shed.
Thank you for supporting the trading shed and contributing to another year of record sales.
Our dedicated burning plot provides a service to all plotholders and for safety and environmental reasons is controlled by our site manager. Materials are burned when the weather conditions permit and importantly when the wind blows smoke away from residential properties. Recently there have been instances of plotholders putting materials on the fire site when the ashes are still warm and reigniting the fire. This is not good for your personal safety, the environment or our neighbours, particularly when the wind changes direction. Therefore we ask that materials are not deposited until it is safe to do so. Thank you for your cooperation.
Hands, Face, Space is the latest simple message from the government to help protect ourselves and others. The following guidelines (and law as appropriate) relate to our site.
When on site and to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, try to keep at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with. Social distancing is essential to stop the spread of the virus, as it is more likely to spread when people are close together. An infected person can pass on the virus even if they do not have any symptoms, through talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing.
When with people you do not live with, you should also avoid: physical contact; being close and face-to-face; and shouting or singing close to them. You should also avoid touching things that other people have touched.
Where you cannot stay 2 metres apart you should stay more than 1 metre apart, as well as taking extra steps to stay safe. For example: wear a face mask.
Limits on the number of people you can see socially are changing. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.
From 14 September – when the new rules apply – it will be against the law to meet people on site you do not live with in a group larger than 6. The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
In addition to the above our site guidelines we published previously still apply. In particular when opening and closing gates to enter and leave the site and when using water standpipes, please wear gloves. The communal area and toilet remain closed for the time being and preferably send any trading shed orders by email to enable us to organise safe collections.
We ask any plotholders to observe quarantine requirements if returning home from restricted countries listed by the government.
Tomato Blight On Site
If you have signs of tomato blight on the leaves or fruits please take prompt action. Leaves develop brown patches, curl up, dry out and die. Stems may also show patches and darken and fruits turn brown, shrink and rot. Remove all blighted materials immediately from your plot and deposit on the fire site.
There has been an increase in thefts of produce from allotment sites throughout Barnet and surrounding boroughs. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.
Handy Tips For September On The Plot
- Order your seed potatoes and onion sets preferably online before 25th October
- Harvest remaining summer vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, peppers, swedes and first of autumn crops including leeks, pumpkins, maincrop and sweet potatoes
- Pick late plums, mid season apples and pears, autumn fruiting raspberries
- Sow oriental and salad leaves
- Plant spring cabbage and Japanese onion sets to over winter
- Clear away dead foliage and other plant remains
- Add everything you can to your compost heap unless signs of disease in which case take infected plant material to the fire site
Newsletter August 2020
Face masks required in the trading shed
The trading shed is open again every Sunday from 10 to 12. For everyone’s protection, please wear face masks when in there. The shed should be treated like a shop and government guidelines apply.
Do not bring rubbish to the site
In recent months, we have seen an increase in inconsiderate behaviour by plotholders. Discarded food wrappings are being blown around the site and rubbish is being brought from home to the burning site. Somebody even dumped a TV set in one of the bins!
It is absolutely forbidden to bring any rubbish on site.
Do not do it as it can lead to being expelled from Pointalls.
Self-isolation means staying at home
If you are returning from a stay in a country like Croatia or Austria, you have to self-isolate at home for two weeks. That means you cannot come to work on the allotment.
We have witnessed plotholders who have not followed this rule, therefore this reminder. Please remember that there are some very vulnerable people among our gardeners.
Third place goes to plot 116
In the recent ‘best plot’ judging, Anca Covaci with plot 116 was placed third by the judges. Held in a virtual manner, the Barnet Allotment Federation (BAF) had a tough job to rank a record 63 entries. Congratulations to Anca, and her helper Lina, for an excellent job representing Pointalls so well.
In total, Pointalls had four entries – itself a very strong showing – and John Waterhouse with plot 76 received a commendation.
