Seasonal Bugs On Site

We are very grateful to a conscientious plotholder who has helpfully reported the early arrival of two of our least favourite bugs, namely codling moths and blackfly. The codling moths head for apple and pear trees (and walnuts) whilst blackfly are taking up residence on broad bean plants, particularly those planted during the autumn months. Perhaps these early arrivals are due to the spell of warmer weather and the absence of severe frost.

There is a huge amount of advice available in gardening books and magazines and on the web of course. Some plotholders will have tried and tested ways of dealing with these pests but for many of us here’s what we suggest, act now and protect your fruit and vegetables.

We recommend the Agralan codling moth trap to protect your apple and pear trees. Available from our trading shed the traps and refills are easy to install, just follow the on pack instructions. The traps are RHS endorsed and 1 trap will protect up to 5 trees.

Use a brush to remove small clusters of blackfly before they increase and spread.  A gardeners’ trick is to pinch off the tips of broad bean plants before blackfly appear in order to remove a favourite feeding point. Not only does this address the problem, but it also encourages better growth and development of strong pods.



Trading Shed News Update

Trading Shed Update

Our latest delivery arrived along with inevitable price increases to a few products and a small increase in transport costs. The increases have been kept to a minimum which enables us to continue our offer of great value when compared to other retailers and the convenience of purchasing on site. Full details can be found on the price list below.

Following a substantial wholesale price increase we have decided to discontinue the heavy duty version of 8ft bamboo canes (we have a small stock available) and replacing with a slightly lighter weight in order to keep prices down.

Thank you for your continued support.

Trading shed – Products and Prices – May 2022

BrandProductSizePrice £
Composts
CloverMultipurpose compost60ltrs6.80
CloverEricaceous compost75ltrs8.00
WestlandTop soil, screened & blended loam35ltrs5.00
MelcourtSylvaGrow peat free multipurpose compost50ltrs8.00
J A BowersJohn Innes seed compost (loam based)10ltrs4.00
SinclairVermiculite10ltrs8.30
Fertiliser & plant food
J A BowersOrganic farm manure50ltrs5.90
GrowmoreFertiliser & multipurpose plant food25kg27.00
Westland/GrowmoreFertiliser & multipurpose plant food1.5kg4.60
Vitax 6XPelleted chicken manure8kg7.50
LevingtonLiquid tomato feed1.3ltr4.00
WestlandSulphate of potash – new pack size1.5kg4.00
VitaxGarden lime granules3kg3.50
WestlandFish, blood & bone – new pack size1.5kg4.60
Garden lime25kg7.00
Bamboo canes
Bamboo canes (50/55 lb)8ft0.80
NewBamboo canes (44/48 lb)8ft0.70
Bamboo canes5ft0.35
Bamboo canes4ft0.30
Bug & pest control
ProtectSlug killer pellets800g6.00
Growing SuccessNatural bug free spray for fruit & vegetables800g6.00
VitaxCabbage collarsPk302.30
BayerDithane fungicide/bug spray4g1.00
AgralanApple/pear maggot trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)7.00
AgralanPlum/gages/damsons moth trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)8.00
AgralanRefills for above (2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)6.00
AgralanLeek moth trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)6.50
AgralanFly/bug traps & hangers – sticky double sidedPk73.50
ProvantoGreasebands (certified for organic use)1.75m5.50
VitaxCopper mixture175g4.00
Sundries
GarottaCompost activator3.5kg2.00
CardocGarden twine natural jute200g3.00
Cem-SpecWashed potting/horticultural grit – lime freePk3.50
JobdoneWeedkiller (single sachet)8g1.50
JobdoneWeedkiller (pk 6  x sachets)Pk 6x8g8.50
NetlonPlant tie twists1001.00
Plant labels501.00
Polythene sheet – black4×12.5m25.00
VitaxGreenhouse shading500ml5.50
VariousVegetable & Herb seeds – subject to availability0.50



News from the Trading Shed

We have been busily restocking the trading shed and thanks to your support our stock of many items is moving quickly. Please be reassured that we are reordering to get ahead of demand.

Moth traps

Some fruit trees and leeks are best protected from invasive moths. Moths are the major cause of maggot damage in apples, pears and plums. Fixing a moth trap in place towards the end of May offers great protection. One trap will monitor up to 5 average size trees within a range of 15 metres (50 feet).

