Newsletter April 2021

Log piles for little kritters

You may have seen a few piles of logs on suitable places around the site. Paul Castignetti, our site manager, used spare logs to build these to encourage insects and other small animals giving them a place to hide and feeding off the wood as it rots down. Next, Paul will mount some bat boxes on the larger trees around the site.

Tell us if you want to go peat-free

Did you know that the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew has not been using peat for the past 30 years. I reckon if Kew can do it, so can we as vegetable gardeners.

In the spirit of supporting the move away from using precious peat – and leaving if where it belongs, in the peat bogs – I am asking all allotment holders to indicate whether they are interested in buying compost in our trading shed that is free of peat. Please email communications@pointalls.org if you are. Even better, give us a confirmed order.

Peat-free is slightly more expensive, it has to be said, but the difference is marginal. A 50 litre bag of compost based on peat costs around £6 while the peat-free version costs around £8 a bag. In my gardening year, with me buying one bag of compost, the difference is a mere £2.

For that extra money spent, I know I have done the right thing by protecting the environment. Definitely worth doing – and having massive impact if we are all doing it. It is unfortunately amateur gardeners who are responsible for 70% of the peat used in horticulture today.

A slow worm on the compost heap

Spotted by Rachael Harvey on her compost heap, a slow worm is not really a worm but a legless lizard. And according to Rachael, not that slow at all when it wants to vanish. Too quick, in fact, to catch this one’s face.

Toilet remains closed

While Covid restrictions are in place, unfortunately the toilet will remain closed. We simply do not have the means to ensure regular cleaning that would be required were it to open.

Meanwhile, some of us may consider buying a portable toilet designed for use on camping trips or when attending festivals. There are some lightweight, durable and very reasonably priced options out there.

In the longer term, once Covid restrictions are lifted we are looking for volunteers to clean the toilet. Please give me a shout at communications@pointalls.org and I will pass on your name to the board.

Store material for burning over the summer

Bonfires by individual plotholders are not allowed, as you all know. The only burning that can be done is on the communal fire site and controlled by our site manager Paul Castignetti.

However, in the interest of our neighbours around the area we would like to keep the number of managed bonfires down during the summer months.

We would ask you to retain as much as possible of the material that needs burning on your own plots over the summer. Please either store things or transport them to Summers Lane to ease the pressure on the general fire site.

Some shiny new websites

North London’s gardeners have been busy over the winter, not just preparing their garden for spring, but also to get ahead in the digital race.

Barnet Allotment Federation (BAF) has launched a new logo and a new website. BAF is a network of 37 allotment societies, comprising 44 allotment sites across the London Borough of Barnet. Through the federation, societies support each other, sharing expertise in good allotment management.

The BAF project was managed by our own membership secretary Derek McMaster who is a member of the BAF committee and is overseeing other new BAF information initiatives due to launch later this year.

And Charity Veggiebox has also invested in its digital future by launching a new website.  In their own words: “To help us grow this year we have a new website where people can find out all about us and our wonderful growing community.”

French beans top the yield list

Not that this is news to us, but researchers at Sheffield University have calculated that an average of 24 minutes work is required to produce each kilogram of fruit or vegetable grown on an allotment.

The vegetable producing the best yield are French beans. They yield 6.5kg of produce per square metre. Courgettes are close seconds with 6kg per square metre, followed by tomatoes with 5.1kg.

And then there is the benefit of growing your own plus all the healthy activity outdoors. As I said, no news to us, but to some readers of the Times no doubt.

Charity Veggiebox collecting from late May

Charity Veggiebox is gearing up to start another season of re-distributing your surplus or ‘grow to give’ crops to community kitchens and schools throughout North London.

Growing conditions allowing, they expect to start collections by the end of May. A little early for French beans, but early potatoes could be ready.

 

These are the carrot plants of one of our allotment gardeners who wants to remain unnamed. He used a deep plastic container and put in the seeds weeks ago, keeping the seedlings at home in the warmth. A lesson in how to grow early carrots!



Newsletter March 2021

Now is the time to clear up your plot

We encourage all plotholders to get active and clear up their plot ready for spring planting. As ever, warmer times are closer than it seems while the weather is cold. And in the end, the work that is to be done is always larger than one hopes.

