Newsletter October 2019
‘Have Your Say’ meeting on 20 October
All plotholders are welcome to the inaugural ‘Have Your Say’ meeting on Sunday 20 October from 11.30 to 12.30. This is a forum to discuss ideas across our membership. Just turn up at the trading shed.
Board members will be in attendance to discuss ideas and answer your questions. This is planned as the first of a regular series of meetings scheduled every few months.
Random cameras to enhance security
Random cameras to enhance securityIn an effort to improve security and fight burglars, thiefs and vandals, we decided to make use of technology. Roaming cameras will be randomly deployed on the allotment site. There will be CCTV signs at the gates alerting everyone to this new approach.
The cameras record intermittently and we will only view a recording if there is a particular reason to do so. Therefore, it remains most important that you report any problems straight away so we can potentially make use of recordings that may exist. In the end, vigilance by all of us is the best security measure of all.
The cameras are an additional measure to enhance security, the logic behind installing security lights at the Nursery Road entrance (reported in the September newsletter). As regards lights, we continue to investigate a solution for the Squires Lane gate. If you know of any useful information regarding lights that are strong but work without electricity, please get in touch.
Potato thief caught and banned
Talking about security, we have recently had to take action against a potato thief. A man was observed helping himself to newly dug potatoes from a wheelbarrow. Not only that, he returned and did it again.
It turned out the man was not a member but was helping one of our allotment holders. He was banned from the site and the allotment holder was reminded of his responsibility for the behaviour of his guests.
Compost bin on special
- Transform your plot’s green waste into a valuable and nutrient-rich compost mulch with our special-buy compost bin
- Exclusive price for Pointalls plotholders
- Only £17.00 each
- Large savings compared with retail prices
- Secure environment for compost, this converter also retains heat and moisture
- Extra-wide hatch allowing easy removal of the finished compost
- Wide aperture enables easy filling of the composter
- Push-fit windproof lid prevents the contents from blowing away
- Full user guide included
- Made from recycled plastic, the composter is UV stabilised to prevent degradation
- Carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust
- Large capacity 330 litres
- Height 1000mm/diameter 800mm
- Buying from us means no handling or delivery problems
- Available now from the trading shed
- We also sell compost activator to speed up production at only £2.00 for a 2.5kg bag
Donate your surplus vegetables
Until the middle of November, you can donate your excess fruit and vegetables and help homeless people.
Two of our allotment gardeners have been collecting surplus produce and delivering it to a local charity kitchen that cooks meals for the homeless of the neighbourhood. Vegetables are delivered to the charity kitchen every Monday. The scheme will run until the middle of November and start again in the spring.
Rachael and Radhika, and of course the charity kitchen, send their thanks to all those who have already shared their excess produce and supported the initiative.
If you have any crops you would like to donate, please take them to the collection point on plot 6 next to the communal area. You will see the blue boxes under a plum tree.
RHS app to help vegetable growers
For all the computer geeks among us, here is an excellent piece of kit from the RHS. It gives masses of information on fruit and vegetable growing. But what I like best is the monthly calendar.
Click here for a list of all the possible jobs for the month of October.
Newsletters less frequent through the winter
I have had some positive feedback on the newsletters and would like to thank all those who let me know they are enjoying reading them.
With less activity on the allotment in the winter, there is less to report. Therefore, the newsletter will be less frequent. But do not fret, once the spring comes, newsletters will be published every month.
As ever, if you have any ideas on what should be covered, please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tenant asked to leave
Regrettably, we had to terminate the membership of a plotholder recently for anti-social behaviour.
Not sure whether this is a frog or a toad, but it does look like wildlife. Thanks to Laura De Benedetti for the photo. It will, of course, be entered in our photo competition!
Newsletter September 2019
BBQ in brilliant sunshine
Luckily, the recent allotment BBQ went off very well in good weather. Vegetarians and carnivores were catered for with separate BBQs on the communal area.
All that was missing was ice-cold beer from the tap. Maybe an idea for next year?
Send in your photos
This is a reminder that we are running a photo competition this year. Please send in your photos of any topic related to the allotments, your tools, your harvests, or, as I like to do, other gardeners’ flowers – see a shot of some lovely dahlias below that were not grown by me.
All entries most welcome! To be sent to email@example.com.
