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.