Clearing up now is not just sensible time management, but also good in view of the fact that normality is returning. And with normality come plot inspections by the gardening & structures working group. The first of these is scheduled for late April.

Let’s try and present the best possible picture to greet a brighter time when Covid is slowly becoming less of an issue.

Trading shed open and water flowing

The trading shed is open on Sunday mornings for customers. Just remember Covid rules – wear a mask, only one person in the trading shed at a time and stay well apart if waiting outside.

John Waterhouse, our man in the trading shed, is also sending out the good news that he switched on the water on site yesterday. Nothing stopping you growing those seedlings now.

Be considerate when parking your car

We are urging all those who drive on to the site to park considerately. Roadways must be kept clear for other cars to pass.

There are plenty of designated parking spaces around. If it is not possible to use one of these, or park on your own plot, please stay around so you can be found if another driver needs you to move your car out of the way.

Improving site security by encouraging ivy

Along the boundary to the Long Lane Pasture our site is secured by an old chain-link fence that is not in the best of conditions. We have had many break-ins entering through this fence over the years, most recently last year when the fire brigade came on to site via this route. In one section ivy has established itself and has formed a very secure, dense and impenetrable wall.

The Pointalls board was faced with the choice of either replacing the fence which would cause a lot of disruption and cost, or aiding the spread of the ivy along the boundary line and so form a natural fence, that also provides an ideal home to wildlife.

The board decided to go for the second option To encourage the growth of the ivy, the trees opposite the communal area on the fence line have been thinned out and the ivy clipped.

We believe a dense ivy hedge is appropriate for both allotments and pasture and that it will enhance the environment and help to enrich the wildlife in particular for bees and nesting birds.



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 later this week from the trading shed. Starting on Saturday 20th between 10am and 1pm and at the same times on Sunday 21st.

  • For those of you who ordered the Swift variety of first early potatoes we have made a substitution due to a shortage of Swift tubers following a poor harvest last year. We have replaced Swift with Maris Bard, a heavy cropping first early potato.

Ready to lift early in the season, Maris Bard produces delicious white skinned and white fleshed potatoes. Hailed as one of the best and most reliable, it’s semi-dry flesh makes it ideal for frying, or boiling as a salad potato. Fast growing, protect tubers from frost and harvest from May to July.

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.

Finally, an important reminder when collecting your order please observe current coronavirus regulations. Only one person at a time should enter the trading shed and wearing a face covering. If queuing, please ensure that you maintain a social distance of 2 metres from others.



Newsletter January 2021

New lockdown in force

As coronavirus cases have increased dramatically in Barnet and other parts of the UK, the government has announced a full lockdown. Allotments remain open as part of the daily exercise that is allowed.

We urge all plotholders to adhere to the law and guidelines. There are simple actions we must all take to keep protecting each other

  • Wash hands, keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Make space, stay at least two metres apart
  • Wear gloves when touching any gate locks or other communal items
  • Do not share tools
  • Do not wash your hands in the water tanks
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed and follow general NHS and government advice.

Outdoors, we are allowed to meet one person who is not in our household or bubble, as long as we observe social distancing.

And for the protection of us all let’s wish for a JABby New Year!

Green waste skip

We can report a fantastic recycling achievement.  In 2020, we filled our green waste skips with 20 tonnes of green waste according to the annual weighbridge data. That is 56 cubic metres or 20,000 kilograms.  This is the equivalent of the capacity of a large HGV truck.

What we collect in the green waste skips is composted and turned into a dark compost material for use in a variety of commercial horticultural settings. It is a way of contributing positively to the environment.

Of course, of even greater environmental benefit would be if we were all to compost on our own plots. That way zero transport miles would be clocked up.

Here is a reminder which materials are permitted for the green waste skip:

  • Dry vegetation
  • Green vegetation
  • Grasses/grass cuttings
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Weeds
  • Plants
  • Fruit
  • Shrubs/bushes
  • Hedge trimmings
  • Tree prunings

PS: This Pointalls green waste initiative is now being taken up by more Barnet Allotment Federation sites.