The winning six are:
First – Erica Page from Bells Hill
Second – Graham Fletcher from Cat Hill
Third – Anca Covaci from Pointalls
VHC – Silas Kendall from Golders Green
HC – Abdullah Rustame from Vale Farm, and
C – Bill Hancock from Cat Hill
Click here to see the photos of these six plots.
Greengages without worms
In late May, for the first time ever, I put pheromone traps into my plum trees. This was based on a recommendation from John Waterhouse
I can report that my greengages were much healthier than they had been for many years. Only a very small proportion of fruit had worms in them. Similarly, the Victoria plums were less affected than in the past, although there the percentage of healthy fruit was not quite as high as with the greengages.
I highly recommend these traps for the future and will remind you to place them next spring.
At a recent meeting of the Barnet Allotment Federation, gardening journalist Kim Stoddart talked about the problems posed by climate change. As it is no longer gardening as usual, she discussed ways of adjusting gardening to the new situation:
- Improving soil, soil health, no dig gardening*, mulching, composting
- Implementing water saving measures, water retention
- Designing the plot to cope with extreme weather events, plant stress and damage, low maintenance, raised beds, pests and diseases
- Creating a resilient vegetable plot, growing in blocks, crop rotation, slow it-spread it-sink it
- Planting a climate change orchard
- Reshaping a flower garden to be climate change proof, mixed and companion planting, wildflowers
- Peasant gardening techniques and dealing with weeds
- Nature holds the answers, biodiversity, attracting wildlife, nature’s pest control
- Perennial growing, seed saving
The solutions show how we can strive to shore up our defences for climate change-savvy gardening by adopting resilient and novel gardening techniques.
*For more information about no-dig gardening check out Charles Dowding who is a leading authority on this technique
If you want to know more and create a climate change-resilient allotment plot, this excellent book The Climate Change Garden, is available from the authors Sally Morgan & Kim Stoddart (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pointalls – at the end of the rainbow
Newsletter July 2020
Still time to enter for best plot
I have received one entry for the ‘best plot’ competition. You have one more week to tell me that you are joining in. As this year’s competition is virtual, on 18 and 19 July we will be taking the three photos required to enter a plot into the competition.
Go on, drop me a line at email@example.com
Help yourself to sods
Outside no 4 Nursery Avenue is a jumbo-sized builder’s bag full of lawn sods. This makes for a good base for raised beds. You are invited to help yourself and just take what you need.
Regarding other freebies, the deliveries of woodchips by tree surgeons have started up again after a hiatus during the lockdown.
After roses come the dahlias
As the season for roses has come to an end, we can all look forward to the next blowsy flower – the dahlia. I take this as an opportunity to show you my favourite rose bouquet of this season.
And next a spectactular cerise dahlia. I love them all and am glad that dahlias have come out of the cold of popular contempt. Dahlias have had a resurgence in recent years, seen not least in the fact that #dahlia counts 1.3 million posts on Instagram.
Wikipedia tells us that the dahlia came from Mexico to Europe in 1789. Abbe Antonio Jose Cavanilles, director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid, grew the first dahlia flower. Two years later, he named it after a Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl.
Nursery Avenue gate calms down
You may have noticed that the bolt of the Nursery Avenue gate does not shriek when you open or close it. Paul Castignetti, our site manager, has tried a number of things to make it quieter and I think he has succeeded with the most recent attempt. He has coated the bolt with a layer of plastic that stops metal rubbing against metal.
I am sure all around the gate will have noticed this improvement.
Apply in writing before building on your plot
If you want to build any semi-permanent structure on your plot, please make a formal application including a drawing, dimensions and positioning on the plot and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org copying in Paul Castignetti under email@example.com.
Paul may discuss your application with you if anything is unclear before handing it to the board for a decision. Any building project will need a written permission from the board, which will be sent from the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
The site regulations describe what sort of structures and what sizes and sitings are possible under the heading ‘Sheds, greenhouses and other structures’. You can find the site regulations on the website. You can also find print-outs of the site regulations in the trading shed.
