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 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 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 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 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 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: or leave a message by calling 07756190582

Newsletter May 2019


Pointalls will be holding a plant sale on Sunday 2nd June. The location is next to the trading shed and the Nursery Avenue gates will be open from 10am to 2pm.

All your friends, neighbours and everybody else are invited to stock up on plants and seedlings from our own production. It will be exactly the right time to plant out things like tomatoes, courgettes and beans as the risk of frost will have truly passed.

Please bring along and donate your spare plants and cash as the success of the sale depends on us all. Paul Castignetti (plot 37) is your man as he is organising the event. All funds raised will be used to help make Pointalls an even better place to garden.

Please contribute surplus seedlings and spread the word amongst your friends. Also, any volunteer helpers are most welcome on the day.


Get ready for the kids. On Friday 24th May at 10am a group of little ones will come and visit Pointalls for a fact-finding tour.

The year-5 school children from St. Theresa’s school will be shown around by Laura (plot 9/10) accompanied by Rosa and Daniel from plot 74, whose daughter is in the class.

If you happen to be on site, don’t be shy and give the children your best gardening tips.


At its first meeting last week, the new board of 11 members has found plenty of work on the to-do list. You can find all our names on the website, notice board, trading shed and listed below. Any time you see any of us, please stop to give feedback or just have a chat.

We are working to fulfil our promises to you: establish open meetings for plotholders under the heading ‘Have Your Say’, organise social events, workshops and plant sales, continue the deliveries of woodchip, compost and green waste recycling skips, review site security, improve toilet facilities and investigate new sources of income.

There is a lot to do but the job is made lighter by being spread across more people. In making decisions, we completely rely on your opinions and are planning a new membership survey. In the meantime, feedback is most welcome any time, either in person or in any other way.

Board members in order of plot number:

Plot 9/10: Laura de Benedetti

Plot 14/15: Derek McMaster

Plot 14A: Peter Johnson

Plot 29: Chetin Malyali

Plot 29A: Graham Jardine

Plot 31/44A: Brigitte Ascher

Plot 37: Paul Castignetti

Plot 38: Jo Keller

Plot 76: John Waterhouse

Plot 106: Paul Hendrick

Plot 106A: Ruth Hendrick


A new function of newsletter editor was established at the first board meeting and I found myself volunteering for it. It suits my experience but is an interesting departure as in the past I have focused mostly on writing about the super-dry subjects of stock markets and investment funds.

Broadly, I am aiming to produce a newsletter a month to keep you informed without overloading your inbox.

In order to keep the content relevant, I rely on your help. Please contact me with new ideas for initiatives, gardening tips or anything that you think would interest our membership.

My name is Brigitte Ascher at and I work on plots 31 and 44A, right next to the roadways.


  • Keep harvests coming all summer with successional sowings of lettuce and spinach
  • Plant out sweetcorn
  • Sow carrot seeds
  • Early potatoes should be ready to harvest later in June
  • Pick over pea and broad bean plants every couple of days
  • Harden off, then plant out French beans or sow seed straight into the ground
  • Short of space? Grow radishes and beetroot in large pots
  • Avoid empty veggie beds. After harvesting new potatoes sow/plant salad crops or sweetcorn and after broad beans are finished plant dwarf beans or mangetout
  • Cabbage root fly can be a serious pest for brassicas such as cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, weakening the plants and causing cauliflowers to produce small heads.  We recommend Vitax cabbage collars which are available at the trading shed. Price £2.30 for a pack of 30 collars. Simple to use. After planting, slide cabbage collars round the stem. As well as protecting your plants, the collars keep the soil around the plant warm and moist to encourage rapid plant establishment


Good news – our stock of top soil in 25kg bags will be replenished on Wednesday this week.

Annual General Meeting 9 th May – Poll Result

We would like to thank all who participated in the meeting, both the vocal minority who attended in person and the silent majority who participated through the proxy voting system. Together you made up a participation level of 73% of the total membership. The new Board will no doubt be encouraged by the 3 to 1 majority you gave them of those participating and will continue the task of developing and improving our site services and facilities for the benefit of all our members.