Annual invoices

Last month, we sent our 2021 plot rental invoices which we hope were safely received.

Should you not have received your invoice please contact membership@pointalls.org and a copy will be emailed by return.

Invoices should be paid no later than 31 January 2021.

Veg planner

We are pleased to make available a free copy of the RHS Grow Your Own annual vegetable planner.

This helpful chart lists 36 of the most popular vegetables and shows when to sow, plant and harvest, month by month.

To download a copy just follow this link or go to our website, find the page called Growing Advice, scroll down to Useful Articles and click on Vegplanner.

January jobs on the plot

  • Chit seed potatoes
  • Sow broad beans in pots and under cover
  • Harvest winter varieties of cabbages, cauliflowers, leeks, celeriac, parsnips and swedes
  • Spread well rotted manure or compost over empty vegetable beds
  • Draw up a sowing and planting plan for the year ahead (see RHS veg planner)
  • Apply grease bands to fruit trees (available from the trading shed once it re-opens in February)
  • Spread potash around the base of fruit trees/bushes (also available from the trading shed)
  • The winter months are an important time to prepare allotments for the growing season. This includes weeding and general tidying up.



Chairman’s message to Plotholders

This has been a difficult year for people in our allotment society as it has been generally for people around the world. It is good though that our site has continued to provide a safe haven to enable people to enjoy fresh air and exercise and of course to grow healthy crops for their families’ consumption.

Sadly, as a result of government restrictions to combat the virus, members have not been able to enjoy the normal level of social interaction on the site. It is though heartening to note the communal spirit evidenced by plotholders helping out neighbours who are in particular difficulties. We would ask members to keep us informed of any neighbours who are having problems. Also, although untended plots can be a nuisance to neighbours we have, in current circumstances, been sympathetic in addressing the problem.

We have, despite the virus, continued to maintain a good level of services including excellent site maintenance and management, regular communications through newsletters and the website, green waste and burning waste disposal and of course a supply of a wide range of products at excellent low prices from our trading shed.

Our allotment site ranks very high in quality and innovation of service provision in surveys conducted by Barnet Allotment Federation and all this is achieved on subscription rates which are low by Barnet standards. Taking account of our current financial position, we are pleased to assist our members further by freezing these rates at their current levels for the coming year.

I hope that, despite the restrictions, you are able to enjoy the coming festive season and trust you will maintain your membership and continue to enjoy the benefits that Pointalls has to offer.



Newsletter December 2020

Water now switched off

You will have noticed that the water has been switched off for the winter. This is done to protect the pipes from being damaged if the temperature drops to freezing. As soon as possible in the early spring, the water will be switched on again.

In the meantime, a water barrel that collects rainwater from a roof is of great benefit to those growing anything in a greenhouse.

There are, after all, a number of useful winter salads that you can grow and harvest throughout these empty months. Corn salad, land cress and oriental salad leaves such as komatsuna, mibuna, mizuna, mustard and rocket will provide cut-and-come-again leaves through the winter if grown in a greenhouse, or indeed, if covered with fleece.

Green waste skip near trading shed

A fresh green waste skip has arrived. It is located near the Nursery Gate entrance because the location in the centre of the site is too soft for a skip during the winter.

Tell me what languages you speak

On our site, we believe we have plotholders from more than 20 different countries. I would love to find out just how many different languages are spoken by our gardeners. I reckon we could start a global translation service. Let me make a start: I am Austrian and I speak German.

Why don’t you drop me a line to communications@pointalls.org and tell me which country you are from and which languages you speak. I would like to report back in a future newsletter on just how diverse the Pointalls community is. After all, this diversity in ethnic origin and languages also leads to a multitude of gardening methods and huge variety of produce grown. The wider the better, the Londoner in me says.

Greenhouse safety

With bad weather in the winter, we would urge all owners of greenhouses to be aware of safety on site and make sure that their greenhouses are safe in high winds. A greenhouse with panes missing could be damaged severely in high winds.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a quiet and safe festive season and a happy and healthy 2021!

The hellebore is also called Christmas rose and today I noticed this year’s flower buds are peaking out of the ground. Not long until Christmas now.