Site inspections note big improvement
Over the past months, we carried out regular monthly site inspections. At these inspections, the focus was on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.
A number of plotholders received letters urging them to improve their cultivation, etc. Happily, these reminders have had the intended effect.
The good news is that we have seen a big improvement over the past months. Yes, some issues remain to be tackled, but a great many have been resolved, making Pointalls overall a better allotment site. Keep up the good work!After a pause over the winter, we will be starting the monthly inspections of the whole site again in the spring.
Thank you for all the work
You may have noticed that the composting toilet has had a makeover. No, it was nothing to do with any of the TV shows that are carrying out such projects. It was all to do with Mel and his decision that the toilet should have a new lease of life.
Mel worked extremely hard, taking it all apart, cleaning up the wood and putting it back together. It now looks better than it has ever done before.
Thank you very much, Mel, for a fantastic job!
Security light at Nursery Avenue gate
If you have used the nursery gate as it was getting dark, you will have noticed that there is a new feature attached to the trading shed. It is a security light that is activated by movement within a 15-metre radius.
It has been installed to enable plot holders to enter and depart the site at dusk and hopefully improve security by deterring unwanted trespassers from climbing over the gates at night. The light is activated by movement sensors and will stay on for approximately two minutes.
At the moment we cannot put a security light on the other gate as there is no electricity supply at the Squires Lane entrance. The possibiliy of a solar-powered light has been considered but we found they are not powerful enough. However, this topic will continue to be reviewed.
Composting workshop on 28 September
You have another opportunity to learn about composting. On Saturday 28 September, Paul Castignetti, our site manager, will repeat his training session on composting. Meet at 11.00 outside the trading shed.
I have said it before, composting our own green waste is the best way of dealing with it. Much better for the environment, our own gardens and our wallet, than sending it by truck to the council’s composting site – as we do when we fill up the green waste skip.
Heaps of green waste on plots
One of the issues identified in our monthly inspections are heaps of green waste mixed with soil on a number of plots. They seem to have been growing year in, year out, and have in many cases become very large indeed.
After the painful experience of cleaning up after a tenant whose tenancy was recently terminated (see report in August newsletter), we are keen not to repeat this costly endeavour. To remind you, cleaning up behind the tenant cost us as a community close to £1,000. This expenditure was necessary to bring the plot back to a condition that a new tenant could cope with.
With this in mind, we are asking all plotholders to either compost their heaps in a proper bin from which organic matter can be extracted and used. Alternatively, please dispose of your heaps by placing what is green waste in the skip.
We do not want to be left in a position where we have to spend the community’s money to clean up heaps if a plotholder decides to leave. Therefore, we are asking all those who have been notified as having assembled an unacceptable heap to either compost properly or dispose of the heap by the end of the year.
If you are not sure how to go about composting, please attend the workshop on 28 September to gain all the information you require.
What do you know about ‘no dig’ gardening?
Charles Dowding is famous for his work comparing traditional gardening with his favourite ‘no dig’ gardening. In this excellent, short video he shows two vegetable beds that have been worked in these two different styles.
To give it away – there is no difference in the size or growth rate of the vegetables in the two beds – but in the long run, the ‘no dig’ style generates a 5% better yield – with much less work and less weeding. Home-made compost is the main ingredient.
How to fight maggots in plums
If your plums have maggots, then you are faced with plum moth caterpillars. These are pink grubs that tunnel into fruit during the summer near the stem and feed on the flesh. Affected plums ripen first and often have a resinous bead of plum where the grub entered.
Pick these fruits and put them in the green waste bin, then collect the windfalls, as these will also contain the caterpillars.
When fully fed, the caterpillars emerge and overwinter inside silk cocoons spun under loose bark or the soil below. Encourage birds to visit the tree with feeders hung from branches. Finches will attract wrens, goldcrests and blackbirds, which will find the grubs.
Cultivate the soil under the tree, too, raking it to bring any pupae up to where birds can find them.
There is no chemical cure, but we sell pheromone traps to hang near embryonic fruits in May, when grubs are hatching. Traps lure males with a scent that mimics female plum moths. Males are trapped inside on a sticky sheet. With fewer males for mating, females lay fewer eggs.
Customers making good use of card machine
John Waterhouse is reporting a good take-up of the new card machine in the trading shed. Personally, I am waiting for an opportunity to spend some money there and see how much John enjoys using the modern technology.
