Onion Sets – Good News

If you ordered onion sets from the trading shed for spring planting we are pleased to let you know that our supply has now been secured. There were concerns of shortages due to last year’s poor yield resulting from adverse weather conditions. Our supply has been confirmed and we will let you know as soon as possible when delivery can be expected.



New Supplier for the New Year – January News

We now have a new supplier who is able to offer frequent deliveries of horse manure. The manure is delivered and supplied completely free of charge.

Our new wider gates in Nursery Avenue give improved vehicle access and manoeuvrability to facilitate deliveries. Plus the size of vehicle used now enables us to drop consignments at other locations on our site giving greater access and convenience to all plotholders.

As with all stable manure it is amongst the most highly prized of soil improvers, the usual mix of horse dung and fine grade straw and shavings. Tip. It should be well rotted, up to 12 months, before you add it to your soil which will then greatly improve soil structure and drainage. Once rotted it can be dug or forked into the soil or spread over the surface as a mulch and left to the earthworms to carry it underground and mix it with the soil.



New Year News

Best wishes to all allotment holders for a happy, healthy and fruitful New Year.
I hope you have enjoyed your time spent on your plot during the past year and in particular the fruit and vegetables produced on the plot. We plan to continue our programme of improvements to the site facilities and services in the coming year including, for example, new toilet/washroom facilities and improved security. There will also be regular deliveries from a new supplier of free of charge high grade horse manure. We are also planning to accept debit/credit card payments which we know many of you will find convenient. Options for the reintroduction of equipment hire are also being evaluated. From time to time we call for volunteers to help with site work so please let us know if you can help and let us have any ideas for other improvements. Finally, grateful thanks to the many plotholders for their messages of support for the work of the volunteer board who generously gift their time for Pointalls Allotments.
Paul Hendrick – Chair

Nursery Avenue Gates and Fencing

Our contractor will be returning to complete a number of modifications which will add further to site security and new site and no parking signs will be installed. We will also carry out ground works to increase the hard standing surface and improve the appearance of the area inside the fence.

Demand for Plots

We have a lengthy waiting list which confirms that Pointalls is an attractive destination for prospective plotholders seeking a great location, good value and excellent facilities. A lot of effort is made to promote Pointalls, conducting site visits and matching candidates’ expectations with suitable plots. This year we were pleased to welcome twelve new plotholders to our site.

Trading Shed

If our new plotholders, particularly those not yet experienced in allotment gardening, are looking for growing ideas we have available a collection of 2019 seed and plant catalogues from major suppliers such as Thompson & Morgan, Fothergills, Marshalls and Dobies. Finchley Nurseries discount cards are available to all plotholders, offering 10% off plants and seeds. Thanks to all who support our trading shed through purchases of competitively priced growing materials.

Water Supply – A Successful Outcome

Since 2015, following business changes at Affinity Water we experienced a whole series of problems involving metering and incorrect charges. Basically, the two new divisions of Affinity did not communicate between themselves which also frustrated our many tedious phone calls and efforts to resolve their overcharges. (We have all probably experienced difficulties in dealing with utility companies). Fortunately, we read both our water meters regularly. We are indebted to Ruth our Treasurer for persisting with this matter for three years and finally getting Affinity to write off water charges, saving us £2,500.

On the Plot Tips for January and February

Runner bean trenches can be started in January and don’t forget to care for winter crops. It’s not a bad idea to remove and compost yellowing leaves from brassicas.  January is a good time to plant shallot sets and garlic cloves if soil conditions permit. Winter yields of parsnips, Brussels sprouts,  spinach, leeks, kale and Jerusalem artichokes can be harvested. Towards the end of January consider making early under cover sowings of broad beans, chillies and peas. It’s also a good time to plan ahead, considering crop rotation and thinking about different varieties of vegetables to grow.

February is the starting point for chitting potatoes. FAQ why chit potatoes? Early potato tubers can be chitted in February. By carrying out this process it means the shoots will have already sprouted before you plant them. Egg boxes or module trays are best. Seed potatoes should be placed so that the end of the tuber with the little eyes is facing upward. Keep them in an area where they will receive plenty of sunlight and make sure the area is not affected by frost. You can still plant bare root fruit trees in February along with fruit canes, bushes and vines as long as the earth is not waterlogged or frozen. Prune back to the ground autumn fruiting raspberry canes which will help encourage an abundance of crops in the autumn. Remember to leave trees such as plum, cherry and apricot unpruned; instead do so in the summer months as cutting branches now makes them vulnerable to silver leaf disease.