Newsletter November 2020

New lockdown

From 5 November, we are under a new lockdown. Fortunately, allotments are specifically exempt from the need to shut down for the duration.

In the outdoors, we are allowed to meet one person who is not in our household or bubble, as long as we observe social distancing.

Please remember the following precautions designed to ensure all our safety:

  • Wear gloves when opening and closing any gate locks, taps or other communal items
  • Keep sanitiser in your shed and use it regularly
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs
  • At all times observe social distancing and stay two metres from anybody else
  • Do not share tools
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed and follow general NHS and government advice.

Rules relating to the trading shed

If you want to attend the trading shed on Sunday mornings, please wear a mask throughout. Also, only one customer is allowed in the shed at any one time. Everybody else please queue up outside two metres apart.

As always, the trading shed sells very keenly priced, high-quality products for the gardener. Here is a link to the price list.

Do not feed the fire on plot 7

Plot 7 is the communal burning plot. We all know that we can leave dried cuttings from trees and shrubs as well as untreated timber for burning.

Paul Castignetti, our site manager, carries out the burning in a safe manner at a suitable time. He watches the fire burn down and once it is down to embers he will leave to do other jobs.

Recently, we had a few instances where unknown plotholders re-ignited a fire by adding their cuttings to the embers. This is not supervised and is not safe.

Please do not feed the fire on plot 7. Leave your cuttings on the plot at a safe distance to the old fire site.

Clarifying rule 26

We have re-written rule 26 of the site regulations in order to make it clearer and easier to understand.

The rule concerns what structures we as plotholders can build on our plots. It is based on our lease with the London Borough of Barnet, which imposes strict limitations on what structures may be erected on the site.

In principle, everything you want to build will need to receive written permission from the board.

Adding all the structures on your plot together, these must not take up more than 20% of your plot space. It is important to add though that fruit cages are not counted.

Here is the full text for your information, plus a link to the full text of the site regulations:

Our lease with the London Borough of Barnet imposes strict limitations on what structures may be erected on the site. As a consequence NO STRUCTURE OF ANY TYPE MAY BE ERECTED ON YOUR PLOT BEFORE FIRST OBTAINING WRITTEN APPROVAL FROM THE BOARD. Any structure so approved must be constructed in a good and workmanlike manner to the satisfaction of the Board and must be kept in a reasonably good state of repair, again to the satisfaction of the Board. Approval for construction will only be considered for temporary structures and then only subject to the following conditions:

a. Temporary structures must not exceed more than 20% of the area of the plot
b. Only one shed and one greenhouse (each to be a separate structure) may be constructed on each site
c. All sheds and greenhouses and other temporary structures must be at least 60 cm from the edge of paths
d. The maximum height for sheds and greenhouses and any other structures on the plot is 2.5m
e. The maximum area for a greenhouse is 3.7 x 2.4m
f. The maximum area for a shed is 2.4 x 1.8m
g. Greenhouses and sheds must be constructed at the end of the plot adjacent to the principal path/roadway
h. Polytunnels obtained from a reputable commercial supplier may be erected in place of greenhouses but subject to the same limitations on size and location as greenhouses and to the same requirement for prior approval in writing from the Board
i. Roofed over barbeque areas may only be constructed on full size plots and must be adjacent to any shed/greenhouse on the plot. They must not be fully enclosed. The longest side at least must be fully open and must face onto the plot.
j. Any structure including raised beds and support poles must not encroach on pathways or impede access
k. Screens and structures erected for the protection of plants must not exceed 2.5m in height and must like other structures have prior Board approval in writing. Providing they do not reduce the cultivable area they will not be subject to the 20% restriction in (a) above.

Would you eat the roots?

This beauty is a dahlia. Its roots, believe it or not, are edible. In fact, it was first brought from the Americas as a food plant.

It is said to taste like a cross between a potato and a Jerusalem artichoke. To read more, have a look at this Guardian story.

Bon appetit!

Once upon a time

Here is how allotments were described in a book that I reckon was published in the 1920s. An average allotment was large enough to feed a family, if you followed the growing advice given.

