Newsletter May 2021
Prize for Anca and Lina
Kirstie Burgin presented the prize for coming third in the whole of Barnet with their plot 116 to Anca Covaci and Lina Hellgren. Kirstie is the vice-chair of the Barnet Allotment Federation (BAF), which every year holds a competition for best plot. Last year the competition saw a record 63 entries, making Anca and Lina’s achievement the greater. Lina describes herself as very competitive and the two gardeners say they are going to work hard this season to defend their 2020 position.
Peat free compost added to product list
We have added Melcourt SylvaGrow to our range of growing products. This excellent quality, peat-free compost is suitable for a wide range of garden applications including potting on, planting out and as a growing bag.
SylvaGrow is a blend of fine bark, wood fibre (by-products of sustainably managed British forests) and coir (from a single, known source). It contains balanced nutrients sufficient for the first 4 – 6 weeks of growth. The RHS endorses it, and it does not contain peat or green waste compost. The price for a 50-litre bag is £7.50.
John Innes compost for seeds
For sowing seed we recommend John Innes seed compost which is available at the trading shed. J Arthur Bower’s John Innes seed compost, or JAB for short, is a loam-based compost containing limestone and sand. Fine-textured, with a low nutrient formula it is ideally matched to the needs of germinating seeds and rooting cuttings. John Innes composts have been widely used by gardeners for over 60 years and are valued for their consistently good performance.
The ingredients of JAB include:
- Loam is the most important ingredient as it provides a natural reservoir of plant foods, trace elements and contains some organic matter which releases nitrogen slowly to the plant. The loam is screened and sterilised to avoid any soil-borne diseases and insects.
- Sphagnum moss which improves both the aeration and water-retaining capacity.
- Lime-free grit sand is included to allow excess water to drain from the compost and prevent waterlogging. It also adds weight and provides stability for pot grown plants.
- Ground horticultural-grade limestone is added to give the compost the pH most plants prefer.
- Compound to provide the wide spectrum of plant nutrients needed for healthy growth. These include nitrogen for leafy growth, phosphates for root development, potash for flowering and fruiting and trace elements for colour and flavour.
The price for a 25-litre bag of JAB at the trading shed price is £4.00.
Download price list
Download our latest price list which features all products available at the trading shed. It has been necessary to adjust a few selling prices as suppliers increased their prices. Our quality branded product range is competitively priced and great value. When purchasing from the trading shed please pay by card.
Planting an incredibly rare tree for the future
We are very fortunate that we have been able to acquire a few bare-rooted trees of a very special sort. The tree is Ulmus minor and is called Ademuz.
It is one of only two highly resistant varieties of elm that have emerged since the devastating Dutch elm disease struck in the 1970s and 80s.
Paul Castignetti, our site manager, has managed to acquire these rare specimen. He did not divulge his source, and Jo Keller, herself a professional gardener, confirmed that they are very hard to get hold of.
We will be planting the trees on the edges of the site. This will make ours one of the few places in Britain with a resistant elm variety and eventually mature elm trees.
The highly endangered white-letter hairstreak butterfly lives exclusively on elms, and our Ademuz trees may one day help this rare butterfly survive and flourish.
Pointalls gardeners – Ian and Natacha
In the first of an occasional series about gardeners on Pointalls, I talked to Ian and Natacha. They are relatively new to vegetable growing but have already made a visible difference to plot 42.
A year ago, Ian and Natacha started with a half plot and built beds and pathways. They attribute their quick progress in 2020 to lockdown. They have now taken on an adjoining half-plot and are digging it over, sifting the soil and removing any trace of couch grass. When asked who does most of the work, Natacha puts it at 70/30 for Ian. She is responsible for digging and weeding while Ian is growing the plants. The bed of garlic certainly is looking very impressive.
Living close by, it is easy for the two gardeners to get to Pointalls. They had tried to grow vegetables in their own garden but its position meant there simply was not enough light to achieve good results.
Both say they draw on advice from more experienced Pointalls neighbours. Ian also regularly uses the RHS website and YouTube videos to learn more. For example, he consulted YouTube to establish the best width for vegetable beds to make weeding as easy as possible.
“I used to know asparagus only as it appeared on my plate,” said Natacha, “and now I have learnt how it grows.” They both agree that growing asparagus is a success story on Pointalls’ soil, unlikely as it seems given it is London clay when books tell you that the plant requires sandy soil to flourish.
If you see Ian and Natacha planting and fighting the couch grass, why not say hello. They are always keen to exchange horticultural tips.
Protect your plums now
May is the time to get your moth traps into your plum, pear and apple trees. In the trading shed, we sell pheromone traps that attract males of the plum, pear and apple moths which are trapped on a sticky sheet.
These traps are the only way to control the moths. If you don’t, you may well end up with a lot more maggots in your plums and apples. 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.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. Cultivate the soil under the tree, too, raking it to bring any pupae up to where birds can find them.
Plot inspections to re-start
Over the past year, we paused our regular plot inspections.
As things are slowly becoming more normal with increasing vaccination rates in the population, we will be re-starting plot inspections.
The first will happen in a week or so. The focus will be on the level of cultivation, keeping pathways mowed and clear, and plots reasonably tidy.
Thief scales Squires Lane gate
On 16 April, we had a break-in when a man climbed over the Squires Lane gate and entered the site. He was later observed to be doing the same to get out again – this time with a bag on his back. He stole a wallflower plant and rhubarb
Paul Castignetti, our site manager, has since beefed up security on the gates by adding more barbed wire at the top.
If you recognise the thief, please let us know at email@example.com
Call for volunteers to keep the toilet clean
We have had one plotholder volunteering to keep the compost toilet clean. But we need a few more. Please put up your hand by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We are re-opening the toilet on a trial basis and hope cleaning will be sufficient to make the opening last.
Pointalls is not a dump
Please do not treat Pointalls as a dump. Take your rubbish off site and dispose of it properly.
This is a photo taken very recently after some plotholders very inconsiderately decided to leave their rubbish near the trading shed.
That is not allowed. If you see anyone dumping things there, please remind them not to do this in the interest of the whole community. It is extremely egotistical behaviour.
Do not feed foxes
We are urging all plotholders not to feed foxes. Once they get used to being fed they hang about the area and foul vegetable beds all around.
Free cedar greenhouse in need of fixing up
A neighbouring allotment site is giving away a cedar greenhouse. It is disassembled and in need of patching up. The size is 8ftx6ft.
If interested contact email@example.com
Tulips in all their gorgeous colours
Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at firstname.lastname@example.org