Just one small reminder, the card machine can be used for all purchases in the trading shed, but not to pay the rent next year. That will need to be done via a bank transfer or a cheque (see August newsletter for more detail).
A case for water butts
Brighton & Hove Allotment Federation have published a concise leaflet how gardeners can use water most effectively. They rightly make a strong case for harvesting rain water and storing it in water butts. We should all be fitting guttering to shed roofs and use it to fill our tanks. Pour in a tablespoon of cooking oil and no mosquito will ever attempt to lay her eggs in your water butt!
If you have spare water tanks or large containers that could be used as water butts, it would be very helpful for other allotment holders who are thinking of storing rain water. If you have access to such things, drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find a match.
Enemy number two – Himalayan balsam
- What do you know about Himalayan balsam?It is a relative of Busy Lizzy, but gets as tall as a person.
- It is quite pretty and was brought to the UK by gardeners who liked the flowers.
- It has since spread across the whole of Europe.
- It is highly invasive, grows rapidly and spreads quickly. It smothers other plants.
- The seed pods open explosively and shoot ripe seeds up to seven metres away.
- The good news is that it is easy to pull out of the ground. It is very important to weed it before it has a chance to spread its seeds.
This picture was taken on our allotments and shows a plot that is overrun by the balsam. We have asked the plotholder to get on top of the problem so as not to affect the whole site.
Plotholders can use hosepipes until further notice
In view of the continuing dry weather, the board decided to allow the use of hosepipes for the time being. This will make life considerably easier for all of us whose vegetables are still growing.
Furthermore, it was also decided that the board will review whether the regulation – that hosepipes must not be used after a certain date – should be changed.
If you have any views on this matter that should be considered in the review, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Invitation to BBQ
You are all invited to come along with food and drink and try out the new BBQ and picnic tables
From 12.00 noon the coals will be lit on the communal area (plots 3, 4 and 5)
Will happen in good weather meaning as long as it is not raining
Bring your own food to cook, bring your friends and meet other plotholders for a friendly chat
Newsletter August 2019
Wishing our long-standing gardening colleague, John Waterhouse a very happy 90th birthday! All plotholders are united in wishing John very many years of growing his wonderfully tasty carrots (as well as all the other vegetables on his plot).
BBQ available for general use
One of our board members found a great bargain in the sale and we acquired a new BBQ for general use. It is at the communal site – on plot numbers 3,4 and 5 – and ready for use by yourself. It is coal fired and we would ask you to clean up behind you and leave it as you found it.
We are restoring some very sturdy picnic tables with benches. These have been sourced at no cost and will be erected on the communal plot shortly. A new 7-foot bench is already in place.
No rubbish into green waste skip
You will have seen the recent email showing a photo of this blue wheelbarrow – see below. One of our plotholders fished it out of the green waste skip. Other rubbish was also detected in the skip.
It is absolutely not permitted to throw any rubbish whatsoever into the green waste skip.
As agreed with Barnet council, we are only allowed to throw in green plant material and tree prunings up to 60 cm in length and up to 2 cm in diameter (note this correction compared with previous incorrect information).
If anything else is found in the skip, we have to pay Barnet a penalty, adding further cost to this service.
Composting workshop on 28 September
Another opportunity to learn more about composting is coming your way. On Saturday 28 September, our site manager Paul Castignetti, will be holding a composting workshop for all members, old and new. It will be held at 11am outside the trading shed. Please take advantage of this opportunity to become sustainable and self-sufficient as a gardener.
Rent payment for 2020
This is a very early heads up to give you all plenty of opportunity to get ready – from next year we will no longer accept cash for annual rent and water charges. Instead we would ask you to transfer the money directly to Pointalls’ bank account. If that is not possible, you can also pay by cheque.
The reason is that nowadays – with bank branches an ever greater distance from our homes -, the bank charges us to pay cash into the account. And on top of that there are long queues before you even get the chance to pay anything in.
Regrettably, for these reasons we will have to ask you for a cheque or a transfer next year and we hope you understand why this has become necessary.
Book for you to read
A very useful book for allotment gardeners is Alan Buckingham’s ‘Allotment Month By Month’. It is most valuable for beginners but also a handy reference for experienced gardeners.
Absolutely worth the outlay of around £5 for a used edition on Amazon or £18 for a new one from Waterstone’s.
