Allotment Society News 2003

Newsletter - Winter 2003


The AGM will be held on Sunday 4th January at 12 noon in Rolleston Club Main Hall. Plot rentals are due at this meeting.


1st - Ted Killick
2nd - Mrs Kendrick
3rd - Geoff Faulkner

Congratulations to our winners! East Staffs allotment of the year not yet announced.


Congratulations to Ted Killick who is our site gardener of the year and to Mrs Irene Shaw for having the Best Crop of Flowers.

Newsletter - Autumn 2003

East Staffs Allotment Association Summer Competition Results
Byerley Cup

The winner was Mr Iliffe of Regatta Lane but Rolleston site members put in their usual impressive performance
2nd Mrs Kendrick - 69 pts
3rd Ted Killick - 66 pts
7th Geoff Faulkner - 58 1/2 pts

In our Rolleston site competition the prize for the Best Crop of Vegetables goes to Peter Longbottom for his impressive bed of Winter Greens.

Newsletter - Summer 2003


Judging of the East Staffs. Allotment Federation Spring Competition is now complete –
1st B Squirrel Regatta Lane - 61.5
4th T Bottrill Rolleston - 57.0
5th T Killick Rolleston - 56.5
10th G Faulkner Rolleston - 49.0

Our “classical” plot holders have started building up the points for another successful year.

Following the end of year plot changes our waiting list has become much shorter. If you are thinking of applying for a plot in the next two years, now is the time to get your name on the list. Please ask for an application form.

Trevor Bottrill


June is the ideal time to sow the various types of chicory on ground that is becoming free from spring crops. You will find three main types of chicory in vegetable seed catalogues, or on good plant centre displays.

Whitloof, or forcing chicory. This gives the traditional, blanched chicory heads used in winter salads or as a cooked vegetable.

Unlike the early sowing of parsnips, this chicory is best sown in a deep, rich soil in late May or early June. Also, although it is satisfying to produce a nice straight parsnip type root, it is not critical if they come up a bit forked in stony soil.

The roots should be lifted in October or November, the leaves cut off from the top and the roots trimmed. 4 – 6 roots are placed around the edge of an 8 inch pot and packed with damp soil. The roots are then forced in the dark and at a temperature of 55 – 60F the chicons will be ready in 3 – 4 weeks. If the chicons are removed carefully it is usually possible to get a second crop of small sprouts.

Sugar-loaf chicory. This does not require any forcing and produces a dense crunchy head like a cos lettuce or chinese cabbage with a mild chicory flavour. Seeds sown in June – July will crop September – December and have the advantage of a better frost resistance than lettuce. Common varieties include “Pain de Sucre” and “Crystal Head”

Radicchio. This Italian name is most commonly applied to the dark red lettuce type vegetable but the name encompasses a range green and coloured salad leaves that are increasingly popular on supermarket shelves and in mixed “ready-to-eat” salad packs.

A number of varieties are now available, as in Mr Fothergill’s “Mediterranean Vegetable” collection, such as “Augusto” with the classic round head .”Variegata di Castelfranco” with decorative red-blotched leaves and “Catalogna Aspargo” with narrow, upright green leaves.

Seeds sown May – August will crop well into the Autumn and the thinnings make excellent baby salad leaves. Try one of them for an experiment!

Newsletter - Spring 2003


At our January AGM a new Committee was elected for the next three years. Members are:- Don Frost (Chairman), Trevor Bottrill (Secretary), Mike Wardell (Treasurer), Mrs Janet Stone, Clive Hoose, Geoff Faulkner, Roy Ottewell, Tom Martin and co-opted, Peter Longbottom. If you want any information about the Society they will be pleased to help you. We were very sorry to lose the services of our UK champion Gladiolus Grower, Graham Anderson, as secretary this year. We are most grateful for his work on behalf of the Society.

There has been a small turn-over of plots at the year end and this has taken some people off our waiting list. If you are interested in taking an allotment please register your name. We are proud to be, probably, the only fully occupied and cultivated allotment site in East Staffordshire.

Over the winter months we have taken the opportunity to hire two skips and clear the site of the waste that seems, inevitably, to build up. We have also laid down some extra hard standing to alleviate the car parking congestion that occurs at peak times.

We have had great success in the Federation of East Staffordshire District Allotment Associations, with Trevor Bottrill coming first and Ted Killick third, in the Winter Competition. Congratulations to them both.

Although we have some plot holders operating the classical three year rotation plan, the range and diversity of plants grown increases every year, particularly by our lady members. With climate change members are becoming much more adventurous and we are risking crops that would have been given much more sheltered or glasshouse conditions, 30 years ago (see Squashes, below!)

Topical Tip:

Bean and pea seeds, sown directly into the ground, often become the target of field mice and other wild life, but the days when my father protected his seed with a dusting of red lead powder or paraffin are long gone. Pre-soaking the seed and pre-germination to chitting stage in a little compost seems to prevent attack. Alternatively follow Mike Wardell’s practice. Grow your peas to seedling stage in a length of plastic guttering and then just slide the whole length into a prepared trench!


Marrows and pumpkins have always been fun to grow and like giant sunflowers, are attractive to younger members of the family. Unfortunately, older gardeners will know that too many marrows end up on the compost heap – although a well matured specimen will bake or provide much underrated marrow and ginger jam. A decent pumpkin often finds itself cycled through the local Horticultural Show and Church Harvest Festival, to be used, finally, as a Halloween lantern.

The introduction of the courgette and development of Mediterranean style cooking over the past 30 years has done something to improve the reputation of this family of vegetables, but there are still many more members worth a try. Warmer summers and particularly, later frosts, are guaranteeing the cropping of a range of ‘cucurbits’. Our open, south-facing allotments make an ideal site. (Since they’re planted late, squashes also fill up the space and control the weeds on that last piece of plot that you know that you won’t cultivate properly!)

The culinary pumpkins and squashes (as opposed to the ornamental and ‘bottle’ gourds) fall into four main groups.

1. The summer squashes include courgettes and the small round and pattypan squashes. Courgettes now come in many shapes and sizes but you can always turn the traditional green ones into marrows when you’ve had enough! Pattypans should be eaten small and young otherwise they turn into ornamental gourds.

2. The autumn squashes mature late summer and have limited keeping qualities. These include marrows, some squashes and the curious ‘vegetable spaghetti’ which is frequently listed in seed catalogues. (Thompson & Morgan are now offering a F1 bush type).

3. The pumpkins, which are available from miniature to the traditional ‘Mammoth’ size.

4. The winter squashes, which come in a wide range of sizes and colours. They have excellent keeping qualities, often storing into March, and are characterised by a dense, usually orange, flesh that can be used in a variety of ways. Many come in the 2 – 5lb range and can be used over a period of 2 – 3 weeks if covered with cling-film and stored cool after cutting open.
Three simple and effective ways of using winter squashes are –

1. cutting into 2inch cubes, brushing with olive oil and baking in the oven
2. cubing and cooking in casseroles where they retain their texture and colour
3. stewing and blending into a thick pulp which can be frozen and used as a base for a variety of flavoured soups.

A yuppie cookbook will even tell you about pies, cheesecakes, muffins and ice creams!

Varieties to look for include –
· Sweet Dumpling
· Table Ace
· Baby Bear (pumpkin)
· Butternut
· Kaboucha
· Delica
· Crown prince

Just start one or two seeds in pots on your windowsill, you will find that the rest of the packet will keep for next year.

Tom Martin

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Last updated: 30 November 2003