Plum wine like nan’s
Zoey, one of our more recently arrived plotholders, found this recipe and says it is very similar to her grandmother’s. I suspect Zoey has tasted her nan’s production of plum wine extensively and can highly recommend it.
- One 5-gallon plastic fermentation barrel with lid
- Something for stirring the contents
- Milton baby sterilising liquid
- Long clear plastic tubing (available from DIY stores)
- A 1-gallon demijohn (cheaper if you buy several)
- Rubber bung and airlock
- 6 wine bottles (ideally clear glass)
- 6 stoppers
- 5 lbs (2.25 kilos) of healthy plums (including stones)
- 3 lbs (1.35 kilos) of sugar
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- Wine yeast
- Sterilise the fermentation barrel and lid using the Milton liquid.
- Wash the plums, cut in half and remove the stones.
- Place in fermentation barrel
- Bring water to boil and pour in fermentation barrel.
- Put the lid on and leave for four days, stirring twice daily.
- Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.
- Add lemon juice and wine yeast and put the lid on.
- Store somewhere warm. After a few hours you will notice something starting to happen… there will be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.
- After five days transfer the liquid to the demijohn using the plastic tubing and funnel. Make sure all the equipment has been sterilised with Milton liquid.
- Avoiding disturbing any sediment, place the fermentation barrel at a higher level than the demijohn (e.g. put the barrel on a table and the demijohn on the floor), put one end of the plastic tubing in the barrel, and having placed the funnel in the neck of the demijohn give the other end of the tubing a strong suck to pull some of the wine in the tube up and over the edge of the barrel. Quickly remove your mouth and put the tube end into the funnel. The wine should start to drain.
- Stop removing liquid when you get close to the bottom so you transfer as little of the sediment as possible. Once all the liquid is in the demijohn top up with water to bring to a gallon. Seal with the rubber bung and airlock, having put a small amount of diluted Milton liquid in the airlock.
- You can now store the wine for months somewhere cool and frost free. At first the fermentation may start up again and you will see bubbles going through the airlock. Gradually the wine will clear.
- Once fully clear, repeat the draining process, this time from the demijohn to sterilised wine bottles. Put a stopper in each bottle and store.
- The wine will be ready to drink after 12 months.
This recipe is courtesy of allotmentheaven.blogspot.com
Newsletter June 2020
BAF calls for entries for best plot
This year, the annual ‘best plot’ competition will be held in virtual form. You are all invited to take part. Please drop me a line at email@example.com if you want to be a contender. Entries are to be submitted by the society, not individual plotholders.
The organiser, BAF, will judge the best plot based on three photos – one that shows the plot top-to-bottom, one bottom-to-top and one across the plot. They like an abundance of vegetables, fruit and flowers as well as a neat and tidy layout. Photos are to be taken on the weekend of 18 and 19 July.
Update on Covid rules – no change
No change has been made to the rules of social distancing. They remain in place as summarised on both gates. The board is monitoring the situation and will make changes when it feels it is appropriate.
The toilet remains closed. For unknown reasons there has been a period when the padlock was unlocked and the toilet was used by some people. This has been rectified.
Planning for a more normal future – when the toilet will reopen -, we are aware that we will need to keep all hard surfaces, door handles, locks, etc of the toilet extremely clean.
We are calling for a team of volunteers who are willing to ensure that the toilet is always in tip top condition. Please let me know if you are one of those. So far, I have had one plotholder volunteer. We will need a team to ensure the necessary level of cleanliness. So please put up your hand.
Water sparingly and only for half an hour
The rules of the society state that watering should be done sparingly to “allow access to other plotholders and to minimise the cost of the metered water supply”.
It has been reported that some plotholders are not watering sparingly, but overly generously, and that some use the shared tap for hours. If you are one of those, please stop doing that.Overwatering is pointless. Most of the water you spread just evaporates without doing anything for the plant.