During the first quarter of the 20th century, the rent of an allotment plot remained more or less static at 10 shillings (10s) a year for a 20-rod plot.

To give an idea of how much 10s was worth, in 1908 a new three-bedroom house on the Mayfield Estate could be purchased for a little over £300. Thus, the allotment rent was about 0.167% of the cost of a new house in the Ilford area.

In 2010, the same houses were for sale for about £300,000. Rents for Redbridge allotment plots in 2010 were £69 for a typical 10-rod plot.Therefore, the full cost of an allotment plot in 2010, at 0.023% of that same house, is nowhere near as significant as it was at the beginning of the 20th century.

In fact, by that calculation the cost of a plot today should be about £500 per year. Good to know that things exist that actually get cheaper over time.

I found this cheering calculation in a dissertation titled ‘The Allotment Movement in North-East Greater London 1900-2010: a case study of the supply, demand and culture of urban allotments’.

Published in 2011, this is what budding archeologists get up to.

Feedback

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



Newsletter September 2020

Seed Potatoes & Onion Sets

It’s that time of the year again when we will be promoting next seasons seed potatoes and onion sets. Later this week you will receive full details and prices of available varieties. As a result of coronavirus restrictions and to protect the health and wellbeing of our allotment community we are making a few changes to the ordering and payment processes.

New Product

We now have in stock Solabiol Greasebands which is an easy to use pest barrier especially for fruit trees. Greasebands are a useful addition to the popular Agralan traps (used in spring/summer) which can be applied in autumn/winter to save your fruit trees from climbing and crawling insects, winter moths and caterpillars. Each pack costs £5.50 and contains 1.75 metres of greased band and a roll of cord.

New Price List

A new price list for September has now been published. A few product specifications and prices have changed as well as incorporating new products introduced this year. You can download a copy by visiting our website www.pointalls.org, click on the allotment information page, click trading shed dropdown and click price list or pick up a copy at the trading shed.
Thank you for supporting the trading shed and contributing to another year of record sales.

Fire Site

Our dedicated burning plot provides a service to all plotholders and for safety and environmental reasons is controlled by our site manager. Materials are burned when the weather conditions permit and importantly when the wind blows smoke away from residential properties. Recently there have been instances of plotholders putting materials on the fire site when the ashes are still warm and reigniting the fire. This is not good for your personal safety, the environment or our neighbours, particularly when the wind changes direction. Therefore we ask that materials are not deposited until it is safe to do so. Thank you for your cooperation.

Covid-19 Update

Hands, Face, Space is the latest simple message from the government to help protect ourselves and others. The following guidelines (and law as appropriate) relate to our site.

When on site and to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, try to keep at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with. Social distancing is essential to stop the spread of the virus, as it is more likely to spread when people are close together. An infected person can pass on the virus even if they do not have any symptoms, through talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing.

When with people you do not live with, you should also avoid: physical contact; being close and face-to-face; and shouting or singing close to them. You should also avoid touching things that other people have touched.

Where you cannot stay 2 metres apart you should stay more than 1 metre apart, as well as taking extra steps to stay safe. For example: wear a face mask.

Limits on the number of people you can see socially are changing. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.

From 14 September – when the new rules apply – it will be against the law to meet people on site you do not live with in a group larger than 6. The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

In addition to the above our site guidelines we published previously still apply. In particular when opening and closing gates to enter and leave the site and when using water standpipes, please wear gloves. The communal area and toilet remain closed for the time being and preferably send any trading shed orders by email to enable us to organise safe collections.

We ask any plotholders to observe quarantine requirements if returning home from restricted countries listed by the government.

Tomato Blight On Site

If you have signs of tomato blight on the leaves or fruits please take prompt action. Leaves develop brown patches, curl up, dry out and die. Stems may also show patches and darken and fruits turn brown, shrink and rot. Remove all blighted materials immediately from your plot and deposit on the fire site.

Thefts

There has been an increase in thefts of produce from allotment sites throughout Barnet and surrounding boroughs. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.

