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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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.
Seed Potatoes, Onion Sets and Composting
Seed Potatoes & Onion Sets
Good news for plotholders who have ordered seed potatoes and onion sets. Our delivery has been confirmed and your order will be ready to collect at the trading shed from Sunday 2nd February.
For those of you who ordered Sarpo Mira variety of potatoes not so good news. The weather has not been kind to this variety resulting in a substantial crop failure and supply shortages. However, better news as we will be substituting with an alternative maincrop variety which has similar qualities to Sarpo Mira.
The replacement variety is Picasso which is a modern disease resistant potato that produces round to oval tubers with creamy white, smooth waxy skins and pinkish eyes. You can expect similar high yields, ready for harvesting from September and storing well. It’s good for baking and mashing too.
Now’s the time to increase or begin composting on your plot. The trading shed now has stock of fantastic value large 330 litre size compost bins at just £17.00 each.
We also have safe to use compost activator, to mix with your green waste and speed up the composting process. Only £2.00 for a 2.5kg bag.
Remember you can now pay by card for trading shed purchases.
Roaming Dog Issue Resolved
We are pleased to let you know that we have now resolved the problem of the large dog which has been seen roaming around the site during the past few weeks. The dog, a Japanese Akita, which is powerful and has strong hunting instincts was crossing the site in search of prey and finding its way via a fox trail on to the neighbouring Pasture. Clearly in search of foxes. Fortunately, the animal did not attack any plotholders although its large build could be intimidating.
Our site manager successfully tracked the very evasive dog and also found the owner, a nearby resident. We have received assurances that the escape route on the owners property will be sealed (we have taken action on site). Akita’s have an overriding tendency to hunt and are known for their ingenuity in creating and finding escape routes. Should the dog be seen on site again please let us know. Below is a picture of the dog taken on site.
Newsletter November 2019
First ‘Have Your Say’ session
At the first ‘Have Your Say’ session in October around a dozen members attended. These meetings are very informal. There is no record of who attended or who asked what question. Simple notes are made of the content of the questions and answers which are summarised here:
Q. Will the CCTV cameras be directed/focussed on plots?
A. No, only on roadways. To be reviewed if and when an incident has occurred in order to see who entered the site on the day in question.
Q. Not replying to communications
A. Apologies, hopefully this will not occur in the future. The general principle is that emails received will be acknowledged and then dealt with at the next board meeting.
Q. Request for a volunteers’ list to assist plotholders requiring help
A. Any plotholder wishing to volunteer please submit their name, plot number and a contact phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. The list will then be displayed on the notice board(s) and in the trading shed.
Q. What is happening to the toilets?
A. There will be a membership survey in the near future.
Q. What about the penalty cost for plotholders who do not maintain their pathways?
A. This is allowed within the regulations (see regulation 6) and would only be carried out in agreement with plotholders. No plotholders have incurred charges, as all plotholders who received letters assisted in keeping their pathways clear.
Q. New regulations have been introduced without the membership’s approvalA. The board has the authority to introduce regulations, albeit not retrospectively. All that has been done is that a number of regulations have been better and more precisely defined to align us with other allotment sites.
Q. What is happening to plot 102?
A. It is proposed to create a small turning area for plotholders’ vehicles and offer the remaining area as a reduced plot.
Q. Roadway on Squires Lane side has skip lorry churning up soft ground. What is happening about reinstatement?
A. We have a written undertaking from the plotholder that any damage will be made good. We are monitoring the situation.
Q. Consideration to Long Lane Pasture members regarding access from allotment site to pasture.
A. A Pasture supporter who is also a plotholder has requested such consideration. Our response is that we would be happy to consider any proposal which the trustees of the Pasture might make, providing it met a real need, did not put site security at risk and was at nil cost to allotment members’ funds. However, we would also have to obtain an amendment to our lease with the London Borough of Barnet.Q. Why has the tool hire service been suspended?
A. Due to poor condition on return, which necessitated costly repairs and made the service unviable, plus our duty of care in relation to health & safety.
Q. Plotholders given notice to quit
A. Consequence of a plotholder’s misconduct, behaving in an anti-social way towards other plotholders. Such behaviour will not be tolerated – see tenancy/ regulations for enforcement.
Q. Is the board contemplating a polytunnel given it was mentioned in previous minutes?
A. The item was discussed but there are no plans to introduce/purchase a polytunnel. We are merely exploring fund raising opportunities that a polytunnel might give in regards to plant sales.
The next ‘Have Your Say’ meeting is scheduled for Sunday 19 January 2020 at 11.30 in the trading shed.
