Newsletter November 2020

New lockdown

From 5 November, we are under a new lockdown. Fortunately, allotments are specifically exempt from the need to shut down for the duration.

In the outdoors, we are allowed to meet one person who is not in our household or bubble, as long as we observe social distancing.

Please remember the following precautions designed to ensure all our safety:

  • Wear gloves when opening and closing any gate locks, taps or other communal items
  • Keep sanitiser in your shed and use it regularly
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs
  • At all times observe social distancing and stay two metres from anybody else
  • Do not share tools
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed and follow general NHS and government advice.

Rules relating to the trading shed

If you want to attend the trading shed on Sunday mornings, please wear a mask throughout. Also, only one customer is allowed in the shed at any one time. Everybody else please queue up outside two metres apart.

As always, the trading shed sells very keenly priced, high-quality products for the gardener. Here is a link to the price list.

Do not feed the fire on plot 7

Plot 7 is the communal burning plot. We all know that we can leave dried cuttings from trees and shrubs as well as untreated timber for burning.

Paul Castignetti, our site manager, carries out the burning in a safe manner at a suitable time. He watches the fire burn down and once it is down to embers he will leave to do other jobs.

Recently, we had a few instances where unknown plotholders re-ignited a fire by adding their cuttings to the embers. This is not supervised and is not safe.

Please do not feed the fire on plot 7. Leave your cuttings on the plot at a safe distance to the old fire site.

Clarifying rule 26

We have re-written rule 26 of the site regulations in order to make it clearer and easier to understand.

The rule concerns what structures we as plotholders can build on our plots. It is based on our lease with the London Borough of Barnet, which imposes strict limitations on what structures may be erected on the site.

In principle, everything you want to build will need to receive written permission from the board.

Adding all the structures on your plot together, these must not take up more than 20% of your plot space. It is important to add though that fruit cages are not counted.

Here is the full text for your information, plus a link to the full text of the site regulations:

Our lease with the London Borough of Barnet imposes strict limitations on what structures may be erected on the site. As a consequence NO STRUCTURE OF ANY TYPE MAY BE ERECTED ON YOUR PLOT BEFORE FIRST OBTAINING WRITTEN APPROVAL FROM THE BOARD. Any structure so approved must be constructed in a good and workmanlike manner to the satisfaction of the Board and must be kept in a reasonably good state of repair, again to the satisfaction of the Board. Approval for construction will only be considered for temporary structures and then only subject to the following conditions:

a. Temporary structures must not exceed more than 20% of the area of the plot
b. Only one shed and one greenhouse (each to be a separate structure) may be constructed on each site
c. All sheds and greenhouses and other temporary structures must be at least 60 cm from the edge of paths
d. The maximum height for sheds and greenhouses and any other structures on the plot is 2.5m
e. The maximum area for a greenhouse is 3.7 x 2.4m
f. The maximum area for a shed is 2.4 x 1.8m
g. Greenhouses and sheds must be constructed at the end of the plot adjacent to the principal path/roadway
h. Polytunnels obtained from a reputable commercial supplier may be erected in place of greenhouses but subject to the same limitations on size and location as greenhouses and to the same requirement for prior approval in writing from the Board
i. Roofed over barbeque areas may only be constructed on full size plots and must be adjacent to any shed/greenhouse on the plot. They must not be fully enclosed. The longest side at least must be fully open and must face onto the plot.
j. Any structure including raised beds and support poles must not encroach on pathways or impede access
k. Screens and structures erected for the protection of plants must not exceed 2.5m in height and must like other structures have prior Board approval in writing. Providing they do not reduce the cultivable area they will not be subject to the 20% restriction in (a) above.

Would you eat the roots?

This beauty is a dahlia. Its roots, believe it or not, are edible. In fact, it was first brought from the Americas as a food plant.

It is said to taste like a cross between a potato and a Jerusalem artichoke. To read more, have a look at this Guardian story.

Bon appetit!

Once upon a time

Here is how allotments were described in a book that I reckon was published in the 1920s. An average allotment was large enough to feed a family, if you followed the growing advice given.

During the first quarter of the 20th century, the rent of an allotment plot remained more or less static at 10 shillings (10s) a year for a 20-rod plot.

To give an idea of how much 10s was worth, in 1908 a new three-bedroom house on the Mayfield Estate could be purchased for a little over £300. Thus, the allotment rent was about 0.167% of the cost of a new house in the Ilford area.

In 2010, the same houses were for sale for about £300,000. Rents for Redbridge allotment plots in 2010 were £69 for a typical 10-rod plot.Therefore, the full cost of an allotment plot in 2010, at 0.023% of that same house, is nowhere near as significant as it was at the beginning of the 20th century.

In fact, by that calculation the cost of a plot today should be about £500 per year. Good to know that things exist that actually get cheaper over time.

I found this cheering calculation in a dissertation titled ‘The Allotment Movement in North-East Greater London 1900-2010: a case study of the supply, demand and culture of urban allotments’.

Published in 2011, this is what budding archeologists get up to.


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