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

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 copying in Paul Castignetti under

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 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


  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

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