In any case, we advise that nobody ever uses the tap for longer than half an hour at a time and always disconnects straight after finishing watering. Be aware that many plotholders experience a significant drop in water pressure if too many others are watering for too long. Please be considerate.
Radical way of reforming agriculture
A very interesting argument is being made by a French study in how to produce food in a sustainable manner. The study mapped out a radical, new farming system that phases out pesticides and synthetic nitrogen, moves away from soybean imports and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of farming by 40%. And it does not require consumers to give up eating meat. Radical indeed!
Initially published in French in 2019, it was unearthed by the UK’s Soil Association, which thought it so significant they paid for an English translation and helped commission a UK-specific follow-up. Here is the link to a report about this piece of research.
Court case ongoing
The court case that two former plotholders brought against Pointalls in February is ongoing. Due to legal costs and low funds we have stopped using legal representation. The members of the board are doing what is necessary to represent the society.
After the failure of an attempt at mediation in the spring, the process has reached the stage where paperwork is being lodged in preparation for the court case itself. The paperwork submitted by the two former plotholders runs to more than 500 pages.
At a date to be confirmed, the case will be heard in the City of London County Court.
Metal stepladder lost
One of our plotholders has reported that she cannot find her metal stepladder. It is a low one with two steps. The plotholder thinks she may have left it out on the pathway by mistake.
If anyone has found the stepladder, please drop it off at plot 41.
Biological control of pests
The top 10 pests and diseases as collated by the RHS feature slugs and snails in third position. I guess Pointalls’ gardeners might even rank this pest the number one.
To help fight some of these pests, we have put a useful RHS document on our website. This excellent document gives details of mail order suppliers of biological controls for home gardeners.
And no, ladybirds are not among the bad guys, on the contrary. I watched this one busily hunting for aphids.
Collecting excess produce for charity
If you wish to donate excess fruit or vegetables for charity, please take it to the table on plot 6 (under the plum tree) and next to the communal area. Please leave vegetables only from Friday to Sunday. Radhika and Rachael from Charity Veggiebox will be delivering to Homeless Action Barnet and other community projects on Monday mornings.
Charity Veggiebox thanks those who contributed even before the project set up the table. Some wonderful lettuces and chard have been donated to Homeless Action Barnet. They are delivering food parcels to those in temporary accommodation and hope to re-open their centre soon for cooked meals.
This year, Charity Veggiebox has joined forces with other allotment sites in the borough and is hoping to start supplying The Felix Project, although this is yet to be confirmed.
Report this caterpillar
And now something a little different, aimed at all of us who enjoy green spaces in general.
We are being asked to keep our eyes open for oak processionary moths and immediately report any sightings to the government.
This pest attacks oak trees and is established in London. The aim is to fight it and stop it from infecting the rest of the country.
In the photo below you see a procession of caterpillars on the trunk of a tree – that is why they are called processionary. They move in orderly formations, like a legion of the Roman army.
Newsletter May 2020
Coronavirus restrictions remain in place
Despite the slight change in government guidelines, the social distancing restrictions at Pointalls remain unchanged.
- Never bring more than one visitor to the allotment
- Stay on your own plot
- Do not wander around the site
- Never get closer than 2-3 metres to anybody else
- Do not congregate and chat with more than one other person
- Wear gloves and use hand sanitiser when touching shared surfaces like gates, locks and taps
Topsoil being lost
With every green waste skip that is removed from the plot, we as a community are losing lots of topsoil.
If you are clearing a badly overgrown area, much better to create a heap in the corner of your plot. Then let it rest for one season under cover and the roots will rot down. You are left with topsoil that you can distribute on your beds, costing you exactly nothing.
As it is now, a large proportion of the weight of the green waste skip is not green waste at all, but soil. That is the real waste!
What to do with fuchsias?
You know about borage of course, living in a Pimms country. You might know about apple blossom and war-time fritters.