Leek moths which also attack members of the onion family fly from early April until late May and again from July until September.

A range of Agralan traps and refills are available at the trading shed. See price list below for full details.

Slug Pellets

We wish to clarify the situation and correct some of the misinformation on the web and on site regarding usage of slug pellets.

From April 2022  slug pellets containing Metaldehyde can no longer be purchased in the UK. At Pointalls we discontinued selling that variety of slug pellets several years ago and switched to organic brands. We only sell slug pellets which contain Ferrous Phosphate  which are approved for organic use in the UK and EU.

We think our organic slug pellets are both more effective and rain resistant. Uneaten pellets eventually dissolve and add their nutrient content to the soil.

Lost keys

Keys were found on Monday close to the Squires Lane gate. If you think they may belong to you or someone you know please get in touch by replying to this email.

Prices

Due to more increases in wholesale prices we have adjusted the prices of a small number of products. Below is the latest price list.

BrandProductSizePrice £
Composts
CloverMultipurpose compost60ltrs6.50
CloverEricaceous compost75ltrs8.00
WestlandTop soil, screened & blended loam35ltrs5.00
MelcourtSylvaGrow peat free multipurpose compost50ltrs8.00
J A BowersJohn Innes seed compost (loam based)25ltrs4.00
SinclairVermiculite5ltrs2.00
Fertiliser & plant food
J A BowersOrganic farm manure50ltrs5.50
GrowmoreFertiliser & multipurpose plant food25kg27.00
Vitax 6XPelleted chicken manure8kg7.50
LevingtonLiquid tomato feed1.3ltr4.00
WestlandSulphate of potash – new pack size1.5kg4.00
VitaxGarden lime granules3kg3.50
WestlandFish, blood & bone – new pack size1.5kg3.60
Garden lime25kg6.50
Bamboo canes
Bamboo canes (heavy duty)8ft0.80
Bamboo canes5ft0.35
Bamboo canes4ft0.30
Bug & pest control
ProtectSlug killer pellets800g6.00
Growing SuccessNatural bug free spray for fruit & vegetables800g6.00
VitaxCabbage collarsPk302.30
BayerDithane fungicide/bug spray4g1.00
AgralanApple/pear maggot trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)7.00
AgralanPlum/gages/damsons moth trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)8.00
AgralanRefills for above (2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)6.00
AgralanLeek moth trap (trap, 2x sticky inserts, 2 lures)6.50
AgralanFly/bug traps & hangers – sticky double sidedPk73.50
ProvantoGreasebands (certified for organic use)1.75m5.50
VitaxCopper mixture175g4.00
Sundries
GarottaCompost activator3.5kg2.00
CardocGarden twine natural jute200g3.00
Cem-SpecWashed potting/horticultural grit – lime freePk3.00
JobdoneWeedkiller (single sachet)8g1.50
JobdoneWeedkiller (pk 6  x sachets)Pk 6x8g8.50
NetlonPlant tie twists1001.00
Plant labels501.00
Polythene sheet – black4×12.5m25.00
VitaxGreenhouse shading500ml5.50
VariousVegetable & Herb seeds – subject to availability0.50



Newsletter March 2022 (2)

Workshops are returning

We are offering workshops in composting and pruning for anyone who wants to improve their gardening practice.

Paul Castignetti, our site manager, is inviting all to the first session next Sunday 27 March at 10am outside the trading shed. He will explain how to compost your weeds and grass cuttings, and end up with beautiful, nourishing organic matter that will feed your vegetables .

The second session will be on Sunday 10 April at 4pm on pruning of trees and shrubs and will offer advice on pruning techniques and timing.

And a third session, again on composting, is scheduled for Sunday 24 April at 10am.

All sessions are outside the trading shed. Just come along on the day with your questions.

If you have ideas what future topics should be covered, be they in the form of workshops or of talks, just drop me a line and we can see what we can organise. We have some extremely experienced gardeners on site who may well be open to sharing some of their knowledge with beginners and improvers.

Thank you to our volunteers

We want to send a warm thank you to our volunteers who have been helping with important general maintenance around the site. This contribution is worth a very great deal to all of the plotholders at Pointalls.