Turnaround space on plot 102
Plot 102 will shortly be taken on by a new tenant. The plot has been made slightly smaller in order to provide a turnaround space for cars that drive into the roadway along the fence. This should make driving in and out easier and safer.
Looking after your personal data
We are required by law to take good care of our members’ personal information. We maintain a members’ open register, which by law may be made available to the public. Nearly all plotholders chose to list Pointalls’ registered office address on this register, not their personal address. A separate database of members’ full details, known as the closed register, is securely kept and is protected by the General Data Protection Regulations.
An anonymous organisation calling itself ‘Friends of Pointalls’ has tried recently, and unsuccessfully, to obtain a plotholder’s personal information from Barnet Allotment Federation. If this had been successful, it would have been a breach of data protection rules.
Do you recognise this car?
Two unknown males in their mid-20s were recently found to be acting suspiciously on the allotment. They had a site key and had driven on to the allotment in the car below. If you recognise the car and know whom it belongs to, please drop us a line to email@example.com. These individuals are not plotholders and should not be on the allotment. Please keep an eye out for the car and alert one of the board members if you should see it on the site.
Survey on toilets
When you receive your invoice for next year, you will also receive a survey that asks you about one specific issue – your opinion about the provision of toilets. It is an important issue for the whole site because it is potentially a big investment that we need to get right. For this reason, I urge you to complete the survey and return it by 31 January 2020. Everyone’s opinion counts!
Termination of tenancy
You will have heard that we have had to terminate the tenancy of a long-standing tenant for anti-social behaviour. The tenant behaved in an intentionally intimidating manner towards another plotholder and the incident was witnessed by a third allotment holder. Anti-social behaviour of this nature is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. If you would like more detail, please contact any of the board members and they can elaborate.
One large carrot
John and Pat Waterhouse clearly know their stuff when it comes to vegetable growing. This is one of this year’s harvest and reportedly John was not even that astonished about the size. Thanks to Rachael Harvey for a lovely picture.
Monty Don in Havana
I watched this programme about urban food growing in Havana with interest. Monty Don visits newly established allotments, called huertas that are dotted around the city. Monty describes it as a green revolution and one of the most sophisticated schemes of organic growing in the world.
The film was made in 2008 as part of the series Around the World in 80 Gardens, but it is now more important than ever that we should re-make food growing into an organic and local industry.
Generous contributions received
This was the weekly contribution of produce received in late October. Radhika and Rachael thank all Pointalls members for their involvement in the scheme this year. The produce was delivered to a kitchen for vulnerable people and to Homeless Action Barnet, and received with thanks! The plan is to start these valuable and generous collections again next year once harvesting begins.
Plant sale next May
Here is a heads up for your diary in 2020 – on Saturday 9 May we are planning to hold a plant sale to raise funds for the allotment. We will need your contributions!
In January, I will follow up with more detail – including what type of seedlings we are looking for in order to make this sale as successful as possible.
Inaccurate information being circulated
A small group of members are alleging that we have recently introduced significant changes to site regulations. This is incorrect. Site rules concerning anti-social behaviour and immediate termination of tenancies have been part of our tenancy agreements and regulations for many years. Rules regarding pathway or plot restoration charges were introduced in 2017.
As regards oversized and neglected compost heaps, we are offering advice as this is not a regulation as such. Furthermore, we certainly do not recommend burning green waste, something that has been alleged. We have clear guidance in our regulations (23, 24, 35) which materials must be composted, disposed of using the popular green waste skip, or by controlled burning on the fire site. If you require copies of our permitted materials information sheets please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newsletter October 2019
‘Have Your Say’ meeting on 20 October
All plotholders are welcome to the inaugural ‘Have Your Say’ meeting on Sunday 20 October from 11.30 to 12.30. This is a forum to discuss ideas across our membership. Just turn up at the trading shed.
Board members will be in attendance to discuss ideas and answer your questions. This is planned as the first of a regular series of meetings scheduled every few months.
Random cameras to enhance security
Random cameras to enhance securityIn an effort to improve security and fight burglars, thiefs and vandals, we decided to make use of technology. Roaming cameras will be randomly deployed on the allotment site. There will be CCTV signs at the gates alerting everyone to this new approach.
The cameras record intermittently and we will only view a recording if there is a particular reason to do so. Therefore, it remains most important that you report any problems straight away so we can potentially make use of recordings that may exist. In the end, vigilance by all of us is the best security measure of all.