Handy Tips For September On The Plot

  • Order your seed potatoes and onion sets preferably online before 25th October
  • Harvest remaining summer vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, peppers, swedes and first of autumn crops including leeks, pumpkins, maincrop and sweet potatoes
  • Pick late plums, mid season apples and pears, autumn fruiting raspberries
  • Sow oriental and salad leaves
  • Plant spring cabbage and Japanese onion sets to over winter
  • Clear away dead foliage and other plant remains
  • Add everything you can to your compost heap unless signs of disease in which case take infected plant material to the fire site



Newsletter August 2020

Face masks required in the trading shed

The trading shed is open again every Sunday from 10 to 12. For everyone’s protection, please wear face masks when in there. The shed should be treated like a shop and government guidelines apply.

Do not bring rubbish to the site

In recent months, we have seen an increase in inconsiderate behaviour by plotholders. Discarded food wrappings are being blown around the site and rubbish is being brought from home to the burning site. Somebody even dumped a TV set in one of the bins!

It is absolutely forbidden to bring any rubbish on site.

Do not do it as it can lead to being expelled from Pointalls.

Self-isolation means staying at home

If you are returning from a stay in a country like Croatia or Austria, you have to self-isolate at home for two weeks. That means you cannot come to work on the allotment.

We have witnessed plotholders who have not followed this rule, therefore this reminder. Please remember that there are some very vulnerable people among our gardeners.

Third place goes to plot 116

In the recent ‘best plot’ judging, Anca Covaci with plot 116 was placed third by the judges. Held in a virtual manner, the Barnet Allotment Federation (BAF) had a tough job to rank a record 63 entries. Congratulations to Anca, and her helper Lina, for an excellent job representing Pointalls so well.

In total, Pointalls had four entries – itself a very strong showing – and John Waterhouse with plot 76 received a commendation.

The winning six are:
First – Erica Page from Bells Hill
Second – Graham Fletcher from Cat Hill
Third – Anca Covaci from Pointalls
VHC – Silas Kendall from Golders Green
HC – Abdullah Rustame from Vale Farm, and
C – Bill Hancock from Cat Hill

Click here to see the photos of these six plots.

Greengages without worms

In late May, for the first time ever, I put pheromone traps into my plum trees. This was based on a recommendation from John Waterhouse

I can report that my greengages were much healthier than they had been for many years. Only a very small proportion of fruit had worms in them. Similarly, the Victoria plums were less affected than in the past, although there the percentage of healthy fruit was not quite as high as with the greengages.

I highly recommend these traps for the future and will remind you to place them next spring.

Climate-change gardening

At a recent meeting of the Barnet Allotment Federation, gardening journalist Kim Stoddart talked about the problems posed by climate change. As it is no longer gardening as usual, she discussed ways of adjusting gardening to the new situation:

  • Improving soil, soil health, no dig gardening*, mulching, composting
  • Implementing water saving measures, water retention
  • Designing the plot to cope with extreme weather events, plant stress and damage, low maintenance, raised beds, pests and diseases
  • Creating a resilient vegetable plot, growing in blocks, crop rotation, slow it-spread it-sink it
  • Planting a climate change orchard
  • Reshaping a flower garden to be climate change proof, mixed and companion planting, wildflowers
  • Peasant gardening techniques and dealing with weeds
  • Nature holds the answers, biodiversity, attracting wildlife, nature’s pest control
  • Perennial growing, seed saving

The solutions show how we can strive to shore up our defences for climate change-savvy gardening by adopting resilient and novel gardening techniques.

*For more information about no-dig gardening check out Charles Dowding who is a leading authority on this technique

If you want to know more and create a climate change-resilient allotment plot, this excellent book The Climate Change Garden, is available from the authors Sally Morgan & Kim Stoddart (kimstoddartgardening@gmail.com).

Pointalls – at the end of the rainbow



Newsletter July 2020

Still time to enter for best plot

I have received one entry for the ‘best plot’ competition. You have one more week to tell me that you are joining in. As this year’s competition is virtual, on 18 and 19 July we will be taking the three photos required to enter a plot into the competition.

Go on, drop me a line at communications@pointalls.org

Help yourself to sods

Outside no 4 Nursery Avenue is a jumbo-sized builder’s bag full of lawn sods. This makes for a good base for raised beds. You are invited to help yourself and just take what you need.

