Newsletter November 2021
Water turned off
John Waterhouse turned off the water on Tuesday 2 November. Winter is coming.
Packing away for winter
As the growing season comes to an end most of our tools will be lying dormant until next year. A little care now will pay dividends next spring. Petrol goes off over time and the manufacturers suggest it should be used within a month in small engines like strimmers and chain saws. If it is just left in your machines the old petrol produces gums and solids that can clog up the carburettor and the rest of the system.
You can get additives like Briggs & Stratton Fuel Fit that stabilise the fuel and extend its shelf life but for winter storage it is best to drain the fuel from the tank and then run the engine to clear the last fuel from the system. Check your manual for how to ‘mothball’ your equipment.
Electrical equipment and hand tools just need a good clean and the oily rag treatment where appropriate. With wooden handled tools a rub over with linseed or teak oil will help keep the wood in good condition.
It is a good idea to check rotary lawnmower blades. If they are chipped or blunted then you can sharpen them ready for next year but do take care not to take more off one side than another as it will throw the blade out of balance and this can damage the machine.
Most garden machinery shops offer blade sharpening and balancing at a small charge. If you have equipment that really needs a shop service, now is the right time to get them in because everyone else will be taking them in the spring.
Pointalls seen as a model site in Barnet
We are expecting an official visit from another allotment in the Barnet area. They are keen to see for themselves how we run our allotment site.
Pointalls is seen as a model of how to deal with green waste and controlled burning. As you know, we are recycling surplus green waste via the waste skip that gets shipped for composting on a large scale. And we are reducing the overall carbon footprint of the site by not allowing individual plotholders to burn, but only allow the occasional managed and controlled fires.
Anonymous emails circulating
Email communications sent to some plotholders by an anonymous individual or group using the name ‘Friends of Pointalls’ are not originated or authorised by your company, Pointalls Allotments Limited, and do not represent the hard work or views of your management team.
Some 10 years on the waiting list
The following article appeared in the Evening Standard on 20 October 2021.
Soaring demand for the precious outdoor space of an allotment has pushed waiting times to “out-of-control” levels in London since the start of the pandemic.
It is now typical for Londoners to face a decade’s delay before starting the “good life”
with Camden gardeners forced to be the most patient in Britain, according to a survey.
Appreciation of the value of allotments has rocketed since March last year when the first
lockdown forced millions of Londoners with no green space to spend months stuck at home.
Data from Freedom of Information requests from more than 300 councils showed Camden
top of the waiting list league table, with gardeners having to sit out 17 growing seasons on
average before they can start tending their soil.
One Camden gardener had to wait 18 years and three months, or 6,690 days, the longest
recorded in Britain.
The figures, obtained by the website MyJobQuote, showed the waiting lists averaged 13
years in Islington and more than 11 in Richmond and Wandsworth.
Some of the biggest lists are also in London with 4,071 applicants waiting for a plot in
Newham and 3,080 in Lewisham. Richmond’s list has more than doubled from 637 in
February 2020 to 1,526 this month, while the number of Google searches for allotments in
the UK is now 4.5 times higher than before the pandemic.
More than 40 London allotment sites have closed in the past eight years with the future of
another one, Park Road Allotments in Isleworth, in doubt following a planning row with
landowner the Duke of Northumberland.
A spokesman for Richmond and Wandsworth councils, which jointly manage their
allotments, said: “We have seen an increase in allotment applications since the pandemic
began. We regularly assess allotment use to ensure they are being used for cultivating and
any plots not being used effectively are taken back and offered to the next person on the
If you have a greenhouse or a polytunnel, check it over and give it a good clean. Cracked panes of glass can blow out in a storm and once one pane has gone, the whole house is at risk. It is well worth taking a little time to check the nuts and bolts are still tight.
Rips in the membrane of a polytunnel can be easily mended with tape when small but once the wind has ripped them right across, you are in for an expensive skin replacement.
An overlooked delicacy
So very easy to grow, some may even call it a weed, Jerusalem artichokes are not popular with the general public. They look knobbly and dirty, have to be laboriously washed and peeled. But once done, they can be turned into some lovely dishes.
Helianthus tuberosus, earth apple, topinampur – known under a variety of names – comes from North America. It is a relative to sun flower as you can see in the flower of the Jerusalem artichoke. Its sweet, nutty taste is best appreciated as soup, or roasted in the oven. Or indeed in a frittata – see below
Frittata with Jerusalem artichokes
Laura de Benedetti contributed this recipe for those of us who never know what to do with Jerusalem artichokes.
For two people, use
- 10 Jerusalem artichokes
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 anchovies
- 4 eggs
- A bit of cheese in small cubes or grated (Compte or Cheddar for example)
1. Wash the Jerusalem artichokes carefully removing all the earth, then slice them thinly, using a food processor for speed. (They are also good raw and added to a salad.)
2. Put the oil and garlic in a frying pan. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the Jerusalem artichokes and let them dry, stirring often until they begin to soften.
3. After about 10 minutes, add the anchovy filets and a bit of water, cover the pan with a lid and cook for a further five minutes.
4. Remove the lid and let all the water evaporate.
5. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat them with a bit of salt. When the artichokes are cooked pour them into the beaten eggs and stir in the cheese.
6. In a clean frying pan that can go in the oven put some more oil, when hot, pour in the egg mixture, cook for a few minutes until the bottom begins to cook, then put in the oven under the grill for about five minutes until the top looks golden. (If you don’t have an oven proof pan, the traditional method of turning the frittata over with a lid can be used.)
Pallet busters now available
Pallet busters have arrived and are available from the trading shed. These tools will be available to plotholders at no cost. All that is required is a £25 deposit that is fully refundable.
Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at communications@pointalls.