Look out for more tips when the important sowing and planting season really gets under way in March and April.

Go forward with hope and promise.



December News

Thanks to our team of volunteers who worked at various times today and helped with the huge task of clearing and burning various materials from the site. There was great team spirit, a warm glow (not just from the fire) and everyone worked hard at many tasks. We did not finish everything we planned and next week, depending on the weather we aim to complete this project. We will provide volunteers with warming refreshments. Thanks also to plotholders who dropped by to say they are happy to help us in the future. If you wish to add your name to our roster of volunteers please send an email to: sitemanager@pointalls.org

Good news. Many of the pallets have now been broken up and there is a supply of pallet wood (boards) available next to the site toilet.

Our green waste skip was collected and replaced today and is now situated on the hard standing area adjacent to the trading shed. The skip truck has churned up the grass parking area (67P) and this will be restored soonest.

The new Nursery Avenue security gates and fencing installation is now almost complete. As mentioned in yesterday’s update please use the Squires Lane gate as access will be restricted until Saturday 8th.



November News Extra

Onion Sets – Potential Supply Problem

An important message concerning orders for next season’s onion sets. Many of you have ordered onion sets from the trading shed and also from other suppliers. Our wholesale supplier has informed us of a potential problem with availability of onion sets for spring planting. This year’s extreme weather conditions are the cause resulting in a much reduced yield. We do not know at present if we will receive our bulk order but the prospects are not good.

We have one or two recommendations which you might consider as an alternative.

Onion seeds. Seed packets are readily available in garden centres and online. Our experience of growing onions from seed is that results can be hit and miss. If buying seed we suggest you look for advice or share or seek tips from fellow plotholders.

Onion sets (autumn planting). There is still time to purchase and plant up to the end of December. We have done a web and store search and advise that availability is now limited. Some online suppliers are accepting orders but check what they say about delivery.

Onion sets (spring planting). Online suppliers are accepting orders for delivery early next year. However, alternative varieties may be offered and availability is not guaranteed.

Let us hope we manage to secure our bulk purchase from our usual wholesaler or another supplier. When we have more information we will of course let you know.



November Newsletter

Hello, it’s Laura posting this month’s news and bringing you up to date with what is going on at Pointalls Allotments. This is the only official Pointalls communication.

First of all I would like to announce that the new fencing and gate alongside the Long Lane/Nursery Avenue entrance is now on order and will be installed soon. This will give us a wider gate with easier access for our deliveries, skips, plotholders vehicles and for emergency services in case they are needed. Most important our site security and personal safety will be enhanced now that the houses are built and their ornamental fence is a bit too low and inadequate for our site security.

We have an architect helping to prepare a plan for new flush toilets to be built near the trading shed. Hopefully, we will come up with a design proposal soon.

You will have noticed that the padlocks on the gates have been refurbished and welded on a chain so that when dropped they should not get damaged.

It is time to dig over and rest our plots for the winter. Sadly, we had our last delivery of council compost and many of us have used it to cover the beds ready for next year’s cultivation.

For those who like overwintering produce it is time to sow broad beans and garlic and onions. I also found last year that instead of covering my beds with plastic it is very useful to grow green manure on them, it keeps the weeds down, the earth nourished and less work in the spring!

You might have heard that a member of Pointalls Allotments has requested us to provide them with some of your personal contact details. The member is Elsie Price (plot 2) who has also indicated that your details will be shared with another member, Marion Lamb (plot 46).

It seems that the two members are seeking a mailing list to facilitate communications with you. They may take us (Pointalls) to court in an attempt to access your data. However, your details are held securely in our plotholders database. To release your personal contact details would be in breach of the General Data Protection Regulations (2018) and our promise made to you to safeguard your personal data.

Of course as an individual you are free to choose who you give your personal contact details. Should you wish to share your details (be aware of security and compliance) with the named individuals it is entirely up to you and you should contact them directly.

