Newsletter July 2021


No green waste on the fire site

Someone has been depositing large amounts of green waste, grass and weeds on the fire site recently. Paul Castignetti, our site manager, was forced to load it all on his trailer and unload it again into the green waste skip.

Never place anything green on the fire site. It cannot be burned and creates an expensive problem.

The very best way to deal with green waste is to compost it in your own compost bin.

But if you are not willing to do that, put it into the green waste skip. Never on the fire site.

Calling for entries for best plot competition

The annual competition for best plot in the Barnet area is once again going to be held virtually this year.

On the weekend of 24 and 25 July, we will take pictures of those plots that have entered and submit to BAF for judging.

Don’t forget that last year, our very own Anca Covaci and Lina Hellgren.of plot 116 won third place at their first attempt of entering this competition.

We are calling for plotholders who would like to enter. Drop me a line to communications@pointalls.org and we will go from there.

Independent judges will decide which plots will be first, second and third. In addition to a trophy, there is a prize of £50, £30 and £20 respectively for the three winners.

For more details, please click here, which will take you to the BAF website article.

Feedback on Maris Bard requested

Last year, we were unable to source the early potatoes that we usually stock. These are called Swift.

Instead of Swift, John Waterhouse, our manager of the trading shed, ordered Maris Bard. He is now asking for feedback on your experience with Maris Bard this year in order to decide which early potatoes to order next.

The photo below shows the first of the Maris Bard harvest that John produced. They were planted on 9 March and harvested on 13 June, four weeks later than is usual for Swift, according to John. However, we have had an unusually cold spring which might explain some of this delay.

Please let John know what your own experience was and whether you would like Maris Bard again next year or return to Swift.

Thanks to Bob and Yi-ning

Bob and Yi-ning Goodliffe decided to give up allotment gardening this year. Both have been long-standing members of Pointalls.

Bob acted as chairman of the committee for a number of years during a particularly difficult time when there was a real risk that the council would take over and develop the site for housing.

We thank both for their contributions over many years.

Supporting Finchley Nurseries

I have recently discovered Finchley Nurseries, one of the closest nurseries to Pointalls in geographical terms. And even better, an independent firm that has existed for more than 90 years. Personally, this is something I always try to support.

Additionally, the choice of plants is very good, the prices are reasonable and, best of all, as a plotholder of Pointalls we are all entitled to a discount of 10% on plants and seeds. What is not to like.

One of our plotholders works at Finchley Nurseries and says they would love to see many of us there, adding that Finchley Nurseriers makes for a great day out just for a walk or a visit to the cafe on site.

Please pick up your discount card in our trading shed to prove that you are a Pointalls plotholder.

Any building on your plot needs permission

As we have had a few instances recently where structures went up without consent, this as a reminder to all.

The building of any structure – be it greenhouse, pergola, shed – needs permission in writing prior to it being undertaken.

Please write to secretary@pointalls.org with your proposed build plus a sketch of the size and location on your plot.

Treatment for dreaded tomato blight

We now stock Vitax Copper Mixture in the trading shed. For a 175 gram pack you pay £4.

This mixture is for use with plants suffering from trace element deficiencies such as:

  • Copper deficiency:  Can occur in beets, onions and fruits on peaty, sandy and shallow organic soils
  • Manganese deficiency: Occurs in many crops including potatoes, beans and peas, beets, brassicas, carrots, celery, fruits and onions in peaty soils with pH above 6.0 and mineral soils above pH 6.5.
  • Zinc deficiency: Can occur in fruit grown on sandy soils with high pH and phosphate levels

Vitax Copper Mixture is also useful to strengthen your tomato plants so they withstand better when tomato blight hits. Tomato blight is caused by a fungi and very quickly kills tomato plants, once they are infected.

Due to Europe-wide government regulations, products that act as an outright cure for the fungi infection are no longer available. Bordeaux mixture was previously advocated for curing blight but is no longer registered. Copper mixture is the closest thing but regulations have significantly reduced the copper content so again it is not an outright cure.

As a nutrient tonic, Vitax Copper Mixture is beneficial for plant growth and increases the plants’ resistance. Vitax Copper Mixture should be mixed with water and sprayed on foliage.

An alternative organic treatment to prevent tomato blight is the following home-made mixture:

  • 1 x heaped tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 x teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 x small amount of mild soap (washing up liquid)

Mix above into one gallon (4.5 litres) of water and spray plants with the solution.

“Keep your own seeds, rotate, compost”

Sindo Garcia likes to go to his plot early in the morning. On such a sunny morning, Sindo gave me a tour of plot 71, which he has been tilling for the past 33 years. This makes him one of the very longest serving plotholders on Pointalls.

His plot, and the way he cultivates it, is a prime example of the traditional way of making best use of the land to maximise yield from a varied crop of vegetables – and well able as he confirms to “feed a family and give away produce on top”.

Sindo was born in Spain and learnt a lot from his father, a farmer, who rotated crops every few years. The same as Sindo now does. Sindo’s mantra is “Harvest your own seeds, rotate crops, compost your green waste”.

Harvesting and using your own seeds year after year ensures that the plant is best suited to the local conditions. Sindo applies this to as many vegetables as possible. Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks. The only plant he says he is not having much success with in terms of seeds is lettuce.

Sindo finds the best way of germinating seeds is allowing them to do exactly as they want. He showed me where he hung up last year’s leek flower upside down to dry. The seeds spilled out when they were ready and eventually seedlings appeared all around the mother plant that was hung up. Sindo describes that germination works best if you leave it to the plant to decide by itself when to do what.

Vegetables that are hard to cultivate include carrots and parsnips. In late March, Sindo sows into the bed where they are to grow, rather earlier than often indicated on seed packets. He says he gets better results that way.

On the other hand, potatoes are often better if you plant them later, rather than earlier, Sindo says. Although in the ground later, they grow that more quickly when the temperature rises and soon catch up and even overtake those planted earlier.

A few Spanish specialities are thriving in Sindo’s 1960s-scifi-style greenhouse – a particular sort of green pepper that grows its fruit upwards and of course the famous padrone peppers.

When I visited, Sindo was giving a very healthy looking Victoria plum tree its summer trim by pruning back the new growth to keep the tree in check.

He applies greasebands to all stems and makes sure no part of the tree touches any other structure. Sindo’s greasebands consist of a layer of plastic keeping the grease in place (actually the grease is simply Vaseline), all held on by wire. He keeps it on all year and replaces it with a new one every two years.

As well as giving the tree a summer prune, Sindo reduces the number of fruit around now. Proper, full pruning of stone fruit like plums and cherries should be done after the harvest and before the winter sets in. Trees such as apple or pear, on the other hand, should be pruned in the winter, with a slight summer haircut round about June.

During the walk across Sindo’s beautifully kept plot, he pointed out a small row of sunflower seedlings. These were grown and are tended by Sindo’s granddaughter. Another exemplary gardener growing up, we hope!

Flowering cactus

Geoff Kerton’s cactus flowered spectacularly this year. These flowers are beautiful but extremely short lived at no more than a day usually. Thank you to Elena Mellado who sent in the picture.

Feedback

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

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