Results of site competitions in Barnet
This year’s Barnet Allotment Federation site competitions results have been announced. Although Pointalls did not enter the competitions we are pleased to share the results with you.
The best kept site competition has four categories based on the size and number of plots of each site. For comparison, Pointalls would be in the extra-large category.
Sites also put forward entrants for the best allotment plot competition and the three winners were from the following sites.
As Pointalls were previous winners of the Ted Green Memorial Award we again took part in the judging of this competition. This award is given annually for an outstanding community initiative by an allotment society that has benefited the society and/or the wider community.
Two entrants were of such high quality, matching the criteria required, that for the first time joint winners were declared: Cat Hill (East Barnet) and Bells Hill (Barnet).
Let us know whether you think Pointalls should or should not enter next year’s site competition. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Termination of tenancy
Unfortunately, we have recently had to terminate the tenancy of a plotholder because he did not follow the rules concerning cultivation of his allotment.
The site regulations state that plots must be “wholly or mainly cultivated by the plotholder for the production of vegetables or fruit crops”. This rule is a requirement in our lease with the council and is what defines an allotment in law.
After the tenancy was terminated, we hired a digger to clean up the plot so it can be let to a new plotholder to be used the way it is intended. All in all, the cleaning up of this plot cost us as a community a very significant amount of money. Over the past three years, the felling of two forest trees plus the grinding out of the stumps, the digger and the removal of rubbish from the site came to close to £1,000. This expenditure was necessary to bring the plot back to a condition that a new tenant could be asked to cope with.
In future, we will make sure that we act much earlier in cases where it looks as if a plotholder is allowing his or her plot to deteriorate.
With this in mind, we are now carrying out monthly inspections of the whole site between March and September. At these inspections, the focus is on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.
Of course, sometimes plotholders are in situations that make it hard or even impossible to keep on top of things. In this case, we will first remind them of their responsibilities but immediately talk to them to see how we can assist members who are struggling to cope. As always, prevention is better than a cure and early intervention is best.
Lastly, here are some photos taken when the plot in question was cleared up. They illustrate the sort of behaviour that is unacceptable – specifically non-cultivation and hoarding of rubbish that should not be on site.
Building of temporary structures
We would like to remind everyone that you need to apply for written permission before you build a temporary structure on your plot. This could be a shed, a greenhouse, a pergola or a BBQ area.
There are specific rules in the site regulations that govern these structures, including:
- Only one shed and one greenhouse
- All at least 60 cm away from paths
- Maximum height of any structure 2.5 metres
- Greenhouse max area is 3.7 x 2.4 metres
- Shed max area is 2.4 x 1.8 metres
Over the next few weeks, we will further define the process that needs to be followed to obtain such written permissions. In the meantime, please continue to send your request to email@example.com for consideration of your plans by the board.
Enemy number one – bindweed
Walking around the site, you will see quite a lot of bindweed, an extremely invasive weed that is very hard to get rid of.
I had to dig out a bed of perfectly good raspberry bushes when they got overwhelmed by bindweed.
If you have a patch of bindweed on your plot, please cut it to the ground and do no let it flower and spread to neighbouring plots.
Order seed potatoes and onion sets
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Newsletter July 2019
Local horticultural show on 18 August
The horticultural show of the Barnet Allotment Federation will take place on Sunday 18 August. The show has moved to a new venue where there is plenty of parking. It will be held at the Martin Primary School in Plane Tree Walk, East Finchley, and is open to exhibitors and visitors.
Exhibition categories include vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, potted plants and home-made food items. Full details will soon be available including setting up times (for exhibitors on Saturday 17 August) and viewing and auction times. Look out for more information on our website and posters on site.
The exhibition opens at 12 noon and closes at 4.30pm. Prize giving and auction of exhibits is from 3pm. Admission is free for children and 50 pence for adults.
If you are interested in exhibiting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you full details.
Trip to Wisley – tell me if you are interested
This is a reminder to let me know if you are interested in joining a trip to Wisley in September. Entry to Wisley is free, so the only cost would be a small fee for the return bus journey.
At this point I know of three people who would like to come along – not enough for me to start organising this. Therefore, if you want to go, please let me know at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org from now until the end of the year – giving you a good few months to capture the perfect shot.