Full details of the results of the poll conducted at the end of our AGM have been sent to all Pointalls members.

Annual General Meeting

Just a reminder that the Annual General Meeting of the company will be held at 8pm on Thursday 9 th May 2019. The venue is St. Pauls Church, 50 Long Lane, Finchley, London N3 2PU and the meeting will take place in the historic hall which is at the rear of the worship area.

Site maintenance

Hire of mowers and strimmers

We are pleased to confirm that our equipment hire service will be resumed as soon as possible. The
insurance issue (misinformation by our insurers) has now been resolved although we are reminded
that cover is only valid if the equipment is made available to users in safe condition. To ensure safety
all mowers and strimmers are currently with the local garden machinery service centre.
Unfortunately, there is a delay as in addition to routine servicing, repairs are necessary and parts are
being replaced. One of our mowers has been scrapped. In future, for compliance purposes and as
part of the hiring process, equipment has to be properly maintained and hire records kept. We are
looking into the options of managing the rental scheme. We will let you know when this service is

Message from the Chair and Board

Dear Plotholders,

A number of plotholders have recently been caused wholly unnecessary concern by false and, frankly, malicious rumours about alleged plans by the Board to change the use of the communal area (plots 3-5). To be absolutely clear, there has been no discussion at the Board at any time over the past year on any change of use of the communal area.

There has been some work done to improve the area, in particular removal of the mound of bonfire residue and rubble which was in the middle of the area. This has now made the area safer for everyone and allowed space for further planting.

What is particularly sad is that some of the people spreading these rumours will in the next breath talk about the need for more community spirit on site. Telling bare-faced lies about the activities of the site’s elected volunteer representatives is a strange way of encouraging such community spirit!

April News

Allotment gardening on BBC2’s Gardeners World

The latest series of Gardeners World is now featuring allotment gardening from scratch. This might be of interest to many of our new plotholders and perhaps more experienced plotholders looking for new ideas and techniques. TV gardening presenter Frances Tophill has taken on an abandoned plot on an allotment site in Kent and in the first episode (29th March) Frances faces the challenge of starting afresh.

Tasks for the plot in April

  • As April is the month where things really start to take shape on the plot there’s lots to do; sowing, planting and maintenance. Here are just a few tasks:
  • Plant out chitted potatoes, second earlies at the start of April and maincrop towards the end of the month.
  • Plant asparagus crowns before end of April.
  • Under cover sow seeds of runner beans, sweetcorn, courgettes and later in the month in a heated propagator squash, marrows and melons.
  • Start sowing carrot seeds progressively for the next few months but check seed packets as timing varies for different varieties.
  • Begin sowings of maincrop leeks in seedbeds or indoors in pots/root trainers.
  • Prepare supports for runner beans and netting or brushwood for peas.
  • Stay on top of weed problems, remove them before they emerge to avoid competition with your seedlings.

Watch out for late frost.

Look out for news and site information updates during April.

Happy gardening.

Waste Skips Available On Site and Other News

Green waste recycling skip

As the current skip is now full it will be replaced in the next day or two.

General rubbish skip

In response to many requests we are providing a waste skip for those unwanted items (except green recycling material) on your plot. The skip is for everyone to use and fills quickly. As always we ask that you do not bring items from home. This skip should be available from Tuesday.

Both skips will be located inside the Nursery Avenue entrance, adjacent to the trading shed.

Allotment fire

You may be aware that neighbouring East Finchley Allotments were targeted by arsonists last week. The fire service attended as a number of plotholder sheds were set on fire and destroyed. East Finchley was targeted around the same time last year when the damage was less severe. We ask that you remain vigilant when on site in the interest of safety and security and report any suspicious activity.

Seed potatoes and onion sets

A gentle reminder that orders for the new season’s seed potatoes and onion sets can now be collected from the trading shed.

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