Plot competition to be run as real event

Barnet Allotment Federation (BAF) will hold its competition for best plots in Barnet as a real event this year. Following two years when Covid forced BAF to run a virtual competition based on photos, in 2022 the judges will return in person.

You may remember it is only two years ago that Anca Covaci and Lina Hellgren of plot 116 came third in the whole of Barnet. In May 2021, the two prize winners were presented with their trophy by Kirstie Burgin, vice chair of BAF.

This is to alert everyone who is thinking of entering this year to start planning their growing so as to have the best chance. Timing is all important in this, so it is just as well to be aware that initial and final judging is planned for the weekends of 16 July and 23 July.

Plot inspections will start in May

Walkarounds by the gardening working group will start in May. This group is responsible for making sure that we fulfill the requirements of our lease with Barnet and achieve a suitable level of cultivation, as well as keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.

Open garden in Deansway N2

On 8 May, two of our plotholders are opening their garden for charity. Located at 7 Deansway N2 it is our chance to view a beautiful garden for a small admission fee of £5 that all goes to charity.

Joan Arnold and Tom Heinersdorff, the owners of this garden, will also sell tea and coffee, homemade cakes and jam, as well as homegrown plants on the day between noon and 6pm.

All proceeds will go to the National Garden Scheme. Every year, the National Garden Scheme raises millions for nursing and health charities thanks to the generosity of garden owners and visitors.

open gardens

Water back on

You may have noticed that the water has been switched on. As usual, John Waterhouse has done a brilliant job, finding and fixing a problem with one of the water tanks before ensuring the water was back across the whole site.

Feedback

Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at communications@pointalls.org



Newsletter March 2022

A hot box for winter germination

Graham Jardine is making the argument for installing a hot box and tells us about his experience with one.

A hot box is easy to build and has the advantage that you can germinate seeds during the winter months. The temperature in a hot box is around 12 to 18 degrees Centigrade in winter, much warmer than in a a greenhouse where the earth temperature is around 8 degrees or below.

Graham says: “Currently, I’m growing salads. Already through are lettuce, beetroot, radish and spring onion. In the past I’ve had winter salads and melons growing in the summer.”

germination

 

If anyone is interested, Graham offers to help with advice. Just get in touch with him on plot 29A.

Materials required:
Paving slab or cement and sharp sand ………….for base
Reclaimed pallet wood ………………………………..for frame
Straw bale………………………………………………….for warmth/base
Top soil/multipurpose compost …………………..growing material
Well rotted manure
Polycarbonate…………………………………………….top

  • Set the hard base, if using slabs as opposed to a cement/sharp sand base, then put a plastic liner under the slab to stop weeds growing through the joints.
  • Build frame to size required, as big or small as you want, as a hot box can be whatever size you want, in fact it can be a flat top not angled as Graham’s is.
  • Once built to size, place the straw in base and compact. The golden rule is 2/3rds straw bale for warmth and 1/3 growing material. Don’t forget to allow for plant growth. Ensure the straw is compacted right down.
  • Then mix the growing material in a wheelbarrow and add on top of straw. Graham says: “I use a 50/50 mixture of top soil/multipurpose compost and add a few handfuls of well rotted manure.”

“My hot box has been in place for five years. I change the growing material annually (takes 5 mins) and use elsewhere and replace with new.”

 

Bog restoration

This Guardian article – Dank, ancient and quite fantastic: Scotland’s peat bogs breathe again | Scotland | The Guardian – tells the recent history of Flanders Moss in Scotland, a peat bog that has been under attack for centuries. More recently, however, work has been done to restore it.

“A healthy bog is a bit like a malfunctioning compost heap. With a compost heap we keep throwing stuff in and it all rots and breaks down, but with a bog, it doesn’t. It just keeps accumulating and accumulating,” says David Pickett, who manages the site, which is a National Nature Reserve. It is now recognised that peat bogs are among the greatest stores of carbon.

Despite restoration efforts, Flanders Moss is still a net emitter of carbon. Scotland’s bogs emit about 10m tonnes of carbon equivalent, which is almost as much as the transport sector. Stopping these emissions and preventing further degradation are the primary objectives of the restoration project.

