Occasional Articles and Allotment chat and comments.
Charity Collection - 10th to 16th August
In lieu of our open-day Janet is organising an informal collection for charity. She will be at the gate collecting for Christopher Smiles Children’s Cancer Charity (https://christopherssmile.org.uk/) at busy times throughout Allotment Week 10th -16th August. The collection will be most welcome as their main fund raising events at The local shows and Camphill Club have been suspended due to virus lockdown. If you wish to contribute and cannot be on the allotment site that week Janet is usually on plot72 in the afternoons. "Thanking you in anticipation for supporting such a worthwhile cause. Janet Hodges"
Rats - A Reminder
Following the newsletter in May about rats, please can I remind you to help keep their numbers down. Rats are an inevitable problem on allotments so please think about how you can not encourage them:
- Food waste should only be added to a compost bin that is fully enclosed, and preferably with a base that is rat-proof e.g. paving stone, chicken wire etc.
- If you have bird feeders think about preventing food from falling to the ground underneath;
- Don't provide them with a home - they love piles of rubbish and junk;
- See the RHS info on this https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=791
- Please do not use poison - it's often ineffective, can kill other animals, and poisoned rats can crawl away and die elsewhere and then poison scavengers.
Rubbish vs Excess Veg
Please do not leave unwanted items outside the trading hut. Recently we have had an old BBQ, a small electrical gadget, tin trays and other items dumped on us. If it's your waste why leave it for a committee member to deal with? Put it in your bin at home.
If however you have excess produce or seedlings the that's fine. We don't currently have our "swap table" but it shouldn't stop you from swapping excess veg.
The Virus - Update
As the government start to ease lock-down, please continue to treat the allotments as a special place, and particularly:
- Continue to maintain social distancing;
- Continue to be aware of common areas for contamination such as the gates, water tanks and wheelbarrows;
- Keep young children on your plot rather than letting them run free - (water occasionally).
Our plot-holders come from a wide variety of backgrounds, many fall into the vulnerable class, some will mix with outside groups and thus the allotments could be a focal point for infection. It would be awful if we became a virus hot-spot and had to shut down. The virus doesn't move, people move it. We stop moving, the virus stops moving. It's that simple.
Above all enjoy the growing, the weeding and the freedom the allotments allow. Moaning about the watering required is normal and is allowed - please do it quietly.
Bitter Tasting Courgettes - a warning
RHS state that:- "The bitter taste of some fruit is caused by an over-production of plant defence chemicals called ‘cucurbitacins’. This is mainly a problem in courgettes and summer squash and is caused primarily by a mutation within the plant. The problem is more likely when plants are grown from saved seeds, where inadvertent cross-pollination may have occurred. Affected fruit should not be eaten as it causes stomach upsets and affected plants should be removed."
More worrying is this article (see the link) which clearly shows these courgettes should not be eaten:
It is recommended to taste them raw and, if bitter, discard them and that plant.
Thanks to Jane for alerting me to this.
Open Day is Cancelled
Last year the open day raised £800 for Macmillan Cancer support, and due to lock-down this year charities have been missing out. However the time is not yet right for organising gatherings and so there will be no open day this year.
However, there is a possibility that Janet may find some informal means of collecting your donations for a charity - watch this space.
Trading Hut - Last Sunday Opening
This coming Sunday (28th June) is the last Sunday of the year for the Trading Hut as we have found that after this sales drop off significantly. However, if you want to buy from our stock, we can sell you items at anytime - just find a willing member of the committee to open up for you, or email me and we can agree a time to be there.
Before you rush down this Sunday (open 10:00 - 12:00), we have sold out of compost, and 4' / 6' canes. We do have plenty of bird netting, insect netting, weed matting, slug pellets, chicken pellets, Growmore and 8' canes and lots more.
Payments - we take cash or cheque and also bank transfer (plot-holders only) - but this latter option is a trust mechanism that means you should make the transfer at the time or shortly afterwards. Is that a hint anyone?