The cameras are an additional measure to enhance security, the logic behind installing security lights at the Nursery Road entrance (reported in the September newsletter). As regards lights, we continue to investigate a solution for the Squires Lane gate. If you know of any useful information regarding lights that are strong but work without electricity, please get in touch.
Potato thief caught and banned
Talking about security, we have recently had to take action against a potato thief. A man was observed helping himself to newly dug potatoes from a wheelbarrow. Not only that, he returned and did it again.
It turned out the man was not a member but was helping one of our allotment holders. He was banned from the site and the allotment holder was reminded of his responsibility for the behaviour of his guests.
Compost bin on special
- Transform your plot’s green waste into a valuable and nutrient-rich compost mulch with our special-buy compost bin
- Exclusive price for Pointalls plotholders
- Only £17.00 each
- Large savings compared with retail prices
- Secure environment for compost, this converter also retains heat and moisture
- Extra-wide hatch allowing easy removal of the finished compost
- Wide aperture enables easy filling of the composter
- Push-fit windproof lid prevents the contents from blowing away
- Full user guide included
- Made from recycled plastic, the composter is UV stabilised to prevent degradation
- Carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust
- Large capacity 330 litres
- Height 1000mm/diameter 800mm
- Buying from us means no handling or delivery problems
- Available now from the trading shed
- We also sell compost activator to speed up production at only £2.00 for a 2.5kg bag
Donate your surplus vegetables
Until the middle of November, you can donate your excess fruit and vegetables and help homeless people.
Two of our allotment gardeners have been collecting surplus produce and delivering it to a local charity kitchen that cooks meals for the homeless of the neighbourhood. Vegetables are delivered to the charity kitchen every Monday. The scheme will run until the middle of November and start again in the spring.
Rachael and Radhika, and of course the charity kitchen, send their thanks to all those who have already shared their excess produce and supported the initiative.
If you have any crops you would like to donate, please take them to the collection point on plot 6 next to the communal area. You will see the blue boxes under a plum tree.
RHS app to help vegetable growers
For all the computer geeks among us, here is an excellent piece of kit from the RHS. It gives masses of information on fruit and vegetable growing. But what I like best is the monthly calendar.
Click here for a list of all the possible jobs for the month of October.
Newsletters less frequent through the winter
I have had some positive feedback on the newsletters and would like to thank all those who let me know they are enjoying reading them.
With less activity on the allotment in the winter, there is less to report. Therefore, the newsletter will be less frequent. But do not fret, once the spring comes, newsletters will be published every month.
As ever, if you have any ideas on what should be covered, please drop me a line to email@example.com.
Tenant asked to leave
Regrettably, we had to terminate the membership of a plotholder recently for anti-social behaviour.
Not sure whether this is a frog or a toad, but it does look like wildlife. Thanks to Laura De Benedetti for the photo. It will, of course, be entered in our photo competition!
Newsletter September 2019
BBQ in brilliant sunshine
Luckily, the recent allotment BBQ went off very well in good weather. Vegetarians and carnivores were catered for with separate BBQs on the communal area.
All that was missing was ice-cold beer from the tap. Maybe an idea for next year?
Send in your photos
This is a reminder that we are running a photo competition this year. Please send in your photos of any topic related to the allotments, your tools, your harvests, or, as I like to do, other gardeners’ flowers – see a shot of some lovely dahlias below that were not grown by me.
All entries most welcome! To be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Site inspections note big improvement
Over the past months, we carried out regular monthly site inspections. At these inspections, the focus was on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.
A number of plotholders received letters urging them to improve their cultivation, etc. Happily, these reminders have had the intended effect.
The good news is that we have seen a big improvement over the past months. Yes, some issues remain to be tackled, but a great many have been resolved, making Pointalls overall a better allotment site. Keep up the good work!After a pause over the winter, we will be starting the monthly inspections of the whole site again in the spring.
Thank you for all the work
You may have noticed that the composting toilet has had a makeover. No, it was nothing to do with any of the TV shows that are carrying out such projects. It was all to do with Mel and his decision that the toilet should have a new lease of life.
Mel worked extremely hard, taking it all apart, cleaning up the wood and putting it back together. It now looks better than it has ever done before.
Thank you very much, Mel, for a fantastic job!
Security light at Nursery Avenue gate
If you have used the nursery gate as it was getting dark, you will have noticed that there is a new feature attached to the trading shed. It is a security light that is activated by movement within a 15-metre radius.
It has been installed to enable plot holders to enter and depart the site at dusk and hopefully improve security by deterring unwanted trespassers from climbing over the gates at night. The light is activated by movement sensors and will stay on for approximately two minutes.