We can all help Flanders Moss and the other bogs by exclusively buying peat-free soil.

 

Update on legal case

As explained in an earlier newsletter, Pointalls has applied for permission to appeal elements of the judgment that was handed down by the Court in December 2021 (this is the first step in the process of appealing any elements of a judgment – if permission to appeal is granted by the Court, then the appeal hearing itself will follow thereafter). The claimants have also applied for permission to appeal in respect of the elements on which they were unsuccessful. Both of the parties’ applications for permission to appeal will be considered at the same time by the Court in due course.

In the interim, the Court has granted Pointalls a ‘stay’ (this is effectively a ‘pause’) on all of the aspects of the order which relate to the payment of costs, until Pointalls’ application for permission to appeal is heard (and, if successful, until the appeal itself is determined). In other words, until Pointalls’ appeal is determined, Pointalls is not required to make payment of the interim payment of £20,000 that was part of the costs order made in early January 2022. In addition, the Court has ordered the parties to consider mediation to resolve the issues between them and Pointalls has indicated its willingness to engage in such a mediation to see if a resolution is possible.

Pointalls continues to be represented pro bono by a firm of solicitors and a barrister in respect of these matters (including the application for permission to appeal (and any subsequent appeal)), meaning it will not incur legal fees.

 

Normal service resumes

The ‘stay’ on the costs order means that we can return to normal service for all plotholders.

By the weekend, we will hopefully receive a delivery to re-stock the trading shed and offer again all our products at the attractive prices that you know and love.

We will be letting empty plots to reduce the waiting list. And the green skip will be replaced with a new one as soon as possible.

 

Heritage seed growing

Why grow the same old mass produced corporate varieties when you could sow some endangered heritage varieties with lost flavours which are biodiverse and help the planet at the same time? Franchi Seed’s Paolo Arrigo shares his thoughts on whether it is best to grow heritage or mass produced veg. “Some 94% of our heritage veg has been lost in just one century, and Franchi supply about 200 varieties of the remaining 6%. We specialise in heritage and endangered, but we also have hundreds of newer (ethically produced) varieties,” says Paolo.

“The best way to save these 6% varieties is not to put them in a seed bank – that is just an insurance policy, but it is to grow them. Take our endangered Spinach Viroflay as an example. There are just a few growers left and if they don’t make a profit producing it or retire, that variety is lost forever and yet if you compare that to a mass produced corporate variety like Gardeners Delight, then there are hundreds of producers.”

“There are enough people growing the mass produced varieties and these 6% varieties need our help. The San Marzano 2 is a case in point – grown by hand on the slopes of Vesuvius, it would have been picked by hand and canned by hand. But because it has thin skin, it doesn’t favour mechanisation, so it is no longer produced commercially and is now on the slow food endangered list. So by growing it the producer makes a profit and will continue.”

And there is the oldest pumpkin in Europe. Berrettina Piacentina comes from the Veneto region and is based on a wild pumpkin that was brought back from the Americas in the 15th century. It has been grown ever since and you can become the latest grower of this tasty variety.

Jennie, thank you for this contribution.



Sad News

The Pointalls Allotments management board has with sadness to inform our members of the death of our chairman, Paul Hendrick. Paul was visiting family in Scotland when he suffered a heart attack. We extend our sincerest condolences to Paul’s wife Ruth and his family.

For many years Paul has been a mainstay of the board of Pointalls. Generously sharing his corporate business expertise which has been essential through many changes including the inauguration of self management and the company’s incorporation.

Despite the burden of an ongoing legal case, Paul always managed to add a spark of lightness with his wonderful sense of humour drawing on a wide knowledge and deep interest in culture.

We will miss him.



Seed Potatoes and Onion Sets Orders

Good news for plotholders who have ordered seed potatoes and onion sets. Your orders will be ready for collection from the trading shed starting on Sunday 13th February between 10am and 12 noon and at the same times on following Sundays’. Please bring along a carrier bag.

 

A few tips to help you achieve success and great yields from your potatoes:

As soon as the seed potatoes have been collected you should unpack them and start the chitting (sprouting) process. Place them in a single layer in a seed tray or egg boxes without compost and leave in a light, cool area protected from frost. This can be started about six weeks before you intend to plant them. Early varieties can be planted out under frost fleece protection, but the later varieties should be planted after the worst frosts have passed, this is generally mid March to mid April.