We don't yet take card.
Wheelbarrows are provided for everyone to use, and lovingly maintained by Dave. Please do not leave wheelbarrows unused on your plot; rather return them to one of the three car park points. Also it has been noted that someone has selfishly marked a wheelbarrow to be used specifically at one car park! Please - if you are that fussy about which one you use you can always bring your own one. Dave now has to spend time repainting it.
If you know of wheelbarrows going spare, - a neighbour or local household, we are always grateful for spares.
Water is our biggest expense after rent. In the hot dry weather we are all watering regularly - please don't waste it. Also we have a ban on hose pipes at all times, so watering should only be done by using watering cans/buckets in the the dip-tanks.
Do help to keep the water in the tanks clean - don't wash tools and veg in the tanks - draw water off into a bucket for this. And it goes without saying - especially in the current pandemic - don't wash your hands in the tanks. (For the wags amongst you I didn't say that - I wrote it).
On Sunday mornings during Spring and early Summer during trading hours (10:00 - 12:00) we leave the allotments gates open. At all other times the gate should be closed behind you when coming in or out. To minimise contact in these infectious times, the gate is often left open as a kindness to others by the plot-holders nearest the gate when they are on site. Please don't leave the gates open if they are not there, even if you find it open already. Thanks.
Competition - Challenge Shield Judging
Judging for the Shield takes place in the middle of July. Six weeks from now.
The shield goes to the best second year plot-holder. That is someone who was first allocated a plot with us in last year's growing season - is that you? The judging takes into consideration the tidiness of the plot, quality of crops, variety of crops and good use of the space available.
The winner is announced at the AGM in November.
Trading Hut Stock Update
Now that the Trading Hut is opening again on Sunday mornings, it seems stock is moving quite fast. We have now sold out of 4' canes, compost, and growbags. But in addition to our normal stocks we still have plenty of 8' canes, and on the roll - bird netting (4M wide) , insect netting (like enviromesh) 3M wide and, weed matting (2M wide). If you can't make Sunday openings, a member of the committee might be willing to open up during the week. Please observe distance rules.
Vacant Plots and Waiting List
Not surprisingly the lockdown, now in it's 10th week, has made people think of being outdoors and our waiting list has grown rapidly. Initially we stopped allocating plots to help restrict contact, but on balance have decided that we shouldn't hold back so, as of today, we have no vacant plots.
Trading Hut - Opening Again
Since the garden centres have been allowed to re-open, we have decided to open the Trading Hut again on Sunday mornings from 10:00 - 12:00. One person in at a time please. We have restocked with compost, and the usual fertilisers. so there should be most things you need.
It seems the Pied Piper hasn't passed through this year, and a number of people have reported seeing more rats than usual - me included. Some of the reasons that have been suggested are - fewer foxes being seen - the rats have moved from W Byfleet because the restaurants are closed - more food waste is available because of the recycling centre being closed.
Please help by not making it easy for them to feed and breed.
- Food waste should only be added to a compost bin that is fully enclosed, and preferably with a base that is rat-proof (paving stone, chicken wire etc.
- Don't provide them with a home - they love piles of rubbish and junk - Martyrs lane is now open again for both green waste and general rubbish.
- See the RHS info on this
Please do not use poison - it's often ineffective, can kill other animals, and poisoned rats can crawl away and die elsewhere and then poison scavengers.
Lockdown Side Effects
Many of you are making the most of the freedom the allotments allows, coming down regularly and working hard. However, we do have a number of vulnerable people and key workers amongst our members, and some of them will not want or be able to feel safe enough to visit. Consequently, please be tolerant with overgrown plots (generally there are fewer this year than most) and if you know them, perhaps offer to help with their plot in some small way.
If you are unable to get down regularly (for whatever reason), do please let me know so we are aware, and do ask for help if needed.
Stay safe and well, and keep up social distancing - with eight weeks behind us - let's not waste it.