At the moment we cannot put a security light on the other gate as there is no electricity supply at the Squires Lane entrance. The possibiliy of a solar-powered light has been considered but we found they are not powerful enough. However, this topic will continue to be reviewed.
Composting workshop on 28 September
You have another opportunity to learn about composting. On Saturday 28 September, Paul Castignetti, our site manager, will repeat his training session on composting. Meet at 11.00 outside the trading shed.
I have said it before, composting our own green waste is the best way of dealing with it. Much better for the environment, our own gardens and our wallet, than sending it by truck to the council’s composting site – as we do when we fill up the green waste skip.
Heaps of green waste on plots
One of the issues identified in our monthly inspections are heaps of green waste mixed with soil on a number of plots. They seem to have been growing year in, year out, and have in many cases become very large indeed.
After the painful experience of cleaning up after a tenant whose tenancy was recently terminated (see report in August newsletter), we are keen not to repeat this costly endeavour. To remind you, cleaning up behind the tenant cost us as a community close to £1,000. This expenditure was necessary to bring the plot back to a condition that a new tenant could cope with.
With this in mind, we are asking all plotholders to either compost their heaps in a proper bin from which organic matter can be extracted and used. Alternatively, please dispose of your heaps by placing what is green waste in the skip.
We do not want to be left in a position where we have to spend the community’s money to clean up heaps if a plotholder decides to leave. Therefore, we are asking all those who have been notified as having assembled an unacceptable heap to either compost properly or dispose of the heap by the end of the year.
If you are not sure how to go about composting, please attend the workshop on 28 September to gain all the information you require.
What do you know about ‘no dig’ gardening?
Charles Dowding is famous for his work comparing traditional gardening with his favourite ‘no dig’ gardening. In this excellent, short video he shows two vegetable beds that have been worked in these two different styles.
To give it away – there is no difference in the size or growth rate of the vegetables in the two beds – but in the long run, the ‘no dig’ style generates a 5% better yield – with much less work and less weeding. Home-made compost is the main ingredient.
How to fight maggots in plums
If your plums have maggots, then you are faced with plum moth caterpillars. These are pink grubs that tunnel into fruit during the summer near the stem and feed on the flesh. Affected plums ripen first and often have a resinous bead of plum where the grub entered.
Pick these fruits and put them in the green waste bin, then collect the windfalls, as these will also contain the caterpillars.
When fully fed, the caterpillars emerge and overwinter inside silk cocoons spun under loose bark or the soil below. Encourage birds to visit the tree with feeders hung from branches. Finches will attract wrens, goldcrests and blackbirds, which will find the grubs.
Cultivate the soil under the tree, too, raking it to bring any pupae up to where birds can find them.
There is no chemical cure, but we sell pheromone traps to hang near embryonic fruits in May, when grubs are hatching. Traps lure males with a scent that mimics female plum moths. Males are trapped inside on a sticky sheet. With fewer males for mating, females lay fewer eggs.
Customers making good use of card machine
John Waterhouse is reporting a good take-up of the new card machine in the trading shed. Personally, I am waiting for an opportunity to spend some money there and see how much John enjoys using the modern technology.
Just one small reminder, the card machine can be used for all purchases in the trading shed, but not to pay the rent next year. That will need to be done via a bank transfer or a cheque (see August newsletter for more detail).
A case for water butts
Brighton & Hove Allotment Federation have published a concise leaflet how gardeners can use water most effectively. They rightly make a strong case for harvesting rain water and storing it in water butts. We should all be fitting guttering to shed roofs and use it to fill our tanks. Pour in a tablespoon of cooking oil and no mosquito will ever attempt to lay her eggs in your water butt!
If you have spare water tanks or large containers that could be used as water butts, it would be very helpful for other allotment holders who are thinking of storing rain water. If you have access to such things, drop me a line to email@example.com and we will find a match.
Enemy number two – Himalayan balsam
- What do you know about Himalayan balsam?It is a relative of Busy Lizzy, but gets as tall as a person.
- It is quite pretty and was brought to the UK by gardeners who liked the flowers.
- It has since spread across the whole of Europe.
- It is highly invasive, grows rapidly and spreads quickly. It smothers other plants.
- The seed pods open explosively and shoot ripe seeds up to seven metres away.
- The good news is that it is easy to pull out of the ground. It is very important to weed it before it has a chance to spread its seeds.
This picture was taken on our allotments and shows a plot that is overrun by the balsam. We have asked the plotholder to get on top of the problem so as not to affect the whole site.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.