Dig a trench 8 – 13cm deep adding a general purpose fertiliser to the bottom of the trench. Plant the potato tubers in the trenches about 30cm apart, being careful not to knock the shoots off the tubers, and keeping the shoots facing upwards. Then lightly cover with soil. As the plants get to around 20cm tall you need to bank/earth up the soil around the plant, so the soil covers the bottom two thirds of the plant. Watering your plants well will help improve crop yield and discourage potato scab.

 

When to Plant Seed Potatoes:

VarietiesPlantHarvest
First EarliesMid to Late MarchJune to July
Second EarliesLate March to Late AprilJune to August
Maincrop & SaladLate March to Late AprilAugust to October



Newsletter December 2021

Mushrooms

 


 

Trading shed closed over Christmas holidays

John Waterhouse will take a break over the holidays. Outside of that period, throughout the winter you can wander round to the shed to see whether John is about.

So the winter opening rule on a Sunday morning can be summarised: “Open when John is visible.”

 


 

Improving area around Nursery Avenue gate

The area along the fence by the Nursery Avenue gate is being used as a dump. It costs us money every time we get rid of all the rubbish that unknown allotment holders are placing there.

Before the spring, we will be clearing the rubbish that has accumulated one last time and install a raised flower bed. We will be asking for contributions of spare bedding plants when the time comes to plant the bed up.

This will make the entrance area rather more inviting than it is now and we hope that tidying it up will lead to a massive improvement in the behaviour of everybody.

 


 

Harvesting continues

According to the RHS annual veg planner, there are many vegetables that are being harvested in December – from cabbage to cauliflower, celeriac, leek, parsnip to spinach, and many more.

It is quite a surprising number when you look across all the popular types of vegetables available. Just disappointing, that I did not grow any of them. What I am growing now is still tiny – endives and corn salad. Must get organised next year.

 


 

Bee facts – did you know?

Every time I visit Kew Gardens I bring something back with me. This time it was two complementary pieces of information relating to the health or otherwise of our bee population.

Rhododendrons, I learnt, contain toxic chemicals. These are produced by the plant to protect itself against insects. Recent research in Kew, together with Trinity College in Dublin, has found that these toxic chemicals also occur in nectar. And they can poison some pollinators feeding on the nectar.

The study proved that the nectar of Rhododendron ponticum is toxic to honey bees and a wild mining bee species. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive species that quickly spreads if allowed to do so.

It is native to Turkey where local honey bees can tolerate the toxin. When they collect the nectar they create toxic honey, also called ‘mad honey’. Humans who consume it behave as if violently drunk.

Bee Medicines

On the other end of the spectrum is heather. When bees feed on the nectar of heather, a common gut parasite of bumblebees gets wiped out.

For pollinators, heather is the second most productive nectar plant in the UK after white clover. The more reason to protect what heathland remains and as gardeners decide to only ever use peat-free compost.

 


 

Alpine House

Swathes of grasses and the Alpine House in Kew Gardens

 


 

Feedback

Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at communications@pointalls.org.

 


 



Newsletter November 2021

Flower

Water turned off

John Waterhouse turned off the water on Tuesday 2 November. Winter is coming.

 


 

Packing away for winter

As the growing season comes to an end most of our tools will be lying dormant until next year. A little care now will pay dividends next spring. Petrol goes off over time and the manufacturers suggest it should be used within a month in small engines like strimmers and chain saws. If it is just left in your machines the old petrol produces gums and solids that can clog up the carburettor and the rest of the system.

You can get additives like Briggs & Stratton Fuel Fit that stabilise the fuel and extend its shelf life but for winter storage it is best to drain the fuel from the tank and then run the engine to clear the last fuel from the system. Check your manual for how to ‘mothball’ your equipment.

Electrical equipment and hand tools just need a good clean and the oily rag treatment where appropriate. With wooden handled tools a rub over with linseed or teak oil will help keep the wood in good condition.

It is a good idea to check rotary lawnmower blades. If they are chipped or blunted then you can sharpen them ready for next year but do take care not to take more off one side than another as it will throw the blade out of balance and this can damage the machine.