But do you know about begonia and fuchsia?
I am talking about the fact that in all these cases the flowers are edible. Check out the full list here and get cooking using pretty garnish combined with fine taste.
Be considerate when using shared water taps
When you use your hosepipe for watering, please be aware that your neighbours need to use the same tap. Therefore, please complete your watering in the shortest time possible to give others access.
Personally, if I want to use a tap that is in use, I approach the owner of that hosepipe and ask to be told when they are done. I have found that a very effective way to remind people to get on with their watering.
Grow a little extra for the Charity Veggiebox
You may have read about this in an earlier update, but for those who did not, here is a repeat of the announcement.
Like last year, two of our members, Radhika and Rachael, will again collect spare vegetables this year and deliver them to local charity kitchens.
As it is now time to plan our planting, the Charity Veggiebox project is asking you to think of planting a few extra vegetables that can be donated to the local community at harvest time.
With the impact of the coronavirus more people than ever will rely on charity donations to feed their families. In such times, Radhika and Rachael stress that this project is even more useful than normal.
Mowing on Long Lane Pasture
I noticed that the Long Lane Pasture gardeners are using their ride-on mower. It is good to know that their work continues after their access point has shifted away from the allotment to the other end of the pasture.
Just to inform you, the Pointalls board has written to the pasture more than once with the offer to help ironing out any problems that may exist. We have not heard back from the pasture trustees so far, which I take to mean that all is fine.
Trading shed update
John Waterhouse has been doing a lot of business while garden centres were closed. We would encourage you to continue buying from the trading shed as it is very competitively priced and extremely convenient – with no fee for delivery ever being charged.
There is one item that is no longer available – Growbags. Our supplier has simply run out.
However, the good news is that you can grow tomatoes equally well in the ground. I would argue Growbags are the invention of a savvy marketing department that has very little to do with any gardening prowess.
Newsletter April 2020
Take heed of new restrictions
Not quite two weeks ago – when all our lives changed -, we sent out a reminder of general precautions and new restrictions that apply on the allotment site and that are aimed at safeguarding our members.
Please remind yourselves of the details either by reading the notices that are up by the two entrance gates or on our website.
Upcoming events cancelled
These are the events that are scheduled for the next month or so: composting workshop on 19 April, ‘Have your say’ on 26 April and the plant sale on 9 May.
Given the current situation, unfortunately all three are cancelled for now. We hope to re-schedule them for later in the spring if government restrictions are eased off.
Digging up treasures
Richard Targett was digging plot 63 when he came across this piece of pottery. Richard did what we all would do and googled it.
Without going to such lengths, please guess what this pot might have contained. And it looks like it has something to do with Vienna of all places.
You can find the solution to this puzzle at the end of the newsletter.
Placing orders by email
As you will know, the trading shed is closed until further notice. Instead, we are offering an ordering system with self-collection of goods from outside the trading shed.
I am glad to report that it is doing a roaring trade. So far, we have seen turnover of around £300. The bestsellers are manure and compost, not a surprise given how attractively priced everything is and how convenient the shopping experience.
- Order by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07881 349101.
- You can pay by bank transfer to Unity Trust Bank, sort code 60-83-01 account 20381877. Please use your name and plot number as reference.
- Next, you collect your order from outside the trading shed. Talk to us to agree a suitable day for your collection.
- We ask for a minimum spend of £10 per order and at most one order per allotment holder over the next few weeks.
- Click here for the price list
Mediation attempt was unsuccessful
In the ongoing dispute with two former allotment members an attempt at mediation was unsuccessful. A professional mediator acted as the middleman but no agreement was found. Both parties are bound by the rules of confidence not to reveal any information that was discussed during the mediation attempt.For background, this relates to the decision in February by the two former allotment members to issue court proceedings against Pointalls Allotments. The case is ongoing and likely to be delayed by the effect of Covid 19.
