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).

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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 communications@pointalls.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 membership@pointalls.org 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.

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