Most garden machinery shops offer blade sharpening and balancing at a small charge. If you have equipment that really needs a shop service, now is the right time to get them in because everyone else will be taking them in the spring.

 


 

Pointalls seen as a model site in Barnet

We are expecting an official visit from another allotment in the Barnet area. They are keen to see for themselves how we run our allotment site.

Pointalls is seen as a model of how to deal with green waste and controlled burning. As you know, we are recycling surplus green waste via the waste skip that gets shipped for composting on a large scale. And we are reducing the overall carbon footprint of the site by not allowing individual plotholders to burn, but only allow the occasional managed and controlled fires.

 


 

Anonymous emails circulating

Email communications sent to some plotholders by an anonymous individual or group using the name ‘Friends of Pointalls’ are not originated or authorised by your company, Pointalls Allotments Limited, and do not represent the hard work or views of your management team.

 


 

Some 10 years on the waiting list

The following article appeared in the Evening Standard on 20 October 2021.

Soaring demand for the precious outdoor space of an allotment has pushed waiting times to “out-of-control” levels in London since the start of the pandemic.

It is now typical for Londoners to face a decade’s delay before starting the “good life”
with Camden gardeners forced to be the most patient in Britain, according to a survey.

Appreciation of the value of allotments has rocketed since March last year when the first
lockdown forced millions of Londoners with no green space to spend months stuck at home.

Data from Freedom of Information requests from more than 300 councils showed Camden
top of the waiting list league table, with gardeners having to sit out 17 growing seasons on
average before they can start tending their soil.

One Camden gardener had to wait 18 years and three months, or 6,690 days, the longest
recorded in Britain.

The figures, obtained by the website MyJobQuote, showed the waiting lists averaged 13
years in Islington and more than 11 in Richmond and Wandsworth.

Some of the biggest lists are also in London with 4,071 applicants waiting for a plot in
Newham and 3,080 in Lewisham. Richmond’s list has more than doubled from 637 in
February 2020 to 1,526 this month, while the number of Google searches for allotments in
the UK is now 4.5 times higher than before the pandemic.

More than 40 London allotment sites have closed in the past eight years with the future of
another one, Park Road Allotments in Isleworth, in doubt following a planning row with
landowner the Duke of Northumberland.

A spokesman for Richmond and Wandsworth councils, which jointly manage their
allotments, said: “We have seen an increase in allotment applications since the pandemic
began. We regularly assess allotment use to ensure they are being used for cultivating and
any plots not being used effectively are taken back and offered to the next person on the
list.”

 


 

Greenhouse maintenance

If you have a greenhouse or a polytunnel, check it over and give it a good clean. Cracked panes of glass can blow out in a storm and once one pane has gone, the whole house is at risk. It is well worth taking a little time to check the nuts and bolts are still tight.

Rips in the membrane of a polytunnel can be easily mended with tape when small but once the wind has ripped them right across, you are in for an expensive skin replacement.

 


 

An overlooked delicacy

So very easy to grow, some may even call it a weed, Jerusalem artichokes are not popular with the general public. They look knobbly and dirty, have to be laboriously washed and peeled. But once done, they can be turned into some lovely dishes.

Helianthus tuberosus, earth apple, topinampur – known under a variety of names – comes from North America. It is a relative to sun flower as you can see in the flower of the Jerusalem artichoke. Its sweet, nutty taste is best appreciated as soup, or roasted in the oven. Or indeed in a frittata – see below

 


 

Frittata with Jerusalem artichokes

Laura de Benedetti contributed this recipe for those of us who never know what to do with Jerusalem artichokes.

For two people, use

  • 10 Jerusalem artichokes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 anchovies
  • 4 eggs
  • A bit of cheese in small cubes or grated (Compte or Cheddar for example)

1. Wash the Jerusalem artichokes carefully removing all the earth, then slice them thinly, using a food processor for speed. (They are also good raw and added to a salad.)

2. Put the oil and garlic in a frying pan. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the Jerusalem artichokes and let them dry, stirring often until they begin to soften.

3. After about 10 minutes, add the anchovy filets and a bit of water, cover the pan with a lid and cook for a further five minutes.

4. Remove the lid and let all the water evaporate.

5. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat them with a bit of salt. When the artichokes are cooked pour them into the beaten eggs and stir in the cheese.