Cameras installed without permission
The former plotholders who are suing Pointalls have recently installed three CCTV surveillance cameras on their rear boundary wall which adjoins our allotment site. The cameras are pointing in three directions including across the site itself.
The installation and use of CCTV surveillance cameras is not in compliance with data protection laws and infringes the rights and privacy of people whose images are captured.
We have asked for these cameras to be removed without delay. Should our request be ignored we will proceed to ask the ICO to take enforcement action against the two former plotholders.
When building on your plot
If you want to build any semi-permanent structure on your plot, this is what you need to keep in mind. The site regulations describe what sort of structures are possible under the heading ‘Sheds, greenhouses and other structures’. You can find the site regulations on the website.
Please make a formal application including a drawing, dimensions and positioning on the plot and send it to Paul Castignetti under email@example.com. Paul may discuss your application with you if anything is unclear before handing it to the board for a decision.
I would like to issue a correction regarding last month’s winner of the photo competition. Valli Hesper from plot 87 pointed out that the winning photo was by her, and not by Richard and Valli as I stated. Valli also adds that her father would be proud of her, himself having been an award-winning photographer. Apologies, Valli!
New process to deal with issues
The board has been working over the winter to streamline the process that kicks in when someone does not comply with site regulations. These regulations – which you can find on the website – contain our responsibilities towards Barnet Council.
In normal circumstances, we carry out monthly site inspections. If we come across something that is contrary to rules and requirements, we would as a first step contact the plotholder in writing asking them to return to compliance within 28 days. This and the following steps are outlined in a new document that you can find on our website (from Monday onwards under tab ‘Allotment information’).
We are keen that issues that arise are handled in a way that is sensitive, amicable and fair. We are happy to receive your feedback as we know that processes are never perfect and can always be improved.
Richard’s piece of pottery used to contain Scottish marmalade of clearly superior quality. It even won a prize in Vienna in 1873. Thanks for this interesting piece of gardening treasure.
And if you want to know more, here is the story of how Dundee became the birthplace of marmalade. To this day, marmalade is made in the city. Now sold under the name Mackays.
Precautions & new restrictions to safeguard members
- Wear gloves when opening and closing any gate locks, taps or other communal items
- Keep sanitiser in your shed and use it regularly
- Do not wash your hands in water troughs
- At all times observe ‘social distancing’: 2-3 metres; avoid all direct contact, for example, no handshakes
- Do not share tools
- If you display any symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed and follow general NHS and government advice.
New restrictions aimed at safeguarding our members
In the current emergency, allotments provide a wonderful resource to enable us to obtain exercise and fresh air and grow healthy produce.
But this is only so if they are used safely and responsibly.
Our understanding is that access is still allowed under current government regulations but to ensure full compliance with government advice we have to introduce the following new restrictions:
Communal area closed until further notice
The communal area is closed to all until further notice. This is to ensure that people, and children in particular, are not in contact with others thereby avoiding the risk of infecting each other.
Children and other visitors
Any children brought on to the site must be supervised at all times. They are restricted to the allotment holder’s plot only and must not be allowed to roam across the site.
Other visitors should be restricted to one additional adult supervised by and assisting the allotment holder in maintaining the plot.
All this is subject to the general government regulation that gatherings of more than two people (excluding people you live with) are prohibited.
We appreciate the problems parents face in the current situation but this requirement must be strictly observed. If not, we will be forced to consider more stringent restrictions in order to safeguard the health of the general membership.
Toilet closed until further notice
Please be aware that the composting toilet has been padlocked.
The board decided this was necessary because we cannot guarantee the regular, daily cleaning that would be required in the current situation.
We will re-open the toilet as soon as times return to normal.
Order from the trading shed
As you will know, the trading shed is closed until further notice.
To help with your spring gardening, we offer the opportunity to order your products by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 07881 349101.
- You can pay by bank transfer to Unity Trust Bank, sort code 60-83-01 account 20381877. Please use your name and plot number as reference.
