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 communications@pointalls.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 communications@pointalls.org. 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 communications@pointalls.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 communications@pointalls.org.

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 communications@pointalls.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!

            Before                                               After

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!

Click here to read the leaflet.

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 communications@pointalls.org 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 communications@pointalls.org.



Invitation to BBQ

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

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

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

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

Everybody welcome!

 



Newsletter August 2019

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

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BBQ available for general use

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

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

No rubbish into green waste skip

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

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

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

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

Composting workshop on 28 September

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

Rent payment for 2020

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

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

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

Book for you to read

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

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

Results of site competitions in Barnet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Termination of tenancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building of temporary structures

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

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

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

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

Enemy number one – bindweed

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

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

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



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Newsletter July 2019

Local horticultural show on 18 August

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

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

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

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

Trip to Wisley – tell me if you are interested

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

Card reader now in place

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

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

Fire to smoke out wasps created incident

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

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

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

Composting workshop well received

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

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

Update on finances

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

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

Call for Pointalls photos

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

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

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

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

Why it’s no longer gardening as usual

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

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

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



Newsletter June 2019

First plant sale a success

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

 

Visit to Brook Farm Allotments

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

Learn how to compost on 6 July at 11am

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

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

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

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

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

Something to celebrate

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

In case of the need for complaint

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

Temporary Toilets

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

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

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

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

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

Health benefits of allotment gardening

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

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

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

Tool hire halted

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

Trip to RHS Wisley

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



New temporary toilet facilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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