We are also receiving comments from plotholders who say they feel intimidated or are uncomfortable being approached on site by one or two members criticising the work of most of the board. It would be a gross dereliction of our duty as elected members if we fail you in not dealing with this matter.

We (the Board) may not always agree (we are not clones) and we may sometimes make decisions which are not popular with some of our members but we wish to assure you of our focus on our plotholders’ interests and the success of the site.



October News Extra 2

Our neighbours Long Lane Pasture will light a fire beacon of tribute to mark the occasion of 100 Years of Remembrance on 11th November 2018. Joining many others across the nation in Remembrance of the WW1 Armistice beacons will be lit at the same time, 7.30pm all around the UK. Pointalls plotholders are invited to this event to pay tribute.
You are asked to arrive early. As the Pasture will not be open to the public you can gain entrance via the Pasture gate which is on our site adjacent to plot 1.
Following the event some warming soup and a drink will be on offer.



October News Extra

Dark Compost Delivery

Please make a diary note that we anticipate the final delivery of dark compost will be made on 29th October.

Pallets

We are never short of wooden pallets and right now we have a large number on site. We know that many plotholders find it difficult or are unable to take pallets apart. Today, as a service to plotholders we have taken apart a number of pallets; the timber boards are freely available and can be found next to the workshop at the Nursery Avenue entrance. A cautionary note. Please be very careful when moving the timber as many of the boards still have nails which you can easily remove with strong pliers or a claw hammer. And a plea.
Please take only what you need for immediate use.

Thefts

More thefts of produce have been reported and we noticed an attempt at forced entry and damage to a door of one of the outbuildings close to the trading shed. If you see anything suspicious or have any information please let us know.

New bug spotted on site

Has anyone noticed in the last few weeks that we have been visited by an insect species relatively new to Britain? Nezara viridula or Southern Green Shield Bug, its juvenile stage is very distinctive, dark green to black with four rows of white dots running down its back. In its adult form it looks very much like our native Green Shield Bug. Apparently it’s relatively harmless and sustains itself by sucking sap and has been seen on various types of bean plants. It overwinters in dead vegetation, so the green waste skip and burning may be a useful way of containing it. More information is available on the RHS website.



October News Update

Watering & Hosepipes

It might be raining but those veggies need a good drink. The current restriction (from mid September to the year end) on the use of hosepipes has been lifted. That’s good news for the many plotholders with autumn crops and over winter plants to look after. Although it is raining today the outlook for the month is largely dry conditions.

Seed Potatoes & Onion Sets

If you have not yet placed your order for potatoes and onions the last chance is tomorrow (Sunday 7th October). For details of available products and our competitive prices please click on the following link:

Potato and Onion Flyer

How to order

  • Either visit the Trading Shed (Sunday) or if you cannot get there
  • Phone your order to 07756190582 and leave a message or
  • Send your order by email to membership@pointalls.org
  • Let us know what you require and we will take care of your order.

A Few Tips For Looking After Your Plot This Month

  • Move tender plants under cover to overwinter
  • Harvest green tomatoes and put them in a drawer with a banana to ripen.
  • Remove tomato plants and put them on the compost heap or green waste skip
  • Close greenhouse doors and windows at night to keep the warm air inside
  • Tender herbs such as chives, basil and parsley can be transferred into pots and taken indoors to survive the winter and for harvesting. Water only when needed in the morning and avoid the evening as herbs hate soggy roots at night
  • Sow seeds of certain varieties of broad beans, peas, cauliflowers and winter lettuce
  • Harvest remaining maincrop potatoes as waterlogged soil affects the yield
  • Also harvest beetroot, broccoli florets, cape gooseberries, parsnips
  • Stake Brussels sprouts plants to prevent wind rock and check for symptoms of club root (leaves turn yellow and pale)
  • Lift carrots before the first frosts get to them and store for the winter
  • Cut the stems of leeks whenever you need them as they store well in the ground over winter
  • Plant cabbages when seedlings have produced five or six leaves
  • New bare rooted currant bushes can be planted now
  • Plant over winter varieties of garlic and onions
  • Choose a sheltered spot for planting strawberries so that pollinating insects can reach them easily
  • October is a great time to sort out plots, sheds, greenhouses and prepare for the autumn and winter weather

Green Waste Recycling

The use of the green waste skip has so far exceeded expectations and visibly shows how much spent material was previously going up in smoke. We know we are doing something to protect our environment and at the same time turning the waste into commercial compost.