- Next, you collect your order from outside the trading shed. Talk to us to agree a suitable day for your collection.
- We ask for a minimum spend of £10 per order and at most one order per allotment holder over the next few weeks.
Below please find the price list. Our prices are very close to what we pay the wholesalers. We make very little profit on our products because we want to price them as attractively as possible.
John Waterhouse is keen to urge to all owners of fruit trees put up moth and maggot traps this year. If we all do this and catch loads of maggots and moths before they can do damage to the fruit, then we will all be better off at harvest time.
These traps are available as are refills for existing traps.
The government advises that everyone must avoid non-essential contact with others.
Pointalls Allotments continues to be open and available for use.
However, we want to stress the urgent need for sensible precautions:
- Keep a suitable distance from others, a minimum of two metres is advised
- Safest option is to avoid talking to members who live in other households
- Wear gloves especially when handling the locks and gates
In light of the disruption to normal life, the board has decided to postpone all site inspections until further notice.
Newsletter March 2020
Wet weather causes delays
The wet weather has caused a delay in mowing the common areas. However, we managed to get the job done in the past two days.
The roadway by Squires Lane was damaged when rain had made the surface particularly unstable. However, the builders who caused the damage have since fixed the roadway.
There is no escaping warnings about Covid 19 even as a gardener.
We recommend that you wear gloves when you unlock the gates to the allotment. This is entirely in your own interest as these padlocks are the one place on site that are touched by many hands.
Once the water is back on, please remember that the taps should be used with care, ideally wearing gloves.
Site inspections due to re-start in April
Our gardening working group will start their monthly walk-round in April. As you may remember from last year, the focus is on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.
Towards the autumn of last year we noticed a big improvement and we hope we can all continue the good work in 2020. Very importantly, these inspections give us an early notice if an allotment holder is having problems cultivating and allows us to offer help and support.
They don’t look like much right now but these tiny seedlings will grow into tomato plants of the Moneymaker variety.
I hope they will do so in time for the plant sale on 9 May.
My message to you all – get sowing!
Mediation to resolve issues behind court case
In February, two former alloment members issued court proceedings against Pointalls Allotments Ltd in the City of London County Court.
We were placed in a situation where we had no option but to defend your company, Pointalls Allotments Ltd. The case is ongoing and we have instructed a firm of solicitors to act on our behalf.
However, in an attempt to resolve the issues we are entering into mediation with the former members. This will involve a professional mediator and is planned for later this month.
We have a winner
Although Derek is still recovering at home, I managed to convince him to act as judge for the best image in our photo competition. He had the choice of nearly 50 photos, all anonymously submitted to him, and he decided that this one expresses best the purpose of allotmenteering, namely that of ‘growing your own’.
The winners are Richard and Valli with this picture of their wonderful plot in all its vegetable abundance:
Runner-up is Jo Keller with her selection of goodies:
And I ended in third place with a photo of grapes before harvesting:
We have used these three photos and a lot more to refresh the website. Have a look in a couple of days and let me know what you think of the result.
The prize for first place is on the way to the winners. Not that Richard and Valli need it – they know everything to do with vegetables already -, but it is Carol Klein’s ‘Grow Your Own Veg’.
Congratulations! And thank you to everyone who contributed one of their lovely photos.
Newsletter February 2020
Get sowing for plant sale
It is time to start planning for the plant sale on Saturday 9 May. We would like to offer as wide a range of plants as possible, from all sorts of vegetables to lots of annual flowers.
For this reason we are calling on all of you to sow some extra seeds and donate the future seedlings to the plant sale.
We raised £185 at our very first plant sale last year and would love to double the takings for the club this year.
Send more entries for photo competiton
I am asking for more entries to the photo competion. So far I have received seven photos, which, together with a few of my own, are not enough to submit to a judge.
So, please search your surely extensive collection of garden-related pictures and send them in quickly!