6. In a clean frying pan that can go in the oven put some more oil, when hot, pour in the egg mixture, cook for a few minutes until the bottom begins to cook, then put in the oven under the grill for about five minutes until the top looks golden. (If you don’t have an oven proof pan, the traditional method of turning the frittata over with a lid can be used.)

Image showing finished dish

 

 


 

Pallet busters now available

Pallet busters have arrived and are available from the trading shed. These tools will be available to plotholders at no cost. All that is required is a £25 deposit that is fully refundable.

 


 

Allotments

After the rain – a moody view of the allotment in late afternoon

 


 

Feedback

Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at communications@pointalls.org



Newsletter October 2021

Allotment gardening Q & As

In this feature we share with you answers to some of our plotholders’ recent gardening questions.

 

Q. How to prevent tomato blight?
A. This is the biggest question of the year. Tomato blight has affected plotholders’ outdoor crops this year on a large scale. In previous newsletters we mentioned the causes and how to remove and destroy plants and infected crops.
We recommend for outdoor growing to purchase fresh seed or young plants of blight resistant/tolerant varieties. Check seed suppliers’ websites or catalogues for suitable cultivars and further expert advice. Tolerant varieties include Gardeners Delight, Crimson Crush, Lizzaro, Shirley, Red Alert and Mountain Magic.
Early in the outdoor growing season apply a nutrient tonic to the plants. Vitax Copper Mixture is a tonic and is available from our trading shed. Simply mix with water and spray directly onto the foliage. This is not a cure for blight but can help the plants defend itself.

 

Q. Are there any easily grown edible flowers?
A. Edible flowers which do not take up too much space on the plot include lavender flowers, nasturtium, borage, chives, courgette, viola, French marigolds and calendula. They add colour and flavour to all sorts of dishes, some make soothing teas and are great scattered over salads.

 

Q. Any advice about using peat-free compost?
A. Cheap peat-free compost can be challenging with disappointing results. Go for well known brands and ideally choose those that do not contain composted green waste which may have traces of weed killer. Always check the packaging for contents. Peat-free is not a like-for-like replacement for peat-based compost typically needing more water and fertiliser. Although peat-free is suitable for raising vegetables we recommend the addition of John Innes loam-based nutrient mixes for seed sowing, pricking out and potting up.
We would be pleased to hear from plotholders about their results from using peat-free compost.

 

Q. How to control downy mildew?

A. Downy mildew is caused by fungi that thrive in damp and humid conditions. It affects crops such as brassicas, cabbages etc; grapes, lettuces, onions, peas and root vegetables.
It is identified as yellow or brown patches develop on the upper surfaces of leaves, with off-white fluffy mould on the undersides. As the patches spread, the leaves die and the plant is weakened.
The best action is to remove and destroy infected leaves and spray the plants with an organic fungicide. Ensure plants have good air circulation and avoid overwatering.

 

Q. This year weeds have been rampant, any suggestions?
A. It is a relentless battle with weeds as they compete with crops, drink water and absorb soil nutrients. They are anti social; crowding your crops for space and light and host pests and diseases.
Our tips are to hoe regularly when it is dry, do not let weeds flower, collect and dispose of weed remains, loosen your soil, do not compost perennial weeds, use lightproof membrane mulches to kill established weeds; spread surface mulches to suppress new weeds and only as a last resort use systemic weed killers.

 

Q. Thinking of switching to no-dig? How should the ground be prepared for the next growing season?
Once final harvests have been made (October/November) the ground preparation for no-dig is relatively easy. Begin with clearing the chosen ground or raised bed of any crop wastes and weeds which also reduces habitat for slugs over the winter. Rake the ground level. Spread 2-3cm of compost over the no-dig ground/raised bed. Mulch any paths on the plot with a little cardboard and woodchip on top. That’s it until spring except for any winter weeding.