Furthermore, with the agreement of the photographers, we might like to use some of the photos to refresh our website next year. The website is a very useful method of communicating with the general public and establishes our existence in the digital world. It is the first point of contact for anybody thinking of taking up a plot. We measure the considerable interest that exists by counting the number of visitors that are visiting the website.
By the way, if any of you have any suggestions for amendments or additional information that should go on the website, please send an email to email@example.com. All feedback is highly appreciated.
And here is an entry to the photo competition to get us started….
Why it’s no longer gardening as usual
Already we are seeing changes to our climate – the earliest spring, the mildest winter, the wettest year, with new pests and diseases reported each year. An up to date book looks at the potential problems ahead and gives down-to-earth advice on how you can work towards a plot or garden that is resilient to climate change. This new nook guides you through:
- Improving your soil and implementing water saving measures
- Designing a plot/garden that can cope with extreme weather events, such as torrential rain, drought, storm force winds and more
- Creating a resilient veg plot
- Planning a climate-change orchard and flower garden
If you are interested in purchasing the climate change garden book we have arranged a specially discounted price of £12 including post and packing. Usual price is £17.99. All you need to do to order your copy is visit the website https://www.climatechangegarden.uk before the end of July and use the code AL12.
Newsletter June 2019
First plant sale a success
Despite only a very brief time to prepare for the plant sale, the result was pretty impressive. With your good custom, we raised £185 for our funds. Among the many suppliers of seedlings for the sale, particular thanks must go to Paul Castignetti who organised it all and provided plenty of tomatoes; and Geoff Kerton who contributed a great variety of vegetable seedlings. Next year we will get organised well in advance, boost the marketing effort and ask you all to contribute vegetable and flower plants. We will also hold the sale around mid-May, slightly earlier than this year, as that is the time of greatest demand for seedlings and plants. We noted that quite a few customers were after flowers – something we will have to keep in mind for next year.
Visit to Brook Farm Allotments
In May, four of our members visited Brook Farm Allotments in Whetstone which hosted a site maintenance workshop organised by Barnet Allotment Federation. The tour of this large site gave us an opportunity to admire their wide range of facilities including fencing solutions, roadways, security lighting, cameras, toilets and trading shed. Following the tour, the hosts chaired a site maintenance discussion in their pavilion building, giving us an insight into how other sites operate and plenty to think about for Pointalls in the future. Brook Farm, which has been self-managed for many years, has three sites with two in Whetstone plus a smaller site at Stanhope Road in Barnet. It is also worth mentioning they were first-class hosts particularly in their provision of an excellent choice of food and refreshments.
Learn how to compost on 6 July at 11am
As you all know, we have been filling up quite a few skips with green waste. We want to remind everybody of the responsibilities and costs that are associated with these skips. As agreed with Barnet Council, we are only allowed to throw in green plant material plus tree pruning’s up to 60cm in length and up to 20cm in diameter.
If anything else is found in the skip, we have to pay Barnet a fixed penalty charge. Prohibited materials include soil, large branches, timber, plastic, paper and card and general waste. Each time we fill a skip it costs Pointalls £240. As you will appreciate, composting as much as possible of green waste ourselves is much better all round.
After a few months of breaking down, composting retains the goodness in our own plants for our own soil. Compost – also called ‘organic matter’ – is the best thing ever for successful growing. And it costs nothing.
To help us become better composters, Paul Castignetti, our site manager, will be holding a composting workshop for all members, old and new. It will be held on Saturday 6 July at 11am outside the trading shed.
Please take advantage of this opportunity to become sustainable and self-sufficient, all while reducing costs.
Something to celebrate
This is to give all a heads up about an important date, 15 August. On that day, John Waterhouse will be celebrating a very big birthday. Every one of us will want to congratulate him as we recall how much John has done for the allotment over the many years he has been growing his wonderful fruit and vegetable crops and managing our trading shed.
In case of the need for complaint
Just a reminder that we all have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of our allotment plots. If anything should happen that stops you from enjoying this right, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the board in confidence.
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.
Newsletter May 2019
PLANT SALE ON 2ND JUNE
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.
BEWARE SCHOOLCHILDREN ABOUT!
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.
NEW BOARD STARTS WORK
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
FRESH FACE FOR COMMUNICATIONS
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I work on plots 31 and 44A, right next to the roadways.
A FEW GARDENING TIPS FOR THE WEEKS AHEAD
- 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.