Toilet survey results
Every single plotholder received our survey asking for their opinions on toilets at the allotment. We received 41 completed surveys. For this sort of exercise, at nearly 30% of the total this is a good turnout.
After counting the results, I can tell you that a clear majority of our members do not think we need to spend money on toilet facilities. To me, this result is at least partly due to Mel’s great achievement renovating the composting toilet last summer and keeping it in good nick every since. To the first question, whether we needed a new toilet, 26 respondents said ‘no’ and only 15 said ‘yes’.
The survey indicated furthermore that a majority of members wishes to spend no more than £1 to £1000 per year on toilets. Based on this answer alone, temporary chemical toilets – as we had last summer – are not supported in the future.
Given the survey results, the board decided not to progress any plans of building new toilets and will not hire the chemical toilets we had last year. Instead, the board once again thanks Mel for his great contribution.
I want to leave you with two comments made in the surveys:
“I am grateful to whoever cleaned up the composting toilet. It is fine now.”
“Current loo is fine – thanks to Mel’s refurbishment.”
Skills and volunteering
After suggestions made by some of our members, the board is keen to collate information that could come in useful in the future.
We want to find out what specific skills our members have. Therefore, we are asking to let us know if you are a plumber, an engineer, a writer, good at woodwork or painting, or anything else.
Please drop me a line at email@example.com and I will collate a skills list of members willing to volunteer if required.
Furthermore, the board is also keen to know who would be willing to volunteer as a gardener on the allotment site. This might be to help out one of our members who is no longer as fit as they were in the past or to assist with work on the communal jobs that need doing around the site.
Once again, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fee for green bins in Barnet
Starting in April, Barnet Council will be charging £70 a year for garden waste collections. This was decided despite 82% of respondents to its consultation opposing the charge.
A petition against this plan is collecting signatures. You can find it on: https://www.change.org/p/barnet-council-scrap-barnet-s-proposed-garden-waste-collection-charge
At the time of writing, more than 5000 people had already signed the petition.
This new charge could well have an impact on Pointalls in that it may tempt some allotment holders to bring green waste on to the site and dispose of it in the green waste skip.
Tempting it may be, but it would definitely be against the rules. Site regulation 8 stipulates that we must not bring any rubbish whatsoever on to the site.
Next ‘Have your say’ meeting in April
At the second ‘Have your say’ meeting on 19 January questions ranged from toilets, to skills lists to the cost of green waste skips, among other topics. Some of the questions raised in this very informal gathering are covered elsewhere in this newsletter. One of those is the idea to create a volunteers’ list plus a list of members’ skills.
Another topic was plot 102. Half of it is now ready to be let, the other half will be levelled, grassed over and used to turn a vehicle around. Some of the members at the meeting were unhappy that Pointalls was paying for the clean-up of dilapidated plots before letting. However, sometimes it is essential to make it even lettable because it is in such a state.
Training members to use the large mower was brought up. The board subsequently discussed this idea again but came to the same conclusion as before that the risk of damage to the mowers, and the attendant cost of fixing the damage, was just too large for this to be considered. There was also an offer from one member to make A-boards as a way of asking for volunteers for specific projects. The idea will be on the agenda at the next board meeting.
Some members urged us to reduce the cost of the green waste skips. With exactly this in mind, we are encouraging plotholders to compost themselves and we sell compost bins (for only £17.50) and compost enhancers. On Sunday 19 April at 11.00, we will be offering the next composting workshop.
The next ‘Have your Say’ meeting is scheduled for Sunday 26 April at 11.30 at the trading shed.
Subscriptions nearly all paid
We want to thank all allotment holders who have paid their 2020 subscriptions – which is in fact nearly everybody! The change in process away from cash and towards bank transfers and cheques has fortunately not caused any issues. There were one or two members who paid in cash this year, but by next year we trust these last few will have moved to more convenient ways of paying as well.