Dark Compost

We understand that some plotholders did not see the following important news item which we posted last month.

We have for many years enjoyed regular and free supplies of dark compost from LEL, a company operated by North London Waste Authority, which is owned by a number of councils including Barnet. Sadly, the composting facility is to close at Edmonton as NLWA are redeveloping the site to increase the amount of residual waste to be processed and turned into energy to help power homes across North London.

We have managed to secure one final delivery of dark compost which should be available in October and we will let you know when we have a confirmed date.

Will dark compost be available in the future? NLWA advise that this material will not be available for the foreseeable future from the Edmonton plant. We do know that domestic green bins and our own on site green waste skip service will continue and contents will be transported to other compost processors outside our area. NLWA advise that the cost of transporting and distributing compost back to north London is prohibitive. We will keep you informed as we receive updates from the supplier.

Stop Press. We are working with Barnet Allotment Federation and following up other potential sources of dark compost.



August News Update

Site Maintenance Work

There have been some ill-informed rumours circulating of doom and destruction due to having a digger on site, so here are the facts.

The digger will operate in a number of site locations carrying out essential work in one day which would otherwise take many hours of manual labour. The board unanimously agreed to this at the April board meeting. Projects include:

Moving and levelling soil around the margins of unoccupied plot 77 (behind the Trading Shed) which can then be grassed and planted with fruit and nut trees to improve the general amenity on site and also partially screen the new build houses.

Also the burning plot (7), which has been looking very untidy, will be having a much needed clean up. We will in addition remove the mound in the centre of the communal area. Any suitable soil and materials from this will be recycled and used elsewhere around the site to build up verges, fill depressions and level pathways. Any surplus will be made available to plotholders.

One willow tree will be removed because of its invasive root system, and heritage variety fruit trees will be planted to replace it and also to fill other spaces. On this note we would welcome suggestions of old varieties of fruit trees which are in danger of being lost which we could plant to improve the communal area. Local heritage apple cultivars include Fearn’s Pippin, Howgate Wonder and Sunset.

A specimen walnut tree will be planted in place of the mound. This will look great, give shade on hot summer days and also, hopefully, a good crop of walnuts.

There are large pieces of plastic and rusty metal on and around the communal plot which have no place there. These will be removed and a few low shrubs which have struggled for light, air and water will be transplanted.

Unfortunately, the ground beneath the trees in the communal area was lined with plastic sheeting. If left this will ultimately breakdown into micro plastics and quite likely end up in the fruit. We would like to remove the plastic. The area under the fruit trees can then be levelled and seeded with grasses and wild flowers which will be good for bees, other pollinators and amphibians. Native daffodils and bluebells could also be planted making it a truly beautiful place. The grass under the trees could be managed like a hay meadow to prevent trees and brambles taking over, whilst significantly reducing the amount of maintenance.

In the past, the trees in the communal area were quite severely pruned. They will now be allowed to develop more naturally which will increase their beauty and fruit yields.

This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance and enrich the communal area for the enjoyment of all plotholders.

Other work will include tree stump and roadway clearing in areas close to plots 16/17/69/101-103 and around the Nursery Avenue entrance.

Thefts

We are sadly receiving reports of produce and other items being taken from a number of plots. Please be vigilant and report immediately any suspicious behaviour or anyone on site who may not be a plotholder. Theft is a problem common to all allotment sites and presently Barnet Allotment Federation have the issue under review.

Litter on Site

We are appealing to all plotholders to help keep the site as tidy as possible by taking home or to Summers Lane all items which we cannot recycle on site. We continue to find on the burning site glass and plastic bottles, plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, metal and items of a toxic nature. We can all help the environment and each other by taking away our litter.

Should you have any questions and have suggestions regarding heritage fruit trees please send an email to sitemanager@pointalls.org or drop a note in the mailbox.

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