 

Coneflower

Purple coneflower, or echinacea purpurea – flower petals and leaves are edible

 

Old-style growing brings success

In some good news for anyone concerned about the state of agricultural and the soil it depends on, a trial in Spain has shown that old-style growing of olives and wine has numerous benefits and can re-generate a landscape that is exhausted and run down. In a study, 20 olive farms were chosen to follow regenerative agricultural practices and within just three years the bee population increased by 47% and biodiversity in general improved significantly. For more details see The Guardian report: Days of wine and olives: how the old farming ways are paying off in Spain | Environment | The Guardian

 

Grapes

And here are the grapes that have benefited greatly from the attention of a man who knows his stuff. Max Cristina, thank you for a great harvest this year!

 

Plot inspections

Under the terms of our lease with the council (and indeed under the requirements of Allotment Law) allotments must be cultivated wholly or mainly for the production of fruit and vegetables. Thus under-cultivated plots put us in breach of our lease – and the law. They also cause considerable inconvenience to neighbouring plotholders, increasing their workload.

Under the self-management arrangements applicable to all Barnet allotments, the allotment committee has the burden of ensuring compliance. At Pointalls we do this by a regular series of inspections. If under-cultivated plots are identified we commence a staged warning procedure. This procedure is standardised to avoid any charge of discrimination and is publicised on our website. It involves a series of notifications, allowing and encouraging the plotholder to rectify the situation. There is ample opportunity to make representations. We issue two notices, each allowing the plotholder to put matters right within a 28-day period. We show flexibility if the plotholder comes up with a credible plan requiring a longer period. Only when the situation is not put right 28 days after the second notice do we move to a situation where we have to ask the plotholder to leave. Even then, the notice period is a further 28 days with a right of appeal.

The process was developed in 2019, approved by the board and published in April 2020 (see newsletter).

We believe this is a fair and impartial procedure. The vast majority of our plotholders maintain their plots well and gain pleasure and satisfaction from doing so. They should not be burdened by badly maintained neighbouring plots. Allotment sites in London are a scarce resource (witness our long waiting list) and we should ensure they are fully utilised.

Pallet busters due to arrive

We are imminently expecting delivery of pallet busters to the trading shed. These tools will be available to plotholders at no cost. All that is required is a £25 deposit that is fully refundable.

Fit greasebands to protect next year’s fruit

Autumn is the time to fit and replace greasebands to your fruit trees. Greasebands are an easy-to-use pest barrier that helps to minimise insect damage to fruit and therefore improve yield and eating quality.

Act now to save fruit from winter moth caterpillars and keep in place until the following April.

Inside each pack of Solabiol Boltac Greasbands you will find a prepared greased band approximately 1.75m long and some brown wire to tie the greased band onto the trees. The band should be fixed well above the level of any surrounding vegetation to ensure that it is not bridged, which may allow insects to avoid the grease. Also use the band around any supporting tree posts.

Replace the bands and apply again in the summer to trap earwigs and ants as they try to climb the trees.

Greasebands are suitable for organic gardening and available from the trading shed at £5.50 per pack.

 

Orchard

 

Growmore fertiliser for strong plants

Growmore is popular with Pointalls plotholders. It is specially formulated to encourage strong healthy plant growth as a general purpose fertiliser for use all around the plot. Growmore contains three major nutrients which are essential for strong plants.

Following packaging changes, Growmore is now only available as a pre-pack size of 25kg. We recognise that this quantity is too large for many plotholders. However, if you bring along to the trading shed your own container we will supply Growmore in weighed out quantities at only £1.00 per kilo.

New price list issued

We have published a new price list following some changes to wholesale prices. The price list also includes a number of our popular products now in new packs with changes to pack sizes and content weights.

Pick up a price list when you next visit the trading shed or go to our website to download a copy.

Address changes must be notified

We would like to remind all plotholders that it is your responsibility to tell us of any change of postal address or email address. This is an obligation stipulated in the tenancy agreement.

We assume that the address we have will be monitored by yourself and any communication sent will reach you.

Water due to be switched off

John Waterhouse will soon switch off the water supply and get it ready for the winter. It is a significant effort to drain the system and remove all the taps. This way we can be sure that icy conditions will not damage the water pipes.

Some pictures to celebrate the harvest season

 

Butternut squash

Butternut squash piled up in a greenhouse

 

Apples

Eating apples and tomatoes, grown in the greenhouse and therefore not damaged by blight

 

Dahlia Patch

The absolutely amazing dahlia patch that I have been admiring enviously for months

 

Feedback

Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at communications@pointalls.org

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