Regarding other freebies, the deliveries of woodchips by tree surgeons have started up again after a hiatus during the lockdown.

After roses come the dahlias

As the season for roses has come to an end, we can all look forward to the next blowsy flower – the dahlia. I take this as an opportunity to show you my favourite rose bouquet of this season.

And next a spectactular cerise dahlia. I love them all and am glad that dahlias have come out of the cold of popular contempt. Dahlias have had a resurgence in recent years, seen not least in the fact that #dahlia counts 1.3 million posts on Instagram.

Wikipedia tells us that the dahlia came from Mexico to  Europe in 1789. Abbe Antonio Jose Cavanilles, director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid, grew the first dahlia flower. Two years later, he named it after a Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl.

Nursery Avenue gate calms down

You may have noticed that the bolt of the Nursery Avenue gate does not shriek when you open or close it. Paul Castignetti, our site manager, has tried a  number of things to make it quieter and I think he has succeeded with the most recent attempt. He has coated the bolt with a layer of plastic that stops metal rubbing against metal.

I am sure all around the gate will have noticed this improvement.

Apply in writing before building on your plot

If you want to build any semi-permanent structure on your plot, please make a formal application including a drawing, dimensions and positioning on the plot and send it to secretary@pointalls.org copying in Paul Castignetti under sitemanager@pointalls.org.

Paul may discuss your application with you if anything is unclear before handing it to the board for a decision. Any building project will need a written permission from the board, which will be sent from the secretary@pointall.org email address.

The site regulations describe what sort of structures and what sizes and sitings are possible under the heading ‘Sheds, greenhouses and other structures’. You can find the site regulations on the website. You can also find print-outs of the site regulations in the trading shed.

Plum wine like nan’s

Zoey, one of our more recently arrived plotholders, found this recipe and says it is very similar to her grandmother’s. I suspect Zoey has tasted her nan’s production of plum wine extensively and can highly recommend it.

Equipment needed

  • One 5-gallon plastic fermentation barrel with lid
  • Something for stirring the contents
  • Milton baby sterilising liquid
  • Long clear plastic tubing (available from DIY stores)
  • Funnel
  • A 1-gallon demijohn (cheaper if you buy several)
  • Rubber bung and airlock
  • 6 wine bottles (ideally clear glass)
  • 6 stoppers

Ingredients needed

  • 5 lbs (2.25 kilos) of healthy plums (including stones)
  • 3 lbs (1.35 kilos) of sugar
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Wine yeast

Method

  1. Sterilise the fermentation barrel and lid using the Milton liquid.
  2. Wash the plums, cut in half and remove the stones.
  3. Place in fermentation barrel
  4. Bring water to boil and pour in fermentation barrel.
  5. Put the lid on and leave for four days, stirring twice daily.
  6. Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.
  7. Add lemon juice and wine yeast and put the lid on.
  8. Store somewhere warm. After a few hours you will notice something starting to happen… there will be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.
  9. After five days transfer the liquid to the demijohn using the plastic tubing and funnel. Make sure all the equipment has been sterilised with Milton liquid.
  10. Avoiding disturbing any sediment, place the fermentation barrel at a higher level than the demijohn (e.g. put the barrel on a table and the demijohn on the floor), put one end of the plastic tubing in the barrel, and having placed the funnel in the neck of the demijohn give the other end of the tubing a strong suck to pull some of the wine in the tube up and over the edge of the barrel. Quickly remove your mouth and put the tube end into the funnel. The wine should start to drain.
  11. Stop removing liquid when you get close to the bottom so you transfer as little of the sediment as possible. Once all the liquid is in the demijohn top up with water to bring to a gallon. Seal with the rubber bung and airlock, having put a small amount of diluted Milton liquid in the airlock.
  12. You can now store the wine for months somewhere cool and frost free. At first the fermentation may start up again and you will see bubbles going through the airlock. Gradually the wine will clear.
  13. Once fully clear, repeat the draining process, this time from the demijohn to sterilised wine bottles. Put a stopper in each bottle and store.
  14. The wine will be ready to drink after 12 months.

This recipe is courtesy of allotmentheaven.blogspot.com

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