Allotment Society News 2000
Newsletter - Winter 2000
Despite the extremely wet conditions plot holders have taken advantage of some breaks in the weather to “tidy up” their plots and continue to harvest crops. Runner bean frames are being dismantled and the canes stored for use next year. It is at this time of the year that compost bin space is at a premium. Some plot holders have taken advantage of the offer through ESBC and obtained their discounted plastic compost bins.
The wet soil conditions are hampering winter digging. On clay soil it is advisable to postpone any attempt to work on saturated soil. Treading on waterlogged soil when digging will cause undesirable compaction and damage soil structure.
One pleasant task unaffected by the weather is perusing the seed catalogues, selecting varieties to grow next season. Our bulk order seed catalogues are presently circulating around the membership.
Three plots have been selected for entry into the ESBC Allotment Federation Winter Competition. These are the plots belonging to T. Bottrill, C. Hoose and E. Killick.
My gladioli corms are now all lifted and thoroughly dried. The remnants of the old stalk and last years corm have been removed. They are stored on wire bottom trays in a cool frost proof area, to “sit out” the winter. I will keep a close eye over the next few months to remove any corms that appear unhealthy.
The sales of gladioli blooms this year raised £225 for the Birmingham Neonatal Unit. Many thanks to all who stopped to purchase them from outside my Dovecliff Road home.
Janet Stone is to be congratulated for her work in raising money for the Tutbury Practice Patients fund, selling flowers for drying, sweet peas, pansy and polyanthus plants; so far this season she has raised £350.
Our annual Social Evening and Prize presentation is being held on Thursday 30th November in the Rolleston Club Lounge. The Society AGM is on Sunday 7th January 2001 in the Rolleston Club Lounge at 12.00 noon.
Graham Anderson Secretary
Newsletter - Autumn 2000
Late summer is the time of year when plot holders can really see the benefit of all the hard work they put in during the early months. Many crops are coming to their peak and although they are perhaps producing slightly later than usual, the quality appears to be very good!
In the midst of this "time of plenty", it is important not to forget to plan some crops to mature in the early spring. Early August is the time to sow overwintering cabbage and cauliflower. Late August and early September is the ideal time to plant overwintering onion sets. Another crop which has been doing very well over our recent milder winters is the hardy lettuce. The variety "Valdor" comes recommended by one plot holder who had a bumper crop last spring. From an autumn sowing they will grow unprotected in open ground but will do even better if given the protection of a cloche or cold frame.
On Gardens Sunday it was pleasing to have a good number of visitors on the site. The site stall selling allotment produce raised £45.
The Society coach trip to the Tatton Park Flower Show was very well supported. The weather was fine and reports from the Show were very favourable. The Society is indebted to Tom & Sylvia Martin for their continuing efforts in organising Society trips.
Our site Summer Competition was judged in mid-July. The results were as follows:-
Best Plot - 1st - Plot 22 - Mr T. Bottrill
2nd - Plot 28 - Mrs J. Stone
3rd - Plot 5 - Mrs Kendrick
Best Crop - Brussel Sprouts grown by Mr C. Hoose
The site is looking very colourful with a good number of plots incorporating cut flowers and flowers for drying, among them are some sumptuous sweet peas, glorious gladioli and dazzling dahlias. This year I will again be selling bunches of gladioli in support of the Premature Baby Unit in Birmingham - please look out for the sign and bucket outside my Dovecliff Road home.
Newsletter - Summer 2000
The very wet spring meant a slow start to the season for some plot holders: even at the end of April some of the plots had pools of water lying on them. I did wonder whether conditions may have been more suited to planting rice!
The May Day Bank holiday weekend saw the sun come out and the soil surface begin to dry. There was a flurry of activity on the site.
Most of the allotment plots are of a quite heavy clay soil texture. I find it is best to do the final spring soil preparations before the soil dries out too much and becomes hard to work. The addition of lots of organic matter and sharp grit makes the soil more friable.
Some plot holders opt for rotovating their plots, which certainly makes a quick job of soil preparation – no doubt killing a few slugs in the process. One drawback with this method however is when the plot has many difficult perennial weeds such as couch grass or bindweed. The rotovator can make the weed problem much worse; as each piece of fragmented root grows again.
Late spring and early summer are difficult times to produce fresh vegetables. This is when crops like spring cabbage and cauliflower, sprouting broccoli and over wintering onions come into their own.
Delicious asparagus can also be harvested at this time. Asparagus can be grown by purchasing crowns, usually one year old and can be cropped the following year from a spring planting. Alternatively it can be grown easily from seed in early spring on a well prepared bed with lots of added organic material. The resultant crop should be left for a further two seasons before cropping. To speed this process up, seed can be sown in pots in the greenhouse, starting them off in early February. You should produce sizeable crowns which are overwintered in their pots and planted out the following spring to be lightly cropped in the next season.
One or two of our plots have sported some fine spring colour with daffodils, tulips and sweet williams on show. We also have the promise of colour later in the season as sweet peas, gladioli, dahlias and flowers for drying are planted out.
Our site spring competition was judged in April, the results were ;
1st Walter Richardson (Plot 23)
2nd Mrs Kendrick (Plot 5)
3rd Ted Killick (Plot 19)
The date for our summer competition is Saturday 15th July.
Despite the slow start to the season, hopefully we will have some good crops ready to produce for our sales stall when the site is open on Gardens Sunday, July 23rd.
Graham Anderson (Secretary)
Newsletter - Spring 2000
It’s now the end of January and most of the Society bulk order has arrived and is ready for distribution around the members. Sorting through the colourful packets of flower and vegetable seeds has heightened the anticipation for the growing season ahead. As part of this year’s Gardens Sunday the Society plans to hold a market for allotment produce. Members are encouraged to grow a few extra crops to mature around late July to help fill the stall.
On the plots the mild weather has ensured a plentiful supply of winter vegetables. The overwintering spring greens and onions also look exceptionally well. Even this early in the year spring seems to be in the air. The daffodil bulbs on the site have pushed themselves well through the ground and rhubarb crowns look set to give an early spring treat!
Potato tubers are now widely available in garden centres and after selecting the varieties you wish to grow, they should be removed from any packaging and left in a frost-free, light place to "eye-up". I usually like to plant a few earlies from late February onwards, rubbing out all but the three strongest shoots before planting. In some years a late frost may "nip" the top of the foliage if it is not protected with a fleece or polythene cover, but I always feel it’s worth the risk so that the first earlies are always a bit special. Harvested straight from the plot, boiled and gently rolled in a little butter and freshly chopped mint - they taste just superb! It’s ironic to think that all other parts of the potato plant except for the tubers are poisonous. In fact the potato is related to the poisonous nightshades! Even the tubers exposed to the light become green and poisonous so "earthing up" well is very important. Blight can be a problem but spraying with some garden fungicides such as diathane 945 will help prevent attack. Even crops attacked by blight will usually produce a satisfying crop although the tubers will not store for long.
The committee are very pleased to welcome Janet Stone into our ranks. Janet dedicates a large part of her plot to growing flowers and does some stunning floral arrangements. Last season Janet raised £450 for leukaemia research from sales of flowers and arrangements. Very well done, Janet!
The East Staffs Allotment Federation is holding a Gardening Quiz Night together with its annual prize presentations. This will be held in the South Stapenhill Social Club on Tuesday 7th March at 7.30pm. All allotment members are encouraged to attend.
Can we tempt anyone to join the Society? We have a short waiting list at present. Please contact me for an application form.
(Graham Anderson, Secretary)
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Last updated: 8 December 2001